Closer & Closer (An ‘On Union’ Prologue of Sorts)

So this was written last year. A little over a year today, to be precise. The prevalent thought of my inseperable union with none other than Christ had its effect on my preaching engagements… and as a result, this was pieced together. I find it fascinating how what I wrote back then serves as a reminder to me today, in a sense that it serves as a perspective almost independent from what I see today. 

Light stacks upon light. Oftentimes I find myself frustrated before a crowd, that I have much to say, but I don’t know how to start, and/or I don’t know how to piece it all together. Today, one of my biggest problems is that I tend to overemphasize one point, leaving the coup de grace, the finale, less impactful. 

Note to self, and to anyone else: Writing continues to make a precise man. This may be a dug-up perspective on Union, supplementing what I currently have in mind on the topic, but stay tuned – there may be more that needs to be stated. Grace and peace upon us all. 

Thank our Father for His guidance in allowing us to know of His lovingkindness towards us as demonstrated through His relentless pursuit to be with us.Separation followed immediately after the Fall, but God did not waste any time in getting closer to us.

He showed us His power (through the Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah), effectively introducing His superiority and holiness. He demonstrated His favor (primarily through Abraham and through his descendants that followed), revealing His grace and mercy.

In perfect timing, He went ahead and brought it up a notch. His authority over the principalities of Egypt was shown yet again through Moses and the plagues, and when Pharaoh finally set the nation of Israel free, the people headed out, being guided and comforted by a pillar of fire by night, and a pillar of clouds by day. From being upon us, He went before us.

And on and on it went. The Israelites were witness to how God quenched their thirst with bitter water made sweet. They experienced military victory as Aaron and Hur were directed to hold the arms of Moses up. God was upon them, raining down bread from heaven for their sustenance. God was before them, directing them by a pillar of fire, and a pillar of cloud.

He introduced the Law for us to know His holiness, and a shadow of things to come (through the sacrifices). When the Tabernacle was built He went from going before us to being in our midst. From being in the middle of a desert camp eventually He was in the center of Jerusalem, which was itself the center, the capital of the nation of Israel.

Let’s go back to Genesis 1. God created all things we could perceive as reality, from the greatest of the stars down to the smallest of particles, and as creature after creature, plant after plant came into being by His word, He saw that ‘it was good.’ It was all good. The ground was good. Man was then drawn and created ‘out of the dust of the ground.’ (Genesis 2:7).

Even the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was good. We would have heard otherwise if it wasn’t good. It wasn’t that God created something evil. I believe that God created something that was too good for Man, drawn from the dust of the ground, could take on His own. When something created merely of God’s image and not from God’s image is given the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it is akin to a contradiction, of the created given jurisdiction over the created… and the result of this, as God guaranteed, was that man ‘would surely die.’

Oh, that we would have chosen, instead, to eat from the tree of Life! The story thus far would surely have been so different!

 

But let’s rewind. Let’s go back to the beginning of all that we perceive as reality… Well, at least from a standpoint that the world so conveniently compartmentalizes as the ‘Creationist’ worldview.

Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden. Everything was created, from the greatest of stars, down the smallest of particles. Out of the dust of the ground, so man was created as well. He was created in the image of God, and he was given a helper. Before Genesis 3, God and Man were in harmony. God and Man walked together in the Garden of Eden. They were together.

1. The events of Genesis 3 happened. The woman was tempted, and the man followed suit. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:22-24)

In all this God shows Himself as sovereign and faithful. Even this act of bringing Adam and Eve out of the garden was an act of mercy and grace.

2. God continues to show His faithfulness to man by establishing his covenant with Noah, to save Him from the flood (Genesis 6:11-22). God showed His faithfulness to man even further when He made a rainbow to remind man to this day that the world will never face another great deluge again (Genesis 9:9-17).

3. God continued to show His faithfulness to Abraham, then Abram (Genesis 12). As future writers would point out in precision, Abra(ha)m truly believed, and it was truly accounted to Him for righteousness (Romans 4:3, Genesis 15:6). His grace was demonstrated in the sense that even when Abraham was making what we would call mistakes here and there, He was redeemed each and every time. God’s favor was ever upon Him.

4. God appeared to Moses in the form of a bush, alight and aflame but not consumed. Plague after plague hit Egypt, and finally the Israelites were given freedom to go to the land prepared for them. God was guiding them by a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night.

5. God eventually established a covenant with His people, in the form of the Law. While they continued to be guided by a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, we see here that the presence of God was further established in their midst in the form of the tabernacle, where He resided in the Holy of Holies. So God was no longer just before them, but with them, in their midst, as the tabernacle was always placed in the center of all the camp, no matter where they moved.

6. The Promised land was eventually occupied, and the tabernacle became the temple, placed in the capital of Jerusalem. God was no longer in the midst of a handful of people, but an entire nation. The age of Judges gave way to the age of Kings.

7. For literal centuries, that was the setup. Kings came and went, and year after year, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies. The people of Israel were given the wisdom of God through reminders, signs and wonders, but the ultimate outcome was elaborated in the end of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi. a picture of complacency was painted, half-hearted offerings reflecting a weariness on the part of the nation of Israel in trying to keep up with the thrice holy standards of a perfect Creator.

8. In the fullness of time, in the sweet fullness of time, God chose to come down… As if to step out of the Holy of Holies, He no longer just dwelt among us, He walked with us, talked to us, ate with us, fed us, healed us, raised us from the dead… He was among us, fully God and fully man…

9. …and even then, our loving God was not content! In a move as relentless as it is humble, He laid down His life, that we would be united in death, and brought back to life as He was, new wineskins filled with new wine, new creations filled with a new Spirit!

Christ is alive in us, and we are alive in Christ… Closer and closer our God chooses to be with us, literally made one with us!

What does this mean? How is this important to me?

Personally, the fact that I am alive in Christ, and the fact that Christ is alive in me tells me that I have no reason to be self-conscious or insecure anymore. I have no need to look at myself and my performance to see if I am accepted by God, because I know that because of Christ I can see God as my Father, and I know God sees me as His beloved son. On the other side of the coin, I am confident to sing out in worship. I am confident to speak to all of you, not because I’m supposed to, but because I want to.

This message of Christ is just so good. It’s so good that my former ways of hoarding are going away because I know Christ is not just my Savior, not just my Power, but my Life, and not just my Life, but my Life abundant!


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