Saturday, March 7, 2015

Not “Us and Them”, Just Us

“Putting away lying, let each of you speak truth to his neighbor,
for we are members of one another.”
Ephesians 4:25

Daniel was a very great man before God.  When God wanted to emphasize how crafty the coming world ruler would be (the man called “the beast” in Revelation), he said through Ezekiel, “You are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that can be hidden from you” (Ezek. 28:3).  And when God wanted to emphasize how furious he was with His people for their godly conduct, He said this, to stress that even the prayers of the most righteous men in history would not help them now:

Ezekiel 14
14. Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.
15. If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts:
16. Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.
17. Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it:
18. Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.
19. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:
20. Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Remember what God thought of Daniel as you read the following prayer from this wonderful man of God:

Daniel 9
1. In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
2. In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.
4. And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
5. We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6. Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
8. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
9. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
10. Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
11. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
12. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
13. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
14. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
15. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

Other righteous men of God felt the same way.  Consider Ezra:

Ezra 9
1. . . . the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
2. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.
3. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.
. . .
5. And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God.
6. And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
7. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
8. And now for a little space grace hath been showed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
9. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
10. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments.

Ezra was, himself, not guilty of marrying a heathen woman.  But with this prayer, Ezra was not being overly pious.  Nor was Daniel being overly pious when he confessed the sins of his people as his own.  These men of God were thinking the way the Son of God thought when he came to earth.  He was moved by God’s love for us to become one with us, to share in our shame, to taste of the death we must taste, and to become sin for us so that we might become his righteousness.  We find prayers of the Son throughout the book of Psalms, in which he is begging God to forgive him, to cleanse him, to deliver him, though he could have cried out for his own deliverance from this world at any time, and angels would have come and taken him away.
This is not just the way a few of the very most righteous men of history have felt.  This is the way the love of God makes everyone feel who feels it.  This is the way every child of God feels who loves with the love of God.  It is a a love that makes you love the family of God so much that you want to share in their destiny; it makes you want it so much that you become willing to take their place if they are wrong.  It makes you want their guilt, if your brother and sisters are guilty; it makes you want to take their guilt on yourself and then go to God with that guilt to get rid of it for them and you.  Isn’t that what Jesus did?  Paul felt this way.  Paul said that he was willing to be cursed if he could just reach the hearts of his fellow Jews with the gospel (Rom. 9:3).
He explained the unity Christ died for us to have like this:

Romans 12
3. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1Corinthians 12
12. For just as the body is one, and yet has many members, and all the members of the one body, though many, are one body, so also is Christ.
13. For by one spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and all were given to drink of one spirit.
14. For the body is not one member, but many.
15. If the foot say, “I’m not part of the body because I’m not a hand,” does that mean it is not a part of the body?
16. And if the ear say, “I’m not part of the body because I’m not an eye,” does that means it is not part of the body?
17. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?  If the whole body were hearing, where would the smelling be?
18. But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He was pleased.
19. If everything was one member, where would the body be?
. . .
24b. God has blended the body together
25. so that there might be no division in the body; instead, members would share the same concern for one another.
26. And then, if one member suffers, every member suffers with it; if one member is honored, every member rejoices with it.
27. You yourselves are the body of Christ and, individually, members of it.

If the body of Christ is broken, the man is broken who loves the body of Christ as Christ loves the body.  If the body of Christ is confused, the man is confused who loves the body of Christ.  If the body of Christ is rebellious and disobedient, the man feels rebellious and disobedient who loves the body of Christ as Christ loves the body.  He became sin for us because we were sinful, and he loved us.
Now, do we love the body of Christ they way Jesus does?