Sunday, May 10, 2015

harps in the midst -- part 2

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 29, 30
In his attempts to get through to us, God will stop at nothing.
First, he uses words. What we call the Ten Commandments, Israel knew as the Ten Words.
When they broke his Words, God resorted to prophetic pictures. They could view these prophecies as a painting is viewed, from a distance. From a detached perspective they were shown what their continued disregard for his Ten Words would bring them:
From Deuteronomy 28:15-68:
(15) But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.
(36) The LORD will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone.
(37) And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the LORD will lead you away.
(41) You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity.
(64) And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.
(65) And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul.
Despite these pictures, they continued to break his laws. So God placed them inside the pictures; they themselves became the fulfillment of his prophecies. Suddenly they found themselves transported into the very midst of the scene. There, from Babylon, they looked back upon the land they had lost:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song;
and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying,
Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land? (Psalms 137:1-4)
The same progression –from word to graphic warning to fulfillment—had already occurred in the Garden of Eden. First, God gave Adam just one Word, not Ten:
Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat. (Genesis 2:16-17a)
Then he showed them what disobedience would bring upon them:
For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. (Genesis 2:17b)
Then they found themselves banished for their disobedience, in fulfillment of his word and warning. As they departed, they looked back upon the Paradise thy had lost:
So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)
For their disobedience, Adam and Eve found themselves outside the garden’s east entrance.
For his fratricide, Cain found himself in the land of Nod, further east of Eden (Genesis 4:16).
Old Testament Israel found herself banished to Babylon, even further east of Eden.
Subsequent to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, New Testament Israel found herself dispersed throughout the earth, just as Jesus had foretold:
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.
For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (from Luke 21:20-24)
One of them, a rich man who lived sumptuously, found himself in hell, looking back upon what he had lost:
And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' " (Luke 16:23-31)
God has given us his word and his warning; we’ve been shown what lies ahead.
We can either test his word with our faith, or we can test his word with our disregard. Either way, his word will pass the test and we shall find ourselves relocated into a picture already painted.

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