God and His Monopoly

Talk about a strange set of circumstances! Jeremiah is in prison. The enemy, the Chaldeans, are invading the land and have already captured Jeremiah’s hometown. Then God tells him that his cousin is going to come and ask him to redeem, buy, his field in Jeremiah’s hometown. The land had already been lost to the invading army and Hanameel, his cousin, is trying to get Jeremiah to redeem it from him. And to add to that, the Lord tells him to purchase it! You would think that if you could get a man to do that, you could sell him a nice little farm in Antarctica!

But God had said, “Buy it,” and Jeremiah obeys as he always did, purchases the field, gives the deed to his servant Baruch, and charges him to put it in a safe place. He does so, with the promise that day is coming when “fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land” (Jer 32:15).

Having dutifully complied with the instructions of God, Jeremiah now becomes a man with whom we can identify more readily as he struggles with why God asked him to purchase a field that was in the hands of the enemy. Jeremiah 32:17-25 is his plaintive prayer to God which can be summarized with one word: “Why?”

In typical grace, God answered His confused prophet. In His response, God describes Himself as the “God of ALL flesh” (v 27). Immediately upon revealing Himself in that manner, God added, “Is there anything too hard for Me?” God has a monopoly on humanity in the sense that He has not abdicated control of the universe. As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads throughout the world, He is sitting on the same throne on which He sat when men took His Son and placed Him on a cross. God is the God of all flesh. Satan may incite men to evil. There are powers of darkness working their carefully devised strategies as Paul tells us (Eph 6:11, 12), but God is still over all. “Satan may fuel the ship of evil, but God is able to steer it where He desires it to go.”

God may have many different reasons for allowing the current pandemic. Human philosophy may respond as did Blaise Pascal, centuries ago, by writing, “All human misfortune comes from one thing alone, that is, not knowing how to be at rest in one’s own room.” He continues: “From this it follows that human beings so love noise and commotion, as well as the fact that prison is such horrible agony. And from this it follows that the pleasure of solitude is so incomprehensible.” We are not accustomed to being alone.

What would our forefathers who endured privation for fifteen years, 1930-1945, with food stamps, depression, shortages, and war, think of our complaining about a few months of difficulty. We are all very accustomed to plenty. Did we need a lesson in want?

God takes no pleasure in human suffering; but there are times when after whispering to us and our failure to listen, the only way to get our attention is to shout at us through some major tragedy. We may not ever totally know all that God is doing through the current pandemic, but we have to remember that He is still the God of ALL flesh and is in total control of nations, presidents, premiers, and medical researchers. He is also the God Who is our God and in control of our lives. 

God is not asking you to buy a field that has already been lost to the enemy (nor a farm in Antarctica), He is asking us to trust Him and His wisdom as we navigate our way through the days of lockdown. God is in control. He is the God of ALL flesh. But it is up to you to wash your hands for 20 seconds and to have your tape measure handy to keep your social distance of six feet from anyone else.

God and Monopoly

Refocusing and Reframing – Part 4

When you hear “monopoly” you probably think of a board game (people actually played these before video games were invented). If you have taken business courses in University, you think about large businesses, those big bad companies who tried to lower quality and raise prices out of greed. In 1890, the United States Congress passed the famous Sherman Antitrust Act designed to prevent monopolies and cartels from controlling the market and the price of commodities. The Act was strengthened by two additional pieces of legislation in 1914. Monopolies, except under very rare circumstances, are illegal.

But there is another area where a monopoly is wonderful to consider. God is called “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10); He has a monopoly on grace! You will not find it anywhere else. He owns it, controls it, and dispenses it. He has set the price. His grace is free!

It would be profitable to consider the context of 1 Peter where this unique title occurs: a persecuted and suffering people. And though we would not, without blushing, think of our current circumstances as comparable to theirs, we still need grace. You need grace just to wear those horrible face masks!

There are some links with the grace needed in Peter’s day and the grace we need today. One area is that of submitting to government (1 Pet 2:13). We all are getting confused as we hear conflicting information about the current state of affairs. One news feed will tell us that we are overdoing it with “our shelter in place” orders. Then we hear from other “experts” who tell us that there is a second wave coming which will outdo the first and that we can expect a resurgence this winter. So, are we in lockdown until 2021? We are told one month that masks are useless and then we are told that we must wear one if we go into a store. That sound you hear is not a malfunctioning home appliance. It is a government drone spying on whether you are staying in or, perish the thought, looking out of your door. Yes, we need grace to submit and to do so quietly.

Wives need grace for patience with husbands who are home and climbing the walls (1 Pet 3:1-5). There is no creature known to man so restless as a caged husband! Mothers need grace for children who are home from school and “homeschooling” via computer. Any suggestions on how to keep a hyperactive child in front of the computer screen would be welcomed by a number of mothers.

We all need grace for day to day stability. We need grace for mental calm amidst so much calculated to create anxiety (turn off the news feeds) as Peter tells us (1 Pet 5:7). Is there a conspiracy to keep us all in a state of perpetual frustrated expectations?Grace is available but there is only one place to get it. He is the God of ALL grace. You can come and receive the grace you need by abiding under the shadow of His wing … but do not forget the mask and do not open the door if you hear the drone overhead.