As I sit down to write this little article, I’ve just come from a hospital room visiting one of our long time members at Calvary. In addition to the circumstances that caused him to be admitted, he has been battling a serious health condition for many years.
As I sat with him and talked, what struck me is how very tired he looked. The groaning of creation under the weight of sin and its consequent effects that the Apostle Paul writes about (Romans 8:22) was heavy on him. Here was a man who, through the suffering and affliction that he has valiantly faced without complaint, could say with the great Apostle,
And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (Romans 8:23, NLT)
It is a hard thing to live in a broken world. For even though I have great confidence in Jesus, and in the good news of salvation that he has brought through his cross-work, my heart is heavy to see the suffering of precious saints and children of God.
This man, sitting on the edge of his hospital bed and chatting with me, has been such an amazing example to me of tireless joy in the face of remarkable, extensive, and prolonged adversity. As I drove home, and watched cars passing me by, and observed homes and apartment complexes and business filled and bustling with people, I thought about how probably none of them would ever know of this man and his life of faith. And of how I wanted them to know of this man! To know the strength of his character, the resiliency of his faith, the extent of his love and care for his friends and family, the way he has poured out his gifts within and through our church family, his indelible mark on our community and city, on and on I could go describing to them a life of faith well lived — even though he would never want me to do that.
He has run the race so well, even as it appears he may be nearing the finish line. He’s even been sharing the story of salvation with one of his doctors.
You may be wondering, “What does your hospital visit to your friend have to do with a little article on the focus of this past Sunday’s sermon, the book containing the prophecy of Obadiah?”
Well, Obadiah warned of a coming day of Yahweh, a day when all accounts would be settled between the God of the universe and all members of the human race for all time (Obadiah 15). He warned that on this day Edom and “the surrounding nations will swallow the punishment [Yahweh] will pour out on [them]” (Obadiah 16). It is a punishment described as “a foaming wine” of God’s wrath which will be swallowed down by all of those sinners that find themselves outside of the family of God (Psalm 75:8; Jeremiah 25:15).
It is a terrifying picture.
And it is something my friend, still in that hospital room as I write, does not have to be afraid of, and is not afraid of. Why? Because he knows a Man who drank that cup of wrath, filled with the punishment my friend deserved for the sins my friend has committed. My friend knows of a King who came, and went to a cross to die for him, even as that King asked if the cup of wrath could pass from him (Matthew 26:39). My friend knows that our Savior, Jesus, submitted to his Father, saying, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Therefore, my friend, and the rest of us sinners who are trusting in Jesu, are not afraid. Because Jesus paid it all. Sin had left a crimson stain, but he washed it white as snow through his death on a cross, and his rising again, and his ascension to the right hand of the Father.
So I guess it doesn’t matter much that there will be so many in the world who will never know about my friend, even though I would like them to. Because one day, this Jesus, who drank down the punishment, and saved my friend; this Jesus will look him in the face — recognize him! — and say before countless other saints who will hear the same words,
“Blessed are you who had to weep and suffer, for now you shall laugh as you spend eternity with me! Great is your reward in heaven! Well done, good and faithful servant, well done. Come, and enter into the joy of your Master!” (cf. Luke 6:21, 23; Matthew 25)
One other thing my friend shared today — how much he loves the Bible. After more than eight decades on this planet, he still treasures God’s Word. I think he would agree with me that a big reason he does is because it is this unified story that points us (even Obadiah!) to Jesus.
So as you read this right now, I hope you believe in Jesus. I hope you are trusting in him. For there is a day coming when our lives will end. There is a Day of Yahweh coming when a judgment will be rendered. And the only thing that will save any of us from the wrath we deserve for the sins we have committed is this good news — it is by grace alone that we will be saved, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. If you’d like to know more about that, take a look at this life-saving Story.
And, for further study on Obadiah, head over to our friends at The Bible Project. There you will find videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on all the books found in The Whole Story, including Obadiah. You can also watch my sermon on Obadiah.
Finally, just a reminder that this coming Sunday we will study one of the most famous stories in all of Scripture, found in the book of Jonah. Be sure to read it a few times this week so that you may come with a ready and expectant heart as we gather together Sunday morning at 10:30am at Calvary.
In Awe of the Saving Grace and Mercy of God, through Jesus, the Christ, our Master,
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.