Here Jesus was instructing His disciples on the signs of the End of the Age…telling them to look up! But why? When we’re preoccupied with our own thoughts, feelings, and emotions…we’re looking down or inward. But it’s not until we lift up our head from that fetal position that we can clearly see God. For it tells us in Psalm 121:1, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord.” Also in Psalm 123:1 this idea is repeated, “I lift up my eyes to You, to You whose throne is in heaven.” That’s because sadly, when we’re fixated on ourselves, we totally miss out on what God is doing around us.
God message was declared over and over again in the Old Testament, “Come back to Me.” But turning away from God was something mankind has always been really good at. Time and time again God patiently and with pity continued to call His people back, but there would come a time when His wrath would be aroused against His people without remedy…and His active wrath would be poured out on His people. We see God’s active wrath in the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the many invading enemy armies. But what about today? God’s anger concerning sin hasn’t changed…His message hasn’t changed either…He still wants us to come back to Him. But instead of active wrath we see God’s passive wrath…His allowing and permitting of things to happen to mankind…all in the hopes of us returning to Him.
This verse in a very straightforward manner shows the frailty of man. For at any point in time, we are but one breath away from dying…so how can we be trusted? Our lives are like fleeting shadows, (Psalm 144:4) or like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14) Bottom line is, we can’t put our trust in man…for our life here on earth is but a momentary passing. No, our trust must be in the eternal God, Who created man from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into him. (Genesis 2:7)
Two Scriptures that go along with this one are Romans 15:5, “May the God Who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.” and Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” We are to actively endeavor to live at peace with one another…living in harmony as one collective body called the Church, of which Jesus Christ is the head. But unity and peace can be difficult to obtain, so what can we do? First, understand that the only person you can change is you. That’s why Hebrews 12:14 tells us that we should make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy. Or as the old song goes, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…”
It tells us that the face of Moses was so brilliant that the people couldn’t gaze intently at him…for after speaking to God, glory covered his face. (II Corinthians 3:7-13) This happened to Jesus also on the Mount of Transfiguration when His face shone like the sun. (Matthew 17:2) There’s something about being in the presence of God that changes us, for it says in Psalm 34:5, “Those who look to Him are radiant.” Isaiah also spoke of this when he wrote, “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1) Spending time with God in His word will change your countenance from the inside out. Harsh rigid lines will soften, and smiles will replace scowls as God’s glory radiates from within.
In this time of the COVID 19 pandemic, I don’t know about you, but it’s been very difficult to “fix my thoughts on Jesus.” With all the over the top media coverage, and expert opinions changing everyday…it’s hard not to fixate on the fear and uncertainty of the situation. Couple that with the limits that’s been placed on meeting as a body of Believers, and I wonder if this dry spell spiritually is God’s wake up call? We are told here to fulfill our calling…a calling of holiness and sanctification according to His purpose in our lives. We are to fight the good fight of faith, (I Timothy 6:12) striving always for God’s perspective, not ours. When we fix our thoughts on Jesus rather than the world…our soul is brought into balance, priories become clear, and God’s lofty plan and purpose is revealed. But if we continue to sit in the corner looking at our belly-buttons…totally self-absorbed in our fears…we won’t be able to see or participate in God’s work. This is called being a nominal or lukewarm Christian…and God has no use for those type of people. This is the time to fix our thoughts on Jesus, not veering to the left or right, but looking fully into His face with trust and hope. For in the next months, the Church as we know it will have to adapt and change, and we’ll have to change with it. But God will be raising up people to accept this challenge…people with a eternal vision. To quote A.W. Tozer, “They serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary.” The time of lukewarm Christianity is coming to an end.
Have I taken the time today to thank God? Now I tend to take things for granted…my health, safety, material needs. And it’s not until I have some kind of close call or problem that I suddenly stop and thank God for watching out over me! This verse illustrates how God’s great love for us was revealed in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who came to break the chains of sin…the sacrifice of His blood making our atonement. And after accomplishing this miraculous feat, now lives in our hearts. (Luke 17:21) Yes, I have so much to thank God for…His love, grace, mercy, and the very breath in my body.
These people were the same ones who had just witnessed Moses parting the Red Sea so they might escape Pharaoh’s army…but their attention span was short, and their loyalties to God fickle as the days wore on with no sight of Moses. So they rejected him as some fly-by-night wannabe and demanded that Aaron make them a replacement god. While still up on the mountain, Moses learned of this when God told him, “Go down from here at once, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt. They have turned away quickly from what I commanded them and have made a cast idol for themselves.” (Deuteronomy 9:12) Fast forward to today, and nothing much has changed. We get bored easily, we like our information in sound-bites, and we want God to perform at the snap of our fingers…but He doesn’t work that way! Waiting on the Lord is a faith-building, trust-strengthening, hope-fulfilling endurance race that takes us from marginal Christianity to mighty warrior of God.
Earlier in the Book of Hebrews, the author quotes Psalm 102 when he writes, “But You remain the same, and Your years will never end.” There in Psalm 102 it goes on to say that everything as we know it will eventually wear out like clothing, be discarded and perish…except the Lord, for He will continue unchanged to all eternity. I don’t know about you, but the last few months have seemed like a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, so the quiet comfort and security of placing my trust in a everlasting Savior quiets my soul and gives me peace and hope.
God spoke through Isaiah when he wrote, “They will proclaim My glory among the nations.” (Isaiah 66:19) Jesus told His disciples in the Great Commission to, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19) We are also to declare His majesty…confess the wondrous things He does…profess our reverence and awe in Him…make known His worthiness…and reveal to those who don’t know Him yet that what they search for can be found in Him.