What a glorious thing it will be when we wake to find our loved ones beside us, emerging from the same cemeteries—the same plots even—to live forevermore. What a glorious thing it will be when, like that father and son, we rise to live eternally with so many of our loved ones—those we saw lowered into the cold earth, those to whom we bid a sorrowful farewell, perhaps even those we were sure had been lost forever.
I once read of a terrible tragedy at sea, a shipwreck in which many were swept into the ocean and lost. As the ship foundered and splintered, as first the lower decks and then the upper succumbed to the winds and the waves, most of the passengers sank into the depths. But still fighting for their lives were a father and son who had been traveling together from the Old World to the New.
As the ship slipped lower and lower, the two scrambled into the rigging and began to climb upwards. But it was to little avail. The rains continued to pour down upon them and the waves continued to pound up against them. Though they clung tightly and with all the strength they had, the elements were set against them and they began to grow cold and weary. It was only a matter of time.
Then the moment came when, to his great horror, the father saw his son lose his grip and plunge into the sea. Before he could do anything more than cry out in grief and horror, a great wave crashed against him and he blacked out.
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By Timothy Shorey — 1 year ago
Somebody does know the trouble I’ve seen. Jesus knows it because he knows it (like he knows everything), and he knows it because he has experienced it. That is why it matters that his name is Immanuel. He is with us that much.
Ten years ago I had a headache specialist who had all the empathy skills of a frozen tuna. Even worse, he rebuked me for my long-term condition. It’s no fun telling an alleged medical healer you’ve had a nonstop, two-decade-long headache (now three), been to many doctors, been tested, scanned, MRI-ed, medicated, dieted, exercised, vitamined, nutritioned, acupunctured, and adjusted up and down and all around, only to have him scold you because you are not trying hard enough.
I appreciate that he tried to fix me. As a patient, that’s mostly what I cared about. But as a flesh-and-blood human being with pulsating pain, I very much wished for something more.
Our Savior Has Been There
God is something more. God the Son, “Immanuel,” is not just a specialist; he is a sympathizer. He never just diagnoses and prescribes; he comes, draws near, feels, and cares. Not a truth merely for those perceived to be especially weak or victimized, this is gospel truth for every single one of us.
For the author of Hebrews the incarnation was profoundly comforting for all believers, precisely for this reason:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things…[H]e had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God…For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted…For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 2:14–18; 4:15–16)
According to Hebrews, our ability to go boldly to the throne of grace is enabled by Jesus’s prior willingness to journey humbly into our valley of grief. The incarnation—which will continue on into eternity—means we have a Savior who’s been there, and has the scars to prove it.
By Greg Morse — 12 months ago
What we most fear may find us — whether we worry about it or not. But as Christians, we need not be anxious about our lives or obsess over every possible calamity. Our dread does not match the world’s dread (Isaiah 8:12–13); rather, we fear God and trust him. We live our lives in atomic ages — or any other — entrusting ourselves to a faithful Creator while doing good, testifying.
A line in the book of Job detained me: “The thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me” (Job 3:25). The chief fear arrived. The one that kept him up at night found him. The worst to visit his imagination befell him.
As a result, he welcomes death, but it tarries. He sighs and moans in anguish, cursing the day of his birth (Job 3:1). Arrows from the Almighty sink into him; his spirit drinks their poison (Job 6:4). He finds no rest in the rubble (Job 7:4). His eyes search and see no good (Job 7:7). He loathes his life, and is glad not to live forever (Job 7:16).
Few things in life can lay us this low.
I imagine the dread that caught him was the death of his ten children. Of the few glimpses of him before his misery, we see his fatherly concern for them, continually offering sacrifices on their behalf. “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5).
Perhaps he feared that he cared more about their sin than they did. Perhaps he now lay buried beneath sorrow because they very possibly died in unbelief. Regardless, this father of ten lost all his children in one day, and this horror strangled his will to go on.
In a World of Threat
What do you dread? What would have to happen for you to say, “What I have feared has come upon me”? Having your mother die of cancer? Never finding a spouse? Discovering your wife has committed adultery? Seeing your parents get divorced? Hearing the specialist say that your child will not have a normal life? Witnessing a child die apart from Christ?
Fears that I did not know as a single man have crept upon me: losing my wife, or one of our children. As a family man, I realize how much more vulnerable I am to new depths of pain. The drawbridge of my heart has lowered; calamities and despair have more inroads now.
The line between my life and Job’s rests upon a spider’s web. The worst case can arrive in countless ways. Car accidents, disease, a fall, a crash, a swallow, a moment’s lapse in judgment. Chaldeans do not need to raid and destroy; violent winds do not need to collapse the house to make me know Job’s anguish. A run into the street, a doctor’s phone call, a fall from the slide, a toy in the mouth can bring my world down — at any moment, in any place, by nearly any means.
Paralyzed with Peril
Before Job lived in a world of sorrow, he lived in the world of what if. . . “The thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me” (Job 3:25). He dreaded before it came, feared before it actualized.
I do not wish to usher you into this world if you’ve never thought this way. But I know people who live in this world, one I am tempted to frequent more than before. A world where catastrophe lurks; a world that envelopes like quicksand: If I can just envision how my life could crumble, I think, maybe I prevent it, or at least inoculate myself against some of the sorrow.
The story of Job teaches us that neither works.
As he sits, cutting his boils with shards of pottery, his anguish reminds us that no degree of dread beforehand can avert our greatest fears. And imagining them beforehand does not ease the pain should they arrive. The anxiety, the fret, the darting eyes to and fro cannot do as we often hope. As Jesus asked, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27) — or, he might add, to the lives of those we love?
By Michael J. Kruger — 2 months ago
Written by Michael J. Kruger |
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Covenants were largely conceived as something written or read; i.e., something in a book. It is precisely for this reason that warnings were given not to change the text of the covenant (Deuteronomy 4:2), and there were concerns about it being in the proper physical location (Exodus 25:16).
Although most discussions about the development of the canon focus on the patristic period (second century and later), there is much canonical gold yet to mine from the pages of the New Testament itself. Unfortunately, this step is often skipped.
There are a number of possible reasons for why it is skipped. But perhaps most people just assume that the whole idea of a “canon” is a late development anyway, and thus we wouldn’t expect to find anything about it in the New Testament books themselves.
Aside from the fact that such a position already presupposes an entire canonical “worldview” known as the extrinsic model (for my critique of this model see my book The Question of Canon), it keeps us from noticing some fascinating clues.
One passage that I think contains a number of intriguing clues is 2 Cor 3:14 when Paul says, “When they read the Old Covenant, that same veil remains unlifted.”
Often overlooked in this passage is that Paul understands a covenant to be something that you read. In other words, for Paul (and his audience) covenants are understood to be written documents.
When we look at Paul’s Jewish context this should come as no surprise. So close is the relationship between the covenant, and the written documentation of the covenant, that Old Testament authors would frequently equate the two—the covenant, in one sense, is a written text.