To be clothed with Christ is a change of heart, a change of personal condition, and a change of mind. We come to the Cross dressed in the filthy clothing of sin, but we leave dressed in pristine garments of salvation…actually clothed in Christ Himself. Isaiah 61:10 tells us, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation.” In this process of taking off of the old and putting on of the new we are transformed…these new clothes we’re dressed in becoming garments of praise for our new found deliverance and freedom.
This was the only miracle of the Lord’s that wasn’t fully realized on the first attempt. The reason for this incremental healing was not because of limited power on the part of Jesus, but to illustrate and parallel His disciples journey from complete spiritual blindness, to partial sight, to clear vision. For by now the disciples had been personal witnesses to to many miracles and teachings…their spiritual blindness slowly changing each day. For it was only a few verses later that Jesus asked them directly, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” At that point Peter answered for the group, “You are the Christ.” And at that moment, the disciples were able to see clearly and distinctly that Jesus was in fact the long awaited Messiah.
Nehemiah and his fellow Jews had returned from captivity in Babylon only to find Jerusalem in ruins….the city walls broken down and the gates burned. And so this prayer of Nehemiah’s focused on God’s covenant of love…reminding God of His promises, obligations, and relationship with His chosen people. But in doing so, it also reminded Nehemiah and the people of all that God had done for them in the past. They probably then recalled Deuteronomy 7:9, where God’s anger extends only to the third and fourth generation, while His covenant of love He honors to a thousand generations.
The Apostle Peter warned the early Church of the destructiveness of the devil, the great accuser of God and His people, the Chief instigator of evil, and opponent to the Will of God. But if we read in Job 1, the devil’s power is limited on earth. He’s not free to act in the affairs of mankind…he must ask permission from God. That’s because the devil is finite…a fallen angel lacking divinity. Granted, the devil has more power than earthly creatures, but infinitely less than the Lord. (I John 4:4) So that’s why Peter is telling us to be wary and exercise restraint over our own impulses, emotions, and desires…for this is the devil’s favorite playground…getting us to react impulsively…lacking wisdom or forethought.
The world doesn’t understand, when in the midst of present trouble, a Believer will respond with praise rather than pessimism. That we will hold on to hope, not giving up, allowing time for God to answer our prayers. Yes, this all seems rather silly to the world. But when we take our eyes off the situation and place them on God…when we respond to the pain with praise…His peace and comfort will fill our hearts as we wait. The world will never understand the Lord’s majestic holiness that is without equal and is completely perfect…but in Him is where our hope lies.
We can hear the Word of God preached for years, but never transition it from head knowledge to heart knowledge. We can acknowledge it as infallible and divine, but until we actually put it into practice in our life, it’s all just nice words. For God’s Words to make a profound difference we need to do what James 1:2 says, “Don’t merely listen to the Word…do what it says.” We can’t just acknowledge it, we need to receive it as the truth, embrace it as real, and obey it by conforming our actions. And when we do this, we are building our life not on the unstable, fickle, and erratic world view, but on the foundational bedrock of Jesus Christ. So when the storms of life come, (and we all know they will) we can stand strong against them because of Him.
The Jewish people wanted their cake & eat it too, and this extended to their worship. Baal was the dominant Canaanite god of rain and fertility of the land, so they thought they could hedge their bets by appeasing both God & Baal at the same time. But anytime you dabble in the occult, you’ll get sucked into things you don’t want. So before they knew it, the people found themselves worshipping Baal in the ritualistic dance around the altar, (called a limping dance). So Elijah had come to call them into account for prostituting themselves to foreign gods, forsaking their One true God, and breaking covenant with Him.
Deuteronomy 29:18 also makes this concept quite clear, warning of those whose heart turns away from the Lord, and making sure that there’s no root among you that produces such bitter poison. In other words, when a person no longer relies on God’s grace but themselves, they can become a root bearing bitter fruit…spreading doubt and disloyalty towards the Lord among fellow Believers. So we need to encourage one another to remain faithful… bring those who have turned away back to the Lord…but we also need to oppose any apostasy within the fellowship before there’s trouble and defilement.
Sometimes we look at our present circumstances… and then look at God’s promises, and the contrast is huge. The city of Jericho was a formidable stronghold…a fortified walled city…but God promised Joshua that it would be given into his hands…if he had faith and obeyed. And so for six days the people obeyed. But on the seventh day, God’s instructions were explicated, (and if we think about it, paralleled His creation work in Genesis). For when the battle cry came from the people’s mouth, the walls of Jericho violently and suddenly fell…sending a powerful message to the Canaanites that Israel’s victory wasn’t by any means mere human ability, but only by their God displaying His power and might. But it also graphically showed the Israelites that God was with them, and that they needed only to trust Him to claim the Promised Land.
It’s only through Jesus we have access to God the Father. It’s only by His blood that we can confidently enter the Most Holy Place…having obtained the priestly privilege…. not through the sacrifice of animals, but by the atoning precious blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. For it’s not in our merits we posses that we can do this, but only in the person and work of Him Who came to save the world from its sin. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 10:19) Let us today rejoice in that access with confidence and assurance.