Second Effort: The Prevailing Will of God

second effortHave you ever noticed that, in the Bible, God brings what He wants through a “second effort?” It always seems like the second time or second person God calls gets the job done or brings forward God’s will. This happens in many Bible stories and in the big picture of humanity’s story. There is a pattern. God holds everything together (even in the face of death) for the second effort.

Let’s start with the story of Cain and Abel at the beginning of Genesis. In that story, God is pleased with a sacrifice Abel gives. Cain, the firstborn, is angered at God’s affirmation and kills his brother. God then promises Adam and Eve a son to replace Abel. Later, Seth is born. God was displeased with the firstborn Cain. He was pleased with the second… Abel. Moreover, God didn’t let the murder of Abel’s line cease, but rather Seth was born to replace him. The death of Abel did not stop God’s will. God’s replacement (Seth) of the second (Abel) is part of the family line of Jesus (Luke 3:38). This seems to indicate Abel would have been in His line had he not been killed and here we see revealed God’s prevailing will.

In Genesis 25, we find that the “older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23) in the case of Esau and Jacob… so much so we don’t say their names like that… it is Jacob and Esau. Jacob was the second born.

There are many other examples of God’s will being manifest through the second effort. It was not the first generation of Israelites that went into the Promised Land, but the second generation (Deuteronomy 1). It was not Moses, the first leader of the People of Israel that brought them into the land, but Joshua (whose name means “Jehovah saves”) (Deuteronomy 31).

As the history of Israel rolled on, we see the same pattern with Israel’s kingship. Saul son of Kish is anointed king (1 Samuel 10:21). He displeased God. God then sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David son of Jesse as Israel’s king (1 Samuel 16). It was King David who is described as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). Again, not the first, but the second one pleased God.

We see this same truth in covenants, types, and metaphors in the Bible. The Old Covenant (ritual sacrifice) was a shadow of what was to come in the New Covenant (relational sacrifice). Jesus is called the “last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45 showing that the first Adam was a disappointment and the will of God was done in the second Adam. Adam displeased God. With Jesus, God was “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, 2 Peter 1:17). Humanity under Adam is not pleasing to God but is pleasing to God under Christ. Again, not the first, but the second.

Even in the Book of Revelation, the first Earth passes away to make way for the second (Revelation 21). It will not be the world we live on now that pleases the Lord and exists into the Age to Come, but a redeemed new Earth.

What does this teach us?

I think it teaches us that it is not by a forceful effort that God’s will is done, rather God’s will is accomplished by effort in submission to His order. Force brings chaos. Submission brings order. It is not through the natural human-focused way, but in the spiritual God-focused way that His will prevails. Not in strength, but in weakness is the power of God’s will revealed and made perfect on earth.

The will of God does and shall prevail in all situations.

It is through the weakest (often the second effort) that God’s power is made perfect and it is in that way that Heaven and Earth live in relationship with Him happily ever after.


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