We’ve all seen it or heard it–NEW AND IMPROVED. Could be on any product, really…breakfast cereal, laundry detergent, deodorant, toothpaste, salsa, cars’ designs, computers and thousands of other products. Seems like we have been targeted by marketing gurus who seem to see us as people obsessed with an insatiable desire for the new and improved.
I’ve always been curious about what ‘new and improved’ actually means. So I decided to ask a friend of mine who worked as an R and D consultant for a national corporation. I asked him to explain to me the regulations regarding the presentation of a product as new and improved.
He said that the ‘new and improved’ label could be used if a company did little more than simply change the box the product was packaged in. I thought for a moment and asked, ‘So new and improved doesn’t mean more and better’. ‘Nope’, he replied. ‘It actually may be less and worse. All the company is required to do is change the package and they are allowed to say the product is new and improved’.
Though these tactics are misleading at best and outright deceptive at worst, there is an area of interest where ‘new’ means something real! I ran across it a few weeks ago while restudying Jeremiah 29:11. This verse is written on a plaque that hangs in my bathroom. Shirley got it for me. She bought it in order to encourage me as we step further into succession.
On this particular day, I decided to look at this verse as recorded in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. There I discovered an interesting insight. Where the English word ‘plan’ or ‘plans’ is used, the translators of the Septuagint used a Greek word from which we get our English word ‘logic’. So, as we see God ‘planning’ on our behalf in order to give us hope, we understand that He is using ‘logic’.
If we use the normal understanding of that word to determine its meaning, it could mean that God is in Heaven sort of sitting on His throne, watching the actions of men, stroking His beard with one hand while His arm is resting on His knee and wondering what He is going to do. It seems, from that perspective, that He is considering His options and attempting to figure out what new thing to do next. He’s using logic.
But, if we believe this way, we will have fallen prey to the false doctrine of ‘open theism’–an error that teaches that God is not omniscient–all knowing. It teaches that He is like us, wondering what will happen next. He then figures out a way to respond lest humanity runs completely off the rails. THIS IS NOT WHAT ‘logic’ means in our text.
THE PLANS GOD HAS FOR US ARE NOT NEW IN ORIGIN, but, THEY ARE NEW IN OPERATION.
God has always known what was going to happen. He always knows and understands what is happening. And, He knows what will happen. He has it all covered from the very beginning. As He says through Isaiah, ‘I am the Lord God. There is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning!’ Whenever God works the ‘plan’ that He has for us, it is a plan that is simply the next facet of His work. To us it is new. But to Him it is just the next part of His unfolding work in our lives. Everything God does is saturated in omniscience, sustained by omnipotence and secured by omnipresence. WOW!
This is part of the reason that the Christian life is so exciting. Each day is simply an unfolding of the ‘new life that we have in Christ’. For us His plans are plans for good and not for evil. Plans to give us a hope and a future. What a blessed life it is, indeed.