God's Agenda For Coronavirus, Part 5
We have covered a lot of ground in the last four posts dealing with God’s nature in hopes of setting the stage for understanding God’s position and purposes for the Coronavirus, and indeed, every crisis and catastrophe that has come upon humanity. If an honest and unbiased assessment is to be made we must conclude that God is Light, God is Love, and God is Good - in every possible nuance. This must mean that God is always in harmony (good) with Himself and by necessary definition, can never be or act out of character. This is the great foundation of our faith - God (Jesus) is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The word “same” means “Himself,” so we can say God is Himself yesterday, today, and forever.
We all know from our human interactions that what we see a person do and how we interpret that action can, and oftentimes does, misrepresent the heart (true motive and intention) of the person. Once we make the determination of what we believe that action to mean, we develop a lens for how we view all further actions from that person. They become a suspect and a person not to be fully trusted. I submit that this is the core of the confusion in humanity’s relationship with God. We can know with our logical mind that God is supposed to be good, loving, and kind, but what about all the stuff that God says He is in control of that appears to be contrary to His nature?
In order for us to fully trust a person we must know what is in the heart of the person. This holds true in our relationship with God. What is in God’s heart? Is God’s heart even knowable? When someone does something that we can’t understand because it goes against what we have come to believe about that person we might say, “what were you thinking?” in hopes of gaining insight into the true motivation of the action. Can we even ask the question, “God, what were You thinking?” Does God want us to know His thoughts and His heart? If He does, has He made Himself that vulnerable to humanity that He would reveal this? Afterall, He is God, the Creator, and He really does not owe us that access to His heart. Consider this scripture:
[1 Co 2:10 NLT] But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets.
God desires not just to reveal truth to us, He desires to reveal His deepest secrets and nothing is deeper than God opening His heart to us!
So how does all this even relate to God’s agenda for Coronavirus? I believe that the first thing on God’s agenda in this global crisis is to give humanity another opportunity to take a step back and ask God to reveal His heart instead of a perfunctory pushing of the play button on all the past answers we have crafted over the centuries: “God is pouring out His wrath and Judgment on sin,” “God is using this crisis to teach us all a good lesson,” “We have to beg God to pour out His mercy,” etc…
Can we be silent and allow God to speak to us and reveal His thoughts and heart or do we need to publish and proclaim our position to prove we know God better then the next guy? Can we allow God to speak for Himself and then be willing to retract our story and publish a truer representation of God’s agenda and what we attribute to His actions? (See Job for more on that). Has God already told His side of the story and we just missed it somehow? I want to submit the following points for all of us to consider and then challenge us to be ready and willing to rewrite our narrative where needed.
We have already established what the scriptures have revealed about the nature of God. That word nature is such a sterile word. It sounds like we are putting the concept of God through a rigorous scientific assessment to arrive at conclusions that can be used to build an understanding of God that makes sense from a philosophical view point. As important as this might be, is this really the point of our relationship with God? I don’t want to relate to a concept. I want to know what God thinks and what He feels. I believe that this is also what God really wants too.
So, has God revealed His thoughts and heart, and is this revelation always the same yesterday, today, and forever? The following points are just a few of the many places where God has done just that. I will point out just two examples from the beginning and end of God’s narrative about His relationship with us. If the beginning and end tell the same story, all that is in between is just reinforcement of the theme. Let’s begin at the beginning…
In the Genesis account of the creation and Fall of humanity we see the first interaction between God, Adam and Eve, and sin (the Fall). I believe what happens here sets the stage for how God thinks and feels about us and our rebellion. Zoom in on the scene where Adam and Eve are filled with fear, shame, and guilt over what just happened and are hiding from God. From behind their bush they hear “the voice of the Lord walking through the garden” and then hear the voice of the Lord saying, “Adam, where are you?” What is happening here? Was God angry? Was God really not able to find Adam? Was God coming to get them and punish them?
The purpose of this post is not to be a technical Hebrew language lesson, but a careful and thorough examination of the tone and nuance of the language here that points to a broken-hearted God weeping over what had just happened. The phrase, “the voice of the Lord was walking in the garden,” can paint the picture of a loud lament rushing through the garden as God let out a cosmic-sized sigh of deep grief. When Adam and Eve heard this they realized how deeply they had hurt God and hid themselves for shame of what they had done. The next phrase, “where are you” paints a very powerful picture of God's deepest feelings. This was not a rhetorical question. This was not an angry, “Adam, WHERE ARE YOU, you are in big trouble now!” This phrase could be understood to sound like this, “O, woe is Me, Adam, what have you done.” This is not a picture of sinners in the hands of an angry God, but the cry of a broken-hearted God over the state of His beloved Adam and Eve who are now in a state of separation from Him. There is so much more in the Genesis account that speaks of a broken-hearted Creator over the state of His creation. It is worth an intensive study.
If God presents Himself like this at the very beginning, does He consistently present Himself like this throughout all of His narrative? If we take the time to read all of the many passages that deal with God’s interactions with humanity in their states of rebellion, we see foretelling of negative consequential events, and we also see phrases and words that represent God’s desire to: hug, kiss, embrace, rescue, save, restore, heal, comfort, long for, and crave, etc. His beloved, even in their rebellion. Does this theme carry over even to the end of the story?
Fast forward through history to the incarnation of Jesus, of Whom the scriptures say appeared at “just the right time” (Romans 5:6). This was the time when God would come to Earth as Jesus and openly and completely bear His heart and intentions towards humanity. Jesus made many amazingly bold statements about His identity, not the least of which was that He was God! (See numerous references in the Gospels). The writer of Hebrews states that Jesus is the EXACT representation of the Father and displays everything that the Father is, thinks, and does (Heb. 1:1-3). So another way to understand this is that all we need to know (on this side of eternity) about God is seen in the life of Jesus. So what do we see?
Beyond the miraculous signs and wonders and in between His heated discussions with the religious leaders of His day, we get a clear view of how God feels about humanity. Jesus proactively pursued sinners and outcasts. He fully embraced the physically and ritually unclean. He loved to hang out with kids. He was passionate about clearing up His Father’s reputation by stating that we are to love our enemies and to be kind to evil and ungrateful people, just like His Father (Luke 6, and many more).
There is so much more that could be said. Here is a very pointed picture that shows just what is in God’s heart for humanity.
In the last days of Jesus’ life on this planet as He was heading towards Jerusalem to face His death, He looked over the city, fully knowing what fate would befall those living there in AD 70 (the total destruction of the city by the Romans and mass slaughter of lives) who would ultimately reject God’s offer of reconciliation. Jesus looked and wept over the city and its people (see Luke 19). He was sobbing as He was descending the hill to enter its gates. As He wept, He cried out that He longed to gather these rebellious people into His arms the way a mother hen would comfort and protect her chicks. He was broken-hearted in just the same way He was when Adam and Eve chose rebellion. God’s heart NEVER changed for humanity, and NEVER will.
So, God’s agenda for the Coronavirus starts with His passionate heart-cry that He wants us to know that He is broken-hearted over the sickness, disease, brokenness, violence, greed, hatred, and the like that is plaguing all of us. He was willing to cover Adam & Eve’s sin of rebellion rather than destroy or punish them for the sake of His beloved creation, and He is still willing to cover us. God is not willing that any of His children should perish and from the very beginning, before we were created, He proved it by putting a crucifix in the center of His heart.
If God is so broken and upset by what is happening on the earth, why, then, doesn’t He intervene and do something about it? He has and He is! More on that coming up, so stay tuned and tune in...
by Pastor Jim Anan