Throughout the Old Testament, it is evident that God’s ways are not our ways. God passes over the bigger, stronger and older (Ishmael, Esau, Pharaoh, Goliath) and gives preferences to the smaller, weaker and younger (Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David).
In the Book of Isaiah, we read of Israel’s painful purification as well as the subsequent punishment of the surrounding nations. In a complex passage, God says that although He used Assyria as a tool to purify Israel, Assyria herself would not escape punishment for her iniquity (see Isa 10:5-16).
In a very real sense, the order of redemption is the order of creation turned on its head. Likewise, what is esteemed in the world is of little account to God, but what is despised and forgotten by the world is precious in His eyes.
Jesus made this point when He said “the last will be first and the first will be last.” (Mt 20:16), and also when He said, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mt 23:12). Mary touched on the same theme in her Magnificat, praising God as one who “throws down the mighty from their thrones but lifts up the lowly.” (Lk 1:52-53).
In this complex world full of evils, Jesus says:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28).
This is the sublime assurance which Christ gives to us. Like Ancient Israel, things mostly do not seem to go our way. In fact for most of us, our paths ahead often lie obscured in ambiguity. We are not sure if we are making the right decisions, neither are we certain if the choices we make is in accordance with God’s perfect will.
Like dumb sheep, sometimes all we have to do is surrender control to Christ and turn to Him. All are invited to participate in God’s blessings, yet each experiences a redemptive reversal that would overturn expectations of the world.
Image: Adoration of the Shepherds, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1668) / PD-US