I really struggled with my last blog I posted about Simeon, Levi, & Reuben. I have given it a lot of thought and I think the reason why I struggled so much with it is because it didn’t fit my narrative. When I started the Broken Vessels Series I think I wanted to focus on how God used broken people. I wanted to look at figures throughout the Bible and throughout history who despite their brokenness have still been used by God to accomplish great things.
My humble childhood, my broken family, my shyness, my own failures have all been reasons why I have been afraid to step out in the past and let God work through me. I knew I wasn’t a worthy vessel for him. I have recently discovered though through a lot of study and prayer that I am exactly the kind of broken vessel God wants to use for his glory. Initially I thought I would go through the Bible and pick those stories that proved my point. I think I originally envisioned doing profiles on the big heroes and showing they had flaws; and showing how those flaws didn’t prevent them from being used for God’s glory.
I believe strongly that God’s grace is bigger and stronger than any flaw or brokenness we may have. I want to share that amazing news with everyone else who is broken like me.
Somehow I was moved from high level profiles of the most famous Biblical heroes to a more in-depth study that has led me through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and now to Jacob’s family. The details have been fascinating and stories remarkable. Up to the point of the last study of Jacob’s children, the stories had still fit the narrative I had set for myself. That’s where the challenge started.
As I studied the events at Schechem with Simeon & Levi and as I studied the “relationship” between Reuben and his stepmom, I didn’t see the grace or the encouragement I was looking for. I struggled and searched to find evidence to fit my narrative and it just wasn’t there. I begin to wonder why these stories were even included. Jacob had 12 sons (13 children) and 7 of them are barely mentioned. Why include these stories of failure at all? If these stories aren’t in the Bible to show God’s grace, why are they there?
Then it hit me these stories are just as important because they speak to the need for God’s grace.
Outside of God’s grace we are all broken sinners and left to our own devices we would be forced to endure the punishment for our sins. It is God’s grace that changes this outcome.
God’s glory is amplified when he accomplishes great things through humble means. These stories in the Bible point to the heart of the sinner. We have already looked at scammers, liars, drunks, and adulterers. We will examine murderers, thieves, doubters, and sinners of every ilk. God’s grace in every case is sufficient to redeem and use these people. The difference between the broken sinners that bring God glory and those that are just sinners lies in their heart.
Despite being unqualified and having a propensity for the drink; Noah still had a heart for God. Despite doubting God’s promises and actually laughing at him Abraham had a heart to serve God. Jacob was a scammer and had conflicts everywhere he went; but his jeart was still set on following God.
Reuben, Simeon, & Levi never show their heart for God. We never see their heart ache from the sins they committed. We never see them wrestle with God as they try to make peace with their heart. They had pride and stubbornness in their heart and that pride kept them from acknowledging their sins and seeking his grace.
These stories do not indicate that God’s grace is not sufficient. They do not indicate that his redemption is not available. These stories don’t indicate that these men were too broken for God to use. I believe strongly if any or all of these three men would have opened his heart and accepted God’s redemptive grace their story would have a different ending. There is too much evidence to deny this.
God’s grace is extremely powerful. He is able to redeem and restore even the greatest sinner; however not every sinner will turn their heart toward him. Not all sinners will humble themselves to allow God to work in them and through them.