Sunday, March 4, 2018
Sunday Message: Prodigals and signet rings.
Zerubbabel has been on my mind a lot lately. Who's he? Well, if you want to just deal in historical fact, Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah under Darius of Persia. He and the successor to the High Priesthood, Joshua, set up the altar of God on the foundation of the Second Temple when the exiles came back. More than that, he was the rightful successor to the Kings of Israel the great grandson (if the genealogies aren't totally whacked) of the second-to-last king, Jeconiah. And he was named by God His "signet ring".
What does that mean? The between-chapters stuff in my Bible talks about how Zerubbabel- in some way unexplained by the genealogies- combined both the Davidic line of Solomon, from whom the Kings of Judah ran, through Zerubbabel, to Joseph, and thus to Jesus- and the line of Nathan, Solomon's full brother and progenitor of the line leading to Mary. Fighting through that is more "Bible Study" than "Sunday Message", so I will leave that there. Thus, Zerubbabel is a ring "binding the two lines" somehow. But a signet ring is a ring carrying the mark of the King- for Zerubbabel to TRULY be a signet ring, what he actually is, is God's seal on the line- that once again, after the exile and all the diverging through levitic children, nephews, and what have you, the line would now go virtually unobstructed right on to the Messiah.
But I have been thinking about Joshua as well. These two men appear in the prophecies of Zechariah, where they are described as the anointed children, the "Sons of Oil." Together, they were the spiritual fire that reignited the faith in Yahweh.
And yet, just one chapter back, Zechariah described the scene in the courts of heaven, where Joshua stood before Christ (the Angel of the Lord) and Satan, clad in filthy garments and being accused by Satan. Despite his state, God rebuked Satan for his accusations, had Joshua cleaned up, and told him, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you." Two things are obvious here- Joshua was a very blessed, righteous man. And his righteousness was but filthy rags before God, and Satan found reason to accuse even him.
So God ordered for Joshua in "rich robes", a "clean turban," and was given "charge of My courts, and likewise have charge of My house."
And that reminded me of the other time I heard that.
Luke 15 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[a] out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
Yes, the parable of the Prodigal son. Now, in that story, we are to consider ourselves the Prodigal, correct? We waste God's love and His plans for us doing "our own thing"- or to use the OT term, "Whatever seems right in our own eyes." And yet, if you have ever heard any good sermon on this parable, the thing that strikes you is not the forgiveness of the Father, but the ATTITUDE of the Father:
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
And those sermons will point out the following: 1) To see him "a long way off", the Father must have been sitting near the roadway, waiting for him all this time; 2) the word for run indicates great haste, as in running a race. Which means he would have to cast aside normal dignity (for the day and age), hike up his robes, to bust it down the road. 3) The son makes his confession- and the father responds to the confession NOT ONE WORD- by the very act of his return, all was forgiven and forgotten.
And when I saw the one story from the eyes of the other, something finally clicked for me. You see, I have heard many a time to show my "Joy In The Lord", and I have wondered how to do that. Despite what anyone thinks they know about me, here's what you need to realize- JOY is not a natural thing to me. I have to work at it in all but a rare few situations (like playing with Peanut). And I have been praying for God to help me learn what Joy in Him is. I mean I can divorce day to day from the Big Picture of heaven ahead as good as anyone, and it made no difference.
Until I saw that old man, with every reason to hate that wastrel of a son, running towards him with love and joy, robe hems in hand and not caring if gossipy neighbors saw his knickers. And I realized, that was GOD, running towards ME.
Towards me. And if Joshua, one of the "Sons of Oil", had rags filthy enough to give Satan something to talk about, and here I am with rags not only filthy, but covered in the worst thing a Jewish father could run into- pig crap-
And He was running towards ME.
That's a love that pride can't stand up to. That despair cannot buckle.
Maybe I still have to work at that joy thing... but, at long last, I can FEEL it.