Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day
16 “Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. 17 I, the Sovereign LORD, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.’ 18 “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. 19 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:16-20 (NLT)
WHILE our Saviour’s Redemption is applied to us in as many different ways as there are souls to be saved, still love is the one universal channel of redemption, without which it can never be applied. And so the gates of this earthly paradise were kept by the cherubim with the flaming sword, that we might learn how there is no entrance into the Heavenly Paradise save to him who is transfixed by the sword of Love. Therefore it is that the Dear Lord Who bought us with His Blood so greatly desires that we love Him in order to our eternal salvation; and that we attain that eternal salvation so as to love Him eternally; His Love effecting our salvation, that salvation His Love. “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled.”1[i]
I recently took a class that was supposed to discuss teaching pastors how to preach Christ from the Old Testament. I struggled with the class, and eventually dropped out of it because of the underlying perception that Christ could be seen in the Old Testament without the lens of God’s love. The authors of the text book had all academic methods to find analogy and typology and all sorts of literary devices to inject an understanding of Christ.
Personally, I didn’t think it was that hard, I didn’t think finding Christ in the Old Testament was an academic excercise, as much as it is one of trust, one of seeing the very promises of God and trusting them, for they will always lead us to Christ, for He is our way, our truth and our life. So that which points us to the Father, points us through Christ. You look for the relationship – as in the great passage from Ezekiel above – the removing of idols, the new heart, the new Spirit, You look for this relationship this love that would exist between God and His children, a relationship described in essence by the word love.
It is as de Sales says – though one person may be brought to Christ through the work of a child, and another through the work of a priest, and another by passing by a church, hearing the words of a man being read – and that man came to know God’s mercy because of a brush with death – each comes to find God revealed to them, as God’s love shines brightly upon them. But the one common way is that the love is revealed, the work of that love as Christ was nailed to the cross, bleeding and broken, to heal that in us which is bleeding and broken because of sin.
But what we often don’t realize, or perhaps meditate upon enough is that this is the greatest desire of God, to see His love revealed to us and thereby transform us. I’ve mentioned it before – this incredible desire of Jesus the Christ to embrace the cross – that His love would be revealed to us, and that His love would indeed save and transform us. It is mind-boggling to look upon, it is mind boggling to realize, it leaves us quiet and in awe….
And this desire of God is all over the Old Testament. It is on every page – for even as Luther was reported to note, Christ is found on every page of the Old Testament. More importantly is what He does to us as we encounter Him. Encountering Him in the scriptures, encountering Him in our church family gatherings as we worship Him in His presence, and as we meet Him in prayer, encountering Him in the sacraments of Baptism and Absolution and of course in the community celebration of the Lord’s Supper, All of this – seen in the Old Testament relationship of God’s people, all of this seen more clearly as Christ walked among us, all of this more seen as we gather as God’s people,
In the Old Testament, the people of God are His people because of Christ. In the time since.. the same is true. Where God’s love is, where the people of God are, there is Christ…even as He has promised.
Let us today find our rest as He and His love are revealed to us! AMEN
1 Luke 12:49.
[i] Francis de Sales. (1888). Of the Love of God. (H. L. S. Lear, Tran.) (pp. 55–56). London: Rivingtons.
- A Most Precious Gift….to receive often.. (justifiedandsinner.com)