Friday, December 12, 2008

Before the Face of All People

As we studied Joel 3 in Bible class this week, one thing confused me.

God is speaking about judgment on the nations who persecute believers, the nations who reject His word, the nations who despise His grace. Even though God's people may appear to be downtrodden, the Lord will vindicate them in the end. He will bring His people back to the Promised Land. The thing that confused me was how the believers were supposed to know whether these promises in the prophets were something that would happen in time, with regard to the physical land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, or if these prophecies would be fulfilled only at the Last Day. After all, we reject the modern-day false prophets who are always promising us goodies in this life (and pretty darn soon, too, in pretty good abundance) as they preach a theology of glory with a focus on how God is going to make us healthy, wealthy, and wise.

As Pastor answered my question, he spoke about how God's people could know what the prophets meant (that is, how the physical land itself would need to be restored prior to the Messiah's birth, as well as how the main point was the restoration of creation and the Church through the sacrifice of the Messiah) only as they studied and meditated upon what the prophets preached. He said that, yes, these things were made known to all peoples, but that they weren't seen by all.

Simeon knew. (Not about the Babylonian captivity and the restoration of the Jews to the promised land. That was already history by Simeon's time. I mean he knew other things about which the prophets preached.) He meditated on what the prophets had taught. He prayed. He listened. The Holy Spirit enlightened him with His gifts, and sanctified and kept him in the true faith. Simeon prayed that he was ready to die when once he had taken the baby Jesus in his arms and had seen Thy salvation which Thou hadst prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.

But so few see it. The blindness is great. Look at all the things Isaiah said about the people sitting in darkness, and the blindness that pervades the world. Look at all the miracles Jesus did to give sight to the blind -- not just so they could see the pretty clouds and pretty trees and their dear family members' faces, but the healing of blindness is more significantly that we can see
what the fathers most desired,
what the prophets' heart inspired,
what they longed for many a year.

When He
stands fulfilled in glory here,
God grant that our blindness be healed that we may see aright His glory in the Son of David.

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