This week my Bible study partner and I looked at the passages in the New Testament where it says, “but God.” What we discussed the most is what are the verbs (action words) associated with the “but God” parts in each passage. We came up with quite a list. And that led me to look for the verbs in the Old Testament passages as well. All together, New Testament and Old Testament, there are more than 30 different verbs used to describe what God could do when man could not.
Nehemiah 9:16-21, while not using the exact phrase “but God,” highlights several of God’s actions that are touched on in the both the Old and New Testaments. While I’m tempted to just give you the list of verbs and let you draw your own conclusions, I’m going to start with this passage in Nehemiah, then we’ll see what happens.
16 “But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands. 17 They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them, 18 even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, ‘This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!’ They committed terrible blasphemies.
19 “But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night. 20 You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst. 21For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!” (NLT)
When man tries to take control and screws everything up, God comes to the rescue. When man tries to determine their own fate, God intervenes and gives them what they really need. Mankind does whatever, but God makes everything better and compensates for mankind’s mistakes.
We rely on ourselves to take care of ourselves, as the Israelites tried to do over and over, and need rescuing. Can anyone honestly say that there’s been a person anywhere, at any time in history, who has been able to do everything perfectly so that God did not have to step in and rescue them? Don’t be fooled! It’s never happened and never will. Mankind is made in such a way that they will make a mess of things, but God has a perfect plan and He is the only One who can make it come to pass.
I think I am going to give you the long list of God’s actions – the things only He can do – but first I’m going to share a quote that sums up our study so far into the “but Gods” in Scripture:
These verses tell us that our circumstances DO NOT get the last word. The enemy DOES NOT get the last word. Death and disease DO NOT get the last word. Because there is always, always, always a but God. (Lisa Appelo, https://lisaappelo.com/but-god-bible-verses/).
Now for the list of verbs we discovered.
Remembers, establishes, is with, makes, made, redeems, is strength/portion, judges, exalts, forgives, knows/knew, raises, preserves, rescues, shows, demonstrates, reveals, changes, protects, helps, gives/gave, grants, chooses, causes (growth/outcomes), does away with, calls, pours out, works, provides, comforts, sets apart, has mercy, and creates.
If you would like a list of the corresponding passages of Scripture for each of these actions that God can take on our behalf, email me at email@example.com.