The Bible provides numerous benefits among which is an insight into the personality of God. As one flips through the pages of Scriptures, there is a familiarity that develops with the person of God. We deduce this from His words, His silence and His actions. God is just as much into silence as He is into speaking. For instance, we learn clearly from the Bible that the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ does not apply to God. He says what He means and does exactly as He has said. His words are good at the bank any day. We also figure out that God has a soft spot for widows, orphans, the poor and foreigners.
One really scary part of God I have discovered is that anyone can be replaced. That in itself is scary but it gets worse. Anyone can be replaced and the job (His purpose) will still get done. It gets even more ominous. Anyone can be replaced, his assignment will get done and his replacement will be better than him. God’s substitutes are always superior to his starters. That’s uncanny and I am not sure about most people, but it scares me to think I will not be missed by God if the need comes for me to be replaced. David was an improvement on Saul, Samuel was an improvement on Eli, and Jesus was orders of magnitude superior to the first Adam.
I believe firmly that no two of us are the same. We are unique in many ways and carefully crafted for an exclusive assignment or purpose. You are wired the way you are because of your purpose. God is an efficient God (something else I have figured out on this journey) and wouldn’t bother to customize each of us if a standardized product would get the job done. Being a Supply Chain professional, it is easy to understand this concept of standardization of products; it makes manufacturing easier, faster, and cheaper while appealing to a larger market. That’s why your hamburger from McDonald’s can be ready in a matter of seconds but it takes 25 to 30 minutes to get your food at a fine dining establishment.
You are unique in character, quirks, and passions. Today, people can be identified using DNA, fingerprint, retinal scan, voice recognition, facial recognition, and dentition. It has also been said that even our ears are unique. When all these are combined together, it becomes apparent that we are the highest level of customization that exists. David said in Psalm 139:14 ‘Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous. How well I know it’. Basically, we are all weird because we are wired differently.
There is nothing impressive about replacing a faulty or non performing standardized part with a new one. Product standardization makes that effortless. However there is this neat trick that God does in which He replaces unique products with other unique products yet achieves the same results or better. God can use a bicycle to do the job of a knife just to achieve His purpose. Naturally, highly customized products are difficult to replace therefore it is extraordinary that we are all uniquely crafted, yet no one is irreplaceable with God. The knowledge that God can replace you with an dissimilar person and still achieve what you were meant to achieve perfectly is humbling and should create a reverence for God’s supremacy.
Leave me alone so I may destroy them and erase their name from under heaven. Then I will make a mighty nation of your descendants, a nation larger and more powerful than they are.’ – Deuteronomy 9:14 (NLT)
At the point in Israel’s history where this text is taken from, Moses is addressing the people of Israel by summarizing the events that led up to that moment. Israel as a nation was extremely unique. God had in His sovereignty chosen Abram and made a covenant with him with the details quite clear. He would make of him a great nation, his descendants will be as the stars of heaven, they will be strangers in a land for 400 years and then He would bring them out of slavery with great possessions into a land flowing with milk and honey. At every point in time, God had been remarkably faithful to all He said about Abraham and his seed. Isaac was very great and Jacob, his grandson was exceedingly great against the odds. However, Israel was very gifted at testing God and provoking their leaders to anger. These were their core competencies yet God remained consistently faithful to them because of His covenant with Abraham.
The original incident Moses was referring to took place in Exodus 32. They had cajoled Aaron into making a golden calf for them to worship because Moses delayed in coming back from the mountain of God’s presence. As a result, God said the words in this verse to Moses. The scary part is revealed when He says ‘I will wipe them out’. He does not stop there. He further says ‘Moses, I will make of you a nation to replace them’… ‘And lest i forget, this new nation will be greater and mightier than them.’ This looks very simple and ordinary but when thought is applied to it with the knowledge of the preexisting relationship between God and Israel, it is mind blowing. God doesn’t just replace people, He replaces nations. He replaces special nations.
He goes further to reveal His attitude towards replacements. They MUST be better (in this case, bigger and larger) than the original. Recall Saul was replaced in 1 Samuel 15:28 with a neighbor that was ‘better’ than him. And He does this without sacrificing or compromising His objectives. He is an amazing God and should be feared.
Practically, you and I have God given assignments. There are ideas God has impressed upon our hearts; things you can’t seem to shake off. These are things you know He wants you doing. A brother He keeps nudging you to help or a man of God He impresses on your heart that you support. An intercessory task you keep receiving and doing nothing about or a woman you know He wants you to witness to. Need I remind you that He can replace you with a better version?
Human beings naturally crave approval. We want to be missed. It is depressing to leave a place and our absence not be felt. I know it’s the politically or spiritually appropriate thing to say that your replacement should be better than you and there should be no void. Truth is we all feel good about being missed because deep down we know that exceptional people are actually irreplaceable in the natural. It is a true test of your impact. It’s just the way human beings are wired and if you can honestly say you have no hint of such feelings, I celebrate your spirituality. However, it would be devastating to me if the person whose opinion I care about the most, God, decides to replace me with a better version and not miss me. I cannot live with that. I crave His approval and I am not ashamed to admit it. I cringe at the thought of being replaced. I cannot be found wanting. Do not push God’s limits on patience. Do not neglect your assignments. Shalom.