July 22, 2020

To Die For

"Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go." Isaiah 48:17

"Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life." Isaiah 43:4

I'm not sure how many times I've read Isaiah. As He often does, God whispered this verse to me, and it echos through my mind, even through the depths of my heart.

At first, the thought flashed often spoken of by those who believe God raises up people to go to hell--how can a so-called loving God kill people for the sake of another? And then I thought, "Is that not what happened to Jesus?" Was He not a man offered up for our redemption?

And what of soldiers who fight for a nation? Are not their lives offered up for that nation, and their death counted as honorable?

And then the magnitude of this reality hit me.

After World War II, the remnants of fighting continued in Israel, birthing a nation. Many people died to resurrect Israel as a nation.

"Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west" Isaiah 43:5

There is the physical death men experienced who believed the Jews had every right to build their own nation, Israel, and therefore fought for them. There is also death of their enemies--another topic for another day, but I believe those who have no desire to know the One True God will die.

But there is more to this.

"...for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Acts 21:13

Paul chose to go to Jerusalem. He didn't have to go. He was warned that he'd suffer. But he went for the greater gain.

Isn't this the passion that Christ calls us to have--to willingly die for the salvation of another? And this exemplifies to the extreme "loving your enemies"?

When I think of all that is going on in our nation right now. People who are so filled with hate that they think their cause justifies their violence, even demands it.

We've heard, love your neighbors as yourself. And I think we have ignored that call, believing we need to take care of our own needs first. "Mother's Day Out", "I need my rest so I can...", "Follow your heart", "I need to earn more money so that I can give to the needy." So many voices, so many sayings, telling us to put ourselves first and making it sound altruistic.

We've heard that we must give to the poor, help those in greater need than ourselves. And so we have fundraisers or support organizations that will take care of the needs. And these are all good. But where we fail is excusing ourselves from actually getting our hands dirty in helping them.

We missed the boat, I think, in how we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord, how we love our neighbors. By not attending to the needs of others, we find ourselves facing enemies. Enemies who could have been reached before the hatred began, if we hadn't gotten soft and passed the responsibility on to someone else, saying 'I wasn't called to that ministry' or such things like that.

Now, those people who could have been our brothers and sisters in the Lord, who could have been our good neighbors have become our enemies, and we find ourselves having to the harder thing--love our enemies.

And yet, here I sit. At my desk, planning out my day. Praying I'll be ready when the opportunity presents itself to give and share and love. Oh Lord, help me.

Thank you, Dear God, for Your Word, for showing this to me.Thank you for those who have loved their neighbors, their enemies, like Corrie Ten Boom - thank you for her example.Thank you for my children.

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40