The Jewish people knew what they wanted.
For nearly 700 years, the Jewish nation had lived in turmoil. Despite the return of the exiles from Babylon in 539 B.C., they had no government of their own. First the Medes ruled their land, then the Persians, the Greeks under the rule of Alexander the Great, and now the iron fist of the Romans through the half breed puppet King, Herod the Great.
And God remained silent. All those promises of a coming Messiah lay dormant.
Yet God had proved Himself very good at keeping promises. Surely He would keep his commitment to send Messiah King to save the Jewish people from their enemies, especially those dratted Romans.
They wanted a king. A human king with superhuman powers, a first century version of Superman, who would push out their enemies once and for all. We find evidence for that mindset by how the crowds turned into a mob after Jesus fed five thousand families with a little boy’s lunch (John 6:1-15) and the massive celebration when Jesus entered Jerusalem (Matt 21:1-17). Even the apostles hadn’t yet connected the dots when Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives, ready to return to heaven (Acts 1:6). A mighty warrior, greater than Alexander would instantly restore the kingdom of Israel to the glory days when Israel first entered the promised land in the time of Moses and Joshua.
Now, wouldn’t that be an act of God?
God had a better idea.
Instead of a man born from the union of man and woman, God promised a virgin girl named Mary that He would implant His Holy Spirit within her. The baby she would bear would be a man/God born of woman and born of God. A human king would rescue people from their enemies. A God-king would save people from themselves, from their sin. That would be far more better.
The Bible is so clear about the birth of the God/Man. An angel told Joseph to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. She was not a soiled woman. “What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit (Matt 120). His purpose in his earthly life was to “save his people from their sins (v. 21). And the name Jesus validates this idea of all man/all God, living on earth—Immanuel, God with us. God would dwell among us, right here right now (v. 22). God’s constant presence would be with and within His people.
Isn’t that a much better idea than just a Superman kind of king?
God always has a better idea.
If God had a better idea of what kind of Savior to send the world, wouldn’t He also have better ideas on what is best for us? Is it possible that when our prayers are not answered the way we want or expect, that God has something far more wonderful in mind for us? His answer of no is not because He does not love us or care about us. It doesn’t mean He is incapable or has a problem with reliability. It means He knows and understands our needs better than we do and desires to give us His very best. We tend to look at short-term fix the problem solutions while God sees our momentary struggle as part of His larger plan. He calls us to hang in there so He can accomplish His greater plan to do far more for us than provide a temporary convenience.
Oh, my friend, if you are wondering why God has not answered your prayers, please don’t give up on God. if you are fighting discouragement because God is seemingly silent, remember that He is the God of Better, the God of Better Than Ever. You and I in our human fallibility cannot possibility see what is best for us. But God can. Chafing that we didn’t get what we wanted sets us up against God. It’s telling God, “I know what is best for me better than You do, God, and You are proving too weak to give it to me.” But if God truly is all-powerful and all-knowing, then we must accept that He can choose what is best for us better than we can for ourselves. So why not let Him?
The next time you enter a season of silence, try praying this: “Lord, you know my future, what will bring me peace, contentment, and fulfillment, and what will bring You honor and glory far more than I do. While I think I know how to solve this problem, I’m turning it over to You for Your better idea.”
If you are tempted to think God doesn’t have a better idea, look at that baby in the manger. God’s plan to restore the nations for all times and to save people from their sins instead of merely rescuing one nation from an evil government for one generation was such a better idea.
May you find joy and peace in God’ Better Than Ever plan this Christmas Season.