God does not work the same way we do. We look at the situations and try to find the advantages we can gain. A farmer will look for the best soil, a businessman will look for a good investment opportunity, and a football coach will recruit the best players. But God looks for the situation that is least advantageous, as least by human standards. He takes the eighth son of man from Bethlehem to lead his people. He takes a former persecutor of the church and makes him into his greatest missionary. He calls fishermen and tax collectors to preach His name to the world. But perhaps no example, outside of Christ Himself, is as marvelous as Abraham. A man from the land of Ur is plucked up by God to be the father of His people. He promises this wandered land. He promises this impotent man children as numerous as the stars. Abraham and Sarah were dead. Their line would die out when they were laid in the dust. For 25 years Abraham waited for the son of promise. He even cheated by sleeping with Hagar. But God does not disappoint and:
Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. (Heb 11:12)
When John tells the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 3:9 that God can raise up children of Abraham from stones he is not speaking in metaphor or giving a good illustration. He is speaking truth. God does not need all the advantages we think of when it comes to creating followers. He makes worshipers from stones. He can bring a nation from a dead womb. He takes dead men and makes them alive. Not only can he do this. He loves to do this. That is how God works. He scours the earth and says,”Oh, look there is an Augustinian monk, let me use him to start a Reformation.” “Oh, look there is a 19 year old untrained preacher. Let me use him to turn London upside down.” “There is well-trained fornicator who dabbles in various false theologies. I will make him the greatest father in the early church.” “There is an English atheist. I am going to make him one of the greatest apologist of the modern age” And on and on it goes.
Why does God do it this way? Because His glory is the greatest aim. God does not often call (sometimes he does) the powerful, mighty, wise, and rich of the world. He uses the weak and foolish things of this world to confound the wise so “no flesh can glory in His presence” (I Cor. 1:26-29). Abraham could not boast about his descendants. He was a dead man. Israel could not boast about being descended from Abraham. She came from a dead man. When God is done there is no room for man to boast.
The church in America is in a bad way. There are glimmers of light here and there. There are many faithful leaders who have led God’s people over the last 25 years. But on the whole she is empty of truth, goodness, and beauty. Compromise is a regular problem. We continue to fold on major issues or make allowances for those who do. But God loves to work in this environment. Just like Israel when Jesus showed up, we are gasping for breath. But somewhere God is preparing some unlikely men to lead his people in the next generation. Men who by His power and might will reform and revive the church he bought with his own blood.
In the meantime, what do we do? Like Sarah we consider God faithful to his promises (Hebrews 11:11). We work and wait patiently for the Lord to bring worshipers from stones, apologists from persecutors, and life from death.