Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: START (02/25/16)
TITLE: The God of New Beginnings
By Lois Farrow
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Hold on, is that statement true? It’s actually only part of the story. In the Old Testament I see a God of love, of tremendous patience, a God full of mercy and grace.
Let’s look at it from the beginning. God made everything good, he declared that it was very good, but what happened? Mankind mucked it up, we spoiled things by disobeying. But what did God do? He removed Adam and Eve from the trees that could harm them and gave them a new beginning. He started afresh.
When the world was in a terrible state and God had to bring judgment and punishment, he found a righteous man, Noah, who obeyed God by building an ark. The ark was a place of safety, a place of refuge from the storm that was coming. There was room in the ark for everyone who repented, but how many did? Apart from Noah’s family, there were none – no one who took up God’s offer of rescue and salvation. But Noah and his family and all the animals they had saved were able to start afresh.
God gave Abraham a new beginning. He planned a nation that would show his love to the earth, which would demonstrate to the other nations around them how loving and kind he was. Did it work? As always, sin got in the way. But every time they got into strife, God provided a way out, a way for his people to return to himself, if only they would repent and accept his offer.
The book of Judges records that time and again the people turned away from God, and time and again God brought a rescuer. God longs for his people to be in accord with himself;, the judgments he brings are always designed to bring people back to himself, and give them a new beginning.
King David knew God’s love. When he sinned he knew he could come to God for forgiveness and God would take him back, would restore him and make him great again. The Psalms are full of ways in which God repeatedly showed his love to David and the people of Israel.
During the times of the Kings of Israel God constantly raised up prophets who brought God’s message of restoration to the people and offered them new beginnings. Look at these snippets:
• I know the plans I have for you, to give you a future and a hope.
• I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.
• The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and loving towards all he has made.
Look at Hosea. Repeatedly his wife left him, and repeatedly Hosea took her back. Amazing grace and forgiveness, a picture to the nation of God’s heart for them.
The book of Jonah tells the story of God’s heart of love and mercy for the city of Nineveh, and how Jonah struggled to humble himself enough to take the message to them.
Let’s look for a moment at two stories in the New Testament. First, Jesus’ words as he looked out over Jerusalem – ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered you to me, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not.’ Second, the story of the prodigal son. When he came to the end of himself, he decided to go home to his father. It says ‘he got up and went’, a simple action. How did the father receive him? The father ran to him, embraced him, and threw a big party to celebrate. An amazing picture of a God of love.
The God of the Old Testament is the same God as the one we find in the New Testament. These are pictures of the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. When we read the Old Testament let’s keep our eyes open to see the God who is ready to receive us with open arms, with love and forgiveness, to take us back and give us a new beginning.
Thank you, Lord, for your forgiveness, and for the fresh start you have given me by your grace.
References: Jeremiah 29:11; 31:3; Psalm 145:17; Hosea; Jonah; Matthew 23:37; Luke 15:20;
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