Now and Then

by Bob James

Some of you may have noticed that I am a chess fan/player. To many, chess is nothing but a long boring game played by people who can't think of anything worthwhile to do. I see chess as a metaphor for life, and God Himself is the ultimate grandmaster! Think about it, Grandmasters plan their games carefully, working from a basic stragtegic outline. They probe the enemy's defenses, seeking ways to break it down, and then...then....well, we'll get to that later!

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1-2 NKJV)

Throughout Old Testament history we see a familiar pattern. The Hebrews, later known as the Jews run into trouble. They cry out to God for help. He helps them by sending a great leader or prophet or both. The people rejoice. They flourish because they follow God's ways. Then the next generation comes along and thinks that all the good things they have are theirs by birthright. They fall away from God and into trouble---again. Then they cry out to God for help. He helps them by....and the pattern repeated itself again and again.

Were the Jews that much different than other people? Are they that much different from us today? The only difference the Jews had from other people is that God had chosen them and they usually tried to follow God's Law. Since the birth and death of Jesus, when God revealed that His love really was "for all nations," (see Genesis 12:3) we see that many nations follow that same kind of pattern.

What takes hundreds of years in real life takes but minutes on the chess board. You begin, you run into trouble, you begin to plan, you work your way out of trouble...putting the other player in trouble...he counters and the whole process of ups and downs continues. The game continues in a struggle of wills that ultimately ends with one player or another recognizing that winning is hopeless and giving up or resigning. Except in certain exciting situations.

Some games are ended in the most dramatic fashion of all...a queen sacrifice. The queen is the most powerful piece on the chess board. A well timed queen attack can strike fear in the heart of any opponent. But if you want to draw a crowd to your game, sacrifice your queen in the midst of a strategic and tactical plan that must win. Hear the crowd go "OOH!" and "AAH!" as they see the soundness of the sacrifice revealed by your play. Even the victims of a queen sacrifice understand the sheer beauty of such a game.

About 2000 years ago, God sacrificed One more powerful than any queen: His own Son. In fact, His only Son. Jesus walking on earth caused such fear in the heart of God's adversary that the adversary welcomed the sacrifice. Thus, when Jesus was dieing on the cross, in a sacrifice beyond the ability of anyone to calculate the ending except for God Himself, the crowd came and watched. Not realizing God's plan in the sacrifice, they believed an error had been made. Instead of oohs and aahs, the crowd cheered and jeered.

Walking away from the cross the day that Jesus died, many laughed that God had been defeated so easily, others cried. Three days later, the soundness of the sacrifice was proven as Jesus rose from the dead conquering the power of death. Satan was ultimately and utterly defeated.

In a chess game, someone who is completely defeated will often engage in a series of "spite" checks. The vanquished one hopes that maybe the winner will make some horrific error that will allow him to escape with a draw, or even a win. In today's world, the devil knows he is defeated, yet has embarked on a series of "spite checks" designed to force us into errors that will rob us of the joy of our faith in Christ.

As you walk through your daily life, keep your eyes on the one true Grandmaster, and He will protect you from the last minute difficulties that the devil will send.
Prayer of Commitment: As we go through life, Heavenly Father, help us keep our eyes on You and find the joy of life that You have planned for us. In Jesus's name we pray, Amen. NKJV stands for the New King James version, © 1984 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

©1997 by Bob James. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to distribute this article to others without charge as long as this notice is attached. This article may not be distributed commercially either individually or as part of any anthology without the express written consent of the author.


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