Saturday, August 3, 2013

God Moves Between the Pieces

Are all your dreams slowly dying before your eyes?  Is your life in shambles?  Are the pieces of your life lying at your feet like a shattered cup?  Has the Good News failed you?  Are you disappointed?

Jeremiah once said: “Surely against me He has turned His hand repeatedly all the day…He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces; He has made me desolate…So…my strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord (Lamentations 3:3 partial, 11, 18 partial).”

 Nevertheless, Jeremiah also declared that “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).” 

How could Jeremiah speak of faith, hope and love when the only friend He had was arrayed against him like an enemy?  How are we to argue our case or mitigate our losses against such paradoxical treatment?

Finding the Answer in God’s Treatment of Abraham
Before Abram became Abraham, and before the promised child Isaac was born, a blood covenant was cut between God and Abram (Genesis 15).  Prior to this covenant making, Abram had complained to God that he had no child—no blood heir—and that, according to custom, his heir would therefore be the eldest servant born within his house—a man named Eliezer of Damascus.  God soundly rebuked that idea.  Eliezer means “god of help or aid” and Damascus—the oldest continuously occupied city in the world—represents a very significant and poignant thing: it represents the fullness of man’s eye, the consummation of all that man can naturally perceive and do—man’s ingenuity without God’s help.  To damask something is to cover it over with something superficial and without life; it is etchings on steel—but not the steel itself.  Thus everything that our natural eyes view is delusional if our conclusion is based solely on that observation.

The spiritual realm cannot be ascertained without revelation; it is outside the material world and cannot be perceived without an interruption from the outside.  Unless God shows us, we are, and remain, blind and therefore helpless under the sun.  God needs no aid, no help in accomplishing His divine will.  In fact, He will upend those who feign to help Him: “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder…as he journeyed…approaching Damascus… (Acts 9:1 and 3, parts)” ran right into this upending!  Believing his own eyes—and relying on all that religious training he had undergone—led him to oppose Jesus Christ and His disciples; God had to stop him before he forever sealed his fate upon the superficial ground whereupon lies that great and ancient city of man, Damascus.

After God finished saying to Abram that Eliezer of Damascus would not be his heir, He took him outside and asked him to count the stars. Once it became obvious that he could not even begin—let alone finish—such an overwhelming task, God incredibly declared to him that “So shall your descendants be (Genesis 15:5, partial).” Abram then did the unfathomable; he “…believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15: 6, partial).”  It is at this juncture that God begins to explain to Abram, in detail, his destiny; after he believed, God explained!  Why is it that we reverse the process?  We want an explanation from start to finish before we execute even the preliminary steps required.  If seeing is believing, seeing better is believing better.  If a vision of His Hand moves us, a vision of His face will move us further.

Indeed, a deep sleep, terror and a great darkness fell on Abram just before God began to make a covenant with him and reveal his and his children’s destinies.  The smoking oven and a flaming torch that proceeded to pass between the pieces of a sacrifice Abram had prepared in obedience to God’s command—and even defended from birds of prey—was symbolic of the purging and enlightening aspects of the Holy Ghost and fire within the bosom of man. Abram’s only action was in keeping the birds of prey away while he waited upon God to move between his pieces of flesh; when God came, he ceased all activity and laid prostrate before Him in utter darkness and quietness.  Likewise, we ought to draw instruction here; we, like Abram, are to live humbling ourselves before the Lord, resisting the devil, and awaiting His empowerment.

“Terror and great darkness (Genesis 15:12, partial)” is the backdrop upon which God begins to paint a picture before Abram’s eyes; God reveals to him the fate of his progeny—that in the end it will be good for them; but they were to endure four hundred years of slavery and oppression first (400 being the number of trials and tribulation for a nation just as 40 is for an individual).  In other words, God must be cruel to be kind; He often inflicts or wounds our mortality for our immortality purposes.

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham…” by requiring that he give up the very thing he had been given (Genesis 22:1, partial).  Even Job declared: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away (Job 1: 21, partial).” Before we accuse God of being an Indian giver, however, it would do us well to see the “outcome of the Lord’s dealings” with his people. “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:11, NASB).  If you are suffering and cannot understand why, shattered and undone, please remember: God Moves Between the Pieces.