I heard a song titled Ten Thousand Angels Cried, sung by LeAnn Rimes. I could picture heaven the day our Savior was crucified. Those angels were looking at the torture He endured for the salvation of mankind. They must have pondered this senseless way to die. They saw people mocking Him and spitting on Him, lashing at Him with a whip repeatedly, until He was disfigured beyond recognition.
Why would He choose to leave heaven’s splendor to die in our place when we were the sinful ones? We cannot understand this. The fact remains that He chose to lay aside his crown and royalty to take on the form of humanity for you and me.
On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, people attend services in churches around the world. There is the celebration of Resurrection Sunday, better known as Easter.
We rejoice that Jesus was raised from the tomb and lives, forever making intercession for us. He did this so that one day those who have accepted his death, burial, and resurrection will live in Heaven with Him. For those who have invited the Lord into their hearts, those special services remind us of His supreme sacrifice. We rejoice that Jesus loves us so much He went to the cross, as painful and humiliating as it was for Him. When we think about how the sky became pitch black and the curtain in the sanctuary immediately tore in two that day (Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23:44-46), the song about the ten thousand angels crying will seem very real. I imagine there may have been a huge display of lightning, thunder, and a downpour of rain. It will be as if those angels were weeping so profusely their tears resonated heaven’s intense response.
Sometimes I still weep and I am so thankful He did not come down from the cross, because I know He purchased eternal life for me. It helps me know that my tears are a language God understands. The angels must have wondered if there could have been another way. It is in those moments it makes me appreciate that although He was God, He removed His divinity to put on the flesh of man.
Now, whenever thunder roars, the wind blows, and the lightning flashes across the sky, I look out my window. As the raindrops become stronger and louder on the rooftop, I think about the day my Savior was crucified and how the angels cried!
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. Revelation 5:11 (NIV)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)
For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Philippians 3:18 (NIV)
A Hedge of Clichés
By: Katherine Britton, crosswalk.org
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. – Matthew 6:7
A Bible study friend recently encouraged me to rewrite the famous passage on Proverbs 31 woman in my own words, with application to my own life. I took her up on the challenge, thinking the task wouldn’t be too hard for someone who writes for a career.
Crafting a modern application took an hour—much longer than I figured. Getting away from verbatim repetition to explore specific application required much more of my time and energy than I would typically spend journaling on a passage. Stepping back from the verse-by-verse analysis, though, I thought I saw the Proverbs 31 woman’s characteristics a bit more clearly. Rewriting the passage didn’t destroy the original language for me—on the contrary. The “words, words, words” seemed fresh and clear from my new vantage point.
Unfortunately, reading and “hiding Scripture in our hearts” quickly slips into rote recitation for me. It’s like Tim Hawkin’s hedge of protection comedy sketch; the words have power, but we start spouting them off without much thought. Pretty soon, I’m sitting in church and halfway through a hymn before I realize that I’m singing. My heart gets left behind too when my mind is disengaged. Pretty soon, I’m praying a “hedge of protection” for somebody, partially because the phrase sounds good without making me think too carefully about their specific needs.
The Pharisee Jesus described in Luke 18:9-13 had mastered the art of hiding insincerity behind the right phrases. He knew the turn of phrase that would convey holy devotion, regardless of the filth in his heart. “Words, words, words” became meaningless, as Hamlet saw them in the dead books – they became a socially acceptable key to avoid the real attitudes.
Contrast this to the tax collector. He understood that social niceties wouldn’t veil his sins before God, and he didn’t continue with a recitation the way the Pharisee did. His simple prayer was, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” That was it. He knew the impact of his simple phrase far better than the Pharisee did. He didn’t need to “babble” to impress God or those around him; he simply spoke his heart, knowing that ability to pray is itself a mercy.
The beautiful language of Scripture is best adorned with sincerity of heart, not how many words we can string together in holy sentences. After all, consider how simple the Lord’s Prayer is written – and how difficult and miraculous it is to proclaim “Your will be done.”
What are the clouds?
“The clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nahum 1:3
Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 40:12-26
Great things with us are little things with God. What great things clouds are to us! There we see them sweeping along the skies! Then they rapidly increase till the entire sky becomes black and a dark shadow is cast upon the world; we foresee the coming storm, and we tremble at the mountains of cloud, for they are great. Great things are they? No, they are only the dust of God’s feet. The greatest cloud that ever swept the face of the skies, was but one single particle of dust starting from the feet of the Almighty Jehovah. When clouds roll over clouds, and the storm is very terrible, it is only the chariot of God, as it speeds along the heavens, raising a little dust around him! “The clouds are the dust of his feet.” Oh! Could you grasp this idea my friends, or had I words in which to put it into your souls, I am sure you would sit down in solemn awe of that great God who is our Father, or who will be our Judge. Consider, that the greatest things with man are little things with God. We call the mountains great, but what are they? They are but “the small dust of the balance.” We call the nations great, and we speak of mighty empires; but the nations before him are but as “a drop of a bucket.” We call the islands great and talk of ours boastingly—“He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.” We speak of great men and of mighty—“The inhabitants [of the earth] in his sight are as grasshoppers.” We talk of ponderous orbs moving millions of miles from us—in God’s sight they are but little atoms dancing up and down in the sunbeam of existence. Compared with God there is nothing great.
For meditation: Are you experiencing great distress or great success? Try to look at both kinds of circumstances from the viewpoint of God (Zechariah 4:6-7).
“This is the generation (description) of those who diligently seek Him and require Him as their greatest need, who seek Your face.” – Psalm 24:6 AMP
What does it really mean to seek the Lord? David indicated that people who truly seek Him are serious about their relationship with Him. They worship and pursue Him. They “require Him as their greatest need.”
They understand that God created all things. Everything belongs to Him. Everything we have comes from Him. We owe everything to Him. As David wrote, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it, the world, and those who dwell in it” (v. 1).
They understand that He created the principles that govern everything. To really understand the world, we need this foundation. This must shape the way we approach life, our values, interests, goals, and behavior.
David also understood that God desires to fellowship with His creatures. But intimate fellowship is reserved for those who really approach Him with the right spirit. People with “clean hands and a pure heart” (v. 4). Those who live in this way will receive special rewards: “a blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (v. 5). These are characteristics of people “who diligently seek Him” (v. 6).
How serious are you about your relationship with God? Are you seeking to live in ways that please Him? Is knowing Him your greatest need?
Don’t just approach God as a religious duty or through times of casual prayer. Make this a serious commitment – the foundation of your life, shaping your actions and attitudes.