Isaiah 45 is packed with awesome descriptions of God and statements from God from His own mouth. This one in particular stands out to me, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. To Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.
“Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to Him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against Him. In the LORD all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.”
A mentor and friend of mine, Jedd Medefind, pointed out to me that in our society we love the concept of “both/and”. We love to balance everything we say and soften sharp phrases and thoughts with another perspective or way of thinking. This is also a common eastern thought pattern that often bears fruit of wisdom and patience when arriving at conclusions, slowing our pace and giving us discernment. Where we go wrong in this, however, is when we draw in this line of reasoning that there are no final answers at the end of the day. Especially, we have to be careful, when describing the things of God as laid out plainly in God’s Word. Many finer points of doctrine and understanding need to be carefully sorted out inside of each local church. This is a deep necessity. However, the church can unite around and stand firm on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the sole glory receptor Who is Jesus Christ, through Whom the Trinity receives our praises. The Triune God of Heaven is due all praise from His created people, whether Christian or not. All humanity owes God eternal praises and will bow the knee at the end of history whether they did so during time or not.
This is hard lines stuff. We can’t play around on the edges but must rather jump into the fray and revel in the beauty of these clear lines! Without some absolute truths about God, our faith would be much like all religion, ultimately seeking to simply find pleasure in self worship or the worship of other created things, which again is a way of self-definition and self-worship!
What a glory and beauty our God has given us to revel in before His eternal throne. We worship the One Who made us and He made us for Himself and has given us Himself! The more I pray over California, the more I’m convinced that God is doing something to turn the eyes of Americans to Himself, and some of it appears to be what He’s doing here in Cali. This state is a special place where the Western World as we call it allows some of the artistic and emotional to peak out. If there is a state in the US that tends toward mystery and gentler lines, less abrasive “I’m right. You’re wrong,” it’s Cali. We are a wild bunch out here with views all over the spectrum. Where I believe there is hope is not in Californian’s being wild children restless to make their stamp on global society. I believe the hope lies in our Savior Who tends to work with the prodigals of the world to show His mercy and to bare His legs in an all out sprint to meet us as we turn to Him. Like the prodigal son, Californians love to scheme and plan how we’re going to turn our ship around, turn our state around, fix what we’ve messed up. In Hollywood for instance, we marry and divorce and remarry, striving toward the ideal romance since that’s what we’ve portrayed as an ideal existence. In San Francisco and the Bay Area, we paint artistic or materialistic pictures of what the ideal looks like. As described in Isaiah several times and places, humanity is constantly seeking to create gods to bow down to, all the while neglecting the God Who created us!
I have to close with pointing us to checking out Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God. I just read it last week and was so served and challenged by this picture of God ultimately being the One Who makes right what we relentlessly and recklessly keep making disgusting. We are truly pretty pathetic, as creative and beautiful as some of what we create is, when we turn from working hard to bowing and worshiping our accomplishments or hoping others will praise us inordinately for what we’ve done. Are we truly content when the end result of our labor is our name being praised a little more than before we finished one of our accomplishments? Are we truly content, on the other end of the spectrum, when we finish indulging our lusts and squandering what God has given us, eating up or spending all we can to try to satiate our lusts and cravings?
Either the idolatry behavior or the self-worship behavior, either their squandering behavior or the laziness tendency… Is any of it ultimately calming the itch for contentment and rest? Not lastingly.
As Keller so eloquently points out, our best landing point for earthly contentment is this: A deep and growing appreciation for the Father God Himself and God’s love for us. As we are absorbed by the hope of seeing and savoring Jesus Christ with His people in Heaven, our souls are lifted higher and higher in genuine and heart-felt praise for God. We TURN TO HIM AND ARE SAVED. May all the ends of the earth make this turn to the grace of Jesus Christ. May revival begin here in the Wild West and flood across our nation and the world. This is not an idealistic hope. This is submitting ourselves to the Savior’s will and power to save a hopeless lot and give us a destiny of grace and glorying in the Savior’s death for us to give us LIFE IN HIM.
Enjoy your week, friends!
(Photo by my dear friend Dave Collie)