People sometimes struggle trying to understand God’s grace. Grace is unmerited favor. It describes God’s unconditional love and kindness to people. They do not earn it. They can not purchase it. Nor can they lose it.
Surely there’s a catch. When a person trusts in Jesus’ substitutionary death on behalf of their sins, they are simply forgiven? They are declared righteous? They are adopted into God’s family? They get to live forever in Heaven? And this is all free? This all just happens because of God’s unmerited favor as He justifies those who embrace Jesus? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES!
This grace should not surprise us, at least not if we are familiar with the rest of the Bible. God works in patterns for His people throughout all of the pages of Scripture. His grace is evident in every book and in every epoch of human history.
For example, in the book of Exodus the Israelites, God’s chosen people, were enslaved to the Egyptians. God was orchestrating a miraculous salvation for his people. An interesting detail mentioned is that the Egyptians lavished the Israelites with their own riches as the Israelites were on their way out the door.
The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
(Exodus 12:35-36 ESV)
That’s pretty cool. The slaves are leaving town and their masters are just giving them all their riches. I used to just view this an interesting little tidbit from the exodus account, but as we read on in Scripture, we see God establishes a pattern of giving His people riches they did not earn.
As we move on through the canon, we see this pattern repeated. Before God brought the Israelites into the Promised land, He reminded them that he was giving them a land that they did not earn. They would be living in houses that they did not build. They would be drinking out of wells that they did not dig. They would be reaping the benefits from vineyards and olive trees that they did not plant (Deuteronomy 6:11). Again, God lavished His people with unearned riches.
God’s grace is manifested again to His people as they were preparing to come back to the land of Canaan after living in exile in Babylon. In a surprising act, Cyrus the King of Persia declared that the Israelites could go back to their land. The Lord stirred up the king’s spirit and led him to declare:
Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”
(Ezra 1:3-4 ESV)
The pattern is clear: God grants undeserved riches and blessings upon His people. We Christians today take our place in God’s story. We too are recipients of God’s amazing grace through Jesus. Only God does not give us physical land, earthly wealth, or even necessarily the favor of kings. He gives us something far greater and far more valuable. Through faith in Jesus, God gives us an eternal country, heavenly wealth, and the favor of the King of the Universe. These are blessings we did not earn and could never deserve. In Jesus, God has lavished upon us unsearchable riches (Ephesians 3:8).