Daily Reflections January 17, 2018
When LORD appears in all capitals in your Old Testament, it represents the Hebrew word Yahweh. This is the name of God. God Himself appears to Moses in today’s text.
Interestingly, this appearance features three men. Some commentators have speculated that we are to see here an allusion to the Trinity. Whether or not the Trinity is implied in this story bears little on the main thrust of the text, and it is to the heart of the text that we will turn our attention.
Abraham and Sarah wrestle with two questions, and two times God puts his faithfulness on display. First, they ask:
1. Can God really be trusted to keep His promises?
In chapter 17, God promised Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son. Abraham laughed at the idea and instead put forward his son Ishmael. There was no need to wait for a 90-year-old woman to become pregnant. Rather, Abraham and Sarah had already found a way around the impossibility by impregnating Sarah’s servant Hagar. They attempted to move forward with God’s promise in their own way. They put their trust in worldly means and plans.
But God would have nothing of Abraham’s provision. No, He had promised a son, and He would bring forth that son in spite of the apparent impossibility.
Sarah, faring no better than her husband, also laughed at this suggestion. She laughed at God’s assurance that He would keep His word.
What a tragic example of how small our faith can be. As we read this story, we need to ask ourselves: Do I really trust that God will do what He says He will do? Lord, help our unbelief.
2. Can God really be trusted to do what is right?
Not only do Abraham and Sarah display a lack of faith in God’s promise, but they also demonstrate a lack of faith in God’s goodness. Upon hearing of God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham argues with God. He suggests that, in God’s plan, many righteous people will perish with the wicked. He asks:
“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25b ESV)
What a question: Abraham wonders if perhaps God has failed to consider all of the goodness in Sodom. Essentially, Abraham wonders if God’s plan is as merciful and good as the plan that Abraham would make.
How often does that question flare up in our own minds and in our own churches? We ask: Is it really just for God to sentence sinners to suffer in hell for eternity? What happens to good people who would have believed the Gospel had they only heard? Is it really necessary for the Father to pour out His wrath on the Son for our sin?
Inherent in each of these questions is the same question that Abraham asked: Will God do what is right?
God will punish sin, and He will extend mercy to whom He decides to extend mercy. Abraham could not see the depth of the sin that was in Sodom and Gomorrah. He thought far too highly of his own ability to judge the hearts of men. His view of God’s justice and mercy was far too small. Pray that we don’t fall into the same temptation. The judge of the earth will do what is right. Every time.
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
For those living in the darkness of this world, what a gift of grace it is to see beyond what is to what will be. Herein lies our hope. I am reminded of the story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6: The King of Syria sent a great army to the city of Dothan in order to capture Elisha. Elisha’s servant woke up early in the morning, looked outside and saw the city surrounded by an enemy army. In despair, he asked Elisha what they should do. Elisha replied,
… “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:16-17 ESV)
Fearful servant of the Lord, do not be afraid of what you see. Though you might see the hills filled with your enemies, there is more going on than you can see with your eyes. May the Lord give you sight to see clearly the realities that are beyond your physical perceptions.
Yes, we live in an occupied land, with enemies all around.
Yes, we live in the land of darkness.
However, open your eyes and see what the Lord wants to show you. You'll be amazed that those who are with you are more than those who are against you. Don’t fear! Jesus Christ is God and our victory is in him, the Lord of the angel armies of heaven.
Matthew 17 gives us a vision of glory that is beyond our physical sight. This is the story of Jesus’ transfiguration. It shows us the brightness of heaven’s glory and our future glory! This story is an encouragement for us, for it takes place between two predictions of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection. Along with Peter, James and John, we are invited up the mountain with Jesus to see the hope of future glory that is ours in Christ. The Bible does not deny a life of tribulation for the believer. There is no promise of a life free from suffering. Rather, the Bible shows us what is already ours, and what is soon to come.
Metaphorically, we’d love to be permanent dwellers on the mountain of transfiguration, setting up our cabins and camping out there, basking in glory until Jesus comes to take us home. We know however, that Jesus encourages us and then sends us back down the mountain to the realities of the valleys below.
We are sent back to live and minister in a fallen world with, life’s demands and responsibilities; with suffering and spiritual conflict; with sin, disease and demonic oppression. This is the world where the battle for souls and their freedom is fought on the battleground of bold prayer and faith in the power of Jesus.
One day, we will live forever with the Father’s beloved Son. Our forever home will be with our glorious King on the mountain of the Lord, free from sin’s oppression. Challenges are ahead, but greater grace and glory is ahead. This IS our future.
For now, know that day is coming soon. As sons and daughters of the coming King, live like who you are. Bask in the hope of the Gospel that assures you of one day being ushered into the brightness of the glory of God, through Jesus, and have no fear.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross