Monday, October 26, 2015

Seeing the Present through the Past

32 “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? 34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him. Deuteronomy 4:32-35

Today I simply aim to again, encourage our consideration of God’s grace. In the above passage, Moses reminds the Israelites of their miraculous release from Egyptian bondage. He asked them to recall the history of their people. Had there ever been a god in some time before or since that had acted so swiftly, so sweetly, in such strength, in such spectacular ways, as personally as God had for Israel? The answer to his rhetoric was clear. Through trials and war, many signs and wonders, God had delivered His people in ways that could only be attributed to His divine hand.

It is here that I believe we might benefit from asking some similar questions. From where we stand in history, on this side of Jesus’ cross, has a greater act of love ever been witnessed? Has there ever been another god step down from heaven to humbly take on human flesh? Jesus came as man and walked this world so that He would be familiar with its grievous burdens. Yet He came not only to experience our pain, but also to remedy our hurts by conquering both sin and the grave. To this point, when and where else has the righteous taken on the iniquity of the unrighteous? At Calvary, God poured out His wrath on His only begotten, raised Him on the third day, and now pours out His Spirit on His children, to live within them as their Comforter. How scandalous is His love!

Moses reminded the Israelites that their release from bondage was so that they would know that there was no other! The cross exclaims this same truth today! Blessed soul, remember Calvary, for there our debt was paid; yet forget not that Christ’s tomb remains empty and He has been raised and exalted. He sits at the right hand of the Father for His work is finished. Like Israel, our hearts are prone to forget. Nevertheless, our Lord is One and He is to be worshipped and obeyed. Remember this! Look back and see how personally He has pursued you. Oh, so many mountains did He move! Such hardness did He break through! It is no small thing!

Moses continues to describe God’s unmerited goodness toward His people and concludes that the events of days past are meant to affect our days present. “Therefore you shall keep His statutes and commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time (Deuteronomy 4:40).” Did you get that? Moses says this: “Because (notice why the “Therefore” is there for) of what God has done, and because He is the only true God, we must serve Him alone.” We must submit to that which He has called us to. Friends, the gospel must not be seen as a onetime event, only pertaining to conversion. It must be preached far beyond a believer’s justification; yes, we must cling to its hope throughout the process of our soul’s progressive sanctification, as we wait for the glorification that will one day be realized in heaven. 

Our Lord God is One. He is neither distant in His relationship with us, nor superfluous in His actions toward us. He has blessed us to be a blessing. He has saved us to send us. He has loved us with an everlasting love so that we might learn to love Him by spending our days loving others. It is a simple principle, but one worth repeating to myself as long as I dwell in this earthly tent. By reflecting on all He’s done for us, we’ll better understand what we’re called to do. And each time we acknowledge His lordship and obediently adhere to His word, trusting Him more deeply, we deliver hope to the world, joy to our hearts, and glory to His Name. Oh, may we see the present through the past.

Matt Fowler
Assoc. Pastor of Missions & Students

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