– by Thomas Brewer –
The Bible begins with a surprise: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). I have never read any other book with such a grandiose beginning. Here, we are not beginning with the story of Aeneas, Frodo, or Harry Potter. We are beginning with the very beginning of everything. Within the first few words, we learn that God exists, that there was a beginning, and that God was before the beginning. We learn that God, surprisingly, decided to create the universe. God surprises us in what He does.
The Bible is full of more surprises. God calls a man named Abram from the city of Ur in Genesis 12. He tells him to leave home and go somewhere that God will show him. We are left asking ourselves: Who is this Abram? How did he come into the picture? Where is God taking him? We are not given God’s reasons. We don’t know the destination—at least, not yet. Genesis just tells us it was so. “Now the Lord said to Abram . . .” (Gen. 12:1). We can choose to keep reading, or we can put down the book in befuddlement. God surprises us in whom He calls.
God calls Moses, Aaron, and others up to Mount Sinai to sit down and eat with Him in Exodus 24. Wasn’t it enough that God would guide His people out of Egypt? Wasn’t it enough that He would give them His commandments and lead them to the promised land? Apparently it was not. God decided to invite the leaders of Israel to a dinner party: “They beheld God, and ate and drank” (Ex. 24:11). God surprises us by seeking fellowship with us.
Consider another surprise. Elijah was discouraged and thought he would be better off dead in 1 Kings 19. He was running from Jezebel, who had promised to kill him. Instead of giving Elijah lodging with a widow for a time of recovery, as in 1 Kings 17, God sends an angel to give him cake. This cake was, apparently, some kind of super food. “And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights” (1 Kings 19:8). Not what we were expecting, right? God surprises us in the way He sustains us.