"Come unto me."
The cry of the Christian religion is the gentle word, "Come." The Jewish law harshly said, "Go, take heed unto thy steps as to the path in which thou shalt walk. Break the commandments, and thou shalt perish; keep them, and thou shalt live." The law was a dispensation of terror, which drove men before it as with a scourge; the gospel draws with bands of love. Jesus is the good Shepherd going before his sheep, bidding them follow him, and ever leading them onwards with the sweet word, "Come." The law repels, the gospel attracts. The law shows the distance which there is between God and man; the gospel bridges that awful chasm, and brings the sinner across it.
From the first moment of your spiritual life until you are ushered into glory, the language of Christ to you will be, "Come, come unto me." As a mother puts out her finger to her little child and woos it to walk by saying, "Come," even so does Jesus. He will always be ahead of you, bidding you follow him as the soldier follows his captain. He will always go before you to pave your way, and clear your path, and you shall hear his animating voice calling you after him all through life; while in the solemn hour of death, his sweet words with which he shall usher you into the heavenly world shall be--"Come, ye blessed of my Father."
Nay, further, this is not only Christ's cry to you, but, if you be a believer, this is your cry to Christ--"Come! come!" You will be longing for his second advent; you will be saying, "Come quickly, even so come Lord Jesus." You will be panting for nearer and closer communion with him. As his voice to you is "Come," your response to him will be, "Come, Lord, and abide with me. Come, and occupy alone the throne of my heart; reign there without a rival, and consecrate me entirely to thy service."
"Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened."
It is painful to remember that, in a certain degree, this accusation may be laid at the door of believers, who too often are in a measure spiritually insensible. We may well bewail ourselves that we do not hear the voice of God as we ought, "Yea, thou heardest not." There are gentle motions of the Holy Spirit in the soul which are unheeded by us: there are whisperings of divine command and of heavenly love which are alike unobserved by our leaden intellects. Alas! we have been carelessly ignorant--"Yea, thou knewest not." There are matters within which we ought to have seen, corruptions which have made headway unnoticed; sweet affections which are being blighted like flowers in the frost, untended by us; glimpses of the divine face which might be perceived if we did not wall up the windows of our soul. But we "have not known." As we think of it we are humbled in the deepest self-abasement. How must we adore the grace of God as we learn from the context that all this folly and ignorance, on our part, was foreknown by God, and, notwithstanding that foreknowledge, he yet has been pleased to deal with us in a way of mercy! Admire the marvellous sovereign grace which could have chosen us in the sight of all this! Wonder at the price that was paid for us when Christ knew what we should be! He who hung upon the cross foresaw us as unbelieving, backsliding, cold of heart, indifferent, careless, lax in prayer, and yet he said, "I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour ... Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life!" O redemption, how wondrously resplendent dost thou shine when we think how black we are! O Holy Spirit, give us henceforth the hearing ear, the understanding heart!
Today's reading: Amos 4-6, Revelation 7 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Amos 4-6
Israel Has Not Returned to God
1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,
you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy
and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”
2 The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness:
“The time will surely come
when you will be taken away with hooks,
the last of you with fishhooks.
3 You will each go straight out
through breaches in the wall,
and you will be cast out toward Harmon,” declares the LORD.
4 “Go to Bethel and sin;
go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three years.
5 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering
and brag about your freewill offerings—
boast about them, you Israelites,
for this is what you love to do,” declares the Sovereign LORD....
Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 7
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000....
Eleazar [Ēle ā'zar]—god is helper.
- The third son of Aaron by Elisheba and father of Phinehas (Exod. 6:23, 25). He was consecrated a priest (Exod. 28:1 ) and was chief of the Levites (Num. 3:32).
- A son of Amminadab, set apart to care for the Ark after its return (1 Sam. 7:1).
- A son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three chief captains of David’s army (2 Sam. 23:9; 1 Chron. 11:12).
- A son of Mahli, a Merarite, who had daughters only, who married their cousins (1 Chron. 23:21, 22; 24:28).
- A priest who participated in the dedication of the rebuilt wall (Neh. 12:42).
- A son of Phinehas, a Levite (Ezra 8:33).
- A son of Eliud and an ancestor of Christ (Matt. 1:15).
And he will be called...Mighty God. - Isaiah 9:6
In the Old Testament, some of the prophecies about Christ are mysterious statements. They were so bold and so large that they were treasured through the generations, until they were fulfilled and finally understood. Isaiah's oracle about a son who would be born-Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, and all the rest-was one of those landmark prophecies. In that moment of inspiration, Isaiah revealed he would be Mighty God.
After Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension, his followers would piece together what he said and did, and conclude that Jesus really was one with God the Father in a way that is appropriate to call him divine. The doctrine of the Trinity would be defined later, but in Isaiah's prophesy about the coming one are the seeds of this truth.
In the Jewish tradition, nothing was more important than belief in the "oneness" of God. Not two gods, not a thousand gods, but one and only one God. So what could happen when, in Bethlehem itself, Magi from the east came bearing gifts fit for a king, but who also worshipped him? Why did Jesus allow fishermen in a boat worship him after he calmed a storm? Or Mary falling at Jesus' feet in worship in the garden after his resurrection? Or the disciple Thomas falling at his feet, saying, "My Lord and my God?"
Nobody at the start of Jesus' life, nor during his adult ministry, even hinted at anything suggesting there is more than one God. But because of who God is; because God is higher than human comprehension; because God said "us" from the very beginning: "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26); because the coming one would be called Immanuel, "God with us," (Matt. 1:22-23) we can believe that Christmas represents the true entry of God into human affairs. The same God who created humanity, took humanity on himself when it suited his purposes-to save that same humanity. The God who created the world, entered it through a human birth in the town of Bethlehem.
Not any kind of god would do that. Only the one, true, Mighty God.
Prayer for Today:
Lord I believe you are mighty. I believe you can do whatever you wish. I believe you came in the flesh in Jesus.