‘For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own’ ~ 1 Samuel 12:22
We humans are born clueless and into a cruel world. As we grow up we realize that there is a ‘force’ bigger than ourselves. Most call it God (and rightly so), others the universe, some gods, whilst others science – and pay homage to whatever they have concluded. Others still disregard and do not acknowledge any bigger force whatsoever. We all arrive at making sense of the world based on our backgrounds, or what we have been convinced of, if ever we seek an alternative. Most, however, remain clueless even as they advance in years and reasoning. That is why Jesus says to the Samaritan woman, ‘ . . . you worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know’ (John 4:22). Like the Samaritan woman, we at one point or another worshipped what we did not know, because we did not know why we are born. We simply found ourselves amidst life with a bunch of religious regulations and societal norms. Adam, for instance, found himself right in the middle of the Garden of Eden with ‘the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Genesis 2:9), and a directive from God that ‘you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’ (v17). Adam and his wife soon went ahead to eat from the tree, after they encountered another force they were clueless about, the devil.
It was then that Adam and Eve realised that their Genesis was not really the Genesis. They were clueless about the other forces, and only seemed to come to their realization once it conflicted with the force they had known. They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as convinced by the devil, since the woman saw that it was ‘desirable for gaining wisdom’ (3:v6). But to God, mankind surely died, because ‘He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever’ (v22). So, they were banished from the harmonious Eden to a chaotic world. God remarks, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil’ (v22). Man, who only knew good, now knew evil, because he encountered another force outside of God. Solomon even observes, ‘This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes’ (Ecclesiastes 7:29). One would think that after gaining knowledge of good and evil and searching out many things, man would have arrived to some conclusion, but we still remained clueless. This is because man searched for schemes in the world, where the Evil One resides and ‘has his throne’ (Revelation 2:13). So now, man become clueless of another force, but this time, we became clueless about God.
Enter the law, which a man had to live by. But in reality, man died from it, because the law brought our sin to the surface, the sin of our first father, Adam. Paul notes, ‘I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death’ (Romans 7:10). For the law was actually ‘the ministry that brought death’ (2 Corinthians 2:7), because ‘apart from law, sin is dead’ (Romans 7:8). But the law was introduced so that ‘through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful’ (v13). Again, man was clueless because for a long time, he upheld the law as if it was their lifeline. Through the Law, man thought that he had finally attained knowledge of the bigger force, but God had in fact ‘gave them over to statues that were not good and laws they could not live by’ (Ezekiel 20:25). Since the first chosen people lusted after idols, God ‘let them become defiled through their gifts – the sacrifice of every firstborn – that I might fill them with horror so that they would know that I am the Lord’ (v26). And the law became a horror to mankind, and unknown to clueless mankind, it also became a horror to the devil for other reasons.
When the law was introduced and Priests were instituted to atone for sin, the devil knew that mankind could now see that their redemption was possible, unlike his. Zechariah in a vision sees ‘Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him’ (Zechariah 3:1). The sin of mankind was what Satan held against us, and was the basis in which he presented as to why a priest cannot atone for another’s sin, because they are also sinful. But ‘The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?’ (v2). Humanity were burning sticks in hell’s fire, but the devil did not want to make us aware of the extent of our damnation, and that God sought to snatch us from the fire. ‘The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). But God reveals to the Priest, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you’ (Zechariah 3:4). The Priests who operated under the law, however, were only ‘men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch’ (v8). In fact, when Moses introduced the law to the people from God, he tells them, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning’ (Exodus 20:20). Clueless man still did not understand that ‘the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves’ (Hebrews 10:1). The devil kept man blinded that the impossible-to-keep law was all there is to our redemption. But in reality, the law was just ‘a shadow of things that were to come’ (Colossians 2:17).
But what was the reality? Mankind remained clueless because the law was not founded on man’s account. Before the Genesis as we know it, ‘There was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him’ (Revelation 12:7-9). The war did not end there. The all-knowing God knew that the devil would tempt man, His creation, and so the war was not yet over. Only this time, mankind, God’s only creation made ‘in his own image’ (Genesis 1:27) would be caught between this fight. God knew that the devil would use us as pawns, and by introducing sin to us, he would then taint and steal God’s image. The thief who had tried to steal God’s glory and majesty, now attempted to steal the ‘apple of His eye’ (Deuteronomy 32:10). But when Satan saw that God had already made a solution for man’s redemption, ‘The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre. And her child was snatched up to God and his throne’ (Revelation 12:4-5). Since the devil could not access the child, he knew he was defeated, and so decided to target clueless mankind. ‘Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went to off to make war against the rest of her offspring’ (v17).
The Child finally came into the world by the name Jesus Christ, so that we ‘may have life and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). Jesus, ‘the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8), came to make clueless mankind aware of all the occurrences before the beginning of our time, and how we are all caught in between. ‘And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’ (Colossians 2:15). Jesus brought to all mankind full knowledge of our redemption in order to snatch us out of the burning hell fire we jumped into when our first father complied with Satan, introducing sin and death. Asaph, the Prophet, sees the helplessness of mankind and beseeches, ‘Help us, O God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations (read devil) say, ‘Where is their God?’ (Psalm 79:9-10). Once Jesus was revealed, mankind was delivered and forgiven. But for those who choose to remain clueless because of unbelief, Jesus says, ‘I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins’ (John 8:24). Our God finally revealed Himself for His name’s sake, in order to ‘destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil’ (Hebrews 2:14). God then says to mankind, ‘I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake . . . On the day I cleanse you from all your sins . . . Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate’ (Ezekiel 36:32,33,36). Jesus redeemed us to shame the devil and display His love and glory. ‘For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let my name be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another’ (Isaiah 48:11). So, ‘Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels’ (46:v8).
‘I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me’ ~ John 14:29-31
‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us but unto your name be the glory, for your mercy, and for your truth’s sake’ ~ Psalm 115:1
‘ . . . God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you’ ~ Ephesians 4:32
‘’your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake’ ~ 1 John 2:12