Sunday, April 3, 2016

Reflections for the 2nd Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – A Sign

The Lord tells Ahaz, king of Judah, to ask for a sign. Not just any sign. A sign that is “as deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky.” God is ready to give such a sign, to prove His love for His people, to assure them of His constant care, and to give them a hint about the wonders He has in store for them.

But Ahaz will not ask. With pretended piety, he proclaims that he will not tempt the Lord (even though the Lord is the One Who told him to ask in the first place). He simply doesn't want to know what God has to say. He has his own plans and his own ideas about what to do and when to do it. He has already consulted the representatives of other "gods" and decided to align himself with his enemies.

The prophet Isaiah, through whom God is speaking, declares that God will give Ahaz a sign whether he wants it or not. “Is it not enough for you to weary people,” Isaiah asks in annoyance, “must you also weary my God?” But the sign will come no matter what: a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and the child's name will be Emmanuel, “God with us.”

This sign probably doesn't mean much to Ahaz. Perhaps he even breathes a sigh of relief because the prophet's message isn't as bad as he had anticipated. Maybe he even thinks that God is simply referring to a future son who will bring him safety and good fortune.

Ahaz, of course, could not be more wrong. He hears only what he wants to hear. God has something much more amazing in mind, something that would shake Ahaz to the core if he realized it, indeed, something that would one day shake the whole world.

Tuesday – Worthy of Trust

“Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed,” the Psalmist tells God.

Do you agree? Do you trust God to proclaim the truth? Do you trust Him to know right from wrong and teach it to you? Do you believe that He loves you so much that He wants you to know and follow His moral law so that you may grow closer to Him? Do you believe that He has tailor made that moral law to perfectly fit your human nature? Do you believe that if you observe that moral law, you will be a better human being, more and more like the person God created you to be? Do you believe that God actually sets you free through the moral law because it is specially designed to free you from slavery to sin and for the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty?

All of this is true, and we should, must, believe it, for God Himself has revealed it. Yes, God, “Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed.”

Wednesday – A Mysterious Disappearance

No one could figure out what had happened. Not the prison guards. Not the court officers. Not the captain of the Temple. Not the chief priests. Not the Sadducees. Not even the high priest.

Those men where definitely in the prison the night before. No doubt about it. The doors were all locked. They were secure. Everything was in order. The guards hadn't moved. They would have seen anyone going in or coming out.

And yet, in the morning, the men were gone. The jail was still locked up tight. The guards were still on duty. But no one was inside the cell. It was like they had mysteriously disappeared into thin air.

As the officials, priests, and Sadducees scratched their heads and tried to figure out what to do next, someone came in and announced, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.” Everyone looked at each other, perplexed. What in the world was going on here?

The apostles knew. They had calmly followed an angel out of jail. And now they were gladly proclaiming the Gospel, ready to give everything they had for the Lord, even to the last breath. To them, their disappearance from the jail cell wasn't mysterious at all; it was just more evidence of Jesus' great love for them.

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