One of the biggest best sellers of the last few years was The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. His main thesis, which I agree wholeheartedly with, is that God has a purpose for you. He has a plan for every person who’s ever been born. Parents might jokingly refer to a new addition to the family as an “accident,” but as far as the Bible is concerned there are no such people. We know God’s general purpose for everyone; for example, his desire is that everyone be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
Beyond that, his specific purpose for everyone is a bit murkier at times. Often it’s really difficult to figure out.
But what about someone who doesn’t even acknowledge him, who even sets himself against God’s kingdom? Well, there’s one man whose life can answer that question. Pharaoh was an extremely evil man, responsible for holding millions of innocent people in slavery, and he flagrantly rejected any summons to submit himself to God’s instructions. But the Lord had a purpose for Pharaoh, and used him to further the divine plan: “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
But even when God hasn’t revealed a specific purpose about someone by divine revelation, we can still see a use for them in the human mosaic of history. If nothing else, they can serve as a cautionary tale, a negative example. In today’s reading, David called upon righteous people to look upon what will happen to this evildoer, and fear. We’re supposed to look at them and say “I sure don't want to end up like that guy!”
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. It’s always good to learn from your bad experience, but it’s far better to learn from other people’s bad experience. That would seem to me to be a lot wiser, no? In fact, Paul expressly recommends that we get to know very well the history of Israel for this very reason: “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’ We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”
This is an ironclad law of human affairs. There has never been a single person in human history who did things God’s way who regretted it in the end. And the converse is also true: There’s never been a person in history who didn’t do things God’s way who didn’t end up regretting it. If you can learn from other peoples’ bad decisions instead of making your own, I promise you that you’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache. Don’t you want that?
Father, your ways are so much higher than mine, as the heaven are above the earth. Let’s do things your way, shall we?
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