“Life is all about how you handle plan B.”
Throughout history there has almost invariably been plan A — the ideal — and plan B (or subsequent letters of the alphabet, as needed).
Starting at the beginning as we think we know it, once angels had been created, plan A, it seems to me, would have Lucifer remain forever the bearer of light and all things good.
The iniquity that found its way into Lucifer is described as being a mystery. If one posits the omniscience of the Almighty, iniquity would be a mystery only to some: to us mortals, and, at least at one point, to the angels themselves, one third of whom elected to join Lucifer in rebellion.
While the origin of iniquity may remain a mystery, its consequences are less so.
Once Lucifer rebelled, plan B (as amplified by E G White) would seem to have been repentance and contrition on his part, at which point he may have been restored to his former position, or at least been allowed to remain in situ.
But plan B failed, and plan C became operative. The rebellion quelled, Lucifer and his followers were expelled. The die was cast.
Plan A for our first parents was that they not succumb to temptation, and, in partaking of the Tree of Life, become immortal. But that did not happen, and plan B was put into effect.
Plan A for Cain and Abel (here, as elsewhere in this essay, I speculate somewhat; I beg the indulgence of readers): both worship in the manner pleasing to the Almighty. But Cain slew Abel, and plan B supplanted plan A.
Adam and Eve witnessed firsthand the first death of a human, their own son. All plans other than A would be inferior and have unintended, almost always negative, consequence.
And so it went, with the passage of generations and time.
Despite rampant evil during the time of Noah, plan A might have called for some antediluvians (other than the recorded 8) to be inside the ark. But it was not to be.
Humankind would begin afresh. As would other members of the animal kingdom, excluding the denizens of the deep: fish and their ilk, who presumably survived the great waters.
Plan A for Abraham did not call for his deception in calling Sarah his sister on two occasions (with near disastrous consequence), nor for his marrying Hagar.
We are told (EGW) that plan A did not include his near-sacrifice of his son Isaac. Although he passed the test of plan B, had plan A been operative, he would not have been tested in a way few fathers have. His mental anguish must have been nearly unbearable. Ever since, ‘ram in the thicket’ has been a metaphor for unexpected deliverance.
Another consequence of plan B: had Hagar not begat Ishmael, mankind might not have the current conundrum of the Arabs and the Israelis, whose animosity endures to this day and for whom peace may ever remain elusive.
The history of Jacob/Israel and his offspring is replete with instances of plans A not being fulfilled, and plans B (or beyond) being put into play. Reuben, Judah, Dinah, Joseph, to name some.
Plan A for Rahab did not include her becoming a woman of easy virtue. Her plan B was to shelter the Hebrew spies and, by the sign of a scarlet cord, be saved when Jericho fell. She went on to marry a Hebrew and her later years were hopefully marked by greater contentment than her earlier ones.
Moses himself did not entirely follow plan A. I cannot imagine plan A including his murdering an Egyptian taskmaster, no matter how cruel the latter. Nor did it include his striking a rock in the wilderness to bring forth water (rather than speaking to it).
For him plan B precluded entrance into the Promised Land, which he could see with undimmed vision from Mount Nebo in his last days.
But plan B did include something far more — being resurrected and now in a better place. And it was his privilege to minister to Christ at the Transfiguration.
Plan A for Samson likely included his great strength but must not have included the Philistine women he found so irresistible. The grass was greener on the other side of the fence in antiquity, too.
For him, plan B called for the destruction of more of his enemies in death than during his checkered and conflicted life.
Delilah? Who knows what her plan A was? Assuming it was something other than as recorded, her plan B was to entice Samson. Once she was successful, her presumptive abandonment of her paramour may have been part of plan C. We may only someday learn more about her.
Another who started with great promise was David.
Plan A could not have included adultery and murder. And, had he been less polygamous, perhaps rape and incest would not have been added to the mix.
Plan B was such that the Almighty called him ‘a man after My own heart’ and inspired him to write the Psalms, containing some of the most soaring passages in Holy Writ. He would also be a progenitor of Christ.
Jonah is not unlike many of us.
Plan A called for him to travel to Nineveh, capital of Assyria, and warn residents of its impending destruction.
Plan B? Flee to Tarshish in dereliction of duty. Board a ship. Be tossed overboard (at his own behest) and swallowed by a great fish/whale.
Plan C? In response to supplication, be regurgitated onto dry land. I’m unsure he would have been regurgitated had he not supplicated during the three days he lived in the sea, but not really the sea.
He then journeyed to Nineveh and delivered the message he was originally asked to. Then got comfortable on a hill to witness the destruction he had predicted would transpire.
Plan D? After annihilation of Nineveh does not occur, and the gourd providing shade dies, he becomes petulant and tells the Almighty he prefers death. God remonstrates with him; we do not learn Jonah’s reaction, but stories such as these do not always have happy endings.
Had there existed anger management classes in Jonah’s day, I think he may have qualified to attend.
What was plan A for Judas Iscariot? Unless one ascribes to predestination (which never seems to have gained much traction), plan A would seem to be something other than what is recorded. He did not have to betray his Master; he chose to.
I think Christ tried, in a gentle, nonaccusatory manner, to appeal to the better nature of Judas in plan B. It failed.
Plan C was too little, too late. Things did not end well for Judas.
Contrast his situation with that of another disciple, Simon Peter. Brash, impetuous Peter, who tried to walk on water and who amputated the ear of the servant of the high priest in Gethsemane. Who, just as Christ predicted, denied Him three times.
Plan A could not have included those denials.
Plan B seems to have been salutary. Peter not only talked the talk, he walked the walk, gave us some books of the New Testament, and, at his end, declined being crucified in upright position, as had Christ.
For those privileged to do so, it will be a treat to see him walk the sea of glass in the earth made new.
Plans A for both thieves on Golgotha were likely something other than what both men followed. Had they, they probably wouldn’t have been on crosses on that fateful hill.
Who knows? Perhaps for both there were plans B, but maybe neither followed them, and plan C (or beyond) was put in place.
Regardless, for both men Golgotha was the place of their final plan.
For the penitent thief, his chosen plan led to light — and life.
For the thief on Christ’s left, his plan presumably led to ultimate second death.
About the only person (see Romans 3:23) recorded to have adhered to plan A was Jesus.
We know little about what plan B (if there was such a thing) would have included. My understanding is that, had He failed in His mission, history would have unfolded in an entirely different manner.
Fortunately for us, that was not the case.
It was a cause of great pleasure (we know this to be true, based on what transpired at the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist) for the Father to witness His son prove to onlookers that His laws were not only fair but capable of being followed, if only once.
Once in time for all time. By One for all.