Monday, May 4, 2015

The God of Isaiah and the Gospels Among the Dead

“They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea. Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the ‘legion’; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. And they began to implore Him to leave their region (Mark 5:1-17; cf. Matthew 8:24-34; Luke 8:26-39).

The Bible is about Jesus (“All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation,” Baptist Faith & Message 2000, I). We should expect that behind the actions and words of Jesus are shadows, types, and symbols in the Old Testament in which He walks during His time on earth. In fact, the apostle Paul teaches us that we cannot even understand the Old Testament until we read it in Christ: “...until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:14-16; cf. Luke 24:44-49; John 5:39).

In “the vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz” (1:1), the Holy Spirit revealed the work of God in Christ reaching out to tomb-dwelling bacon-eaters who didn’t even want Him:
“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’
To a nation which did not call on My name.
I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,
A people who continually provoke Me to My face,
Offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks;
Who sit among graves and spend the night in secret places;
Who eat swine’s flesh [old covenant, Leviticus 11:7//Deuteronomy 14:8; new covenant, Mark 7:19; Acts 10:1-48],
And the broth of unclean meat is in their pots.
Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me,
For I am holier than you!’
These are smoke in My nostrils,
A fire that burns all the day.” (Isaiah 65:1-5).

The God of Isaiah’s vision is the Christ Who came ashore in “the country of the Gerasenes.” The man possessed by Legion is the focus on the story, but he is merely openly living what was true of all the unclean, spiritually-dead Gerasene residents. God the Son permits the tomb-dweller to recognize Him, ironically via the thousands of demons which inhabited him. The man is released, brought to salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, and commissioned as a missionary to the Gerasenes (who asked Christ to leave the area).

“...the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God...for God, Who said [in Genesis 1:2,3], ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One Who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4,6).

The God of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) doesn’t reach out to the clean, the pretty, the moral, the spiritually-open. He saves the filth-eating walking dead through His spotless, blameless, eternally-beloved Son. This is the grace of God. And He hasn’t changed since the pages of Isaiah or the Gospels. Remember that today when the devil tempts you, Church, to think that people of certain nationalities, skin colors, accents, religions, sexual preferences, political parties, economic statuses, etc., cannot be saved as you were by “the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God.”

As you go, proclaim salvation by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Even in the tombs, among the bacon-eaters, and – yes – even among those who want you to disappear from the land.
"Gerasenes," by Abram Gomez

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