God’s Schedule for fulfillment of his promise could include an opportunity to change an objective or the approach to accomplishing the objective. We discuss aspects of recognizing such opportunity, understanding what change is needed, and implementing the change. Additionally, we discuss an example from the life of David, when he relocated to enemy territory to separate himself permanently from Saul. Furthermore, the separation provided opportunity for him to build peace-time administration skills that contributed to his preparation for becoming king of Israel. Also, we discuss Christ teaching on recognizing and accepting opportunity for a change, through interactions with a disabled man at Bethesda pool.
An opportunity for a change could arise as a person works toward an objective to which they are committed humanly and spiritually. The person believes in the project as a step toward fulfillment of God’s promise. Such experience could occur in every aspect of living, including business, education, worship, sports, and others. A person could encounter an opportunity to change their pursuit: add a new objective, replace the current objective, or change the approach to accomplishing one or more goals.
OPPORTUNITY OR DISTRACTION? It is important to understand whether the opportunity is from God or an attempt by the devil to distract the person from following God’s Schedule. God will provide opportunities for a person to adjust their pursuit along the path he has chosen for them. In contrast, the devil will attempt distractions to lure a person away from God’s path. Therefore, recognizing an opportunity includes distinguishing between an opportunity from God and an attempt at distraction by the devil.
As we discuss in a previous study under Resisting Enemy Disruption, the devil can attempt to distract a person from Following God’s Schedule by attempting to disrupt their compassion, diligence, appreciation, or any aspect of human interaction essential to living in God’s purpose. To accomplish a distraction, the devil can interfere with or manipulate behavior by exploiting a person’s lust of the flesh (i.e., physical desire), pride (i.e., obsession with status or relative importance), and lust of the eyes (i.e., greed, selfish ambition, or covetousness) and has several options to disguise the attack. In contrast, an opportunity of God will point you to changes you can implement toward accomplishing your goals while preserving your commitment to represent God in every situation and motivate others to do the same.
We discuss an example from the life of David as he tried to avoid confrontation with Saul while committed to the protection and economic well-being of six hundred followers and their families, including himself. He recognized a need and opportunity for change and relocated to Philistine territory with his followers. The relocation won him permanent separation and peace from Saul. Furthermore, he was assigned a base inside Philistine, which provided opportunity for him to build peace-time administration skills that he needed as part of his preparation for becoming king of Israel. Also, we discuss Christ teaching-by-illustration on recognizing and accepting opportunity for a change, through interactions with a disabled man at Bethesda pool.
David Relocates to Philistine Territory
After two close encounters with Saul, David became concerned that avoiding Saul within Israel was increasingly risky. He was concerned that Saul would surprise him one day and destroy him. He decided to seek asylum in Philistine, a neighboring state and committed enemy of Israel. Saul would not pursue him there because of the international boundary and unfriendly relationship between Israel and Philistine [1 Samuel 27:1]: “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”
Thus, David recognized a need to relocate where Saul could not come for him. He had been able to avoid Saul by moving frequently within Israel and using his intelligence network to predict Saul’s move. However, two close encounters raised his concern that Saul might surprise him one day (for details see David Spares Saul). He would continue with his strategy of avoiding Saul but needed to change his avoidance approach. He realized that escaping to Philistine territory would discourage Saul from coming after him, because Philistine was an enemy to Israel. Saul would not cross into Philistine territory in search of David.
David was granted asylum by Achish, the king of Gath: “David and his men settled in Gath with Achish” [1 Samuel 27:3]. David requested Achish to assign him a special place that would be under his control [1 Samuel 27:5]: “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?” Achish assigned Ziklag to David as his base under his control. David settled in Ziklag with his followers and families.
He won peace from Saul after the relocation, because Saul could not cross the international boundary to look for him. Furthermore, because of peace from Saul and control over Ziklag, the relocation became an opportunity for David to build skills for peace-time administration, by administering over the affairs of his followers and families. For example, as we discuss previously under All Will Share Alike—David Proclaims Civil Rights Principle, it was during his rule over Ziklag that David proclaimed the principle of equal access to facilities of society as a fundamental human right.
He recognized the opportunity for a change by realizing that his strategy of avoiding Saul in Israel was increasingly risky. He determined he needed to change his approach to avoiding Saul. Instead of moving frequently in Israel and relying on his intelligence network, he sought and was granted political asylum in an enemy territory. He was successful and, as a result, entered a new phase in his preparation to become king of Israel. He recognized the opportunity for a change, understood what needed to change, and implemented the change.
through Disabled Man at Bethesda Pool
Jesus was in Jerusalem for a Jewish festival and met a disabled man at Bethesda pool. The man had been disabled for thirty-eight years and lied there for a long time, hoping to get healing through the pool. At that time, the people believed that an angel of the Lord would come down occasionally and stir up the waters, so that the first person to get into the pool after the stir would be cured of whatever disease they had. The man had lied by the pool for a long time hoping to get in first after a stir. But he had been unsuccessful.
Jesus offered him an opportunity for a change [John 5:6]: “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” The man recognized an opportunity but did not understand the offer. Instead, he clung to his hope of healing through the pool and explained why he had been unsuccessful [John 5:7]: “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” He did not understand he was being offered a healing by a different approach: through Jesus the son of God. The opportunity depended on the man’s voluntary acceptance. He recognized a potential offer but did not understand the opportunity. Therefore, he did not accept.
Jesus offered him the opportunity a second time. This time, the opportunity was partially coercive and partially voluntary. He healed the man and commanded him to embark on testifying to the healing [John 5:8]: “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’” The healing occurred instantaneously through the voice of Jesus. The man recognized he was healed and accepted the command to walk away with his mat, thus making people realize he was healed and had departed from his “sick bed.”
By this action, he accepted and embarked on a new mission to use his healing to tell people about Jesus. Initially, when the Jewish leaders questioned him about carrying his mat on the Sabbath, he was not ready to explain to them because he didn’t know who healed him. He just told them what he knew: “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’” [John 5:11]. Later, he met Jesus again, understood better, and launched his gospel mission: “The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well” [John 5:12].
Interactions with the man at Bethesda pool provide teaching-by-illustration on recognizing and accepting opportunity for a change. Jesus offered the man an opportunity for a new approach to healing and a new mission. The opportunity was voluntary initially, but the man did not understand and did not accept. He appeared to recognize an opportunity but did not understand what the stranger was offering him. Instead, he clung to his hope of healing through the pool and explained why he had been unsuccessful. However, Jesus offered him the opportunity again but the second offer was partially coercive and partially voluntary. He healed the man and offered him an opportunity to embark on a new mission based on the healing. He accepted, embarked on the mission, and got better at it as he understood Jesus more.
Summary of What We Learned
God’s Schedule for fulfillment of his promise could include an opportunity for a change that may arise as a person works toward accomplishing an objective. The person could encounter an opportunity to change the objective or approach. We discuss aspects of recognizing such opportunity, understanding what change is needed, and implementing the change.
Additionally, we discuss an example from the life of David, when he relocated to enemy territory to separate himself permanently from Saul. Furthermore, the separation provided opportunity for him to build peace-time administration skills that contributed to his preparation for becoming king of Israel. Also, we discuss Christ teaching on recognizing and accepting opportunity for a change, through interactions with a disabled man at Bethesda pool.
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