Decades ago as a newly converted Christian in my first year in college, praying for guidance in the selection of a work career, in my naïve innocence I asked God to lead me into an undemanding job that would not distract me from a future Christian ministry. I mistakenly assumed that becoming engaged in a challenging, committed secular career and attempting a Holy Spirit-guided journey of faith into the discovery of all truth were two separate, mutually exclusive things competing for my time and attention.
What God gave me instead as an answer to my prayer was a clear and confirmed calling into the field of building construction, which for a natural organizer like me is a life-long mission into trying to bring order and calm into a manufacturing process that is in continual need of debugging. Unlike the standard manufacturing assembly-line plant at a single fixed location, having an economic model which is based upon the absolute necessity of debugged repetitive precision, the building construction assembly process is inconveniently fragmented into tens of thousands of independent projects spread out all over the countryside, separated by geographical distance, economic competition, and non-communication of proactive problem-solving information.
Because the large physical size of the building product requires its assembly on individually segregated building sites, a smooth-running perfection in building construction is an ideal we aim for but never fully achieve. Some measure of controlled chaos is an unwelcome component of every building construction project because each different square-foot size, price range, and architecturally styled project is uniquely and individually debugged in real time…in-the-moment. The proverbial “reinvent the wheel” occurs to some extent on every new building construction project.
This unavoidable reality of the need for constant and repetitive reform in the assembly of the pieces and parts of building construction, informs and shapes a Christian like me regarding the inescapable costs to the psyche of anyone attempting to observe, record, and disseminate building construction debugging information through first-hand, basic field research (I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction, 1995-98, a three-volume set of books on debugging housing design and construction, 2016, and a book on construction field forms, 2016).
But this challenging secular reality in the world of building construction also translates into a lesson of immeasurable importance as applied to an interpretation of biblical end-times prophecy.
God cannot demonstrate His true character unless Jesus the Son of God walks through a broken world of deadly opposition and chaotic confusion ending in the cross and the resurrection. Jesus Christ cannot display all of the fruits of the Spirit in perfect execution amidst the most lethally hostile rejection by the religious leaders in Jerusalem, in direct contrast to the wishes of a large portion of the general populace (Mk. 11:7-10), without the environment of a broken world lost in sin, envy, jealousy, ambition, and political intrigue (Jn. 15:22-24).
If Jesus came as messiah to Israel and Jerusalem when Ezra or Nehemiah were ruling the land, or even as early as when Joshua was the leader, or during one of the reigns of the “good” kings like Hezekiah or Jehoshaphat, then the danger zone of competing agendas would not have been relatively muted compared to the extremes in place in first-century Jerusalem (Jn. 8:42-43).
When the unruly mob comes to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says to them: “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Lk. 22:53). A danger zone of lethal dimensions was the social, political, and religious undercurrent that faced Jesus of Nazareth throughout His ministry, and His divine character shines through all the more brilliantly because of it.
Without a world mired in sinful rebellion, God has no way of demonstrating the true depth of the power of His love for us. The deliverance of the Israelites in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the Exodus through the desert, and the conquering of the Promised Land cannot occur without the intensely contrasting, deadly hostile backdrop of the Middle East region roughly thirty-four hundred years ago.
One final point here before moving on.
What is the relative value of faith in the mind of God compared to worldly conventional normalcy? God places so much weight on creating a context for faith to operate…even if this involves waiting patiently “in faith” for some good outcome…some good thing to happen…that God will insert His plan that partially or utterly displaces whatever previous plans we might have entertained or cherished (Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 1:3).
A new God-composed context for faith displaces and overrides our natural desire for “worldly conventional normalcy,” even when it involves withholding or postponing something good for a period of time.
Abraham the “father of faith” is the first biblical example of this key concept. Abraham and Sarah do not want to endure a lengthy wait for the birth of a son, and become so desperate to help God out in the direction of achieving this aspect of conventional normalcy in their lives, that they contrive to arrange the Hagar and Ishmael event.
But the life-script that God has written for the life of Abraham…contains a divinely ordained element of patient waiting, in the storyline…purposely to create the context for faith to operate.
Other biblical examples that come to mind are the Israelites in bondage in Egypt, Joseph in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison, Moses in Midian, the Israelites in the wilderness exodus, Hannah, David during his 13-year period of preparation to be king, the blind man in John 9:3, and the three-day wait for the disciples while Jesus lay dead in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.
All of these people…along with many other examples in the Bible…had the circumstances and events of their lives arranged by God to set-up the context for faith to operate…at the cost of giving up some portion of conventional normalcy and thinking.
Not only does this have enormous apologetic value for validating the supernatural origin of the Bible…but it also provides a biblical perspective to our interpretation of end-times prophecy.
Human nature wants to hurry things along…to speed things up. We want to rapture the Christian church off the earth pretribulation. But God takes as much time as is necessary to do things right. The contrast between Adam and Eve impulsively taking and eating the fruit from the forbidden tree, and the long period of human redemptive history…is enormous and clear-cut.
But if God must withhold or postpone something good in our lives in order to create the context for faith to operate…He will do it. Faith leading to knowing God…like Paul in Philippians 3:10…in the eternal view is exceedingly more important than the loss or postponement of something otherwise good in the this-worldly, conventional scheme of things (Rom. 8:18).