Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Prophets foresee shift from rules to relationship
The Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge, the world’s longest, is a 100 mile long viaduct which crosses the wide Yangtze delta in China. It includes a six-mile section which is also the world’s longest steel suspension bridge. It provokes us to consider the span of the bridge Jesus made between us and God’s light and holiness.
WE SAW yesterday how the Resurrection of Jesus provoked a kind of climate change in the way God’s people walked with Him as believers in the resurrected Jesus.
The relationship had been based on faithful obedience, keeping the requirements of the Law and paying up the sacrificial sanctions for every shortfall. That was a relationship between man’s sinfulness and God’s supreme holiness.
Now the gap had been bridged by Jesus sacrificial action on the Cross. God’s supreme holiness could now relate to our mixed bag of attitudes because Jesus had made a way. Now the emphasis was on personal relationship, willing friendship and the very different kind of walk which comes out of experiencing God’s love expressed in grace and acceptance. Now wonder the disciples couldn’t get their heads around it. They had to receive this in their hearts first.
This was a transition that had been spoken of by prophetic writers who saw something of this new order hundreds of years before it became a reality. The psalmist Ethan, who was solidly under the Old Covenant, penned these prophetic lines which anticipated a much more general relational approach to God:
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.
They rejoice in your name all day long;
they exult in your righteousness.
For you are their glory and strength…
And the prophet Micah gave us these verses, known off by heart by generations of Christians, because they speak more to our situation than the context he would have been familiar with:
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
For those of us well used to the tone of the New Testament and New Covenant, to “walk in the light of Your presence” and to know “You are [our] glory and strength” have a New Covenant resonance, as does “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with… God”. Why? Because surely these are the overflow of a changed, redeemed heart, over and above faithfulness and obedience.
These are turnings – but there is a clear turning point, like the radio beacon aircraft turn on as they come in Heathrow. We will pick that up tomorrow.