READ: Psalm 20, Isaiah 19-21, John 13, Revelation 21
HEALED BY STRIKING
We are not the first to promise to live dead. We are not the first to fail. Peter promises the Lord: “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37), moments before denying Jesus three times. All who attempt to live the crucified life fail–numerous times. To live dead is to keep crawling back on the altar after every time you fall off. Jesus was gracious to restore Peter, and He will be gracious to restore us. All things will be made new (Rev. 21:5), even our dedication. When we commit to following Jesus radically, and fail, we are sorely tempted to stop trying. Jesus is honored when we fall and rise to try again. He is delighted to fulfill all our purpose and petitions, and to answer us in the day of our trouble (Psalm 20:1). We just don’t expect Jesus to help us by striking us.
In Isaiah 19 the Lord promises to send a Savior to Egypt and Sudan. God promises that He will be known in Egypt, that Egyptians will know the Lord. Immediately after the promises to these now Muslim nations, that they shall know the Lord, and before the Lord says, “Blessed be Egypt my people” (v. 25), the text says: “And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it” (v. 22). God’s means of helping man, of revealing Himself, includes striking them so they will return to Him and be healed. Surrounded by examples of abuse and poor fatherhood, something in us recoils at being struck by the Heavenly Father. For many of us beatings (whether physical or emotional) do not draw us closer to the abuser or lead to any kind of healing. We respond to striking by recoiling into a defensive self-preserving posture.
The strike of God is intended only to get our attention. Jesus struck Peter with one glance, and Peter wept. From Peter’s shame and sorrow eventually came restoration and healing. The severity of God’s strike depends on the thickness of our skulls and spirit. When we are soft towards Him, all He needs to do is look at us to get our attention. When we are recalcitrant and disobedient, sometimes God has to whack us upside the head with a club of grace. The intention is the same: to turn our attention to Him so that He can remove the curse (sin/poison/cancer/rotten flesh/pride/error/falsehood) and we might be healed. It should not surprise you that the direct result of promising Jesus to Live Dead is your failure to do so and the uncommon onslaught of the enemy. When we commit to a sacrificial following of Jesus, all hell breaks out against us and our own flesh joins the uprising. We fail numerous times, or we succeed in part and grow a pompous spirit. God in His mercy strikes us, gains our attention, and then lovingly heals us and sets us free.