We usually don't have the correct perspective to truly see what God is doing do we? We're too close. We can't see around the next corner. We're bound by time and our sinful nature.
It's like the view of a city from the street (without a smartphone). We can only see up or down the block because our sight lines are obstructed. But from a helicopter above the city, we get a much different perspective.
In the eleventh chapter of Romans, Paul shows us how our view is not the same as God's view. In the first part of the chapter, we see that God does indeed have a plan and he has reserved the people he needs for that plan. It's not as hopeless as it might seem.
I love that Paul draws an illustration from 1 Kings 19. Here Elijah is on the run and he seems to think he's the last faithful man on earth. Through a series of events God shows Elijah that he's in control. It's not as hopeless as Elijah assumes. Then God tells Elijah that he has 7,000 faithful men that Elijah was not aware of. I'm guessing that probably humbled Elijah some.
How often do we think we are all alone in this thing because we can't see our situation from God's perspective?
I often hear people cite Martin Luther as a lone voice for the Bible. But the truth is, God had many people speaking out before Luther and many who came after. Luther, like Elijah, was not alone. Luther was but one man, standing on the shoulders of others, who God reserved for himself in his own master plan.
Getting back to chapter eleven, Paul moves on to show us how the Gentiles are to be saved. God illustrates his point with a huge olive tree and many of the unfaithful Israelites (as represented by a simple branch) are hacked off. The Gentiles (represented by a wild branch) are grafted in. Here again, our perspective might be limited to a single branch when God is looking at an entire tree that will produce fruit for many seasons. (Honestly, when I hear this, my mind's eye is usually only focused on the actual grafted portion of the branch.)
But it doesn't end there. One might ask how the Israelites will have salvation if they've been chopped off the tree. First, God says they can be grafted back on to the tree and by the tone, we get the feeling they will be. (This is in reference to a nation that turned their back on God and then will be restored, not some theological idea about losing and regaining individual salvation.) And what turns them back to God? It's the Gentiles! Those who were extended salvation because of the hard hearts of the Israelites will be the same ones who bring the Israelites back. Romans 11:25 says, "Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in."
God's perspective is so much more remarkable than our own. Romans 11:33 says, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!" Mindblowing is our God!
This week in your House Fellowships, I'd like to encourage you to discuss some of the trials and difficulties you are feeling lately. Are you feeling this way because you can't see around the next corner? Is your line of sight blocked at the moment? As a group, discuss what God may be doing and ways we can trust him when we're standing on the street level. Pray for one another and seek the will of God. And maybe, just maybe, he'll give you a glimpse from a better vantage point through your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Church, you guys are a huge blessing. I pray for you often. See you Sunday, if not before.