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As One Standing in the Gap

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in His heart: ‘Never again will curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:21-22

Image result for ropes course spotterGod can smell. Did you know that? He enjoys savoring the scent of fire-grilled meat that waft heavenward just as much as we might enjoy driving by a local barbecue pit with the windows down. When we please God–as we were intended to do from our Creation [1:26]–He remembers [8:1] us, that is He keeps us in mind as worthy of consideration.

Makes sense. Our relationship must always be a two-way street. We remember God, that is we keep Him in mind as worthy of our consideration by pleasing Him, and He remembers us. He remembers us and forgets–puts out of His mind–our sins, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.

God prays for our hearts. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever [Deuteronomy 5:29]! Because we were created to love God with our whole heart et al and to love our fellow human beings just like we love ourselves. But the natural inclination of our heart, our human tendency, is evil–morally wrong or profoundly immoral.

But here, Noah stands in the gap. Because of Noah’s faithful and righteous remembrance of God, God promises that no human being ever after–until the end of the earth [Revelation 6:14; Matthew 24:35; 1 John 2:17]–will have to endure total world destruction.

And God’s promises are faithful and true [2 Corinthians 1:20]. So when the scientists and the news reports predict asteroids or comets colliding with earth, the polar ice caps melting and flooding the earth, the sun running out of fuel or exploding or whatever, we don’t have to be afraid. They’re wrong and God’s right. He promised that we will always have planting and harvesting so we can self-sustain, cold and heat and summer and winter so the earth can rest and then live again, and day and night so that our bodies–especially our eyes–can fully rest. If Jesus is the Lord of our life, we don’t need to fear human predictions, we just need to trust and obey God.

We don’t make animal sacrifices since the death of Christ, but we can still be a pleasing aroma to Him. Our prayers are like a fragrant incense [Psalm 141:2; Revelation 8:4]. And we can live as one standing in the gap, just like Noah did for us, reminding God of how very good His Creation was and is. Remembering our love for Him as He remembers His love for us.

How often do you pray? Do you daily fill up God’s nostrils with the perfume of prayer? Do you live as one standing in the gap? In other words, by your life, does God remember in you the goodness of His Creation and hold back the floodgates of heaven’s wrath once more?

Serving a Holy God

by Kristen C. Strocchia

“After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24

Image result for couploe lost in wildernessHow gently and lovingly God had set His created man in the garden on Day 6 . Now–we don’t know how long after–God drove his man out of the place He’d created especially for him. Man had left God without a choice.

Now I know that many like to play human mind games with this set up, asking questions like, “Well if there’s nothing that God can’t do, then why couldn’t He fix sin so that Adam and Eve could stay?” or, “Why is God so intolerant? If He’s truly good, then shouldn’t He have just accepted them no matter what?

We have to be so very, very careful to realize that by asking these questions, we are once again accepting Satan’s lie that we can be our own gods. But who are we as finite created beings to sit in judgment on our infinite Creator? We are selfish. He is selfless. We are imperfect. He is perfect. We are sinful. He is sinless. We have fallible understanding of fractured truths. He is all-seeing and all-knowing, and He is wisdom and truth themselves.

But this is not meant to be a cop-out answer. To say that because we are limited therefore we cannot understand God in this matter.

Again, I believe God spoke plainly. He reveals His nature to us through His Creation, His Word and His Son, so that we can understand why He didn’t just immediately fix Adam and Eve’s sin. So that we can understand that it is not God who is intolerant but we who are intolerant of Him. Like spoiled children we can’t tell the difference between being truly loved and having a personal genie, someone who meets all our demands on our terms and on our timelines regardless of what that would do to us in the end. So that we can understand why God was not able to overlook Adam and Eve’s–or anyone else’s–sin.

God drove the man out with a heavy heart. A heart that earnestly prayed, “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” [Deuteronomy 5:29]. Think about it. What if God just turned the other way and said, “Ok, Adam. If that’s the way you want it, then I guess that’s what it’ll be“?

You see, we’re already living in a world that is ruled and devastated by sin. And most human beings find it reprehensible enough that they wrongly blame God for every evil thing they see! Can you imagine what things would be like if God actually condoned the sin that people hold Him responsible for? If we couldn’t reach out to God for goodness? If we couldn’t call on Him for wisdom from on high? If we didn’t have His love protecting each and every one of us from the absolute ravaging effects of sin on our world?

We were created by a holy and loving Creator. Where He is, sin cannot be also [1 John 3:9]. And love often means disciplining the ones we love to keep them from harming themselves or others [Hebrews 12:5-11].

Do you trust God’s love enough to let Him develop you through discipline? Do you understand what it is to serve a Holy God?