Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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I Would Be Too Embarrassed

So there you are, walking across your front lawn in the middle of the night to a waiting limousine.  You find yourself wishing for a toothbrush or a comb or, at least, clothes.  The pajamas you are wearing are not impressive, in fact they really should have been thrown away except that they were comfortable.   Your mind races.  Inside that limousine in one of the most powerful people on earth and they want to talk to you.  Apparently the email you had sent hadn't just been deleted or handed off to a lackey – he wants to talk about your ideas!  

Still it would have been nice to have had a chance to have a little time to get ready.  What had the men in suits said? “He was in your city for some other business.  As a spur-of-the-moment idea, he had asked if there was time to speak to you, but regrettably there were only a few extra minutes to spare.  If you would like to talk to him about you ideas, it has to happen now, because he needs to get back to his plane.”

So, you enter the limousine, feeling quite self-conscious.  There he is.  You find yourself slightly surprised, because you had wondered if this whole thing might have been some kind of elaborate joke, but it really is him.  

However, there is also somebody else in the limo.  This is not good.  The extra person is your absolute worst enemy.  As you sit down and the door is closed behind you, your enemy starts.  He is telling some of your darkest secrets, making all sorts of accusations, with each comment designed to discredit and embarrass you.  You are totally mortified.  You find yourself just hoping that this is some sort of a bad dream that you will soon wake from.

Can you imagine what this would have felt like?

Look at this vision described by Zechariah:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan: "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! May the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn't this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"  Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the Angel.  So He spoke to those standing before Him, "Take off his filthy clothes!" Then He said to him, "See, I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes."  Then I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So a clean turban was placed on his head, and they clothed him in garments while the Angel of the LORD was standing nearby.  (Zechariah 3:1-5)

When we are before the Lord, which is always, He sees us for what we really are.  For Him, we might as well be wearing signs that are inscribed with our filthiest secrets, because He knows every thought and action in our lives.  There is no keeping secrets from Him.  Then, if it wasn't bad enough that He knows all our secrets, there is always Satan, who loves to keep bringing them up.  For me, this idea is totally embarrassing.

But then grace comes to the rescue.

How does God respond to our filth of sin and the terrible accusations of Satan?  He tells Satan to “get lost”, then He replaces our filth with new clean robes of righteousness, His righteousness.  How incredible is that?

The vision by Zechariah continues:

Then the Angel of the LORD charged Joshua: "This is what the LORD of Hosts says: If you walk in My ways and keep My instructions, you will both rule My house and take care of My courts; I will also grant you access among these who are standing here.  "Listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your colleagues sitting before you; indeed, these men are a sign that I am about to bring My servant, the Branch.  Notice the stone I have set before Joshua; on [that] one stone are seven eyes.  I will engrave an inscription on it"—the declaration of the LORD of Hosts—"and I will take away the guilt of this land in a single day. On that day, each of you will invite his neighbor to [sit] under [his] vine and fig tree."  [This is] the declaration of the LORD of Hosts. (Zechariah 3:6-10)

This prophesy illustrates God's hope for His people, but tragically the people failed to live up to His hope.  God wanted Joshua's people, the levitical priests, to take care of His house and courts, the temple.  Just as God has great hopes for each of us, He allows us the opportunity to live up to His hope.  While some will choose to do what He wants and hopes, many more will choose not to.

The levitical priests were right there when Jesus came.  The had the chance to listen with their hearts and be obedient to the Lord.  Notice the language of the prophesy, “a sign that I am about to bring My servant, the Branch”.  God's servant, the Branch, is Jesus. (Isaiah 11:1-3).  God goes on to describe a stone set before Joshua (1 Pet 2:4 talks about Jesus as, “a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God”).  I believe that the seven eyes on the stone are merely a representation that God's living stone will see everything as the Father sees.  The clearest identification that this prophesy is talking about Jesus is where He says, “I will take away the guilt of this land in a single day.”  This is clearly a reference to the day that Jesus took the punishment that we deserved, so our guilt-debt would be paid-in-full.

Looking at the prophesy altogether, we see a picture of a Holy God, who looks upon us, as we stand there covered in the nastiness of sin, with Satan telling us how unworthy we are.  It is His desire to send Satan away and replace all that filthy sin-clothing with His Holy clothing.  God's instrument to accomplish this transformation is Jesus.  Through Jesus, in one day, we will be changed, so can stand before a Holy God and not be embarrassed.  This plan demonstrates an incredible love.

Another analogy is in order.  Picture yourself, freshly cleaned up and dressed in light colors.  Here comes a child to see you, this child has obviously found and enjoyed the world's best mud pit, because they are covered from head to toe.  You obviously can't take that child in your arms without becoming filthy yourself, so if you will protect your clothing, you have 2 choices: you can send the child away, or you can clean them up.  The act of greater love is to clean them up.  This act shows that you love the child that is inside the mud, even if you can't love the mud.

It is the same way with God.  He is perfectly pure and holy and we are covered in layers of nasty, putrid sin.  In spite of what covers us, He knows and loves the person that is inside our covering of sin.  Before we can have the relationship with Him that He desires, He has to clean us up.  While it would be nice if that was something that made us perfect and free from all temptation, He instead gives us forgiveness.  While God desires a loving relationship with all people.  He waits for us to come to Him.  Nobody knows why exactly why God set things up this way, but I suspect it can be summed up in a single word: love.  He loves us so much that He allows us to make our own choices, even eternal errors.  It hurts to watch people you love make bad choices, but people like to make their own mistakes.

All those many bad choices we make accumulate together to compile into a massive record of sins.  Sins against God deserve punishment.  The ordained punishment for sinning against God is death, eternal separation from Him.  If we deserve punishment, but receive total forgiveness instead, then that is grace.  Grace is something that is so far out of the human experience, it can be a real challenge to comprehend it.

Grace is love in its truest form.  Love like that can only come from the One that loved us enough to create us in the first place.  Praise be to God forever.

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Lexington, Ky