Daily Office Meditations: 7th Week of Easter – Monday
(1) I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.
(4) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
(5) and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, (6) if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. (7) For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; (8) but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. (53) But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. (54) And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
(55) But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. (56) “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
(61) And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” (62) But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:52b-56; 61-62
In the Old Testament passage today, Ezekiel is told by the Lord to perform a prophetic act to prophesy against Israel. He is told to lay siege against Jerusalem and to lay on his left side for 390 days and his right side for 40 days. All this time he is to cook bread over cows dung to symbolize the defiled substance which the Israelites would eat in their captivity. The act itself is dramatic prophetic theater. God is trying to get Israel’s attention. He poured out His blessings on them, but they turned to worship idols. Like the passage in Hebrews, God had watered and cultivated Israel and they had rejected Him. But as the Psalmist wrote, God is faithful. He is constantly pursuing Israel amid their rejection.
Today’s readings are cautionary, even dire, but there is a kernel of hope amidst the strict warnings. We are told that none who has been a partaker of the salvific grace of Jesus can fall away from the faith and return. That they who have fallen away have crucified Christ again in themselves. Occasionally, I think this way about my sin. What anger or jealousy in my heart is adding to the price of the cross? Because God is outside of time, the cross was a Kairos moment where Jesus, as God and man, eternalized the pardon of God and took our sins today, yesterday and tomorrow into Himself. I don’t know that technically our current sins “add” to the cross of Christ, but the imagery is apt. I don’t think it is too presumptive to say that Christ weeps for our iniquity.
Christ has, once and for all, identified with our weakness and, like a father for his children, we can bring Him sorrow and pain with our sin. Further, the writer of Hebrews suggests that we, who are saved, can turn away from the everlasting grace of God. This is perhaps what Jesus talked about when He said that there would be no forgiveness for one who had blasphemed the Holy Spirit.
This reminds me of the Proverb, “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite.” I have seen people take the slow steady path into sin. I don’t presume to know their heart, but they have definitely “[born] thorns and briars” out of the blessings of God. I have observed the straying in my own heart. Yet the hope we have is not in our own faithfulness but in His. Jesus came, not to destroy men, but to save them.
All throughout the Old Testament, we see God rescuing Israel from themselves. He is patient and kind and steadfast. It is not God’s will that one should perish. So let us cling to Him and trust Him to finish that work which He has begun in our hearts. Let’s walk in wisdom and relationship with Him. Let us bear fruits in keeping with repentance. As the songwriter wrote in that great hymn:
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above