Pastor's sermon this Sunday was from I Corinthians 9:24-27. You can listen to it on our church's website, along with earlier ones.
I assure you that although I listened to the sermon and was able to see application in my life, what you'll read here is the result of following “rabbit trails”-- an American idiom, essentially meaning to follow something that continually changes locations.
Let me lead you through what I followed – beginning with a look at the “Pulpit Commentary” on I Corinthians 9, where I ran across an interesting quote:
Scripture teaches us, by its examples, that God claims the service of even ungodly men, and deigns to work by them. Of Cyrus God says, "I girded thee, though thou hast not known me,"Jumped to that source in Isaiah 45, and verses there gave me more food for thought.
For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:4-7 KJV)
It’s the first verse that tell us this is was spoken to Cyrus, the third why:
… that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:3b KJV)
But I got hung up on the word “evil”in verse 7 – the Hebrew רעה רע, Strong’s H7451, often translated differently in other KJV verses. Looking further, that’s the same word translated “evil” in:
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9 KJV)
It shouldn’t surprise us that God is acquainted with and controls evil:
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3 KJV)
Yes, God made the angels, even the ones that rebelled against Him. Even the father of lies:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44 KJV)
Did you follow that rabbit trail? At the close of my trek, I’m convinced that God has, does and will use the actions of ungodly people to accomplish what He has planned. The best example is the redemption offered each one of us through His son:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)
Seems as though my rabbit trails return to the good news God provides.