My New Year’s Resolution: Striving With God – Ecclesiastes 1:12-14

“I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:12-14, ESV).

The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is presumably written by King Solomon, king over Israel, in his old age. In this treatise Solomon proffers a philosophical perspective of life that advances the notion that much of human life on Earth is occupied with striving after what’s not really so important in life after all.

Solomon observes that it’s like spending your life chasing after the wind. And, in case his point doesn’t resonate with the reader the first time, he repeats this thought eight more times!

Striving seems to be in our DNA. It’s what we human beings do. We strive after happiness. We strive for health and long life. We strive after success. We strive for money. We strive for love and friendship. We strive over political ideologies and religious beliefs. We strive with one another for dominance and control.

Striving….it’s human nature!

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The Wrestling Match – Genesis 32:27-31

“He said to Jacob, ‘What’s your name?’ and he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then he said, ‘Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel, because you struggled with God and with men and won.’ Jacob also asked and said, ‘Tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why do you ask for my name?’ and he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘because I’ve seen God face-to-face, and my life has been saved.’ The sun rose as Jacob passed Penuel, limping because of his thigh” (Genesis 32:27-31,CEB).

I once heard it preached that choosing to believe Jesus was the Son of God and died for our sins so we could have eternal life was more plausible than choosing not to believe.  Because, if you believed and got to the end of your life and it wasn’t true, you still lived a good life with no regrets. But, if you didn’t believe and it was true then you risked a dreadful eternity.

In other words, it is more logical (and eternally safe) to believe in God than not to believe. And, we get to choose…

While our modern minds try to analyze everything, even faith in God, and make it logical and rational and human-centric, the biblical pattern is actually something quite different: God chooses us and we choose whether to accept His challenge or not.

And, it’s not like a debate.

It’s more like a wrestling match!

In fact, struggling with God is the normal Christian life.

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Singled Out – Genesis 18:17-19

“Should I hide my plan from Abraham? the Lord asked. For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised” (Genesis 18:17-19, NLT).

One day God made a personal visit to Abraham.

Personal appearances by God to Earth are called “theophanies” or “Christophanies” if the appearance seems to represent the pre-incarnate Christ.

Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate in scripture between an angelic appearance or a theophany other than by the context. The context here seems to indicate an appearance of God accompanied by two angels, all appearing in human form (vs. 1-2, 13, 17, 22).

The purpose of the personal visit by God to Abraham was twofold: 1) to confirm God’s covenant with Abraham (vs. 10) and 2) to render judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (vs. 21) and extend His mercy to Abraham’s family.

After God confirmed His covenant with Abraham, He had a conversation with Himself about confiding in Abraham about His plans to execute judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Since Abraham was God’s chosen one through whom His redemptive plan for humanity would be implemented, God determined to reveal His plans to Abraham.

And God still reveals His plans and purposes to His people today. That’s because God operationalizes His will on Earth through people, His chosen people, those He has singled out!

Just as God chose Abraham and visited him personally, God has singled you out and visits you personally by His indwelling Spirit.

So, find out what plans and purposes God is revealing to you and then operationalize His will in your life. God will surely do all He has promised!