Monday, December 31, 2007

God's Promise

The first Biblical book I read start to finish was Revelation. It was during a time when I was curious about Christianity and was considering using Biblical resonance to spice up my novels. At the time, I was told that it was the only book in the Bible that offers a blessing for merely reading it. Of course, all attempts to know God are blessed, and the same could be said for every verse in the Bible, but the point was that Revelation was different, that its blessing was so clearly contained in the text itself:

Revelation 1:3
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

No point in disputing those words.

However, I might contest the suggestion that the Bible doesn't make other such promises. This passage, for instance, strikes the very same chord with me:

Isaiah 49:7
This is what the LORD says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
"Kings will see you and rise up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the LORD, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

Why do I think that was written to non-Israelites? Many reasons. First, the word nation is not pluralized here. If you've read the book of Isaiah, that's a rare, rare thing. Most uses of that word are pluralized and used in the context of God's wrath. Here's the back story: Isaiah is a prophet who served under King Hezekiah. Most of the book of Isaiah speaks of things to come, not records of what has already been. As such, much of the text deals with the judgment God will exercise on Israel for having worshipped idol gods and committed atrocious sins. God will deliver the Israelites into the hands of many oppressors. However, because of God's covenant with Jacob/Israel, God will eventually free His people from captivity. He will be especially scornful to those who dealt unfairly with the Israelite slaves. Depending on the verse, the word nations could be used in reference to countries like Edom and Babylon, but there are times when it is used in a much wider, global context. I might be wrong, but I don't recall Isaiah using it in singular form until 49:7, and I must believe that it refers to Israel.

In verse 6, Isaiah talks about how God's Servant (presumably Christ) will also save the Gentiles. As you might know, they were long despised and abhorred by the Jews, because of political conflicts and the fact that God instructed the Jews not to intermarry or contract with them. Because God is just, He can neither abandon His chosen people nor toss away Gentiles whose hearts wish to serve Him. I believe God knew this from the beginning, that no people on earth would be perfect in His eyes. He originally chose Israel because they were descended from Noah, the man who singlehandedly saved human existence by finding God's grace amidst an entire world of evildoers.

As far as I'm concerned, for God to say such strong things to the Gentiles--that because they believe they will be greater than unjust kings and princes--there is just as much blessing in that promise as there is in Revelation. No doubt, there are some more scholarly than I who would interpret this citation differently, but Isaiah is a weird book to me. Something about it seems to have echoed through the generations, as if he saw more than just one vision and prophesied things would be relevent until the end. Such is the way God writes: timelessly.

Happy New Year!

EDIT: After reading on, I believe the him in the passage refers to Christ. Call me an egomanic, but I think all believers AKA the redeemed are contained in Christ. Refer to this:

Isaiah 53: 12
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Not to sound unappreciative or unhumble, but I must here acknowledge the living Christ inside me. I believe that God chooses all of us to be His servants. I believe God wants us all to accept the charge. This is the comfort of inviting Christ into our hearts and allowing Him to guide our lives: to accept all inherent responsibilities of living a Christian life, to make daily sacrifices and avoid temptation, but to be comforted by the fact that in so doing we liberate ourselves from within. None of us can steal this peace from God. It is offered first and accepted second. Because Christ is God, God is the Redeemer. Those chosen for redemption, i.e. those who wisely accept redemption, are the you in the first citation.

I believe that contained in Isaiah's prophecy is a promise and a blessing, just as I believe it is a commitment to honour it properly. While none of us can sacrifice on the same magnitude as Christ, we MUST commit our earthly lives to Him in exchange for heavenly ones. As I said before, it is the greatest most profitable transaction in existence, akin to trading a penny for a million mints, mints from which gold may be constantly gleaned and never emptied. To me, the greatest fools in this world are the people who look at mortal existence and refer to it as "life". This planet is a stepping stone. Those who cling to it, those who don't leap to the solid land ahead, will sink into the stream with the world that wants to destroy us.

That's why I feel like I must spread God's joyous message: Because our fate is not a sentence, not an unjust or haphazard outcome; our fate is our choice and hinges on our will. God's choice for each is for each to follow Him into His glory. But as a caring Father, He will respect the volition of each, even it leads to ruin. He will not force your hand, won't force you to serve in His kingdom.

Here's a goal for 2008: I once looked at servitude as captivity. I used to think that serving God was akin to serving man. I know better now. I know that being a vessel for Jesus Christ is the most liberating, joyous existence. That is what I must clarify in the minds of those who think like I once did. Not because I want to be aggressive in my ministry, not because I have a right to tell anyone what to do, but because God has an earnest and genuine love for every person He created. If I think any less of any one of those people, I will be locked out of His kingdom. And that, my friends, is justice unwavering. I respect it.

There is nothing I find more alluring than integrity. For all the confidence I lack in myself, for all the things I need healed and mended within my spirit, I believe in the integrity of the LORD Almighty and that a determined effort to be the person God sees in me will lead me into fearlessness. Let 2008 be the first of many years that I decide nothing for myself. May God's guiding hand type every word I write, speak every word I voice, and perform every gesture and action that graces my body. This is what I ask for in front of all who read this. Let 2007, the year that almost destroyed me, end as the year that inspired me. Let me be a living example of true restoration and healing. Let me be a lamb of God, forever and ever.


Post a Comment

<< Home