ABC Extra – Our Plans and God’s Purpose

April 16, 2012 at 5:15 am 1 comment

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose the prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).  In Hebrew, the word for “plans” is machashabah, a word that describes the inventions of man.  In Exodus 31, God sets apart certain Israelites to be the craftsmen of the country.  God says, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:2-5).  The Hebrew word for “make” in verse 4 is machashabah.  Bezalel is called by God to be an inventor, or a crafter, of art.

Man loves to invent.  Indeed, some of our society’s biggest technological and medical breakthroughs are thanks to irrepressible human ingenuity.  But not only does man love to invent things, he also loves to invent plans for his future.  He plans where he will live, how much money he will make, what kind of car he will drive, and what kind of success he will achieve.  But man’s invented plans cannot stand against God’s eternal purpose.  The Psalmist warns, “The LORD knows the thoughts of man; He knows that they are futile” (Psalm 94:11).  The Hebrew word for “thoughts” is again machashabah.  Man’s plans, no matter how grand, are futile if they do not comport to God’s purpose.

In Luke 12, Jesus tells the story of a farmer who takes in a bumper crop.  In fact, his crop is so big that he doesn’t have room for his bounty, and so he has to build more grain silos to store all he has grown.  And then, with his grain safely stored, he begins to make plans.  He says to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19).  But the rich man’s fleeting and foolish plans are no match for the finality of death.  God appears to his man and says to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself” (Luke 12:20)?  This man invented many plans.  But they all fell apart.

During Easter at Concordia, we began a series titled “Living on Purpose” where we are discussing and discovering God’s eternal purpose as expressed in His Son, Jesus Christ.  All too often, however, we confuse our plans with God’s purpose.  It is against this mistake that Proverbs 19:21 warns.  You can plan all you want.  But you can’t thwart God’s purpose.  Just ask the devil.  His plan of sin could not thwart God’s purpose of salvation through the cross of Christ.

What are you planning?  It’s great to plan, but your plans should never be at odds with God’s purpose.  Why?  Because God’s purpose for us is good and loving.  The apostle Paul reflects on God’s purpose for us when he writes, “God has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).  God’s purpose is our salvation.  And in comparison to purpose as transcendent as this, my plans seem only measly. His purpose is greater than my plans.  Praise be to God!

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Rev. Kevin Jennings  |  April 16, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Hi, Zach! You wrote, “It’s great to plan, but your plans should never be at odds with God’s purpose.”

    I’d submit that most of our plans are very much at odds with God’s purpose. This identifies the heart of all sinfulness, which is idolatry.

    How many times to individuals and churches formulate great plans, then, after the plans are made, ask God to bless what has already been decided? How many times, in order to forward plans, individuals and churches, after the plans are made, start cherry-picking Bible passages to support their ideas? Again, this is nothing short of idolatry.

    One of the favorite Bible authors of the leadership crowd is Nehemiah. The number of times I’ve heard Nehemiah cited as the Biblical leader because of his plans and his ideas is pretty much beyond number. Starting this year, I’ve been in and out of church work for thirty years, so I’ve heard it a bunch.

    What gets bypassed with Nehemiah? How does Nehemiah start his work? It’s with intense prayer and gutwrenching repentance. In repentance, Nehemiah confesses his and his fathers’ idolatry which necessarily kindled the anger of God. In our plans, here’s the example to follow from Nehemiah!

    God bless!


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