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God always gives us what we do not deserve.
God says: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
This means God always acts in ways, not only different from ours, but antithetical to ours. He contradicts our customs, values, and norms. Jesus presents this most emphatically: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
The practical implication of this is dumbfounding. It means gain in this world becomes loss in God’s kingdom. Success in the world becomes failure in the kingdom. Jesus says in the kingdom of God: “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Grace at work
Consider this, if man thinks something is white, God will declare it to be white. If man thinks something is good, God will declare it to be awful. If man has an Olympic Games participation, where medals are given to those who come first, in God’s kingdom games, the medals will be given to those who come last.
Everything is entirely at God’s discretion: “For God said to Moses, ‘I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.’ So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.”
In effect, God never gives us what we think we deserve. Jesus said to me: “Femi, I don’t give people what they deserve. Therefore, only give people what they don’t deserve.” That is the grace of God.
Jesus says to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9).
Accordingly, Paul says: “Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).
, the way up is down. To enter, we must be born a second time. (John 3:3-5). To see, we must be
blind. (John 9:39). To be full, we must hunger. (Luke 6:21). To gain, we must lose. (Matthew 13:44-46). To be rich, we must be
poor. (1 Samuel 2:7). To be strong, we must be weak. (Judges 7:2-7). To be masters, we must be slaves. (Matthew 20:25-28). To laugh, we must weep. (Luke 6:21). To receive glory, we must endure suffering. (Luke 24:25-26). To be healed, we must be sick. (Luke 5:31). To live, we must die. (John 12:24). To save our life, we must lose it. (Matthew 16:25). To be first, we must be last. (Matthew 19:30).
Everything in the kingdom of God is worked out in contradiction to what obtains in this world. Every advantage in the world translates to a disadvantage in the kingdom of God. Every disadvantage is an advantage: “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low.” (Isaiah 40:4).
Therefore, God is against everyone and everything that is said to be first in this world: “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up – and it shall be brought low.” (Isaiah 2:12).
Jesus says: “The last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16).
God is jealous of anything said to be first, for only God can rightfully be first in everything. God says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:11). For this reason, He is ruthlessly against every firstborn child. According to God’s providence, the firstborn must suffer rejection, and the second or the last must replace him.
So, by God’s providence, the first man, Adam, sinned inevitably and suffered rejection. He was replaced by the last man, Jesus. Adam is the first Adam, and Jesus is the last Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:45). The first Adam failed woefully by God’s determinate counsel. But the last Adam, Jesus, succeeded gloriously by appointment: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Adam brought the curse which God pronounced on mankind, as judgment for his sin of disobedience:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19).
Eve also earned a curse for the same disobedience. God told her: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children.” (Genesis 3:19).
But the last Adam redeemed us from all curses and brought us the blessings of the Lord:
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14).
Thanks to Jesus, God has now blessed us with: “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” (Ephesians 1:3).
This is how Paul presents this kingdom dynamic:
“‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47).
In this world, old age has supremacy over youth. The firstborn is preferred above and beyond his younger siblings. He is given authority over them. He automatically becomes the head of the family on the death of the father. He inherits a double portion of the family estate. In a royal family, the firstborn is the heir to the throne.
But God deliberately violates and contradicts this convention. He refuses to recognise the firstborn. Indeed, He opposes and rejects every firstborn.
Cain was the firstborn son of Adam. But God preferred his younger brother, Abel:
“Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” (Genesis 4:3-5).
God preferred Abraham over his older brothers, Haran and Nahor. He gave Abraham the covenant of being “the father of many nations.”
Isaac was the younger son of Abraham. But God preferred him to his older brother, Ishmael. He
said to Abraham:
“As for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him. I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac.” (Genesis 17:20-21).
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