Thursday, December 17, 2015

Advent Day 14

The time was here! It was finally here! The wandering, homeless people of God were finally able to cross into their Promised land. There was only one problem: The land was occupied by another people. A people who would not just willingly hand over their territory to wandering vagabonds. Overcoming this hurdle would take belief, courage, and obedience. And God knew that Joshua was the man who would lead them into the land.

Consider what he spoke to Joshua:

“Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips;meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Imagine getting a pep talk like that straight from the Lord’s mouth. “I WILL GIVE you the land.” “I WILL BE WITH YOU wherever you go.” There is no room for doubt. No room to question the outcome. According to the Lord, it has already happened. Like a light shined on the dark path.

There was another person named Rahab who was more removed from the inner circle of the Lord’s people. So far removed that she was dwelling in the city that was to be destroyed. And what is more, she was a prostitute. Unclean. And completely apart from the community of God.

She was not there when the Lord passed over the chosen sons nor when the sea split in two. She had not drank the water from the rock or tasted the miraculous food, She had not experienced the love and comfort when the Giver of Light sent his Luminous Law nor had she heard the salvation message of the snakes. She had, however, heard of the Israelites. Her whole city knew about them...and about the Lord who was on their side.

She had heard  all of this, but she had not heard that God would be with her.

And so, when Israelite spies came into her city...into her home...she knew her moment had come. The King had sent his decree, “Turn over the spies so they can be killed in order to keep our city safe.” But Rahab, in faith, hid the spies and pleaded for her life. She could see the light of the Lord, shining on the future ahead of the city, and she knew the side she wanted to belong on.  

A simple instruction: “Hang this scarlet rope from your window.” Stay inside. We will pass over this house and your life will be saved.”

This act would take belief, courage and obedience. Without sight. If you think of Joshua walking a tightrope across a deep ravine filled with rocks and snakes, think of Rahab doing the same...blindfolded. That is how powerful faith is.

She courageously hid the spies from the soldiers, obediently placed her red chord in the window, and waited in faith for God’s deliverance.

Do you know what happened to Rahab? She was saved. She believed and was saved. But not only that, she was accepted into the inner circle...accepted into God’s people. What was outside and unclean became a part of God’s plan. You see...Rahab got married and had children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. One of those great, great, great, etc. grandchildren’s name would be Jesus.

The light ahead was not completely revealed to Rahab, but the path was already carved. God had chosen her while she was still an unclean gentile.

Consider the people who you see whom you would never consider to have a part in the plan of God: rug dealers, murderers, cowards, bullies, or anyone who makes you raise your eyebrows disapprovingly. Now consider that the ancestor of our very Lord was one of these.

As Paul says in Romans,
“ just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Never judge by what you can see. You don’t know the path ahead, and you don’t know who will be walking that path with you. And the truth is: not one among us is any better. Indeed, by faith we believe that we are darkness...saved by Light.

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