FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FOUR & FORTY– Part VIII
Knowledge of Prophecy Changes Anxiety to Serenity
“In the annals of human history the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as dependent upon the will and prowess of man. The shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice.
But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and through all the play and counterplay of human interests and power and passions, the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently patiently working out the counsels of His own will.” – E. G. White, Education, p. 174.
When our first and last grandchild,—a mesmerizingly lovely baby boy [to my understandably biased eyes] was born via CS last August 24 to our one and only child, my weak-heart leapt with joy previously unknown. I fell in love for the “first time,” i. e.,–one different from my love for our late parents, our aunt who raised us, my dear sisters—both my deceased twin-sister and surviving sisters and their families, my one and only lovely wife and our only daughter, and my in-laws. To use clichés, I was tongue-tied and star-struck. But I now know, no longer vicariously, what grandparents the world over, transcending all cultural, racial and religious divides, biases, and prejudices have felt. .
When the nurses in training raised him up, to show him to us as we peered through the glass window of the mother’s room (his dad was the only one allowed in), a new page was written in the final chapter of my life book. Later that day, we were allowed to see mother and son who were already bonding skin to skin, to hug and kiss them. As I nervously and gently gathered the just-born infant in my arms, a lump formed in my throat. Tears welled up in my eyes, something that had not happened for a long time. (I used to consider tears in a man’s eyes as a sign of weakness till I read the shortest verse in the Bible in John 11: 35.) That totally helpless infant boy was actually “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” although a third diluted! Unknown to everyone else in that room, till now, I immediately silently prayed and dedicated the child to God. That was recorded by my angel in the books of heaven. And no one can ever change that. Lest anyone forget, whether believers or not, fallen humanity belongs twice to Jesus, by creation and redemption. In His perfect timing, He “loaned” this infant boy to his parents and grandparents as an important trust in order for us to know God better, enjoy our march through this antitypical wilderness of sin of fallen earth towards heavenly Canaan.
Soon, conflicting thoughts crept into my mind. First, the good: this new experience helped me better appreciate an iota bit more of the unfathomable love of our Father in heaven for Christ, whom Paul describes by inspiration in this most amazing and comprehensive revelation of who Jesus is: ”For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1: 16. Did you get that, dear friends? All things were created by, through, and for Christ—visible and invisible, thrones or dominions, principalities and powers in heaven and on earth!” Now, if we truly believe in Jesus, isn’t this awesome revelation of who He is more than enough to be serene, possessing “the peace that passeth understanding”?
But barely had an exciting week went by in a blur that I was suddenly confronted with a “new “temptation, blighting my new-found joy. I thank the Holy Spirit, for, quite quickly after, I recognized it as that which has, and continues to cause countless Christians, including those who claim to worship the God of creation by obeying His command to keep holy the seventh day of the week as the one and only appointed Memorial Day of His creative power, authority, exclusive right to be worshipped alone by all His creatures, particularly man, created in His image and likeness.
This temptation was to worry about our grandson’s future.
By constantly beholding one becomes changed into the same image. By observing, perhaps, too closely, the progressive deterioration of the political, moral, financial, religious, and legal institutions of America—once the land of the free and prosperous, and the broader global malaise as well, I began to feel helpless, which is good if it prompts one to turn even closer to God; bad, if it leads to discouragement. With America’s unprecedented $22.4 trillion debt, what kind of future was in store for him? Who of the two controversial presidential candidates will win this election cycle? What will they bring to the nation and the people to—especially to the next generation? Will my grandson even make it to college? Will the bewitching, “perilous times” Paul warned of and listed in 1 Tim.3: 1-7 overcome him?, etc., etc.
A couple of days after, as I gazed with wonder upon the cherubic face of my infant grandson, so peacefully asleep in my mortal arms after burping him, still so pure, guileless, and innocent, totally oblivious to the mixed emotions and troubled thoughts besetting the one holding him, I sensed the Holy Spirit rebuking me of my shameful lack of faith! A passage of Scripture verse came to mind later. See 1 Pet. 2: 1-3. These verses were directed towards me, not the baby!
I realized this was the same spiritually immature lack of faith and dependence on finite human strength of His first disciples-in-training.
After an arduous day of teaching and healing, Jesus, in His human nature, sought seclusion and rest on the eastern shore of Gennesaret for it was relatively sparsely inhabited compared to the predominantly Jewish western side. Jesus asked His disciples to accompany Him there. They hastily set off through the calm and pleasant lake called Sea of Galilee.
But “suddenly darkness overspread the sky, the wind swept wildly down the mountain gorges along the eastern shore, and a fierce tempest burst upon the lake. . . The sun had set, and blackness of night settled upon the stormy sea. The waves, lashed into fury by the howling winds, dashed fiercely over the disciples’ boat, and threatened to engulf it. Those hardy fishermen had spent their lives on the lake, and guided their craft safely through many a storm; but now their strength and skill availed nothing. They were helpless in the grasp of the tempest, and hope failed them as they saw that their boat was filling.
“Absorbed in their efforts to save themselves, they had forgotten that Jesus was on board. Now, seeing their labor in vain and only death before them, they remembered at whose command they had set out to cross the sea. In Jesus was their only hope. In their helplessness and despair they cried, ‘Master, Master!’ But the dense darkness hid Him from their sight. Their voices were drowned by the roaring tempest, and there was no reply. Doubt and fear assailed them. Had Jesus forsaken them? Was He who had conquered disease and demons, and even death, powerless to help His disciples now? Was He unmindful of them in their distress?
“Again they call, but there is no answer except the shrieking of the angry blast. Already their boat is sinking. A moment, and apparently they will be swallowed up by the hungry waters.
“Suddenly a flash of lightning pierces the darkness, and they see Jesus lying asleep, undisturbed by the tumult. In amazement and despair they exclaim, ‘Master, carest Thou not that we perish?’ How can He rest so peacefully while they are in danger and battling with death? Their cry arouses Jesus. As the lightning’s glare reveals Him, they see the peace of heaven in His face; they read in His glance self-forgetful, tender love, and, their hearts turning to Him, cry, ‘Lord, save us; we perish.’ . . . He lifts His hand, so often employed in deeds of mercy, and says to the angry sea, ‘Peace be still.’
“The storm ceases. The billows sink to rest. The clouds roll away, and the starts shine forth. The boat rests upon a quiet sea. Then turning to His disciples, Jesus asks sorrowfully, ‘Why are ye fearful? have ye not yet faith?’ Mark 4: 40, R.V.
“A hush fell upon the disciples. Even Peter did not attempt to express the awe that filled his heart. The boats that had set out to accompany Jesus had been in the same peril with that of the disciples. Terror and despair had seized their occupants; but the command of Jesus brought quiet to the scene of tumult. The fury of the storm had driven the boats into close proximity, and all on board beheld the miracle. In the calm that followed, fear was forgotten. The people whispered among themselves, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’
“When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in almighty power. It was not as the ‘Master of earth and sea and sky’ that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, ‘I can of Mine own self do nothing.’ John 5: 30. He trusted in the Father’s might. It was in faith—faith in God’s love and care—that Jesus rested, and the power of that word which stilled the storm was the power of God.
“As Jesus [in His incarnated human nature] rested by faith in the Father’s care, so we are to rest in the care of our Savior. If the disciples had trusted in Him, they would have been kept in peace. Their fear in time of danger revealed their unbelief. In their efforts to save themselves, they forgot Jesus; and it was only when, in despair of self-dependence, they turned to Him that He could give them help.
“How often the disciples’ experience is ours! When the tempest of temptation gather, and their fierce lightnings flash, and the waves sweep over us, we battle with the storm alone, forgetting that there is One who can help us. We trust to our own strength till our hope is lost, and we are ready to perish. Then we remember Jesus, and if we call upon Him to save us, we shall not cry in vain. Though He sorrowfully reproves our unbelief and self-confidence, He never fails to give us the help we need. Whether on the land or on the sea, if we have the Savior in our hearts, there is no need of fear. Living faith in the Redeemer will smooth the sea of life, and will deliver us from danger in the way that He knows best.
“There is another spiritual lesson in this miracle of the stilling of the tempest. Every man’s experience testifies to the truth of the words of the Scripture: ‘The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest . . . .There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.’ Isa. 57: 20, 21. Sin has destroyed our peace. While self is unsubdued, we can find no rest. The masterful passions of the heart no human power can control. We are as helpless as the disciples to quiet the raging storm. But He who spoke peace to the billows of Galilee has spoken the word of peace for every soul. However fierce the tempest, those who turn to Jesus with the cry, ‘Lord save us,’ will find deliverance. His grace, that reconciles the soul to God, quiets the strife of human passion, and in His love the heart is at rest. ‘He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven.’ Ps. 107: 29, 30.”- E. G. White, Desire of Ages, pp. 334-336. (based on Matt. 8: 23-34; Mark 4: 35-41; 5: 1-20; Luke 8: 22-39.
The prophet declared: “Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and he shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. [But] Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord, for he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and he will not fear when heat comes; but her leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease in yielding fruit.” Jer. 17: 5-8.
How quickly our lack faith gets exposed! We forget that the Creator and Lord of the Sabbath, is in absolute control of all the nations of the world, and the world itself. David himself experienced this but in his repentance wrote for all:
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God I will praise His word, in God I will put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” Ps. 56: 4.
(To be continued next week).