Friday, June 3, 2011

The God who does Big Things

While Ezekiel was preaching his message amongst the exiles in Babylon, his contemporary Jeremiah was giving a similar message in Jerusalem itself.  He condemned their idolatry, prophesied the coming destruction of Jerusalem, but also prophesied about Israel's future restoration.  During that prophesy he says something that, thousands of years later, still says much about our relationship with God.

Therefore behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt', but 'As the LORD lives who brought up the sons of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.'
We can all recount the great things God did throughout salvation history.  Do we spend much time reflecting on what he is currently doing and will do?  Do we ask Him for something beyond fame and good looks?  Jeremiah sees the time when that statement will be something done in the present.  The Jews of that time would no longer have to look back to Egypt to see God's deliverance.

Furthermore, the action God undertakes is not something small.  This isn't the God who helps me find a temporary job.  It is the God who cleanses me of sin to allow me to live out my lifelong job.  Do we view God as the God who delivers from promiscuity?  Do we speak of "As the Lord lives who delivers America from Roe vs. Wade?"  Does the traditionalist say "As the Lord lives who protected His integrity in the liturgy?"

All of these things seem far-fetched, but we are supposed to pray for precisely these kind of things.  God is not limited towards acting in the trivial and mundane.  It was precisely this attitude that led the sons of Israel to the other countries to begin with.  If God provided anything, it wasn't something that important.  The gods of the world provided far more immediate benefits.  He may have acted in the past, but times are different nowadays.

This isn't blind optimism.  It is central to our identity as Christians.  Through the Incarnation, Jesus Christ became man and accomplished the biggest deal of all.  He did not just save His people.  He did not just restore His people to what they were originally meant to be.  Such would make him no different than the great secular leaders of history, and perhaps even lesser.  No, the biggest deal of all was through His sacrifice (the entire purpose of the Incarnation), man is given all these things, and an eternal reigning in heaven with Christ.  No religion promises that.  No secular ideology promises that.  Indeed, the very notion of it can sound absurd. 

Yet the notion is no more absurd than a few thousand exiles being freed from the strongest power in the world, sent back to their homeland under their own governance, and free to rebuild their destroyed temple.  Yet we know that happened.  No more absurd than the idea that Christ, who lived and walked physically on earth, ascended into heaven, and now rules all creation, inviting us to share in His rule.  Yet we know that happened, and still happens today.

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