Where is the Lord?

Where is the Lord? Has He forsaken us? Why isn’t He acting? I know these are questions each of you have asked at one point or another because they are questions I have asked too. You might even be asking these questions now, especially given the difficult days in which we find ourselves.

At the core of these questions is the idea that God is distant because He has not immediately delivered you from the difficulty you are experiencing at the moment. But does a lack of immediate deliverance mean God is not there? That He is distant and doesn’t care?

The Exodus

The Exodus serves as the primary motif of deliverance in God’s Word. The Exodus is a powerful deliverance motif because God delivers His people out of the hands of the powerful Egyptians, releasing them from bondage and slavery so that they might serve and worship Him as His own people.

What, however, is remarkable about the Exodus is that God did not act instantaneously nor did He act unilaterally. Look at the text with me:

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.

(Exodus 3:7–12)

Notice, God tells Moses He has seen the affliction of the people in Egypt. He has heard their cries for help (vs 7). Seeing and hearing God has come down to deliver His people and to bring them to a favorable land (vs 8). But notice in verse 10 how He is going to deliver the Israelites:

Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

(Exodus 3:10)

I will send “you”

Who is the “you”? It is Moses. God is going to send Moses to Egypt to deliver “my people”. Certainly, God is not sending Moses alone. Instead, God promises in verse 12 that He will be with him as he seeks to deliver Israel. What follows in the narrative is exactly that — God rescues the Israelites from Egyptian bondage through the work of Moses.

God could have act miraculously and unilaterally, rescuing the Israelites in a matter of seconds from the Egyptians. He could have transported them to the wilderness to worship Him. He could have killed all the Egyptians right then and there allowing the Israelites to walk out of Egypt at a leisurely pace. He could have intervened in a number of ways to rescue Israel, but He chose to send Moses to rescue His people.

To be sure, Moses did not deliver Israel by his hand alone. If you have read the Exodus story in full, you know Moses was not alone. God was there and He worked in miraculous ways. But God worked through Moses’ interactions with Pharaoh and the people.

God’s primary means of rescue

At times, God does perform miracles and He does instantaneously rescue those who are suffering, but what we see in the Exodus event and in other events throughout redemptive history is that God primarily works over a period of time and through those He has commissioned on His behalf.

Our God is a commissioning God

He commissioned Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, etc to work and speak on His behalf. He has even commissioned us, Christians, in the Great Commission (Matt. 28). We are to tell others the good news in order to rescue mankind from slavery and bondage.

Our God is a commissioning God who primarily works through His people to rescue, discipline, encourage, bless, mend, uphold, etc.

The next time you are tempted to ask: Where is God in all this? Why is He silent? Why isn’t He working? Look around at the people God has recently brought into your life. Think about the conversations you have had with others.

God is present, He is not silent, and He is at work. Even though it might feel like it at times, God has not abandoned you. He is just not working in the way in which you think He should. Instead of working miraculously and unilaterally, God primarily works through the community of people with whom you are associated.

Jesus, the Warrior King

Warrior King

For the last several weeks Jesus’ birth has been the topic of conversation. Rightly so, since contrary to popular culture that’s what Christmas is about. That’s why the church studies it, sings about it, and puts on musicals and plays depicting it. That’s why you read about Jesus’ birth with your family and place mangers around your house and in your yard. Christmas is about Jesus. His birth is the reason for the season.

Jesus’ birth is important because it marks the in-breaking of God into history. His birth begins God’s rescue mission to save His people from sin, Satan, and death. So its only right we would remember and reflect on it every year.

There is a Still A Longing in Our Hearts

But as one author says,

“Christmas is … a promise. Yes, the Savior has come and with Him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world. Every Christmas is a “turning of the page” until Jesus returns. Every December 25th marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to … home.”

The author is right. We have peace in our hearts because the long awaited Savior has come and has died on the cross. That’s not, however, where the story ends.

The Final Chapter

The story doesn’t end with Jesus lying in a manger or hanging on a cross. Nor does the story end with the resurrected Savior ascending into heaven. There is still one more chapter to come. A chapter where Jesus isn’t painted as a humble babe in a manger or a bloodied corpse hanging on a cross. No, the final chapter paints Jesus as  a warrior King poised to conquer His enemies.

The Rider on the White Horse

Read the Words of Revelation 19

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called isThe Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11-21, ESV)

The Warrior King

John’s picture of Jesus in Revelation is a far different picture than most have of Him. Even so, this is the Jesus we all long to meet. The Jesus who will defeat our enemies once and for all. The Jesus who will fulfill the longing in our hearts. The One we should all turn and follow.

While it was necessary for Jesus to come as a man and die as a man, the story doesn’t end there. The story ends with Jesus conquering our enemies and reigning over His people as a Warrior King. Since that is true, our call should be: Come, Lord Jesus come!

Questions for Reflection

  1. When you picture Jesus, who do you picture Him as?
  2. Do you realize Jesus will come as a Warrior King one day to destroy His enemies?

Resources

Quote: Joni Eareckson Tada, A Christmas Longing, 137 in Come Thou Long Expected Savior edited by Nancy Guthrie.

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What the Statistics Reveal About Evangelicals

White Church

I recently read a Pew Research study reporting on the beliefs and practices of the religious. The results were shocking.

Pew Research Study

Narrowing the results to Evangelical Christians – Not liberals or Catholics or anyone else. Here is what they report:

  • 90% of Evangelicals say they believe God exists.
  • 79% of Evangelicals say religion in one’s life is very important.
  • 78% of Evangelicals say they pray daily.
  • 58% of Evangelicals say they attend services once a week.
  • But only 36% of Evangelicals believe their religion is the one true faith leading to eternal life.

What Does This Mean?

It means we believe there is a God. We believe religion, prayer, and church matters, but we don’t know why Jesus matters. That’s a problem! If we don’t know why Jesus matters, we don’t really have True Faith. We aren’t really Christians.

What Does Salvation Require?

Salvation requires we recognize Jesus as the only Savior. Faith defined as complete trust and confidence in Jesus as our Savior based on certain fundamental truths found in God’s Word, means we can’t believe there are other ways to God. We either have complete confidence and trust Jesus is the Savior of the world, or we don’t. We can’t have it both ways.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe there are multiple ways to God?
  2. Do you believe Jesus is the only Savior of the world?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon What is True Faith?

Pew Research Study