I’m always fascinated at the subtle parallels that show up in the Old and New Testaments. Here is one I hadn’t noticed before. In Acts 12 two apostles are imprisoned by Herod, James and Peter. James is executed and Peter is miraculously saved by the angel of God.
Today as I read Jeremiah 26, I ran across the story of two more preachers. One is Urijah the other is Jeremiah. Both were faithful to God in giving their message, but the first one was slaughtered and the second was providentially protected.
God knows what He does and why.
I have many good preacher friends, men who love or have loved the Lord and His ministry. Some have died young of cancer or accidents while others have enjoyed many more years of life and service.
So I ask myself why some of my friends have died while I've been so blessed with ministry for almost 30 years now.
The answer is “I don't know. But God does.”
And furthermore, I am very sure that none of my deceased friends would trade places with me if the Lord gave them that choice. We simply cannot comprehend, from our perspective, what it is like to enter His presence, early, late, or whenever. AB
Jer 26:20-24; Acts 12:1-2, 7; Phil 1:2
If Your Word wasn’t so perfectly balanced, we might look around at what seems like random, sad events, and wonder how You can really be in control. But just in the area of life and health, Bible heroes also suffered their measure of the effects of sin. We know of some who had lives cut very short, like Abel, Naboth, John the Baptist, and Stephen. Elisha and Paul suffered sickness and others experienced deep disappointments. Who on earth can figure it all out? Nobody. But You know exactly how every detail fits the puzzle. Indeed, there is no puzzle for You. All is one grand portrait of Your wisdom and grace. And in the end, we will eternally join our voices to sing Your praise. Amen.
Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein… So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not:
After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet,
(Exodus 30:18, 21 and John 13:5)
It is common knowledge that the emphases of the Old Testament and the New are many times quite different. There are, of course, no contradictions between them, for every word in both comes from the very same perfect mind. Whenever there are two perspectives, that is exactly what they are -- two angles that help us gain a better understanding of the whole truth or event. One subtle example of this kind of Biblical harmony shows up in these two seemingly unrelated recipients for holding water.
The bronze laver, placed between the altar and the Tabernacle entrance, had as one of its purposes, that of highlighting the seriousness of coming to God. It is no small thing for fallen, feeble, and finite human beings to have access to the presence of the Almighty, eternal One. The priests were to use its water to wash themselves before going in to continue with their duties. It was essential for them to be clean when they entered the Holy Place. The laver was not there for convenience or comfort. It was absolutely necessary, and to ignore it was a death sentence.
However, as we move forward and into the Gospels, specifically to John 13, we find an extraordinary scene right before Jesus’ death, one that helps us see a complementary aspect of the character of God.
In this passage, the Lord Jesus shocks His disciples by grabbing a basin, filling it with water, and beginning to wash each of their feet! Naturally, they were dumbfounded and really didn’t know what to do. Peter, never one to sit back and follow anyone else’s example, took the initiative and said what the others probably just didn’t have the nerve to say: “No way, Lord!” But the Lord insisted, even as He explained the reason behind His actions.
And so we once again see that beautiful and amazing marriage of God’s grace and truth. In Exodus we see the truth, the unbending reality of Who God is and what He wants from His creatures, along with the penalty for not measuring up. Yes, there is to be a relationship between Him and sinful man, but the emphasis is on the terms He dictates, and nobody should ever forget it.
But with the Son of God, the powerful doctrine of grace comes to the front. After all, He is full of grace and truth, in that order. The offended One, against Whom every man has sinned, steps forward in love, to help make the reconciliation happen. He is not fudging on the truth, nor ignoring the guilt. But He sees the dirty feet and brings out a solution, and a lesson.
Therefore, though the two passages are far apart and occur in different contexts, they harmonize the two attitudes of God towards stained and soiled humanity. On the one hand He orders a laver for purification and on the other He picks up the basin and the towel.
Dear Father, it is quite obvious that Your standard of holiness is far beyond my reach and that all would be hopeless if I had no help. But I praise You for being gracious and kind, for not only the laver but also the basin. Thank you for providing a way, so that through Your Son, I can be clean and enter Your presence.
Dear Father,We often think quite highly of ourselves... of our talents, our opinions, our accomplishments. But You remind us that our lives are very much like grass, the common green stuff we walk on. From a distance, whether of space or time, we aren’t much different than a blade in the pasture.
Except that we are made in Your image! That adds to us a whole new and marvelous dimension. In Your image we have a transcendent NOW to obey in. We can’t change the past nor do we have a guarantee of being here tomorrow, but we can live for You in the present, for ETERNITY
Thank you for so many friends, good friends, both fun and serious ones, some who have been so for decades. They are quite more than friends — they are eternal brothers and sisters, who will share with me in the unspeakable heavenly inheritance. What are Christian friendships but gifts from you?… First for this earthly life, and then for that coming one, gifts that remind us of the unique bond we have through our Savior, gifts that strengthen our hope and point us to the day when we will not have these same limitations of time and space. What a Day that will be! Help me cherish each one, thanking them, and encouraging them, for being a part of my life. Thank you, Lord Jesus.
From our perspective, life can sometimes be very confusing. Only You see things from that eternal vantage point, from which every circumstance, every minute, every person, every motive, with all truth, are perfectly orchestrated to fulfill Your glorious will. Such a level of authority is beyond our ability to comprehend, but it is not beyond what we can believe. You have gifted us with minds that can live by faith. Therefore, we can rest in the knowledge that all things, secret or revealed, are within the scope of your loving power, and for that we praise You. In Jesus’ Name.
To relax in difficult circumstances is a need common to everyone in the world, and we who know You are blessed beyond words. When financial pressures crowd in on us, when our mind cannot shake a specific fear, when friends let us down, or when health fails, we have a powerful, spiritual medicine available to us 24/7. It’s a truth that we can claim by faith, a statement of reality, an anchor that will not move... for few things will calm the restless soul as quickly as, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”
Thank You in Jesus’ Name.
Our lives are often so busy and full of stuff... important and necessary stuff, even valuable ministry matters. But we can misprioritize even good and needful things and lose focus on what is absolutely essential — our walk with You. Help us today to have sense enough to take advantage of those little opportunities to STOP, look up, and thank You for your kindness. In Jesus’ Name.
1 Thess 5:1
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