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Monday, May 14, 2012

Chains of Life!

One of the most basics of dealing with 'signed' numbers in math is that when we multiply a negative with a positive, the answer is consistently a negative.  But there is a special and unique situation in which the only way to end up with a positive is to add a negative. 

'For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.'  (Ezra 9:9    NKJV)
What we have here is the prophet Ezra before the Lord in prayer for the sake of the people.  Earlier on God had told the people, who by this time in Biblical history were His Chosen, to separate themselves from the people, and by direct contribution their [practised] abominations, of the land(s) (See Ezra 9:1).  The people had failed to do so, and now faced the anger of a loving Parent defied by His much loved children.  Let's break this verse down just a bit, and get it into manageable pieces.  Right at the beginning, Ezra acknowledges the Children of Israels' status before man and God, that they 'were slaves.'  Notice that the prophet did not specify as to what or whom the people were enslaved to, and that is something we'll look at closer in just a minute.  Next, we have a statement, which can also be viewed as a promise, which we'll also get more into shortly. The verse is finished by documenting the proof that God did not abandon or give up on, the Children of Israel as the results of their disobedience in not separating themselves from the other peoples.  My question to you is this, 'Does anything from the words written by the prophet Ezra remind you of anything?'  If his words does not describe every one of our conditions before coming to the Throne of Grace then I have to question whether or not we really understood just how precarious our standing was before the Lord, prior to having claimed the shed blood of Christ as the atonement for our sins.  Let's go on and take a look at the apostle Paul's words to those members of the church at Rome, and see if this helps us to understand what can be described as the 'before and after' state of man.

'16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.'  (Romans 6:16-19    NKJV)

Now do you see where I'm headed today with my rambling?  Just as the Old Testament prophet told us, 'we were slaves.'  Have no doubt that his words, though written at least five hundred years before Christ walked the earth as Jesus the Man, are just as relavant to us today as to the wayward Children of Israel then.  While they were literally, physically, enslaved by real life captors, their condition was just as desparate and fatal as we are today before coming to accept Christ as Savior and Lord.  Also, just as God never gave up on them, so He never gives up on us.  But there the simularities end, as regards their condition versus ours today.  God never called for the Jewish people to basically trade one slave master for another, but that is exactly what He requires of us today when we come to the Throne of Grace.  A mental image of being enslaved brings to mind being secured into our bondage by real life chains and shackles accompanied by those charged with preventing our escape by whatever means necessary, including death.  Now, here's the kicker, when we 'trade up', and are freed from the enslavement to sin, which is one hundred percent fatal, and are redeemed by the [shed] blood of Christ, we are willingly placing ourselves in bondage  to 'obedience leading to righteousness'  and as 'slaves of  righteousness for holiness.'  Is this trading a negative, being enslaved to sin, for a negative, being 'slaves of righteousness for holiness?'  Think about it this way, being held captive in bondage that is contrary to everything this world claims as good and normal has it's own dangers and is quite often just as physically fatal as the slavery of those captive Hebrews almost twenty-six hundred years ago.  There is a difference though, and it's a huge difference.  We, as Christians delivered from the condemnation of sin, have joy in our captivity to righteousness unheard of by any people or person living in the agony of slavery.  So the equation we have here is the positive of being delivered from slavery to sin being added to what some may view as the negative of choosing being enslaved to righteousness and ending up with the positive of having eternal life with our Lord Father in heaven.  The chains we choose are truly chains of life!

Be Blessed,
Reverend Terry Keiner
Absarokee MT

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