The Word for today:
Joshua 11, 12
We marvel about a God who will die to save us.
At the same time, we wonder about a God who will kill to save us. As Joshua and Israel cross the Jordan River we recall the day God saved them by drowning the armies of Egypt in the Red Sea.
And as Joshua and the children of Israel are poised on the outskirts of Jericho, ready to begin the annihilation of their enemies in the Promised Land, we are forced to ponder:
Is the heart of God like a house divided against itself?
One of the most remarkable scenes in scripture is found in the 5th and 6th chapters of the book of Revelation. If carefully read, there seems to be a transfiguration–a morphing–which takes place before our very eyes. We walk away from the scene rubbing our eyes, wondering if what we just saw could be real…
In God’s hand is a scroll. A question resounds in the heavens: Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? In other words, who is worthy to unloose the next phase of history?
No one who’d already been introduced to the scene–neither elders nor living creatures nor anyone else in heaven, on earth, or under the earth–had sufficient authority to unveil and implement God’s secret agenda. Sensing that the church’s hope stood in jeopardy, John (the author of Revelation) began to weep loudly.
But wait! Into the scene steps one who is worthy. But be warned: the next few verses, if carefully envisioned, will cause sensory disorientation as the features of a lion merge, disintegrate, and re-integrate into the features of a lamb:
But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has conquered. He is worthy to open the scroll and break its seven seals.” I looked and I saw a Lamb that had been killed but was now standing…(Revelation 5:5-6)
Hearing of a lion, John turns to see a lamb. The scars from its slaughter are still clearly visible, but it is standing–it is alive.
Are we seeing things? We sure are! We’re witnessing a transubstantiation (if we’re allowed to use the term) or an alchemy (if we’re allowed to use the term) of the past, present, and future attributes of him who was and is and is to come. (1)
We are being treated to the shifting and effervescent emanation that is the face of God. We’re glimpsing the vision that Ezekiel saw in the first chapter of his book:
In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God… (1:1)
Above the surface over their heads was what looked like a throne made of blue sapphire. And high above this throne was a figure whose appearance was like that of a man. From his waist up, he looked like gleaming amber, flickering like a fire. And from his waist down, he looked like a burning flame, shining with splendor. All around him was a glowing radiance, like a rainbow shining through the clouds. This was the way the glory of the LORD appeared to me. (1:26-28)
So never let it be said that you haven’t seen God! You can say–for fact–that you saw him as you stood in the rain on September 10, 2017.
You can say he looked like a Lion who looked like a Lamb, whose features shifted and flickered like a flame. You knew it had to be God (you can tell ’em) because he was impossible to pin down.
(1) see Revelation 4:8