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,
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.