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"...for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
--1 Corinthians 2:10b Mo Letters from David Berg and the Children of God / The Family

Did God Make a Mistake?

By David Brandt Berg, First published January 1971.
"Didn't You care what people thought about You and Your followers, Jesus? Did you have to be such a drop-out, and pick such a motley crew of ne'er-do-wells -- including some of the town's worst harlots and radicals?"

Did God make a mistake by putting Adam and Eve in the Garden where they wound up making their own choice--the wrong one? (See Genesis 3:6.) Did God have to confess failure by the Flood, in that He had to wipe out all Mankind for its wickedness? (See Genesis 6:5-7.) Was the Tower of Babel a total disaster, and was the confusion of tongues a catastrophe? Or was it necessary to accomplish God's purpose to humble and scatter Man over the face of the Earth? (See Genesis 11:1-9.)

We blew it!

Was it a mistake when Moses killed an Egyptian and had to flee for his life, and ended up living for forty years in the wilderness learning to be a humble shepherd tending sheep? (See Exodus 2.) Wasn't that a terrible setback to the cause and the deliverance of his people? Or was it necessary for Moses to go into exile to learn the lessons God had to teach him to make him the man he needed to be to deliver his people?--Totally dependent on God, not himself.

Did God make a mistake when He chose Saul to be king of Israel considering the way Saul turned out? Was Saul a failure? Or did he accomplish God's purpose in training the king God was really after, David? (See 1 Samuel.) God gets some of His greatest victories out of seeming defeat, and He causes the wrath of Man to praise Him!

Did God make a mistake when He let David fall for Bathsheba, and fall from grace in the eyes of the kingdom, fall from the throne at the hand of his own rebellious son Absalom, and depart in disgrace and scandal to another country with only a handful of his friends? (See 2 Samuel 15.) Did David really fall downward or was this a fall upward? Sometimes God's way up is down--usually, in fact!--Just the opposite of what we think! God loves to do things contrary to natural expectation, because that takes a miracle, and shows that it's God, and not Man! David was humbled and the whole kingdom was humbled, and they were reminded it was only the Lord that made them what they were!

From that squeezing and twisting of David's life came forth the sweetness of the Psalms, and the fragrance of his praises to the Lord for His mercy! It was all God and all grace, and none of himself or his own righteousness!--A lesson that's been an encouragement to other great sinners like me and you ever since!

Was Elijah's ministry defeated when he ran from Jezebel, after his great victory on Mt. Carmel? Was his great bravery there completely scuttled by his cowardice in the wilderness? After slaying the hundreds of false prophets, here he was running from a mere woman! What a picture! (See 1Kings 18,19.) The great, brave, statuesque prophet, who had towered above all the rest in the might and power of God on top of Mt. Carmel, and called down fire from Heaven, now running fearfully, ignominiously and disgracefully from that filthy, wicked Queen Jezebel! Here was the prophet of God afraid of a woman! Or was God trying to show him something that was going to make him a better prophet?--A humbler prophet, who would come back unafraid, even of the king, much less the queen?

Wasn't it a disgrace and a terrible blow to the Lord's cause for the great prophet of doom, Jeremiah, to be hung in stocks before the temple door, so his brethren could spit in his face, or be dropped in the mud to his armpits by his enemies, so that his dear friend, Ebed, had to come secretly and pull him out? And wasn't that finally the most scandalous disgrace of all, that he should land in jail, branded as a traitor and a criminal, disloyal to his nation and his own people? (See Jeremiah 38.)

Yes, but not to God! It was all a part of God's plan to keep Jeremiah humble and close to the Lord, utterly dependent on God, and not his family, or his friends, or even his brethren or the king. God put him in the safety of the cold storage of prison until he could be delivered by his country's enemies, the Babylonians, and be blessed and protected, provided for and encouraged, by the ones you would have least expected it from--the cruel, heathen enemies of his people! Was it a mistake? Couldn't there have been a better, more proper way of doing it?

Forget the "proper way!" The proper way is of Man! The unexpected and the improper, the unconventional and untraditional, the unorthodox and unceremonious, contrary to Man's natural expectation, this is the way God usually works! "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts!" (Isaiah 55:8,9). Who can know the mind of the Lord, and who can show Him anything? (See 1 Corinthians 2:16.)

Who do we think we are, anyway, to tell God what to do and how to do it? God knows what He's doing and it's none of our business how He does it! So we ought to quit trying to tell God how He ought to do things! "Now Lord, You must do it this way or that way, so we'll be accepted and people will understand." Forget about people who don't understand! Your friends don't need an explanation, and your enemies would never believe it anyhow! So why explain? Just trust God that He knows what He's doing! "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5,6).

God loves to do things contrary to the way we think He ought to do them! Is this a mistake? Is God wrong? Did God fail? Why didn't God take Gideon's 32,000 men and let them destroy the army of Midian so they could pat themselves on the back and boast what a great people they were? Instead, He had a ridiculous little band of 300 break up dishes in the middle of the night, brandishing fireworks and tooting and yelling their heads off, to the point they scared their enemies so silly, they slew themselves! (See Judges 7.)

What an ignominious way to win a battle! What an inglorious way to conquer the enemy! It was stupid, idiotic, ridiculous--but God did it! Gideon and his band could only thank God for the victory, because all they did was something stupid, like breaking dishes, waving torches, and yelling their fool heads off, while God did the dirty work! Who could possibly get the credit for that kind of a battle but the Lord? Certainly not a fool like Gideon, who was crazy enough to believe God and do what He said! But he was willing to be a fool and be laughed at, as long as he got the job done!

The minute you try to figure the Lord's plans out in your own natural reasoning, you might as well quit, because it will probably never work out that way anyhow. "Lest you say, `Mine own hand hath saved me'!" (Judges 7:2).

And what shall I say more? For the time would fail me to tell of Barak, and of a nut like Samson! What a dandy bad example he was--long hair, always running after the women, getting in fights and drinking it up with the boys, cracking jokes and betting!--A guy who knocked off a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, acting like an ass himself, sometimes! (See Judges 14-16.) What a reckless, unconventional, crazy way for God to save His people, by using a revolutionary rebel like that! Did God make a mistake? Or was He trying to show that He can use anything--even someone like you--by giving us such encouraging examples of His successful failures, His fabulous flops, His daring dropouts, who dared to trust Him in spite of themselves and give Him all the glory because they knew it had to be God!

Wouldn't it have been much more respectable and acceptable for the King of kings, Jesus, to have been born in a palace, with illustrious members of the court in attendance, and with all the honour and praise of society? Instead, He was born on the dirty floor of a barn under the cows and asses, wrapped in rags and lying in a feed trough, with a motley crew of poor little shepherd boys kneeling on the floor beside Him? The manger has been so glorified by Man since then, that they've forgotten what it was used for! It was nothing but a rough bin for the cows to eat out of!

Wouldn't it have been better for His father to have been a prominent potentate, instead of a humble hewer of wood? Wouldn't that have made it easier on Jesus and His followers, and advanced His Work a little more rapidly, to have the approval of the established order? And wasn't that rather humiliating for His humble parents to become fugitives from injustice, and flee the country like common criminals for having given birth to the leader of a rival revolutionary government--the Kingdom of God? (See Matthew 1,2.)

And wouldn't it have been better for Him to have lived a little more decently and acceptably, instead of being born in another man's stable, scrounging His food in other men's fields, and sleeping in other people's houses?--Including in the house of a couple of lovely young single sisters, Mary and Martha--and buried in another man's grave? (See Luke 10:38-42; John 19:38-42.) Did He have to always be challenging the religious establishment, defying convention, destroying traditions, and threatening the status quo?--So that He had to be executed with common criminals, and leave behind the evil reputation of having been a companion of publicans and sinners, a glutton and a winebibber, often in the company of drunks and harlots, a law-breaker, a rabble-rouser, a disturber of the peace, a demon-possessed fanatic and false prophet of the wrong way! That's what they called Him! Couldn't God have used less controversial tactics than that, and done it more peaceably and respectably and acceptably? Couldn't the King of kings have gotten off to a better start, instead of being hated from the beginning? Didn't God make a mistake?

Why deliberately offend the system, or the established order? Why deliberately pick a bunch of stinking long-haired fishermen and a hated tax collector for His disciples? Wouldn't You have made easier progress, Jesus, if You'd done it Man's way, and chosen them from the learned Sanhedrin (the local seminary) with the approval of the synagogues, and the permission of the high priests and a license from Rome through the governor? Wouldn't You have gotten off to a better start, Jesus? Don't You think You could have improved Your tactics, Lord? Don't You think that was really making it a little too rough from the beginning, and suffering undue and unnecessary hardship and persecution due to Your Own foolhardy methods and lack of wisdom, Jesus?

Did You have to be such a dropout, and pick up such a motley crew of ne'er-do-wells--including some of the town's worst harlots and radicals? There must have been a better way! Surely You didn't have to do so many things in such a horrible fashion! One can understand Your making a few mistakes, but going so consistently and stubbornly contrary to all acceptable reason and logic and custom, wasn't that a little foolish, Lord? And You might have known that to have beat up the money changers in the Temple once--they might have overlooked it as the hair-brained eccentricity of some madman, a little off his rocker--but to whip'em out, and bust the furniture, and spill all the money three times--You know that was too much! Somebody was bound to get mad and get You in the end! (See John 2:13-16; Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15.)

You've made it very hard, Lord, for us to explain You to respectable society, why You had to be so unconventional and controversial--such an iconoclast! Couldn't You have compromised just a little bit on some of these issues, and not have continued to have to run head-on into the religious authorities with Your revolutionary doctrines? Couldn't You have polished up Your manner and Your message a little bit so it wouldn't have been quite so hard to swallow--such as when You told Your disciples to eat Your flesh and drink Your blood! Why, they could have thought You were starting to teach cannibalism! (See John 6:48-63.)

Lord, there must have been a better way! And certainly You could have had better living conditions than that!--The idea of You camping out on the grass under the trees! You knew that was bound to raise eyebrows and questions about Your character and morality and that of Your disciples, who were a rather questionable group of characters to begin with! Surely You must have been mistaken, Lord, about some of these things, and could have done some of them some better way!

And on top of it all, You had to pick that fanatic Paul to be one of Your leading apostles! You might have known that the Jews wouldn't have liked Your stealing one of their top men and turning him into a radical Christian! You might have known that even Your disciples would have doubted the sincerity of such a man, and found it hard to believe that You'd do such a thing, to take their worst persecutor and expect them to believe he was their bosom buddy now, after all the damage he'd done them!

Really, Lord, You do make it all rather difficult! Surely some of this was a mistake! We might have understood Your stupid, uneducated followers pulling some boners like this--but You, Lord, their leader! How could You have been guilty of such disgraceful conduct? What did You expect people to think? Of course they would accuse You of being a drunk and a glutton, a libertine, and a radical revolutionary! You really didn't make it very easy for them to accept You, because Your method and message were terribly hard to swallow for any of us who are accustomed to even the least bit of respectability! Weren't You at all concerned about the opinions of men? Didn't You care what people thought about You and Your followers? Didn't the stories that were going around about You and the men and women who were following You make any difference to You?

Lord, how could You do this to us? Why did You have to make it so hard for us to interpret You to society? When Your actions were almost inexcusable, what do You expect society to believe? They can only go by what they see and hear, and that's bad enough!

Lord, please let us improve on Your methods, and polish up Your message a little, and eradicate some of these irreconcilable, controversial features of Your ministry! Lord, we don't want to make the same kind of mistakes You did! Please help us to be more acceptable in the eyes of the World! Couldn't we classify this amongst the "greater things shall ye do than this"? (John 14:12).--That we, unlike You, manage to be accepted by society, even recognised and blessed by it--even working together with it? And in this case, wouldn't You permit us to be "unequally yoked with the unbelievers"? (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Couldn't You just, in our case, make it a little more equal, so we wouldn't have to suffer the kind of persecution You and Your early followers did? Shouldn't we have learned something from Your dandy bad example, of what not to do next time? Surely we could learn something from these mistakes of Yours! Otherwise, Lord, if Your disciples throughout all history are going to follow such a nonconformist example as Yours, they're going to have nothing but trouble from beginning to end, because You know the World isn't going to stand for it, and Christianity is going to be absolutely obliterated!

And Lord, You should also have had much more respect for the temple and their synagogues, because You know buildings are the foundation of every religion, and without them, where would our religion be? Why, we couldn't have any ceremonies, and what would we say we belong to without our denomination? We'd be out in the cold, Lord, with nothing to do but witness, and we'd have no support or backing but Yours. Now, that's not very businesslike, and we'd certainly not last long at that rate! Look what happened to all the rest of Your followers throughout history who insisted on defying the established religious order, and preaching in the streets with no visible means of support--no jobs, no homes, no governmental recognition! Almost without exception, from Your earliest prophets to Your latest martyrs, they were ridiculed, scoffed at, disbelieved, jailed, fined, beaten, and even killed!

But what could You expect, Lord? You might have known the people wouldn't stand for that sort of thing! Society couldn't have people like that running around loose, without some kind of regulation and control! It might undermine their whole set-up, and destroy the people's confidence in their religion, their buildings and their religious leaders. You know You just can't have that, Lord! Everything has to be done in decency and order, and we just couldn't have all these religious fanatics running around loose, screaming, "Jesus loves you!" They're bound to call it disorderly conduct, because it's not according to their order, or the usual order of the day!

Haven't You made a mistake, Lord? Isn't there some better way You could do things?--With a little better class of people and some more acceptable methods and a less offensive message, something that wouldn't disturb and upset people so much and make them so angry at You? Most of us want to be of some reputation and to be well-thought- of and respected by our communities! Most of us don't care to be a news headline, Lord!--Especially not in this somewhat distasteful fashion. Most people don't care to be considered religious fanatics. Don't You think You and Your first followers set them a rather bad example, Lord, which got them off to a rather bad start with the community? I realise, Lord, that they did seem to reach people with the Gospel, but what a Gospel!

And what's the matter with a little formal higher education? Don't You think You and Your disciples would have been much more readily recognised by the respectable citizenry if You had been a little more literate and learned and versed in the ways of the World and what it expects of its religious leaders?

And to actually say that their temple was going to be destroyed!--Wasn't this sacrilege and blasphemy, that what they called the very House of God was doomed to destruction? (See Matthew 24:2.) If we said things like that, who would You expect to follow us then, Lord?--No one but the riffraff of society like You had, or Jeremiah had, or St. Francis had, or some of those other unconventional nonconformists of Yours! This would get us nowhere with society and the general public, just as it got them nowhere but jail and judgment and execution! I'm sure we must have learned something from all of this, Lord!--And we don't care to repeat Your mistakes! In this modern and civilised day, we must use new, improved and more civilised methods, more consistent with the scientific age of educated men in an affluent society!

And last, but not least, Lord, this business of us reverting after thousands of years to a primitive cooperative society such as that of Your disciples, where people share and have all things in common, and live together and devote their time to nothing but prayer, praise, Bible study and witnessing!--This is a thing of the past, and it apparently didn't work well, because the established churches discontinued its practice! As You can understand, it's not attractive to most people! How many of us want to share our hard-earned cash with others not so blessed? Let them get out and earn their own! We must surely need a few things to call our own, and some place to lay our heads! (See Acts 2:44-47; 4:31-35.)

We can't just be drifters, like You and Your disciples, Lord!--And even Your great apostle, Paul!--Imagine having "no certain dwellingplace!" (1 Corinthians 4:11). This is just inconceivable in this modern day! It just isn't done any more! You know that such a lifestyle is bound to draw criticism and be abhorred by a modern society which believes that our lives consist of the abundance of the things which we possess, and not some mere vague and uncertain spiritual values!

Lord, do we have to be so completely denounced by the World, in order to keep us separate and uncompromising, and from drifting back into it? Do they have to reject us entirely to drive us to You? Must we utterly burn our bridges behind us, so that it's impossible for us to go back? Isn't this asking a little too much, to make us such an offscouring of society as Paul was, as he said the apostles were, such dregs of humanity as Your early followers were, Lord?--Such misfits, odd characters, fanatics and peculiar people? (See 1 Corinthians 4:13.) If we go this far, we'll never be able to go back! Society will never accept us again. It might bring division and betrayal by those who are not loyal, like Judas did to You! It might offend so many weaker brethren, we'd have very few left, and we would be able to persuade very few to follow such extremes of loyalty, dedication, and doctrine!--Like what happened to You after that "blood and flesh sermon"! (See John 6:48-66.)

Yes, Gideon did lose most of his army through such extremism, but that was a long time ago, Lord, and things are different now! You're not supposed to make the tests so hard today, Lord, that You lose most of Your army! Where would the established church be if she did that today? There wouldn't be much left! Even Your Own disciples forsook You over some of Your hard sayings! (See John 6:66.) It's just too much, Lord; You'll never get a very big army that way! We'll never be very popular, practising such extremes as this! We'll never be generally accepted if we preach and practise everything in the Bible! You surely wouldn't expect that of us! It's just too much! It must be a mistake! Please don't ask that of us! Do we have to be so different? Aren't You making a mistake, Lord? Isn't there some other way?

* * *

What does the Bible say about all this?: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. . . . Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. . . . Many are called, but few are chosen! . . . Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the World to confound the wise; and the weak things to confound the things which are mighty. . . . And many of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, `This is an hard saying: who can hear it?' . . . And from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him! . . . Then said Jesus unto the twelve, `Will ye also go away?'" And another time, "All the disciples forsook Him, and fled."

"Let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." For He "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant. . . . He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was taken from prison and from judgement . . . and He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death. . . . And ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name's sake . . . and then shall the end come. . . . Because ye are not of the World, but I have chosen you out of the World, therefore the World hateth you. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. . . . He that receiveth you, receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. . . . The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above His Lord" (John 14:6; Matthew 7:14; 22:14; 1 Corinthians 1:26,27; John 6:60,66,67; Matthew 26:56; Hebrews 13:13; Philippians 2:7; Isaiah 53:3,8,9; Matthew 24:9,14; John 15:19,20; Matthew 10:40; 10:24).

God doesn't make mistakes, and even the "foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." There is no other way than God's way. Hear ye Him! "And He saith unto them, `Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' And they immediately left all and followed Him . . . even unto the death of the Cross. . . . Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy Angels." Beware "when all men shall speak well of you!" (1 Corinthians 1:25; Matthew 4:19,20; Philippians 2:8; Mark 8:38; Luke 6:26).

Are you willing to enter that straight gate that leads unto life, even if you are considered a fool and of no reputation in the eyes of the World? If you have not already done so, and would like to receive Jesus' Love and Salvation today, simply pray the following prayer:

Dear Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God and that You died for me. I now ask You to forgive me for all of my sins. I open the door and I invite You into my heart, and ask that You give me the gift of Eternal Life. Please come in, Jesus, and help me to read Your Word, the Bible, and to live for You. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me to tell others about You so they may find You too. In Your name I ask, amen.

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International

James Arendt
James Arendt

My name is James Arendt. I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom. My full bio.

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