Seizing Your Destiny in Christ
As you look out over the political and circumstantial landscape these days, do you ever have the gut feeling that things are transpiring around you that seem beyond your control? Are you bothered by the prospect that your life’s direction and fulfillment appear to be shaped by nebulous forces totally remote and unrelated to your life? Are you chagrinned by decisions which impact your life made by elitist persons whose jobs, income and well-being are perfectly secured? Case in point is an economy destroying lockdown predicated on a fabricated “pandemic” which has proven to be less deadly than the flu.
I want to encourage you in this message that all these outward and visible manifestations cannot and will not subvert or overcome God’s glorious and eternal intentions for your life. “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Cor 4;18 NLT). You have a destiny ordained by almighty God which is constantly and always calling you into everything Christ Jesus died for you to become. The only real question is whether or not we will choose to press through the obstacles and “…lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
The nineteenth century in America was a period of incredible growth in population and territorial expansion across the continent. Its population increased from 5 to 23 million, and through the Louisiana Purchase—initiated by President Jefferson in 1803—the United States nearly doubled in territory. This vast expansion was held by many of the day to reflect God’s intention and ordination that America expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the North American continent. Thus, this sense of divine purpose gave rise in 1845 to the phrase, “Manifest Destiny,” and became an underlying and guiding principle in US foreign policy well into the 20th century.
Although America’s concept of Manifest Destiny created some undesirable and ungodly consequences—such as the ill treatment and displacement of American natives—the idea of destiny is literally rooted in biblical theology and is worthy of our searching out and understanding with respect to our relationship with God. Destiny is defined thusly: a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Considering this definition in light of God’s desire to see all persons aspire unto the full stature life in Christ, it can be taken as God’s ultimate intention rather than being seen in terms of predestinated fate. Although God’s will from eternity past has always been that we be conformed to the image of Christ, he created us with free will allowing us to in essence alter the “destiny” for which he chose us and for which Christ died.
There is an awesome depiction of our spiritual “Manifest Destiny”—God’s glorious desire and intent for our lives—among the stories of the kings in the Old Testament. Following the period of unified Israel with Saul, David and Solomon, the kingdom divided with ten tribes forming Israel in the north and two tribes forming Judah in the south. After Solomon, 20 kings reigned in the southern kingdom of Judah culminating in the Babylonia captivity in the 6th century B.C. Although the majority of these kings did evil in the sight of the Lord, a king arose who “…did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.” (2 Chr 34:2 KJV) Josiah was this faithful king of Judah.
Ascending to the throne at the tender age of eight, this young lad had a heart for God that totally belied the corrupt ancestry from which he came. He is a terrific illustration of overcoming one’s genes so to speak and escaping the corrupt milieu of his heritage. Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, may have been the most evil king of Judah’s empire. He basically undid all the reforms of his father, Hezekiah, and reinstituted the despicable evils of his grandfather, Ahaz. Manasseh rebuilt the high places and the altars of Baal. He placed images of Asherah in the temple, worshiped the host of heaven (astral deities), committed child sacrifice and practiced divination. The Bible says that Josiah’s father worshiped and sacrificed to the idols of his father but was even more evil than Manasseh.
This was the background and heritage that Josiah had to overcome and yet by the time he was sixteen, “…while he was still a youth, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, the carved images and the molten images. They tore down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars that were high above them he chopped down; also the Asherim, the carved images and the molten images he broke in pieces and ground to powder and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. Then he burned the bones of the priests on their altars and purged Judah and Jerusalem.” What a phenomenal endeavor for a young man coming out of such a horrid background and influence.
I believe Josiah accomplished these incredible feats because he chose to claim the life that God ordained for him. In that regard I do not believe he was unique, but rather represents that which all who are committed followers of Jesus should aspire to. In essence he was willing to allow God to live his life and purpose through him. He discovered the Lord’s “destiny” for him and seized it.
In 2 Chronicles 34 we find a key passage that helps us realize how emblematic Josiah’s life is for all true believers. When the book of the covenant was rediscovered in the temple, Josiah called all the leaders and people to the temple and read the entire document to them. Then we read the following passage:
The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the LORD’s presence. He pledged to obey the LORD by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll (2 Chr 34:31 NLT).
Although the word “authority” is not in the original text, the NLT does give a faithful rendering with regard to the Hebrew text. In the KJV it is rendered “And the king stood in his place.” The Hebrew word for “stood” means to stand before a king, to serve, to minister to him. It can also mean to minister to Jehovah. This same word is used in Gen 41 where the text describes how Joseph stood before Pharaoh. In that instance and as a result of that encounter, Joseph went out from Pharaoh bearing the full authority of Pharaoh himself. Pharaoh’s will, power, and authority was being exercised through Joseph who in and of himself could do none of the things he accomplished in the name of Pharaoh.
I believe with all my heart that taking our place of authority has everything to do with embracing God’s destiny, his intention and purpose for our lives. In doing this it may mean for some renewing the “covenant” with God. It may require identifying and removing idols from one’s life. It could require discerning what may be necessary in cleansing the “temple.” Whatever it would take would be absolutely worth experiencing the Lord fulfilling his heart’s desire through your life.
In Philippians 3 we see the Apostle Paul demonstrating this as he counts everything in his life that he once believed gave him worth and value and meaning as refuse. Paul said, “I have discarded everything else…” He then goes on to state, “But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” Paul took his place of authority, he stripped away all the idols, he renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord.
The biblical concept of authority is so different from that which most aspire to. The world’s idea of authority is wielding it over others, being in charge, having the final word, etc. However, in the kingdom of God our authority is in our yieldedness to Christ, our utter surrender to him and the daily taking up of our cross and dying to self. This is what results in the Lord being able to live out his life through us. The greatest peace and joy we can ever experience is found in taking our place of authority. Like Joseph of old, we will also go out from the presence of the king bearing fruitful manifestations of his life.