When We Fail
For this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. (Exodus 9:16)
Does failure on our part to act prudently frustrate the sovereign plan of God?
The Scriptures never indicate that God is frustrated to any degree by our failure to act as we should. In His infinite wisdom God’s sovereign plan includes our failures and our sins.
When Mordecai asked Queen Esther to intercede with King Xerxes on behalf of the Jews, she demurred, explaining that she could enter the king’s presence unbidden only on the threat of death (Esther 4:10-11). However, Mordecai sent word back to her, “if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?(Esther 4:14) The key phrase here is “relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place.”.
The options available to God to bring deliverance for the Jews were as infinite as His wisdom and power. He literally did not need Esther’s cooperation. But in this instance, He chose to use her. Mordecai’s closing words in that verse assume that God uses people and means to accomplish His sovereign purpose.As subsequent events proved, God had indeed raised up Esther to accomplish His purpose. But He could just as easily raised up someone else or used an altogether different means. God usually works through ordinary events (as opposed to miracles) and the voluntary actions of people. But He always provides the means necessary and guides them by His unseen hand. He is sovereign, and He cannot be frustrated by our failure to act or by our actions, which in themselves are sinful. We must always remember, however, that God still holds us accountable for the very sins that He uses to accomplish His purpose.
Sometimes we may feel indispensable. We may think that we’re it not for us and what we contribute to the work that nothing would be accomplished. The truth of the matter is that when God chooses to use us, we are the privileged one. God could choose from among millions of people to accomplish His plan, and yet He chose us.
We read in the Bible of those whom God used and the great things they did. But what if Moses had refused to give himself over for God’s use and purpose? Would the Israelites still have stayed in bondage? I think not. As a matter of fact, Moses’ reluctance gave away the priesthood to his brother Aaron rather than it staying with Moses and his descendants. Yes, Moses was God’s tool but had he refused, God would have raised up another. Though God had kept Moses during the extermination of all male babies by Pharaoh, He never took choice away. Whatever Moses chose, God was still going to deliver the Israelites and bring them back to Canaan.
When the people of Israel desired a king, God chose Saul. However, we read that Saul who believed he was indispensable began to go his own way and failed to obey or carry out God’s purposes. There came a point, that God instructed Samuel to anoint another king, David. Because Saul refused to cooperate with God in the purposes of God, another took his place. It was through David that God established the nation of Israel. Though David failed, because his heart was always toward God, he was used even in his failures to accomplish the purposes of God.
When we read of the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we hear His request for the Father to “let this cup pass from me.” Though we know that in the end Christ submitted Himself to the Father’s will and was crucified for our sins, we must see that the possibility of His refusal was real. It is for reason that Scripture tells us that three times He comes to the rock and three times He makes the request for release. The Bible says that His wrestling was so intense that He sweat blood, as He brought His will into line with the Father’s will. Though He asked that “this cup pass from me”, He also prayed, “not my will but thine be done.”
I believe that God in His sovereignty lays His hand on a person or even a congregation for His purpose. Each has the ability to yield to that purpose or to reject being used for that purpose. In any case, God’s sovereign will and purpose will be accomplished but the one who chooses not to be used will be set aside. This is exactly what Mordecai said to Esther. He literally said that however she responded, God was going to deliver the Israelites but if she refused the possibility that she and her family would perish was on the table.
I believe that God is asking you and I if we will make ourselves available for His use. What a great honor and privilege it is for the Sovereign Lord of the Universe to ask us, insignificant us, to work with Him. Never should we forget that there were and are many other choices that God has and if we refuse to be the one, He will raise up another. As we approach the new year, let us do so with the attitude that whatever we are doing in the service for God, it is truly a privilege. Therefore, let us do that which God has called us to with enthusiasm and delight. Let us lay aside any begrudging, obligatory, half-hearted, and attention-seeking service for God. Let us remember that we are the fortunate ones if God selected us and that we are never indispensable.
A new term has been introduced to us called consumerism. Consumerism is the state of being in which everything is viewed and categorized by how much it adds value to us personally, what ways it benefits us personally and if something does not provide this then it is tossed aside. Unfortunately this disease has invaded the church. Many focus on the question, “What does the church provide for me? Or worse still is the demand that the church functions according to my preferences, needs and desires. The fact of things are that the church is not designed to provide our preferences but to accomplish God’s purposes. Whether it is the individual or the church, when God raises us up for His purposes and we choose to carry them out, He provides the means and the blessings that accompany His plans. On the other hand when we choose to ignore His purposes and build our lives around our plans and purposes, God often sets us aside and chooses another vessel.
Oh let us be like Mary who said to the Lord, “Let it be unto to me according to your word.”
Dr. John Thompson