Sunday, February 28, 2010

Beyond the Pharisee

THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE BENT ON HEMMING US IN, continually controlling and bringing us to account; those who must have I’s dotted and T’s crossed, always—no excuses... the perfectionists. The Pharisaic person; whatever are we to do with people who are never content, even with our best?

Nagging, complaining, never happy or content—even when they get their way. It’s a problem for each of us with a good intent, and to be honest, ninety percent of us have generally good intent.

There’s nothing wrong with pleasing people—we should want to please people. But, what about when people absolutely cannot be pleased—be it a mood or their general disposition?

People with the temerity to force their way on us have their problems because they have their problems—their unreconciled problems that haunt them. In this we can have compassion. But where does that leave us in our dealing with them? The problem hasn’t gone away.

For ‘the problem to go away’ requires from us a deeper look within.

We can “fix” no one but ourselves, and then only truly with God’s help.

But, that’s not the point I’m making. Many years ago now I recall the distinct Spiritual non-audible voice of God whisper through my psyche a personal mantra—for the season, and for life. “Accountable to God,” I was to be and remain. Nothing else matters.

To be account-able is crucial. All of life attends to it: accountability.

And this is the key when we’re faced with the confounding, insatiable Pharisee. Being a Pharisee is a state and not truly ‘a person,’ for Pharisees are being—in effect—duped by the devil, and no one should be labelled unless they insist on the label. The Pharisee is bent out of shape by the stranglehold of fear.

If we can be satisfied in being accountable only to God, it’s only his grace-imbued standard that applies, and not some interminable human standard that we’ll never meet. But in this we can still go beyond the Pharisee very easily in our approach to them and in what they want. We can do our one hundred percent best and still not be down when they say it’s not good enough. For we know that it will have to be good enough.

We hold both realities—our best and their dissatisfaction—wonderfully in tension with each other with God’s abiding grace gluing the thing together.

Now, this is power—but not a power of this world!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Setting the Record Straight – 2 Thessalonians

TEACHERS HAVE A DIVINELY APPOINTED FUNCTION. Their purpose is to patiently but firmly instruct their pupils—fully expecting that they’ll necessarily have to repeat themselves, often, in the course of their duties.

So just why do some teachers get cranky with their students? I guess it’s a character test we will at times fail. Combine the circumstance of students who won’t listen, with a poor start to the teacher’s day and that is often a recipe for a calamitous collision!

But this is not the mood we find Paul in as he writes his second letter to the Thessalonians. He writes from a “fiercely protective pastoral”[1] perspective, noting with grave concern the sharpening divide between the afflicted—who receive his letter—and those persecuting them.

And perhaps this is his chief motivation; doubly attending with ardour, the focus and explanation of the Parousia[2] in both the light of doctrinal confusion (see 1 Thessalonians as context) and in the mix of the Thessalonians’ then present dire circumstances. Paul was hoping to achieve both ends—the Thessalonians’ proper understanding, by using as a living illustration, the suffering the Thessalonians were then experiencing, personally, as a means of showering them with God’s hope.

Paul and his fellow travelling companions, of course, knew what stern opposition they had in the bustling port city of Thessalonica almost as soon as they arrived from Philippi.

In preaching there—for three consecutive Sabbaths, as was his tradition (Acts 17:2), in trying to convince the Jews that Jesus was in fact the long sought after Messiah—he raised a huge ruckus with the Parousia the endemic catalyst. It was ruse really for the trouble-making Jews so they could dispose of Paul for ‘such a direct challenge to the Emperor.’[3] Jesus was a threat to Roman control and the Jews played this card continually.

This is the context for the Thessalonians—it was an aggressive opposition this infantile church faced. Despite their promise and the broad faithfulness they were displaying, there were chinks in their armour and this is addressed by Paul again in the second letter.

As teacher, confidant and spiritual guide (and so much more!), Paul was loving with the Thessalonians as a mother or father would be with their kids (1 Thessalonians 2). As teachers we too have much to learn in his gently chiding and patient style.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Philip Greenslade, 1 & 2 Thessalonians – The Coming that Completes the Story (Surrey, England: Crusade for World Revival, 2004), p. 13.

[2] Parousia means: coming of Jesus, second arrival, advent; also: personal presence.

[3] In the original context, it was high treason to put another ruler’s coming against Caesar’s.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Memories of Brokenness Most Precious and Lessons Learned

IN AN INSTANT I’M SNAPPED BACK to a caravan park scene, tents pitched, games played, nature walks had; my three girls and I camping so innocently and keenly; ‘young and vulnerable the family unit’ is the vision.

Not long earlier—only several months—the family unit had crumbled. The four of us were left to pick up the pieces and make a four-some rather than the five-some we’d previously grown so accustomed to.

But this is a story really of victory and strength in weakness, not defeat and weakness alone. And that’s the legacy I want to leave.

When we camped, the girls and I wouldn’t prepare that much; we’d just pack the tents and sleeping bags and any food we could lay our hands on (with Mum and Dad’s help!) and we’d be off. It was usually preceded, however, by at least a phone call to ensure a booking could be made to avoid any disappointment upon reaching our destination.

But the real story is the strength that each of us showed back then. Why is it we can only appreciate, truly, years afterward i.e. in reflection, the massive investment of faith of each of us, not to give up but to forge ahead and create a brand new family identity. I guess looking back the option of giving up didn’t look that attractive.

And this is the lesson I learned in separation and divorce, against my will. I learned a lot about accepting the things I could not change back in those days; indeed, God I’m sure probably thought I was a slow learner for I had many, many opportunities to apply my burgeoning acceptance.

The vision I received—the abovementioned one—came one very warm summer’s night lying on the trampoline in the backyard with my wife gazing at the stars. Gazing into the night’s sky somehow facilitated the memory and without half a second’s warning tears streamed from my eyes running down irritatingly into my ears. I just felt like it was such a huge demand of those girls aged 11, 8 and 5, that they had to, with me, pick up the pieces of the family tragedy none of us wanted.

The tears honoured their bravery and how stoic they were—and still are. They also honoured my parents for their patient tenacity and faith. Finally, the tears honoured my God, for he gently reminds me of the cherishable pain that forever remains—and in experiencing the fullness of the moment and this pain I’m continually healed. Words don’t really justify what this is about, but I must try to express myself.

You see, there are millions of others who are dealt the very same blows, but not all find healing so easily. I looked for a Bible verse that somehow communicates how this feels; this one is close:

“[T]he Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”

~Isaiah 30:26b (NIV).

When we finally accept that this wrong world will inflict pain upon us against our wills, that God in his love allows these things to happen as he won’t force himself over anyone, and we also surrender to the ministry of his healing Presence we can be gladdened by these otherwise “painful” memories.

God turns these so called painful memories into trophies of his grace, legacies of his provision and pearls of his mercy. It really must be experienced to believe this; multi-pronged forgiveness comes in an instant and healing—of a more-than-sufficient variety—occurs. This is because the memories are so soothing we welcome them—we do not fear them; we embrace them!

How great is God that he covers all our transgressions this way? I’m continually enthralled!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

All Walls Are Scaleable!

“The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;

they imagine it an unscalable wall.”

~Proverbs 18:11 (NIV).

As I strode to the beach recently I marvelled at the huge retaining walls of the nearby properties, thinking how secure and impressive they looked. Then I thought for a moment longer; the Spirit checking my thinking... it occurred to me afresh... nothing is unscaleable. That was a profound reflection as I then reflected over the above proverb.

There is an equivalent proverb for the poor... ‘Poverty is their ruin’ (Proverbs 10:15). So, whilst riches can be fleeting and can’t be guaranteed, they’re much better than a “present” poverty.

I also recalled recently the very sad story of a colleague who was once incarcerated (and for some time too, I might add). Without getting into reason or rationale, I considered it so very sad that someone could lose their freedom, and to this, all their significant possessions and relationships.

Many people, especially in this age and in Western society, put much emphasis and value on their riches, the amount and quality of the “toys” they possess; their property, cars etc. It’s through these material assets that we—if we’re not careful—can derive much of our identity and significance and meaning in life.

Yet, it’s a dangerous position to set ourselves up from.

Even though diligence warrants material rewards ninety-eight percent of the time, it’s absolutely no guarantee. The best way to view life in the context of material possessions is to be thankful for them, but also be perfectly willing to lose these “things” subject to God’s perfect will—which we often will not understand, but must trust implicitly in faithfulness.

No matter how safely we appear to be positioned, life, we should know, can turn on five-cent piece—and with quite a nudge of finality I might add! Why would we in our right minds get devastatingly despondent if we were to lose the material possessions? Sure, a time of re-adjustment would be required, but how would we resolve this semi-Joban situation? I mean, what lessons have we met and hence internalised from Job?

As someone who lost a great deal both spiritually and materially some several years ago now—with lifetime ramifications, as many others too will testify in their own circumstances, I know acutely what is most important. Moth and rust destroy the latter (Matthew 6:19-20) whereas the real spiritual things are eternal. We can never really lose them.

How high are your walls? High enough? Is the height that important?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Jesus and the Argumentative

“He replied, ‘Whether he is a sinner of not, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see!’”

~John 9:25 (NIV).

Can you just imagine the conundrum the Pharisees had? A blind man healed, but on the Sabbath. They didn’t like the Jesus fellow anyway; this only clouds their judgment as they question and consider the once blind man.

But the once blind man was never talking the Pharisees around—it was never going to happen.

The Pharisees, like many today, had a divergent, entirely self-serving and evil intent. Manufacturing a godless rule-bound faith was their stock-in-trade, and they were determined to ruin any case that didn’t cooperate with theirs—which is based in a corruptive power; a mind of its own and certainly not after God’s mind on things. Certainly this is what led to Jesus’ trial, flogging and crucifixion. From the Pharisees’ viewpoint Jesus had to be dealt with. Little did they know this was his precise Divine purpose!

But now in John 9, the Pharisees met their match with the blind man.

He argues very effectively (in John 9:30-34) that Jesus must’ve been from God. So, the Pharisees throw him out. The Pharisees (and those like them today and through all ages) are those who can see but who’re spiritually blind (John 9:39).

Jesus beckons the argumentative of all ages. ‘Taste and “see” that I’m good,’ he says. In other words, ‘Decide, now, upon the evidence I’m showing you.’

The blindness of stubbornness and stupidness a.k.a. argumentativeness is far worse than physical blindness. We know this when we find ourselves in a fight with someone who won’t let go of their issue, no matter how sound our argument or case is. They simply will not listen. (Of course, our challenge is still to listen to them.)

There was a reason Paul had the tradition of going into the Synagogues for three consecutive Sunday’s in a new mission destination (Acts 17:2); he had to give the Jews the opportunity to hear about this Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

But all too often he met the same theme: spiritual blindness and hardened hearts.

And so what are we to do?

In our belief, we’re going way on beyond the argumentative.

They’re stuck—and perhaps forever so—in their argumentative and spiritually blind states. And there they shall remain, without light and certainly without hope and knowledge of a God who loves them with a love beyond any earthly love.

And they do not need God (though we know this to be a vast folly, pervasive through humankind). Our Jesus came to turn the tables on the spiritually proud. He offers a ‘leg-up’ to those poor-in-spirit, that he might come and make all the difference.

And this is our golden reality: the Divine ‘lottery ticket’ we all qualify to win.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How’s This “Thing” Going to Possibly Work Out?

IN A CHERISHABLE THOUGH SHRILL SENSE of paled delight—a joy refusing to take stock of the horrendous reality staring us down right now—we actually wonder:

‘How, God, truly are you going to get me through this?’

In the midst of this problem we get a pungent glimpse of just how BIG our God is.

A few days earlier we weren’t so certain. Emotionally confounded and spiritually vanquished we were the enemy’s captive prey—we felt so pathetic; so far from God’s knowledge of ‘the way through.’

We are perfectly apt at wavering so much in life. One day we’re weak and struggling in our own strength. A day or two later, having wisely sought God—surrendering to his Spirit, we’re strong again, though weak, but paradoxically strong in his strength! Only a Spirit-filled Christian will know and recognise the difference.

This “wavering” phenomenon I know very well. A recent Tuesday featured a pathetic languishing—the Wednesday through Friday immediately after, so positive and Spirit-strengthened, the contrast was remarkable. Just how great is God? Rhetorically, that’s incomprehensible. He is incomprehensible!

When it comes to a time when we literally cannot see a way through the present set of difficulties and challenges, and we honestly ask God “how?” we can suddenly experience a rather weird emotion. This is when we physically smile and laugh at ourselves whilst quaking in our boots—a simultaneous stark and feared bravery, despite the horrible situation. Somehow we believe he can do it.

Whether we’re facing financial hardships, relationship conflicts or losses, or timeline impossibilities or something else, God’s business is manufacturing and proving the miracle true—we know this but seemingly he continually must prove it to us.

“How great thou art,” indeed!

Our souls sing in awed wonder as we recognise God’s role in swathing a path for us. We must have “eyes” for these tricks of grace that see us through. As it is written variously, especially in Romans, though sourced from Habakkuk 2:4:

“The righteous will live by faith.”

~Romans 1:16 (NIV).

We cannot have it both ways. We cannot have God’s blessings over, in and through us if we insist on our ways and our methods i.e. negating the “work” of faith. As we let go and get out of the way, however, we see the hand of God navigating a way through for us, even (especially even) in the “impossible.”

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Self-Forgiveness: Control, Use and Value of Anger

IT’S THE ABILITY TO ‘TURN-IN’ ANGER, not on itself, but to absorb it within—in a way I can only call “faith”—that is crux of self-forgiveness unto the forgiveness of others—the final, gorgeous corrective to abrasive anger. We can only tolerate others if we first tolerate ourselves, as loving others is reliant on adequate and potent self-love. Self-toleration is the key and catalyst.

This, of all things, is probably the hardest living thing to do. But, indeed, possible!

It goes against itself as a way of being so incredibly for itself—my-self/yourself. It’s entirely paradoxical and so untenable—until that is, it’s tried.

When we finally arrange ourselves in such a suffuse way as to wrangle positively with our anger, due the item of self-forgiveness—God’s grace generously self-bestowed—we are then ready for a ‘gorgeous torment’ that should completely anger us but absolutely doesn’t.

It operates as surrender does this anger. Turning-in the emotions within the self we gain a spiritual power that’s unparalleled. We find nothing—in this mood—can get us down or trap us. We feel invincible in the tradition of Romans 8:37. This truly is the Christian experience, though sadly most Christians don’t actually ever experience it!

(Even sadder, finding this ‘deeper magic’ often requires of us to sink to such a depth—there, we finally grasp God.)

Generating joy from otherwise angering stimuli is a totally endearing concept that truly anyone can engage in. But it’s only when “they” realise it’s the person of Jesus Christ they must deal with, some baulk. Christ, the stumbling block. Laughable I know! (If it wasn’t so sad!) Others just get the ‘Jesus message’ all wrong. They don’t appear to be able to understand their Bibles, particularly on matters of persecution/response and the like.

A love so great in the world that it could never harm nor be harmed. That is the state of Christ-likeness we’re to strive for and attain.

Truly, anger and forgiveness have much in common and their threads, interwoven, are inseparable.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

God – He May Appear Silent, But Indeed He Watches

“The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.”

~Deuteronomy 2:7 (NIV).

Much like the famous refrain in Psalm 23:1—“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want”—this statement of Moses’ above shatters a thousand myths that God ever vacates the Suzerainty arrangement. God never utterly forsakes us. He disciplines but never forsakes.

Everything we do is eternally significant and significance is eternal. Whilst God might appear silent, distant and disinterested, he is actually watching very intently and pulling for us to act as he knows we can act—in the trust and obedience of faith.

God, I believe, seeks to be inspired by us. And we, if we’re aligned, want the same thing—to inspire God; to show him that we’re steadfastly aligned with his agenda, particularly as we’re pushed and squeezed by life.

We can only hope to do this—inspire God—if we’re totally and irrevocably confident in his providential Presence, right here, right now. And that’s a process—to act that out in daily life. And still we’ll have our seasons—all of us—where, for the life of us, we just cannot “feel” him!

The practical science and “magic” of faith is to know that whilst God seems silent he is indeed in our midst all the time! When we’re ‘keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:2) we can only for the better part be acting as if he were directly there beside us (indeed, inside us) all the time.

He watches and gently affirms us, in our faithful obedience. As we obey, we know by his Word and by faith that this is so. When we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into virtuosity we then sense his satisfaction as a direct product, even whilst we feel we might be missing out from the worldly perspective in our sacrificing and contending. And still both the sacrificing and contending totally undermine the shallow ‘worldly blessing’ we might get in disobedience, making our obedience to God wholly worthwhile.

Nothing satisfies quite like the gentle, visceral reassurance of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord watches over those who love him—and in our right dealing (Psalms 1:6; 145:20), he is the ‘shade at our right hand’ and he’ll ‘watch over our coming and going’ (Psalm 121:5, 8). Indeed, he watches both the wicked and the just—his ‘eyes are everywhere’ (Proverbs 15:3).

We act in faith and he will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). God, both in nature and reality, is faithful. We will look back and see his mighty hand that was for us; never against.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Zealous Christian’s Burden

“[H]is word is in my heart like a fire,

A fire shut up in my bones;

I am weary of holding it in;

Indeed, I cannot.”

~Jeremiah 20:9b, c (NIV).

One thing I noted in my recent frenzied ‘friend farming’ is the number of very passionate Christ-followers there are in the broader world. I think it entirely fair to say that Jeremiah didn’t see things anywhere near as optimistically—though he did live pre-Christ.

Browsing the early-going in Jeremiah there’s a pretty standard theme of Israel’s apostasy and faithlessness, with repeated warnings spelt out from the Lord through the prophet to return to their first love; that the sacrifices and burnt offerings without a heart for obedience are meaningless and totally worthless to God (Jer. 6:20).

But it’s the above-quoted verse that most caught my eye afresh.

It explains the passion with which meets our reading of the message. Jeremiah was obviously, in some ways, a very reluctant prophet. He’d tried to assuage his anguish. This was due to the torment of a heartless people bent on rack and ruin causing him much sorrow and persecution, so bad he stopped prophesying.

But that lasted only so long; the passion for him (and for us now) burned deep within—to his very bones. This would have carried with it a much concretised image in the pre-millennial Jewish reader.

This helps us in our disillusionment. We all get disillusioned in trying to do good, preaching the Word of God in whatever way seems right and anointed for us. It’s a necessarily long journey. There are not many positions for a C.H. Spurgeon, a John Piper or an A.W. Tozer to dwell. And nor does everyone have to be “Superpastor” to feel and exercise that same burden to preach God’s good news.

God’s instruction is simply to start. Learn, study, then start—and keep studying!

God needs each of us spreading our little pieces of joyous, hope-filled sunshine—broadening the coverage of our lamp on the hill. Once we’re bitten by the bug that is God’s holy Word, captivated by his Spirit, of course we cannot help heralding him who has saved us!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Your Darkest Moments, God’s There Too

ONE OF THE RICHEST BLESSINGS in this life is the Presence of God in midst of great turmoil. As I watched afresh the Avril Lavigne video, I’m With You, I was reminded of a pain so real and so possible to life. Life is so stark, so raw and horrible at times. But, we also all too easily forget the Lord—our relational God—is there with us in all of it.

‘It’s a damned cold night, trying to figure out this life...’


But the problem is, figuring out this life is not our task.

In the most tear-filled and pained knowledge of life we can somehow note that the grace of God finds us there—his still, silent and comforting Presence. Once we experience this we’re hooked a hundred times more powerfully than any illicit drug on the planet. We can’t help but follow for we’ve received the most paradoxical keys—to his Kingdom. Yet, retaining a sense of his Presence is our problem.

If we’re only focused on the person of Jesus, all else sorts itself.

And yet, depths like these can only be touched effectively in the rawest sense. Loneliness becomes us and we hate it. We feel so bereft and let down we’ll cling to any sort of hope; often the wrong sort of hope. The vulnerable heart is stifled from hope—hope doesn’t look like it looked a week ago, a month ago or a year ago. We pine for those times. Hope for the future vanishes as we hasten back to a past so much better than now.

And in this...

Jesus says, ‘I’m with you,’ in your darkest moments. Our Blessed Hope—yours and mine. His hope for you is a hope you can decently cling to. All will work out in faith.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

A Virtuous Ambition

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

~1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NIV).

Many children in this day, as they grow to adulthood and receive their driver’s licences, are receiving cars from their parents without having to pay for them. Some also receive vast sums of money on turning 18 or 21. I often wonder what the parents of these now-grown young adults are trying to impart—what they are trying to teach them. I deduce after a moment’s thought it can’t be much. No one learns much without at least a little sacrifice.

And it was the same for some of the Thessalonians. Even though they’d experienced the persecuted side of faith, these Greeks either looked down on manual labour or they were simply waiting upon Jesus’ return.

Paul’s underlying focus in both his letters to the Thessalonians was collectively these two issues; the believers there were tempted to take things easy and wait for the ‘ceremonial arrival of their imperial delegate’—Jesus. Their focus had shifted from where it needed to be.

And the kids of today who’ve received everything—and this is especially manifest in the grown kids—often do not have the correct focus, and who could blame them? They haven’t had to learn to work for their own things. It is common cause and effect.

In Acts 20:35, as Paul is farewelling the Ephesian Elders, his last recorded sentence tells them:

“I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

‘More blessed’ in this context is a personally felt grateful reality. When young people grow up without the expectation that a shiny car should greet them as a ‘rites of passage’ sort of gift, they seem happier in the long run and more adept at working with their own hands—in the long run. They are happy with what we know to be the right thing.

We know this implicitly and intuitively somehow. We’ve all experienced the sense of humble satisfaction of earning our pay and then wisely investing of our money in the things we now own—those things that are special. And yet, there are also times when we’ve been given things—big things—and we haven’t truly appreciated them as much as if we’d earned them, dollar-for-dollar, ourselves.

Virtue’s ambition for us then is to work quietly and diligently with our own hands without casting even a quarter of an eyeball over our shoulders at the less diligent. Like us, they’ll get theirs—everyone does. Let us not become distracted, and in everything simply focus on the person of Jesus:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

~Hebrews 12:2 (NIV).

This single-minded and simple focus allows us to achieve the respect of outsiders, as well as help those in need, and it brings us the ‘more blessed’ state simply in leading the quiet life, minding our own business.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beautiful Feet and Good News

“How beautiful on the mountains

are the feet of those who bring good news,

who proclaim peace,

who bring good tidings,

who proclaim salvation,

who say to Zion,

‘Your God reigns!’”

~Isaiah 52:7 (NIV).

This is what the Lord says. Consistent with the Lord Jesus’ final consummating command in Matthew 28:18-20—the Great Commission, the Father lifts the sweet evangelist into heaven and kisses him or her for their convicted beauty, sealing the task as anointed, post-victory.

And on the mountain the evangelist climbs, both bringing a “high” message and so they can get some vocal resonance occurring. The “messenger” brings the Lord’s message with glee.

The proclamation of a message fervently about peace, goodness and salvation is always welcome as the Lord’s kingship is displayed for all to see, reminiscent of Psalms 93:1, 97:1 and 99:1.[1]

This is good news at any time, especially during a time of palpable affliction; it breathes hope into the situation and a joy held for better times; for the King of kings rules indeed—over all—now in reality. It might seem strange that Isaiah’s working context is ruination—yet good news is most hope-filled in these sorts of desperate times as souls hold out for the last morsel of hope with which to cling to.

What is heralded is the homecoming of the Lord. In more plain terms, peace is obviously the end of war, conflict and threat; good tidings means there’s very little bad news on the horizon—certainly nothing of contemptible note; and, salvation indicates the reign of the wicked has ceased and those in bondage have been released.[2] The messenger brings their message in the sight of all this. They proclaim something that—in context—has already taken place.

And so it is for us. We live nearly 2,000 years hence from the most salvific act in the history of the world—where salvation was declared with finality in the resurrected and ascended Christ. This is the cosmic backdrop of our message. It is not a new message. But it does need to be proclaimed with “newness.”

The stain of wrath has since been removed. We are free. We should then live free.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Allan Harman, Isaiah – A Covenant to be Kept for the Sake of the Church – FOTB Series (Fearn, Scotland, Christian Focus Publications, 2005), p. 359.

[2] J. Alec Moyter, The Prophecy of Isaiah – An Introduction & Commentary (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1993), p. 419-20.