“When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.” (Proverbs 10:25)
We have all had hard times in our lives, but sometimes it seems like wave after wave of bad news keeps crashing against us, giving us little time to catch our breath. This year has felt like that to many, maybe even you.
Sometimes, in the midst of that constant barrage, we can begin to feel like we are losing our grip, like the darkness will swallow us, and we will be lost. Can I point to some hope in these times? “When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.” (Proverbs 10:25)
What a great verse to remember for 2020. Every tempest and storm in life passes. The question we need to answer is, will we be standing on the other side? For the follower of Christ, the answer is an exuberant “yes!”
The tempest in your life might not be a person, it might be sickness, or financial troubles. It could be heartbreak, or maybe loss of a loved one. These too will pass. The sin which has brought into our world death, destruction, disease, calamity, and wicked people has been defeated upon the cross.
One day soon, the Lord will return and the storm will pass. One day, all will be made right in this world and all evil, and every effect from the fall will be brought to perfect righteousness.
The tempest will pass. Cling to Jesus in the storm. But if you feel your grip begin to slip, don’t worry. He is holding you firmly in his hands. And nothing can snatch you away.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
I had a friend in my seminary days named Dave, who was a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan. In case you have never heard of the Browns, they are an NFL football team, and according to the Bench Report, they are in the top 10 worst football teams in NFL history. But Dave was willing to endure friendly ribbing and a bit of ridicule because, for whatever reason, he loved his team.
This sort of faithfulness through good and bad times can be recounted over and over in more important ways–in marriage, in business relationships, and in friendships. But it is especially critical when we are talking about our faith in the Lord Jesus.
The Apostle Paul warned Timothy, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” (2 Timothy 3:1, ESV). This can be expected because the unrighteous people of this world will rebel against those that they perceive to be lovers of God and His Word.
Jesus himself said, ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:18–21, ESV)
Today is Election Day here in the USA. I don’t know the results, but I do know that somebody has to lose. I am hopeful that those who love liberty and justice will rise up and vote to protect our freedoms as they vote. But there is no guarantee that this will happen. On the evening of the last presidential election, I went to bed while the votes were still being tallied and the pundits were making their predictions. I awoke to hear the news in the morning.
No matter the results, I am not a fair-weather follower of Jesus. Even if this country flips over into anarchy and chaos, so that the economy tanks, the banks are emptied, and the streets are filled with hatred and violence. I will mourn, and pray, and resist–but I will not stop looking to Jesus Christ as my hope because I am not a fair-weather follower. …”I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.“
“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name. (Isaiah 65:1 (ESV))
In considering the saving power of God, many have struggled with the conundrum of the sovereign acts of God in salvation versus the need for men to call out to God in order to be saved. This issue has shown up most clearly in the American Evangelical church as the Seeker-sensitive Movement.
The Seeker Sensitive Church may be a twentieth century phenomenon in regard to the trappings of style and function, but its roots run all the way back to the revivalistic theology and camp-style meetings of men like Charles Finney and his ”new measures.” Not only were Finney’s practices firmly planted in Arminian practice, his theology went beyond classical Arminian theology and fully embraced the heresy of Pelagianism.
The theological underpinnings of these movements (Seeker-sensitive churches, Finney-like practices, Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism, and Pelagianism) all place major emphasis upon the idea that the makeup of human reasoning and ability in making moral choices is either totally free from any effect of the Fall (Pelagianism) or only minimally effected (Semi-Pelagianism, et. al.). This important starting point understands and teaches that man is completely and totally capable of making a decision for or against the free offer of the gospel without the direct intervention of the Spirit of God. It is a free moral choice that he is fully capable of making.
Although the idea of man being a free moral agent is a great theological discussion to have, I’ll need to do that at another time. Instead, I want to address the subject of Isaiah 65:1 above. This verse looks at the salvation from God’s point of view. The Apostle Paul referred to this text in Romans 10:20 in reference to the salvation of the Gentiles, “the nation” not called by the name of the Lord.
It is helpful to note that in the larger context of Isaiah, the Lord is described as being willing to receive those who are broken-hearted and contrite. Israel had remained hard-hearted and stiff-necked. She had refused His many appeals and would find herself in exile for her sins. And yet, God had been patient and waited for her to return. As a matter of fact, throughout the book of Isaiah, the Lord repeatedly reaffirms His need to bring His hand of judgment upon Israel while also comforting His people with the fact that although He was angry, He would not be angry forever, and that He would never forsake His Beloved.
So, as the Lord speaks in Isaiah 65:1, He addressed these foreigners who are not Israel. They may not be asking for Him and they may not be seeking Him, but the Lord is portrayed as stating “Here I am, Here I am.” Our God does not hide, He does not obscure Himself or His free offer of salvation.
The problem is that men do not seek Him. They are blinded by their sin, warped in their thinking, devoted to their iniquity, and love the darkness rather than the light. But as John reminds us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5 (ESV)). We may not seek God, but it is good to know that God seeks sinners that He might bring them to salvation.
It is good to know that God can take the hard heart of stone and turn it soft. He can open blind eyes so that we can see the loveliness of Christ and the filth of our own sin. And it is an anchor to the soul to know that my salvation is not secured by my righteousness, but by the righteousness of Christ and His death upon the cross for me. I may fall a thousand times, but Christ will hold me fast. “Here I am. Here I am,” he says. May we take comfort in our great God and Savior’s words.