I’m digging into the book of Zephaniah through Precept Ministries Precept Upon Precept studies. You can follow along on Proven Path Ministries Instagram and Facebook page. I will post the video follow up lessons here.
Today, some couple thousand plus years ago, a man who was falsely accused, beaten beyond recognition, and then hung on a cross to die lay buried in a borrowed tomb. Those who loved Him mourned. Those who hated Him celebrated. Those who didn’t know Him went home and back to life as usual. Death’s sting and life’s apathy continued on. However, this was no ordinary man laying buried in that borrowed tomb.
Today, in 2021, I look back not on a man buried in a tomb, but on a Risen Savior. I look back on a Man who is alive and eternal. I look back on the Son of Man and the Son of God who is interceding before the throne of our Most High Creator God, on my behalf, and all who call upon His name for salvation,
This morning because of the God-Man who was willing to endure the cross for the joy set before Him I am able to sit before my Creator and meet with Him right here in my home office. I am able to come before His throne and worship Him without fear of not doing it right or not being good enough. I am able to go boldly and confidently to His throne because this Man, my Jesus, made the way and He goes with me.
Sometimes I come and I have nothing to say. I just come and sit and open His Word and I seek His face. I come just to be still and let Him settle my mind and give me hope and strength for whatever the unknown day might bring. I come just to be in His presence and I wait for Him to speak. Jesus made this possible.
Jesus made the way for me to be able to come to my Father who art in Heaven in all the hallowedness of His name. Jesus even made it possible for me to be filled with His Spirit, who has all the words to use so I don’t have to know what to say. I just get to come. I get to just show up and be there. No performance, no conversation necessary, just presence in the Presence.
This morning I came to my place to sit with my God and I turned to Psalm 43 to read and as I did my Jesus took me back to His cross. He took me back that day when all hell truly did break loose, but He won anyway. I hadn’t expected to see the cross in Psalm 43 this morning, but He opened my heart to see Him there and He brought me to worship.
Psalm 43:1 – 2 begins with, “Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
I read these two verses and I saw the garden of Gethsemane. I saw the night that Jesus endured as He was betrayed, beaten, and mocked. I see Him on the cross as He cried out to His Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?” It’s amazing how, even though the entire time Jesus knew why He had come to this earth, but there in the reality of the pain and hurt, He had forgotten and He just felt so very alone.
Let this teach us to not question the faith of those who are in the midst of deep pain and sorrow, but instead just weep with them. Let this teach us that it is okay to feel forgotten and alone. It’s okay to cry out to a God that sometimes feels so very far away and silent. It’s okay to recognize that sometimes humanity sucks.
Then we come to Psalm 43:3-4 and read, “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.“
Once again Jesus took me to His cross. He grabbed my heart and hand and said, “Come.” His Word is His light. His Word is His truth. If we follow His light and truth it will bring us to His cross. This cross that once was a place of deep pain and sorrow now a holy hill of salvation. It now stands as a doorway to His dwelling. It now is the path to the Father’s house. The cross makes the way to the altar as His death tore the veil in two and brought the dividing wall crumbling down to the ground.
On the way to the cross as I face all the reality of sin and wickedness, not just in this world, but in my own heart, I come to the cross. I come to His cross and if I let His light and His truth lead me on to that cross and I am willing to face the terror of it, if I am willing to face that He was on that cross not because of a Roman leader or Pharisee, but because of me, I will always find myself in praise before the altar of God. The terror of facing the truth becomes my exceeding joy as I experience the grace and mercy of God through the finished work of His Son.
Coming to that holy hill, whether I come crying out because of the oppression and wickedness of others or because of my own failings and sin, the end result remains the same as waves of mercy and oceans of grace are poured out from the throne of a God who is Love. What I have learned is that when I am led to the cross, I then am turned to that borrowed tomb. To me, the tomb recognizes the seemingly silence and inactivity of a God that I thought would never not be there in the way I wanted Him to be. The tomb represents all the doubt in the moment of pain and confusion, the silence of God and the momentary victory of evil. But we can’t stay at that cross or that borrowed tomb. Both are empty. He is not there. He has risen, just as He said.
So we come to Psalm 43: 5 and read, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
Here we come to the reminder that the cross and the tomb are empty. Here in this final verse of Psalm 43 is where we get up, knock the dust off, and lift our eyes. Here is where we take another step forward in faith. Here is where we remember that Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” And He proved it. He defeated death and the grave. Here is where we can know that it doesn’t matter how much humanity sucks, Jesus has us. Whatever it is, it’s not the end. The end is yet to come. In the end Jesus always wins.
So this morning I came with nothing to say. I opened up His Word, His light and His truth and He led back to His holy hill. He led me to the cross, to the borrowed tomb, but He didn’t leave me there. He led me to His resurrection. He left me at HOPE. He always does. He is our hope and our help. He is our God.