If you’re old enough, do you remember the song title above? I’m old enough to recall when it came out. It was released by Depeche Mode in 1989, and for a while you couldn’t seemingly turn on the radio without hearing it. I thought about that song as I read today’s passage. “Keith, do you have the wrong reading link above? What in Sam Hill does that song have to do with this reading from Isaiah?” Please bear with me, and it might make sense.
If you read the lyrics of the song, they’re actually not that bad in themselves. There’s some indication that the group meant it sarcastically, but taken on its own the lyrics are pretty sound, as far as it goes. It talks about someone who’s there to help you in times of need, who’s there to be a shoulder to cry on, to lift you up when you’re feeling down, etc.
And there is that aspect of our relationship with God in the Bible. Even in this very prophet’s book, it predicts that the Great Shepherd will carry his sheep “close to his heart” and “gently lead those that have young.” He wants to have an intimate relationship with us which is as close as a heartbeat, as close as the breath on my lips. He knows me inside-out as if he had nothing else in the universe to think about, and he wants me to know him better as well.
So again, why am I pointing out this passage like this? Because it provides a vital and essential corrective on our too-often overemphasis on the intimacy aspect, to the detriment of the transcendent aspect. Like I said, “Personal Jesus” is not wrong in and of itself, but if that’s all you know about the God of the Universe, you aren’t worshiping and knowing the true God of the Bible. At best, you have a very inadequate understanding of him, and at worst you’re worshiping a god of your own making. The biblical term for that second scenario is idolatry.
That’s why it’s so important to read the Bible from cover to cover, and to focus on what the prophets have to say about the God with whom we have to deal. He's the Judge of all the universe, with humanity in particular having a date before his Throne of Judgment. He's the Lord over the nations, and he'll one day call each and every one of those nations to account. He'll weigh them out on his perfect scales, and they'll get exactly what they deserve. He's the One before whom angels dare not look at face-to-face. He's the One who moves the mightiest nations around like pieces on a chessboard. Need I remind you, that this is the same God who killed every man, woman, child, and animal on the face of the earth—with the exception of eight people and the animals on the boat? And when our gentle, loving Savior returns to earth, he'll be riding a white horse, symbolizing a conquering king leading a marauding army? And then he’s going to cleanse this entire earth with fire, reduce everything into its molecular components, and then raise up something better in its place.
To us, his throne is a place of mercy and grace and help and kindness. And it always will be. But to those on his “bad side,” not so much. And the only thing separating those on the wrong side from those on the “good side”. . . is Jesus’ blood covering our sins. That’s it.
I just wanted to provide a little corrective perspective, that’s all.
Lord Jesus, I'd be an absolute fool to trust in my righteousness, my resources, or anything except my Savior. You alone are worthy to judge everything and everyone, and I'm so grateful for your mercy, grace, and love.