His father lay dying, wounded by Nazis intent on stealing the coveted Holy Grail, which reputedly grants powers of immortality to all who drink from it. As his father’s life slowly ebbs away, the son peers across the great chasm that separates him from the cave leading to the Grail.
The son reads the instructions in his father’s diary that tell him what he must do. “Only a leap from the lion’s head will prove his worth,” he mutters in disbelief. The son looks across, up, and then down the abyss. “It’s impossible. Nobody can jump this.”
“Ahhh,” his father cries out in pain. Knowing that his time is running out, the son mumbles to himself, “It’s a leap of faith.”
Staring straight ahead, he takes a step…
If you haven’t guessed already, the scene I’m referring to is the last installment of the original Indiana Jones movie series entitled Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. You probably already know what happens, but if you don’t, please click on the video above.
Few movie scenes depict so accurately the life that God calls all of us to, the only life that brings him pleasure.
Please join me as we discuss this in our daily Bible conversation.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Ezekiel 24:1-26:21. Throughout this book—and all prophetic books—we see that God’s purpose for destroying Jerusalem wasn’t destruction but restoration. In the opening image of the boiling pot, God stately his intentions very clearly: “so [Jerusalem’s] impurities may be melted and its deposit burned away” (Ezekiel 24:11).
Assuredly, the next prophecy was Ezekiel’s most painful as God took the life of Ezekiel’s wife and then commanded the prophet to refrain from showing any grief or sadness. Scholars speculate that he was 35 years old at the time, which likely meant he was still raising children. Did God strike her dead so Ezekiel would have a vivid illustration or were the numbers of his wife’s days coming to an end, so God used it to make a point? I don’t know, but I hope it’s the latter. Nevertheless, obedience to God doesn’t guarantee a happy life. Fortunately, God’s command to Ezekiel was extremely, extremely rare, and remember that God spoke this message through a rare individual like Ezekiel.
The prophecies that follow prove that God didn’t take delight in Jerusalem’s destruction. It’s reminiscent of a parents words before spanking a child, “this hurts me more than it hurts you”—except this time, it’s true.
Psalm 110:1-7. The timing of this psalm is pretty interesting because the reference to Melchizedek in verse 4 was quoted in Hebrews chapters 5-7 last week. This psalm was initially interpreted as a reference to King David, but because it is written in future tense, the early church interpreted it as a reference to Jesus. Ironically, David nor his descendent Jesus came from a priestly lineage, yet this prophetic psalm refers to them as “a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (verse 4). This “order of Melchizedek” included a unique person who was both a king and a priest.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Jewish Christians were abandoning the faith due to rejection from their relatives and increasing persecution from the Roman Empire. Why should they cling to this fledgling faith that was only 40 years old? The remnant was feeling increasingly abandoned and alone.
Into this turmoil, the writer of Hebrews offers these words:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:1, 6
Here are a few thoughts about what these two verses tell us about faith:
Faith exists in the unseen realm. The writer tells us that faith is being certain of what we do not see. Waiting for the planets to align before taking a leap of faith isn’t faith at all. Faith thrives in an environment where we enjoy neither confirmations nor assurances. We cannot know the life of faith without first taking a step into the chasm.
The only life that pleases God is the life of faith. The passage tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Scholars try to explain this statement away as exaggeration. But other passages in Scripture support the same message:
- “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
- “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6).
So what kind of faith is the writer referring to?
In verse 8 we read that by faith Abraham left the comfort and security of his family, friends, neighbors, to move to a foreign country and live in tents…and he didn’t even know where he was going!
The only life that is pleasing to God places one foot on the sturdy ground that God exists. Most people are okay with that. But the second rests on the belief that God “rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Most translations miss the point in this phrase. The verb in the sentence in most translations says that God rewards those who earnestly seek him. “Rewards” is the verb. But in the original language, it says that God is a rewarder—a noun!—of those who earnestly seek him. Rewarding people who live by faith comes naturally to God because God is, by nature, a rewarder. He loves to reward people who leap without looking. You could say that God is wired to reward our faith.
Faith is spelled R-I-S-K. The life God calls all of us to is a life that lives on the edge. If you aren’t taking some kind of risk, you aren’t living by faith. If you don’t experience moments of terror when you’re following Jesus, you probably aren’t living by faith.
Oswald Chambers once wrote:
Beware of worshiping Jesus as the Son of God and professing your faith in him as the Savior of the world, while you blaspheme him by the complete evidence in your daily life that he is powerless to do anything in and through you.
January 1, 2008, I resigned from my position at a local church and asked God, What next? The only word that came to me was, “This year I’m going to enlarge your faith.”
Since then, my life has been a wild ride. Eugene and I planted a church. People are meeting Jesus. And last weekend, we launched a mentoring ministry in partnership with a local high school. God’s fingerprints are evident all over the place!
Yet I also realize that I could have lived safe. Rather than take the risk, I could have measured each step and waited for God to confirm everything before moving forward.
What I’m learning is that we rarely see God move until we follow Indiana Jones’ example and step first into the chasm. We must believer that God exists and that he is a rewarder of people who earnestly seek him. The reward follows the risk. Almost three years later, I’m determined never to live safe again. Granted, God offers no guarantees that everything will work out perfect in this life (more on that in tomorrows post), but I’m slowly learning what it means to live by faith.
If you’re interested in exploring this further, make sure to read our February 7 post entitled, Do You Play To Win Or To Not Lose?
What spoke to you in today’s reading?
Was God unfair to take Ezekiel’s wife and then use it as an illustration to the rest of Israel? How does Romans 8:28 apply to this?
How do you live safe? What does living by faith look like in your life?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.