“However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.”—1 Corinthians 15:46

Our modern, Western mindset usually assumes: We are supposed to be spiritual first, then see the results in the natural world.

That puts the outcome in our court – it’s up to us to be “spiritual” and wait for results.

But that’s not how God works. He gives us a picture of what He is doing, Scripture tells us.

What God does in the natural realm tells the story of what He is doing in the spiritual realm. God reveals His plans and His future work first in the natural world.

And it is God who does work.

“All prophecies must have a spiritual and material fulfillment in history,” my friend Robert Mawire wrote. “What God does in the natural, He follows with the spiritual! Isn’t it marvelous?”

In 1 Corinthians 15:46, Paul explains one of the most consistent divine patterns in Scripture: “The spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” Once again, this approach runs counter to the Western mindset.

Paul was speaking of the resurrection, but he also was teaching a new way of seeing and understanding. God has embedded spiritual truths in the natural world, and we will recognize those truths if we have “eyes to see.” It makes sense that the sequence would be first natural and then spiritual. For example, because we have natural bodies, which we can see and feel, we can imagine having a spiritual body.

God called Israel the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

In some mysterious way, when we look at Israel, we are looking into the eyes of God. When we look at Israel, we see God’s intentions.

Israel did not exist in the modern world until it was reborn in 1948. The dry bones of Ezekiel‘s prophecy came together (Ezekiel 37). “Sinews and flesh” gave the bones physical substance. The nation was restored to its physical state.

But there was “no breath,” Ezekiel observed.

Then God began breathing life into the Holy Land.

That is what God does in our lives. Look for the natural meaning of Scripture and then for spiritual meaning.

Look for what He is doing in your natural circumstances, and ask Him to reveal to you what He is doing in your life spiritually.

It will always be about God’s loving intentions to build and heal your life naturally and spiritually.