Does “all” mean everything, without exception?
I heard the preacher say it did, and then I noticed some exceptions.
When Mom said I had eaten all my vegetables, I might still have a pea or two left on my plate. She might say I had “licked the platter clean,” but I’d be in trouble if I picked up my plate and licked off the last dribbles of gravy.
When I said, “I ran all the way to school,” I wasn’t saying I never stopped for a few seconds to catch my breath.
Even in Scripture, “all” doesn’t rule out exceptions and conditions.
Our absolute perception of “all” can create a somewhat imperfect picture in our minds. For example, in one of God’s miracles to deliver the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 9:22–26), the hail wiped out everything: people, animals, and vegetation. Every tree was shattered.
We might use a similar description after a tornado cuts a mile-wide path across the country and into town. We would understand “complete devastation” to be essentially true, but not without the possibility of exception. We wouldn’t be surprised if a few trees were still standing and some houses weren’t completely destroyed. One or two might be left untouched.
When the hail wiped out everything in Egypt, how many animals survived? We don’t know, but it must have been a significant number. How do we know that? Later, when God sent the death angel, all the firstborn were killed, including the firstborn of the cattle (Exodus 12:29). But the blood of the lamb brought exceptions.
In the Game of Life, God sets the rules, conditions, and exceptions.
When people say, “I believe the Bible,” what they are actually believing is their interpretation, which might not be entirely right.
For example, Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer believing, you will receive. Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Rise and be thrown into the sea,” will see it happen” (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:23).
What Jesus said is true. No doubt about that. But evidently, this truth does not allow me to control God and give me what I want. No matter how much I pray and believe, the mountain doesn’t budge. Nothing seems to change.
Here’s the miracle.
God’s ways are better than my ways. As I surrender my desire and yield to his control, what I thought was evil works for eternal good. In his way and his timing, mountains move—and I think that’s a much better deal than getting what I want.