From Here To There

THE RICH MAN DIED AND FOUND himself in torment. Seeing Abraham, he called across the gulf between them for the poor man, Lazarus, to bring him water. Some things never change. The rich man had ignored Lazarus when they were alive, and even now, wishing for an ease from the flames, still thought less of Lazarus than his own sorrow. Father Abraham replied simply, “There’s no crossing from us to you.”

The nation of Israel had been released from Egyptian bondage after a series of miraculous events. Having traveled south, they now stared at yet another impossibility. The Red Sea stood between them and freedom, and there was no way across. Never mind, God had brought them here, a pillar of fire by night, a cloud by day. Never mind, they’d left Egypt with all the wealth of the nation in their grasp. This was too hard to pull off.

Fast forward, forty years, and their children stood on the banks of the Jordan River in a season of high water. There was no way to cross from here to there. Yet the prophecies of generations past said they were to conquer and take every town, every city, every people that lived in Canaan. Promises they’d heard whispered from those who would never see it. Except for Caleb and Joshua, two old men who still believed. But who were they among so many?

David was sent to his brothers carrying provisions and found them crouched on one side of the valley of Elah, cringing as a loudmouthed braggart from Philistia shouted threats. There was no way to conquer without a battle that no one wanted to fight. David’s response? “What do I get out of this?” Gotta love him for that. Not, “This is impossible!” Nor, “How many will go with me?” But so much confidence in the God of Israel that he’s more interested in the reward. After all, who does this giant think he is to defy the army of the living God?

The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the temple that would be built in future generations. He saw the size of it, the number of rooms prepared for the priests, for the sacrifices. He saw the altar and the gates. He watched as the glory of the Lord, the presence of Jehovah himself, entered through the East Gate and shut the door tight. He saw a river flow out from within, east to south, and as the waters moved, they grew deeper and deeper until there was no way across. It was impassable, too deep, too wide. And so full of life that the Dead Sea had filled with fish, a multitude of many types.

Four hundred years passed before the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, walked the earth, and in that time, all the Old Covenant Law stood for had become a hodgepodge of outrageous regulations. The priests made excuses for any behavior they deemed acceptable, all the while padding their robes and proclaiming their fame to widows and orphans they ignored entirely. There He stood, the Redeemer, God Himself, on the earth He had formed with a word at the beginning of time, in a town He had blessed to their ancestors who’d been rescued from Babylon. There He was, filled with the power of the Father, anointed to rescue, yet the gulf from the past to the present loomed large, and the time too long, and salvation only possible with His greatest sacrifice.

The gulf was fixed. By religious prejudices. By poverty and demonic oppression. By sin which began long ago in the garden. And no one, living or dead, could possibly cross it. The distance was too great, the power of the enemy far too strong. Except He’d been sent for this purpose, to fulfill the Father’s plan, and upon Him was the power of the Resurrection, within Him the breath which had filled Adam long ago. What was too far, too long, too hard for the average person, had been planned out for Him before the world’s foundation, and this moment in history, this Way to the Father, written in the blood which flowed through His veins.

The impassable, the swollen waters which kept men and women from salvation, were his to navigate. The wide valley of death which stretched from here to there, had but one path through it, one gate which only He could enter, and from the wilderness which surrounded it, He rose, the stone which the builders had rejected, made the headstone of the people’s deliverance.

Pharaoh and his armies died when the waters of the Red Sea crashed over them, after the children of Israel crossed on dry land. Their children, in like manner, walked across the Jordan River, its waters pushed back some 17 miles, then defeated Jericho by shouting the praises of the Great I Am. Young David killed the Philistine giant with only a slingshot and a few stones. He then removed Goliath’s head with the giant’s own sword, and the army of Israel chased the Philistines back to Gath. What couldn’t be done any other way, happened time and time again, because God empowered them. Adonai, Lord of Hosts, God of creation, won the day.

Ezekiel’s temple became flesh and blood. Instead of walls and rooms and altars, God filled hearts and minds, recreating within those who believed the presence of God which had been missing from the temple when Jesus came to earth. On the altar of our lives, He placed the blood of the New Covenant, and from within released the river of life, which flowed out at Pentecost. Another wonder, another sign, of God’s greatness. In a small room in Jerusalem, 120 men and women, which included the Messiah’s own mother, were filled with the Spirit and began speaking in other tongues the praises of God, which the people outdoors heard in their own native tongue. There, they were, largely people of lowly Galilee, fulfilling a moment prophesied by the prophet Joel long ago.

The gulf was crossed, this time for good
, and the narrow path, the narrow gate, which men sought, was flung open for those who choose to believe. A pathway to heaven was paved for us to travel when our life is all over. But greater than this, here before us stretches a road to abundant life that we can live out every day. No more is God at the other side of the valley. No more is He across the wide sea. But here within us, is the love of the Father. Inside us, ever-speaking, the sweet Holy Spirit, whose power raised Christ in triumph, and the Savior who made it possible. As close as His name.

Photo by 12019 on Pixabay.

Suzanne D. Williams, Author