Kingdom Principle: God brings goodness everywhere to everyone who goes with God.
|Genesis 29:15-28||Psalm 105:1-11, 45b||Romans 8:26-39||Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52|
Genesis 50:20 concludes the narrative of the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with a statement by Joseph (son of Jacob to his brothers)– “What you intended for evil, God meant for good.” In Exodus 33:19, God says to Moses, “My goodness shall pass before you” and what follows is interesting, “I shall be gracious on whom I will be gracious and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” What is good to God may not be good to you and I, yet what is good to God sets the standard by which all other things are declared good or evil. For God is Good. (Psalm Verses)Therefore what you view as good, may not be good at all, if it is not God’s goodness that you are measuring against. God’s will is good and perfect (Romans 12:2) but not all desire that God’s will for their life. The apostles reflected that Jesus went around doing good because God was with him (Acts 10:38), but not all shared that perspective. Paul & James state that everything that comes from God is good (1 Tim. 4:4, James 1:17) and yet many struggle to understand then why there is evil in the world. (Unless of course God is not all powerful… a different post) To declare the goodness of God in your life, is not to only have good things in your life, it is to confess that in all things, God is working for his Goodness to be revealed. This revelation comes out of events that are both good as well as not good. This revelation comes most clearly in the gift of Christ, so much so that on the day he died we have come to know it as Good Friday.
- Is there an abundance of good in your life?
- Is there an awareness of God in your life?
I believe the two questions share the same foundation understanding of who God is and how he works. I wonder if when kids today are texting OMG – is this actually a declaration that they do not see the Goodness of God! Most often OMG is a declaration of disbelief and causal expression of shock…. May this post move you and I to come to terms with the goodness of God in our lives such that we are not in disbelief or shocked by his mercy & grace.
As we continue in the story of the Life of Jacob, it is placed next to one of the most challenging texts which can also be one of the most comforting texts of the New Testament. Romans 8:28 is often quoted amongst tragedy and “bad” events, stating that God will bring good out of everything that happens in our lives. While that is not what the text is saying… It is clear that in Jacob’s life of rebellion and deception, God is at work to bring about the good that he has proclaimed and covenanted. The irony of Jacob’s retribution from Laban – as he wakes up to Leah as his wife, rather than Rachel, cannot be separated from the fact that Laban upholds a truth that Jacob disregarded in regards to his older brother Esau.
- Was it good that Jacob stole the blessing? No.
- Was it good that Leah was subjected to a marriage that her husband clearly did not want? No.
What is good is that God is working in all things to conform the will of Jacob to the very will of God. Jacob has run from away from bad, only to find it waiting for him in another life lesson. (Can you see the pattern…?) It’s the redemption of God we need, not the removal of bad. Since we cannot go back and undo the past, how might we begin in this moment to experience our life as redeemed? Jacob cannot go back and give Esau his birthright or blessing, for he has taken such things, but until Jacob sees the treasure in the lesson God is teaching there will be no reflection on the past. Jacob continues in his ways of selfish gain and which cause him to always to be looking over his shoulder and living in distrust. Jacob will continue to struggle to trust God until the end of his days… Peace eludes him until he learns of his son Joseph is ruling over Egypt. (notice in Gen 42:36, Jacob remains bent on seeing that All things are against him!”)
God works in all things for the good of those who love him, but that does not make all things good. If we want to increase the good in our lives, we must know that it takes place not by our effort and/or perfection but by the goodness of God coming near to us. The trap is to live in a “what if” world always wondering “what if” I had come near to God would something bad had not happened. This is dangerous thinking as if then God causes the bad things to happen as punishment for not coming near. Rather God works in all things, if you miss your off-ramp from the freeway, you can still get where you were going, but sometimes you have to go a few miles out of the way before you find a new path to the same destination. Now along the detour, you just might discover something that will change your life or the lives of others. Does that mean God directed you to miss the off-ramp. No, but in all things God works for the good of those who are following his leading. There are so many things in the story of Jacob that need redemption and the beauty of the story is that is just what God in his Goodness does, brings them into alignment of His will for His purposes. A brief tangent – I think most have missed understood the text regarding Leah eyes. The word for weak is the same as are gentle and delicate. I see the goodness in Leah which soul (through her eyes), for she knows submission to her father and holds a faith in the Almighty as being contrasted by Rachel’s outward beauty. It is Leah who prays and Rachel who preys…. What/who is good here? The beauty of the Kingdom is retraining our eyes to see what is not always seen and to discover the truth that has been hidden. God is at work in the lives of those whom He is calling to be his own. In a story filled with lying, deception, rape, murder, and animosity it will play out as God decree’s– Jacob will have 12 sons which shall become the 12 tribes of Israel.
Jacob’s life is a testimony to the fact that life is a process and that God is able to work for the good in our lives regardless/in spite of our shortcomings. However as we become aware that our story is written in the context of God’s story, our history shall become His story. Therefore we are to become disciples of the Kingdom. In the Kingdom, God brings provision (He did not withhold His Son from us). In the Kingdom God brings protection (He shall justify us). In the Kingdom, God brings Peace (He intercedes for us). In the Kingdom, God brings Presence (He cannot be separated from us). This is the goodness of God! (as seen in Romans 8)
Rejoice! Your story has not fully played out! Where is God at work in your life? When and where will you see the pattern of God’s goodness in your life? You may have walked through the same field 20 times, but are yet to stop and discover the treasure that is waiting for you. As you discover the pattern of God’s goodness, you will also come to enjoy doing good works in the Kingdom. Take some time to write out your time-line of life. These questions can help you… Learn your pattern and discover God’s Goodness! In this you will see the signs of God, that lead you into true abundance and goodness of living WITH God rather than feeling as if God is angry and bent against you. Might we see that God is a loving God declaring that nothing shall separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus?
Learning your pattern is good, but it alone is not the purpose, rather the purpose is to renew your mind to live according to God’s good, perfect and pleasing will. (Romans 12:2) Out of this and this alone can we increase the good (in our lives and) in this world. God is worthy to be praised, for he has done the work it requires to fulfill his everlasting Covenant with all those who call upon his Name. How you respond to the call is of the utmost importance. The focus of the King in the Kingdom is on the end-result, not the beginning or middle. Our focus must be the same, so yes – look back and discern the pattern, but do not remain looking back – Look Up and press on. We have seen this in the parables of the Kingdom; it is the end of the age that the fruit of the Kingdom is judged. And we see this in the life of Jacob. The focus of the good news of the Kingdom is not the removal of bad, rather increase of good that happens as we enter the Kingdom; Healing, Redemption, Goodness, and Reconciliation are marks of the Kingdom.
Further note on Romans 8:28
All things are not good, and God does not even need to find good in all things – RATHER – God works for the good in all things in the lives of those who have been called according to his purpose. Therefore something can be downright bad/evil/terrible and God can work in the lives of those who experienced that event or thing so that those who are in a relationship with him might learn, discover and grow in love. This does not mean all things eventually work themselves out, or that there is good in all things. This mystery is always present, but not always presented as such. This concept of “all things” it beautifully tied to the act of God the Father giving up his Son for us all. This “all things” also represents the powerful love of God which overcomes “all things”. God works for the good in all of the events of Jacob’s life… yet it is clear that not all of the things in Jacob’s life are good. God works for the good in all things of the Kingdom, but not everyone is aware of the kingdom. Does this mean that if you are in the Kingdom nothing bad can happen? What do you think? if you truly surrender your life to the King – then yes – You will fear nothing, and know nothing can separate you from God’s love.