A contract basically says that if one party does something, then the other party promises to do something in return. It implicitly acknowledges that the first party could choose to do otherwise but, if they do as stated, then the second party will then respond in a certain way.
“You cut my lawn and I’ll pay you ten dollars.” (Can you still find someone for only ten bucks?)
Notice the sequence: the second party watches to see what the first party does (first). This is because it is not certain what that first party will do. So the second party waits and watches. Only if the first party fulfills the terms of the contract, then and only then does the second party act.
“You cut the grass, then I’ll pay you ten bucks.”
But will they?
Most of us wait and see. When they later knock on the door, we go out and see how they did. And if the lawn looks good, we pay.
That’s the contract.
The key point is, they might not. They might do something else. So we wait and see.
God makes contracts with humanity many times.
Here are two examples from the Old Testament.
“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”
He basically says, “I know I said I was going to destroy you but, if you change your ways then I will change my mind. You go first humanity and, if I see you change, then I’ll change, too. But you go first so I can see.”
And conversely, he goes on.
“And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.”
And in Jonah, He repeats the offer and, thereby, underlines the fact of humanity’s Free Will.
“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
Notice also this is what the New Testament says as well. That is, if you do something evil but then repent — and it has to be a sincere repentance with a sincere effort to “sin no more”, then you will be forgiven.
Jesus said so.
The action is up to us and, as we change, so will God.
God truly doesn’t know what we will do. He’s waiting to see.
So, what will you choose to do in the next five minutes?
Hint: God doesn’t know!
Bob Enyart’s The Plot put these verses in one place (pages 2-3) and provided the stimulus — that God’s story has experienced unexpected “plot twists” — for this blog entry. I expect to find many more such nuggets as I continue to read Bob’s work.
Recently, I attended Sunday service at the Denver Bible Church. Bob is the pastor there and, after worship, I joined him, his wife, his brother and others for lunch and discussion. It was a most enlightening day.