Well, there certainly has been a dust-up over the release of the American held captive by the Taliban in exchange for 5 Taliban warriors. I am quite sure there is a whole lot more to the story than we will ever know. And whatever your political persuasion – whether Republican or Democrat – the exchange did seem not balanced: 1 for 5. Smarter minds than mine will be debating this for years to come.
It has reminded me of another prisoner exchange. Many years ago there was a hardened criminal – an insurgent – who had been tried and found guilty of crimes against the state. Irreversible judgment had been handed down. He was scheduled for execution – an execution he deserved. All appeals had been denied. No leniency. He was guilty. He was waiting for his final day.
The political climate was in turmoil. There were insurgents everywhere trying to overthrow the much hated and corrupt government – which made the government crack down even harder. Suspicion was rife. No one trusted anyone else. Into this milieu came a man – an old-fashioned prophet who railed against the corruption and immorality – even in the palace. He didn’t have it in him to compromise. The king and his “girlfriend” were not happy that their lifestyle choice was being opening condemned. The king allowed himself to be manipulated into having this man beheaded.
So outrageous and unfair. But such was the political and moral climate. People didn’t want to hear the truth – they wanted to live the way they wanted to live with no boundaries. Live and let live. God did not enter the equation. Oh, there were a few god-fearing folks who were looking for hope but they were on the fringe of society.
There was one teacher that was drawing big crowds. He talked about the Kingdom of God. He talked of love and forgiveness. He talked about peacemakers and meekness. He talked of mercy and said God was like a father. The people had not heard this before – all they heard was law, law, law. They loved what this teacher was saying and how He was saying it – not with judgment and harshness – the crowds grew larger. The political leaders became uneasy. Was He a threat to them?
They tried to trap him any way they could. They put their brightest and best up against him to no avail. He was as wily as they were. He was making them look bad – they became furious – murderously furious. Finally they found one in his inner circle that would betray him for money. It was arranged and the deed was done. He was captured!
But when the governor questioned him the found no reason to execute him. The crowd was seeded with those that wanted the teacher out of the way. They incited the crowd to chant, “Execute him. Execute him.”! The weak governor was no match for them; he caved. In that day it was a custom to exchange one prisoner…for the condemned. The governor, wanting to appease the crowd exchanged the guilty, violent insurgent for the peace-preaching teacher. An unbalanced exchange.
The exchange of Jesus for Barrabbas was also unbalanced: the Son of God for sinful man. Barrabbas benefited from the exchange for the rest of his days. I wonder how it affected him… Did it impact his life? Did he change his ways? We don’t know. But his days did come to an end.
We can benefit from the exchange of Jesus for sinful man for all of eternity. The choice is ours.
I was recently privileged to spend 3 nights in a log cabin way up in the mountains of Tennessee – not far from Gatlinburg. Now I grew up on the side of a mountain and am used to mountain roads. But this was something else! It seemed like I was driving to the backside of nowhere. And there were several hills as I crested I could not see beyond the hood of the car and wondered if I was going to drop off…
It amazed me that the state allowed roads to be built with such a steep grade – but it was private property so I guess that was OK. It was a bit scary – even for me.
The point for me to be there was to be quiet and alone. I was. Not another cabin in sight! Just miles and miles of mountains. Wonderful views.
“My” cabin was perched over the side of the mountain and behind my cabin was another one – again perched on the side of the mountain. I became interested in the foundations of these structures. What kept them there?
You can see what I mean!
Reminds me of Matthew 7: 24-27 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
And the hymn that says,
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
How firm is your foundation?
Our freedom is not free. It was purchased and is preserved by those serving in our military. They believed that our freedom was worth dying for. Our freedom is a beautiful thing. The world envies it. But we treat it far too casually. As an American citizen I want to express deep gratitude for those that have sacrificed and served me. They don’t know my name and I don’t know theirs but I honor them and their family for the service rendered. If you have a loved one in the service, thank you.
Let us pause this weekend during our picnics, cookouts, gardening, get-togethers – our fun celebrations – to remember and say “thank you”. Display our beautiful flag as a symbol of your appreciation and solidarity with those that serve our country with their lives.
Let’s tell Washington that we want our servicemen and women and our veterans treated with the best we can give.
A dear friend from Houston wrote to me recently and she included a quote form Warren Wiersbe that is too good to not pass along to you all! It is from his book, His Name is Wonderful. I thought it was profound.
Isaiah the prophet is making a prophecy about the coming Messiah. He says, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor. Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NAS)
His name shall be called…
Wonderful – that takes care of the Dullness of life.
Counsellor – that takes care of the Decisions of life.
The Mighty God – that takes care of the Demands of life.
The Everlasting Father…that takes care of the Dimensions of life.
The Prince of Peace…that takes care of the Disturbances of life.
Are you feeling dull? Do you have big (or little) decisions facing you? Is your life seemingly a series of demands – urgent ones? Do you feel as if there is no purpose to life? Do you feel as if chaos is taking over?
Read the ancient prophet again. Trust his words. Know the truth of them.
This same prophet said, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” (KJV) Keep focused!