Some of the most profound spiritual truths are revealed in second clauses or concluding statements that begin with the word “but.” One of the most familiar uses of this three letter word is found in the account of God’s judgment on the earth by a universal flood. “Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth” (Gen 6:11-13 NIV).
Evil was so rampant that divine judgment was inevitable and God initiated judgment …
“For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. Every living thing that moved on the earth perished — birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.
“Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark” (Gen 7:17-8:1a NIV).
All creation seemed doomed but God remembered Noah. Another Old Testament account vividly contrasts man’s plans with those of God’s. The Jewish race was in its infancy, consisting of some seventy members of Jacob’s family. Unfortunately, from our perspective, Jacob had given Joseph authority over his older brothers concerning the livestock and herds. However this was all part of God’s plan to bring a people into the land promised to Abraham. Hating their younger brother for his position of authority, the older brothers devised a plan to rid themselves of him.
As the account unfolds, we learn of God’s divine purpose to preserve a people that He had chosen to bring Messiah into the world. Well aware of that plan, the Adversary put into effect his schemes to abort God’s Plan of a Savior. Unfortunately, some of the most effective strategies used by Satan involve close relationships, in this case Joseph’s brothers. But God was at work the entire time to fulfill His promise of a Savior who would crush the head of the serpent.
Faced with their guilt, the brothers confessed their wrong … “His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them” (Gen 50:18-21 NIV).
The use of the conjunction of contrast twice dramatically reveals God’s thinking in the mind of Joseph and God’s intent to further His plan for Messiah to come into the world through the Jewish race. Satan’s desperate attempts to thwart the coming of a Savior had failed. He failed to recognize –but God who is rich in mercy. Devoid of mercy and grace in his diabolical nature, Satan cannot comprehend … “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8 NIV).