(Grace-Part I) There are other aspects to grace in the Old Testament that we don’t think of as being grace. I’m going to point them out because they can be helpful along the way. Especially as we parent or relate to people in our sphere of influence.
Particularly in our country (USA) we are inclined to think of happiness, comfort, happy experiences as being the kinds of things we want to give our children so they will have a good life and grow up happy…oh, and have a good self image!
Actually, as we look at the way GOD parented His people, and the way He parents us, we see that He provides a variety of life experiences so we will be more balanced and have some grit! He allows both happy and sad experiences, difficult, painful and joyful ones as well. When we look back, we often discover that we learned more and developed more character from the difficult and painful experiences. Struggle is part of life and strengthens us. This holds true in the animal kingdom as well!
Look at how He parented His people through the desert
Back up a bit and look at the journey of Israel through the desert. GOD promised the Promised Land to them. As the nation was poised to enter, a representative from each tribe was chosen to visit the land and check it out. Twelve men went to check out the land.
They all agreed on a few things. It was a beautiful land. It was fertile with fruits and plantings of all kinds. Cities were all built up and developed. There was no question that this was a lush place to live.
They also agreed that the enemy nations that GOD was calling them to destroy were often overwhelming. Some of the nations were full of giants! Their enemies were formidable and powerful.
The point of disagreement was whether the job could be done. Was God able to help them overcome this beautiful land He promised to give them?
The main point of disagreement was whether this job could be done. Joshua and Caleb were outvoted 2-10. They believed that GOD’s promise to win the battles for Israel that were needed in order for them to take over this land were based on fact. He was a big GOD. He could and would do it!
The other 10 wept and said this was hopeless. The enemies were too big for them. There was no way Israel could win against such formidable enemies. The 10 convinced the nation to follow their recommendation. GOD’s punishment was that none of the adults at that time would be able to go into the Land…except for Joshua and Caleb.
So this nation roamed the desert for 40 years.
During that time, GOD’s grace was shown as He provided manna for them to eat, guided them with the cloud in the daytime, kept them warm with the fiery pillar at night and protected them through all that time. He didn’t have to. He could have left them to die there. But He graciously watched over them. He lived out who He was and kept His covenant with His people! Neither their clothing, nor their shoes wore out during that time.
Grace doesn’t always look sweet
Sometimes, His grace was shown as He followed through on His promises. When they refused to trust Him, disobeyed His clear commands or complained against the leaders GOD had put in place? GOD would send punishment of various kinds. They didn’t look very gracious, but they were.
Justice can often be gracious because it hurts us short term but saves us from a long term catastrophe! When GOD’s people turned from Him, He was very graphic in the ways He showed them He wasn’t One to be trifled with! Sometimes, He sent fire from heaven, or disease or punishment. But it saved many from making the mistakes of a few who trifled with Him from long term disaster.
His commands are good for us. He is not giving commands for the sake of building a power base! He knows what He is doing. He knows what His people need to function at their best.
So when we think of grace, instead of only looking at the good, pleasant, delightful sides of grace, the parts of it that we like to receive. Let’s realize that there is another side of grace. While grace is the one side of GOD giving us what we don’t deserve, the back side of it is GOD holding back from giving us everything we do deserve.
We deserve death, but He gives us forgiveness and mercy. Along with it may come consequences for our behavior that come along with that behavior or punishment for direct disobedience.
It is true that on the cross, Jesus paid for all the sin you and I committed, past, present and future. All of it! He fulfilled the Law for us during His perfect life and died to pay the blood sacrifice.
In Christ, we stand uncondemned…as if we had obeyed in the first place!
So now, I stand before GOD (if I am His child) not condemned. I will have difficulties and hardships that He will graciously lead me through. I will have joys and delights as well. It is all part of His grace to me…and you.
It goes much deeper than simply my having a happy life. Of course, the questions of grace go much deeper than whether or not it is in the Old Testament.
Where do you see it in your life today?
Where are the evidences of GOD working out grace in your life just this year…2015?
in the past?
Make time to thank Him…and pass it on!