Monday, April 9, 2012

Divine Intervention

Have you noticed that all good news seems to be personal? Think of all the national or international news: it's all bad. Even historical good news like “the war is over” is bad news for the losing side. There is no universally good news on the world stage.

Also, all good news has an element of divine intervention. Whenever something good happens to someone, it is like a miracle. “God is really favoring me today! Wow, God did something amazing in my life!” Whenever we get that personal good news, God is definitely involved.

This is not new. Personal good news that involved divine intervention has been happening from the beginning of time. Here are a few from the bible: Remember Abraham, leading his son up the mountain with the intention of sacrificing him? God stopped him from doing it. God intervened. Remember how Esau was determined to kill Jacob, and yet when they finally met up, Esau embraced him? Even though their descendants would be enemies, God prevented Esau from killing Jacob. Remember when Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery and Egyptians witnessed against him so that he ended up in prison? God released Joseph from prison to save the entire region from famine.

Remember when God's people were being oppressed and killed in Egypt? God sent Moses to free them from bondage. Remember when the Israelites refused to enter the promised land and chose to die out in the wilderness? God raised up Joshua to help Israel conquer the land. Remember when Israel kept getting invaded by other nations and put into slavery? God raised up Judges to drive those conquering nations out.

Remember when Israel decided it wanted to stop being special and get a king like every other nation? God raised up David, the best possible king for the people. Remember when David was being chased around by the murderous Saul? God kept and protected him. Remember when the wicked kings of Israel turned their nation away from God and were conquered by their enemies? And the whole nation was taken into exile? God protected the captives and sometimes they, like Daniel, would convert their oppressors. God also allowed the people to return to their land.

Remember when even though the Romans had conquered the area, the Jewish people were allowed to practice their religion and live protected in their land. All of these things, from Abraham until the time of Christ, were situations where God's people could have died or been vanquished or ruined or destroyed utterly, and yet God always protected them, at least a remnant. God always reached in and put his mark on the situation. As Joseph told his brothers, what they intended for evil, God turned into good.

So, something happened three days ago. It looked like a similar situation to every other event in the Bible. God's chosen, Jesus Christ, was about to be killed. He was led up to the mountain, like Abraham led Isaac, and he was crucified on a cross. The people watching heard him cry out to God, and they said, let's see if God will save him. It was possible, because it had happened throughout all of Israel's history. God had always turned the tables to protect and save his people. Would this time be no different?

No, it was different. God did not act. The father did not come down from heaven and save the son. He let it happen. He didn't stop the Romans. He didn't give everyone a change of heart. He didn't send ten plagues to destroy Christ's killers. He didn't part the red sea and give his son an escape route. He didn't conquer the whole region and raise up Jesus as king. He didn't send an army of angels. He let Jesus die.

Why? Because Christ died for our sins. All of us. The sins of the whole world. Isaac could not die for our sins. He was not a perfect human sacrifice. Jacob could not die. Joseph could not die. No single person in the nation of Israel could die. Neither Moses nor Joshua nor David. None of them could die for the sins of the world. Only a sinless man could die. Only a perfect sacrifice. Only Jesus Christ could die for our sins. And he did. And the father let him. No divine intervention for Jesus.

But there WAS divine intervention. It was on the world scale. It was the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus coming to earth to save us is the ultimate good news. This is the only piece of good news that is worldwide and is God's intervention. As I said before, every war has a losing side, but God saving the world through his son Jesus Christ is the only worldwide news that is good news for all people. The incarnation of Jesus Christ was the intervention, and it was for the entire world.

God reveals the good news to us on this day—Easter—by raising his son from the dead. God has revealed to all mankind the Good News in the resurrection, and it is the best news possible.