God fails, sometimes. That is to say, the plan He has made and set His heart upon fails.
Eden was God's plan for man. A weedless, thornless, world-garden of great beauty and fruitfulness; a man and woman living together in sweet purity and strong self-mastery; their children growing up in such an atmosphere, trained for the highest and best; the earth with all its wondrous forces developed and mastered by man; full comradeship and partnership between man and all the living creation, beast and bird; and in the midst of all God Himself walking and working in closest touch with man in all his enterprises—that was God's Eden plan for man. But it failed.
The Israel plan was a failure, too. The main purpose of Israel being made God's peculiar people has failed up to the present hour. That plan originally was a simple shepherd people, living on the soil close to nature. They were to be, not a democracy ruled by the direct vote of the people in all things; nor a republic ruled by the vote of selected representatives; nor yet a kingdom ruled over by the will of an autocrat; but something quite distinct from all of these, what men have been pleased to call a theocracy.
That is to say, God Himself was to be their ruler in a very real, practical sense, directing and working with them in the working out of all their national life. They were to combine all the best in each of these forms of government, with a something added, not in any of them as men know them.
They were to be wholly unlike the other nations, utterly unambitious politically, neither exciting war upon themselves by others nor ever making war upon others. Their great mission was to be a teacher-nation to all the earth, teaching the great spiritual truths; and, better yet, embodying these truths in their personal and national life.
But the plan failed. The glitter of the other nations turned them aside from God's plan. They set up a kingdom, "like all the nations," very much like them.
Then God worked with them where they would work with Him. He planned a great kingdom to overspread the earth in its rule and blessed influence, but not by the aggression of war and oppression. Their later literature is all a-flood with the glory light of the coming king and kingdom. Yet when the King came they rejected Him and then killed Him. They failed at the very point that was to have been their great achievement. God's plan failed. The Hebrew people from the point of view of the direct object of their creation as a nation have been a failure up to the present hour.
God's choice for their first king, Saul, was a failure, too. No man ever began life, nor king his rule, with better preparation and prospects. And no career ever ended in such dismal failure. God's plan for the man had failed.
Jesus' plan for Judas failed. The sharpest contrasts of possible good and actual bad came together in his career in the most startling way. He failed at the very point where he should have been strongest—his personal loyalty to his Chief.
There can be no doubt that Jesus picked him out for one of His inner circle because of his strong attractive traits. He had in him the making of a John, the intimate, the writer of the great fourth Gospel. He might have been a Peter, rugged in his bold leadership of the early Church.
But, though coached and companioned with, loved and wooed, up to the very hour of the cowardly contemptible betrayal, he failed to respond even to such influence as a Jesus could exert. Jesus planned Judas the apostle. He became Judas the apostate, the traitor. He was to be a leader and teacher of the Gospel. He became a miserable reproach and by-word of execration to all men. Jesus' plan failed.