Where God’s hand rests

norway-610905_640Isaiah 25:10: For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in a dunghill. (ESV)

“The mountain” in many places in the bible is the meeting place between God and man, and the mountain being described in the focus verse is a direct reference to the church, the mountain of the house of God (Isaiah 2:2), Mount Zion (Hebrews 12:22). And something distinct about the church, in the verse, is that the hand of God rests on the mountain.

The hand stands for various things. It stands for the move of God, the acts of God, the power of God.

Move of God

You do not get contact with God expect in the context of his church. We are the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12), and Christ is one; the church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33), the body of God. That speaks of intimacy, oneness.

We do not know God apart from the church. And that calls for humility. The people of the church needs to lead you into truth, just as mighty Paul needed simple Ananias to guide him to truth (Acts 9:1-17).

The people who speak the word of God are the people of God. The church is the place of truth, any other place and we have lies (1Timothy 3:15). When God wanted to communicate the truth of the gospel to Cornelius, it was not the job of an angel, not even the job of the Holy Spirit in a direct sense, it was a job for Peter, one of the leaders of the church (Acts 10).

When persecution began in Jerusalem where the church was largely domiciled in its first few years, the Christians were spread abroad and as they went they took the message of the gospel with them and many became saved in the places where they went.

If nobody shared the good news, people will not be saved (Romans 10:13-16). People are not saved by default, they are on the way to hell by default. And they need an intervention of the gospel that can only come from the church.

It was the church, the Christians that Paul said they should have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). People will remain restless without peace with God, expect the church reaches out to them in one form or the other, therefore our feet are the feet of Christ to reach to people in the different places in the world.

We communicate his love, or else the world will not know it. Jesus is once set free by his body (the church) and limited by her. He is confined to her, committed to her, and she is committed to him, to his mission. She carries on his mission, otherwise it would not be done. That is how serious being the body of Christ is.

In the book of the Song of Solomon, there was this mountain of spices and the wind was asked to blow on it and spread the fragrance (Song of Solomon 4:16). And using that analogy, Paul said that through him the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ is spread to the Gentiles (2Corinthians 2:14). The Holy Spirit commissioned him and Barnabas to the reach the gentiles (Acts 13:1-5). Without that, those people are condemned to be eternally lost. The duo were God’s mercy extended.

The acts of God

Where the hand of God is where the acts of God are seen, there is the manifestation of the glory of God in the church which makes things happen.

When Jesus did miraculous, for example in the turning of water into wine, it was put to the manifestation of the glory of God. When he turned water into wine in the wedding in Cana of Galilee, John recorded that was the beginning of miracles and Jesus manifested his glory and his disciples believed him (John 2:1-11). In another place we read that without signs and wonders people will not believe (John 4:48). The psalmist said: by terrible things in righteousness, God will answer us (Psalm 65:5).

The power of God

It takes the power of God to get people saved. We know that those who are not saved are kept in bondage by the devil (2Corinthians 4:4), not willingly, but they are slaves to sin and by extension to dead and by further extension to the devil, who rules by the power of death.

Miracles were usually associated with people getting saved in the book of Acts. While a few people are converted through the ministry of Paul took the intellectual route, in the ministry of Philip in Samaria, mammoth crowd believed in Jesus, because of the display of miraculous power. However there are miracles in the ministry of Paul but they are not associated with large numbers of people becoming into salvation, like the miracles through Peter and Philip.

Speaking in favour of the demonstration of the miraculous power of God, Paul said that he does not want the faith of the people to rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, which is a much better foundation (1Corinthians 2:1-5). So while Peter and Philip were committed to miracles to bring people to Christ, Paul was committed to miracles to deepen the commitment of believers to Christ.

Jesus associated having greater devotion to him with the manifestation of power in his name. When his disciples came to him that someone was casting out devils in his name, asking if they should stop him, he said they should leave him alone because no one can perform miracles in his name and soon after turn his back on him, deny him (Mark 9:38-39).

That is why Jesus encourages all of us to be miracle workers. Manifesting his power, deepens our understanding of him and our attachment to him and conviction about him. Miracles bring his reality closer to us, and it becomes hard to convince us against his truth. Jesus said those who believe in him will cast out devils, the will lay hands on the sick and they will recover (Mark 16:15-18). These are manifestation of the power of God which all confirms that the hand of God rests on his mountain.

Conclusion

The mountain is elevated, it is the place of elevated existence, of spiritual life, of the higher life. To experience a mountain, you do not just look at it, you have to climb it.

It is the place where we gain a new view of things, but the climb can be rigorous.  And the climb is to the height of the power, acts and move of God. But climb we must because we will not rest until we have the fullness of God.

Grace, mercy and peace

CB0177272Timothy 1:2: To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Grace

Grace is the help that comes from God, which cannot come from any other source. Grace is the precursor for the acts of God’s favour to and through men.

When God calls us to do a particular work, he gives us his grace to carry it out. It doesn’t matter what it is. The resources that he makes available are from his grace.

When God wanted Moses to build a tabernacle for him in the wilderness; he mentioned certain people by name that he had endowed with intelligence, capability and skill, to turn all the gold and other raw materials that will be are needed, from the raw state to the exact things in the mind of God (Exodus 31:1-11). Those men were appointed by God to do the work to perfection, and they had the grace to execute it.

Only the hand of God can do the work of God. This is why he endows us with his grace, so that our hands become His.

His grace not only operates through us but it also operates in us. It causes attitudinal change in us; it causes long standing stubborn habit to be gone in our lives. It makes sure that we are on the path of life through Christ Jesus. His grace sees us through all negative situations and circumstances. Grace is the divine causative agent of everything good in us.

It is the means of God saving us. We were rotten in trespasses and sin and we were strangers to God. We are in bondage to Satan, kept imprisoned by inordinate passions that we cannot do anything about on our own.

But the grace of God made all the difference. The bible says that by grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

Also, our spiritual assignment is not our work; it is the work of God, not an expression of our ability but God’s. We are only called to yield to the grace working in and through us.

When the message of the gospel of Jesus is proclaimed, it is a call to receive grace (Romans 5:17). It is not a call for performance, trying to be a better person, nor a call to sadness and a joyless life. Actually the bible says that the kingdom is in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

There is the joy of salvation that trumps whatever men seek by taking cigarettes, and hard drugs like cocaine, heroine, marijuana, crystal meth, etc. There is a joy of salvation that is like an ever-springing well on our inside, which cannot be moved but is sustained by God himself.

So when we come to Jesus, we have come to grace (John 1:14-17). It leads us into a new life, causing us to swim in divine blessings, making us able to impact the lives of others. Paul wrote that we should let our words be seasoned with salt ministering grace to the hearers, so that just as we receive grace we also convey it to others (Ephesians 4:29), edifying them.

Mercy

Grace pushes you into your future; mercy removes you from your past, while peace settles you in the present.

Mercy qualifies the unqualified. The healing of the man paralysed for decades, sitting at the pool of Bethesda is a classic expression of mercy. His past was sinful as Jesus Christ later told him after healing him that he should now live holy from them on.

When Jesus came to him, lying there at the pool paralysed, He asked him a question and he didn’t answer well. However, Jesus released healing to him anyway (John 5:1-16). Years of stagnation for the man came to an end.

If the man was not picked for a miracle, he would most probably have died in his condition. His was a most pathetic situation. It was mercy that reached out to him, disregarding his history and shortcomings and blessing him.

The mercy of God extends forgiveness of sins to us. We were not forgiven because we promised to be better, neither was it because we have offered God anything to compensate him for our rebellion; it was his mercy through and through, that we are accepted in the beloved, after our sins were cleansed away.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:8). His mercy motivated him.  While he hung on the cross, he asked that God forgive his crucifiers because they don’t know what they do (Luke 23:34).

Peace

Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). When he was leaving the disciples on earth, he said that he is leaving his peace with them, not as the world gives (John 14:27). It is a different kind of peace that flows from heaven.

Paul said we should not be anxious for anything, but with prayer, supplication and thanksgiving we should let our requests be make known to God (Philippians 4:6-7), and God will invest us with his peace. Peter also said that we should be anxious for nothing, but we should cast our care upon the Lord (1Peter 5:7).

Jesus and his disciples at a time were crossing the sea. The sea and the wave of the sea rose. The disciples were at their wit’s end but Jesus was fast asleep. They panicked. They questioned Jesus, saying, doesn’t he care if they die (Mark 4:25-31)? He was woken up. But instead of joining them to panic, he rebuked the wind and the storm, saying peace be still. He is a man of peace, bringing peace and calm to life’s raging storms. Inclusive of the one you are presently experiencing. God is about calming the agitations of the heart. The peace of God is meant to guard our hearts in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:15). The devil will have you troubled but the peace of God counters that in us.

Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); it is the mark of a settled relationship with God. The bible says through Jesus we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2). That peace is not given by achievement. It is the result of the Prince of peace coming into us. The presence of God is manifest in peace that crushes all the works of the devil. Paul wrote that the God of peace will soon crutch the devil under our feet (Romans 16:20).

The peace, the sense of wholeness and completeness of divinity represents the kingdom of God coming to bare on the earth, because peace is an heavenly reality.