Updated: Mar 29, 2022
Grace: unearned, undeserved, and unconditional kindness, generosity, and favor
You may recognize grace as more of a New Testament concept. God showed us grace by sending His Son to die on the cross and paying the ultimate price for your sin and mine.
However, God’s grace appears all throughout the Old Testament, as well. In fact, he often used people to show other people His favor. Check out these 5 examples of God’s grace showing up in the Old Testament:
“But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Gen. 50: 19-21
All 13 of Jacob’s sons knew that Joseph was the favorite. And if anyone doubted Dad’s preferential treatment, making Joseph a fancy robe sealed the deal. Everyone sort of laughed it off. I mean, every parent has a favorite child, right (Come on, you know you do.)? But then, Joseph started rubbing it in everyone’s faces. He started telling his brothers about these crazy dreams he was having about all their bundles of grain bowing down to his and how he thought it meant they would one day bow down to him. His brothers had finally had enough.
When Joseph brought lunch to his brothers while they were working one day, they threw him in an empty well and then sold him to some merchants traveling in the area. After many years of working his way up (fast forward past the psycho married lady and ravens picking a baker’s eyes out), Egypt was in the middle of a famine and Joseph was in control of all the food. His brothers came to buy grain, and Joseph knew exactly who they were. After messing with them a bit, he ended up giving them food and convincing them to bring their dad and live nearby so he could take care of them.
Everything was great until dad passed. What if Joseph was finally going to pay them back for selling him when he was young? After receiving their pitiful letter saying Dad’s dying wish was for him to forgive them and when they fell at his feet saying they would serve him (A little dramatic, don’t you think?), Joseph stopped them and basically said, “Hey guys, you tried to hurt me, but God used this for His purposes. It’s all good. I’m still going to take care of you.”
Grace Defining Moment:
Joseph had become as powerful as Pharaoh. With a snap of his fingers, he could have turned his brothers away-twice-to pay them back for the way they treated him. But instead, he took those opportunities to see the good that God had done and extended a hand to his brothers. He brought them and their entire families to Egypt and took care of them for the rest of his life.
“But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” Joshua 6:25
Remember when the Israelites walked around the walls of Jericho for seven days and then they shouted and the walls fell? Before the entire nation traveled to the city, Joshua sent a couple of spies to check out the lay of the land. They needed somewhere to stay and were invited to a Rahab, a prostitute’s, house. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but hey-it wasn’t like that. Jericho’s king caught wind that these guys were in town and when he tried to find them, Rahab, covered for them while they hid on her roof.
She knew that God was going to give this land to the Israelites and all she asked was that they save her and her family. They agreed to save her and her family on three conditions: 1) Keep their secret. 2) Tie a scarlet cord in her window. 3) Gather all her family in her house. Now, this seemed like a great deal. But the reality was, these two spies didn’t call the shots.; Joshua did.
Grace Defining Moment:
Rahab was a prostitute behind enemy lines. She was the least of the least according to the Israelites. Joshua wasn’t the one who made the promise to Rahab, and who would have known the difference if he didn’t save her and her family? But Joshua chose to keep the spies’ promise to this young woman and made sure her entire family was safe. She lived with the Israelites the rest of her life. And you want to know the coolest part? Her name is in the lineage of Jesus.
“As [Ruth] got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, ‘Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.’” Ruth 2:15-16
You did NOT want to be a widow during Old Testament times. If your husband passed away, everything you had was given to a relative. So, when Naomi became a widow and her daughters-in-law lost both their husbands, she could only hope a family member would take her in and the young women would be able to find husbands in their hometowns. One daughter-in-law, Ruth, refused to leave Naomi’s side. Ruth followed Naomi to Bethlehem to take care of her. With no food pantry available, Naomi sent Ruth to glean a cousin’s fields. When the field workers dropped any grain,, they were supposed to leave it for the needy and travelers. The two women hoped this would be enough to help them get by. Naomi’s cousin Boaz noticed the young woman working so hard to pick up scraps. He asked around and found out she was a Moabite woman, meaning she really wasn’t family and probably served other gods.
Grace Defining Moment:
Boaz had compassion when he heard how Ruth had followed her mother-in-law to another town to take care of her. He took her under his wing and made sure his workers would protect her. He then secretly ordered them to “accidentally” drop more wheat when she was following them picking up the scraps. After a little time had passed, Boaz offered Ruth the ultimate grace as her kinsman redeemer. He married her in her poverty, offering her wealth and protection in her time of need.
"And David said to [Mephiposheth], 'Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.'" 2 Samuel 9:7
To say King Saul and David had a rough relationship would be an understatement. They played a constant game of cat and mouse after Saul found out David would one day be king. Saul would try to kill David, then he would get caught, and he would beg for David’s forgiveness. Then he would go after him again and again. One time, David even cut Saul’s robe while Saul was using the bathroom (Not even kidding. Check out 1 Samuel 24!).
In the middle of all this crazy past with Saul, David had befriended Saul’s son Jonathan. We’re talking fist-bumping, spit-shaking, dude soul-mates. Sadly, David lost his best friend Jonathan in the same bloody battle that Saul died in. But the death of Saul and his sons paved the way for David to finally become king, as he was promised when he was a teenager. It was David’s time to shine. As he began to settle into his role as king, he started to ask around if there were any relatives left of Jonathan’s. A servant told him one of Jonathan’s sons named Mephibosheth still lived. He had been crippled since he was 5 years old. So, here we’ve got a guy who is David’s mortal enemy’s grandson and who is an outcast of society. And David brings him to his house.
Grace Defining Moment:
In ancient times, when a new ruler came to power, he annihilated the entire family of the previous leader. But in David’s case, in order to show kindness to his friend who had passed, he brought Mephibosheth into his house and gave him Saul’s land and a seat at David’s table, as if he were one of David’s own sons. Mephibosheth was in such shock at David’s kindness that he basically replied, “I’m sorry, what? Why me?” This act of kindness was so amazing for all who watched (Unfortunately, in the end, Mephibosheth takes advantage of David’s kindness and tries to overthrow his kingdom, but we won’t go there today. Let’s just bask in the glory of the moment).
Scripture: "…'If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.' Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, 'How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?' It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time." Nehemiah 2:5-6
After God had allowed the Israelites to live in captivity under the Babylonians, the Persians began to dominate the world. Nehemiah rose to the position of cupbearer and confidant to the King of Persia, Artaxerxes. While in this position, Nehemiah received news that the Jewish remnant was in a terribly vulnerable position. The walls of Jerusalem and its gates had been practically demolished; thus the people living there were without protection.
After doing a whole lot of praying, Nehemiah took a deep breath and decided it was time to talk to the king. When Artaxerxes asked what was wrong, Nehemiah explained the situation, knowing that he could easily offend the king and be killed.
Grace Defining Moment:
In a faith-defining moment for Nehemiah, Artaxerxes held all the chips. His servants lived to please his every whim. So, when Nehemiah asks if he can go rebuild the city of Judah, Artaxerxes must decide if it’s in his best interest to lose his cupbearer to this task. Artaxerxes asks Nehemiah, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” (Nehemiah 2:6). Artaxerxes grants Nehemiah’s request to leave. Not only that, but he also gives him the means for supplies to rebuild the city and makes Nehemiah the governor. And did I mention the army he sent with him, as well, to keep him safe? A pagan king showed such a level of grace to one Jewish servant.
Doesn’t God show His grace in some of the craziest ways? I think He often uses the most unexpected people just so everyone knows it has to be Him calling the shots. If He can use a prostitute and a pagan king to show grace to His people, then maybe it’s time for Him to use us.
This week, I’m offering you the Grace Challenge:
For the next 7 days, ask God to help you extend grace in the following areas: 1. Home-Your spouse, kids, and neighbors
2. Work-Your co-workers and boss
3. Church-That person who takes your front row seat
4. Running Errands-Other drivers and shoppers
As 2 Timothy 1:9 says, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…”
So, let’s do this. Let’s all get on the grace train and see how God can use us to show others His grace.
Looking for songs about God's grace? Check out these songs from Red Letter Society:
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