The Almighty God, awesome and fearsome, commanded the world into existence with the power of His voice, a sound immeasurably loud. The Almighty then formed Adam, man, from the Earth. Kneeling down, perhaps to take the soil and fashion a person. Why would the Almighty stoop down to make such as us, and even to make us in His image? Why does he favor, show grace, to the likes of us?
The Bible defines grace as:
2603achanan [335d]; a prim. root; to show favor, be gracious:
2603. chanan, khaw-nan´; a primitive root (compare 2583); properly, to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow; causatively to implore (i.e. move to favor by petition).
The Hebrew suggests that God bends down to people, who are indeed inferior, albeit made in His image, to bestow on them some kindness.
God Reveals Himself
By giving lowly humans, His name, which includes His nature and character, God involves Himself in the affairs of mankind. His name defines Him as well as agreeing to make Himself available to humans according to His terms. In effect, He assumes an aspect comprehendible and on a level people could relate to. Thus, when Moses asks God through the burning bush who He is, God answers Yahweh, that is, I AM WHO I AM. What God tells Moses is that God is the Eternal and Self-existent One. He just IS! There is no other!
God defines Himself as the God of Israel, because of the covenant promise with Abraham, not because of the goodness of Israel. He condescended to be with Israel, and they will call Him by His Name, Yahweh.
Ex. 3:14 God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM; and He said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.
Ex. 3:15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.
Yahweh even spoke person to person with Moses. How gracious is that? Here the Creator of the universe, who is God Almighty, the Eternal One, speaks to a man, made of flesh and blood, not of Spirit and Power.
Ex. 33:11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
Ex. 33:12 ¶ Then Moses said to the LORD, See, You say to me, Bring up this people! But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.
God continues to reveal Himself throughout the pages of the Bible in Word and deed. He continues to show favor to all people by causing the sun to rise and providing rain in due season and other gracious acts on the righteous and the evil. He is God and His actions define His goodness, never degrading Himself to the level of human thought and action with petty retaliations. So during our lives, we cannot but see how God shows favor in our lives and the lives of all Earthlings.
God Reveals His Commandments
God, then, favors people with giving them the Words of Life, the Ten Commandments. Most people think the Commandments are a burden and something to be avoided at all cost. Hypocrites pretend to keep the Commandments, but modify them to suit their purposes. Oh, you dont have to keep the Sabbath, they say, because the Sabbath is part of the Old Covenant, which is done away with. But, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, in the New Covenant, which they never say. Hebrews 3 and 4 give more reasons for keeping the Sabbath in the New Covenant. Then they say the One God is three persons!!?? Say what? What does He have three heads. Or, God is not One Person, but a corporation or an office with triad running it.
But, God revealed His Ten Commandments on the Mount and constantly told people how these Words would change their lives. He even revealed the positive aspects of the Thou shalt nots to the thou shalts. For example, working instead of stealing to be able to help the poor. Sin is defined as the transgression of the Law.
1John 3:4 ¶ Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
1John 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
458. anomia, an-om-ee´-ah; from 459; illegality, i.e. violation of law or (genitive case) wickedness:iniquity, x transgress(-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.
459. anomos, an´-om-os; from 1 (as a negative particle) and 3551; lawless, i.e. (negatively) not subject to (the Jewish) law; (by implication, a Gentile), or (positively) wicked:
The commandments define righteousness and goodness. Keeping the Ten Commandments gives people wisdom, makes them smarter than their teachers, and provides them with understanding. Keeping the Ten Commandments is better than hoarding gold or wealth.
The universe reveals God; just as any thing we create reveals us. Therefore, the laws of the universe respond to righteousness, to people keeping Gods Commandments. Good things happen to people who are in sync with the Laws of God and Gods nature.
Deut. 4:6 So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
Deut. 4:7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?
Deut. 4:8 Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?
Deut. 4:9 ¶ Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.
God favors mankind with His Words of Life, the Ten Commandments, but only a few respond to His graciousness, and lose, thereby, great benefits relating to life and life more abundantly.
Father Draws Him
While God shows favor to the good and bad, He provides special favor to those who would be faithful followers of Him and His Way. These He draws to His Son and our brother, to be under his loving care.
1Pet. 1:2 God the Father chose you long ago, and the Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Jesus Christ and are cleansed by his blood. May you have more and more of Gods special favor and wonderful peace.
God knew from the beginning those who would be His in each age. The person was predestined.
Just as God planned the creation of the universe, planned to have a Son when the time was right, and planned to have sons and daughters, He knew from the beginning the names, personalities and character of His only begotten Son and those believers He would put under His Sons care.
Eph. 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Eph. 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Eph. 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
Eph. 1:8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
Eph. 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
Eph. 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
Eph. 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
Eph. 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Nonetheless, the wages of sin is death. There is only one way to remove the death penalty hanging over mankind because all have sinned and come short of the Law. A man, who never sinned and therefore never needed to die, had to die in the place of sinners. This Jesus did and obtained by this act pardon for all sinners from the death penalty. We need only to accept the pardon his favor worked out by God and agreed to by Jesus during his life, to be set free from death itself and the fear of death. To prove we accept the pardon, we need only be baptized into Jesus death, receive and use the Holy Spirit, and keep the Commandments; not that doing any of these earns our pardon, but just proves that we assent to our pardon.
Rom. 5:18 ¶ So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
Rom. 5:19 For as through the one mans disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
Rom. 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
Rom. 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Gods love is so grand that He gave up His only begotten Son to die for our sins; He could give up nothing as important. And because Jesus did not sin, the grave could hold him but three days and three nights, when God resurrected him at the end of the Sabbath.
The Righteous Find Favor
What are the keys to finding that extra favor God gives to certain individuals? Certainly, fear of the Lord heads the list, but also the attitude of humble obedience is not far behind. The Bible calls people, who in their hearts want to please Our Father in Heaven, righteous, if not always in every deed all the time because even those who fully intend to be righteous err and slip in the normal course of events for none ever set their hearts and minds fully on Gods will the way Jesus did. Hebrews 11 chronicles those who nearly achieved perfect righteousness but had attitude of righteousness.
Gen. 6:8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
Col. 2:19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
Prov. 4:18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
When people show the fruit of faith, doing those things that show complete and intense loyalty to Our Father in Heaven, He gives them the gift of righteousness through Jesus. With this gift resulting in righteous behavior, Our Father in Heaven increasingly shows favor to those who walk in the way of His Son.
Rom. 3:22 We are made right in Gods sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. (NLT)
Be Your God
Our Father in Heaven further advances those He specially favors from knowledge of Him to being their God. No longer do His favorites have to be enslaved to the god of the world with all its lies and evil. Just as Israel was freed from Egyptian slavery, both physically and spiritually on the fateful Passover so many years ago, so, too, does He free the beloved in Jesus after the auspicious Passover some two thousand year ago. Now all people are free to believe, believe in and worship the One True God, Our Father in Heaven.
Further, Our Father in Heaven not only dwells among believers, His Holy Spirit dwells within them making them temples of Truth, Light, and Worship of the Living God.
1Cor. 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
After the miracle of being filled with the Holy Spirit, believers become one with Our Father in Heaven as much as Jesus was with Him. Therefore, Our God is always with us; we are never alone or without His help.
John 17:20 ¶ I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
John 17:21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
John 17:22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;
John 17:23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
Our Father in Heaven continues to heap blessing after blessing on those He favors.
If God Be for You
All right, you may say, so the Almighty is Our Father in Heaven; most people are antagonistic to Him, either out of ignorance, deception or deliberate evil. Since believers ally themselves with God, therefore, the rebellious would consider them as enemies as well. Actually, just the opposite occurs. When God favors believers, He makes sure all people also favor them.
Rom. 8:28 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
Rom. 8:31 ¶ What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?
As much as we want people to favor us, Our Father in Heavens favor exceeds anything anyone can provide, not withstanding our need for peoples approval, at least. When God is for us, He absolutely arranges heaven and Earth for our good, our salvation, our relationship with Our Father in Heaven. Look how he created the solar system so it would tell us when the Sabbath begins and ends, when the Holy Days begin and end.
Phil. 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
1Cor. 1:4 ¶ I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,
1Cor. 1:5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,
1Cor. 1:6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,
1Cor. 1:7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Cor. 1:8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Cor. 1:9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our confidence in Our Father in Heaven begins with learning of Him in His Word and grows daily as we accede to His Will and He does wonders in our lives. God favors all people, but especially deals with His People for their greatest good.
God did not have to stoop down to mankind to create him out of the clay of the earth. God did not have to reveal Himself and make Himself accessible to these creatures made of clay. God did not have to reveal His Ten Commandments, the way of life. God did not have to draw those individuals who would be receptive to Him and His Way of Life.
But in the end, actually in the beginning, God knew who He would choose to receive the great blessings He had in mind. He knew those people would eschew the god of the world and worship Him in word and deed.
Those who find grace and favor from Our Father in Heaven receive the confidence to depend on Him in all situations because He cares.
Part II next month.