The Fields of God
To realize that God has had a purpose in the creation of the world and its inhabitants and He has given us the Bible to help us understand what it is.
The whole of the Bible
There are many references to the purpose of those who God has called to Him in the Bible. A few are listed below.
However no one verse or chapter is explicitly clear as to what this purpose is. Job puts it eloquently where he says -
"What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Job 7:17-18 (NIV)
So, what is so special about humans that God has consistently put up with our wickedness? Throughout the Old Testament, time and time again we find man deserting God. We find God patient and trying to bring man back to God consciousness. In most cases man ignores Him and God resorted to punishing man. Many men died during these punishments before they decided to return to honoring God. When they did, God returns to preserving man. And finally, God even resorted to the point of sending His Son to pay for our wickedness!
One can't help but ask questions like; Could God have made beings that would honor him? What is so special about us that God has invested such an effort? What does God want those who will obey him and love him for? What is so important about men who in their free will choose to believe God? Why does he want us to trust in him sight unseen? Why does he desire us to obey him and come to love him? What does God need such men for in eternity? It seems God has gone to great effort to find such men. Some will tell you that the answers to these questions are mystery, and to some extent I would agree. But in reading the whole of scripture I have learned some of these questions have answers.
While teaching a 4th grade boys Sunday school class a few years ago, I had the occasion to teach on Noah and the Great Flood. During this class one young student asked a very basic but extremely thought provoking question. He asked why God had gone to all the trouble of creating man if he knew in advance most humans would reject him and he would destroy them.
To answer the boys question we need to see more of Gods big picture and to do this, we have to change the way we normally look at scripture. We have to stop utilizing individual passages or verses of scripture to find what we seek. We must take a birds eye view of the Bible and see the larger picture. Since questions like, "Why are we are here?" and "What were we created for?" are fundamental questions I would like to look at the whole of Biblical revelation as if it were one story. A story told in pieces in Sunday School but never taught to me as a whole. Further, we need to change something else. as well. Often when reading scripture we focus on how God and mankind interact. Well this time lets include Satan's role in history as well. From the beginning of the Bible to the end we see a story, a story like no other. Let me share a short "birds eye" view of it with you.
The Birds Eye View (a reading)
In the beginning (Gen 3) we see Adam, Eve & God all interacting together in the Garden of Eden. And is this all we see. No someone else is there. Yes you are right, Satan (the deceiver) is there too. Now why is this? Isaiah 14 tells us that Lucifer fell before creation. So why put him in with the latest created beings. Isn't he going to mess up the works?
Well he does and before long we see God toss Adam and Eve out of the garden and add a whole bunch of "difficulty" to their lives. In addition God now institutes a strange new concept, the concept of sacrificing an innocent animal (one with blood) to keep God from punishing one who sins against Him. Now does God recognize the role Satan had in this? Of course He does. God curses the snake for lending itself to Satan and Satan is dumped out of the garden too. Right into the world where he can continue to bother Adam and Eve and their offspring. In the next few chapters of Genesis he does a pretty good job. As we watch, we see Cain and Abel come to bring sacrifices to God. Abels offering of a lamb is acceptable but God rejects Cain's offering despite it being an offering of the best he had. God explains to Cain that his best is unacceptable and that only the sacrifice of an innocent animal will suffice. Cain of course is angered by the rejection and kills Abel over the issue. Things get worse and by the time Noah comes on the scene most humans are like Cain, extremely wicked.
In Genesis 9 we see God grieved that He had created such sinful men and "try again" with Noah and his family. After sadly destroying much of the world. Noah and his family are the first "remnant" of humanity that God uses to begin building again. And this time the world is an even tougher place to live in, man even has to start eating animals. (Gen 9:3). Well hopefully the flood got Satan too. No you say .. he survived. Yes, you are right, he did.
Genesis chapter 12 marks another change in the way God deals with mankind. Prior to Gen 12, God seems to be 'present', explaining His concerns directly to men of the world. But after chapter 12, God seems to pull back. He starts a new nation, withdraws from mankind in general and in a way begins again with another "remnant" of mankind. The nation of Israel. Again and again he tells men what he wants, he now sends messengers called prophets, who are usually ignored. Throughout the Old Testament we see God consistently put up with the wickedness of this new nation.. God finally loses his patience and punishes them. They continue to ignore Him and in the end He destroys them but once again "preserves a remnant" of then who honor Him to go on with.
Finally in Matthew we see God resort to sending his Son, not another prophet but His only Son. The one through whom all things were created (John 1:3). He comes to explain what God wants from us and to be punished for all men's wickedness. The concept of sacrifice God introduced thousands of years before now has it's fulfillment. Now men can understand why God instituted it, to point the way to Christ. ... or will they? Well certainly Satan will stay away when Jesus is around won't he? ..... No, we see that the deceiver even tries to deceive Christ. (Matt 4:5-10)
In Matthew 13 Jesus starts speaking in parables. He explains how things are from his perspective. He speaks of seeds and fields of crops, and of an enemy who is sowing weeds. . In Matt 13:24 he predicts a final "weeding out" of those who do not follow him by his Angels. He goes on to explain the nature of the kingdom of God. Something that grows from a small seed, yet become the largest of trees that can support the life of many creatures.
After 3 years ministry, we see Jesus crucified for our sins. He completes the purpose he came for. He becomes the Christ. He fulfills the meaning of his name. His blood cancels our debt. We can be forgiven. God can look upon us once more with favor. And if that were not enough, Jesus is raised and lives once more. He beats death and gives us hope for eternity. Certainly now Satan will be of no more trouble. .... Or will he?
Soon after his resurrection, Jesus leaves this world, The whole of the new testament is written. Beside the stories of Christ's life in the gospels a series of letters are written to the churches of the time. A lot of what's written urges people not be "polluted" by this world and not to be "deceived" by false teaching. Yes, you are correct, Satan is still a problem. A tremendous amount of Paul's writing is done to "build" up the church and expand "kingdom" of God (remember that tree?).
Well finally the Bible ends. The book of Revelation tells us of a coming battle, massive destruction, and the return of the Lord. He quickly sees to the "defeat & binding" of the deceiver and at last Satan is tossed into the Abyss. Once again Christ dwells with men on earth. (Rev 20:2) Then as we watch Jesus and the saints start to reign. God is once again present and not hidden from man, longevity is restored, for a thousand years Jesus reigns on earth., righteousness abounds. Everyone now knows who is boss, .... or do they? Three verses later in Rev 20:7, when you would least expect it, we see the deceiver, Satan, loosed from the Abyss and once again allowed to operate on earth. Why?, we ask, hasn't he made enough trouble? Once again he collects a following , once again they attack God's people and once again they are destroyed. Satan is then thrown in to the lake of fire. (Rev 20:10). Old things now pass away and God creates a new heaven and new earth. The curse of death is lifted and eternity begins.
Well, now that you've heard the story, did you see anything new. If you did, take a minute and write it down. When I finished the story, I saw this ;
1. I saw a God create beings of free choice who he loved being with. despite knowing they would reject him en-masse. It seems He had and still has a purpose for them.
2. That purpose seems to require a certain kind of people .. people who will choose to trust and obey God sight unseen
3. That purpose appears to be accomplished through people. For some reason, God has chosen to work through agents.
4. That purpose requires a difficult world - a place in which to grow and "prove" people. Without difficulty the required people will not seek God. To grow they need a place where free beings would find reasons to love life and reasons to hate it. A place where effort is needed to survive. A testing ground? .. no, more like a "proving" ground.
5. I saw that the growing and proving of people requires an alternative to God - Satan and his forces are allowed to rule and operate here on earth. They are used to draw out the kind of people that are not desired for the purpose. A "getter" for the toughest impurities, those who masquerade as pure. A magnet to separate what looks the same on the outside but what is entirely different inside.
6. The purpose also seems to require the people to have free will - freedom to choose to follow God, ignore God or even follow Satan. Free to choose to love God or something else.
7. An lastly, I came to see the purpose Himself, the person of Jesus Christ, an unbelievably patient Creator who had a plan for growing, refining, testing, and sorting and redeeming people.. A plan which despite the passage of thousands of years has not yet been completed. It takes time to grow people who will serve God freely.
Yes, it seems God does have some need of men who freely will chose to seek Him, obey Him, have faith in Him and then learn to love Him. Romans 11:25 tells us God is waiting until enough are grown & refined for the purpose He made them for.
Well, how did I answer the boy? The only answer I could give was the following, "The few who would come to love Him were worth the many who would not, but it would take the many who would not, to grow the few who would."
C.S. Lewis writes .. "for the more capable the creature the better it will be if it goes right .. but the worse it will be if it goes wrong. A cow cannot be very good or very bad; a dog can be both better and worse; .... a man better and worse still; a man of genius even more so; and a superhuman spirit the best .... or the worst of all."