The Pledge of His Presence

Guest Author: Eric Price | Follow 

What is your greatest fear? Perhaps the first answer that comes to your mind is spiders, heights, public speaking, or – if you’re like me – roller coasters. Or maybe none of those frighten you. What is remarkable about fear is how widely it can vary from person to person.

Despite the diverse fears people have, one fear that almost everyone shares in common is the fear of being abandoned – being left alone in the world and totally deserted. The thought of it can terrify even the most reclusive hermit.

Most terrifying is the thought of God abandoning us. Desertion by God is perhaps the ultimate terror. The letter to the Hebrews – whose author is unknown – was written to encourage Christians who were experiencing persecution and suffering because of their faith. These hardships had raised serious doubts about God.

Is he with me?
Does he care about me?

Perhaps you have asked such questions yourself. The opening verses of Hebrews address this fear of God’s absence.

The author begins by telling us that “in the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1). The original intent of creation was for God and humanity to live in a state of uninterrupted communion with one another.

But Adam and Eve’s sin created a relational

r  u  p  t  u  r  e  .

Ever since, God has sought to reveal Himself to humanity and reestablish relationship. In the Old Testament, He revealed himself through dreams, miracles, visions, historical events, and the prophets.

Yet these vehicles were insufficient to communicate God’s presence to us. And so the passage continues: “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” In Jesus Christ, God has revealed Himself.

God’s desire for self-disclosure culminated in His flesh-and-blood presence on earth in the person of Jesus.

If you have a close friend who lives on the other side of the globe, exchanging postcards is nice. E-mail might be better. Skype or FaceTime would even top that. But there is no substitute for visiting your friend in person.

Bodily presence communicates
commitment to the relationship.
In Jesus Christ, God himself left the glorious comforts of heaven to be present with us in this sin-stained world.

Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to reveal God because He Himself is God. God exists as a Tri-unity – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is one being who eternally exists as three distinct but equal persons. This is a mystery that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend. But Hebrews provides imagery to help us visualize this.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. | Hebrews 1:3

When you stand in front of the blazing sun and feel its rays warming your body, the rays are radiating the sun’s presence to you. As the rays bring the sun to you, so Jesus reveals God to you.

Verse three also says that Jesus is “the exact representation of his [God’s] being.” The imagery here is of an imprint. When you look at the back of a U.S. quarter, you see an imprint of George Washington. Imperfectly, this imprint reveals to you what George Washington is like. In a far greater, fuller, and more significant way, Jesus is the imprint of God. When we gaze upon Him, we see God.

Jesus is qualified to reveal God because of who He is. But He also reveals God because of what He does. Verse three says that Jesus “provided purification for sins.” God created humans with dignity and value. Yet we are also sinners, and the goodness of who we are has become intermingled with wrongdoing and rebellion against God. This does not mean we no longer have dignity or value, but it does mean that God’s holiness prevents Him from relating freely to us.

Jesus, by His life, death and resurrection, bore our sins and purified us of the penalty of sin before God. As a water purifier separates clean water from the deadly bacteria residing within it, Christ placed the penalty of our sin upon Himself to secure for us uninhibited access to God.

Is God with us?
Has He abandoned us?

Challenging life circumstances can raise these soul-wrenching questions and drive us to reexamine our deepest beliefs about God. Hebrews 1:1-3 shows that the immediate circumstances in front of us are not the ultimate barometer of God’s love for us. The crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus is the final word on whether God loves and values us.

When hardship come into our lives and challenge our belief in God’s goodness, we must recalibrate our focus by gazing upon the nail-pierced Savior above us rather than the heart-piercing circumstances in front of us.

 

EricPriceSquareEric Price is a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he completed an MDiv in 2016 and is currently finishing up a ThM as well. He and his wife Sarah live in the Chicago area and attend Northwest Bible Chapel, where Eric is active in teaching and preaching. In his spare time, he’s usually trying out new restaurants, reading books unrelated to school, and watching fail videos on YouTube. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter and read more at his blog, where he publishes on a highly irregular basis.

One thought on “The Pledge of His Presence

  1. Eric! So nice to see you on here! It totally took me by surprise at first, but then I realized you know Becky Mammen. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts—the first few verses in Hebrews are some of my favorites!

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