Our Covenant-Making God: God, The Covenant-Keeper, Making sure you know who you are!
The well-known children’s story of the ugly duckling is about a small duckling that becomes isolated and confused initially because it doesn’t look like the other ducklings. The ‘duckling’ grows and it is only then that it comes to realise it is a swan – one of the most beautiful birds of all.
The Bible speaks of the origins of the world, humanity, Israel and of us, and in it we read of a heavenly Father who desires friendship with man and seeks to bless the world and all that in it. In scripture we see who we are, or rather whose we are, and why we are here. We also see that God is against sin and not pleased with our failure to uphold justice and morality. Yet we also see that God is very much for the sinner whom He would rather save than condemn and that all promises made by God will ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus. We live in a world where God is active and can be found in time and we are called to rest in Him.
Isaiah 30:15-16:“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, 'No, we will flee on horses.' Therefore you will flee! You said, 'We will ride off on swift horses.' Therefore your pursuers will be swift.”
Biblically, rest is a cessation of our own strivings and activities as we reorientate our minds around the teaching of God; yet so often we fail to engage with the One who holds all things in His hands. Without reference to God, man becomes isolated and lonely and builds his own walls of protection and identity because we were not made to be on our own, or live as if we have to compete with all those around us.
In our series we have seen that the word ‘good’ relates to all that is in relationship with God, and therefore acting and living the right way. The world that God made was good, in that it was fit for a purpose in every way. Yet in Gen 2:18 we find something that is not good. It was not good for man to be alone.
In Genesis we read that Adam was called to name the animals showing both a knowledge of God’s creation (a name spoke of nature and character) and also dominion (Nebuchadnezzar renamed Daniel to show he controlled Daniel’s nature, character and destiny, yet as this particular story unfolds we see that God thought otherwise).
Adam had dominion, responsibility and understanding, but no helper, showing the uniqueness of man compared with the animal kingdom (seen at its clearest in communion with God). We were made to walk with God and were created to walk in authority and fellowship with each other. We reveal whose we are in how we love, support, encourage and uplift one another as we travel through life as the twice-born.
Have you ever met a couple that totally loves and open to each other in every way? I guess that was what Adam and Eve were like before the fall, yet look at what happens when they became separated from God. Their disobedience reversed everything they had known up until then and they became isolated and vulnerable and sought to avoid responsibility and blame each other. That’s what happens when you leave God out of the equation: when we forget who God is, whose we are, and how we are called to live.
We were not made to live in solitude and loneliness and when we live with a viewpoint on life that does not include God we become separated from others, prey to our wrong desires, and dominated by our surroundings. Just think of the prodigal son living amongst pigs and you get the idea as we see him being controlled by his surroundings having thought that he knew the best way to control his life. The prodigal son was imprisoned until his thinking changed and he came to his senses.
In Gen 3:21 we read that God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve. The word garment (‘kuttoenet’) speaks of clothing worn by one in authority. When God is present and we acknowledge Him, we can walk in authority. We are clothed in the work of Christ (Gal 3:27) and clothed in power from on high (Luke 24:49, 1 Cor 3:16), and clothed in that which is imperishable (1 Cor 15:54). So don’t go through this year naked, isolated and trapped by your circumstances: there really is no need to. And if you want to know how well you are doing in the Lord look at how you treat everyone around you and you will soon see. It really is all about relationships!