Chris Harrell made a great point in his sermon last week. It took 20 years from the time God chose Abram to the time he had a son, Isaac. Then it took generations upon generations before Israel became a “people” group. Even when they grew in numbers and got some power, along would come a prophet that might say something like:
9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
” ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. [a]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
12 until the LORD has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
So, just when the people of God got some fame, some power, some influence, some wealth…. some significance in the world, God would take Israel down a notch – sending them spiraling back to a small and insignificant people (sometimes called a remnant or a “stump”)
And this is how God chooses to work in the world. He saw it fit to set his redemption plan in motion (a plan to redeem all creation, no less!) through an old, barren couple, Abram and Sarai. Then he saw it fit to patiently extend that plan through a family or a small people group. Then he saw it fit that they remain weak, and small, powerless.
Why does God do this? Why does he desire his people to be seemingly insignificant in the world? So that the world will see these people and know the God they worship. He wants the people of the world to see Himself, the one true God, when they gaze upon his followers.
And this is the God we worship. The God of the cross. The God that triumphed over evil with suffering. The God that chose a towel to serve under, instead of power to rule over. The God that could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set him free. The God who has the power to coerce and rule in might. But instead he chooses to love his enemies even to death on a cross. And there, there on the cross, hung the God we worship. A seemingly insignificant man, from an insignificant lineage, of an insignificant people group, started with an insignificant family.
Now – shouldn’t we think twice as disciples of this God-man, Jesus, before we try to rule the world with power and might?