The Significance of Sequence
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SEQUENCE
One of the consistent themes of God through the whole of the Bible is “order”. That is “order” as in the noun used to note a specific sequence. That is clearly seen in Old Testament by noting “first” things. There are first born, first fruits, first day, first offspring, etc. The use of “first” carries into the New Testament as well with well known verses such as Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you”. (NASB)
Even a basic reading of the bible should confirm the idea that God is rather particular about the “order” in which His commands are observed. His instructions to the Israelites in regard to the sacrifices, and the specific order required when the movement of the cloud during the Exodus dictated the movement of the tabernacle (Numbers Chap. 2-4), are two OT examples.
Let us consider a few often cited passages where the “order” is noteworthy:
Romans 12:1-2 notes a sequence in the commands that one is to l)”present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice..” 2) “…not be conformed to this world..” 3) “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.
Luke 9:23 (also Matt. 10:38 and Mark 8:34) records Christ telling anyone who would be His follower to l) “deny himself’ 2) “take up his cross (daily)” 3) “follow me”.
James 4:7-8 1) “Submit therefore to God” 2) “Resist the devil and he will flee from you 3) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”
I find these mentioned interesting for the following reasons:
I have observed they are often quoted, but when they are, the initial phrase(s), or in the case of James 4:8, the following verse, is often not included.
In these three directed as commands to the believer, it would seem
instructive to note the similarities in the initial command – (“deny himself’ “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice” “Submit”)
With these basic considerations I would propose a few questions/observations on the implications as follows:
Do we recognize and acknowledge when we are not following the “order”, or specific sequence?
Does this behavior suggest why we may struggle when we are challenged by something like the thought from Soren Kierkegard – “Purity of heart is to will one thing”, or as stated by the Lord Jesus – “.. I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent me “?
Does our “rearrangement ” of the order suggest we believe we are in a position to determine how the relationship with God develops?
Is this behavior an indicator of our concept of God, and in that, our concept of our self?
There are two prevailing thoughts on one’s concept of God. One says it is the most important aspect of a person. The second says every problem a person has is directly related to their concept of God.
The formative elements in one’s concept of God manifest in two ways. Either one’s concept of God forms one’s view of the Bible, or the Bible (through the Holy Spirit) forms one’s concept of God.
Maybe we should consider if our approach to God’s “order” is in “good order'”?