Friday, October 7, 2011

GOD Has Thrown in the Towel!

Strange title for this entry, eh?

Some of you might remind me that God wouldn't "throw in the towel", He wouldn't quit, or relent or give up - He can't grow weary because it says so in His Word:

Isaiah 40:28

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding

Others might see a contradiction between this verse, and the creation account described in Genesis and later commented on in Exodus 20:

Exodus 20:11

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it

Incidentally, this is a great proof text to show (from vs. 10 to 11) that the six days of creation are a literal six days as vs. 11 is comparative to vs. 10!

Yet when God "rested" it wasn't demonstrating weariness, but simply having completed a task, He stopped working. I can go about the task of dusting furniture and when I'm done, I can immediately go and lift weights. I've "rested" from dusting, but not weary at all.

No, what I'm referring to is something altogether different.

Let's turn back the clock of time to about 33 A.D. in Jerusalem and visit the dwelling that's come to be known as the Upper Room (a place I've visited twice now when I traveled to Israel).

It's the Passover: the LORD Jesus Christ had made arrangements previously to celebrate the Passover with His disciples here, which many believe was the residence of John Mark's parents (Mark, who became a believer, was the amanuenses for Peter in writing his gospel account; hence the Gospel of 'Mark'; and was the nephew of Barnabas who accompanied his uncle 'Barney' and Paul the apostle on a missions trip).

This was a blessed event, and one I'm sure that every believer would have loved to partake of, with our LORD actually present with us - but this is no vain wish you know! There is coming a day when we will partake of this Supper, with our Resurrected LORD in the Kingdom! See Matthew 26: 29

Blessing was mixed with burden however on that night, because the LORD disclosed to His followers that "one of [them] with betray [Him]" Matthew 26: 20 - 25 states: "and they were extremely sorrowful and asked 'LORD, is it I?'." Eleven of them asked Him that question, but a twelfth said something similar:

"Master, is it I?" Note, this disciple didn't call Him "LORD" but "Master" that is, 'teacher'. This was Judas Iscariot, the self-serving disciple! Interesting!

Then something else happened:

Luke 22:24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.

Could you imagine being a fly on the wall in there? Seeing these apostles bickering among themselves?

"James and I are going to be the greatest! After all, we're the sons of thunder! And we were on the Mount of Transfiguration when the LORD allowed us a special revelation!"

"Don't you two forget, that I was there too," exclaimed Peter. "And I might add, who of you have ever walked on water?!"

"Typical boast from a big brother!" retorted Andrew, but which one of you is always leading people to Jesus, hmm? That should tell you something!"

I can hear a crescendo of cacophony as tempers flared and heated words became hotter, and in the midst of this tumult, a lone figure arises and quietly goes about a needed task. He pours water into a basin, then girds a towel around His waist. Slowly, so as to not spill the basin filled to the rim with water, He makes His way to the first of His disciples.

While on the way, one of them notices, and falls silent and stares. Another sees the disciple staring and turns himself to see what he was looking at. He too falls silent in shock.

The basin is set at the foot of the recliner (people ate at the tables while reclining on couches in those days; chairs were an invention of previous times, but in the Middle Eastern culture of those days, this was the preferred method) of the first disciple and suddenly the room was hushed until all you could hear was the sloshing of water as the towel was dipped, and the LORD Jesus began to wash the disciples dirty feet.

You see, it was typically the job of a hired servant (and then, the lowest of these) to greet guests at the door and offer them the customary foot washing, as people in those days wore sandals and walked miles of dusty, unpaved roads. I can just picture the disciples as they first entered this place, noticing that there was no basin of water ready, and no servant . . . can you just see them staring at each other with disdain, each knowing what the other was thinking?

'There is no way, I'm going to wash your feet! Don't you know who I am? I'm the greatest in our LORD's kingdom, that's who!"

And yet there they were, reclining, bickering and insisting on the greater virtues of themselves as being worthy of the greater honor in the kingdom - still and silent however, were those men as the LORD quietly, humbly and willingly washed one man's feet after another, and another.

Note that not one of them interrupted the LORD and said, "Please, let me do that!" Peter came closest in refusing to have the LORD wash his feet (John 13: 8). Yet the LORD insisted, saying that if He didn't, then Peter would have "no part with Me" and upon hearing that, Peter said, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." I have to smile when I read these words of such love and devotion.

The LORD in response said that " . . . He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit . . ." (vs. 10). We are washed judiciously from our sins by the blood of the Lamb, but in consecration of daily washing from our daily walks with the LORD where our 'feet' can get dirty in a world of sin, there is the washing of the water of the WORD. Once so washed, we "have part" with the LORD in fellowship, but not until then (Eph. 5:26-27; 1 John 1:7-9)

Yet the LORD continued, uninterrupted until He finally completed His task, and then (from different Gospel accounts) said:

John 13:13-17

Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them

And then from Luke's Gospel we have:

Luke 22:25-27

And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth

As is so often the case, the 'rules' of the kingdom, or 'kingdom principles' as they are called, are Topsy turfy, upside down, and diametrically opposed to the 'rules of the world'. And this is to a point, that God's "(blessed) ways are not our (baneful) ways" Isaiah 55:8-9.

The values, the estimable virtues, those things highly esteemed in the kingdoms of this world (whose ruler, or 'god' is Satan) are power and the acquisition of more power for the purpose of subjugating others beneath those with a 'will to power' as Nietzsche would put it.
To lavish oneself with wealth, opulence, even decadence in a self-serving philosophy motivated by pride, arrogance and "sensual wisdom"; this is what Satan offered to the LORD when he promised to deliver "ALL these things . . . (note: not some, much or most!)" at the temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:8-9).

I believe this may well be the deal with the devil that the anti-Christ will agree to, once he comes into his own.

Yet the kingdom of God is far different in its values, virtues and those things highly esteemed by God!
The riches of His kingdom are far and above greater than anything that this world can offer, thus to "esteem the reproach of Christ [as] greater riches" (Heb. 11:26) and be rejected by this world as He was (and still is!) by adhering to one's allegiance and loyalty to God and His Holy Word.

Meekness, humility, gentleness, surrendering and sacrificing self as a servant of God to people for the LORD's sake and out of a mutual love for those people - these are the things that make for greatness in God's Kingdom!

Now, its the same Person that gave us the greatest example of 'servanthood' Who will also be adorned and adored in worship, as the greatest King! The very KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, Jesus Christ.

And the LORD is building a kingdom where, not merely its subjects, but the co-regent who will sit with Him on His throne, "seated in the heavenlies" - an overcoming bride that mirrors the character and servanthood of her Bridegroom.

Luke 14:11

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased
(Like Lucifer and all his followers); and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Like the LORD Jesus and all of His followers). See also Matt. 18:4; 1 Pet 5:6

James 4:6-10

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up

Those who are proud and resistant are not open to God's ways, but to the Frank SINatra method - they want to do it "MY way" and remember: all it took to turn a holy cherub into a devil was for him to say "MY will be done" rather than "THY will be done" (Isaiah 14:12-19. compare this with the admonition from James).

Those who are humble as a little child (Luke 18:16-17), who are willing to learn, to be led, teachable and obedient (who do not ascribe to themselves proud wisdom and lofty knowledge), these will be led into the Kingdom by those kingdom principles outlined in the Word, expressly described in the GOSPEL.

The Gospel's central message of course is the atonement for our sins by the LORD Jesus Himself, the very KING of Kings who clothed Himself with humility and died in the most shameful way possible: by bearing our sins upon His Holy Soul!

Matthew 20:26-28

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many
(See also Phil. 2:5-11 the very opposite of Lucifer's pride and fall as recorded in Isaiah 14th chapter, cited above).

Such a ransom that was paid as we will never be able to conceive or fully understand! How our HOLY and PRECIOUS, GENTLE and GRACIOUS LORD suffered so terribly with our heinous sins laid upon Him!
This is the ULTIMATE in servanthood!!

Think of the LORD Jesus Christ and compare Him with the world leaders today: no comparison is there?

Yet when one considers Jesus Christ, there is no doubt that His holiness and virtue, His nobility and integrity, His truthfulness and sense of justice, and mercy and grace; His love and His peace and temperance, His patience and meekness; His possession of all knowledge and wisdom, His possession of all power, His possession of all good attributes causes any and all others to pale in utter absurdity as viable candidates for rightful ruling.

The LORD Himself stands apart as the singular candidate that is wholly and reverently worthy of rulership; and He desires to make us such as Himself.
And where does this sanctified training begin?

Perhaps right where the LORD Jesus threw in the towel in the Upper Room?
Will we pick up that towel and take up where our LORD (supposedly; He is still serving really!) left off?

Servanthood isn't a drag at all when you're doing it along side of JESUS (Mark 16:19-20)! By His Spirit, you will find yourself anointed, to some degree as He Himself was, as a servant of the LORD! This is a blessed place to be!
Here is a biblical portrait of the SERVANT of the LORD, JESUS:

Isaiah 61:1-2a ¶ (See also 42:1-8; 52:13-15)

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD . . .

And this same Servant is coming back as the Rightful Ruler Who will dispense justice, equity and execute such as these as the KING and JUDGE of the whole Earth!

Isaiah 61:2b-3
. . . and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified

Let's consider these truths as they've been put into song:



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