Tag Archive | High Priest

Where joy and sorrow meet – December 4

I woke to a light dusting of snow with flakes still falling.  In the still-dark morning, it was a lovely awakening.   The day seemed promising and full of anticipation.

But a shadow clouded my sleepy thoughts.  My sweet William and I would go and share a great loss with dear friends this morning – a loss that cannot be explained, a grief that surely seems unfair.

As I sat in a small chapel crowded with friends and family, I thought, “We cannot take their grief away.  We can only share it.”  And then the Holy Spirit whispered, “God does not take our grief away either.  But He did come to share it.”

My mind went back to another December in 1982 when I waited in a hospital room while my dear mother endured a treatment on her lungs, by now infested with cancer.  The treatment was simply temporary relief to her breathing.  The doctor had told us she only had three months to live.  His diagnosis/prediction was very accurate.

It was Christmas time but there was no Christmas spirit in me.  Thankfully, my extended family took my nine-year-old son with them so he could enjoy the holiday festivities.  I certainly was not interested in shopping, baking cookies, or putting up a Christmas tree.  My mother lay dying in a hospital bed.

She wanted me with her while the treatment was being administered.  I sang to her, quoted Scripture, held her hand, and tried to appear strong for her sake.  I was anything but.  I was falling apart on the inside.

While she rested awhile after the treatment, I looked out of the hospital window and wondered where God was in all of this.  How could people be celebrating the joyous season, how could I? The sweet whisper of the Spirit spoke to my heart, reminding me that Jesus came to the earth in human flesh for just such a reason as this, because of sin, sickness, and death.  He came to share in my humanity with all of its joys and sorrows. 

I am comforted to know the prophet Isaiah called Jesus a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with my grief (Isaiah 53).  While Jesus lived on this green and blue planet, He purposely clothed Himself in blood cells, nerve endings, human emotions and skin just like mine.  He subjected himself to life and death, to friendship and betrayal, to joy and sorrow.

And He did it all without sinning.  I cannot say the same.

This is what makes my Savior the Great High Priest that He is, the One who entered the inner sanctuary behind the curtain on my behalf; the One who lives to intercede for me, the One who runs to my cry when I am tempted, tried, and suffering.  (Hebrews 7:25, 6:19-20; 2:18)

Don’t we anticipate the days leading to Christmas as being joy-filled and happy?  It is just not so for countless fellow travelers on this road called life.   Even Mary the mother of Jesus, in the midst of her joyful moment of dedicating her precious baby at the temple, was given a grave prophecy by Simeon.   “A sword will pierce your soul, too,” he told Mary.

Sorrow is part of life just as much as happiness and joy and peace and celebrations.  The final Word on it all for me comes from Hebrews 13: 5b . . .

” . . . for He Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.  I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down, relax My hold on you — assuredly not!”   (Amplified Bible)

There is no greater assurance than that.  And no better reason to celebrate.

I’m running, I’m running!

Wednesday in the upper room the Ruth Bible study sisters reviewed our week and talked about such things as:

  • kindness – Doing kind deeds on purpose can change my emotions.
  • humility, that seemingly illusive characteristic.  If you think you’ve got it – then maybe you don’t.  Knowing who God is and knowing who I am creates an attitude of humility.
  • the marriage supper of the Lamb of God – Jesus will provide the perfect white robe of righteousness for each of us.  We can’t work for it, purchase it, or provide it ourselves.  Whew, I’m relieved about that!
  • Boaz, the kindsman-redeemer – He is a picture of Christ my Redeemer who paid in full the awful debt I owed.

We concluded our class thinking about the overshadowing wings of God.  Not that God actually has wings, but His Word often presents us with a metaphor of being protected under the wings of our Lord.   Boaz told Ruth, “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (Ruth 2:12)

My dad was a farm boy and remembers how the hen and her chicks would be peacefully scratching the ground for food when the appearance of a circling hawk caused the hen to cluck to her little ones.  They would scurry to her and huddle underneath her wings for protection.  Compare that idea with God calling to us to run to Him for salvation, for protection, provision, or whatever our need is.

We then looked at the tabernacle of God in the wilderness.  God gave Moses specific instructions how the entire structure was to be put together, specific sizes, materials, and characteristics (Exodus 25).  The Ark of the Covenant (also called Ark of the Testimony), housed in the Holy of holies, was to be a representation of God’s presence in the midst of His people.  In this amazing box, Moses put the Law of God, the 10 Commandments.  The Law was a measuring line for the Israelites, a standard they would never be able to attain.  But the box was covered by the Atonement Cover or Mercy Seat because mercy always covers the law.  God knows our frame, that we struggle to do right and fail at it.  He has made provision for us through Jesus’ perfect, sinless life.

The Mercy Seat was constructed with two cherubim attached, facing each other, and having their wings overshadowing it.  God said it was there He would meet with Moses.

Psalm 91 tells about the secret place of the Most High, dwelling there in the safety of God’s presence and protection.  The fourth verse says

“He will cover you with His feathers, and underneath His wings you will find refuge.”

First John 2: 2 declares Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  He became the Mercy Seat, and it was to Him I ran when I needed to be redeemed and forgiven of my sins.  He is still the One I run to when I need to be forgiven . . . again and again.

A pot of manna was later put in the Ark (Exodus 16) reminding me that Jesus provides my “daily bread,” whether that be food, finances, healing, instruction, or guidance.

The third item in the Ark was Aaron’s rod that bloomed (Number 17)  It was the proof and God’s stamp of approval that Aaron was indeed chosen to be the High Priest.  We Christians are called a kingdom of priests who go to the Mercy Seat and intercede for family, friends, and the world just as Aaron interceded for the nation of Israel.

What does all that mean?  It means I run to the Mercy Seat for forgiveness.  I run to the Mercy Seat for my daily needs.  I run to the Mercy Seat to petition my Father on behalf of those near and dear to my heart.  I run to the Mercy Seat because it there He meets with me.  It is there I am sheltered under the overshadowing wings of my God.  It is the safest place I can be.

Just like Ruth, I have come to take refuge under the wings of the Lord, the God of Israel.  I’m running.  I’m running!  I’m running to the Mercy Seat!

Someday I’ll understand

How are you doing with your Bible study in the book of Ruth?  Dealing with the losses in our lives can be tough work.

I’ve mulled over day one of Kelly Minter’s study guide a couple of times.  Thoughts are swirling.  Painful things surface to the top.  And one more time I pour out my heart to God.  Reading the study’s suggested scriptures, I identify with Job’s pain while he feels so forgotten by God.  I can see his life from the perspective of knowing how it will end.  And I want to tell him, “There is hope, Job.  There is a Redeemer!  God will make it clear, maybe not in your lifetime, but someday.  Your great trial will encourage me thousands of years later.” 

There is so much I do not understand.  So many questions I would like to ask.  Too much suffering I cannot explain away.  I imagine and I wonder if perhaps that great cloud of witnesses spoken about in Hebrews 12 would like to tell me, “There is hope, Peggy.  God will make it clear, maybe not in your lifetime, but someday.” 

And so I press on with the knowledge I do have:  

  • that God is faithful
  • that He is good
  • that there is a purpose in pain
  • that I may confidently approach His graceful throne and expect to receive mercy and grace enough
  • that my Redeemer lives and identifies with me
  • that my great High Priest runs to my cry (Hebrews 2:18, see below)

There is comfort in that knowledge.  And so I wait with hope that someday I will understand.

Hebrews 2:18 For because He Himself in His humanity has suffered in being tempted (tested, and tried), He is able (immediately) to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried and who therefore are being exposed to suffering.   (Amplified Bible, emphasis added)