We’ve been having political problems again here in Haiti. Many US news outlets have stopped reporting on problems in Haiti because people are simply tired of hearing about it. Round and around Haiti goes with its problems and unending poverty. Sometimes it just seems like things will never change.
This isn’t just true of Haiti. It’s really true everywhere if you think about it. This is evidenced in the fact that before the ancient Israelites, ancient cultures believed that history wasn’t linear, but cyclical; meaning that things are simply repeating themselves over and over again. The idea that history is actually going somewhere, or that things can actually change came from God’s revelation to the Hebrews.
If the Bible didn’t teach that things can change, then I wouldn’t be a Christian. Frankly, I’ve never really understood “Christians” who promote an ideology that says, “Come as you are and stay as you are.” The first part (“come as you are”) I’m completely onboard with. Jesus was a “come as you are” kind of guy. Jesus never, however, sent people away unchanged. When you encounter the living God, you can never go away changed. I’m a Christian precisely because I want to change, and I believe that God can do it.
Almost everyone knows the Bible story of Noah and the Ark. What a lot of people miss about the story, however, is that Noah is intended to be the second Adam. Things with Adam and Eve ran amuck so God decides to start over. He hits the reset button on His creation project by sending a flood.
Once the flood waters reside God says to Noah the exact same thing that He said to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The text says, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’ (Gen. 9:1). Right after this Noah plants a garden, consumes the fruit of the garden (wine in this case), sins, and then curses his son. This is just like the Garden of Eden! It’s the same story as Genesis 3!
So, what’s the story-telling trying to say? He’s saying that history is repeating itself. Over and over again we go, just like Haiti. This is a theme that reappears throughout the Old Testament. The cycle goes around and around of sin, slavery, repentance, deliverance, and then sin again. This is the pattern in the stories of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), the book of Judges, and even the story of the nation of Israel! They end up in Babylonian exile just like they were slaves in Egypt many years ago.
Unfortunately, it’s the pattern of lots of people’s lives too.
At the end of the Old Testament, like at the end of watching the news on Haiti, we are scratching our heads asking ourselves, “Are things never going to change?!” The answer is YES! Things changed when Jesus walked out of the tomb on the third day. God reaches into history and sets things on a different trajectory.
Isaiah 43:18–19 says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus, thanks to the holiness of God, things can change.
Things can not only change for nations, they can change for you. So many Christians live in the cycle of spiritual victory, defeat, repentance, forgiveness, victory, and defeat again. This is not God’s plan for the Christian life. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is enough to help people live in regular victory over sin so as to manifest the righteousness of Jesus in the here and now. How will the world see Jesus if the church isn’t holy? As the author of the letter to the Hebrews says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
Praise God. Things can change.