Some times, we all just need a “Hide and Pray” day. That’s my intention for tomorrow. I don’t do this very often, in fact I can only think of one other “Hide and Pray” day this year, early in the year when my goal was to take one once a month. But, life gets in the way. It shouldn’t….there should be nothing more important than prayer and study and worship. But, like all of us I’m sure, I’m guilty of putting many other things before such intensive disciplines, far too often.
Tomorrow is my Day of Grace. It’s a day that I want to focus on the grace of God in my life, even in the most difficult, most heinous, the very darkest times. Because God is sovereign. Supreme. Preeminent. Indisputable. I don’t understand that. I don’t even begin to understand that. But I know it must be truth.
Take Revelation 6:9-10 for example:
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
I don’t pretend to know much of anything about the book of Revelation, other than it is scripture and therefore must be truth. What is happening in these two verses, is that the witness sees the souls of the martyrs–those who have died for the sake of God’s word and for their testimony. In verse 10, he hears these souls crying out to God—“O Sovereign Lord, Holy and True….” If these martyrs, who often died horrific deaths (and continue to do so today), who have experienced things far worse than myself, refer to God as “Sovereign” in their cry to Him to avenge their deaths, then who am I to question God’s Sovereignty?? This has taken me a long time to learn. I still have a long ways to go towards learning it as well. I wonder if it is something I will continue to have to “learn” until I go Home.
The verse that I have taken for this Day of Grace is Hebrews 4:16:
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The author of Hebrews has been speaking in the verses before (and after) this about Jesus as our High Priest, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, and who has been tempted as we are, but yet He has not sinned. The author then goes into these words in verse 16…”Let us then with confidence drawn near to the throne of grace….”
We are able to draw near with confidence precisely because Jesus is our High Priest. What is a High priest? For a clearer picture, I’d urge you to read Hebrews 5, because I both do not have the room here to expound on it, as well as I would hate to get it wrong. But essentially, the priest goes before God on behalf of the people. Do we have to have an intermediary between us and God. No, and I know there are verses that support that, but unfortunately I can’t find them right at the moment. But essentially through Jesus death, He became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, therefore we no longer needed to sacrifice animals for the atonement of our sins. He was the atonement for our sins.
But then why this picture of approaching the throne of grace? Of approaching Jesus as our High Priest? I’m not completely sure, except that if this book was written to the Hebrews, they would understand this word picture. This scenario would make sense to them. This was language that made sense to the Hebrews.
What does it mean to us today? And what does it have to do with this Day of Grace and God’s sovereignty?
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace……” I have often said, or written, that I would rather deal with a big, impersonal God, then with the very personal, very relational Jesus. I know now that they are both a part of the trinity (I’m STILL working out my thoughts about the Holy Spirit) and that God is not impersonal, but I still struggle with this. When I pray, when I write, I much more often pray to God or write about God than I do about Jesus. Why is this? Because the intimacy that Jesus invites us to is hard. It is so real. It is so personal. I find it very, very difficult to “draw near to the throne of grace”. I would much rather study. I would much rather analyze. I would much rather think, argue, debate.
But here it is in Hebrews, that we are to “draw near to the throne of grace”….with confidence. Not with fear. Not with hesitation. What does this look like? I suppose it means believing that we will be welcome there. That this Sovereign Lord sees and knows all, has seen and known all throughout the years—even our most grievous of sins, our most shameful moments— yet loves us still. And that love, that kind of all-encompassing love, is hard to take sometimes.
Why is it a “throne of grace”? A throne is something that someone rules from. Is Sovereign from. Where is there room for grace in sovereignty? Whew. I don’t know. But somehow there is. Somehow there is grace in sovereignty.
We draw near to this throne so that we may receive mercy. Compassionate forbearance toward a known offender. I am that offender. I am that sinner in need of mercy. My soul, I am in need of mercy.
And it is at this throne, where we receive mercy—even in receiving that mercy—that we find grace to help in time of need. Unmerited favor and love of God. Grace to help in time of need. My soul, I am in need of that grace tonight.
My soul is divided tonight. On the one side, it hurts, deeply. O my goodness, my soul hurts so badly. But on the other side, it is overwhelmed with grace. And it is this intermingling of grace and hurt….where the grace encompasses and surrounds the hurt in love…..that is what is found at the throne of my Jesus.
Please pray for me, my friends, that I will find grace tomorrow. And that you will each find grace tomorrow as well.