Daily Reflections May 19, 2017
Many view the Old Testament, especially the prophetic books, as repetitively bleak. God’s judgment is made clear upon the nations that would turn away from him. But in the midst of this truth in the prophets, there often abides another theme: God’s promised blessing. In the beginning of our passage, Isaiah makes it clear that God would smite Egypt for its idolatry, arrogance, and worldly wisdom. He would crush this superpower socially, economically, and politically. We even read in chapter 20 a particular, historical event where this judgment of God is exemplified. However, divine hostility does not constitute the finality of God’s design.
We also read here that God has a further purpose: to bless and heal Egypt. We read the astounding words,
“And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them” (Isaiah 19:22).
And not only would he intend to heal Egypt but they would also fall in fearful worship to God. He would then use them to draw the Assyrians to repentance and worship. God would eventually cause Egypt, Assyria, and Israel to worship the Lord together in unity!
When we read the account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, we see the people of earth, with one voice, rebelling against God. So, God thwarts their plans by diversifying their language and dividing them. But division was never the ultimate end; his desire would be to unify them again in true worship. Here we see a shadow of fulfillment wherein God pours out his judgment on the nations with the purpose of drawing them back into one language of unified worship.
Another of these shadows come in Acts 2 through the work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, unifying the tongues of many nations. Longingly, we anticipate its final fulfillment told to us in Revelation:
“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”” (Revelation 5:13)
I admit that it can be difficult to read the Old Testament with consistent joy and hope. But keep reading! Watch for the shadows of his fulfilment of promise, and you will see the glorious and righteous plan of God.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
2 Peter 1
As we begin with this second letter of the Apostle Peter we can recognize that this is an older and more mature Peter than the one we meet in the gospels. We can almost feel the fatherly love that Peter has for his readers. And what Peter wants for his original readers, God wants for us today.
Peter is concerned that those he wrote to would work hard to grow their faith - notice how Peter addresses his readers. He tells them that they have attained a faith equal to that of the apostles by the work of Jesus. However, what Peter understood was this: Following Christ is hard work. This requires the follower to develop in themselves godly attitudes and practices that allow them to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
In our world today, false prophets deal in cheap salvation. They peddle a relaxed 'vacation-style' Christianity that sits really well with our culture. We are taught that we need to say a prayer and then we can spiritually "retire" and live the easy life. However, what Peter reminds us here is that the Christian life is actually marked by work; we are to be sanctified. We believe that sanctification is a work of God's grace in us, coupled with our own work of following after Jesus, loving His word, and turning our backs on the world.
Peter tells us that true Christians know this to be true, but we also need to be reminded from time to time. Peter calls this, "Confirming your calling and election." I love how Peter informs us that this is a growing and increasing effort. There is no expectation that you are going to be perfect, but that is where we are to be aiming, and neglecting this work means that we are nearsighted to the point of blindness. Peter finishes the chapter by reminding his readers that the teaching he has just opened with is not from his own preferences or any hope to please men. He reminds his reader that he has apostolic authority and that it is God Himself that has given this prophecy.
Seeing that this teaching is from God and for us just as much as it was for the original readers of this letter, let us be those people who work hard at growing in us those qualities that confirm our relationship with Jesus, and our reliance on Him for our life.
Associate Pastor Jonathan Welch