Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Now, now, now

We are at the place of rest. Jesus has come to us and we get to rest in His presence. We could not do what He did, pay for the sins of His people, but we can receive the benefits; forgiveness, peace, joy, Resurrection and eternal life. We participate in all of this, here and now, partially, and look forward to the full maturity of this glory in the Resurrection from the dead and the consummation of all things.

         But we should not spend all of our time hoping for the better thing and not noticing what glory we are granted right now. That is a perennial danger to us, refusing to see, refusing to be thankful, now. We need to see God’s glory, in Christ, in His Spirit, in the Saints, now. This is why we look around. This is why we sigh in relief at a loss for words. This is why we give thanks.

Life, Death, Life

Today is Palm Sunday, a day in which many of our ancient Christian kin proclaimed loud Hosannas to the Son of David. Jesus gladly received these proclamations and rode into Jerusalem victorious. The King of all the Earth had arrived. That was even more than the crowds had anticipated. But the Triumphal Entry was followed by betrayal, desertion, accusation, suffering and death. This was all a necessary part of the total Triumph of Jesus.
We, too, have been deserted by those we love, accused by the devil and suffered humiliation and defeat. And we have felt the agony of our own sins, those for which Jesus suffered in the garden, before Pontias Pilate and on the cross. But in all of this, Jesus was the overwhelming victor, triumphing over all this sin, accusation and betrayal.

         There is life in Jesus. We embrace that but it leads us to death to self through suffering. That is hard but then we realize that this then leads us to life in Jesus that no man can take from us. This is the pattern, life, death, life. As we stand before the Lord in full forgiveness we are standing in that Resurrection Life.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Hear and Live

Hope in God and do not despair. The words from the throne are always confess, repent, believe and be forgiven. Where ever sin abounds, grace abounds ever higher. There is no hopelessness with God as our fortress. He is the one who comes to our aid. He is not the one who accuses and condemns.

The accuser is Satan. The defender of the righteous is Jesus Christ. In the end, if you will not hear the Words of Life it is because you are half dead already and hell bent in your insistence on being all dead. 

But the Words of Life bring life. Lazarus come forth!!! In Christ, there is Resurrection from the dead. Only those who refuse to hear, who shut their ears, who turn away from God and turn to dead men walking, will be condemned. Let no one blame God for this state of affairs. God gave Saul many chances but he preferred death to life. Let it not be so with us who are among the living. But let us hear Jesus in the Word preached, turn to Him for the words of life and find ourselves among the land of the living.

Necromancy Negatory

1 Samuel 28:12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.

Matthew Henry points out the wisdom of the Scriptures which do not give us a description of how the witch called Samuel up from the dead. We Christians should be innocent concerning the deeds of darkness. Necromancy is forbidden in the Scriptures and is a great evil. We should not be curious about these sorts of things. Let the dead be at peace with God and the living be at peace among the living. To seek the departed dead through God's enemies is to seek among the condemned. Let there be no hope of hearing God this way.

Half Dead Saul

1 Samuel 28:11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
Mediums are often scammers. They claim contact with the dead but are in fact professional charlatans, duping those who seek to contact the dead. They get information from the inquirers and then use that information to convince them that they are speaking with a loved one.
We have no indication from the text that what this woman has done is a trick. She seems to claim to be able to talk to anyone from the dead. We do not know if she really could do this. But she does seem to make real contact with a spirit. The indication in the text that this is so is when she sees the spirit, she gains knowledge that the one inquiring of her is Saul. The spirit must have told her this.

Saul never sent to consult Samuel while Samuel was living. And near the end of Samuel’s life, he was afraid of Saul, that Saul would seek to kill him. But now Saul seeks Samuel among the dead for words to the living. The proverb, “Let the dead bury the dead comes to mind.” Saul is half dead already and seeks words of wisdom from the dead.

Saul Asks Satan

In the famous chapter of 1 Samuel 28, Saul seeks wisdom from a witch at Endor. Saul seeks Samuel but is willing to listen to Satan. We can see that Saul is half way in the grave at this point. He is alive but barely. He is spiritually dead and the only thing awaiting him, like Judas, is to go out and hang himself. Saul does not literally hang himself but he does die by his own hand, lost in defeat and despair. He is a dead man walking.
         This is no place for those among the living. David was a man alive, looking for life among the living. He was in great straits but Yahweh kept him alive, protecting him from the wicked Saul.

         We again have two contrasts, David acting like a king in exile and Saul acting like a wicked one as king. Saul turned to the devil for help and David turned to God.