My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

14 May 2005

Looking Back, Ahead, Again

I'm looking forward to worship tomorrow.

We're wrapping up our Wednesday night study through the book of Exodus. Moving through this book slowly, purposing to find Christ and His deliverance in every part of the book has had a wonderful effect on my soul.

Our subject this week was the divinely-prescribed furnishings of the tabernacle. A lot could/should/has been written about the ark, table for showbread, lampstand, etc. But if you put yourself in the shoes of the average Joe-Israelite, the story starts to sparkle. Each article preached a sermon for the faithful, pointed them to a truth of the deliverance that was to come. We sit in our 21st chairs and nod our heads, seeing how each was fulfilled in Christ, without seeing how much we have in common with Joe-Israelite. We need to realize that we were made not just to look back with understanding; we have hearts that beat for the future, that need to look forward with anticipation.

Christ's deliverance isn't just in the past; His return holds the promise of final fulfillment, of finishing what He powerfully started at creation. Consequently, worship isn't just a celebration of the past, but of the future as well. Just like each part of the tabernacle pulled the faithful forward, caused them to dream and long for the day when the lampstand would be replaced by the glory of God in the face of Christ, just like the faithful longed for the day when the imperfect, ongoing sacrifices would be finished in the one, eternally-powerful sacrifice - so our worship calls us forward, causes us to dream and long for what is to come.

The call to worship is a hint of that one, final Call to Worship, when all the faithful are called fully into the presence of God. Our Psalms are foretastes of the new song given to the faithful in God's presence. Our sermons aren't just God's needed Word for the week, but a reminder of the day when God's Word won't be on a page in our hand, but will be before us on the throne. And so on.

So, I'm looking forward to worship. Looking forward to looking forward. I need to remember to dream, I need to be reminded that this is all just a taste, just a shadow of the wonders to come.

3 comments:

kurt said...

Jared,

Thank you for a very emotional, moving piece.

Indeed, we can look back in history and see Christ in all things. When we read the Scriptures from beginning to end, we see Christ - our Redemption! Every book and letter point to this truth.

The future also reverberates with victory and a joyous life with the Godhead forever, although what exactly that entails (beside worship), Scripture is relatively silent. No matter. We are confident in Christ. Praise, God!

The greatest challenge for the Christian today is not so much trying to see Christ in Biblical history (the past), nor having undue concern for what the future holds. We can neither live in the past; nor are we able to live in the future. We live in the present - with God's command to redeem our time wisely.

Besides presently worshipping corporately each week, daily in private and with the family, and sharing verbally the Gospel with the "lost" around us, is there anything else we are to be doing now, specifically day- to-day, for the advancement of the Kingdom of God? In the words of Nancy Pearcey's book title just "how NOW shall we live? (emphasis mine).

Nancy Pearcey's words seem to cut to the heart of matter for Christians. Culturally speaking, Christians seem to be "losing" themselves in the secular society around them - can't tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys." Inexplicably, the Church universal has been relatively ineffective for years in addressing this problem. May Christ bring us to proper understanding for His Glory.

Jared said...

Kurt,

I don't disagree with your comments, but they sort of provide an example for why I wrote what I did. We do need to be thinking about daily living for Christ's kingdom (how now shall we live?) - but if that living isn't informed by a Biblical view of the past and a Biblical vision of the future, our actions can quickly degenerate into an unconscious semi-Pelagianism.

Without a continually renewed vision of Christ's victory, past and future, we might begin to think that God needs me to behave in order that the kingdom might come. Rather, by worship pulling me to look forward, I behave because Christ's kingdom is guaranteed to come.

If our urgency for Christian living is in any way rooted in a belief that Christ needs me to redeem this world (or this time), then trash it. If our urgency for Christian living is rooted in the fact that Christ has already redeemed the time and calls me to simply follow - great! That's why I need worship every week; because I tend toward the former. and should live continually in the latter.

Kurt said...

Jared,

Point well taken.

This old sinner has been saved by God's grace through faith - God's faith given to me as a gift . I am ready to leave this world right now, content, and confident, because it is Christ Jesus who has done it ALL for me.

But, until my life is finished, this forgiven sinner desires with all the new heart of flesh that has been given to me, to serve our Lord with every thought, word, and deed.

It is with in mind and confirmed by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, that God wills that we redeem our time:
Then become imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell. But let not fornication, and all uncleanness, or greediness, be named among you, as is fitting for saints; also baseness, and foolish talking, or joking (the things not becoming), but rather thanksgiving. For be knowing this, that every fornicator, or unclean one, or covetous one, who is an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for through these things the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience. Then do not become partakers with them;for you then were darkness, but are now light in the Lord; walk as children of light. For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth,proving what is pleasing to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things being done by them in secret. But all things being exposed by the light are clearly revealed, for everything having been revealed is light.Because of this, He says, Arise, sleeping ones and stand up out of the dead ones, and Christ will shine on you. Then watch how carefully you walk, not as unwise, but as wise ones, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.