Our Text Today, the Bible
What Is Most Needed
In this moment of national crisis fueled by a pandemic, political polarization, racial injustice, rioting, and looting, I, like you, am at a loss for words. Every time I consider opening my mouth, I fear that my words will ring hollow to those suffering and hurting, and yet saying nothing is even worse. So, the only word that I can rely on and put confidence in is the Word of God, the Bible. His Word is what is most needed in these times and in all times, so it is important we know what the Bible is about and how it should be used. So our devotional text today is the whole Bible.
It begins with the eternal God of the universe creating all things visible and invisible. He crowns his creation with us, with humans, all created in the image of God, therefore worthy of dignity and respect. The world was teeming with life, beauty, wholeness. Then, soon after human history began, things took a tragic turn toward sin, brokenness, and hostility. The result of humanity’s rebellion was death, which was God’s righteous and promised judgment for sin. But at the same time, he offered redemption through a rescuer he would eventually send to suffer in our place and destroy our sin and our enemy.
God Effects Our Rescue
God then raised up a people, a nation, through a man named Abraham, who was called to be the father of many nations. God said that through his offspring, or his seed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Ancient Israel’s history, worship practices, law, offices, were designed to point to the rescuer, to this offspring, who was promised at the very beginning. This rescuer is God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, who comes in the flesh to pay the price for our redemption and clear the pathway for reconciliation with God and one another.
His words were never hollow or shallow and his preaching was transformative. He is the one who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). But he is also the one who said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). The apostle Paul tells us that he came and preached peace to all who were far off and those who were near. He came to break down the dividing walls of hostility that sinful humanity so often erects. He did this through the sacrifice of his flesh on the cross (Ephesians 2).
The Composition of Heaven
But this Jesus, God raised up and exalted him at the right hand of his throne in heaven (Acts 2). And the story ends by giving us a glimpse of what it looks like around this throne. Notice the multicolor complexion and multiethnic composition of heaven (Revelation 7:9-10). “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
This is the message of the Bible from beginning to end. We who believe the Bible’s message are called to use it as ambassadors for Christ, engaged in a ministry of reconciliation. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all . . . that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:14-16).
Mourn, Work, Pray
At times like this, it is so easy to be reactive rather than reflective. As people of this book, our instinct should be to lament, mourning for the pain of all people who have been subjected to racial injustices. However, we are also called to work for and pray for peace, justice, and reconciliation for all nations, tribes, and tongues.
The video version of this post is here.