April 3, 2015

From promise to reality

Deuteronomy 4:1–49; 2 Corinthians 1:17–24; Psalm 32:1–11

This Good Friday reading takes me to a great point in the history of God’s people. They have been delivered from Egypt, but refused to enter the Promised Land because they were afraid. Now, after many years of wandering, they are ready to go in. Moses is giving them final instructions. It is a solemn day.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children . . . . And (God) declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess . . . . For I must die in this land; I must not go over the Jordan. But you shall go over and take possession of that good land. Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you . . . . know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” (Deuteronomy 4:9, 13-14, 22-23, 39–40)

Moses warned them about their biggest danger —idolatry. They could not see God, and like every human being, found it difficult to trust something they could not see. Moses also reminded them of the commandments. He didn’t say it, but the first one is the greatest . . .  to love God above all else. If that one is not obeyed, then none of the others can be obeyed.

Loving God above all else means also loving His Son, Jesus Christ. How do I love Jesus? By trusting Him, by believing all that He says and knowing that he is true and reliable. He means what He says, and when He said He would save me, I believe Him.

“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:19–22)

Just to help me out, because I believe in Jesus, I am sealed. A seal signifies identity. In those days, and even now, a physical seal can be a blob of wax imprinted with a metal stamp that belongs to only one person or institution. Using that seal puts a mark on a document to verify its contents. To be sealed by God means that He puts His stamp on my life. I belong to Him and to guarantee that ownership, and my destiny, He gives me his Holy Spirit.

This is not all that happens. Good Friday is a memorial to the death of Christ for sin. The psalmist looked forward in faith to the One who would deliver him from sin’s guilt and bondage. Now that Christ has died and rose again, I look back in faith to that event. He died for my sin. It is forgiven, not automatically for He requires confession, but it is forgiven.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit . . . . I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah . . . . You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah (Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7)

Forgiveness is an amazing blessing indeed. God took the burden of guilt from my life and gives me Himself. I can depend on Him to take care of me.

All of this is made possible because He was willing to take my guilt and die for it. Yes, this Friday is a very solemn day too, but Sunday is just ahead!

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