Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pigs and Tombstones

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today:
Isaiah 65

mark this: Isaiah 65:4--
"....who sit among the graves
and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;
who eat the flesh of pigs,
and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat..."
On January 23, Franklyn posted the following paragraph:
"Somewhere along the way we get the notion that we are "seekers," left to look high and low for God, who is hiding from us. "Seekers." It sounds romantic, it puts us in a good light, with lush background music swelling the soundtrack. Cue up the violins. But that's not the picture the Bible paints for us."
I couldn't agree more. And more importantly, the Scriptures make this point clear.
In today's reading, in the first five verses, Isaiah portrays the true condition of mankind apart from God:
We aren't asking for God [v.1]
We aren't seeking God [v.1]
We are not called by His name [v.1]
We are rebellious [v.2]
We walk in ways that are not good [v.2]
We follow our own foolish devices [v.2]
We constantly and blatantly are provoking God [v.3]
We are idolaters [v.3]
We spend time around unclean things (e.g. tombs & pigs) [v.4]
We basically tell God to get lost and think that we are better than Him [v.5]
Not a very flattering picture, is it?
Sometimes the truth hurts. But it is essential that we understand who we are and where we stand before God. Millions, if not billions, of people are living under the false assumption that they are somehow basically good, and therefore okay before God.
Scripture says otherwise. In multiple ways, throughout the entire Bible, God reminds us of our true condition apart from Him- and it ain't pretty.
Perhaps one of the most striking examples of who we are, especially related to today's passage, is found in the Mark 5 (as well as in Matthew 8 and Luke 8).
In this passage, Jesus encounters one of the most pathetic situations found in the Gospels--the demon-possessed man in Geresa.
It's hard to get much lower than this man:
He's controlled by an unclean spirit [v.2]
He lives in a unclean cemetery [v.3]
He has no clothes [Lk. 8:2]
He was often shackled [v. 4]
He was in constant anguish [v. 5]
He hurt and cut and bruised himself [v.5]
He dwells among unclean swine [v.11]
This pitiful wretch has no comfort, no hope, and no chance to do anything about his situation. That is until he encounters the only One who can rescue him- Jesus Christ. In one fell swoop, Jesus drives out the unclean spirits and unclean swine, clothes him, restores his sanity, and sends the man from the tombs to friends. He even gives the man the task of sharing the message of Jesus in his region (Mk. 8:13-20). What a turn around. What a Savior!
But before we can be rescued, we need to realize our tremendous need for a rescuer. We may have our outward lives a bit more together than this fellow, but our spiritual condition, apart from Christ, is just as desperate as his. If you have been redeemed, don't ever forget where you've come from. If you haven't, don't flatter yourself with false hope in your own righteousness. Let Jesus Christ rescue you from the tombs and swine and everything else that separates you from God.

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