Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you noticed the beauty of your feet?

Dear Pilgrim, have you noticed the beauty of your feet?

Take a look, dear Pilgrim. Yes, they may be hot and dusty from all the walking you have been doing, but do you see how beautiful they are?

Ah, the quizzical look in your eye…what are you wearing on your feet, dear Pilgrim? Do you see those sandals?

Remember, Pilgrim, when He first called you, when you realized you were standing on Holy ground, He told you to take off your sandals. How awesome was that moment when He revealed His Holiness to you, when you clearly saw for the first time your own uncleanness before Him. Remember how with trembling fingers you unstrapped your sandals as you bowed low before Him. Our God is Holy, Holy, Holy, and we can not bring anything with us before Him that is soiled and dirty. So those sandals which had been walking in the ways of darkness and wickedness had to be removed.

Oh, but Pilgrim, do you remember how He came to you and He Himself put sandals of fine leather on you (Eze 16:10)? The sandals that He gave you demonstrated that you were no longer a slave, a slave to sin, for slaves were given nothing to wear upon their feet. The sandals that He gave you announced before those watching that now you were a son – a son adopted into His family, given the prestige of wearing sandals upon your feet (Lk 15:22)! Oh, Pilgrim, we are not worthy to stoop down and untie the straps of His sandals (Mk 1:7), yet He came and knelt down at our feet as He dressed them in sandals of sonship and declared in great joy “How beautiful your sandalled feet!” (Song of Songs 7:1) What love is this?

Wearing these sandals of sonship, your feet have been released from snares (Ps 25:15), and instead you have been walking about in freedom because you have sought out His precepts (Ps 119:45). The path has become broad beneath you so that your ankles have not given way (Ps 18:36). Your feet have been set in a spacious place (Ps 31:8) as you have followed the lamp of His Word giving light to your path (Ps 119:105). Your feet, fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15) have been walking in the good works that He prepared in advance for you to do (Eph 2:10). On occasion it has been necessary for you to shake the dust off your feet (Mt 10:14) but have you noticed, dear Pilgrim, never once have you needed new sandals? For He has been sustaining you every step of the way (Dt 29:5).

Pilgrim, there is a further meaning behind His giving you sandals to wear. For unlike the idols which have feet, but cannot walk (Ps 115:7), our God has been walking ever since He created the world. He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8), and He promised His people “I will walk among you and be your God and you will be My people” (Lev 26:12). He walked amongst the lost sheep of Israel calling out those who would hear His voice, He walked to Golgotha to bear the penalty for our sin, His pierced feet walked with the disciples to Emmaus, and today He walks amongst His churches (Rev 2:1), speaking words of encouragement, rebuke and exhortation to those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Just as He walks, then, dear Pilgrim, we too must walk and follow our Good Shepherd as He leads the way for us, outside the city gate, to bear the disgrace He bore (Heb 13:13). Let us ask Him where He is walking, and let us follow. And do not fail to notice, dear Pilgrim, that as He walks He leads us upwards, ever heading towards Zion.

For there is a coming day when His feet will once again stand on the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4), when He will gather us to be with Him, and when we will declare “Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem!” (Ps 122:2). For this is the place of His throne and the place for the soles of His feet, the place where He will dwell among His people for ever (Eze 43:7).

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you touched the hem of His garment?

Dear Pilgrim, have you touched the hem of His garment? Are you so desperate that you will push your way through the crowd pressed around Him for that touch? Do you cry out “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And earth has nothing I desire besides You!” (Ps 73:25).

Take heart, Pilgrim, your faith will heal you as you seek His touch. Those who are not content to worship Jesus from afar, but who rather desire a personal touch from Him, oh! How He delights to bless those of such faith! For all those who touched the edge of his cloak were healed – all of them (Mt 14:36)!

Oh, Pilgrim, it is all too easy for us to remain in the courtyard of the tabernacle, the place where the crowds would gather. They would  gather to see the Son of God perform signs and wonders, they would gather to listen to His teaching, and they would marvel at what they heard, they would listen with delight. But there was widespread whispering about Him among the crowds, some saying He was a good man, others saying He deceived the people (John 7:12). It wasn’t long before the crowd turned against Him and cried out for Him to be crucified.

Pilgrim, there were very few who had the courage and the faith to leave the courtyard of the tabernacle, the place where the crowds gathered, and approach the Most Holy Place – Jesus Himself. The woman with the issue of blood had the faith to approach Him. She had the faith that a touch of His garment would heal her. Yet she lacked the courage to do so publicly. She knew she was unclean, and she knew that according to the Levitical law, if she touched anyone else, they too would become unclean (Lev 15:19). She felt shame. She could not lift her head. So she reached out to touch Him in secrecy. She reached out to touch Him from her place within the crowd.

Maybe she didn’t realise that the One she sought to touch was not a sinner like you and me who would become unclean. Rather, the One she sought to touch was Most Holy. Whatever is Most Holy does not become unclean when it is touched. Rather, whatever touches that which is Most Holy will itself become holy.

The sin offering was Most Holy (Lev 6:25). God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God  (2 Cor 5:21). Whatever touches any of the flesh of the sin offering becomes holy (Lev 6:27).

The guilt offering was Most Holy (Lev 6:17). He sacrificed His blood for us that our hearts could be sprinkled in His blood to cleanse us from a guilty conscience (Heb 10:22). Whatever touches His blood becomes holy (Lev 6:18).

The grain offering of unleavened bread was Most Holy (Lev 6:17). The Bread of Life offered up His life on the cross as He became the Bread of Affliction – striped and pierced. Whatever touches it becomes holy (Lev 6:18).

The sacred anointing oil, the fragrant blend of the perfumer, was used to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand – all these items pointing to Christ. Consecrated by the sacred anointing oil, they all became Most Holy. What touches them becomes holy (Ex 30:25-29). God anointed His Son with the Holy Spirit. And those of us who touch His Son have an anointing from the Holy One (1 John 2:20).

Oh, Pilgrim! Do you see what it means to touch Him? To touch the hem of His garment? To come forward from the crowd, to seek a personal touch? What power goes out from Him! Your sin has been forgiven! Your guilty conscience has been cleansed! You have eaten of His flesh, and drunk of His blood! You have an anointing from the Holy One! Oh, Pilgrim, when you have acted in faith like this, you will not be able to go unnoticed (Lk 8:47). If you have approached Him in shame with your head bowed down low, now lift it up as you look into the eyes of the One who has met your need! See His look of compassion! And you will be given the courage to testify before the crowd, dear Pilgrim! Testify of all that He has done for you! Overcome by the word of your testimony and by the blood of the Lamb! And you will bring Him a greater glory!

Pilgrim, having touched Him, now that you have been made holy, and now that you are being made holy, just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ (1 Pe 1:15).