Tuesday, October 20, 2015

God’s incredible salvation



Ezekiel 39:25–40:49, Revelation 19:11–20:6, Job 38:25–33, John 3:16

Today’s assigned readings overwhelmed my imagination. They begin with God speaking to a righteous man in Job, a very ancient book. It tells the story of God testing Job’s faith, and Job becoming frustrated that God has not told him what is going on. His friends are full of advice, but they could not pinpoint the problem and wound up accusing Job of things he did not do.

When seemingly meaningless suffering happens to the people of God, all sorts of questions fill our minds, questions like: Is God really there? Has He no power to deliver me? Can I trust God even when He is silent?

However, after the silence, Job finally does hear the Lord speak. While His words sound like a rebuke, they might have been given in gentle tones to this suffering man. God asked Job, “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?” (Job 38:31–33)

This is a small part of a larger passage where God told Job to look around at all that is out of his control. Who was taking care of the universe? Who takes care of the stars and constellations? God implies that because He can do this, He can be trusted, even when He says nothing.

This is also God’s challenge to me. When it seems God is not there, do I consider His power and goodness? Can I trust Him no matter what?

The Israelites believed God existed, but they didn’t obey Him and even worshiped idols. God sent prophets and they didn’t listen. He finally sent them into exile where they would learn to loath idolatry, but even before they experienced this, God made them a promise:

“I will restore (them in mercy) . . . . They shall forget their shame and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they dwell securely in their land . . . . Then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land . . . . And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit . . . .” (Ezekiel 39:25–29)

After saying this, God gave Ezekiel a vision of the new temple where worship would be restored. This would give them hope: “In visions of God he brought me to the land of Israel, and set me down on a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city to the south. When he brought me there, behold, there was a man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand. And he was standing in the gateway.” (Ezekiel 40:2–3)

Ezekiel’s vision included a man who is described as if it were Jesus Christ. He restores the worship of sinners and came to live in His people. The Bible says that because He dwells people who trust Him, these become temples of the Holy Spirit. How incredible!

John’s visions in Revelation are also incredible. He saw “heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” (Revelation 19:11–13)

This is Jesus. With the armies of heaven, He will make war against the beast and false prophet and throw them into a lake of fire. Satan will be bound for a thousand years so he can no longer deceive the nations. What will that look like? Incredible!

Also, the people of God will reign with Christ: “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4–6)

After that, Satan is released, and Gog and Magog (named in Ezekiel) join to attack God’s people. As in Ezekiel, God comes to the rescue and throws Satan into the lake of fire.
Finally, a judgment begins, not a judgment of everyone for it excludes those whose names are in the book of life. How does a person get their name in the book of life? Jesus answers that question: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Incredible!

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