The nuclear option

Monday Musings for November 29, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

Most people think too lightly of their sin. This is because they think too lightly of God’s holiness. God is unspeakably holy — so much so that in some traditions they will neither speak nor write his name!

We have an analog for God’s holiness in nature — the sun. It sustains life on earth, but it is too bright to look upon directly. Another parallel is more telling, though; we take the sun for granted! It is such an integral part of our lives that we think it owes us those rays! But it doesn’t. God set it in the sky and keeps its shining for our physical benefit — and I love that about the sun! But every day it reminds me of God’s holiness… and I love that about the sun too.

But the sun doesn’t owe us its rays... and neither does God owe us his care. But like the sun, he is always there... and like the sun, we cannot behold him directly… I mean… just ask Moses! (Genesis 3; Exodus 33:18-20). But we know something that Moses did not know. Because of his incomprehensible holiness, God would do the unspeakable. He would sacrifice his only Son (John 3:16).

Abraham had a similar moment in Genesis 22:1-19. Now, God stopped him before he physically killed Isaac, but make no mistake, his heart had already accomplished the act. It wasn’t until Abraham proved to God that he understood the germ of what was going on that God would make his covenant with him. Abraham would be known as the father of faith from that point on because he “got it.” He understood the true cost of sin.

The part of his story that goes over most people’s heads is that Abraham was not a monotheist. He came out of the pagan culture. I suspect that he made the beginnings of that philosophical journey on his own… although Scripture does not tell us that. It does tell of people like Job who are Abraham’s contemporaries who were interfacing with a decidedly monotheistic God... so the “time” for embracing monotheism had come upon the world.

But Abraham’s sacrifice was unique. It was the opening parenthesis to Jesus’ closing parenthesis. What I mean is when Abraham raised his knife, that began the history of faith. But when God raised his, that ended it. Now, the choice of Abraham was arbitrary, but the choice of Jesus was not — and this means that God was in a bind — and I didn’t misspeak. God felt angst.

Don’t think for a minute that God felt nothing when he knew that he had to sacrifice his Son. He feels every emotion without prejudice — perfectly and infinitely. The fact that we feel things too (although we are often in a mess about it) is, in my opinion, another way we are made in his image. Our emotions make the trip worth it! We are not puppets, after all.

The necessity of Jesus’s death is today’s theme. But not just its necessity; the implications of that necessity... and how that necessity plays out in both spiritual and physical realms.

The closer I come to understanding the bond between God the Father and God the Son, the closer I come to understanding God’s holiness. There was no other way to conquer sin than to sacrifice his Son. But the closer the Son is, the dearer the sacrifice... and the dearer the sacrifice, the greater the cost to holiness… and this immeasurability speaks to the fact of God’s holiness.

 

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