Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Daily Bread: Mercy and Wrath

Today’s Reading (read on 12/22 & 12/23):

  • Zechariah 2:1-5:11
  • Revelation 13:1b-14:20
  • Psalms 141:1-142:7
  • Proverbs 30:18-23
Today’s Thoughts:
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, ‘ The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’ 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, ‘ Remove the filthy garments from him.’ Again he said to him, ‘See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.’" (Zechariah 3:1-4)

This section of Zechariah stuck out to me for a few reasons. The first was the fact that two times God (I would guess that it is Christ in this context) rebuked Satan, but He didn’t do it in the way that many modern Christians practice commanding Satan what to do and what not to do. The trend seems to be that if you command (or claim) something “in Jesus’ name” that you have the authority to do what you have said. Now, I don’t want to get into the whole problem of the “name it, claim it” false teaching in the church today, but I will say that there seems to be some reason for not using the commanding “in Jesus’ name” formula. Jude also warns of false teachers “revile angelic majesties” by, among other things, not acting as Michael the archangel did when dealing with disputing with the devil saying, “The Lord rebuke you!” (cf. Jude 8,9) I think that we need to be careful of how cavalier we are when we attempt to deal with the demonic.

The second thing that stuck out at me was the picture of the Lord ordering that the “filthy garments” be taken from him, and it is explained that God has “taken your iniquity away from you.” I just thought that this was a beautiful picture of the mercy of God in how He chose Joshua as “a brand plucked from the fire.” The picture of having our sins dealt with and being clothed in clean garments before God is beautiful in light of how the Bible repeatedly describes our natural attire before Him (cf. Isaiah 64:6). Praise God for removing my filthy garments and clothing me with His Son.

9 Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 14:9,10)

The only reason why this really jumped out at me was a combination of a few things. First of all, the increasing number of people inside of Christendom who deny the existence or reality of Hell as a place of eternal torment has really been overwhelming lately. I know that people who have believed this have been around for a long time, but the increasing visibility and volume of them today is very distressing. The second reason that I grabbed this verse was recently I read Habakkuk where God turns the tables on those who indulge in drunkenness (cf. Hab 2:15,16).

I don’t know all of the cultural implications of drinking “a cup” in this type of a manner back in the first century, but the imagery of having to drink some horrible concoction is nothing pleasant. Eating foul food, taking medicine that tastes unpleasant, or otherwise accidentally ingesting something foreign is a terrible thought. The cup that we will drink is the cup of His anger at me and the wine is His wrath being applied to me. Wow, that is a vivid image of hell that I don’t think can be explained away as the life we’re living now apart from God or something innocuous that man-hating peddlers of their so-called gospel put forth in an effort to calm the screaming consciences of their dead followers.

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