By Billy W. Moore
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9) Truly, the ways of God are higher than our ways but one of the grand lessons of the Old Testament is that Gods way will work. We may not understand why God has commanded this or that, but if we have the faith to work his ways, his ways will work.
Sometimes the way of God appears foolish unto men. But let us remember that of some it is said, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . . .” (Rom. 1:22). “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.” The very idea that the crucifixion of a Jew on a cross was the only means of salvation was utter folly unto many of the wise men of Pauls day. But God in his wisdom could see that the world by wisdom knew not God, thus it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Cor. 1:18, 21) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men, God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise … and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty … and the base things of the world, and things which are despised, that no flesh should glory in his sight. (See 1 Cor. 1: 18-29)
Jeremiah the prophet said, “0 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jer. 10: 23) The wise man said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6) One great use of the Old Testament is to learn that Gods way will work, therefore, trust in the Lord.
This lesson is illustrated through many Old Testament events, to which we can make only passing notice. If you are not familiar with these situations, then read them and see this grand lesson. And remember: these things were written for our learning. In Old Testament days God was dealing with man in a physical sense, so the effectiveness of his ways could readily be seen.
When God sent Moses into Egypt to lead forth the captive Israelites, Moses was eighty years of age and unknown to the elders of Israel. Why should they trust him? How could he make them believe that God had sent him? Gods way: Moses was given miraculous power . . . turning of a rod into a serpent, his hand becoming leprous, etc. (Ex. 4:1-9) Gods way worked! Israel believed and accepted Moses as their leader.
In their flight from Egypt the Israelites came unto the Red Sea. There was no passage over it. Pharaoh and his army were approaching. Israel cried unto the Lord. But Moses believed God would come to their rescue, and charged them: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day.” God told Moses to “Lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” (Ex. 14:13-16) Men would say, at a time like this we have no need for foolishness. But Gods way did work. What an impression this should have made.
Shortly thereafter, when Israel was in the wilderness, they were without water and they did chide Moses and murmured against him. God told Moses to take his rod and strike the rock in Horeb and water would come forth. With men this would have been sheer folly. I have heard of men “witching for water” with a forked pitch limb, but never of a man bringing water from a rock … except for this instance. But, you know, Gods way worked.
Because of their unbelief, the Israelites were made to wander in the wilderness for forty years. During this time they spake against God and he sent fiery serpents among them and they bit the people and many of the Israelites died. When the people confessed, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord,” they asked Moses to pray unto the Lord for them. God had Moses to make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole, and when one was bitten he was to look upon that serpent on the pole and he would live. To a medical doctor this would be foolish. In fact, no man could believe that a brass serpent could heat a poisonous snake bite. But Gods way worked! They knew the power was with God, not with the brass serpent, but they did not rebel at Gods way, for they were a dying people and this was their only hope.
After the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the time came for entering into the promise land. Israel was camped on the eastern side of Jordan, across from Jericho. But the Jordan was overflowing its banks at this season of the year. There was no bridge, and it would be a long and rough journey to go southward, over the mountains and around the Dead Sea, and then back north into the land. God had a way. The priests who would be carrying the ark of the covenant were to lead the way, and as soon as the soles of their feet shall rest in the waters of Jordan, the waters shall be cut off from the waters come down from above, and they shall stand upon an heap. This would take a mighty feat, considering the flow of a mountainous stream in flood stage. But Gods way worked and all Israel passed over on dry ground. (Joshua 3:9-17)
The city of Jericho was the first city before them and God gave it to Joshua and Israel. But Jericho had a great wall built around it. How could they conquer it? Gods way: all the men of war were to go round about the city once. This was to be done for six days. On the seventh day they were to compass the city seven times, the priests were to make a long blast with the rams horn, and all the people give a great shout. Such military strategy would be laughed at in every camp. But the people believed God. They worked his plan, and his plan worked! How marvelous are the ways of God. (Joshua 6)
There are many other situations in the Old Testament which give further support to the fact that Gods way will work. When someone put poison gourds into a pot of soup-the people needed this food, for there was a dearth in the land-Gods way: put some meal into the pot and all will be well. Who would think of that? No man would believe that the power was in the meal. But they could believe that God had power to purify the poison soup. Gods way worked again. And what about the time Naaman was told to dip himself seven times in Jordan to be cleansed of his leprosy? He went away in a rage! Later, when a servant made him see how foolish it was not to do as he had been told, he worked the plan of God, and dipped himself seven times in the waters of Jordan. You know the results: Gods way worked! Naaman would no longer doubt. He now proclaimed, “there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” (2 Kings 5) Or, how about the time when God told Gideon that his army of 32,000 was too great to go against the enemy, whose army numbered 135,000. Those odds do not seem too great a favor of Israel. But God did not want man to glory in himself. So, the army was reduced to ten thousand. But still it was too great. Then the drinking water test reduced the army of Israel to- three hundred men. Not a chance for so few to defeat so great an army as the Midians, had. But God had a way: a pitcher, a lamp and a trumpet for each man. No general would go along with this! But you know what? Gods way worked! (Read it in Judges 7)
Application Of This Lesson
The world was in sin, lost and ruined. But God had a plan: He sent his only begotten son and let him die on the cross for the sins of the world. His death was not left to mere chance, it was not an accident. His followers would have fought for him but he forbade it (Matt. 26:51-53). He could have called for legions of angels to deliver him (Matt. 26:53; John 18:36), but his prayer was, “not my will but Thine be done.” He knew the will of the Father was to provide the only sacrifice for sins that could be offered. Thus, he gave himself once for all.
In the apostolic days many said it was foolish. Some today are crying. We do not believe in a blood religion! Even some of our brethren have denied that the shedding of the blood of Christ was that which took away sin. They ask: Why could not God in all his wisdom design a plan of salvation that would not demand the sacrifice of his only begotten son? They seem to think that either the wisdom or mercy of God is impeached. God in his wisdom could see that to redeem man of his sins with any lesser sacrifice than that of his only begotten son would not allow him to remain just. Listen to the answer given by the inspired apostle Paul, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:24-26) But God is still pleased that by the foolishness of preaching men are saved. Yes, Gods plan worked! Christ is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him. (Heb. 7:25) Those saved are said to be washed in the blood of Christ. “. . . and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Rev. 1: 5 See also Rev. 7: 14; Matt. 26: 28; 1 John 1: 7) My friend, if you reject the sacrifice that Christ made on your behalf, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. (Heb. 10: 26) Thus, it is the sacrifice of Christ or no sacrifice at all, and without the shedding of blood is no remission (Heb. 9:22).
Man is a sinner and needs salvation. He is not saved merely because Jesus died. The Lords plan … Gods way: Preach the gospel to every creature, he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16:16) That believer must repent of his sins (see Luke 13:3 and Acts 2:38). And you know, the plan works! Three thousand souls believed the first gospel message, repented of their sins and were baptized. Peter told them, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” They that gladly received his word were baptized, and the saved were added to the church. (Acts 2:37-41, 47) The eunuch believed and was baptized and went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:36-39)
It is true that for centuries there have been those who mocked the ways of God. Mockers and doubters are still among us, crying, I dont believe baptism is necessary. Or, God can save me even if I am not baptized. But the way of God is still the same, and His way will still work. After all, when one believes in Christ and in obedience to the Lord repents and is baptized, why shouldnt he go on his way rejoicing? Jesus said, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” We believe him. We take him at his word. We believe Gods way will work!
The application may be made to many things, but the principle should never be forgotten: Gods way will work. How wonderful it is to see this repeatedly in the Old Testament. What confidence it gives unto us when we willingly submit unto Gods way. Although I may never in this life understand how or why they work, with Paul of old I can say: “0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.” (Romans 11:33)
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 5, pp. 7-9
November 30, 1972