God gave His best from our worst
By Tracy L. Tiritilli · Nov 17, 2023
Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn ..."
Jacob flat-out lied to his father, Isaac. Worse to my modern ears is the fact that the flat-out lie seems to have paid off.
In the Genesis story, Jacob (later called Israel) deceived his dying father, Isaac, by pretending to be his older brother, Esau. Jacob received from Isaac the binding and prophetic end-of-life, fatherly blessing that was intended for the firstborn Esau. From the line of Jacob/Israel would come the nation's kings and ultimately the Messiah, Jesus. The prophecies God gave for Abraham and Isaac were fulfilled (and continue to be fulfilled) through Jacob, a deceiver.
This is probably not how we would have envisioned our Savior’s lineage.
- We see Jacob, dishonoring his father, colluding with his deceptive mother, and weaseling his way into blessing.
- We also find Rahab, a pagan prostitute.
- And Solomon, who not only firmly instituted the worship of idols into Israel but was also the son of adulterer and murderer David.
And yet Jesus came from such a line. Such a line still holds the favor of God. Such a line is the progenitor of the One who ushers in the eternal Kingdom of God.
The best from the worst
No, this is not the Nativity story men would write. If a human author considered the ultra-holiness of God and the need for the perfect sacrificial Lamb, would not the human author produce a Messiah from an exalted line of purely honorable men and women? That is not how God chose to operate. God fully understood the fallen nature of people born into sin, and He chose to use those who had indulged in lust, injustice, pride, violence, and idolatry. David, in spite of his many character issues, was called a man after God’s own heart, and the throne God has appointed to Jesus is called David’s throne!
The inclusion of humanity’s worst to produce the best? Why?
While we may not find every answer now, one thing is clear: God can use anything or anyone to bring about His purposes. And God, in fact, chose this. As surely as He chose the humble manger and the lowly shepherds, God chose to use those with deep, penetrating failings and darkest sin to usher in the Light of the world.
That choice reveals to us the character of God. He takes anything and transforms it into something good: God, who specializes in redemption; God, who looks at the messed-up parts of our lives and still wants to use us to glorify Him. He still wants to give us eternal life. He still wants to bless us.
In Genesis 45 and 50, Joseph observed within his own story that what men intended for evil, God used for a great good. That's who He is, and that's what He does.
That's what He will do in you. He wants to take the worst of you and redeem it. Whoever you are, whatever you have done, God can use you and your past in a remarkable, transformative way.
The power of Jesus
Perhaps you have wrestled with your fallen nature, reverting back into sinful patterns and ensnaring behaviors. Maybe you are feeling like it is no use trying, like you will never be free. Be assured, this is not beyond the overcoming power of Christ. Paul eloquently expressed the human dilemma in Romans 7:18-24:
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Paul was a man the Lord set as an example for us—when his vile weaknesses and worst pains vexed him, the remedy was to lean into Christ, to walk in His power and strength, and to allow the Lord to use the worst to achieve the best. Much like God chose the corrupted and faltering ancestors in the line of Jesus, God hand-picked Paul—torturer and murderer, persecutor of Christ—to be His light to the Gentiles.
God’s redemption story
Redemption is the DNA of Christ's story, the singular story of Scripture. All creation has fallen, but God has always made a way for the broken to become whole—He sent His precious, only Son into the world, born into low circumstance, to demonstrate His transforming power, to cleanse the stained and make everything new.
You are a child of God. He has filled you with the Holy Spirit. He is giving you His strength, using you and the damaged parts of your life to bring about something amazing, something that will indeed glorify Him. Your past, like the past of Jacob, is not too egregious or broken for God to redeem. As the Light of Christ invaded the darkness of the world, so, too, will your darkness be overcome. You are part of His redemptive story.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).