One of the side effects of living in a world of seven billion people is an overwhelming sense of insignificance. Especially now in the age of technology, one is easily reduced to a number, a superficially defined demographic, a piece of dust (which technically, we are). Individual worth and relevance is sacrificed on the altar of socio-political movements, opinions and actions applauded as they validate the trending topic, and defamed if they stray from the narrative. Human history will move on, and people may or may not be remembered depending on the filter of the particular historian writing about it. But there is a history book that records the most influential people in the human story, revealing some heroism, much failure, and predicting the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Individuals not only stand out but shape the course of humanity, although largely unappreciated and even dismissed by the world. In this rehearsal of man’s progression there is an inescapable emphasis on the individual – the solitary person interacting with divine interference in their lives. Out of all those living at the time, this book showcases flawed humans who chose to interact with another dimension -the spiritual one. How one person responded profoundly affected humanity’s direction.
Consider Adam. He had it all! Probably superior to us in intellect, spiritually capable of personal interaction with God, and given dominion over earth, he decides to throw it all away for the woman. (Interestingly, he blames her when confronted about his choice. Sound familiar?) And here we are today in a world where sin predominates and evil abounds. Romans 5 in the Message says “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.”
That passage points us to a couple of other individuals who shaped the landscape of humanity profoundly – Moses and Jesus. But before them, think about the guy that kept us from being exterminated. If I were God, that is certainly what I would have done with an arrogant ungrateful race! But Noah stands apart – ridiculed no doubt for building a boat in a world that had never seen rain, despised for preaching righteousness to a depraved and devolved humankind, tormented by the thought of the destruction of people he knew. And yet he was convinced of the call and power of God, and obeyed an unpopular and costly command. Thank you Noah!
Moses had it together! Courageous parents saved him from destruction ordered from political expediency, and God puts him right in the very courts of that kingdom to live as a prince. Ironic, no? But he sees something – something invisible to others that alters the course of his life – and history as well. “By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God’s people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. He valued suffering in the Messiah’s camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff. By an act of faith, he turned his heel on Egypt, indifferent to the king’s blind rage. He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going.” (He 11 Message) He had to be prepared for his liberating mission by spending forty years with some stinking sheep on the backside of the desert, only then to spend forty more years with some whining rebellious people who God had chosen. So Moses chose them too!! And history was changed for us all. He was hailed as a fool by so many who would have cherished that discarded place of privilege and power. Eternity’s history book has different values!
And Jesus – well, His influence on human history is undeniable, whether you believe in Him or not. Interestingly, out of all the religious figures we hear about, His name is the one invoked as a curse in times of anger. Polarizing to be sure, for He claimed not only knowledge of the spiritual realm, but also declared that He is the only way in.
And there are so many more – people who saw beyond the hopeless treachery of their natural environment and reached out for dignity and purpose in the higher scheme of things. They made a difference – for eternity! “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy) …” Hebrews 11:32-38
The question is – are we world fodder or something more? God has dignified every person with choice. Every individual can connect with eternal worth and destiny by choosing it. What about you?