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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Flowers and flowering trees are in abundance as I take early morning walks with our two dogs. Walking in our neighborhood so pleasurable.
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"For Such A Worm As I"
"How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in His eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—a human being, who is only a worm!" (Job 25:4-6). "But I am a worm and not a man" (Psalm 22:6). "What a wretched man I am!" (Romans 7:24a).
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Yesterday we had a nice rain and in the afternoon I noticed the robins were feasting on worms crawling up and down our driveway. Now the sight of slimy worms doesn't stir up my appetite, but to a robin it's surely like a juicy steak is to us. That brought to mind the phrase in today's opening hymn that many of us have often sung, "Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?"
Last Friday we shared a message concerning our Bible College years in the mid-seventies. Today I will share another illustration from that period. Those were wonderful years that we occasionally revisit from our memorable experiences during that time.
In order to help with paying tuition there were various jobs around the campus for students to assist with paying school bills. For a time I drove the garbage truck, one of numerous interesting jobs I've had through the years. Not pleasant at the time but I now see it as part of God's school of real life instruction (AKA "the school of hard knocks"). To this day I have a real appreciation for garbage collection personnel who work hard performing a service necessary to all and yet often under-appreciated. I wonder if there is a garbage collector appreciation day?
The truck I drove was equipped with a front loading lift which attached to the dumpster and then heaved the dumpster over the cab emptying the contents into the back of the truck. Theoretically the driver could stay in the cab and never see or touch anything.
But sometimes you still needed to get out. I specifically recall emptying the dumpsters behind the cafeteria. As I can still vividly recall, especially during hotter weather, the dumpsters would have a lot of crawling maggots; tiny white worms that fed on the decaying food. It was a very unpleasant sight to say the least!
At that time I was pondering God's love for the fallen race and considered what it would be like to send my precious child to live among the "maggots". Well, like most illustrations, this one has some deficiencies but it sure has caused me to marvel in God's far-reaching love. Some may find this particular illustration distasteful or offensive. But actually the Scripture uses this same imagery in our daily texts.
Bildad, one of Job's friends, asks a question that is theologically sound in light of the rest of Scripture that teaches about our innermost need for God due to our sin nature: "How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—a human being, who is only a worm!"
Isaac Watts likely had this verse in mind along with our second text when he wrote the personalized phrase, "such a worm as I". In using this image he was illustrating a theological concept known as total depravity. This doctrine runs so contrary to the self-esteem emphasis of our generation but we do well to recognize the awful extent of sin and our only hope exists in God's redemption through Christ.
Paul, in what many see as a description regarding his state without Christ, declares, "What a wretched man I am!" (Surely he'd be required to attend a class for positive self-imagery today.) But immediately following this he asks and answers his own question, "Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24b,25)
Matthew Henry commenting on Psalm 22, which is considered a Messianic Psalm writes, "What little reason has man to be proud, and what great reason to be humble! So weak and impotent, and so easily crushed, and therefore a very unequal match for Almighty God. Shall man be such a fool as to contend with his Maker, who can tread him to pieces more easily than we can a worm? ... Let us therefore wonder at God’s condescension in taking such worms as we are into covenant and communion with Himself, especially at the condescension of the Son of God, in emptying Himself so far as to say, 'I am a worm, and no man'."
Although Isaac Watts ends the first stanza of his hymn with this question, "Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?" the hymn goes on to declare that we have victory due to Christ's reconciliation. In a refrain written nearly 200 years later, by Ralph E. Hudson in 1885, we exultantly sing the chorus:
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, though Bildad's counsel was misapplied to Job's situation, we do well to apply it to our lives, considering that we are but a worm in comparison to Your greatness. You give grace to the humble and oppose the proud. We acknowledge that we are nothing, of no greater value than an earthworm or worse yet, a maggot, in comparison with Your glorious Son, Jesus Christ, who left the throne of heaven and emptied Himself of majestic glory to make His place among us. We are eternally indebted to Your magnificent love that provided a way through Jesus to loosen sin's shackles and for us to be reshaped into Your likeness. It is in Jesus' name that we pray. Amen.
Today's first text is a response from Bildad, one of Job's "friends". I recall a conversation many years ago with a friend, Tim Casey, who was a school librarian and a very thoughtful Bible student/teacher. We were musing about just how much counsel we should take from Job's three friends since overall God repudiates their outlook. The truth in today's text is amply testified to in the balance of Scripture.
C.S. Lewis expresses the view, "Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good-above all, that we are better than someone else-I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object." (Mere Christianity 1952, P.124)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"At the Cross (Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed)" Video Red Mountain Church (A nice simple, Acapella arrangement)
"At the Cross (Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed)" Video George Younce with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Gospel style)
"At the Cross (Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed)" Video Acapella
"At the Cross" Video Brian Doerksen A different song with same title.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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