“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
In Genesis 1 and 2, God acts as God. He is sovereign, independent, and completely in control. “God created,” “God said,” “God formed,” are all evidence of this. After Genesis 2, you’d be hard pressed to find this sort of direct intervention in the Bible. This is because of something called “The Principle of Incarnation.”
Defining the Principle
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me.'” Isaiah 6:8
Many people have heard of the incarnation. This of course is where the Word, who is God, became flesh or put on flesh (Jn. 1:1, 14, 1 Tim. 3:16). God became a man in the person of Jesus. Through this man, God was able to live the perfect human life, die for the redemption of the world, and then resurrect and ascend to glory (Acts 7:56).
God had to do this through a man, for God cannot die as God. This principle, however, is not limited to the life of Jesus. It prevails throughout the entirety of Scripture.
After the creation of man, God never acts independent of man. God has limited Himself to the cooperation of man, thus Isaiah 6:8. Why does God need a man here? Couldn’t He just speak to Israel Himself? The answer is that while He could, He wouldn’t. He acts according to the principle of incarnation.
“And when Moses lifted his hand up, Israel prevailed; and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” Exodus 17:11
In Exodus 17, Israel went to battle against Amalek. Whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel would prevail, but whenever he let his hands down, Amalek prevailed. Why would God leave the fate of His eternal purpose and the line that would bring forth the seed of Christ into the strength of an 80+ year old Moses? He operates according the principle of incarnation.
“In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by means of the Scriptures the number of the years, which came as the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah the prophet, for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, that is, seventy years. So I set my face toward the Lord God to seek Him in prayer and supplications with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”Daniel 9:2-3
Here in Daniel 9, we see something that is grossly misunderstood among believers: prayer. “If God is sovereign and completely in control of everything, why do we need to pray for things?” This is a hidden thought that many believers have.
Daniel here read the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10-14) and understood that the captivity of Israel was about to be completed. Then he prayed according to the prophecy for the Lord to do what He had spoken earlier through His prophet.
If I were Daniel, I would have thought, “Sweet! This captivity is about to end! I just need to hang in there for another year or two and then God will save us.” This is why I am not a man of preciousness like Daniel (10:11). Daniel recognized that, while God promised He was going to do something, that did not eliminate man from the equation.
God needed a man, in this case Daniel, to read His Word, know God’s heart, join himself to that Word, and pray that it would be fulfilled. Would God have brought Israel out of captivity without such a prayer? It’s hard to say, but the good news is that we don’t have to say! God gained Daniel to cooperate with Him, and that is the only way the God will do something. But my guess is that He would have just sought someone else to pray the same prayer. The point is, God needed a man to cooperate with Him according to the principle of incarnation.
Apostle and Believers
“I will build my church” Matthew 16:18m
“According to the grace of God given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds upon it. But let each man take heed how he builds upon it.” 1 Corinthians 3:10
“He who prophesies builds up the church.” 14:4b
Matthew 16:18 is the greatest prophecy yet to be fulfilled in the Bible. Jesus said the He would build His church! That’s a promise. Did the Lord build His church during His earthly ministry? Absolutely not! The church didn’t come into existence until the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. So is Jesus a liar? Absolutely not. He builds through the principle of incarnation.
Perhaps the greatest revelation in the Bible is that Jesus Christ lives within us, His believers (Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 13:5; Rm. 8:10). Now, as the Spirit within our spirit, He can build His church indirectly through His believers. That is what 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 is all about. We must build with, through, and to the very Christ who is the Foundation, Material, and Builder of the church.
“Surely the Lord Jehovah will not do anything unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7
“I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men…This is good and acceptable in the sight of our Savior God, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (c.f. Matt. 28:19-20)
“Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.” Matthew 6:10
“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on the earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 18:18
God needs man. For the accomplishment of God’s purpose and fulfillment of His heart’s desire, He needs man. He will only operate through the cooperation of man. We must recognize that we both have a responsibility and are actually useful to God! He desires to save men, subdue the enemy, bring all His saints to a full knowledge of the truth, and bring in His heavenly kingdom to the earth. May we be like Isaiah and answer the Lords call! “Here am I Lord; send me!”