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Monday, November 07, 2016

the Four Needs: Ephphatha!

“The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of the hands of humankind.
They have mouths, but cannot speak;
they have eyes, but cannot see;
they have ears, but cannot hear;
there is not even breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
as does everyone who trusts in them.” Ps 135

For modern, “enlightened” folk, idols sound primitive.  Yes, i’ve been in homes that had statues of buddha and the like, but only rarely have i seen actual shrines.  But as with nearly all of our visible sins, they are merely the outward expression of an inward desire.  And i probably shouldn’t even use the word ‘desire’.  Hosea  and Ezekiel paint it as a much more lurid picture.  We don’t just desire our idols, we Lust for them.  We are not passive.  We are violently active.  i’m guessing Eve didn’t take a tentative, dainty, lady-like bite with pinkies out.  She dug in like a shark and got its blood-red juice all over her face and offered it out to Adam with stained hands and a come hither gleam in her eyes.  As Paul says, “Therefore put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry…” (Col 3)  Earthly.  i like that because Ezekiel tells us we have hearts of stone.  Earth.  Stone, metal and wood.  Temporary things which are passing away.  We have become like what we desire, taking on its properties, the properties of the temporal and the dull and the blind.

But if we’re deaf as posts and blind as a bag of rocks and acting out of our basest instincts, how in God’s name are we supposed to put off idols?  We’re slaves!  We’re prisoners of our own disobedience, born as prisoners, born as slaves!  How can we be freed?  Yes indeedy!  How is that even possible?

It’s not.  You don’t.  But fear not!  “For he knows our frame.  He remembers that we are dust.” (Ps 103)

“Say to those who are hasty of heart,
“Be strong; you must not fear!
    Look! your God will come with vengeance,
with divine retribution.
    He is the one who will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf shall be opened.
Then the lame shall leap like the deer,
    and the tongue of the dumb shall sing for joy…” (Is 35)

Christ has come!  He who stood in the church of the blind, “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll he found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because of which he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me
to proclaim release to the captives,
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
to send out in freedom those who are oppressed,
    to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were looking intently at him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

We’ve seen and believed!  Thanks be to God!  He has done this, His grace has done this!  He has stuck his fingers in our ears and said, “Ephphatha!” and dropped the scales from our eyes and we looked and we saw the rodent of sin crawling away in fear from the holy one, into the crusty ground of our heart.  And we hollered, “Hang tight, Jesus!  i got this!”  And we grabbed our shovel of the Spirit and started digging and we’re surprised at how deep the hole goes and then we hit something hard, something unyielding, something metal.  We dig and we dig and the more we dig, the more we expose a colossus.  The idol beneath.  This week (of all weeks!) i hope and pray we’re going to see how God takes what we think we need, how he takes the Four Needs which perhaps we should relabel, the Four Lusts, the idols of Comfort and Control and Approval and Power and replaces them with Love.  This week of all weeks, i hope and pray you hear HIM say,

“No.  You hang tight.  I AM’s got this.”

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