Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Orlando in Light of the Cross

What is the single worst event in the history of mankind? What stands out as the nadir of human depravity? 

Was it 9/11? Was it Orlando? Was it the Holocaust? Armenian genocide? Slavery across the globe? The sex trade? 

Each of these odious examples are immensely evil and the product of deeply corrupted and hardened hearts. 

So which one is the worst? Given the theological bent of this blog I think you probably already have an idea. The crucifixion of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the worst event in the history of the world. This isn't my opinion. It's historical fact. He's the only innocent person to ever live and He was tortured and killed. 
Consider   Isaiah 53:3-5:
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
Take a moment to ruminate how Jesus was the recipient here; how He is the object to the verbs. These are things being actively done against Him and to Him. 

 Truly heinous acts made infinitely worse because He was infinitely good and wholly innocent as is stated in verse 9:

His grave was assigned with wicked men,Yet He was with a rich man in His death,Because He had done no violence,Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
So what? So this was the worst act ever, now what? Where was God in all this? What answer can Christianity give when such terrible and awful things happen? 

What is the secular left saying? Their hope is in man-made legislation. Their hope is that evil, wicked people will solve the problem of evil, wicked people. 
What is the secular right saying? Their hope is in guns, bombs and aggressive military strategy.
What is the religious left saying? They have a low view of God. Their god is impotent, reactionary and unconcerned with justice or even his own holiness. Their god isn't God. 

But what are we saying? The answer is actually quite profound and it's found in Isaiah 53. Read through it again and see where God was in the midst of the worst event in human history. God was sovereign over the worst act in human history. In fact, He ordained it. God was pleased to crush His own Son. 

Was God evil for doing this? May it never be! God's design to save sinners required blood and only a perfect, sinless Lamb could do. Hebrews 9 clearly states that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." Jesus, the one who rules all things and by Him and through Him all things were made, offered Himself up as this sacrifice. He was both the priest and the offering. 

What happened in Orlando was not outside of God's sovereign design. Did God Himself act in Orlando? No. But He did allow it to happen. And this shouldn't cause us to distress but to have hope.

Acts 2:22-24“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of Godyou nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
When Christ died the disciples were distressed because they failed to recognize God's sovereignty. They thought things were falling apart and everything was pointless. But it wasn't! They had too low of a view of God. They failed to see Him as sovereign and couldn't understand how the death of His Son could possibly be a good thing. 

Luke 22:21-22But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
(Side note: Though Jesus' death was prophesied and foreknown we also see that God still holds those who carry out the act responsible for the act. How do we reconcile these things? We don't! That's not our job!) 

When was it determined? When did the Trinity decide Christ would have to die for sins He never committed? 
1 Corinthians 2:6-8
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory
This was all decided before the ages. The first prophecy of Christ's substitutionary death was known to this world in Genesis 3:15 but it was known to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit prior to the creation of this very world. 

Unfortunately (at least to our carnal minds) we'll likely never know why God allowed Orlando to happen. But there is something we do know without a doubt and it's that the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was simultaneously the worst event in human history and the greatest event in human history. 

That's what makes Christianity so compelling. It offers a message that is truly good news. The Gospel isn't based on feelings but on fact. And that fact is the fulfillment of promises God made long ago. Promises, dear friends, that remain true today. Whoever believes on the name of the Lord will be saved. This whoever without distinction means that slaves, prostitutes, homosexuals, straights, murderers, thieves, blacks, whites, criminals, police officers, straight 'A' students and drop outs can all be granted forgiveness if they repent of their sins and trust in Christ and Christ alone for salvation.

It's not enough for God to just be merciful and gracious. He HAS to be sovereign for anyone to have any hope of salvation. If He's not sovereign over the fall, the cross or Orlando, then we have no basis in which to hope. There cannot be hope. Our hope would go from "God keeps His promises and in this I have my hope and this is why I go on" to "I hope God can keep this promise He made to me." What a contrast! What a demoralizing difference! 

If God is sovereign over the death of His Son, then He's certainly sovereign over everything else. 

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