For I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath (Hosea 11:9).
Today we look at paragraph 5 of the Preamble of Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony:
1. As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world—
which some seek to control,
and others view with despair—
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!
2. From the beginning,
through all the crises of our times,
until the kingdom fully comes,
God keeps covenant forever:
Our world belongs to God!
God is King: Let the earth be glad!
Christ is victor: his rule has begun!
The Spirit is at work: creation is renewed!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
3. Still, despair and rebellious pride fill the earth:
some, crushed by failure
or broken by pain,
give up on life and hope and God;
but still hoping for human triumph,
work feverishly to realize their dreams.
As believers in God,
we also struggle with the spirits of this age,
resisting them in the power of the Spirit,
testing them by God’s sure Word.
4. Our world, fallen into sin,
has lost its first goodness,
but God has not abandoned the work of his hands:
our Maker preserves this world,
sending seasons, sun, and rain,
upholding all creatures,
renewing the earth,
promising a Savior,
guiding all things to their purpose.
[Authors’ notes: For God’s fierce love, see Hosea 11, especially verses 10-11. For statements of the gospel message, see John 3:1-21, Acts 2:36-39, Romans 10:7-11, and Ephesians 2:1-10. For “firstfruits,” see Leviticus 23:9-14 and James 1:18.]
In my personal Bible reading today I was encouraged by Scripture to live sober-mindedly. Well, the news yesterday from our provincial government was sobering, wasn’t it? Perhaps you, like me, had tuned into that press conference to find out when we’d be re-opening the province. Instead, we learned that we can’t even be provided yet with a timeline for re-opening. This lockdown will be upon us for some time to come.
Thus the opening of paragraph 5 grabs our attention with a shout: “God holds this world with fierce love.” That is not how it feels, at this time when the world is gripped in a pandemic. But we know this to be true. It is not just that God so loved the world, it is that God so loves the world he created. And in him, we are told, all things hold together (Col. 1:17). At times like this, we accept it by faith. And yet we also accept it by experience, for we know enough of our history to know that God has seen us through far worse than this pandemic.
If we are the first fruits of God’s creation, that means that God has big, big plans for his creation. These plans are all based on the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. Where does a global pandemic fit into God’s big plans? It is, as with any adversity, to turn hearts to the only one who can see us through adversity. God is both calling his first fruits to raise up “a pleasing odor to the Lord,” and for us to participate in turning hearts to him.
Before we pray, take a moment and worship with “Shout to the North.” There are countless recorded versions of this song, but it’s hard to do better than Robin Mark’s 2006 live version from Revival in Belfast.
"Lord, we confess that in times like these we so often cannot see, nor pray, beyond our front door. Lord, the entire world is hurting now and we don’t want it to hurt. We pray that you would alleviate the fear caused by this virus, especially among the poor, the weak and vulnerable. And we also pray that you would turn hearts to you, and that you would allow and help your church to speak words of good news, repentence and new life in this difficult time.”
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Click here for God’s blessing sung in Hebrew and English.
PS – My online office hours today and tomorrow will be 11am-noon and 1-2pm. If you want to connect or just say hi, come by at your convenience!