The most powerful inscriptions ever made happened at Christ's resurrection. It was so important to our Savior that we understand the significance of what happened, that He returned even to "doubting Thomas" and asked him to place his fingers in the imprints of the nails on His hands, and the spear in His side. The inscriptions on His body are the conclusive proof of His great love for us.
In the midst of life's trials, we often forget what this means for us. When people fail us, it is easy to forget that we are loved. Celebrations - even of "Resurrection Sunday" - can be tough when we are gathering with difficult relatives or maybe feeling left out completely. In Christ, however, we have received an invitation that is too good to refuse! We are loved by Someone who never forgets us and always delivers us.
God Never Forgets Us
We are not the first people to worry about neglect or abandonment. Israel was doing the same thing long ago, under the Babylonian captivity. The temptation in affliction is to doubt God's goodness. God’s solution was to inscribe a personal invitation for them to be with Him – forever:
“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” ~Isaiah 49:14
God (through Isaiah) uses imagery that all of us can relate to, describing the strongest bond known to man. It would be unthinkable for a mother to forget her own child. Yet even if this happened, God would never forget you. This isn’t the only time God uses such language. Take a look at an earlier scripture:
“Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” ~Isaiah 46:4
God promises, in decidedly feminine language, to bear with us through thick and thin: He made us, He will bear us, He carries us and He delivers us. The language He uses is all related to childbearing and pregnancy.
To give you a frame of reference, I have made, borne, carried, and delivered three children, each one bigger and heavier than the last. Morning sickness was really all-day sickness for me, lasting not just three months but all nine. When my third child was delivered, at a whopping 10 pounds, 2 ounces, I decided that was all the experience I needed with childbearing and pregnancy! I do adore my children, and it was worth it, but I am very glad not to be carrying them anymore!
I'm sure it is at least as difficult for God to bear my sins as it was for me to bear my babies. Yet even so, God still chooses to put up with me. Why? Because He made me, it’s worth it, and I belong to Him:
"I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” ~Isaiah 44:21b-22
Just as I would not have abandoned the process of carrying my children to term or willfully failed to deliver them at the appropriate time, so God does not abandon His commitment to bear with me in love or to redeem and deliver me. No matter how difficult the situation, He is in it for the long haul. He completes what He begins.
God Delivers Us
Knowing that our deliverance comes through Christ, let’s look a little more closely at the imagery used to describe that redemption in Philippians and Exodus.
Christ “…made Himself of no reputation,
taking the form of a bond-servant and
coming in the likeness of men…
He humbled Himself and became obedient
to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Paul writes, not by accident, that Christ became a bond-servant, someone committed to the will of his master. The Israelite law for Hebrew servants described a specific ritual for the servant who chose to remain with his master forever:
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing... But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.” ~Exodus 21:2-6
A faithful servant who wished to remain with his master was required to have his ear pierced with an awl on the doorpost – the same place the Israelites were commanded to put the blood of the Passover lamb - as a sign of deliverance:
“For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.” ~Exodus 12:23
Hallelujah! Jesus Christ, God’s suffering servant, allowed Himself to be pierced for me. His death on the cross was His statement of intent to serve His Master forever. As ruler of His Master’s household, He has become my Lord and Savior. The nail marks on His palms are His inscriptions of love for me, as a true servant of Israel. His blood delivers me from the destroyer and all the claims he might make over my life. God has given me my own personal “Passover!”
The beauty of this resurrection season is that I now know that I am never alone, never forgotten by the One person who matters most. Not only that, but I am also promised deliverance from whatever afflictions trouble me. Whenever I feel abandoned or neglected, I have only to look at the inscriptions in His hands to know that He will never leave me or forsake me. There is no greater comfort than that.
And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you,
He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.
Are there times when you feel neglected by people you expect to love and care for you? Could God be challenging you to transfer those expectations over to Him - the One who never fails you?
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014. All Bible references, NKJV
Deborah Perkins is passionate about helping others connect with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at His Inscriptions. To follow her blog, click here.
This week is a special one for Jews and Christians alike. Religious communities everywhere are celebrating Passover, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter - all within a 7-day span! Even scientists and new-age psychics are paying attention to this week's appearance of a "blood moon," an extremely rare occurrence that - interestingly - always seems tied to significant events in Israel. In remembrance of our Jewish roots, I would like to clarify just what I believe our relationship is to the Jewish people, and challenge you to think deeply about your response.
As believers who are growing and maturing in Christ, we will eventually reach the point where we feel a new love for the Jewish nation and for Israel. In studying the book of Romans, we will come to realize that it is God’s desire to call the Jewish nation, who initially rejected Christ, back to Him. We will begin to understand that it will be the Gentile church whom God uses in these last days to provoke Israel - through jealousy - to return to faith in God.
When we first realize all of this, however, we must be careful to make one distinction: Our focus should not be on calling the Jews to something, but to Someone. Our mission is not to call them to be members of our Christian church, but to return to their faith in a covenant-keeping (and very Jewish) God. Historically, as in the Crusades, we can see that Christians may be tempted to take pride in Christianity and seek to make converts to religion, not to God. As Romans 11:24 explains, it is not the Jews who were grafted in to the cultivated olive tree, but the Gentiles, who are like “wild olive branches.” We were estranged from Israel’s communal life – until we came to faith in Messiah. As David Stern writes in the Jewish New Testament Commentary, “Israel constitutes the norm and center of gravity, not the Gentiles." (JNT Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992; p. 582).
And again, in Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul urges us to remember that we were Gentiles by birth, alienated from both Christ and the nation of Israel. We have now been brought near by the blood of our Jewish Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to pray for, watch, and bless Israel, not only because she plays a central role in worldwide political and end-time events, but also because she is God’s chosen nation, through whom all of His moral laws and covenants have come.
While we are not bound to the legalistic requirements of Mosaic law when we turn to Christ, we do gain access into all the wonderful covenants and promises given to the Jewish nation. In Christ, there is no longer any spiritual distinction between Jew and Gentile; the dividing wall has been abolished and we are members of one Body. Christ fulfilled all the legal requirements for us so that we could partake of the blessings and inheritances promised to our forefathers. In Christ, all God’s promises are “Yes and Amen!” (2 Corinthians. 1:20)
One of the most touching stories I have ever heard about reaching the Jews is the story of Richard Wurmbrand. You may know him as the Christian founder of the Voice of the Martyrs ministry (visit the Friends page of this website for more), but before that, he was persecuted as an anti-communist, Romanian Jew.*
In 1938, he was converted to Christianity by a Romanian carpenter named Christian Wolfkes. An unknown man of prayer, Christian lived in a remote mountain area which no one ever visited. Yet he longed for God to send him a Jew with whom he could share the gospel. By a miracle, Wurmbrand arrived on his doorstep one day and was converted, along with his wife Sabina. It would not be the end of Wurmbrand's persecutions, but his life would become a seed that would awaken thousands to the issue of Jewish and Christian persecution worldwide.
One man of prayer. One heart for the Jews. One Jewish conversion in a nameless mountain village. All of which led to a lifetime of impact for the Kingdom of God. How much more relevant is it now, in this end-time, to ask Him to give us a heart for the Jews!
The most exciting promise of all is that Israel will once again turn to her Maker and acknowledge Him as Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, her Messiah and Redeemer. This Passover, ask the Lord to give you a heart for His chosen people. Pray for Jerusalem. Pray for your own outreach to the people He loves so dearly. Pray that He sends you the one that only you can reach, in your own way, with the Love of your Jewish Father who has made Himself one with you!
I wish all of my Jewish and Messianic Jewish friends a very Happy Passover! May your celebrations and Seders lead you deeper into the knowledge of One who gave His life in fulfillment of all the promises of the Bible. Chag Pesach Sameach!
*Richard Wurmbrand's life story is available through Voice of the Martyrs.
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014
Question: Have you ever read or studied Ephesians 2:11-22? What are your thoughts about our Christian response to the Jewish nation?
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.