When I was younger we used to watch this collection of short movies called, "Greatest Heroes of the Bible." I know...I grew up in a religious home...leave me alone. I actually really loved them. They would tell the stories that most people who went to Sunday School, Christian Camp, Jewish Day School, etc., would know because they include all the popular main characters - Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and Jericho, Samson, David and Goliath, Daniel and Esther. You know, all the people we are told to emulate, especially after some theatrical scrubbing, and those whom you could speak of and in many ways remove God from the picture.
On my way to the church this morning I was reminded of those movies as I looked up in the sky. There I could see these openings in the clouds and the sun peaking through with its rays kissing the earth. All I could think of were the scenes in the various episodes of "Greatest Heroes of the Bible" when God spoke. The character would look to the heavens and hear the voice of God speaking and the image used was this image - rays of the sun beaming through the clouds.
So, you would think that I should see that scene in my mind, look to the heavens, and imagine that God was speaking to me this morning. That was not the case. It reminds me of those movies, and it tells me of this God who speaks. Sometimes He needs to speak in clouds and nature of some kind, but often it with words that bring terror rather than hope. I think of the Alaska earthquake yesterday. Such a huge tremor (8.2) that all one could think of is that if God was speaking in that way what a terrifying God He must be.
But what I was reminded of this morning is that this sun peaking through sends me back as a kid and those movies. Movies that told the old, old stories of God and His people, and those stories being of a God who has spoken and continues to speak through those same stories down through the ages. Most notably, He is a God who almost always speaks of hope in the face of doom, righteousness in the face of sin, faith in the place of doubt. That when I am fearful, faithless, confounded, and downtrodden, I turn to this God who has spoken before in those promises made to some of the worst people imaginable and those words stand the test of time.
This is what the Lord says,
he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar--
the Lord Almighty is his name:
“Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,”
declares the Lord,
“will Israel ever cease
being a nation before me.”
This is what the Lord says:
“Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel
because of all they have done,”
declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:35-37)
A God who spoke to His people Israel through the mouth of a preacher to say that His covenant with them cannot be broken unless humanity is able to break the bonds of light and dark, earth and sky, wind and wave, and the heights and depths of the cosmos. Which we know we cannot. As long as we keep finding new species of animals and fish on this great planet of ours, these words continue to hold true.
And we even have the words of Christ. His promises, which echo the promises made to Israel long ago, tell me that even when the day comes that this sun does not shine through the clouds any longer, and I am not able to see it to remind me of some sort of God, Christ still speaks in His Word to me. His Gospel still rings true as the promises of God wrapped in the flesh of His Son to seal my soul by His blood. That the times when I feel that God is silent is when He most speaks to me in the best way He can - the cross. Because in the terror of death and sacrifice God is found merciful and present. In the suffering of God for the sake of the world, I learn of a God who came to redeem us from sins, turmoil and pains of this life. That even though the world rumbles, the rain does not fall, and I may suffer hardship and tragedy today, it is far less a thing than to remember the hope I have in the future joy found in Christ who took my life in his, killed it, buried it, and raised it anew. And He did all of this because I am more likely to look to the sky for answers, or to some sort of hero I imagine becoming, rather than the God who speaks to me in the same words and voices He used long before I was even a possibility. It is in this God I must trust. In this God that spoke to Moses of redemption is this same God who now speaks to you and me so that we don't need to hope that the sun peeks through the clouds tomorrow and we "hear" from him. Instead we know of this God as a God who has already spoken to you and me. I wonder what he wants?