ISSUES OF FAITH: Seek, receive Jesus for God’s favor

THE BIBLE MENTIONS God’s favor many times in the Old Testament, and it’s easy to see that it is good, even vital, to receive God’s favor.

Noah was a recipient of God’s favor.

God was so angry with people’s wickedness that he was sorry that he had made them and intended to destroy them.

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8 ESV).

Noah was viewed by God as distinctly different from the rest of the population.

“Noah walked with God,” but the others did not (6:9).

God’s favor provided Noah protection and deliverance.

Abraham received God’s favor (Genesis 18:3), and the added distinction of being called God’s friend (Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23).

Moses also received God’s favor, and the unique blessing of seeing God’s glory (Exodus 33:17-23).

The Israelites received God’s favor in the sight of the Egyptians, a favor that allowed them to not leave Egypt empty handed (Exodus 12:36).

Later, Daniel was taken into captivity by the Babylonians, but God gave him favor in the sight of his captors.

In each instance, God’s favor provided the blessings of distinction, protection and provision.

And in none of these instances of God’s favor was his favor earned; it was a gift.

God’s favor is precious, but it can’t be purchased.

It was something so valuable that entire cities and nations sought it.

“The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord” (Zechariah 8:21-22).

God’s favor is mentioned more than 100 times in the Old Testament, but I recently noticed that in New Testament, the word “favor” becomes sparse.

What should we make of that?

I noticed this while studying in preparation for this Christmas.

In the familiar Christmas story in Luke 2, the angel Gabriel pays a surprise visit to Mary and says, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:26).

She was “greatly troubled” by that greeting and tried to figure it out.

I imagine.

Personally, I would have been a little troubled by the greeter, not just the greeting.

And then Gabriel adds, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (1:30).

You know the rest of the story.

Mary found favor with God. I don’t think she was looking for it, but she found it, nonetheless.

A surprising favor. A humbling favor. And a magnificent favor.

And Mary gave birth to a child: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).

And as the years went on, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (2:52).

Eventually, while teaching in the synagogue, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

“because he has anointed me

“to proclaim good news to the poor.

“He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

“and recovering of sight to the blind,

“to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

“to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

And when he was done reading, Jesus said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (V21).

Yes, God’s favor is mentioned more times in the Old Testament than the New Testament, but not because of the sparseness of God’s favor.

Not at all.

In fact, the opposite.

God’s favor becomes prolific: favored Mary gave birth to the favored son, whom is the source for anyone to receive God’s favor.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14 NIV).

I pray that this Christmas you will seek and receive God’s favor by seeking and receiving Jesus.

Merry Christmas.


Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is

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