Meditating on the Will of God: 12: God’s Pleasure
Eph 1:5,9 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ
There are sometimes verses or words that confront you in scripture and I have the feeling we look at them and think, “Well I expect I know what that means so I’ll leave it for the moment,” and we pass on. In the two verses above, it is the word ‘pleasure’ which lurks there and we assume we know what it means. The Message version in verse 5 says, “What pleasure he took in planning this!” and then in verse 9, “the plans he took he took such delight in making.”
Jesus himself prayed at one point, “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (Lk 10:21) The Message version concludes those verses, “it pleased you to do it this way.”
In the book of Job we find Eliphaz the Temanite rashly replying to Job, “What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous? What would he gain if your ways were blameless?” (Job 22:3) Well actually, Eliphaz He gets a lot of pleasure from His children being righteous! In the prophetic Psa 22, we find, “Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” (Psa 22:8) The Lord delights in His servant and He delights in His Son, and delight implies great pleasure.
David was able to say, “may they always say, “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” (Psa 35:27) This man after God’s own heart knew the wonder of the relationship with the Lord and knew that God delighted in him. How wonderful! The psalmist was able to write, “the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psa 147:11) This was something that Eliphaz knew nothing about, a God who delights and takes great pleasure in those who come to Him. Solomon knew this as well as, on a good day, he wrote, “he delights in those whose ways are blameless.” (Prov 11:20) and “he delights in men who are truthful.” (Prov 12:22) Be under no illusion, this word ‘delight’ is a strong word for it means ‘great pleasure’.
So what we have been finding is a God who takes great pleasure in those who are righteous and those who are truthful, and who took great pleasure in working out and revealing His plan of salvation for the world. It is difficult to comprehend God being surprised by anything because He knows everything, but at the beginning when the Godhead contemplated the world they were about to bring into being there must have been that realization that if they granted human beings free will, then Sin would come into the world. It was C.S.Lewis who imagined history being a long line and God looks down on it from outside and is able to see it all in one sweep as well as focusing on a particular ‘now moment’. At some point of their consideration they (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) must have seen the awful outworkings of sin as Adam and Eve and then every subsequent human being exercised their free will in self-centred, godless thinking, words and actions that we call sin, and the terrible effects that would have on the perfect world that God had made. And then (?immediately and instinctively?) they knew that for justice to be appeased the Son would have to die in the place of every sinner and again, immediately and instinctively they saw the outworkings of that, of the millions who would receive that salvation and who would be delivered from Sin and from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom or rule of light that the Son would bring, and immediately and instinctively there would be a flood of joy, of pleasure and of delight in the wonder of what could be – and so it was!
God delights and take great pleasure in His will because it brings life and light and freedom and sonship to millions of sinners. Darkness is turned into light. Selfishness is turned into godliness. Evil is turned into goodness. Looking at it from every angle something wonderful was being achieved. How wonderful! No wonder the Father took pleasure in it. No wonder the apostle Paul said to the church at Ephesus, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Eph 1:18,19) We need the revelation to see the wonder of it and when we truly see it we worship and embrace it. The outpouring of the apostle Paul at the end of chapter 8 of Romans is because he has ‘seen’ the wonder of it all. May we also, so that we too can share in God’s great pleasure.