Friday, February 10, 2012

Even a Cup of Water in My Name

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (Hebrews 11:20, NKJV).
This single sentence is all that Isaac warrants in this Hall of Faith chapter, but that, in and of itself says volumes about God's grace.

Isaac led a life mixed with worldliness. In his old age he became obsessed with food, and it was a weakness used by Rebekah and Jacob to deceive him into giving Jacob, rather than Esau, the blessing of the birthright.

In his later years, blind and weak, he became convinced that his life would soon end, but he was sorely mistaken, as he lived for quite a few years subsequent to his supposed revelation.

Where his father Abraham dotted the landscape of his life's sojourn with altars to God, Isaac dug wells to increase his livestock.

And yet, at the end of his life he surrendered to God's will by not revoking Jacob's ill-begotten blessing, for he understood that Jacob was the Chosen One.

Don't get me wrong. I make no judgments regarding Isaac's heart, but note only that his outward expressions of worship and devotion were less than his father's before him.

Nonetheless, and this is the key point, his faithfulness, rather than his failing, was still honored here in Hebrews.

I believe that is how God sees us all in respect to us being in Christ.

Not that he is unaware of our weaknesses, imperfections and backsliding, but that He chooses to emphasize our obedience and spiritual successes rather than our fleshly failures.

So intent is He to regain our fellowship - not for His good, but for ours - that He sent His Son to atone for our sin, and to be clothed in His righteousness in place of our own filthily garments of iniquity.

The same can be seen in surveying the ancient books of Hebrew history in the Old Testament, especially when contrasting 1st and 2nd Kings, with 1st and 2nd Chronicles, all covering the same chronological period.

Kings is written from the fleshly viewpoint and contains and emphasizes all the acts of these fallen human rulers of Israel and Judah as viewed from the wordily perspective.

Chronicles focuses more on the spiritual aspects of their reigns. Indeed, some of Judah's Kings especially, though soundly criticized in Kings, have only the positives recounted in Chronicles.

That is God's way with His children - merciful and gracious because, and this is vitally important to understand, Jesus bore all our judgment on His Cross. His death and resurrection have washed us clean.

This was possible both before and after His coming, since Golgotha was guaranteed before the foundation of the world. It is, and always has been, the single pivotal point of universal history.

Jesus taught as well that even a cup of water rendered to someone in His name is worthy of great reward in Heaven.

Do you see the incredible magnanimity and beneficence here? All He asks is our faith, but that is what He asks. Intellectual assent will not complete the transaction, nor will merely believing that He exists.

It is believing Him in Himself - His word, His character, His divine attributes, His love, grace and mercy - that is required.

Not that temporal obedience is immaterial or insignificant, for we lose peace and blessing in this life by living in the flesh.

But thankfully, He chooses to see much deeper than that - straight into the heart, and is able through His Son's sacrificial death in our place, to be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Isaac is proof of that, as are most of us.