Daily Reflections May 5, 2017
In the second chapter of the preface in Isaiah, the author gives us a beautiful picture of the future and a dismal picture of the present.
He exclaims that God would make his house established on the mountain and that all nations would come to it to be taught, instructed, and ruled. In God’s reign, he would judge rightly and make peace. He would be gloriously over all people and would triumph over all false gods. This is the way things were supposed to be and God will bring it about. What a picture of hope!
But against this ideal, Isaiah proclaims that this is not their currently reality. The people have fallen into syncretism, adopting the mysticism, greed, warfare and idolatry of the other nations. In their pride and trust in man-made things, they have embraced the things that God opposes. So, God will humble the prideful man and reveal the worthlessness of their man-made hope. His majesty and terror will cause all to be humbled and see that He is the one true God.
While we do not worship gods on mountains as the pagans did nor find our hope in exotic trees, we can still feel the weight of this chapter. We see that the same things that pulled them away from God also tug at us: worldview, treasures, safety, and idols. They may have been seduced by fortune-tellers, but we have horoscopes and the prosperity gospel. Where gold and silver were their weaknesses, we pride ourselves in our bank accounts and summer cottages. While they found security in horses and chariots, we boast in our police and freedom preserving army. We may not climb the mountain to offer sacrifices to a false god, but we don’t mind sitting in front of it on the couch and constantly staring at it.
We need to humble ourselves before the Lord and tremble before his majestic splendor. We need to be reminded that it is a blessed thing to walk in the light of the Lord. He is the fountain of all good and eternal things that will bring us ultimate fulfillment. His worldview, treasures, safety, and person is superior to anything we could ever imagine. And the imposters will only draw us deeper into darkness and cause us to be more humiliated when God’s patience runs out. By God’s grace, let us heed this warning and be changed.
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
The writer of Hebrews has previously demonstrated how the tabernacle and the law were shadows and types of the better thing to come, and he now turns his attention to the sacrifices. The argument continues that while they had their place at one time, sacrifices were insufficient for actually making the followers perfect before God. When Jesus came and died, however, there was no need for sacrifices ever again. Jesus was the one perfect sacrifice made to God on our behalf. Jesus chose willingly to accomplish this on behalf of those who are called to be God’s children. When God looks upon His children, he no longer acknowledges their sin because they are washed clean in the blood of Christ.
The next section of this passage starts in verse 19. The writer tells us that because of what we have just read, we should be confident to come into the presence of God. I think it would be true to say that many of us struggle with entering God’s presence because we doubt our worth. However, as children of God, we can come boldly because it is not our own worth that gives us access; it is the perfect and finished work of Jesus. Jesus alone has accomplished what we could never do, and we need to remember that. His work is our confidence, and because of that work, we can enter boldly. Now, there are some caveats that we should heed here:
1. Enter boldly as you hold to the faith.
2. Enter boldly as you encourage the rest of the body to live in obedience.
3. Enter boldly as you yourself continue to grow as part of the body of Christ.
The last section of the passage makes us stop and reflect on what we have read. While the first parts of the passage are amazingly encouraging, this last part is the reality check. So many people who call themselves Christians have given themselves the license to claim the name of Jesus, yet they live a pagan life. The writer tells us that God doesn’t acknowledge sacrifice anymore, therefore you can’t sin and then hope to appease God’s wrath; it doesn’t work like that. The only appeasement for God’s righteous wrath is the blood of Christ. If you hope to be saved, then you must live in obedience to Christ. Christ is coming again - when He returns, He will judge the living and the dead. On that day, those who only paid lip service to Him but lived as His enemies will be rightfully condemned, and those who lived for Him and loved Him will be eternally rewarded. Let’s be the people who loved Him no matter what the temporal cost!
Associate Pastor Jonathan Welch