“To me … grace was given, to preach … the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8)
“There is no language, ancient or modern, like that of the gospel of the grace of God, pronounced by the Holy Ghost to one’s heart, and of heaven-born souls to God under his influence; no history like that of Jesus Christ, redemption through blood, and effectual application of his grace; no science like that of beholding the ‘Word made flesh,’ and beholding the infinite perfections of JEHOVAH in him, and through him, in every creature,—as from eternity manifested, and to be for ever manifested in our inconceivable happiness, ‘to the praise of the glory of his grace;’ no pleasure like that of ‘fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,’ and all that joy and peace with which the ‘God of hope’ fills men in believing,—that joy which is ‘unspeakable, and full of glory.’” –John Brown (1722-1787) The Life of John Brown, pp.67-68.
Of late I have been memorizing and praying back to God the great prayer of Habakkuk 3:17-19. But during much of that time I’ve also had in my Bible a 3×5 card upon which I wrote, some time ago, the text of Genesis 32:26b. Recently, as I was praying back the former to God, I happened upon the card in my Bible. In an instant, seeing them side by side, I realized the contrast between the faith of Jacob and that of Habakkuk.
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26b). These are, of course, Jacob’s words while wrestling with “the angel” through the night. He says, “I’m not letting go of you, Lord, until you bless me.”
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). This is the prophet’s prayer of faith as he surrendered to God’s sovereignty over the nations and over his own life. This is Habakkuk saying, “I will not let you go even if you don’t bless me.”
See them side by side:
- I will not let you go unless you bless me.
- I will not let you go even if you don’t bless me.
So which one is it?
Or, is it both?
For the blessing for which Jacob holds out is God’s own presence with him. And that of which Habakkuk will not let go, no matter his earthly state of blessedness, is the presence of God with him.
Bless me or bless me not, you, O Lord, are the one essential. You are the one thing I cannot live without. Amen.
“… Jesus calls disciples to tasks beyond their abilities, and the fact that the tasks surpass their abilities is evidence that the ministry is Christ’s, not theirs.” (James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, p.281)
Peter’s short second letter is perhaps as profound as any portion of Scriptures for the days in which we live. Sadly, it seems we’ve lost sight of the end of all things and thus have lost any orientation by which we might rightly embrace the present. That was the problem Peter wrote to confront. False teachers had arisen saying that there would be no final judgment (2 Peter 3:3-4). Deny accountability and you lose all ability to live faithfully. I titled this series Last Days Life Preservers. We have to keep our eyes on the last day if we will be faithful in these last days. To help us, Peter throws us a lifeline comprised of …