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Life Theology

Passion Week – Saturday

This is a re-post of the Passion series from last year.

Isaiah 55:1-3:

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

During Jesus’ ministry, he said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). When people heard this, no doubt their minds saw the words of Isaiah when he quoted Yahweh, saying, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters!”

I’m thirsty for Jesus, but I want to be more thirsty. So often I take a couple sips from the divine glass of joy that Jesus offers, only to be satisfied five minutes later by my own self-righteousness, the Internet, entertainment, or something else.  I want to delight myself in true, rich food, not worthless food that will only leave me empty.

Good Friday is about reflection and repentance. On that day, Jesus bore the wrath of God for my sins. He took all my transgressions on his shoulders. Today, Saturday, is not about hiding out and passively waiting for Sunday. It’s about expectantly waiting for Sunday to arrive.  It’s about going to the tomb and waiting up all night, holding on to Jesus’ promise that he will rise. It’s doing what God, through Isaiah, told us to do: “Come to me!”

Father God, by your Spirit, make me glad in you alone. Give me the power to come to Jesus today, clinging to the Cross as my only hope for righteousness and forgiveness. And help me celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year — and every day — as my only hope for eternal life in your presence.

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Life

God is Always Behind the Scenes.

As I read Isaiah 45:1-13, there is one, single, consistent, mind-numbing, eternity-changing, thought:

God equips, empowers, and energizes even those who do not know him as Lord and Savior in order to accomplish his majestic purposes.

I ask, “Why does he do this?” The answer comes in verses 5-6:

So that everyone, from east to west, may know that Yahweh is God, and that there is no other.

Truly our God’s mind and will is unsearchable and inscrutable.  How awesome are his ways!

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Theology

Where do you run for safety?

This morning I was reminded of the things I go to for salvation other than God. The list was quite depressing. In the prophet Isaiah’s day, the people of Israel went to a literal savior, whose name was Egypt. Assyria was going to attack and Israel made a political alliance with Egypt — the same Egypt who held them as slaves for decades.

Isaiah 30:7 says, “Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her ‘Rahab who sits still.'” Don’t get caught up on the “Rahab.”  God’s simply saying, “Egypt sits still — they don’t do anything for you.” Egypt couldn’t provide eternal comfort and salvation for Israel.  So, I asked myself, “What is my Egypt, today, in the 21st century?”  I thought of knowledge, spiritual disciplines, security, “normalcy”, passionate prayers, vibrant worship, my lifestyle and worldview, self-pity, and isolation.

I don’t have a physical place to run to, but these functional saviors are what comfort me when I am surrounded by troubles. Instead of running to God, I run to things that “sit still.”  Some of those things are good things. But if I make them ultimate things, they go from good to god, and I become an idolater.

The great news is that God is excited to rescue me. Later on, in verse 18, after all rebellion that is ascribed to Israel (and me), Isaiah writes, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.”

The logic of God’s amazing grace is illogical to us. I am rebellious, therefore he waits — longs, yearns — to show me grace and mercy and faithfulness.  This salvation is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, the one who died for us sinners, who were his enemies, to reconcile us to God (Rom. 5:6-8).

My Egypts will not, and cannot, ever do that.

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Life

“I hate all your show…”

In Isaiah 1:11-17, God scolds his children for their external, self-righteous, neat-nick religion.  Read the passage.  It will be convicting, I promise. If we can paraphrase, God basically says:

Stop going to church! Stop singing! Stop your Sunday school classes and your Wednesday night Bible studies. It all drives me crazy! And stop praying, too, because I’m going to stop listening. Your prayers are an abomination to my ears. I’ve had enough of your religion. You need to learn justice, mercy, and goodness.

That is quite an indictment, but that’s how God feels towards fake religion. If your worship is rooted in self and reputation and not Christ, then God says, “I hate it.”  If you aren’t familiar with the rest of Isaiah (which some scholars call “the fifth gospel”), you would probably think that God is a cranky old man who loves making life miserable for human beings. Joyfully, that is not the case. In verse 18, God says, “You repent, and even though your sin stains your life like blood stains clothes, I will make you white as snow.”  Ultimately, this is fulfilled in Jesus, who shed his blood on the cross in our place.

Jon Foreman, in one of his solo projects, records a song called “Instead Of A Show” about this passage.  Foreman writes:

I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals…

…Your eyes are closed when you’re praying
You sing right along with the band
You shine up your shoes for services
There’s blood on your hands

I have read comments on this song on blogs and people have said things similar to: “He’s expressing what he has seen in the church and in the lives of Christians.”  One comment said this: “Is Foreman fed up of christian bands singing vanilla pop so records appeal to the vast majority? Is he pulling back the facades to worship from the heart — and not a rehearsed performance?”

These kinds of comments frustrate me.  From listening to Foreman’s other songs, both solo and with Switchfoot, I don’t get the feeling that Foreman is pointing his finger at Christians. I don’t think he’s fed up with Christianity.  I don’t think he’s tired of the Church, Jesus’ beloved Bride.

I think he’s pointing his finger at himself. I think Jon Foreman is fed up with Jon Foreman.

When I listen to this song, and most of Foreman’s music, and especially when I read the Bible, I see my own sinful self. And when I don’t see my own sinful self? Then I need to reflect, confess, and repent to God instead of pointing at and blaming other people. When Foreman sings, “I hate all your show.  I hate all your show,”  I think he’s reminding his soul that God is telling him, through Isaiah, “Jon, don’t be religious. Don’t be a Pharisee. Don’t play church. Don’t worship publicly if you never worship me privately. That makes me want to vomit.”

True Christians don’t sing about how religious and plastic and messed up everyone else is. Don’t get me wrong: there is a place for calling out sin. But we first preach to our own souls.  True Christians sing about their own sins and tendencies toward fake religion, and the greatness of a Savior who takes all of their blood-stained rags and gives them robes of righteousness because of the blood he shed.

*               *               *

Listen to “Instead Of A Show” by Jon Foreman.

Categories
Theology

Passion Week – Saturday Meditation

Part 6 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Isaiah 55:1-3:

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

During Jesus’ ministry, he said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). When people heard this, no doubt their minds saw the words of Isaiah when he quoted Yahweh, saying, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters!”

I’m thirsty for Jesus, but I want to be more thirsty. So often I take a couple sips from the divine glass of joy that Jesus offers, only to be satisfied five minutes later by my own self-righteousness, the Internet, entertainment, or something else.  I want to delight myself in true, rich food, not worthless food that will only leave me empty.

Good Friday is about reflection and repentance. On that day, Jesus bore the wrath of God for my sins. He took all my transgressions on his shoulders. Today, Saturday, is not about hiding out and passively waiting for Sunday. It’s about expectantly waiting for Sunday to arrive.  It’s about going to the tomb and waiting up all night, holding on to Jesus’ promise that he will rise. It’s doing what God, through Isaiah, told us to do: “Come to me!”

Father God, by your Spirit, make me glad in you alone. Give me the power to come to Jesus today, clinging to the Cross as my only hope for righteousness and forgiveness. And help me celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year — and every day — as my only hope for eternal life in your presence.