Speaking of Life 5004 | The Might and Light of a Saving Love
If you were sick to the point of death, three things would be needed to restore your health.
First, you would need someone willing to heal you. Second, this person would have to be capable of doing the healing. And third, you would need to know you need healing in the first place.
This can serve as a metaphor for our need for a Savior from our terminal diagnosis of sin. Only, part of our spiritual illness involves a blindness to the fact that we are indeed ill. That blindness would need to be healed in order for us to even call out for healing. That presents a major obstacle to ever being saved from sin and the ultimate death it brings.
Advent is a time to be reminded that we have a savior whose love overcomes all obstacles.
Notice the first three verses of Psalm 80, which anticipates Jesus’ coming and therefore is a classic Advent Psalm. Here we will see God’s perfect provision of salvation in Jesus, who overcomes all obstacles to our being healed and made whole.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
Psalm 80:1-3 (NRSV)
The first verse of this Psalm uses language that is distinct in all of scripture. The title “Shepherd of Israel”—with the description of one who leads “Joseph like a flock”—is meant to convey compassion, tenderness, and one who is intimately involved. This points to the coming of Jesus who is our True Shepherd, one who is willing to save us. Our first need for salvation is met in Jesus.
Then the Psalm presents us with images that come from Ezekiel about One who is “enthroned upon the cherubim.” This challenges the imagination with concepts of power beyond human comprehension. This transcendent image is the background of the psalmist’s call for God to “stir up your might.” This God is not only willing and available like a Shepherd, but his might is more than capable to save us from any foe. Our second need for salvation is again met in Jesus.
Finally, the Psalm records what this mighty Shepherd comes to do—“shine forth.” It’s the light of his face shining on us that heals our blindness and brings us out of the darkness.
In this light of love that comes to dwell among us, we are enabled to confess our sins and receive his healing and restoration. In this way, all of salvation—even our need to confess and repent—is a gift of grace that comes to us in Jesus Christ. So even this final obstacle is overcome in Jesus.
On that ground we can join the psalmist’s refrain that calls out three times “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” As we continue to celebrate Advent, we can be reminded that God’s love has made all provisions and overcomes all obstacles to save us and make us whole.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.