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Good Friday

 

As published in the Antrim Review

Here in northern Michigan, we are locked in winter's cold grasp. We continue to see the overspilling of God's "treasuries of the snow" (Job 38:22) all around us. Though in many places March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb, last year it snowed solidly from Sunday, April 1st to the 8th. I know-I was here, visiting the families at Chain-O-Lakes Church.

It was Easter Sunday last year, the first time ever I preached for the flock. The ground was clear when the morning service began. By the time of the evening service, we must have had several inches of snow. But to the hardy souls of northern Michigan, it was a mere "trace," and the seats were as filled in the evening as in the morning.

They didn't make the effort simply on my account. These are people who so look forward to worship, whose song is: "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD" (Psalm 122:1); and "O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells" (Psalm 26:8).

Does God's glory dwell in a building? Not as it did long ago and far away, among the Hebrews, first in the Tabernacle, then in the Temple. We might better compare it to when God met Jacob in his dream (Genesis 28:12)-setting in his connecting ladder between earth and heaven, for a time of meeting with his elect (Isaiah 65:9). Jacob called that place Bethel, "House of God," because God for the space of a dream turned it into a place of meeting by his presence.

1 Corinthians 6:19 is plain: the Christian is God's temple now. All the more reason to gather then, at the set hour, as many individual "living stones" (1 Peter 2:5), to put forth a combined blaze. And not merely we alone, but together "in the Spirit" (Revelation 1:10) with Christians everywhere (Hebrews 12:22-24; compare Hebrews 10:25). Jesus' own words testify: "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24).

Hymnwriter William Cowper penned these words, in 1769:

Jesus, where'er your people meet, There they behold your mercy seat; Where'er they seek you, you are found, And every place is hallowed ground.

Lord, we are few, but you are near; Nor short your arm, nor deaf your ear; O rend the heav'ns! Come quickly down, And make a thousand hearts your own.

The "mercy seat" was in the Temple's Holy of Holies, where the LORD was "enthroned above the cherubim" (2 Kings 19:15; compare Exodus 25:22). That room was cloistered behind a thickly woven veil, about sixty feet high, accessible by a single priest once a year. Reports the Evangelist: that veil was torn in two, from top to bottom, immediately when Jesus "yielded up his spirit" from the cross on which he suffered and died (Matthew 27:50-51).

Suffering and dea... is there any reason to call that day "GOOD Friday"? Certainly, if you believe his death corresponds to the tearing apart of that veil (Hebrews 10:20). The Lord Jesus Christ is the new and living way to God, because death could not keep him in its grasp. There is still a mercy seat, a throne of grace, where Christ sits in heaven (Hebrews 4:16). There is no more restricted access to God for believers in Christ. They belong to him by purchase (Acts 20:28). They have been forgiven their sins by his blood shed for many (Matthew 26:28).

There are a number of Good Friday services at churches in our communities. They fall at different times of day. Please feel welcome at our preaching service, 7:00 PM, March 21, 2008.