HOW GOD STAYS IN TOUCH WITH MAN: VII

Long before Jesus was born, the Lord God demonstrated “His Presence” in a shepherd boy called David, who became king over God’s people, Israel. King David had committed a few fallacies and he attempted to cover up his transgressions. We are told that the Lord God sent Nathan to admonish and to correct the King David. The king had to learn that the wages of sin are demanding, “a life for a life.” David had taken the life of Bathsheba’s husband and now the king had to lose her child, that he had fathered, in adultery (II Samuel 11-12). Such a crime cannot be atoned in this life. Taking a life is a sin against God! Because that person (that life) has been separated from God without having a chance to make things right in this life, which is required to establish an upright standing with God. David knew it and therefore he cried out:

“O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you” (Psalm 41:4).

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness (Psalm 51:7-14).

David felt closer to God than to his parents and to his brothers. On the day Samuel arrived to find a replacement for King Saul, Jesse, the father of David, paraded seven qualified and genuine stock of his sons, but Samuel was not allowed to choose anyone of these physical specimen. In desperation, Samuel inquired whether there was any other offspring, and Jesse admitted that he had a strangler with his sheep. To everyone’s surprise, Samuel poured the oil on the shepherd boy to be the next king of Israel (I Samuel 16:1-13). Jesse sent David with supplies to the camp where his brothers were fighting the Philistines. David dared to speak up against their cowardness in facing Goliath defaming God. His brothers were angry at David, but he took on the challenge against Goliath. And David felled Goliath with one little rock. This event turned David into the most revered man in Israel’s history (I Samuel 17). It is amazing how one small thing, or one small incident, and even a good word, can change a life drastically for the better.

David, himself, hinted at the idea that he was not ranked with his brothers by his father and mother. Two references, in the Psalms, cast doubt on his legitimacy. In those days, the Commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” was taken to mean, that one could have one legal wife, but they could have a jolly time with a concubine. In Psalm 51:5, the INV shifts the sin on David, but the RSV assigns the blame to the parents of David. The INV holds the same position on Psalm 27:10, but David, himself, felt neglected by his legal parents:

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5; RSV).

“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in” (Psalm 27:10; RSV).

KING DAVID SET AN EXAMPLE FOR SELF-ANALYSES

Christmas is a time when we should look inside of ourselves and we should ask how far have we strayed from God — that it was necessary for God the Father to stop us by sacrificing His only Son? Any diversion from a normal life, or any transgression against anyone else or even against ourselves is a sin against the Creator who has made a good man. David left us these words to guide us. When I left home for the last time at twenty-one, my mother urged me to follow Psalm 119:9-16.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

You hem me in, behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of he sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you (Psalm 139:1-18).

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your (God’s) word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your work in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (Psalm 119:9-16).

MAN CANNOT RUN FROM GOD’S SPIRIT

David could not run from God, nor can anyone else! We all walk on His earth and inhale “His Breath.” God’s Spirit is always present, and even when we feel that He is far away. My own life should have ended as a baby, when my young mother inadvertently fed me poppy seeds juice; at the age of twelve when I was resuscitated from nearly drowning by an enemy, and at twenty-one when two men saved we from being consumed by fire. Twenty some years ago, I was declared incurable. And now, I am in my late eighties and I am still serving God in my humble way. Whoever it was that tried to terminate my earthly existence was not allowed to succeed because I have not finished doing what God had designed for me. During my first twenty-one years, I did not serve God and I did a poor job in serving myself; nevertheless, the Lord gave me a job and a purpose. I feel indebted to what Paul, in the Spirit, wrote to the Ephesian Christians:

For he (God the Father) chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will—to praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works our everything in conformity with the

purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are god’s possession—to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:4-14).

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love of us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he ight show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:1-10).

MAN IS ADRIFT AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD DRIFTS WITH HIM

We must be cognisant of the illusion that the Spirit of God can be severed from His creation and in particular from man, saint, and sinner, made in God’s image and in God’s likeness. The Spirit of God is as close as our breath. Jesus Emmanuel told the Samaritan woman that God was Spirit and that God could not be localized in Jerusalem or on a mountain (or anywhere else in the world). God’s Spirit can only dwell in the heart and in the spirit of man:

Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that the Messiah’ (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’’

Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he” (John 4:21-26).

We can learn from the Apostle Paul how close the Lord is to us, even when we are, like Paul, on the wrong course. Paul was convinced that he was working for God and for his father’s tradition; however when in reality, he was breaking God’s Law by incarcerating and demising God’s disciples. The Lord’s Spirit of Jesus was with Paul on the road to Damascus and stopped him from his false pursuit of Christians (Acts 9:1-6). All Paul had to do was open his heart by faith and the Spirit of Christ would have taking up residence in Paul, as He had promised while He was with his disciples (John 14:22-24). Now, Paul was employing the same procedure with his converts. The Spirit of Christ was only a breath away. There was and there still is no need to look for God’s Spirit, but within ourselves. Just say the word and Christ will enter:

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)” or ‘Who will descend into the dept?’” (that is to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Everyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the lord will be saved” (Romans 10:6-13).

Jesus promised his disciples and also their disciples, “And surely I am with you always (forever), to the very end (when all is fulfilled) of the age (when eternity begins)” (Matthew 28:20b). God’s time does not end with man’s age. The Greek word “synteleias” means completing or fulfilling God’s purpose in every person’s life on earth and to become fit for “aionos” meaning eternity. One period or time-span is “aion,” and more than one stretch of time used “aionos.” The Presence of God does not end with the age (aion), but the Presence of God continues in ages (aionos—forever).

What will our lives be a year from now?