So much praising going on. It is such a delight to picture faithful ones singing and dancing while giving glory to God. Why is it that we don’t see more of that in our culture today? I’m not saying it’s not there at all. We’ve all seen how some groups and churches go all out with dancing, praise banners, and musical instruments.
What does your praise look like behind closed doors? Do you have a tambourine hidden in your closet for those moments when you go all out? “Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.” God honors the faithful. That is certainly something to put joy on our lips!
The next few chapters (24-27) will be what are known as “Isaiah’s Apocalypse.” You can see why from the doom and gloom described. Yet, there are some technical things missing to truly be apocalyptic in nature. For instance, we are missing the words calling this out as a “vision.” There are also scholars who question if Isaiah wrote this, and if he did, shouldn’t it be at the end? These are details I share with you, but let’s not let them keep us from hearing God’s message to us today. After all, the purpose of this is to “reflect” not figure out the who, what, where, and how!
I have to admit this wasn’t the most uplifting of readings today. There was the glimmer of hope in verses 14-16. We’ll come back to that. But what this reading says to me overall is that God is in control. If he wants to bring destruction to the world, he will. We saw what he did with the flood in Noah’s day. He promised he would never do that again. In the descriptions were read in Isaiah, there is no mention of water covering the earth.
Surprise! Well, it shouldn’t have really been a surprise, but it was. It was early in the morning. The women had prepared the spices a day ago. Jesus’ body would be starting to smell already, so they had no time to waste. But when they arrived, Jesus body was not where it was supposed to be. What happened? The confusion, the fear, the anger, the surprise. What would you have been feeling if it had been you to happen upon the tomb that morning with a purpose in mind only to have your world turned upside down?
Then it happens: the a-ha moment. While they were cowering in fear because of these strange, dazzling looking men that appeared, they heard the message of reassurance. “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” It may have taken a moment or two to really sink in. What had they just heard? Talk about a pivot!
Did you see Christmas in this text? My husband, David challenged me, so I’m challenging you. I was looking for a stable. But we need to look deeper. What exactly is Christmas? It’s not trees and lights. It’s God coming into the world, becoming flesh. God incarnate. Now I see it. John talks about having seen him, touched him. John walked with Jesus. John walked with God.
What do we learn about Jesus from these short verses? That he was present at creation and has existed from the beginning. Is that a new picture for you? It’s easy to imagine God at creation. I often refer to him as Creator. But Jesus was there, and the Holy Spirit was there hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2) The trinity were all present in creation.
There is a lot of symbolism in today’s reading I probably missed the first couple times I read through this text. For some of us, understanding Jewish tradition is not something we have spent a lot of time doing. I wonder when Christians stopped observing Jewish traditions? Granted, not all early Christians were Jewish, but a lot of them were. The book of Hebrews has been written to them to help them in coming to grips with their new belief. How can you juggle two different traditions? I’m sure this book/letter was very helpful to them.
Many more Jews thought these “Christians” were crazy to believe Jesus was the Messiah. I am sure the new believers took quite a beating (maybe even literally) for this. Even today, there are traditional Jews who are upset with those who call themselves Jews yet believe Jesus is the Messiah. Yet many others don’t even know what a Messianic Jew is (one who believes Jesus is God’s son). And of ones I’ve seen randomly asked, they don’t really care what other people think. The Jewish religion historically has not been a missionary movement. By contrast, as Christians, we are called to tell the world about Jesus and his love. Continue reading “Hebrews 13:10-14 – Outside the Gate”