In Christ, we are promised many things, including this: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10). By grace through faith, if we are in Christ, then for Christ we will be treated with contempt, scorned for our faithfulness. For the Christian, persecution is not the consequence of a lack of faith but evidence of it.
But it is not in our sinful state that God is pleased but in the sinless sacrifice of his Son, whom he has given as the greatest gift of all. As John wrote to the church, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In Christ, our peace offering, we have been given the gift of peace with God forever. There is no greater Christmas gift than that.
Despite their subjection to Roman rule, Israel was given religious autonomy, leading to the restoration of temple worship, the liturgical calendar, and pervasive influence upon the family and synagogue. Yet, in their religious and cultural revival there were inherit dangers, notably legalism and hypocrisy. There were also Pharisaical perspectives that made Jesus and his gospel not only unwelcomed but repugnant. It is the religious irony of ironies: The religious right went wrong because their reformation didn’t need a Savior or his gospel, revealing a jaded perspective of their privilege, a blinding pretense, and a misguided presumption. They were a people of whom the prophet wrote, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Therefore, there is no room for boasting with bravado of what we will do for Christ. Or, as Paul put it, “If I must boast, I will boast of things that show my weakness” (2 Cor. 11:30). The Christian life is not lived by boasting in what you will do for Christ but in what he has done for us. It is not a life of bravado but of submission. As we learn that God’s grace is indeed sufficient and that his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), we too will learn to pray as our Lord did, and as he taught us to pray, “Thy will be done”!
As God promised, so he provided, giving “His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NASB). In Christ, he has given us his abiding peace through the provision of his Spirit. In Christ, he has given us his means of grace abiding in his peace. In Christ, he has prepared his kingdom that we may know eternal peace.
Partaking of the elements of bread and wine, we look to the sinless body and atoning blood of Christ. It is under the banner of Christ alone that we worship, looking to His perfect provision, and in His provision we stand fast in battle.
Israel was saved in the wilderness through the flowing, life-saving water from the rock. So, we are saved unto eternal life through the substitutionary, stricken, saving rock, our Lord Jesus Christ, the rock of our salvation.
By God’s sovereign grace through justifying faith in Christ, the hunger and thirst of your eternal soul can never be satisfied temporally but only eternally. The manna God gave Israel reminded them of His daily provision. The solemn rest God gave Israel reminded them of their rest in His Sabbath provision. The Savior God has given us has become our eternal manna and our eternal Sabbath. We are nourished and rest in His eternal provision.
It is not because of what we can do for Him that He saves us, “but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— “(Eph. 2:4–5).
He has given His Holy Spirit to all who believe. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows your struggles and your needs. While your perspective may be captured by the earthly, in His providential provision He provides all that you need for your good and His glory.