Did God Make a Mistake?
By David Berg
Did God make a mistake by putting Adam and Eve in the Garden and they wound up making their own choice, the wrong one (Genesis 3)? Did God have to confess failure by the Flood, in that He had to wipe out mankind for its wickedness (Genesis 6:1-7)? Was the Tower of Babel a total disaster, and was the confusion of tongues a catastrophe (Genesis 11:1-9)? Or was it necessary to accomplish God's purpose to humble and scatter man over the face of the earth?
Was it a mistake when Moses killed the Egyptian and had to flee for his life, and lived 40 years in the wilderness with the sheep and his father-in-law? Wasn't that a terrible setback to the cause and the deliverance of his people? Or was it necessary that Moses go into exile to learn the lessons that God had to teach him, to make him the man he needed to be to deliver his people?--Totally dependent on God, not himself (Exodus 2:11-15).
And wasn't that a terrible defeat for the Lord's cause when the children of Israel turned back at Kadeshbarnea and wandered around another forty years until the whole older generation had died in the wilderness (Joshua 5:6)? Wasn't that a real setback? Or was it? What if they had tried to invade Israel with all those unbelievers, or if they had tried to conquer the Promised Land with all those Doubting Thomases? What kind of a disaster would that have been? They might have all gotten wiped out!
Did God make a mistake when He chose Saul to be king, considering the way Saul turned out? Was Saul a failure? Or did he accomplish God's purpose in training the king God was really after: David? God gets His greatest victories out of seeming defeats, and He causeth the wrath of man to praise Him (Psalm 76:10).
Did God make a mistake when He let David fall for Bathsheba and fall from grace in the eyes of the kingdom, fall from the throne at the hand of his own son, and depart in disgrace and scandal to another country with only a handful of friends (2 Samuel 11, 15)? Did David really fall downward, or was this a fall upward?
Sometimes God's way up is down. Usually, in fact! Just the opposite of what we think. God loves to do things contrary to natural expectation, because that takes a miracle and that shows it's God, and not man. David was humbled and the whole kingdom was humbled, and they were reminded that it was only the Lord that made them what they were. From that squeezing and twisting of David's life came forth the sweet honey of the Psalms and the fragrance of his praises to the Lord for His mercy. It was all God and all grace and none of himself or his own righteousness, a lesson that's been an encouragement to others ever since.
Was Elijah's ministry defeated when he ran from Jezebel after his great victory on Mt. Carmel? Was his great bravery there scuttled by his cowardice in the wilderness? After slaying the hundreds of false prophets, here he was running from a mere woman (1 Kings 19:1-4). What a picture! The great, brave, statuesque prophet, towering above all the people in the might and power of God on top of Mt. Carmel, calling down fire from heaven, then afterwards running from Queen Jezebel. Here was the prophet of God afraid of a woman! Didn't this defeat his whole ministry? Didn't this undermine his entire witness? Didn't this prove he wasn't such a great prophet after all? Didn't this cause him to lose his following? Or was God trying to show him something that was going to make him a better prophet, a humbler prophet, who would come back unafraid even of the king, much less the queen?
After Elijah found out that God was not just in the fire, the thunder and the earthquake, this man of fire and thunder became a meek little man of the still small voice of God (1 Kings 19:11-13). He'd been great on doom and destruction and judgment, now he was learning the slow, patient process of feeding and leading the sheep.
It's so much easier, so much more dramatic to be a prophet of doom than a healer of wounds and a feeder of sheep, a grower of lambs and a teacher of babes. There's so much more glory in calling down the fire of God from heaven and slaying false prophets. It's so much more dramatic, more cataclysmic, more spectacular! And you like to see yourself in the paper.
But where's the big news of the teacher who trudges along day after day, feeding the sheep as they gradually grow to be productive and fruitful in lasting, permanent fruit that remains for the everlasting kingdom of God? And what farmer makes news trudging along through the furrows, laboring with his hands--patiently, tenderly, diligently nurturing little blades of grain that they may grow up, even in a day that he may never see, and bear much fruit.
This is another whole subject in itself--the little people, the nobodies, those behind the scenes who make it all possible, the ones who stay behind and keep the home fires burning, care for the babes, feed the children, wash the dishes, cook the food, sweep the floor, and clean the toilets. It takes the little people to make the others great, and you have to be "little people" first before you can become great.--Because God only makes great people out of little people to show His greatness.
"God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence."--That He might get all the glory, because then you know it wasn't man (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
Abraham had to learn it wasn't Abraham: It was only God. Moses had to learn it couldn't be Moses. David had to learn by looking at Saul, and becoming a disgrace himself, that he couldn't make it on his own. Elijah had to learn it wasn't Elijah, but God.
The list is almost endless of all the people God had to humble before He could use them, of all the leaders God had to bring down to the depths before they could stand to be exalted, lest they would have taken credit to themselves and not given God the glory. Because, by the time God's ready to make you great, He makes absolutely nothing out of you, so there's nothing left of you at all, and it's only Jesus. When He can get you out of the way, then He has a chance.
When you become nothing but a tool and a channel, nothing but a little diamond of dust, then God can really use you. He has to break you and humble you and melt you in the fire, purge you, purify you, sift you, beat out the chaff. He has to beat the hell out of you, till there's none of it left, crucify the flesh till it's dead as a doornail, mortify the mind till it's almost gone, so that Jesus can live and think and move in you. Did God make a mistake? Or is all this necessary to make us what we ought to be?
Wasn't it a disgrace and a terrible blow to His cause for the great leader of the prophets of doom, Jeremiah, to be hung in stocks before the temple door, so his brethren could spit in his face--or be dropped in the mud to his armpits by his enemies, so that his dear friend, Ebedmelech, had to come secretly and pull him out? And wasn't that finally the most scandalous of all, that he should land in jail branded a traitor and a criminal, disloyal to his nation and his own people (Jeremiah 20:2, 38:6-13, 37:11-15)?
Yes, but not to God! It was all a part of God's plan to keep Jeremiah humble and close to the Lord, utterly dependent on God, and not on his family, his friends, his brethren, or the king--so God could put him in the safety of the cold storage of prison until he could be delivered by his enemies, and be blessed and protected, and provided for and encouraged, by the ones you would have least expected it from--the cruel, heathen enemies of his people. Was it a mistake? Couldn't there have been a better, more proper way of doing it?
Whoever heard of winning a battle by digging ditches, getting down in the mud and the mire and making holes in the ground? But that's what God's prophet told Jehoshaphat and his army to do--and God used it in a very strange way to scare the daylights out of their enemies and help him win the battle, almost without firing a shot. (See 2 Kings 3.)
God loves to do things contrary to the way we think He ought to do them! Is this a mistake? Is God wrong? Did God fail? Why didn't God take Gideon's 32,000 and let them destroy the army of Midian so they could pat themselves on the back and show what a great people they were, instead of having a ridiculous little band of 300 break up the dishes in the middle of the night and brandish the fireworks and toot and yell their heads off, scaring the enemy so silly, they slew themselves. (See Judges 7.)
What an ignominious way to win a battle. What an inglorious way to conquer the enemy. It was ridiculous--but God did it! You could only thank God for the victory, because all you did was break dishes, wave torches, and yell your fool head off, while God did the real work. Who could possibly get the credit for that kind of a battle but the Lord? Certainly not Gideon, who was crazy enough to believe God and do it!
"And what shall I say more? For the time would fail me to tell of Barak, and of Samson" (Hebrews 11:32). What a dandy bad example he was--a longhair, always running after the women, getting in fights and drinking it up with the boys! What an unconventional, crazy way for God to save His people, by using a rebel like Samson. Did God make a mistake? Or was He trying to show that He can use anything--even you--by giving us such encouraging examples of His successful failures, His fabulous flops, His daring dropouts who dared to trust Him in spite of themselves and give Him all the glory because they knew it had to be God!
Wouldn't it have been much more respectable and acceptable for the King of kings, Jesus, to have been born in a palace, with illustrious members of the court in attendance, and with all the honor and praise of the system.--Instead of on the dirty floor of a barn surrounded by cows and asses, wrapped in rags and lying in a feed trough, with a motley crew of poor little shepherd boys kneeling on the floor beside Him?
The manger has been so glorified by man since then, that they've forgotten what it was used for.--Nothing but a rough bin for the livestock to eat out of.
Wouldn't it have been better for His father to have been a prominent potentate instead of a humble hewer of wood? Wouldn't that have made it easier on Him and His followers, and advanced His work a little more rapidly, to have the approval of the established order? And wasn't that rather humiliating for His humble parents to become fugitives from injustice and flee the country like common criminals for having given birth to the leader of a rival revolutionary religion?
And wouldn't it have been better for Him to have lived a little more decently and acceptably, instead of being born in another man's stable, scrounging His food in other men's fields, and sleeping in other people's houses, and being buried in another man's grave? Did He have to always be challenging the churches, defying convention, destroying traditions, and threatening the religious system?--So that He had to be executed with common criminals, and leave behind the evil reputation of having been a companion of publicans and sinners, a glutton and a winebibber, found too often in the company of drunks and harlots, a lawbreaker, rabble-rouser, disturber of the peace, and false prophet of the wrong way. That's what they called Him! Couldn't God have used less controversial tactics than that and done it more peaceably and respectably and acceptably? Didn't God make a mistake?
To hell with the proper way! The unexpected and the improper, the unconventional and the untraditional, the unorthodox and unceremonious, contrary to man's natural expectation--this is the way God often works! "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" (Isaiah 55:8-9). Who can know the mind of the Lord and who can show Him anything (1 Corinthians 2:16)?
So quit trying to tell Him how He ought to do it! "Now, Lord, You must do it this way or that way, so we'll be accepted and people will understand." "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The minute you try to figure it out in the flesh, you might as well quit, because it will probably never work out that way anyhow. "Lest Israel say, 'Mine own arm hath saved me'" (Judges 7:2). God loves to do things contrary to the way we think He ought to do them. Is this a mistake? Is God wrong?
"I am the way, the truth and the life; and no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Many are called, but few are chosen. Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weak things to confound the things which are mighty. And many of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, 'This is an hard saying: who can bear it?' And the disciples forsook Him and fled. Let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant. ... He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was taken from prison and from judgment ... and He made His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death. ... And ye shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake ... and then shall the end come. Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. He that receiveth you, receiveth Me and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord." (John 14:6; Matthew 7:14; 20:16; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27; John 6:60, 66-67; Matthew 26:56; Hebrews 13:13; Philippians 2:7; Isaiah 53; Matthew 24:9, 14; John 15:19-20; Matthew 10:40, 24.)
God doesn't make mistakes, and even the "foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." There is no better way than God's way. Hear ye Him! "And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they immediately left all and followed Him ... even unto the death of the cross." "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." "Beware when all men speak well of you!" (1 Corinthians 1:25; Matthew 4:19-20; Philippians 2:8; Mark 8:38; Luke 6:26.)