Friday, February 10, 2012
Today’s Topic: For the One
Today’s Text: Isaiah 59:20-21 (NIV) “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD. 21“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.
To follow up on what we shared yesterday, it’s easy for many of us to just go along with the flow. We follow the crowd. Without any real attempt to be educated with facts, we move in the direction of popular opinion. We may even compromise known truths for the sake of appearances. We do so with the hope that we will arrive safely at the port of acceptance and approval.
This is not a new issue. The nation of Israel suffered from the same malady. They were riding the wave of national identity thinking they slide right into an eternal relationship with God based on their heritage. Many still do that today, placing their faith and hope in their religious, political, or social affiliations. The Israelites of the Old Testament thought that their identity as children of Abraham gave them automatic access to God.
Things were about to change. Ultimately it would be for the best, but the change itself would be difficult. The groundwork for the change had always been in place, but it had been overshadowed by traditions. From the beginning of man’s existence on the earth when He created Adam and Eve on the literal sixth day, God’s eternal plan was to make each individual personally responsible for their relationship with their Creator. There would be no exceptions – no loopholes. Family ties mean nothing. Race, creed, or color offers no benefits. Political views provide no eternal hope. Religion cannot accomplish redemption. No connection of man can earn favor from God.
Before I ramble on too far and bore you, I will make my point. The fifty-ninth chapter of Isaiah is about change – a change from the traditional way of seeing human connections as sufficient to being personally responsible to God no matter what direction the rest of the world is moving. For most of the chapter Isaiah deplores the condition of culture – a culture that was supposedly based on faith in God. When God saw that there was no one going against the flow, He sent Himself to work salvation on our behalf. (verses 16-17)
Then, in an amazing moment of change, the Lord declares an eternal truth – the Redeemer (Jesus Christ) will come to a nation but not for national renewal, but for individual salvation! Only those who repent will be saved. A New Covenant will be established that abolishes any and all possibility that a person’s human connections and affiliations will have any value in determining their eternal destiny.
The New Covenant of the Redeemer’s blood poured out on the cross of Calvary removes all national identity. It removes all racial discrimination. It eliminates all religious sacraments. It destroys any and all works of man as an attempt to earn the favor of God. Family background cannot be used as either a pass or an excuse. Each one of us is responsible for our sin before God. The greatest discover any one of us can make is this, that we begin to perceive that there are but two beings in the whole universe—two only supreme and luminously self- evident beings—our own soul, and the God who made it. (from the Biblical Illustrator)
The New Covenant offers the same promise of eternal life to every person based on only one truth – the sinful nature of all of us and the payment for that sin that was fully paid on the cross by God Himself. The covenant of cleansing from sin is for those that repent, and once that is stated in verse 21, every pronoun in the rest of the verse is singular, not plural. You as an individual are responsible to repent of your sin so that every benefit of the covenant can be experienced personally.
This is incredible news. It’s hard to change from our traditions, but in this case change has eternal value. Regardless of your past, your sin, your connections, your politics, or your religion, you can repent of your sin and be saved for all eternity. Jesus died and rose again so that you can be forgiven and live. That’s incredible news.
The Redeemer has come for you.