Will God’s Plans Prevail?
Do you look at the world today and wonder if God’s plans will prevail? Politics in the US are a mess. Racial tension is on the rise. Mall shootings continue. And terrorists kill Christians and others around the globe. Yet, in the midst of this oppression, God says he is creating a people for himself. In fact, he says that you are to go and make disciples of all the nations. But will his plans prevail?
The question is: Will God’s plans prevail in you?
Or maybe it’s your own heart that causes you to doubt. You know you should care about spending time with the Lord, but your favorite TV show keeps winning your attention instead. God deserves the place of worship and greatest love, but that other thing has captured your heart. You wake up assaulted by the lies of Satan – his accusations of guilt prey on your anxiety and fear. Yet, in the midst of this oppression, God says that he is making you new; he is conforming you to the image of Christ. The question is: Will God’s plans prevail in you?
The people of Israel faced the same question when they found themselves living in Egypt. What they learned is that, though God’s enemies do oppress his people, his plans prevail in the midst of that oppression. Here’s what I mean.
God’s Plans Begin to Be Fulfilled
It all started out well. As you know, under the leadership of Joseph, God brought the descendants of Jacob to Egypt to save them from a famine. He settled them in the land of Goshen, which was within the borders of Egypt.
And, as the beginning verses of Exodus recount, it was there that God began to fulfill the promises he’d made to Abraham. The generations after those initial 70 people who went to Egypt multiplied greatly. The barrenness of Sarah and Rebekah was no more. In fact, the word used to describe the people in Exodus means that they swarmed like insects, so that no one could check their growth. In this, the plans of God were prevailed. He told Abraham that he would multiply him exceedingly, and he wasn’t kidding.
God’s initial intent for humanity was that they, as his image bearers, would be fruitful and multiply.
The promise to make his people fruitful did not start with Abraham, however. God’s initial intent for humanity was that they, as his image bearers, would be fruitful and multiply. (Gen. 1:27-28) This did not simply mean that God wanted to create a lot of people, though that is true. On a deeper level, however, these people were to be fruitful by filling the earth with the glory of the Lord. They were to portray him to one another, and they were to live in loving fellowship with him and each other. This is God’s ultimate plan.
God’s Enemies Attempt to Thwart His Plans
Just as things were going well for Israel in Egypt, the ominous music begins to play. A new king arose, and he decided that the Israelites were a threat. In order to stop them from being fruitful and multiplying, he issued a decree that the Israelites should be enslaved and forced to labor to the breaking point. His paranoid propaganda turned the entire nation of Egypt against them and made their lives bitter. It seemed as though God’s plans would be thwarted; and it wasn't the first time an enemy tried to derail His plans, either.
Rewind to Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve - the first attempt to thwart God’s plans for his people. When Adam and Eve listened to Satan, they fell into sin. The two enemies of God's plan are Satan and sin. Satan and sin made it impossible for Adam and Eve to be fruitful and to multiply in the way God intended. On a practical level, childbirth also became more difficult.
Now back to the Israelites. Even when they were vast in numbers, they did not image God well. In fact, they were adept only at sinning and seeking their own glory, as the story of the flood and the Tower of Babel show.
This is the reason you look at the world around you today and wonder if God’s plans will prevail. In the hateful comments about politics, you see the enemies Satan and sin. They are there, too, in the injustice and violence. These enemies are the reason you struggle to live in wholehearted worship and love of God. The oppression is real. Fortunately, God’s enemies are no match for him.
God’s Plans Prevail in the Midst of Oppression
Here’s what happened to Israel under the evil enslavement in Egypt: “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and spread out, so that the Egyptians lived in dread of them.” (Ex. 1:12) In spite of being oppressed by their enemies, the people of God continued to swarm like insects, so much so, that the Egyptians lived in terror of them.
Moreover, none of this was an accident. Rather, God planned it all along, for his glory and the ultimate good of his people. Generations before, God told Abraham, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.” (Gen. 15:13) With sovereignty like that, how could this new king ever thwart God’s plans?
Satan and sin are also no match for a powerful, sovereign, redemptive God. Right after Adam and Eve sinned, he set in motion a plan to rescue his image bearers from the grip of Satan and the slavery of sin. He promised that a descendant would come to destroy these enemies and to set his people free. That descendant would come from the line of Abraham; it was in him that all the nations would be blessed.
God’s Ultimate Plan in Christ
That descendant is Jesus, your Savior. He is the one who went to the cross to face your enemies, Satan and sin, for you. And he did it even when you were his enemy! And there, at Calvary, he defeated them. The author of Hebrews says that Jesus did this that, “Through death he might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Heb. 2:14-15) Jesus is the ultimate example of God’s plans prevailing.
At the cross, Jesus opened the way for people to be truly fruitful and to multiply again. He took away the power of Satan and the sting of death. His death and resurrection brought hope to a world oppressed by God’s enemies.
Hope for You Now
As wonderful as this news is, it is not the end of the story. Though Israel continued to be fruitful and to multiply, they were still living in slavery in Egypt. They awaited a final deliverance. You, too, await a final deliverance when Jesus returns. But since that day has not yet come, it’s important to know that even right now, even in the midst of oppression, God’s plans for the world and for you are prevailing.
So take heart! You have all hope of becoming like Christ. And he has work for you to do, right in the middle of these difficult days. In the midst of struggles, he has given you the task of bringing the message of the gospel to those who are perishing. Instead of his plan being overcome by evil, he will use the suffering you endure to prepare the way. You can go forward with hope today, knowing for certain that God’s plans are even now prevailing.