Our steps are ordered of the Lord…
In my Bible reading today, I’m starting at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel.
And as I often do, when starting a new book, I often read from Eugene Peterson’s book entitled “The Invitation,” which gives a summary of each book in the Bible.
I thought this introduction to the book of Matthew was quite insightful.
I particularly like the part that says,
“Jesus is the coming together in final form of themes and energies and movements that had been set in motion before the foundation of the world.”
by Eugene H Peterson
The story of Jesus doesn’t begin with Jesus.
God had been at work for a long time.
Salvation, which is the main business of Jesus, is an old business.
Jesus is the coming together in final form of themes and energies and movements that had been set in motion before the foundation of the world.
Matthew opens the New Testament by setting the local story of Jesus in its world historical context.
He makes sure that as we read his account of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see the connections with everything that has gone before.
In fact, in his account of Jesus’ birth alone, Matthew reminds his readers of two Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah.
Watch for this —a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; they will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).
(Matthew 1: 23, quoting Isaiah 7: 14)
It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.
(Matthew 2: 5-6, quoting Micah 5: 2)
“Fulfilled”is one of Matthew’s characteristic verbs: such and such happened “that it might be fulfilled.”
Jesus is unique, but he is not odd.
Better yet, Matthew tells the story in such a way that not only is everything previous to us completed in Jesus; we are completed in Jesus.
Every day we wake up in the middle of something that is already going on, that has been going on for a long time: genealogy and geology, history and culture, the cosmos —God.
We are neither accidental nor incidental to the story. We get orientation, briefing, background, reassurance.
Matthew provides the comprehensive context by which we see all God’s creation and salvation completed in Jesus, and all the parts of our lives —work, family, friends, memories, dreams —also completed in Jesus, who himself said, “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures —either God’s Law or the Prophets.
I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama”(Matthew 5: 17).
Lacking such a context, we are in danger of seeing Jesus as a mere diversion from the concerns announced in the newspapers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Matthew’s gospel was primarily directed to the Jews, pointing out all the many prophecies, in the Tanakh (Jewish Old Testament), that were fulfilled in Jesus’ life and ministry, which He performed here on Earth, from age 30 to 33.
The Bible tells us that God lives in eternity, which means He lives outside of our time space continuum, both of which He has created for our benefit.
I think this point is emphasized quite well in Isaiah 46:9-10:
“9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying,
‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ “
Eternity is not a long time, but rather it’s the absence of time and space, as we understand it.
The Bible tells us that we each have been created with a destiny and a purpose, and that God’s plan of redemption, for Adam and his descendants, began before God laid the foundation of the Earth.
In Revelation 13:8 we read: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
When attempting to understand a verse, it always helps to look for other verses containing similar words or phrases.
Scripture should be compared with Scripture; after all, every verse is related to at least one other verse.
This method of cross-referencing increases the likelihood of exegesis (interpreting the text as Almighty God intended) and minimizes the possibility of eisegesis (interpreting it to fit our own biases and preconceived ideas).
We find something similar in 1 Peter chapter 1:
“19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” ———
Long before Adam was created and placed on the Earth, long before he sinned in the Garden of Eden, long before Calvary’s crosswork was ever accomplished to undo the damage of sin, that crosswork had already occurred in the mind of the triune Godhead.
Jesus Christ’s destiny was predetermined long before He ever became a man, and long before there ever was a creation.
Nothing in His earthly life occurred fortuitously; even His miraculous birth and graphic death were in the Godhead’s eternal plan!
“Lo, I come to do thy will,” Messiah Jesus, quoting Psalm 40, told His Father at His incarnation (Hebrews 10:7-9).
If you read verses 10-22 of Hebrews chapter 10, you will see the cross!!
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—in their omniscience (all-knowledge)—could actually look into the future, down the corridor of time, to see that the Son would suffer and die on Cavalry’s cruel cross.
All three Persons would cooperate to work to that end. It was all settled fact in Heaven before it even came to pass on Earth.
[Quoted from: For What Saith the Scriptures? – arC Ministries’ Bible Questions Answered from the Dispensationally-Delivered Scriptures]
And the Bible says about each of us, that we also were created with a destiny and a purpose that was formed before the foundation of the Earth.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified;
those he justified, he also glorified.”
Ephesians 1:5; 11
“He (God) predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
Living Bible (TLB)
16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! ———
My point is God already has a plan and purpose for the Earth, for the future our nation and for each of us as individuals.
Nothing that happens, in the earth or in our individual lives, catches Him by surprise.
For God’s destiny to be fulfilled in our lives, the Bible tells us that we must first allow the Holy Spirit to rewrite the corrupt programming that we have received from the world; and this is done first as we immerse ourselves in God’s Word (the Bible), and thereby put on the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16 and Philippians 2:5); and secondly as we learn to trust God with all of our heart, not leaning on our own understanding; and then by acknowledging Him in all of our ways, He promises that He is directing our steps (see Proverbs 3:5-6), as we learn to walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Come join the Adventure!