Grace

He Could Have Kept the Temple

This morning as I was reading of the finishing work of Solomon’s temple, the overlaying of the gold and bronze, it struck me that God could have kept the temple.

Here is the House of the Lord David dreamed of. Extravagant, covered in splendor and meaning, holy. It would be the place God’s people would make offerings to him, worship him. It would also be the center of all of life in Jerusalem. But for all of its glory and place in redemptive history, it would not last.

Due to the rebellion of the faithless, the disobedience of those made a people it would be stripped of its finery. It would be ruined. There would be rebuilding projects but the Temple would never again match the early majesty. And eventually it would be gone forever, burned to the ground.

God could have kept it though. In his sovereignty he could have maintained its foundations regardless of the unfaithfulness of the people he called his own. It could still remain today as the center of life, where we communed with God, a place of pilgrimage, of power. But he did not keep it.

There was something better to come, many temples made of hearts and flesh. A complete sacrifice that discontinued the need for bulls and lambs. The opportunity to commune with our Creator where we are through Jesus.

God could have kept the Temple but it is glorious news for us that he didn’t. Grace was coming another way. Those that waited longed not for the Temple but for God himself. In Advent we long for the same thing. Having tasted of salvation we desire completion. The return of our King, that he would be the center of all life, the radiance of our days.

Today be reminded of God’s care for you. That his plan brought us here, to longing and hope. And his plan will see us through. He could have kept the Temple, but he chose you.

Grace

A Lamp Shining in a Dark Place

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Isaiah 9:2

We have entered into the season of waiting. Advent. It begins not with the eggnog and Mariah Carey but instead a realization of the darkness. That a promise of light came to a people familiar with dark. And that we now await his return, experiencing the very real dark of our own sinful flesh and the brokenness of our world.

We are meant to ache for more. To cry out for light. This year of all years has seasoned us for this very act. We are acquainted with uncertainty, loss, grief, anger, longing.

We have come face to face with our own idolatry. We are beginning to recognize the ways we placed hope in things that are not light. Even our reliance on self above all things has only left us shattered and bitter.

We have lost control. Events of the day are beyond us and our weak attempts at conspiracy to provide answers only leaves us deeper in the dark. We have been brought again to the reminder that there is One sovereign but it is not us.

So we wait. Longing for light.

But we wait with hope. Because in Christ we have been exposed and rescued by light. Each and every day now brings us one closer to his return and eternal reign. The correcting of all that is wrong. The healing of all things. We can trust the promise of Maranatha because a child was born.

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,” 2 Peter 1:19 (ESV)

The lamp is still shining, the day is dawning. Wait well my friends. Look to Jesus. Feel the encroaching darkness and know there is a better home. Cling to his forgiveness, comfort, and new life. As the light has shone on you, shine it among others. Christmas is coming…

Quote

Jesus’ New World

As new rounds of lockdowns come amid increasing pandemic rates and hospitalizations, this long quote from Peter Leithart’s commentary on Matthew’s gospel gave me hope. Specifically it touches on the themes in the Sermon on the Mount of treasuring and trusting God.

“A new kingdom and a new king are being heralded in the midst of the corruptions of worldly kingdoms, a new city in the midst of the old cities. The Old City is a city of anxiety. For Jesus, anxiety is not just a feeling or emotion that we privately experience. It is that. But it is also the organizing principle of a world, a structure and a regime, a master and a power. Anxiety is the ether of the world outside the kingdom of God. Anxiety keeps the stores open 24/7. Anxiety keeps the highways busy until the wee hours of the morning. Anxiety keeps people working late at the office. Anxiety is what builds the skyscrapers. Anxiety is what drives consumer spending.

“Anxiety is driven by a very simple insight, the insight that we are limited creatures, and the particular fact that the future sets the boundary of our limitations. We cannot see past the next moment, much less the next day or next month. Yet we want to be able to manage things. We want to secure our future. We want to be able to manage things. We want to secure our future. We want to know something about what we will eat, drink, wear, do next year, five years, ten years. We want to know that our portfolio will still be expanding, our children will still be living nearby, we will still have a spouse. And we can’t. If you know that you can’t manage the future, and yet you try to manage the future, there can be only one result: anxiety. This is the way of the world, and it’s what drives the Gentiles to “eagerly seek” food, clothing, drink, success, and all the rest.

“Jesus invites us into a new world. Jesus announces the kingdom, which, in essence, means announcing God’s future, and the future of God. Jesus comes announcing that the future is arriving. God intends to rule over all things, and He is beginning to rule over all things now. He intends to set Jesus on the throne over the whole cosmos, and He’s beginning to do that now. He’s going to defeat evil and put His world back together, and He’s beginning to do that now. The future is arriving, and the future is secure in God’s hands. He is the God of the future, and He is establishing His future in the present. And the kingdom which is God’s future world arriving in the present is not driven by anxiety but by trust, because within this kingdom we know that the future is secure. We know that God has everything under control. We know that God is our heavenly Father who will care for us.”

-Peter Leithart, The Gospel of Matthew Through New Eyes, Jesus as Israel.