January 7, 1992
A farmer in the Moose Jaw area has invented a new type of rod weeder. He says it will do in three days what once took sixteen with older equipment. Whether or not his boast is accurate, he won’t go back to outmoded methods. He spent half his life doing things that maybe worked but now he has discovered a better way and no one is going to convince him to change and go back.
Human beings are inventive sorts. Some say necessity is inventions’s mother but sometimes new things are given birth by our desire to work quicker, easier, or cheaper. Perhaps a longing for beauty tugs at our coattails and we paint pictures, embroider pillows and write poetry. Whatever the reasons behind our inventions, much of that creative ability was built in when the Creator God invented male and female in His own image.
Genesis was not the end of God’s invention of new things, however. When a few Israelite men rebelled against Him, “...the LORD created a new thing — the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up... they went down alive into the pit...” While onlookers gaped in terror, God used the first earthquake to demonstrate the seriousness of sin. Did this new invention do the trick?
No. While the earthquake judgment did rid the nation of some rebels, it did not bring the children of God into submission. It was set aside for another method, an inventive idea also called a new thing, a “road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). This was figurative language for a promise of a way out of their difficulties, a promise of mercy.
Like children who are first spanked, then hugged, the Israelites enjoyed the hugs far more than the earthquakes, but they still rebelled against their Father. One would wonder why God did not go back to the former plan and just open the earth and swallow them up, but mercy won over judgment. He unfolded still another plan, another new thing.
Earthquakes nor even God’s promise had no effect on sinful people so He fashioned a saving device whereby rebellious hearts could be changed. He knew we ourselves could not change, even if we wanted to. But He could make us new. Coming in a cradle, culminating in a Cross, this new thing — God in human flesh — was the invention par excellence, God’s coup de grace. What the law could not do, what judgment and wrath could not do, what promises of mercy could not do — the Son of God did. All who desire a new thing may put their faith in Him and, by the power of God, “old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (Corinthians 5:17).
Like the farmer and his new weeder, there is no reverting back. Those who are under grace never need to fear the wrath of God because all the condemnation we deserved was taken at the Cross. Jesus bore the penalty of sin for us. He warns us “not turn back to folly,” but the same verse promises He “will speak peace To His people and to His saints.”
There is danger for those who think that because God is not opening the ground and swallowing up sinners they can continue in sin and never face His wrath. However, John 3:36 says those “... who do not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Certainly the expression of His full wrath is withheld for now — He is not willing that any should perish. But someday His wrath will be revealed from heaven (Romans 1) and be poured out upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6) who will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”
It will come when people are so accustomed to the mercy of God that they will think wrath is a “new thing”... really it is not — it is simply what a Holy God should have done about our sin all along.