Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Unbelievers

Lot was not able to save at least two of his daughters, who were now so captivated by the world that they could not leave Sodom. Nor was he able to save his wife, whose heart was so tied to her daughters that she could not look forward to the promise but only backward to the curse. And this is a hard pill for us to swallow, especially when we've been thinking for so long that Lot simply took his family - all of his family - and ran for the hills in one of those almost-perfect happy endings (we know, of course, that his wife didn't quite make it, but we blame her for that, though the reality is much more complicated). 

But the truth is that the Bible is full of stories of those who heard, but did not believe. Those who were interested, but not invested. Those who were even certain, but not saved. 

Look at the Old Testament - the nations that Israel came up against always knew they were in big trouble because the God of Israel was a powerful God who was about to destroy them. They knew God's power. They knew His goodness to His people. They knew His presence among them (they could see the smoke and the fire, too, you know). And yet, what we don't see in the Old Testament is a bunch of peoples coming to Israel to ask how they can convert to Judaism and become peoples of this God in whose power and presence they are so convinced. 

Nah, they hang out around their own towns and continue to think that somehow, they're going to defeat Him. Even though they know that they can't. 

For a more specific example of this, look at Jericho. Rahab tells the spies that everyone in town knows about the Lord God of Israel and is scared of what's about to happen, but only Rahab expresses an interest in joining the people of God. Everyone else in Jericho fights to their death and dies under the rubble of their destroyed town. There are many more examples in the Old Testament - for example, look at what Babylon witnessed with Daniel and yet, Babylon did not become a people of God.

Move on into the New Testament, and we see that masses and masses of persons came to hear Jesus speak. They followed Him from town to town. They say on hillsides and ate bread that He broke out of a little boy's lunch. They watched Him give sight to the blind, sound to the deaf, voice to the mute, and to drive out demons. In many cases, they were the blind, the deaf, the mute, and the demon-possessed. We can count a total of at least 9,000 men on hillsides (not including, we're told, the women and the children), and yet - how many were at Calvary? How many came to the tomb? How many went into the synagogues? To the churches? 

At least 9,000 men (plus women and children), and Acts tells us that in the greatest move of the Spirit to date at that time, a mere few thousand were added to their numbers. Christianity itself started small. 

How could it possibly have started so small when the streets were packed and the seas crowded and the crowds pressing in? How could it have started so small when at least 9,000 men (plus women and children) saw the power and love and mercy and goodness of Jesus with their own eyes? 

Simply put, they saw, but they did not believe. They heard, but they did not believe. They had the witness right in front of them, heard the very voice of God and saw His face, and it was not enough for them. 

The hard truth is that there is a majority in this world - a majority - who will hear the testimony of God, who will know everything there is to know about His power, love, mercy and goodness, and who still will not believe. Including many that we ourselves know and love and long to save, those we long to lead to Jesus. There are so many in so many of our lives that we, like Lot, will do everything that we can to save...and it won't be enough. It just...won't be enough. 

One more day on this; stay tuned tomorrow. 

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