See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Ex.19: 4.

Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774


Revisiting Abraham, Sarah, Ishmael, and Isaac” June 2010—Part 8.

In our current series entitled, “Did God Establish a Man’s World?” we dealt rather extensively with a number of named persons and the role they played in the human family, and how some figured into the lineage of Jesus Christ. We shone the spotlight mainly on women, because the intent of the series is to examine the place given to women in the structure of the human family. Our main objective is to peek as it were, in the mind of the Creator, to determine how he intended it to be throughout human history between male and female. As we concluded earlier, we do know that the original order was brought to an end as the man and the woman left the Garden of Eden. What we could not determine was the period of years that transpired before their expulsion from their paradise. Along the way, our study had us visiting the home of our Father Abraham and our Mother Sarah. We looked at the good days, and we looked at the days that seemingly, were not so good. We remembered, how, over the years, preachers, exhorters, and bible teachers blamed Sarah for being impatient and not willing to wait for God’s promise of a son to be fulfilled. In this period, Hagar the Egyptian maid went in to Abraham to intentionally become a surrogate mother on behalf of Sarah her mistress. Some preachers blame Sarah for “trying to lend God a helping hand” resulting in certain confusion and hurt.

We felt sadness for Hagar and her son, Ishmael, as they left the secure environment around the Abraham family compound, and wandered out into the desert. We felt the pain of this young mother as she placed her son under a tree and went some distance off, not being able to watch the boy die in front of her eyes. We listened as God promised to bless the lad and make him a great nation, producing twelve princes. We also heard the angel say that the hand of the lad will be against every man, and every man’s hand will be against him. This seems to be playing true to form even as I write this. Seemingly, a simple family feud has become a United Nation’s effort to fight and defeat those who must be seen as certain factions among the descendants of Ishmael. We promised earlier to come back to the issue of Sarah and Hagar and study all the spiritual aspects woven and intertwined into this profound human story.

The most crucial point in the story between the two boys, Isaac and Ishmael, was that in the midst of the festivities, celebrating the weaning of Isaac, Ishmael was seen by Sarah laughing, perhaps, meaning that he was mocking. An enraged Sarah had her husband throw them out after a little prodding from the Lord himself. Go ahead! Do It! Do as Sarah your wife has said! So the story went. But Paul the apostle came along in New Testament times and saw so much spiritual realism in the story that he was compelled to address it on the spiritual merits embodied in the lesson. When we step back in time and attach purpose to the lesson, like a sieve we gradually separate the negative from the positive, and the chaff from the real grain. At the age of thirteen, Abraham’s son, Ishmael was circumcised and Abraham stood at ninety nine years old. But about this time, the angel of the Lord came on the scene and inserted the idea of Abraham having another son, this time by Sarah who had been barren. If we thought that life in Abraham’s home was complicated with the birth of Ishmael, things would get worse with the arrival of another son, Isaac, and to add complexity to the issue, this younger lad would be the chosen one. This mixture of complexities was a potent brew concocted by God himself. And yet, it was not without purpose and divine intentions that all of this came about. Let us lay a little foundation at this juncture! God IS SPIRIT and as such he cannot be seen by human eyes, except in rare instances when he chose to lift the veil from off the human eyes and reveal a little of himself. He speaks, but his voice is on such a level and with such vibrations that the human ear cannot readily pick up his voice. So more often than not, God uses material things and human beings to “model or express” his message. It is like a person who cannot speak, so he writes his message or draws pictures of what is being said. Paul said it best when he explained that for God to show his anger, he produces vessels fitted for destruction, and to show forth his mercy and grace, he

makes vessels fitted for mercy. It is up to us humans to read and understand correctly what God’s messages are, and since God is Spirit his messages are best understood in the realm of the spirit. For ages the church world has pointed an accusing finger at all three persons involved in the love triangle that formed in Abraham’s household. As mentioned before, we cried shame on Sarah who could not wait for her own child to be born, who had to rush ahead of God and tried her own experiment that blew up in her face. Since the story is well known and many verdicts have been passed on the issue, there is no need to retrace it line by line and verse by verse. Suffice it to say that the conclusion drawn from this story has always been a negative one. Somehow, we always managed to lay blame on human error in judgment, human desires, human impatience, and a rush to fulfill the distorted desires of the flesh. But! Alas! Could there be another side to this story? Could it be that every strand of every cord that bound this human drama together was divinely orchestrated? Can you remember an incident in your life or in the life of someone else, wherein it seemed that all hell broke loose and disaster loomed around the next bend in the road? Yet, over time as we put the pieces together and stare at the amazing finish, we had to conclude that it was the handy work of God all along?

In this human conflict in Abraham’s household, we saw anger, a burning desire for motherhood, a man caught between the desire of an angry wife and a slave girl being given up as a pawn. Do you think that for one moment any one of these people figured out that God was at the center of it all? Out of this lesson and others like it working their way down to the day in which I live, I have learned not to judge others based upon my own idea of right and wrong, because I do not know what God is working in, or working out of the person. All of the old fashioned verdicts against Abraham, Sarah and Hagar are based upon a human perspective as viewed and understood by mere humans looking through natural eyes; but the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. Some of us may very well be surprised to learn that the little Egyptian maid became an outstanding figure in God’s grand design of things spiritual, and that the woman we blame with impatience and even selfish motives has been elevated to the highest realm any human being can ever aspire unto.

What about the two boys? Were they acting and living their lives as all little boys are supposed to live in any time frame of human history? Was Ishmael forced to mock during the festivity celebrating the weaning of Isaac? Yes, he mocked, resulting in him and his mother being thrown out of the household, but what is the true story in this episode? Could this little family feud have embodied some greater truth and spiritual realities that were meant for us to embrace in New Testament times? Let me throw this little nugget in for good measure! If we manage to grasp the spiritual truths that God deliberately hid within this human story, then we must rightly look away from the actors and see the writer of the script. The only difference is that in the movies, and actor has time to study the script and the character he or she will be playing, but in biblical terms we simply are not given a script in advance. Because of this “unknown” factor we beat ourselves into the ground, and we sometimes beat others down, thinking that we know full well what is going on. Abraham could not sit his two wives down and say to them: “It seems hard and the conflict is sore today, but one day our story is going become great in the annals of church history.” They were locked in human drama and would have been justified in seeing themselves as victims of circumstances. To us God has opened up a new venue and enabled us to look at the BIG PICTURE behind the fortunes and what seemed as misfortunes in the household of Abraham.

Paul came on the scene and brought us to the table with our notebooks in hand, and challenged us to revisit the subjects of our study. He opened his discussion by saying: “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. (Paul did not lay blame on any one.) Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, which answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children..” Galatians 4:22-25. So then, Abraham’s two sons represented two covenants and each carried its own characteristics that are being played out among us even today. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” As we just noted, Agar represents mount Sinai in Arabia and is a type of Jerusalem which is now, and is in bondage with her children. Thus, we must conclude that neither, Abraham, Sarah, nor Hagar had any control over the events that transpired in their lives. The boys and their behavior were also figured into the truth of the gospel that would unfold thousands of years later. The conduct of the boys in their own childish and immature ways pointed to a spiritual reality in that the flesh will always persecute the spirit. There will always be conflict between the carnal man or the natural man and the spiritual man. We must also notice that Hagar bespeaks of literal Jerusalem, whereas Sarah answers to Jerusalem which is from above, the mother of us all.”So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free (or of Sarah) “Galatians 4:31. Personally, I think this is the highest position that can be offered to a simple woman who lived in ancient times, but was selected by God to be a pattern of achievement and exaltation by the Lord God himself. But let us not forget the main objectives of this lesson. Let us stand on the side lines and watch this human drama unfold before our very eyes. Along the way, let us set up ourselves as judges, to determine the rights and the wrongs of the people involved. As we love to do from our vantage point, let us try to determine the motives and the character of the people involved.

Paul puts the whole thing in its proper perspective as follows: “But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise.” Galatians 4:23. Notice that Paul did not lay blame against any one. He did not belittle one and exalt the other, because one participant catered to the flesh and the other was by promise. Paul did not embark upon a “blame game.” It is amazing that amongst us humans, the moment something goes awry, the first question usually is, “Who was at fault here?” The apostle was not interested in affixing personal blame, because in the final analysis, no one was at fault! It was God working “all things after the counsel of his own will.” Ephesians 1: 11. Can you imagine that whatever motivated Sarah to invite her husband to go in to her handmaid, although unknown to her, was by divine intuition? Sure, as a barren woman approaching old age, she must have acted out of her own feeling of desperation. When she moved to cast out the bond woman and her son it was by personal rage. From her own vantage point, she acted out of her personal feeling of anger and rage. But it was all done in order to solidify the truth that God intended to unveil in later years. “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” Galatians 4: 30,31.

The single most important point I want for us to understand is that all the people involved in becoming parts of God’s own will and plan of salvation, grace, mercy and judgment, had no idea of what role they were elected to play. They were ordinary people going about their ordinary lives and reacting to trials and fiery furnaces as daily routines. They did not think that any trial, any failure or victory that happened to them back then, would resonate down through time to become living testimonies thousands of years later. It was God who tells the end from the beginning that orchestrated all of this unknown to the actual participants. Because of this truth, I have learned to step back from the judgment hall of public opinion and let God work in or work out of each person as he deems fit. In other words, you look at something that seems unseemly especially in terms of human behavior and the temptation is strong for us to rush to judgment. But shouldn’t we stop and ponder the fact that it could be that God is working a work in that person or situation that none of us at this point in time can understand?

Let us be quite frank about this! God could easily have blessed Ishmael and made him the chosen one in whom all nations of the earth would be blessed. Life in Abraham’s house would have been simple and free of the conflicts that were created by the arrival of a second son. Please make note of this truth! Even at this early stage in human history, God introduced a process that placed the second son above the first; a case that was seen between Jacob and Esau, between Ephraim and Manasseh, and between Jesus and us. During my first years as a Christian, I saw the Old Testament as historical narratives, full of judges, tribes, wars and who begat whom. It was only in recent years as I began to study the volumes of past years and began to see how God plotted and planned what would later become paramount truths to his New Testament Body that I began to embrace and enjoy Old Testament narrative of scripture. The Church as we know it employs a single blanket of truths to which each member must adhere, and against which each person is judged. Seemingly, as they live beneath the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their mandate becomes that of defining and drawing the line between good and evil and both are understood within the context of a narrow definition of both good and evil. Based upon this narrow margin of interpretation all the participants, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and Ishmael would have been found to be at fault. In a local church setting, they would have to answer before the Board of Elders, the Board of Bishops, or before the Disciplinary Action Committee. We hate to think what the judgment against them would be! From where we stand today, we can turn to Genesis and read about Abraham’s household conflicts, flip the pages to Romans and to Galatians and promptly see how God worked it out according to his divine purpose. But what if we step back in time and take our place as innocent by-standers, watching how these ordinary folks responded to their troubles and trials as if by their own strength, because they had no clue that God was working his divine purpose in them and through them. It was like putting a man blind folded in a cave and telling him to find his way out. From where we are in time, we can read how they did it, but for them it was not that simple.

As we settle in our comfortable arm chair with a cool drink and popcorn to watch Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston playing in the Cecil B. De Mille epic, “The Ten Commandments” we watched the stubbornness of the Pharaoh, and knew the end even before the introduction and credits on screen were completed. But for a closer look at the facts or the “grass roots truths” let us hear Paul’s take on the subject. Before we do this, let me tell you that I have heard preachers over and over again tell how wicked Pharaoh was, and many link his wickedness to predestination, saying that it was because God knew how wicked he was, why he was predestinated to play the role that he did. Of course, being selected or elected to do something that God already knew that you would do is not predestination; rather it is doing what you were chosen to do before time began is predestined—pre-ordained—ordained before time began.

Paul pointed to this king by saying: “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” Romans 9:17. Here is a snapshot of Pharaoh’ case! Even before Moses left for Egypt, God informed him saying of Pharaoh; “I will harden his heart that he shall not let the people go.” Exodus 4:21.Notice how God began to lure Pharaoh into playing “hard ball.” And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth my armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said. And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.” Exodus 7:3,4,13,14. Over and over in this dialogue we see that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, so as to give reason for God’s judgments to be unleashed throughout the land of Egypt. Paul was very blunt or bold in addressing this very point: For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Romans 9:15,18. What we see across the pages of history is God working all things according to the counsel of his own will. He sets his own decrees and his counsel does stand.

God’s servants come in various sizes, forms, and caliber! Would you call Hitler a servant of the Lord? Would you call Saddam Hussein, or Castro, or Hugo Chavez servants of the Lord? You see, in our religious way of thinking, a servant of the Lord has to be someone doing good each and every day as opportunity presents itself. But “bad people” are also the servants of the Lord. “And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him.” Jeremiah 27:6. “That saith of Cyrus, he is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” Isaiah 44: 28. This declaration was made by the prophet in 712 B.C., some 138 years before Cyrus was born. So we have two different kings, reigning in two different time frames, but doing God’s will as his servants. One major factor comes into play, and we should make sure that we understand it, because it is the principle upon which God operates. God, speaking for himself said: “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.” Isaiah 54:16. “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Proverbs 16:4. God, by virtue of his nature is love and shows mercy that has no end, so in order to implement judgment and harsh justice, just like the smith who makes instruments for his work, so God creates the waster to destroy. He has created evil men for the day of evil, because humble peaceful men cannot initiate an evil day. By this, we can better understand why things happened the way they did in the home of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. It is much like preparing a pot of vegetable soup from scratch. We pitch in a combination of ingredients and several types of vegetables, and when blended together and cooked to perfection, we end up with something tasty and fit for a king. We call New York, or Los Angeles, or San Francisco, or Miami mixing bowls of humanity. God indeed created our world as a mixing bowl of humanity. Apart from the variety of races and customs, we have an abundant supply of temperaments, dispositions, values, and capabilities. Seemingly, some people have a built in capacity for violence and mean acts against fellow human beings. Some acts we simply call acts of an animal. But the bible does call some human beings animals. So what are we saying? We are underscoring the fact that God has populated the earth with human beings that possess every form of nature that will serve his purpose in his own time. God allows man to go on a rampage, burning cities and properties of high value, then he calls a halt to the process. Listen to this alarming statement! “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” Psalm 76:10. What does this verse seem to suggest? It seems to be saying that at one point or another, even man’s wrath spilling out on to our streets can echo God’s praises, perhaps not from our point of view but from his, and when his purpose is complete he steps in and say, “That is enough! Now hold your peace!” Is there anything we just mentioned that God is not capable of doing? The more I search the scriptures, and the more I equate God’s handiwork with man’s actions, is the more dumbfounded and alarmed I am concerning the God we serve.

I feel compelled at this juncture to share an experience I had back in the 1970,s when serving as pastor of Endtime United Church in Norfolk, Virginia, a local Assembly that I founded soon after my arrival from London, England. On Thursdays, the mother of the church had a noonday prayer service at her parents’ house and people from the Baptist Church near by attended. One Thursday I stopped by to offer moral support and to add a little texture to the meeting. I took a seat at the back of the room, while a brother from the Baptist Church made his contribution with words of exhortation. Sitting at the back of the room as a spectator, a voice spoke within me saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” The voice said, “You were told that if your heart is pure, you will go to sleep at night and in your dream you would see me dressed all over in white.” I said, Yes! The voice said, NO! That is not what I meant! The voice went on: “You were told that if your heart is pure, on that great day before the great white throne you would see me face to face.” I said Yes! The voice said, NO! That is not what I meant! What I meant is simply this: If your heart is pure, everywhere you look you see me! That revelation grabbed me from my boot straps to the crown of my head, and I have never been the same since. Because of this truth, in many sermons thereafter, I used to turn and look at fellow ministers and say, “I don’t care what you believe, or how complex your religious orders are. When I look at you, I am looking for the Christ in you, and if I find him within you, the Christ in me can relate to the Christ in you, and together we can have fellowship. I am not looking for your doctrine or your article of faith or your religious affiliation. I am looking for the Christ in you.

The saying goes that you normally see what you are looking for and I have chosen to see him everywhere I look. I look at the drunk and wonder if there is a son of God lurking somewhere inside that person, wanting to be let out of his prison of false identity. The problem with us humans is that we judge according to what we see, and hear and feel. Had we been living back in the days of Abraham, Sarah and Agar, chances are we would be hard in our judgment of them as individuals and as a family. But God determined that when the Righteous Branch came along all of that would change. “And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of the ears.” Isaiah 11:3. All through the turmoil in Abraham’s household, we could keep on repeating that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. In the midst of the anger, the hurt and constant pain along with the feeling of rejection, God embraced the fact that his will was being done that surely Hagar would represent Mount Sinai, the old covenant, and Sarah would be typical of the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of us all. This was God’s own choice and in so doing bestowed great honor upon the Egyptian maid who served her mistress Sarah even to the point of going in to her mistress’s husband because her mistress wanted it so. All the pain and confusion that resulted were part of the mix, and through it all, God’s will was being accomplished just the way God planned it. Having taken a closer look at this lesson from the perspective of the Spirit and the ultimate intentions of the Almighty, can we be angry at Ishmael for what seemed like his rudeness and reckless behavior? Can we lay blame at Sarah’s door for driving out the bondwoman and her son? Here again is why we can’t! That which caters to the flesh and is symbolic of the old covenant, salvation by works rather than by faith can absolutely have no part among those who are of faith through the grace of God that is freely given to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. We can be so wrong, so badly off the mark and misguided when we judge according to the eyes and ears. Human actions and even our deadly works can be misleading in so much that we are left totally befuddled and at a loss.

Let us consider an angry man named Saul of Tarsus. He said of himself: I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” Acts 22: 3,4;26:9-11. My Friend, read this over and over a couple more times and try to get a picture of this little man called Saul of Tarsus. His own account of how he terrorized the people of God is enough to bring out goose bumps over your body. Like he said, he was exceedingly mad against the people of God, and had become a scourge of the Church of the living God. His presence in town sent Christians ducking into basements and hide- away caves, fearing for their lives.

One day, news came to a man named Ananias that he who once persecuted this way, is on his way here to see him. This man of God got scared for news of this man’s wrath and death scourge was known everywhere. While he yet doubted and pondered what his options were, God spoke and said in no uncertain term: “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Acts 9:10-16. Here is the big question in multiple parts. When was Saul of Tarsus chosen to be God’s messenger to the Gentiles? During all those times of severe persecution as he consented to the death of many saints, was he then a chosen vessel? If we say yes to this latter part of the question, we seem to generate a secondary one that wonders how could a chosen vessel of the Lord go on such a rampage against God’s people even to the point of orchestrating and consenting to their death? These are perplexing questions to say the least, and we could offer a clear answer if we knew the mind of God, and if his ways were not passed finding out. But according to Paul’s letter to his son in the gospel, Timothy, he indicated that we were chosen in Christ before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9.

Paul asserted that we are God’s workmanship or handiwork, created in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2: 10. So technically speaking, whenever Christ came into being, we came into being also, for we were created IN HIM unto good works, which God hath before (before the foundation of the world) ordained that we should walk in them. Could that drunk we pass on the street corner be a chosen vessel of God? Could that lady of the night standing on the street corner in search of her next customer be a chosen vessel of the Lord? How can we at a glance, or even by close association determine for certain who is a chosen vessel of the Lord and who isn’t? Have we unwittingly written off and deposed many whom we thought were misfits, vagabonds, rogues, and were already earmarked for a life of servitude under Satan’s hypnotic spell? Who in his or her wildest dream could stand on the street corner as Saul of Tarsus went by carrying letters of authority to arrest and bind Christian in chains slated for certain death, and announce that this man is indeed a chosen vessel of the Lord to bear his name to the Gentiles? We cannot tell by outward observation who is actually doing God’s will, even the person who constantly rejects the call of the gospel, for his will is not always easily defined in our lives. The Church as we know it seems to be expert in dealing with the Body of Christ as a ‘collective body.” That model is what we call, “one size fits all.” Their article of faith lays out in black and white what they believe, what God demands of each one of us, and that their code of ethics applies to every member equally across the board. While the basic requirements for obtaining salvation applies to all equally, God takes exception to what we call in the secular world, “mass production.” While the Body of Christ has many members and each member differs one from the other, God deals with each member on his or her own merit or needs based upon God’s own purpose and call upon that life. A pilot being trained to fly a single engine Cessna aircraft does not go through the long and rigorous training a 747 or Airbus aircraft pilot goes through, and a pilot from this category does not go through the long and arduous training program that an astronaut slated to ride the next shuttle into outer space goes through. God sees us as individuals to whom he has given talents based upon each person’s ability to show profit at the end of the day.

We have examined the divergent path of human nature while bearing in mind a simple yet profound fact; human nature does not just happen. A mother and a father may well determine the gender of a child, its blood type, flesh type, and certain family traits. But ultimately, our heavenly Father determines what human nature is all about, how it fits in with people in general. Let us not forget that all of us are sheep of his pasture and the work of his hands. Can you imagine Hagar saying in her prayer just before climbing into bed: “Thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect (undeveloped) and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16. Can you imagine Sarah and Abraham saying the same things? All of them would be correct, in spite of real life differences.

What if Hugo Chavez of Venezuela falls to his knees each night and repeats those words that testify to his true origin? What if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran falls to his knees each night and utter these words before retiring to bed? What if North Korea’s strong man Kim Jong-il did the same thing? The words in question covers the total landscape of human existence, when the mighty Creator meticulously designed and brought into being the very substance used to construct every human being that ever lived. It could be argued that every person is made from the same mold, and by the same token it could be argued somewhere during the process, major differences were put into the mix, because seemingly, each person is different yet not unique. Here is my take and it is up to you how you view this. Humanity as a whole comes out of a basic mix with all that it implies. But the Creator adds differences to each person based upon what each person’s task and value will be. Like in the Body as described by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, some represent the head, others the arms, the legs, the feet, the eyes and so forth. We go back to the thought in Proverbs 16 that God created all things for himself, or to serve his own purpose whether you or I approve or disapprove, and he has made even the wicked for the day of evil.

As we glance at the movies that win at the Oscars these days, it is the villain in the play that generates the most ticket sales. Seemingly, the world is attracted to the “bad guy” and the bible is full of bad guys. God writes the script, and turns to selecting a cast knowing full well that a “best seller” comes with the antics and trickery of the bad fellows. Like in any movie, there has to be the victim, the aggressor, the cheat, and the peacemaker. As we mentioned before, in a real movie setting, the actor often has the option to chose what role he or she prefers, and is given time to study the script and the character he or she will be portraying. Can we find it in ourselves to look across the street on the other fellow who we deem to be “less fortunate” and say that he or she is playing the role given by the cast master? Even if we make mistakes that send us landing on our hind parts in total disgust, would we be over simplifying the issue to say that this is my role? Would that be an excuse for our personal failure? My personal view is that I came here with a specific task assigned to me, and in the end no one else can answer for me when my name is called. We can play on words all we want, and we can brush aside issues that do not tickle our taste buds, but God’s purpose for each of us will not change over time or because of me or you. That is what gives me strength to go on, because I have committed my soul into the hands of a faithful Creator; he cannot deny himself or lose his investment in me. I thank you Jesus!

Royce O. Kennedy