#Biblical Reflection

PREDESTINED ENCOUNTERS

Sep 2, 2020, 1:35 PM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

When we talk of an encounter we most probably will be thinking of a scheduled meeting. Encounters with God always have an element of surprise, of the unexpected. Do you recall how He met with Moses? Moses met God while he was tending his father-in-law’s sheep up on a mountain. And how did it happen? He captured Moses’ attention when the latter could see at a distance a burning bush which was not being consumed by the fire. Isn’t that ample reason to arouse one’s curiosity?

It was when Moses moved to the site that he heard a voice which said to him: “Moses, Moses, ... Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) It was then that the Lord introduced Himself to Moses in these terms: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:6) Under the circumstances, the natural thing for Moses to do was to hide his face, afraid to look at God.

Another interesting encounter was when Saul, a devout Pharisee, with a tinge of extremist tendencies was on his way  -- armed with an official letter to Damascus -- to persecute Christians. ‘Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4) His timid reply came: “Who are you Lord?” The light that hit him had blinded him. What an unconventional way to choose a prophet or messenger!

Saul was slated to play a leading role in the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. Here was how someone known for persecuting Christians became a “... chosen instrument to carry my [Jesus’] name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16)

Both Moses and Saul [whose name was later changed to Paul] were key figures in lifting the name of God and Jesus His Son to the Egyptians, Gentiles and beyond. Saul however, after his conversion, “At once began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9: 20, 22) Moses on the other hand proved stubborn and devised all sorts of excuses why he should not undertake the trip to Egypt. He listed a series of impediments of speech – I stammer; that both the Children of Israel and king Pharaoh would not listen to him. These excuses did not hold water, for every reason he advanced to wriggle out of the mission, God countered it. Finally, Moses declined out right and asked God to send someone else. Despite all attempts at running away from this assignment, Moses alighted in Egypt – assisted by his brother Aaron – to accomplish God’s work which, in short, was – ‘Tell Pharaoh to let my people go.’ 

The third encounter concerns patriarch Jacob. He was escaping the wrath of his twin brother whom he had deprived of receiving his blessing as the eldest from Isaac, their father. For this crime, Esau swore to kill him if he should lay hands on him. Rebecca his mother spearheaded a plan of safe conduit for Jacob to her home town Haran to stay with his uncle Laban.

On the way, Jacob interrupted his journey for safety and security reasons and just so he could have rest at nightfall. Using a stone as his pillow, that night he had a dream and “he saw a stairway resting on the earth with its top reaching heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and He said: ‘I am the Lord the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac ..... I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.” (Genesis 28:15)

These were comforting words for a fugitive to warrant him say; “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16) He could not have been aware of God’s presence in that place because that was the remotest place he should have expected to meet with God. God used the most opportune moment to get Jacob’s attention; that is, when he was downcast and at his lowest ebb.

Notice that at each encounter God introduces Himself using the name of Abraham, Isaac and later Jacob. There is a common thread that runs through these encounters apart from the fact that it was God who provoked the meetings to make Himself known. His goal was to inform them that from thence they had been enlisted as instruments that would work for Him.

At every meeting a transformation takes place that would turn their hearts and minds to the true purposes for which they were brought into this world. God embarked on a cleansing process from self-actualisation tendencies to accomplishing His plan. They had to go through a process that would enable them break away from self-seeking habits and focus on God’s will. They had to lose their will to that of the God Almighty.

God has a way of choosing His prophets and agents to work in His vineyard. He never chooses someone who is complete and perfect. He chooses those who despite their willing hearts have a fault. He then prepares them to make the sacrifice of abandoning the world to do His bidding. God is constantly beckoning to us to come to Him to live a fulfilled life of service as His servants.

 God qualifies the unqualified. Just come as you are and God will complement the missing attributes. Remember Moses was a murderer, Jacob a deceiver – ‘a con man’ - who wanted to fast-forward the process of what God had already declared would be his destiny. In that regard he stole his brother’s blessing as the firstborn. Moses sought to use his physical strength to liberate the Children of Israel who were sent into slavery until the fullness of time had come. Saul was too zealous for the wrong motive -- persecuting Christians. You will observe that all of them were going against the grain and therefore had to be rescued. 

Your encounter with God is next. Jesus declares that He wants none to perish but that everyone should come to the knowledge of the truth. God wants you to make yourself available for His assignment. Are you ready? Do not let any obstacle deprive you of this predestined encounter.

He yearns to speak to you directly. Have a listening ear!

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“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)