God's Great Purpose for Man

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God's Great Purpose for Man

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God's ultimate purpose for mankind is inextricably linked with the ancient question "What is man?"—the question that King David and the patriarch Job posed so many centuries ago.

In what general context did David ask, "What is man?"

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands. You have put all things under his feet" (Psalm 8:3-6).

Under what circumstances did the patriarch Job ask the same question?

"Let me alone, for my days are but a breath. What is man that You should exalt him, that You should set Your heart on him, that You should visit him every morning, and test him every moment?" (Job 7:16-18).

David was overwhelmed by the awesome majesty of God's purpose for man and expressed His thankfulness in grateful praise to His Creator. In contrast, suffering Job protested that man seems too temporary and insignificant to justify God's perpetual concern and asked God to leave him alone in his misery.

Yet both men pondered why God—having such greater power and majesty—should take such a conspicuous interest in the human race. We need to understand the sense of both scriptural passages so we can fully comprehend the majesty and breadth of God's purpose.

What apostolic book quotes these words of King David?

"What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet" (Hebrews 2:6-8).

Perhaps more than any other New Testament book, the letter to the Hebrews helps us grasp the basic truths God gave to mankind in what we call the Old Testament.

Does the book of Hebrews elaborate on David's poetic words?

"For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now [in this present age of man] we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:8-9).

In the Bible's first book, God gave man dominion over His earthly creation—an awesome responsibility that mankind has only partially fulfilled. The chaotic state of the modern world bears witness to this reality. But the real fulfillment of this whole passage occurs at the time when Jesus Christ returns to reign on earth. All things will be placed under the feet of human beings who will have been resurrected to immortality. We will rule with God and Christ forever in the Kingdom and family of God.

In this particular passage suffering is brought into the picture. Jesus Christ suffered in the flesh so each one of us could be a part of God's Kingdom. The suffering is first, and the glory comes afterwards.

What was the unrealized purpose of Job's sufferings?

"For it was fitting for Him [Jesus], for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10).

This is what the patriarch Job did not yet fully comprehend. But Jesus Christ is not the only one who had to suffer. Though our sufferings in no way can compare with His, we must tread the same path. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him," wrote Paul (2 Timothy 2:12, KJV). Indeed, Christ set us an example of how to suffer without complaint. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21). Partially through suffering, God is creating in His children His own divine nature and His holy and righteous character (2 Peter 2:1-4). (The subject of suffering will be covered in depth in Lesson 4.)

Those who become like Jesus Christ at the time of the resurrection will be more than just spirit beings similar to Him. They will share the very nature of the Father. God gives that godly nature to such people when they receive the Holy Spirit, but over time they must grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).

 It makes worthwhile the good times and the sufferings we experience. Many will be brought to eternal glory—possessing the awesome righteous character of God Himself.

Never underestimate the value of your life. You were born to become one of God's children. You were born to receive His nature. You were born to become a member of the very family of God!