9. Israel–Obedience under Judgement

“By Faith he kept the passover and the application of blood in order that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as through dry land, the Egyptians taking their try were drowned. By faith Rahab, the harlot, who welcomed the spies with peace was not destroyed along with the unfaithful.” ~Hebrews 11:38– (translation mine)

Photo Cred: posted on Nov 22, 2011 by adamsart. accessed:
https://bibleartwork.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/crossing-the-red-sea/

Judgment

Sin deserves judgment. Humanity, yea the world, is inextricably and implicitly bound up with it. The Justice of God demands that He be feared, respected, and obeyed. Faith sees this reality plus one more. Faith sees that the same God who is Judge is Savior. He is also working to rescue those who are under his judgment if they will look to Him for their deliverance.

All three stories are astounding in that God was bringing about horrific judgment upon the world–Egyptian people, Egyptian army, and the people of Jericho. The Judgment of God upon the world being created by Him and refusing to worship Him is just.

And here we see the people of God showing us what faith is, and why it is so important. As Enoch knew, without faith it is impossible to please God. But Israel was the poster child to show the world that without faith it is impossible to appease God. Indeed, it is through the final gate of God’s Judgment that faith alone can carry a person to eternal life.

Salvation

All three times in this passage, God has come down hard upon the peoples of the world. God is not cruel to punish Egypt, who had refused to let his people Israel go. He is not cruel to slay the army who presume upon the goodwill of his miracles to soundly slaughter those who would without his hinderance end his people’s lives. He is not cruel to save only the one who believed in him when destroying the first city of the land of Canaan who had long ceased walking with Him or worshipping Him. Even so, God will not be unjust, cruel, vindictive to destroy all those who do not obey and believe. In fact, one might say that His work to save His people is a proof that he will not be unjust to do so. (See Romans 3:21-26 for some food for thought about this.)

Look at Israel. In Egypt, they cried out to God to deliver them. God starts fighting for them. The final plague and final test was a warhead of the most deeply devastating magnitude. He in essence told Israel, “Build a bunker.” They obeyed. They survived. Off they go to the promised land while everyone else who did not fear God lost their first-born son.

(For any people who think God was not just in what he did, please read the whole book of Genesis through Exodus 15, and then talk with me if you still feel that way.)

And then comes the Red Sea. The archetypal representation for Baptism and Salvation itself. By the miraculous mediation of God’s messenger the people are delivered through the water. And when the world tried it, they were utterly destroyed. God had to pass his people through the waters of Judgment. (See To a Mature Man: Stage 3–Baptism) It was the obedience of Faith which said, “He will fight for me. I will do the impossible, and He will deliver me.”

And then coming into the promised land, what should happen to those who are outside Israel. Those who fear God and have that faith are delivered, but those who are not (the “un-faith-ful” [those without faith]) are destroyed. Faith is the only means of Salvation.

New Testament

More than this, my seminary professor taught me that Paul in his ministry wrote to the Roman church to show what he was going for in his whole ministry for Jesus Christ. It’s in the beginning and the ending of Romans. “The Obedience of Faith” for all nations. There is One Judge of all the earth. All are under His judgment from our sinful birth. But faith alone is the way to Salvation, and faith without obedience does not deliver from Judgment. Therefore, because of Judgment, faith without obedience is not saving faith. As James said, “What good, brethren, does it do if someone claims to have faith but no works [of obedience]. Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14)

No.

Application

  1. Flee. Bestir yourself that judgment is coming against the whole world, and you are a part of that world.
  2. Trust. The same God who justly judges this world, will also save all who call upon His name for deliverance.
  3. Call upon the name of the Lord, for Him to save you, and do as He tells you.
  4. Obey. If you believe in him as your King, your Judge, your Savior, do as He says. It is through listening under Him and obeying His commands that you will know His salvation through and through.
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Vision: God and the Scientist

I saw a man in a grey room typing at his keyboard. He was sitting in front of a computer, but his head I couldn’t see, except for a black square to mark out one whose face I could not see. He was a scientist. He was doing research on something.

I realized that he is being fed misinformation by those who do not acknowledge God, and who become foolish in their dark hearts.

And suddenly I knew. The answer is not better teaching.

The answer is God Himself intervening in the life of this scientist to bring Him to the knowledge of the Truth of Himself, in which all science is appropriated.

And as the Kingdom of Heaven latches onto him and lays hold. He passionately shares his findings and his way of thinking winsomely to the people in the scientific community.

Slowly the teaching in Science is changed back to a wisdom that advances the causes of science far into the reaches of unknown space. The galaxies were explored at greater depth. The human genome. The arch-robin and finches of the Galapagos are not classified separately anymore. A piece of flesh is sold in the marketplace for more tissue cells than ever before.

The Lord spoke to the scientist and he heard Him. He spoke and began to work wonders in his midst. A Christian who knew God but man knew not healed a nurse in a hospital.

How did you do that? “You ask because you will not believe. Ask and you will believe.” said the old man.

The scientist read his Bible and began to pray, and God found in his heart a pure passionate fire to live for him. The seed of rebirth was born in his heart, and flowered in living salvation. He began to speak to others about the revelation he found which was a light bulb to all his scientific teachings in darkness.

This is all I saw.

Interpretation: I believe it is the only answer to true salvation of the scientific community. God has to personally intervene. You who complain that the teaching must be better, and groan under the weight of misinformation called fact, and limited perspective called exhaustive, just take heart. All it takes is God intervening, and He will intervene in answer to the cry of His people, and He will remember His new Covenant in Jesus Christ. He is the Savior. Science is not the answer. Jesus truly is the answer, because only when God Himself intervenes to save, do we see the lasting powerful change and know in our hearts the goodness of God.

 

The Problem: Self-Salvation

Thanks Tim Keller for helping me with that phrase.
– – Dear Reader,
– – You have read lots. Here’s something else. I’ve been sick with a grueling fever for the past week or so, and I’m tired of it. As soon as I sit up, I start throbbing in my head. People are depending on me for so many things. I have responsibilities. Children to lead in song, home-bound family who need to go into town, and this is not to mention my truck which needs fixing, my laundry needs to be done, and I have about 2 hours of upright energy a day before my fever goes up a single degree. Thankfully my family are around to care for me, and take care of pressing needs as they arise. Things came to a pretty weepy head today when I had to skip work at school. I cried out, “God please come get me!” from my curled up blanket on the couch, wracked with weariness and worried-ness.
– – Finally. He really does listen. He just listens better than we do to ourselves. I could tell you countless times I had asked him to heal me because people depend on me. But now the problem comes down to just me living with me. What kept crushing down on me was the weight of everything I had to do, and just could not do. I had to partially delegate it to my boss.
– – I know He listens every time, but He responds to honesty. Suddenly, in that moment, I found myself writing in my journal, “Thank you for saving me from my own self-salvation.”
– – I like to think I can fix things. I can do it. I can handle life. I can face challenges. I can manage my time, my relationships, my money. And so I can, or at least act like I can. But what happens when all that power is gone? You go to your power source and have the balls to ask him, “Get me more power, so I can take care of things myself, so I will not need you to save me, cause if you save me, that means I have to completely serve you alone.” That’s what I’ve been doing anyway. I wrote this down after that realization:
“Let’s face it. We’re all a bunch of sucky self-saviors.” I slept with peace after that, ’cause I know my Savior is real. He won’t save everything important to me. That’s not His job. His job is sustaining the cosmos, just like he showed Job. And in the End his Wise plan is best.

 

Some Thoughts on Depression: Children, Brokenness, Humanity, and Work

I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who hasn’t wrestled with this. Except maybe a few kids. That’s telling.

If there’s anything a parent wants for their children, it’s that they be happy. But so often, the way they try to ensure happiness for their kids is to avoid every hardship. “Let not my children know poverty, except from the safe distance of a charity event.” “Let not my children be offended, or they will grow up with self-esteem issues.” Other parents are tempted to overlook their children’s imperfections, because it’s so hard to face their own. “They’ll get better. One day they’ll learn.” But if they listen with humble ears to the honesty of youth, they will hear that the children know there’s something wrong with the world, and they know there’s something wrong with themselves.

Consider this truth: A person who does not grapple and come to terms with the brokenness of this world can never be truly happy. The very simple reason why is because if he does not, then he will never be able to grapple and come to terms with the brokenness of his own soul. To do one is to do the other. The brokenness without is the brokenness within.

I was about 14 when I walked through my Grandfather’s 100 acre baby-tree-field on a cloudy day. I had come so far to a point where all that was around me was six-to-seven-foot high thorn-thickets that smelled of stale weeds as far as I could see in front of me, and the cave grove of trees I had just left left behind me. I could have turned back, but I deeply felt that the Lord specifically called me to go through the thorn thickets. All I had on were shoes, short-shorts and a tank-top. I had no cell-phone, no water and I had left my canvas poncho on the dirt-road. I faced the thickets with an internal resolution: I could make it through. Why? Because He had told me to. In my hand I had a staff that was about 4 1/2 feet high. I knew there had to be a way. So, I got an idea, and I laid my staff up against the thorns, and lifted up my sneakered foot to press down the thorns. It made a dent, with only a little stinging scratch on my leg. It took forever. In those moments of toil, we know a taste of eternity. But after about one and a half hours of repetitious picking up the staff and laying it back down, I made it through the highest thickets to the lower thickets. Still could not move very quickly. Behind me lay a trail of broken down briers made by the staff in my hand which could take the thorns. And I finally made it where the staff in my hand was able to beat down the chest high brambles, and then I made it where I could steadily walk through careful to avoid the waist-high thorn-weeds. Then, I saw the dirt road and jogged to it, and plopped down on the ground to rest staring up at the bright-grey sky above me as grateful quivers of laughter shook my teenage frame.

Depression comes when humankind refuses to acknowledge their brokenness, and neglects to cry out for deliverance, and instead surrenders to the lie that God does not care enough about my brokenness to reach out his Hands to touch and heal, therefore I don’t care either. Read the Gospels: Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and he touched and healed people. In doing so, he showed humanity the Love of God for the world (yea even the whole world) because it was beautiful in His eyes when He made it. The Kingdom of Heaven is not some elusive abstract disconnected from the world. The Kingdom of Heaven, is Eternity fixing time. It is Power strengthening weakness. It is Goodness conquering evil. It is Grace overcoming guilt. It is Truth emancipating people from lies. It is healing eradicating sickness. It is Heaven restoring the earth.

Work is magical. It is through work that a human being extricates what is good in this world and makes it into something better. This is why hard-work is part of the cure for depression. It is the image of God to work, because it is God’s eternal power at work through His representatives on earth in time. To work is to enter into the timeless blessing of humanity in Genesis 1:28: Subdue the earth. And it is hard. Why? Because we as humans have made it hard. The ground is cursed because of us. The reason why we have “hard” work, is because our sin has made it hard, but the work is ever blessed.

Why are you downcast O my soul? Why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, I will praise Him. He is my Savior.