When I read through the Scriptures, I find that the verses that speak to me most deeply are those that incorporate some sort of imagery. I have always appreciated that God’s Word has such vivid illustrations that address the heart in ways we sometimes don’t even notice consciously. I’ve never done any sort of “post series” on this blog to date, but I am simply going to write about some of my favorite imagery in the Bible from time to time when I am thinking about it or whenever I come across something new. So here we go!
From Genesis to Revelation, a word that I see often is “arise.” David uses it many times in his Psalms when addressing God about his personal fears and failures, but it is also used by God Himself when addressing us. This has always intrigued me because it reveals the character of God as being altogether different from every other belief system. When it comes to mankind, God would be completely just and righteous if He were to decide right now to wipe out its existence entirely. He created us in a perfect unison with Him which we decided was not enough for us. We chose ourselves, our ambition, our pride, our desires, our lusts and in doing so, we turned our backs on the Lord. Instead of perfection and complete righteousness, we chose death and destruction. So it would not be unjust for God to demand the blood of us all. And He did, but allowed it to be given through an exchange in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament and ultimately through the blood of Jesus Christ.
But despite all of our disobedience and inadequacies and rebellious, idolatrous behaviors, God continually asks (and even commands) us to arise. He does not demand our begrudging submission nor does He order us to commit to slave-like duties to earn our place in eternity. Instead, He expects us to arise and walk with Him recognizing that salvation is a gift we do not deserve. One of the most prevalent examples of this is found in Ephesians 5:13-15.
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
This is a great illustration because it includes both past and present. Once we were asleep and now we are awake in Jesus. Before, we were dead and now we are alive in Christ. I think this exhortation for us to arise is a necessity for our condition though. The reality of our faith is that we are completely and utterly undeserving of God’s love. And I think that when that realization shatters our hearts, we are devastated by it. We are reduced to nothing and brought to our knees having lost the strength to stand. But God comes to us with purpose and the freely granted gift of salvation and asks us to arise and let Him shine in our lives as our strength (1 Kings 19:7-8), our freedom (Isaiah 52:2), our confidence (Jeremiah 1:17-18), and our source of life (Luke 7:14-15 & Luke 8:53-55).
Although we are deserving of a life of slavery and destruction according to the will of God, He has chosen to justify us before Him through the blood of Jesus. The divide between the righteousness of the Lord and the depths of our wickedness is too great to be bridged by anything of our deeds. We cannot draw up our case because of darkness (Job 37:19). But because of God’s love for us, He took that responsibility upon Himself by coming to us, suffering for us, and dying for us while we were still sinners. And even after this, when we would consider Him in a most prime position to cash in on what we owe Him, He asks us to arise. Get up from the ground and tell of what He has done.
It is the character of God. Our fearful or begrudging submission is not something of interest to Him. He promises life, purpose, and freedom to those who believe. His requirements are not merit-based and they do not exclude any class, race, or ethnicity. The character of God is so glorious and impenetrable that we cannot dare to look upon His face without it resulting in our death (Exodus 33:20).Yet, even when all of this reaches our hearts and we find ourselves in the dirt realizing our unworthiness, He asks us to arise and dwell within His love and His plan.
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.