Moves. Countermoves. Blocks. Traps. Attacks. Decoys. Deflections.
Men, especially politicians and captains of industry, seem to excel at chess games. Locked in a perpetual back and forth, they’re always trying to calculate their opponent’s moves, and outwit them six and seven turns ahead.
But their simple playing surface is too small, their self-congratulations far too premature.
God warns in Ps. 75:4-5, “I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; 5 do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’”
Omnipotence is God’s unique, innate ability to upend everything and everyone, enlisting such reversals for His own purpose. His kingdom has often been referred to as “the upside down kingdom,” where inversions take place that boggle the mind.
“It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.” v. 7.
Too many times we’ve seen the media darlings of today, utterly debased and cursed tomorrow. Seemingly overnight, their names became bywords. Their previously loyal fan bases now flee them, trying to get as much distance as possible from any former association with them.
Yes, we’ve even seen this in the religious arena. Back in the days when a spate of scandals began to erupt around the financial corruption of certain ministries, I remember seeing a cartoon. It depicted a roomful of tele-evangelists in the temple, diving into piles of cash. One of them had stopped, and was gazing, terrified, through a window. He asked the others, “Hey, do any of you know a guy who wears sandals and carries a whip?”
Not only then, but now, brand names crash. This is a reminder to those of us who serve the Lord, not to forget our status as saved sinners, instead believing we are sinless saints. Haloes are easily lost, with God Himself orchestrating their confiscation. He prefers giving out crowns, but only to be worn on the other side of glory.
God’s ability to reverse situations found its way into Mary’s prayer in Luke 1:51-52: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.”
Bobby Fischer used to walk from chessboard to chessboard, making moves with little deliberation that would defeat other champions. It was all for the sake of a game, and to demonstrate the prowess of a man.
When God uses His unlimited ability, though, to upend and reverse, to put down and bring up, it’s not a game. And in fact, the greatest example of this work was linked to our very salvation.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11).