Wednesday, November 28, 2007

After the Fact

God doesn’t operate the way we would like Him to. We would like Him to provide us with a step by step guide for living and irrefutable proof of His existence. What He does is provide us with ancient revelation and ask us to live by faith. For us who have committed our lives to Jesus Christ we know there are evidences that make our faith reasonable, but doesn’t stop the doubts and uncertainty from coming. Wouldn’t it be easier, we think, if God just revealed Himself once and for all? While we want to live in certainty God wants us to live by faith. Let me give you a couple of examples.

One day Moses was watching his father-in-law's sheep when something caught his eye. It was a bush that was burning, but it was not being consumed. Moses decided to investigate this strange sight. When He approached the bush spoke, or rather a voice called from the bush. It is at this moment God called Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt.
11 Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, or that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" 12 He replied, "Surely I will be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: When you bring the people out of Egypt, you and they will serve God on this mountain." (Exodus 3:11, 12; NET).

I find it odd that the proof God offers to Moses is after the fact. It is after the Israelites are free from the Egyptians that Moses will know it is God who sent him. Moses will know for certain that God had sent him only after he had accomplished the task God has called him to do.

Now did Moses lack evidence that his calling was from God? No, Moses had plenty of evidence that God was calling him to go to Pharaoh and secure the release of Israel. There was the burning bush, the voice of God, and God gave Moses two signs: the staff into a snake and the leprosy of his hand. And during the mission Moses saw the ten plagues, the Red Sea divide, the pillar of cloud/fire which led Israel, plus other miracles. All through Moses' experience God showed him that He was with Moses.

Why was worshipping at Mt. Sinai the proof that God sent Moses? While all the miracles pointed to God and showed Moses and the people God was with them, it wouldn’t have met anything if God did not make a covenant with the people. It was at Mt. Sinai when God established a covenant with Israel, which set them apart as God’s people and prepared the way for Jesus to come. If God delivered Israel from Egypt and then never established a covenant with them, Israel might as well have been back in slavery. It was the covenant, the promise of God at Sinai which made all the difference.

Flash forward a few hundred years. Jesus has turned water into wine, He has cleared the Temple, He has forgiven people of their sins, and He is teaching with authority. This is sets up Jesus with a confrontation with the religious leaders:
18 So then the Jewish leaders responded, "What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?" 19 Jesus replied, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again." 20 Then the Jewish leaders said to him, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?" 21 But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken. (John 1:18-22, NET)

These religious leaders demanded a sign that Jesus was from God, and the sign He offers them is His death and resurrection. Just like Moses had evidence that God had sent him on a mission these religious leaders had evidence that Jesus was from God and the Messiah. There were the healings, the teachings, and the miracles over nature. The evidence was there, but the proof would only come afterwards. The question they were faced with is whether or not they would respond in faith and act upon the evidence they had been given.

The reason the resurrection is the final proof Jesus offered to His enemies about His identity is because all of who He is hinges on this one point. All the healings Jesus did, all the teachings He taught, everything about Jesus, even His death, means nothing without the resurrection. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead we are still in our sins, and we are wasting our time.

Here we are 2,000 years later and people are still clamoring for proof that God exists. Christian apologists have continually offered evidence to people, but often that evidence is ignored. They claim to want a big sign that once and for all settles the question so they can be certain.

Here is the thing there is only one more proof that God is going to offer for His existence and then it will be too late for us to do anything about it.
9 As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow - in heaven and on earth and under the earth - 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NET)

History is fast approaching that time when everyone will bow down to Jesus and proclaim that He is God. What matters then will not be what we believe or hold as true, but our response to the evidence that God has already provided.

This is what I have come to believe: a committed life lived in the uncertainty of life prepares us to live in harmony with God for eternity. Satan and his angels lived in the presence of God, you cannot have more proof than that, and they still rebelled. Living proof was not enough to prevent them from hating God and doing evil. You see God could provide irresistible proof of His existence, but that wouldn’t change the hearts of people. To believe in God is not that same as to love God, and God wants people who will love Him.

When we respond to the evidence that we have and commit ourselves to a life of faith in God now we allow ourselves to be molded into people who genuinely love God. The life of faith is the process through which God creates us to be people fit for heaven. That is why the final proof is held in reserve until after the fact.

  • Point to Ponder: A committed life lived in the uncertainty of life prepares us to live in harmony with God for eternity.
  • A Passage to Remember: Philippians 2:9-11
  • A Question to Consider: Is a lack of evidence your excuse for not living a life of faith?

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