- Rick LoPresti
The value of nothing
God always starts with nothing. When God created everything there is, He started with nothing. Man uses the word create to describe what he builds, but he always has to start with something that already exists. God spoke the heavens and the earth into existence because there was nothing else but Him (Gen 1). When Moses asked God what His name is at the burning bush, He said His name is I AM THAT I AM (Ex 3:14). It is what is called the tetragrammaton, which simply means 4 letters because that is what it is in Hebrew. It is transliterated YWHW or JHVH, which is where we get the names Yahweh and Jehovah from. Ancient Hebrew had no vowels. This name JHVH literally means "to be". As applied to God, it means He is self-existent. He did not come into being, and He does not depend on anything for His existence. He inhabits eternity (Is 57:15). He is without the limits of space, time, and the material world. He created them. God did not create them out of preexisting materials because there were none. The creation is a reflection of His eternal power and Godhead (Rom 1:20).
When God decided to start the nation of Israel, He chose a 75 year old man named Abram and his 65 year old barren wife named Sarai (Gen 11-12). It was physically impossible for this couple at that time to be the start of a new nation, but that was not enough for God. He waited another 25 years before changing their names to Abraham and Sarah, and giving them a child named Isaac (Gen 17). When Isaac grew up and got married, his wife was also barren (Gen 25:21). God gave them twins named Esau and Jacob. God chose Jacob to be the next in the lineage of this promise, and His wife Rachel also had to battle barrenness (Gen 29:31). The first 3 generations of the nation of Israel had fertility problems, yet they became the nation of the people of God in the Old Testament. What was the point of that? It shows us that God starts with nothing to make great things.
When the time came for the prophecies to be fulfilled, and for the Messiah to come, God chose a humble, teenage, hillbilly, virgin girl named Mary, and her carpenter husband Joseph during their engagement before they had consummated their marriage (Mt 1, Lk 1-2). This was an impossible conception for man, but as the angel told Mary, "For with God nothing shall be impossible (Lk 1:37)." Jesus was not born in a palace in the capital city. He was born in a stable in a humble suburb called Bethlehem. He was raised in the hill country in northern Israel in a town called Nazareth. Isaiah described Him as a root out of a dry ground with no form, comliness, or beauty that we should desire Him (Is 53). Isaiah said He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was oppressed and afflicted. He was killed and buried with the wicked. Paul said He was of no reputation, and made in the form of a servant (Phil 2). Yet this man conquered sin and death, and is the exalted Savior and Lord of all.
The book of Acts is the history of the early church, and the two men it focuses most on are Peter and Paul. Peter denied the Lord 3 times the night He was arrested (Mt 26). Yet he was the man who preached on the day of the birth of the church (Acts 2), and opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11, Acts 15). Paul was a persecutor and murderer of Christians before he was saved (Acts 7-9). Yet he became the apostle of the Gentiles, started churches all over eastern Europe, and wrote 14 of 27 books of the New Testament.
God always starts with nothing when He is going make something great. God starts with nobodies to make His people (Deut 32:31, 1Pet 2:10). God chose the foolish, weak, base, despised, and the things which are not to make His people - the church (1Cor 1::26-31). Why does God do this? He wants us to put our trust in Him where it belongs, and not in ourselves. He wants us to know that none of us is counted out to Him. Everyone has a place in His kingdom, even those in the highways and byways of life (Lk 14:23). It is so He rightfully gets the glory, and not man. When the voice of discouragement tells you that you are nothing, you can say "Great. That is exactly what God always starts with!"