The Outer Limits?

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My Musings – This verse is not meant to be taken as hyperbole (exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally).  Just the opposite, and more.  How does one explain the infinite love and forgiveness of God?  There is nothing literal that can adequately capture it.  So you go beyond the literal, pushing on to the outer “limits”

“To infinity and beyond!” (Buzz Lightyear).  To those who had not yet experienced flight, much less space travel, the heavens were something beyond the grasp of early man.  Today, having actually reached out into space, and seen into deep space with instruments like the Hubble telescope, the depths of the heavens are still far beyond our grasp.  If all space, time and matter came into being at the Big Bang (“And God Said…and it was so.”), and the “universe” is ever-expanding, does this mean there is an outer-edge to it?  If so, then you would have reached infinity, and the limits of God’s love still reaches beyond.  “Whoa, this is heavy!” (Marty McFly).

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” (Rudyard Kipling).  This one, early man could possibly grasp.    If you travel West (or East), you can travel on forever and never reach the East (or West).  The twain will never meet.  You may turn around, and there it is, but that is called repentance (if turning away from sin) or backsliding (if turning back to sin).  But forgiveness means never being under sin’s penalty ever again. The Psalmist did not say as far as the north is from the south.  If you travel North (or South), eventually you reach a point where your direction changes and you begin to travel South (or North), without ever turning around.  This would have never captured the magnitude of God’s forgiveness. “Heavy!”

My Advice – If you have not already done so, “Go West, young man!” (John B. L. Soule). Take a trip “to infinity and beyond.”  How’s that for mixing metaphors?

If have already done so, do not turn around, do not even look back. “We ought not to look back, unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors and for the purpose of profiting by dear bought experience.” (George Washington).  Keep heading to the outer limits (situated farther out).  Because when you think you have reached the limits of God’s love and forgiveness, there is even more “situated farther out.”

The Ransom Price

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My Musings – Redeem means to buy back, liberate or free a possession, object, or person, by the payment of a ransom.  Biblically, the term redemption indicates a freeing from the slavery of sin, in exchange for the ransom price.  Redeemer, is the one that pays the ransom (Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, 1988).

The ransom price must be of sufficient value to effect the exchange.  Ironically, in our fallen state, we have no intrinsic value that would merit any ransom price.  Yet Christ paid the ultimate price to redeem mankind.  The priceless in exchange for the worthless.  The ultimate in unmerited favor. Ever marvel at the love that had to be behind such a sacrifice? No wonder Job’s heart yearned within him.

My Advice – Our bargaining position is extremely weak.  We have nothing of value to offer ourselves.  Accept the ransom.

If Only There Were Someone

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My Musings – Arbitrate: to settle (a dispute between two people or groups) after hearing the arguments and opinions of both.

Some say that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, in which case Job is “unwittingly” making the earliest prophecy about the coming Messiah.

If you browse the internet, you’ll find various opinions on what makes a good arbitrator.  Among them are competence, character, courage, commitment, compassion.  I would add at least one more: an intimate knowledge of both parties in the dispute.  Ever wonder why God became man though His Son Jesus Christ?  While this is undoubtedly a multi-dimensional question, perhaps this was one of the reasons.

Christ already had the divine perspective.  For He “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:3, NIV 1984).”  When He became man, He acquired the human perspective.  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15, NIV 1984).”

My Advice – In the most important “dispute” of our lives, one with eternal consequences, we want more than a good arbitrator. We want the best.  Jesus is the best.  As a matter of fact, He is the only arbitrator that is able to “remove God’s rod from [us].

 

New Every Morning

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Nehemiah 9:17 – “But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – God did not discover grace, compassion, love and forgiveness in the New Testament.  It has always been there.  God did not compromise His justice, righteousness and wrath against sin in favor of these other qualities.  He reconciled  them at the intersection of the cross.  This was not a fall back plan after centuries of “failures” of the Law.  It was always the plan, even before He created man and woman.

My Advice – Available to all who believe and receive.  Do not pass it up.

Choose Wisely

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1 Chronicles 16:34Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. (NIV 1978)

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”.  “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.  “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

My Musings – What is good?  We all have a general idea what it means to be good, and we usually contrast it with bad or evil.  But when it comes to man, in his fallen state, good is a relative term.  Relative to one another, but not to God.  In fact, the Bible states that “[t]here is no one righteous [good], not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10–12, NIV 1984).  Only God is good.

Before the fall, mankind desired the knowledge of good and evil more than life.  You might recall that there were two trees in the center of the garden – “In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9, NIV 1984).

But only one was forbidden – “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16–17, NIV 1984).  And that is the one they desired.

When it came to choices, mankind chose what was forbidden and forfeited what they already had – goodness and innocence.  It was a “fool’s choice,” for who needs to know the difference (good versus evil) when all they have and all they are is good and innocent?  In making the “fool’s choice” mankind also gave up the opportunity to live forever in that state (good and innocent).

As a consequence of that choice, God was no longer “safe,” for mankind.  But He was still good.  “He’s the King, I tell you.”  And His love “endures forever,” even in the wake of mankind’s bad choices.  Because of His goodness and love, He was compelled to provide a way back to the paradise lost, through the death and resurrection of the only man to ever be good (“the exact representation of His being“) relative to God – the second Adam, God’s only Son Jesus.  By accepting Christ, that goodness is imputed to man.  It all boils down to another choice.  This time will we choose the “tree of life” or will we continue to think that our ill-gotten knowledge is “better?”

My Advice – Choose wisely, choose life.

Incomplete Sentences

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Micah 6:8What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – God requires more than justice, mercy and humility.  These are just things, mere nouns.   Rather, He requires that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. This transforms things into actions.  Actions that saw their ultimate fulfillment with Jesus death, burial and resurrection. Jesus walked humbly to the cross. By requiring His Son’s death on that cross to pay the penalty for our sins, God acted justly. Christ’s resurrection demonstrated that God accepted Jesus sacrifice on our behalf, and that He loved mercy.

My Advice – Without a verb (action) a sentence is incomplete.  Without verbs our justice, mercy and humility are incomplete.  Let’s take action to ensure that we are completing what God requires.

The Deeper Magic

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1 Samuel 15:22 – “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – In the Garden (Eden) there was disobedience. God covered Adam’s and Eve’s nakedness, presumably from animals that were sacrificed.  The blood that was shed also covered their sin.

On the mountain (Moriah), Abraham was prepared to obey and sacrifice his son, but God prevented Him from doing so.  To obey is better, because it requires no sacrifice.

In the Garden (Mt. of Olives) Jesus prayed that if there was any other way, that He be spared from sacrificing His life.  Yet in obedience, He said “not my will but yours.”  In this instance, obedience (His) would necessarily lead to sacrifice because of disobedience (ours).

On the mountain (Golgotha), Jesus was sacrificed to atone for our disobedience.  There was no staying of the hand as in the case of Abraham, because there was no other way.  Christ’s obedience was more than sufficient to remove (not merely cover) the stain of our disobedience.

In the garden, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty, as death (the “deep magic”) turned into life (the “deeper magic”).  The fall of mankind in one garden comes full circle with the redemption of mankind in another.

My Advice – We have victory over sin, death and judgement because of Christ’s obedience.  And while no further sacrifice is required, we nevertheless should still live a life of obedience.  If we confess our sins, He will forgive them.  But why go there in the first place?  Let’s show our appreciation for God’s “deeper magic” that overcame the curse of “deep magic.”

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

(From “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis)