I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God can be your God of buts.
But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Joseph loved God. He sought to always live in obedience to the LORD, yet he was betrayed by his brothers who sold him into slavery (Gen. 39:1). While serving as a slave in Egypt he was falsely accused of attempted rape by his master’s jilted wife. This accusation led to him being imprisoned for years. But the LORD had a plan for Joseph that eventually led to him being dramatically released from prison, exonerated of his alleged crime, and made the Prime Minister of Egypt (Gen. 41:14, 39-41). This but led to the rescue of his family from potential starvation and then the formation of the nation of Israel.
But the LORD said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand, and all his people, and his land. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.”
Moses was washed up. He was a criminal on the run from Egyptian authorities who had sentenced him to death for the crime of murder. He fled Egypt into the wilderness. His prospects looked bleak. It was there that he encountered the God of buts. God commanded him to return to Egypt and rescue the descendants of Joseph’s father, Jacob (whose name had been changed to Israel). Moses told God all the reasons why this was a ridiculous command for him to obey, then this happen…
But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—
God demonstrated to Moses that He would perform miracles through Moses’ obedience. Moses then did obey. God did perform miracles. And Israel was delivered from Egypt to return to the homeland in Palestine; but first, they had to overcome some deadly foes – including an army led by a giant king, Og (Deut. 3:11). Israel had every right to be afraid. This is when the LORD gave Moses another amazing but (Num. 21:34). The result of their obedience was – “So they defeated him and his sons and all his people, until he had no survivor left. And they possessed his land” (Num. 21:35). What an amazing but!
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
First Samuel 16:7
Samuel had reluctantly anointed Israel’s first king, Saul. King Saul had just disobeyed the LORD and jeopardised God’s plan of redemption. Israel was now in peril from neighbouring enemies. The prophet Samuel realised that if King Saul remained in power much longer, it would lead to Israel’s doom. God then sent Samuel to anoint a new king (1Sam. 16:1. Samuel was sent to the home of Jesse and his eight sons. As Jesse brought out seven of his sons, the oldest of them even looked like a king (1Sam. 16:6)! Yet the LORD did not send Samuel to anoint him or the next six of his younger brothers (1Sam. 16:8-10). Since the LORD had specifically sent Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel from among the sons of Jesse, yet the LORD had said that none of them were to anointed! Thus, the puzzled prophet asked Jesse, “Is this all your sons? (1Sam. 16:11) This is when Samuel had an amazing but experience (1Sam. 16:7) The result would be that the jeopardy would be averted and the divine plan of salvation would be preserved. Eventually it would lead to the birth of Immanuel who would be identified as the son of David (Matt. 1:1). Samuel’s but from the LORD truly was a turning point in the Israel’s history and ultimately even human history. It really was a remarkable and amazing but!
But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.”
The Book of Esther takes place after the Jews had been allowed to return from the exile in Medo-Persia where Esther and, her much older cousin, Mordecai, had remained. King Saul’s earlier failure to despatch the Amalekite king, Agag, resulted in one of his descendants, Haman, wanting to destroy all Jews (Est. 3:1, 10). God had already decreed that the Amalekites should be judged for their earlier attempt at destroy the Israelites (Exo. 17:14). King Saul was told to do it. He failed to obey. King David didn’t do it. Each successive king of Israel couldn’t do it. And now, because of their failure, their entire race was now on the brink of genocide. But a teenage Jewish girl by the name of Esther, recently married to a Persian King, sought the permission of her royal husband to counter the Edict of Hamon the Agagite (Esther 8:3). The LORD then used her husband to deliver His but to Esther and the result was that Hamon’s forces of Gog and Magog were defeated by the Jews around the Empire how had been empowered to take pre-emptive action to defend themselves (Est. 8:8-17; 9:1-16). It truly was and amazing but.
But the LORD said to me,“Do not say,
‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the LORD.”
Most of the priests had become unfaithful. The so-called ‘prophets’ (on the king’s payroll) had become corrupt. The king had become apostate. It was an increasingly dark time as Judah’s leaders abandoned the LORD and became idolaters. They were now at risk of being invaded by the blood-thirsty Babylonians. With so much going wrong and God’s plan of redemption in jeopardy, as usual, as essayist F.W. Boreham wrote, it was now time for God to respond by sending into the world a baby. That baby was Jeremiah, the son of a priest. At a young age Jeremiah began to hear from God. Even though Jeremiah was only a youth, there was no time to waste. The word of the LORD needed to be heard! God then summoned the teenage Jeremiah to speak to kings of nations, starting with the king of Judah! Despite Jeremiah questioning the LORD’S choice of someone “too young”, God assured him that his birth was ordained, his mission was consecrated, and his life would be divinely protected (Jer. 1:5). At just the right time, despite Jeremiah’s doubts that he was ready, the LORD spoke to Jeremiah –
But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you.
Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.
Thank God that the LORD gave Jeremiah these amazing buts! His obedience to the LORD ultimately led to God’s plan of redemption being restored and enabling the eventual birth of the Saviour.
YOUR AMAZING BUT
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
When you turned to Christ as your LORD, it was a major turning point in your life. You were once in darkness (Eph. 5:8), spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1, 5), spiritually blind (Eph. 1:18), without hope (Eph. 2:12) —
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
This should give you confidence that the God who redeemed you, saved you, open your eyes, delivered you out of devilish darkness, and rescued you from hopelessness, can in your moments of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, or even failure, intervene with a – “But then God…” And those are the moments you see an amazing but.
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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