The Clap of the Floods – Sunday of the Passion

He Who vindicates me is near.  Who then will bring charges against me?  Let us face each other!  Who is my accuser?  Let him confront me!  It is the Lord Jehovah Who helps me.  Who is he who will condemn me?      Isaiah 50:8-9a

A few years ago, when we were living in Pincher Creek, its namesake little creek rose eighteen feet and flooded the town, the angry, roiling water was fascinating to watch as I walked to the steel frame pedestrian bridge which the flood was reaching for. As the river ran pell-mell down the creekbed, surges of water from each side would meet together in the center of the torrent with a clap and with spray thrown high over the bridge.  I could not help but be impressed by the violence and the power so vividly displayed.

This week has a very similar spectacle for us to behold. A great surge of God’s salvation rises out of the Old Testament, meanwhile another surge rises out of the New Testament, and they meet together in a great thunderclap of God’s wrath and God’s mercy at the Cross. Just like with the flooding river, the surges are made from the same substance, the only difference is from which side they come.

As the Old Testament Lesson was read, it sounded extremely familiar.  Listen to another passage:

What shall we say about all this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He Who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He with Him also freely give us all things?  Who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who can condemn? It is Christ Who died, and furthermore is also risen, Who is at the right hand of God, interceding for us.  Who/what can separate us from Christ’s love?   Can tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword?… Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.  I am persuaded that death nor life, angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor  things to come, nor height nor depth, nor anything in all of creation, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.                         Romans 8:31-39

Listen again to what Isaiah wrote hundreds of years earlier:

He Who vindicates me is near.  Who then will bring charges against me?  Let us face each other!  Who is my accuser?  Let him confront me!  It is the Lord Jehovah Who helps me.  Who is he who will condemn me?

The message is the same, though one rises out of God’s salvation in the Old Testament, the other surges out of God’s salvation in the New Testament – but they are of the same substance, because it is the salvation of the God Who spans the Bible from Genesis all the way through to Malachi, from Matthew on to the Last Day in Revelation.

This is a remarkable thing for those who really don’t understand the Old Testament, who think that they see a God different than the one in the New Testament.  But these passages indicate that not only was the God of the Old Testament no different than the one we have now, His salvation was the same for both sides of the Testament fence.

The only difference was that the people of the Old Testament came from one side, where they looked forward to Jesus; meanwhile the ones from the New Testament come from the other side, as they looked back to the Cross and onward to the Last Day.

But echoing from one side to the other was the claim that no one can bring charges against God’s People, whether they were God’s People in the Old Testament or those from the New Testament.  Rising out of both Testaments, these great surges of confidence rushed together and met at the Cross with the thunderclap of an earthquake which tore open the graves of the saints, the saints who later were to be seen in the Holy City – the only Holy City there is, the New Jerusalem of heaven, God’s City.

Now hold it!!  How could both Paul and Isaiah speak with such boldness, in fact with such audacity?  Perhaps Paul after his conversion and Isaiah DID lead such lives so that no one could any longer charge them with fault.  Yet as you read both of these spokesmen for God, you quickly realize that they were not merely talking about themselves – they were speaking for all People under the umbrella of Covenant with God.

WE certainly know that there were an awful lot of other Old Testament and New Testament “People of God”, even the “People of God” around us, who don’t have such a clear record.  And if they were to parade themselves around as being faultless, how quickly would the chorus of “hypocrite” be leveled against them!!  So how then, could not just Paul, but even Isaiah speak with such perplexing confidence??

The answer is found in this week.  Today we stand at a most significant moment.  The two great surges of God’s Salvation from the two Testaments are at the very edge of meeting together with its great thunderclap which will reverberate in both directions of history, reaching all the way back to the time of Adam and Eve, and all the way forward to the Last Day.

He will then prescribe you the medicine as per your health and body type and their disorder so always go for sildenafil side effects a doctor s advice instead of talking to others. As an issue, you get erections snappier and less troublesome with Vardenafil. Symptoms of gastritis vary among individuals, and in many people, and symptoms can be vague. It’s critical to check out the license of the drug store properly before you place the order for this herbal supplement can be placed from the comfort of home or office. Again we will watch these two great waves of Isaiah and Paul roll and crash together and in the midst of their collision both waves will raise high the Cross of Jesus Christ.

No, never will Isaiah nor Paul ever declare that we can strut around, preening ourselves with the idea that we need no repentance, that we have no sin to confess, that there is no one who can bring any charge against us.  Paul had also been the one to say, “Him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall” [I Corinthians 10:12], as well as his famous, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” [Romans 7:15,18-19].

We know ourselves too well, especially as we enter this particular week.  If we have spent the time of Lent wisely, then we will enter this week with a deep consciousness of the fact that we still need so much cleaning out on the inside, there is so much in our attitudes and actions that are just so far from being God-pleasing that it can be to our shame that we would be known as God’s People.  We still desperately need a Savior.

How then can both Isaiah and Paul speak the way that they had?  For one, because they both had their hands on the Cross, lifting it high above everything else.  Therein we find the evidence of their boldness.  It is not because by nature we are sinless and without fault, it is because through Jesus we are DECLARED sinless.

What is remarkable about both these passages is that BOTH proclaim that God has banged the Judge’s gavel down with the words, “NOT GUILTY.”  Just like when a jury returns with the “not guilty” verdict in a trial, those who may have believed the defendant’s guilty – and in fact, possibly he was – these people were left with nothing to say.  Legally no longer can they bring any charge against that man.

As Isaiah and Paul lift high the Cross, because Jesus has paid our penalty, God turns around and proclaims us “NOT GUILTY” – and now almost dares Satan or anybody to bring a charge against us.  Anybody who does will be in contempt of court – GOD’s court!

This is wonderful!  What freedom and joy grows from such a declaration!  No longer do we have to be so scared of making the slightest mistake, no longer do we have to fear trying something out and failing, no longer do we have to be terrified of making a bad choice.  Mistakes will come, failures will happen, and we can only do our best when it comes to choices.  Anybody who wants to rake us over the coals will have to answer to God Himself.

But something in the back of our minds says, “OH, but couldn’t I abuse this?!”  For that we have to come back to the flood analogy.  Just what is the river that surges from the Old Testament and the New Testament and meets together with such a thunderclap of salvation at the Cross of Jesus?

The river is the Love of God, the great River of Life which flows out of the heart of Jesus on the Cross.  It is at flood stage.  The night of the flood, I watched as the footbridge resisted the flow of the water.  Fifteen minutes later it was gone, torn from its moorings, buried into the relentless power of the rushing water.

In a real sense that is the power of the Love of God as it floods through the pages of the Bible.  Like the bridge you can sit there and resist the flood from flowing through you.  No, God will not and cannot bring a charge against you, once you are declared “NOT GUILTY” through Jesus Christ.  But if you are determined to fight the flood of God’s love, then it will tear you away from your moorings and bury you.

However, the flatlands which don’t fight the water but let it spread out, to flow over all the area and to reach out into every territory of the plain, this will not be the land that gets ripped up by the flood.  Instead, as the silt with its various nutrients settle upon the land, it may take time, but a lot of good growth is in the future of that dust.  So also as the love of Jesus flows out, through, and over you especially from the pages of God’s Word, and as you submit to His Lordship in His promises, then that love will not tear you up, but rather will give you things that will help you grow and produce healthy, godly fruit in your life.

Here today is the beginning!  Jesus has come with that same outpouring of love, life and forgiveness that both Isaiah and Paul were familiar with.  He comes to pour Himself into your life as He shares with you His Body and His Blood.  Here is the great river of God’s salvation spreading out to touch each of your lives with the most powerful nutrients there could ever be for spiritual growth:  Jesus is giving you His very Self!

Just as I stood back in awe of the power and majesty of the flood that spring, so also this week, let us stand in awe at the great flood of God’s love, as the two surges of God’s Salvation crash together and lift high the Cross of Jesus this Friday, and as we watch that flood of such love wash over us, bringing God’s life and growth each time we remember and receive the gift of Jesus Himself in Holy Communion.

Come then in this week and discover again the eternal flood of God’s love as it surges through this most special week in the life our faith, as Old Testament salvation and New Testament salvation clap together to raise the Cross of Christ before our eyes!

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