Rising

Things have gotten pretty bad, haven’t they? I’ve gotten downright depressed when I browse the news. I get up in the morning and swipe left on my iPhone to catch the four top headlines. More times than not, they are:

  1. Some new shooting.
  2. Some new inexcusable insult by a certain candidate.
  3. Some new terrorist attack–like this week’s in Brussels.
  4. Some new famous person’s death.

CeJE6rkW4AAEDeTOn and on. Death and darkness.

Of course, some person will come up with a new hashtag to show solidarity with the victims. The politicians will make a new call for justice. In other cases, a new excellent blog post will be written in retaliation to the candidate’s viciousness. We’ll share it on Facebook. As always, there will be a new video on the evils of abortion. It will start trending. But what’s the use? What good does it do?

It seems we good guys have used every tool in the belt…and yet we’re still losing!

This week, I made the comment to a friend that we might as well give up: “Kindness doesn’t exist anymore. Compassion is dead.”

Even the supposed “good guys” are looking pretty bad. Can you think of a single world leader or a single country that is currently doing what’s right? We need help…

The world is at its worst.

I bet Hezekiah would agree. There were no good guys in his day. His half-good brothers in the North (Israel) had been defeated by the Assyrians, along with all the countries around him. The Assyrian Empire was unstoppable in its rise, led by a vicious king called Sennacherib. He was making a bee-line to defeat the only power left to oppose him, Egypt. But one little nation stood in his way: the kingdom of Judah. Edom was defeated. Moab was done for. The Philistines were being overrun. It was just Judah left.

dsc01275And even one of their key defensive cities had been taken: Lachish. Reliefs show us how brutal the Assyrians were to that city. While finishing that city off, Sennacherib sends an emissary to Jerusalem to level the Judeans morale before he came to level their city. He sends two messages, each one a daunting rebuke of the Judean’s faith in a God who could not save them.

Yeah, the world seemed at its worst.

That wasn’t the only time. Many years later, a measly group of eleven men would feel the same. There were certainly no good guys in their world anymore. Their government was the tyrannical Rome, led by its merciless dictators. Their “religious rulers,” who were supposed to help them, were instead corrupt. Even the popular village Rabbis, the Pharisees, had descended from lofty morality to debauched jealousy and self-righteousness. And all three of these groups had conspired to kill the one “good guy” left in a very bad world.

They hung Him on a cross. Killed Him in the worst way possible. In the same city where the armies of Sennacherib gathered and gloated, the armies of hell now gathered to gloat over the death of the Great Goodness.

God was dead. That was the day that indeed…the world was at its worst.

GodsWordThroughPart2Back in B.C., Hezekiah received the second letter from the gloating Sennacherib. He looked out from his palace at the army thronging his walls like a swarm of locust. He turned from the view and went into the house of the Lord. He laid the letter before Him, and begged for salvation.

But little did he know that salvation’s tide was already rising. It would rise higher and higher, killing off 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in its path. And eventually, Sennacherib himself!

When the world was at its worst, salvation’s tide was rising.

Back in A.D. 30, the disciples had given up all hope. They looked out from their hiding place and saw the shape of a cross barely silhouetted against a dark sky. Where the last good guy on earth gave His final breath. That was it. Throw in the towel. Give up.

Jesus is dead.

Cross-1You know, Easter is rather strange. It’s the only holiday celebrating the death of a person. Well, Good Friday, technically. But think about it: we don’t have a holiday celebrating the death of anybody, not even someone horrible like Hitler. Yet we celebrate Jesus’ death. We even use the way He died–a cross–as a symbol of our entire faith. We wear it on necklaces, on shirts, on blog posts (like this one). Seems kinda morbid, right?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that He didn’t stay dead.

You see, while the disciples thought the world was at its worst, little did they know that salvation’s tide was already rising.

And it would rise higher and higher until it rose that same Jesus from the dead!

Ironically enough, it was the depressing death that CAUSED salvation to rise. Because it wasn’t just a human dying on the cross. It was God Himself. And His death had infinite value–enough to cover the death we all deserved.

Jesus’ death broke the dam of death allowing the tide of salvation to roll all the way to us. Yes, even to me, the guy who keeps sinning the same way over and over. That’s cause for excitement, no matter what’s happening in the world!

No matter how much death and deception I see, I know Jesus has already conquered.

He has risen from the dead, after all! Certainly no terrorist organization, no matter how many it’s killed…no candidate, no matter how scary his proposals or how high their poll numbers…no power, no matter how great can stop His tide of salvation.

He has risen. And He has never stopped rising since. His kingdom is expanding to every corner of the globe. Christians today are celebrating the Resurrection in Tanzania, Turkey, Tibet, and Trinidad. They are all testifying to the wonders of salvation’s tide. It has overflowed the Himalayas and smashed through the ISIS lines. It cannot be stopped. Evil may seem to be winning. But I assure you, it won’t be for long.

The God who wiped out the world’s greatest army in Hezekiah’s day, the God who died a messy death on a cross, and the same God who then rose from the dead…will one day conquer. 1 Corinthians 15 assures us of this:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. -vs. 20, 24-26

firstfruits

Or, as the song puts it:

There is no limit to Your power
There is no stopping what You plan
You give us faith to move the mountains
And hope to dream again
We see the fires of revival
The darkness giving way to light
The glory of Your grace advancing
Let it burn up the night
Let it burn up the night

Let the walls come down in Jesus’ name
Let the lost be found in Jesus’ name
Let the church arise
to shine Your light to the world…

Salvation’s tide is rising!
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 -M@
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