God’s ways are different from man’s ways: Meditation for the sixteenth Sunday After Trinity
There are several places in scripture where God’s ways and wisdom are contrasted with man’s ways and wisdom. They include as follows:
• Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
• 1 Corinthians 1:25 – “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
We are very familiar with man’s ways, but not with God’s ways. His ways are very mysterious to us as we sing in the hymn: “God moves in a mysterious way; His wonders to perform.” Describing God’s ways as being as high above us as the heavens implies that we will have a hard time understanding His ways. God’s ways of accomplishing His purpose are strange to man. For instance, His ways of battle, love, salvation, timing, healing, deliverance, etc. can be absurd, unconventional and even foolish in human standard. We may not understand, but we need to believe and trust God’s ways. God’s ways demonstrate his omniscience and omnipresence and will always lead to the expected results in ways that marvel man.
Reflections on the Bible Readings for Day – Judg 7:1-23; Jn 7:1-24 (Mattins)
The OT Reading is an example of how God’s ways differ from ours. We like to use big things to accomplish big tasks. But God uses small things to accomplish big purposes. Here, God used Gideon, the least man in his family and from the weakest clan of Manasseh (6:15). Gideon had an army of 32,000 to go up against a coalition of the armies of the Midianites, Amalekites, and other Eastern peoples (6:33) totalling 120,000. This boiled down to about 1:4, which was far from matching by man’s standard. But even at that, God told Gideon that his army was too large for the war and so reduced it by 99 per cent, leaving him with only 300 men. It was with this little army that God brought victory for the Israelites. This can be none other but the Lord’s doing and it is indeed marvellous in our eyes.
The NT passage records how the Lord Jesus went to Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles in way different from men’s. The following should be noted from the passage:
• Men make shows and seek public recognition, but Jesus went quietly (verses 3-4 and 10). God does not act to impress.
• Jesus endeavoured to keep to the timing of God (verses 6 & 8). God’s time differs from man’s time and is the best. Jesus never allowed men or circumstances to push him out of God’s timing (cf.2:4; Rom. 5:6). God has set time for events of our lives (7:30; 8:20).
• The ways of the world contradict the ways of God. So the world hates those who adhere to and assert the ways of God (vs 7).
• Jesus’ rejection of his brother’s suggestion was not a declination to go to the Feast since he eventually went (verses 8-10). It was rather a deliberate refusal to attend in the way others did (as pilgrims). He had to go in the way God designed for him – To deliver a prophetic message for which He awaited the right time.
• Knowledge of God’s ways comes from God Himself, not from human education, which can only impart human knowledge. They marvelled at the teachings of Jesus, particularly as He did not acquire formal education in the sense of passing through a recognised rabbi (cf Acts 4:13).
But Jesus made it clear that His teaching and knowledge came from God.
• The last verse of the passage gives the conclusion of Jesus’ teaching with a call to do it rightly (God’s way) in judgment – “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (vs 24).
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC, is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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