Tag Archives: God’s plans

Isaiah 64

Scripture: verse 1

Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains might quake at Your presence

Observation: Seth Godin recently blogged about the difference between confidence and certainty.  He concludes that insisting on certainty – in yourself or in others – is a mistake.  It tends to be a way of drowning out fear by ignoring possible negative outcomes.  He’s primarily talking about business situations, but at the moment it rings true for faith as well.

I’d like to be certain.  I’d like to know exactly what God is going to do next.  I’d like Him to rend the heavens and come down so that I don’t have to think anymore.

God doesn’t seem to work like that, though.  He wants us to be confident in Him, but He rarely gives us certainty.  He might promise to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28) but He doesn’t say how long that will take or how He will do it.  He promised to be with Jeremiah and rescue him (Jeremiah 1), but that doesn’t mean nothing bad happened.  At one point Jeremiah got thrown into a cistern to die (starvation, dehydration, blood poisoning from standing in muck – take your pick) and God sent a sponsor to plead with the king and get Jeremiah out.  There was rescue, but not certainty.

God says that He will be found by those who seek Him (Jer 29:13).  But I’m not at all sure that we ever stop seeking.  There is always more of God to find.

Application: Act on confidence.  Don’t be discouraged when things are not certain.

Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you are God.  I praise you because you are the only certainty.  Thank you for blessing me.  Help me to be confident in the future you have planned for me.  Amen.

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Isaiah 30:1-13

Scripture: from verse 1

The rebellious children…make plans, but the plans are not Mine.

Observation:  The more fool them.  Jeremiah 29 says that God has plans for us and that His plans are for good, to give us a future and a hope.  The problem with making our own plans is that they are much less likely to lead to a future and a hope.

It isn’t impossible, of course, since there are infinite plans to be made and infinite futures to reach.  But life is a chaotic system, and the more we ignore the elements of God’s plan, the less likely our plan is to work out well.  Astonishingly enough, we aren’t as good at planning as He is.

The plans God was speaking of involved alliance (very expensive alliance) with Egypt, which had wealth and power and might and wasn’t actually willing or able to do much in the way of supporting Israel.  We have a bad habit of running around trying to find people who can help us (or who we think we can manipulate into helping us) when God has help already planned out.

In Israel’s case, if they turned back to God He’d stop sending the attacks and troubles that they needed help with in the first place.  God can address the root of our problems when we can’t even see it.  We treat the symptoms, but usually only God can go in and cure the disease.

Application:  Make His plans yours, instead of the other way around.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you because you can see all the strands of time.  You are the only one who can reliably chart a course through life.  Thank you for planning a good future for me.  Help me to follow your plan instead of my own.  Amen.

Isaiah 16

Scripture: from verse 14

Within three years [and not a day more], as if a hired worker were keeping track of the time, the glory of Moab will be brought into contempt…

Observation:  God’s relationship with time isn’t the same as ours, so sometimes we get weird ideas about when He’s planning for things and it leads to confusion.  But we can know that if God has set the schedule, then the schedule will be met.  And if we are given a hard time limit like this one, it will happen.

Close doesn’t count in prophecy and cosmic portents.  The shooting star that was a month too late is just a shooting star.  Mind you, meteors and comets and other shooting-star-things are awesome and beautiful and reminders of God’s beauty and glory.

God knows time.  He knows it inside out and upside down and backwards.  He even knows it forwards, which is sometimes more than we do.  He knows time because He made it.  He can see it in ways we can’t.

Which means that we don’t have to doubt His timing.  We know things will happen when He says they will, even if that doesn’t end up being when we think they should.

Application:  Trust in the Lord.  He is never late.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for creating time.  Thank you for giving me a space of time to live in and understand.  Help me to move through time with the confidence that you are moving with me.  Amen.

Isaiah 10:1-17

Scripture: from verses 6 and 7

I am sending [Assyria] against a hypocritical nation,
ordering him to march against a people who enrage me…
That is not what Assyria intends…
they mean to destroy nation after nation.

Observation:  Israel was proud and corrupt, so God was sending the Assyrians to attack them and destroy much of their wealth.  Assyria, however, thought they were using their own power and planned to conquer all of the known world.

Humans are constantly trying to get more control over our lives.  We try to control ourselves and our bodies, we try to control the people around us, we try to control our circumstances.  None of it works terribly well.

We make decisions and form plans and take action, but the results are rarely what we predict they will be.  The possibilities that we choose from are limited by our data.  There’s always one variable we had failed to consider (or never knew about).  The future is a chaotic system, and there is no was to predict it.  We have far less agency than we realize.

At the age of sixteen, Hero knew that he would grow up to marry me and work in computer hardware design and live in our area.  So he went to college for computer hardware design and kept dating me and here we are, ten years later.

But for most of us, life isn’t that simple.  Our colleges and our jobs and our homes and our families are influenced by hundreds of tiny decisions and thousands of factors and influences and variables.  We may think we chose our school or our career, but in reality it was heavily influenced by chance.

But God controls chance.  God knows how the thousands of influences will converge.

So we have a choice.  We can keep pretending we know what we’re doing, keep assuming that every trend we see now will continue forever.  Or we can let God do what He does best: teach us the truth.

Application:  Talk to God before making plans.  He’s better at it.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for having a plan for me.  I praise you, because you understand how the world works, and how every piece of it interacts with every other piece.  Help me to know when I think I know more than I do.  Amen.

Ephesians 3:6-10

Scripture: from verses 9 and 10

This plan, kept hidden for ages by God, the Creator of everything, is for the rulers and authorities in heaven to learn…how many-sided God’s wisdom is.

Observation: “This plan” is (still!) referring to the way Yeshua’s death brought the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, allowing anyone who wishes to do so to boldly approach the throne of grace.  Apparently one of its purposes (there’s probably more than one) is to show the heavenly powers – the angels and demons – how rich and deep and varied God’s wisdom really is.  I always said God was running a Xanatos Gambit, and now we know one of the reasons why.

The cool part here is the word translated “many-sided” – other translations use things like “rich variety” and “manifold.”  The word in Greek is polypoikilosand this is the only place it’s used in the Bible.   The funny thing is, the second part, poikilos, already means “manifold” or “variegated” all on its own.  The prefix poly- means “many.” So the word really means “many-many-sided” – it’s indicating that God’s wisdom is varied and rich and multifaceted beyond anything we can imagine, and certainly beyond what we usually mean when we say “many-sided.”  It’s like Joseph’s amazing technicolored dreamcoat: “red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach….”

Application: Don’t expect God’s plan to look like your plan.  And don’t assume that what’s unexpected to you is unexpected to God.  His wisdom is polypoikilos, far more complex than anything that would ever make sense to me.  I can trust His plan, even if I can’t understand it.

Prayer: Father, I praise you for having wisdom and knowledge beyond mine.  Certainly if I could understand you, we’d both be in trouble.  Help me to trust that you know exactly what you are doing.  Amen.