Even Angels Long to Look

A gasp of horror echoed through Heaven's corridors and a chilling wind blew through the perfect city. The face of God grew downcast. The Son buried His face in His hands and began weeping profusely. The Spirit groaned in painful agonies not utterable by any created tongue. The beloved man had turned his back on his loving Maker. He had gone out as a prodigal son, believing the devil's lie and breaking the one rule God had made. The Father's heart was crushed. Yes, His treasure, His poema, His child...had chosen the side of the enemy.


Adam had sinned.




The angels looked on in expectant fear, anticipating the response
that was soon coming from the Great White Throne. They had seen the way
God dealt with the first rebellion, when many of their own number were
mercilessly cast out and rejected without hope. Angels with rebellious
hearts became demons--servants of evil without any hope of
restoration--bound for an eternity of suffering and shame. The angels
expected a similar judgment to come upon Adam and Eve...the fierce
wrath of God to annihilate them in an instant. Yet as they gazed into
the eyes of Him who sits on the Throne, the angels could not comprehend
what they saw. Eyes welling with tears and a face filled with pain.
Surely God would not overlook this blatant act of rejection. This was
in many ways even worse than the first rebellion of Lucifer, for this
was the man who was created in God's own image...the man who was to be
a living picture of God. It was this man who had now forsaken God
stepped outside of the perfect plan. Yet, God's eyes were not flashing
in righteous vengeance as they had before, but instead were filled with
longing and emotion. The great Sword of Divine Judgment hung harmlessly
upon the wall.


The Father looked intensely at the mourning Son. The great
plan...the glorious kingdom...the creation which was so very good...all
lost? Had Satan, that prince of all hate and evil, succeeded in his
cruel attempts to pervert God's loving plan? Had the man in the Garden
really chosen the path of darkness and death? Had he not been warned
this could happen? What of the walks in the Garden in the cool of the
day-the close, personal friendship that Adam enjoyed with God? What of
the plans for Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth? Could it be
true that mankind had given all of this up...for a taste of rebellion?


Indeed, it was true. Man had succumbed to the trickery of Satan,
falling for the same lie that the devil himself believed. The man
wanted to be "like God." Now the relationship of love in which the
Father, Son, and Spirit found so much pleasure was ripped apart by the
single act. The man who was originally created to be "like God," had
now traded away all the privilege and joy in a moment of foolish
deception. Surely the swift justice of God would not delay. Surely
these humans, whose sins lay naked before the all-knowing Lord, would
be crushed in an instant.


So thought the angels.


Yet God's heart was moved with compassion. Was there a way? Would it
be possible to bring the rebellious man back somehow without destroying
Him utterly? Death was the only fitting punishment for sin. A just God
could not let this sin go unchecked. And a perfect God could certainly
not be an intimate friend of a sinner.


The Father closed His eyes in sorrowful contemplation. There was a
way. It would be horrible, painful, and incomprehensible. But it could
be done. God could remain just and holy, yet at the same time bring the
beloved humans back to Himself. To do so, God would have to pay the
ultimate price for love. If someone else could drink the cup of
righteous judgment...if someone else's death could satisfy the wrath of
God against sin...then perhaps mankind could have a chance. But who in
heaven or earth would be fit for such a sacrificial task?


He turned toward His most precious and beloved Son Jesus. The eyes
of all heaven were fastened on Him. The Son paused, then looked down in
understanding. He was the only pure and spotless One whose life could
pay for the atrocities of such sinful rebellion. The Father, without a
word, began to weep once again. Why would the man in the Garden rebel?
Was the fellowship not as sweet as he desired? Must it cost so much to
rescue the soul of the man? Would it be worth it to endure centuries of
sin and blasphemy, to gather all the guilt of evil, and die to rescue
humanity?


The Son spoke forth courageously in obedience to the will of the
Father. He knew that will...that the man should not perish, but have
eternal life. He knew the man was desperately lost and without hope of
life, yet the Father's will was that he repent. Mankind was worth it.
Any individual person would be worth it. God's love for them was so
strong, He simply could not...would not...give up. Before the beginning
of time, God had decided to give people a will of their own, and to be
gracious toward them. Now, while still honoring the free choice the man
had made, God would do anything to bring him back.


The Son alone could be the Lamb of sacrifice. Here, at the very
foundation of the world, the plan of sacrifice would stay the hand of
Judgment and hold out the offer of mercy. The grace of God was set on
display for all heaven to see. And the angels could scarcely fathom the
magnitude of what they were witnessing.


Jesus alone could salvage the death-bound race of men He loved so
very much. He would have to come forth and die, all to seek and to save
that which had been lost. He would have to come as the servant of all,
and to lay down His life as a ransom for many. It would be painful, it
would heartbreaking...but it would purchase freedom for humanity. No
price was too high to bring the prodigal son home.


The plan was decided upon. The heavenly beings looked on in
confusion, not understanding these events. Their Maker was going to die
for something He had made? A rebellious lump of clay? The man deserved
nothing...only wrath! Yet God had chosen to bestow grace and love. At
such a high price! For if the man was righteous, someone might possibly
dare to die...but for the unrighteous...for the sinner? Would God now
choose to demonstrate His love toward His creation by sending the
Christ to die for mankind?


Indeed He would. And He would do so at just the right time.


******


Abram was a man who lived in a city established shortly after the
devastating Flood. Up until that time, God had continued to
mourn...even grieving over His decision to make man upon the earth. Yet
God is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He
is patient with us, not wanting any to perish, but for all to turn away
from their rebellion. God chose Abram to be the man through whom He
would bring His own Son into the world. Abram received the promise of
God, that one day he would father a great nation out of whom all the
nations would receive a blessing. Thus, the Lord changed Abram's name
to Abraham."the father of a multitude."


God's promise was sure and in due time the nation was established.
He called it Israel -- beloved of God . Sadly, even these people, the
children of the promise...even they would often sin against God. Yet
the Father stood by His covenant. Who can thwart the plans of the Holy
One? He is not a man, that He should change His mind. God endured
patiently through the murmuring, idolatry, and pride of His chosen
people--for they had been elected by His Sovereign Choice to represent
heaven to the sin-darkened earth. The heart of God beat for them, and
all day long he held out loving hands to this disobedient and obstinate
people. They were the ones through whom the earth was to be blessed.
They would bring forth the Messiah, who would save all mankind from the
tragic penalties of transgressing the Holy Law. They were the people
whom God himself had elected to carry the message of His truth to ends
of the earth. They were to be a light shining in the darkness.


*****


Flashes of lightning followed by deafening peals of thunder shook
the mighty Mt. Sinai . A great cloud, unlike any other, surrounded the
top of the mountain and hid it from sight. The blasting of divine
trumpets grew louder and louder as the Most High descended upon the
mountain. Terrified, the people of Israel gazed at the dense cloud and
the mountain began shaking violently.


These, the descendants of Abraham, the chosen people of Israel, had
been led out of Egyptian bondage by the great leader Moses. They were
now at the foot of God's holy mountain to receive His eternal law. This
law was to ready them for the coming Savior. Moses was called forward
to speak with the Lord. Few in history have had such a call. He
ascended the rocky slopes of Sinai and met with the Lord God Almighty.
The Ten Commandments acted as a summary of God's perfect, holy Law
which is the absolute standard of moral truth. These were the laws of
life and liberty; of death and destruction. Blessings in abundance were
promised to those who kept the sacred Word, and horrifying curses were
pronounced upon all those who rejected it. "Thou shalt have no other
gods before me" the Creator declared.


The Law bore down upon the souls of Israel as they consistently
disobeyed the Ten Commandments. Adultery, the worship of idols, theft,
deceit, covetousness, profanity, and Sabbath-breaking dominated the
moral landscape of the nation for centuries. The Law was good--in fact,
it was too good--for sinful man could not even begin to keep its
righteous demands of purity. God had indeed revealed to Moses wonderful
truths, yet the people never seemed able to follow them.


Endless sacrifices of blood were offered to cover for the evils of
the people. Day after day the ritual blood-lettings of Levitical law
were performed by the priests, but the consciences of the worshippers
were never truly cleansed. They were still powerless against the sinful
nature born within them. It seemed as if nothing could finally make
them holy, like God. It seemed as if they would never be restored to
the perfection of the Garden.


The gavel of the Eternal Judge had smashed down with a thunderous
crash, and in its echo reverberated the guilt of every human soul.
There is none righteous; no, not one. Sin had separated mankind from
its loving Creator, and it looked as if nothing could bridge that great
gulf. Would peace and truth never again reign upon the earth? Was the
fallen race of Adam so wicked that nothing could free it from the
bondage of sin? What hope was there for Israel ...or the rest of God's
world? Prophets of God came, warning of the dire consequence of sin.
But the change never lasted. People were lost in sin, ever separated
from God, jumping one after another into an endless eternity of hell
and torment. The devil was blinding their minds and holding them
captive to do his will. Who could deliver the souls of mankind?


******


Darkness covered the Judean hills as a group of shepherds kept watch
over their flocks by night. All at once, a heavenly chorus of angels
flashed round about them, crying out "Gloria!" Light brighter than the
sun blinded their eyes as they were told of a baby born in Bethlehem ,
the city of David . The angelic chorus trumpeted forth the arrival of
the newborn King--the Lamb of God. Was peace really now upon the earth?
Could heaven now have good will toward men...after these many years of
cold separation? Yes! God's gracious plan was beginning to unfold!


The baby Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and soon all of Israel
had heard of the carpenter from Nazareth who could work any miracle and
whose teaching had authority! For three years, Jesus preached and set
the example of true holiness, training up His twelve devoted followers
to reap the spiritual harvests of Israel . The message went forth with
power..."Repent! Believe the good news! The kingdom of God is at hand!"
It was indeed. God clothed in flesh walked about with common men once
again. His name was Emmanuel- " God with us!" The salvation of the lost
race was near!


Yet, despite the excitement and electric sensation that ran amidst
the crowds upon hearing of the man Jesus, the Son of God himself was a
man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He had seen this grief from the
very beginning, when the first couple fell into evil. Now He must live
daily with those suffering so terribly under the weight of their sins.
His heart was broken as He witnessed a world full of bitterness, anger,
racism, hatred, and jealousy...a world addicted to selfishness and held
captive by greed...a world lost in the deception of the devil. Things
were never meant to be this way. If only people knew what they were
missing. Oh, to save them!


How He longed to gather them around Himself, just as a hen would
gather her chicks under its wings, but the people were unwilling.
Israel simply could not see who Jesus really was. Although ever
hearing, they were never understanding; otherwise, would they not turn
and believe?


Sweat drops of blood poured from the brow of the Son of God as He
prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. This was the evening that would
redefine darkness for all eternity. The Son knew the will of the
Father, yet with one last cry of grief, He asked if there could be any
other way to save the people. Could the cup of wrath pass from Him? No.
He must obey His Father's will. He must drink every last drop of that
terrible cup so that none of it would have to spill forth upon the
beloved humans. It was the only way to win them back.


The Son who lived in such sinless perfection was now condemned as a
common criminal. The true condemnation came not from an earthly bench
of justice, but from the throne of Heaven itself. Every jot and tittle
of the written code was examined and every possible human violation was
tabulated. With all of this evil...all of this sin...if Christ were to
die as a ransom...would the righteous anger of God be satisfied
forever?


Yes.


Christ would become sin for us, so that we might become righteous as
God intended. With every lash at the back of the Savior, with every
taunt and jeer of the angry crowd, with every moment of agony upon the
wooden Cross, Jesus showed His love. He was willing to take the sin of
the world and become guilty Himself. As the vicious crowd shouted
"Crucify him", His broken heart whispered back... "I love you."


When the Holy Father stepped back to look at Christ crucified...with
all the sins of men resting upon His shoulders...all the Father could
do was to turn away in angry disgust. Sin in all its rotten, putrid
folly was now condemning the Lord Christ himself. He was heard crying
out "My Father, why have you forsaken me?" Yet heaven had no answer.
The angels stood in silent disbelief. God would do such a thing, all
for the man in the Garden who sought to fulfill his own evil lusts? The
man didn't deserve this!


But God was determined to show His grace. Sin must be dealt with
once for all. It pleased the Lord to bruise the Son for the iniquity of
us all. The violent anger of God exploded at the sin He now saw in His
own Son. The cup of God's wrath was poured out over the sacrifice of
the Lamb. The ultimate pain, the ultimate agony.


Sacrifices had been offered through the law of Moses thousands of
times, but this one was different. All sin was dealt with--not just
covered--but paid for and taken away by the divine blood of Jesus
washing the sin-stained souls of men. When the smoke from this perfect
sacrifice rose toward heaven, the Father was pleased. Because of this
act of supreme love, God could set us free. Jesus' death on the Cross
of Calvary made it possible for sin to be forgiven once and for all.


All heaven breathed a sigh of relief.


It was finished. Sin was atoned for...finally...there could be rest.


Never again would a sin be committed that would demand another
sacrifice. Any human could be restored to God...because He who had no
sin became sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness
of God!


On the third day, an earthquake rocked the countryside and the rocks
split. Women ran to the tomb within which they had buried the crucified
Jesus. They found that the stone which blocked the entrance had been
rolled back. Jesus was gone . An angel was given a great honor by God
and commissioned to proclaim the most glorious pronouncement in the
history of the world. "He is not here: He has risen!" The light of
resurrection now dawned on the dark world. Jesus Christ not only dealt
with sin, but now He had destroyed death and brought life and
immortality to light through the gospel!


O death, where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting?


*****


The Holy Spirit came down in power upon the disciples who had been
overjoyed at the sight of their now risen Lord. His ascension into
Heaven and His promise to return when the work was completed had
energized them. What work could this be? None other than the work of
Christ himself...to seek and to save that which had been lost. Now,
with the Spirit-empowered, blood-bought saints of God preaching the
good news to Israel ...surely the nation would repent before God and
accept its role as the light to the world! What greater task could
there be? The risen Messiah was coming again soon to reign in
righteousness upon the earth...He was soon coming to judge the world
with justice!


But then the unthinkable occurred. The nation of Israel , the chosen
people, rejected this plan God had initiated. They rejected Jesus as
their Messiah. The heart of God was grieved again. What more could He
give to such a hard-hearted people? Had he not already given His own
Son? Yet God's plan would not be shaken.


God commanded His apostles to do something no one ever expected...to
take the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles! Could those who were
not Israelites participate in the plan of God? Of course! God's desire
had always been that all people repent, and if Israel would not take
the responsibility to preach that message of reconciliation to the
world, God would give that privilege to the Gentiles! Surely our Lord
has mercy upon those whom He wishes to have mercy!


******


Down through the ages the glorious message has spread. God's kingdom
has grown. Nations have been reached with the story of God's mercy and
grace, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the empowering presence of the Holy
Spirit. Hearts have been changed and lives transformed by the message
of the Bible, the record of God's plan. This gracious plan of
redemption has gone out into much of the world, and many have journeyed
on the narrow path that leads to life--the path of Christ.


He alone could provide freedom from sin, and in Him alone is there
everlasting life. Only by repentance and belief in Him can a man or
woman be brought back into fellowship with the God of the Universe. It
is not by man's desire or effort that this plan be reinstated; it is
only by the sheer grace of God. This grace is such a wonderful
gift--not earned or deserved--but given directly out of the Father's
heart. Yet, tragically, most people still remain on the broad road
which leads to Hell's destruction. Most reject the offer of God and
prefer their sins or their own religious customs. Why must man always
rebel? Can he not see God's loving plan?


Even more tragically, the nation of Israel as a whole also walks on
that broad path today, rejecting the Savior who came to bring them
life. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive
him. Yet God's gracious gift and His call are irrevocable...He will not
give up on His chosen nation. The Lord wishes all men to repent. God's
plan is that Israel might someday be saved...and all other nations as
well...rescued from the cruel bondage of the god of this world who has
blinded their eyes. They simply cannot see the light of the glory of
Christ, who is the image of God. Instead their mind is darkened and the
gospel is veiled. Although all men are bound over to disobedience, God
wishes to have mercy on them all.


And someday, God's plan will draw to a close and many from the
nation of Israel along with multitudes from every tribe, tongue, and
nation will stand before His throne: fully accepted, fully holy, fully
sons of God and co-heirs with Christ. They will be clothed in the pure
white righteousness of Jesus--totally cleansed by His blood. Oh, the
love of God! Who can grasp the breadth, and length, and depth, and
height of the love Christ has for His saints? Behold what manner of
love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called sons of
God!


*****


After all the faithful servants have entered into the eternal joy of
the Lord, the Son himself will give everything back to the Father, that
God may be all, in all. Then on into eternity will the precious plan of
God continue...He will be our God, and we will be His people. He will
live with us and walk among us. The dream from the very beginning will
finally come true. And the angels look on...amazed as they gaze at the
many objects of mercy which the Father has set on display. The man in
the Garden, who did not deserve even a moment of mercy, is now placed
next to the very throne of the Almighty God as a prince in the eternal
kingdom. What a testimony to God's unending grace, His ceaseless mercy,
and His limitless love. To God belongs all the praise, glory, honor,
wealth, and majesty.


The Spirit and the Church call out, "Come! Let all who are thirsty
for the living waters of eternal life come to the fountain and drink!"
Today is the day of salvation, and now is the time of the Lord's favor.
The patience of the Almighty will not last forever; His anger can flare
up in a moment! Those who reject Him now will not find hope again.
Earth and heaven may flee, but there will be found no place for them.
Men may call out that the mountains fall down upon them, but the day of
mercy will have passed. Seek the Lord while He may be found, and call
upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked man forsake His ways. It is a
fearful thing indeed to fall into the hands of the living God. Come out
from among the world and be separate! Touch no unclean thing and He
will receive you. He will be a Father to you, and you can be His sons
and daughters.


Answer the call of the Savior: "If anyone would come after me, he
must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." Entrust
your life and your eternity into His nail-pierced hands. Don't look for
human solutions...or try to impress God with religion and good
works...Jesus himself declared that he alone was the way to the Father.
Jesus alone can appease the righteous wrath of God against your sin.
Trust in Him. For as many as receive him, He gives the right to become
children of God.


Let the peoples praise you, O God! Let all the nations be glad and
sing for joy! But for now, He commands all people everywhere to repent,
for He has set on day on which He will judge the world in
righteousness. Today, mercy is ready to embrace you. For God so loved
the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in
Him should not perish , but have eternal life.


Behold, He is coming soon. He is calling you.


Prayer:

Lord Jesus, words cannot express my gratitude to
you. My own life has been so full of sin...I've gone my own way and
haven't put you first in my life. You created me so that I could love
you...but I have never really done that before.

I receive your
gift of forgiveness and I want to join your family. I know I don't
deserve anything from you, but because of your grace I know you will
hear me. I repent of my sinful ways and decide today to follow you. I
will learn how to live as one of your children, and I will do my best
to love you and honor you with the rest of my life.

Your plan
is wonderful, and like the angels, I long to understand how you could
forgive a sinner like me. Thank you Jesus. Please make me the kind of
person you want me to be. Take control of my life and use me to share
this Good News with others. Amen.

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