A Sermon

The God Who Keeps Us Guessing: Learning to Flow With An Unpredictable Lord

Michael Beck Michael Beck

God has chosen to “keep us guessing” when it comes to the details of tomorrow.

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)

There were things concerning “tomorrow” that even Jesus did not know.

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. (Mark 13:32)

The many uncertainties of tomorrow make us uncomfortable (i.e., miserable.)

Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? (Ecclesiastes 8:6,7)

The “misery” spoken of here is what we call “nervousness.” In order to “calm their nerves” men like to chart their course with a certainty as to what they WILL do. They like to “declare and decree” what will or will not happen.

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:13-15)

Men take pride and seek comfort in what they know. Paul rebuked those at Corinth who were “puffed up” with their knowledge, and deemed them those who “think they know.”

Knowledge puffeth up…And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8:1,2)

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote not only of his own humbling, but the humbling that God has appointed all men to. He concluded that, try as he might, man cannot know all that God is up to or what He will do.

Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it. (Ecclesiastes 8:17)

The life of every man is “in the hand of God.” Ultimately, God will work all things together for good to those who love Him, but this does not mean they will never experience trouble (i.e., evil) in this life.

For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. (Ecclesiastes 9:1,2)

As a righteous man, Job was taken by surprise by the “evil” things that happened to him. He had to readjust his thinking because of the unpredictable turn of events in his life.

Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand…When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. (Job 29:18,26)

Religion tries to figure God out. It would put Him “in a box,” and boil things “down to a science.” Jesus confounded the religious because He did things that “broke their mold” of how God was supposedto operate. They had developed their categories of what was “good” and “evil,” what was “of God” and what was not.

Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. (Luke 7:39)

The Pharisees established the legitimacy (i.e. authority) of something by making a distinction between what was “from heaven” and what was “of men.

“The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me. (Mark 11:30)

The saying “from whence” meant where does something originate from. Where did it come from? Is it “of God”?

We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. (John 9:29)

Jesus became the Stone that the builders rejected. They expected their Messiah to come in power, even as a miracle worker, but they were not prepared for Him to be “crucified in weakness.”

Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. (Matthew 27:41-43)

While Nicodemus came to Jesus as an atypical Pharisee, open to the possibility that Jesus was from God, his speech betrayed the characteristic attitude of a Pharisee.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. (John 3:1,2)

Jesus wanted Nicodemus to stop judging according to the narrow categories of his religious circle. He wanted him to understand that true sight would only come when he was first born of the Spirit.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

The unpredictability of the Spirit is likened to the unpredictability of the wind.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

Those who are born and led of the Spirit cannot be figured out.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:15, 16)

Those who knew Elijah as a man of the Spirit knew that his movements were unpredictable.

And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. (1 Kings 18:11,12)

And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. (2 Kings 2:16)

Solomon judged that the ways of God were as unknowable and unpredictable to man as the way of the wind.

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. (Ecclesiastes 11:5,6)

No man tells God what will be. God works all things after the counsel of His own will. He gives us the privilege to pray, but He reserves to Himself the final say. His way is hidden to us until He reveals it.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Romans 11:33,34)


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. You can find him on Facebook.