Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Month: Mar, 2020



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“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord , the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Deuteronomy 4:1 ESV

This verse seems fair enough at first glance. But when we consider that Israel didn’t listen to the law of God or do it, we might wonder whether it was an empty promise. Israel got to possess the land of Canaan regardless of their disobedience, so why should they bother obeying God?

Let me put it in new testament terms. When people asked Jesus how they could inherit eternal life, He quoted the law of God and said “do this, and live”. The problem is, we don’t do it, and we all face death, unless Jesus returns first to judge us.

There’s a clue in Deuteronomy as to how we are to understand law and grace. Moses, “Mr Law” as it were, never got to enter the promised land. By the law we can never be justified before God because we’re sinners.

But Moses’ successor was Joshua, whose name in Greek is “Jesus”- “the Lord saves”. It’s not by our works but by the Lord’s salvation that we get to inherit the promised land of the new creation. But having been saved, out of gratitude we should seek to obey the Lord, to love Him, and others, and no longer to live sinfully and selfishly.

“Father God, having been saved by You, for which we give You thanks, we pray that You would empower us to obey You and not to live for self. For the honour of Christ, amen”


photography of a man wearing steampunk sunglasses

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O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads.
Psalms 83:1‭-‬2 ESV

Often, it may seem like God’s sitting back whilst His enemies rage. This Psalm is a prayer for such times as that. I’m sure Christians in Northern Nigeria for example could heartily echo the prayer of this Psalm.

When it seems like God is silent in the face of persecution, we need to open up His word to see the blessedness of being persecuted, for great is our reward in heaven. When we open Scripture, we also see that God has made even the wicked for the day of disaster: they will get their comeuppance.

If we look through temporal, blinkered eyes, it may seem like God’s sitting back and letting evildoers rule the roost. But when we see through the eyes of faith we know the day of judgement is coming with condemnation for the unrepentant. This is why we must call people to repent.

I think it was Shakespeare who described us as actors strutting across a stage. But when the curtain comes down on life, we get judged by God as to how we have acted. We need to make sure we get on His right side, our fiercest critic, and most gracious Saviour, if we would repent and trust in Him.

“O God, when we feel You’re inactive, help us remember the day coming when You will judge the living and the dead. May we be found in You on that day, for Your glory, amen”


people on sports field

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let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.
Acts 4:10 ESV

How is it that a crippled man can be made well? By holy water? Anointing oil? A charismatic leader? By the crucified Nazarene, who God raised from the dead!

Why aren’t all cripples now healed in the name of Jesus? Why can’t we empty the hospitals of those who have faith in the healing power of Jesus? As Paul says in Romans 8, creation has been subjected to futility and is longing for the day that God recreates it.

We live in a cursed world. Yes, Jesus’ blessing trumps sins curse. But we don’t look to a temporary fix for our dying bodies. We look to the resurrection of the dead.

One day, that healed cripple will have died, fallen asleep in the Lord I trust. But in the resurrection he will be praising God forevermore. And so shall we who by His wounds have been spiritually healed.

“God, don’t let us assume that we have a divine right to be healed and not to die in this life. But we praise You that through faith in Jesus Christ we can have eternal life to the full that none can snatch away from us, for His glory, amen”


full frame shot of sea water

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Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?

Psalms 80:3‭-‬4 ESV

This needs to be our prayer. We need God’s restoration. I love the illustration of His smiling face as the sunshine, through which we are saved from death! Even if we can’t see the sun shine, its light illuminates us and gives us life.

A lot of people assume Jesus is going to have a frown on His face when He meets us in glory, or His head in His hands! But our acceptability to Him is not based upon our performance (thankfully!). We’re accepted in Him and clothed in His goodness.

I like how the Message paraphrase describes “Lord God of hosts” as the God of the angel armies, because that is what it means and who He is. If one angel could stay the plague, imagine what millions could do- and God is infinitely more powerful than them all. He’s able to do more than we ask or even imagine!

It might seem like God is angry with His people’s prayers, because I trust we’re all praying for an end to this plague. But God always has a purpose in the pain, like when perfect Jesus died on the cross for our sins. So we are to take up our crosses and deny ourselves and follow Him.

“God of the angel armies, please help us to trust You to work Your purposes out, even if we cannot see the end from the beginning. Thank You that You do all things well, may we acknowledge that even in the midst of suffering, for Jesus’ sake, amen”

Trying to make sense of this plague…

beautiful environment field flora

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“Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths.

Leviticus 26:34 ESV

We love to claim God’s promises as God’s people right? I’ve even posted before about how in Jesus all God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” even to us His new testament people. So we can claim all God’s promises to bless His people for obedience right?

But what about God’s promises to curse His people for disobedience? Now I know that Jesus took God’s curse towards us upon Himself on the cross. But I also know that God disciplines the ones He loves.

When we disobey God, He chastises us to bring us back to Himself. We still face death like everyone else unless Jesus returns first. But Jesus has taken away the sting and the victory of death for us in His resurrection power.

Anyway, I quoted this Levitical verse because it’s about the kind of thing we might be tempted not to care about: the environment. Why did God allow His chosen people to go into exile in Babylon? Partly because they weren’t treating the environment responsibly.

They were meant to observe Sabbath rests for the land from time to time, to allow it to lie fallow and rest. But they ignored that command. So God put them in exile to allow the land to recover. During the Chinese lockdown, pollution dissipated. I’m sure it will be similar for the rest of the world.

The lockdown may not be fun for us. The exile wasn’t fun for the Jews. But in these times, God’s giving the earth time to recover from our shoddy stewardship.

“Almighty Lord, forgive us our irresponsible stewardship of the earth we pray. Please help us to learn our lessons in this time of lockdown. For the glory of Your name, amen”


closed doors

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We have become a taunt to our neighbours, mocked and derided by those around us. How long, O Lord ? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?

Psalms 79:4‭-‬5 ESV

God had been angry with, and jealous for His wayward people. As He judged them, their neighbours taunted them. Maybe my neighbours are too polite to taunt me, but I’m sure some of them are wondering why God is allowing this plague to plague the world.

God’s anger may not be a popular subject, but it is a reality. His anger burns forever in the fires of hell. We might think blasphemously as God the Father as a grumpy old man in the sky, and Jesus the Son as the One who tries to placate His wrath. But even Christ got righteously angry from time to time, and it’s possible to grieve the Holy Spirit too.

People might argue that anger is inconsistent with love, but it is precisely because God is love that He gets angry at all that is unlovely. By nature, we are objects of wrath. But when we trust in Jesus who bore God’s anger on the cross, there is no more condemnation for us.

Like even good fathers with their children, God sometimes gets angry with us. Like even good husbands with their wives, God is jealous for us. What kind of God would He be if He simply shrugged His shoulders if we worship anything other than Him?

“Jealous One, may we not underplayed Your anger and jealousy. But thank You that these characteristics aren’t inconsistent with Your immeasurable love for us, in Christ Jesus our Lord, amen”


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Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
Psalms 78:52 ESV

I know it’s not flattering to be compared to sheep, but God’s new testament people aren’t so different from God’s old testament people. He saved us from slavery (in Egypt/to sin). He leads us through the wilderness of this life to the promised land.

When our governments talk about “herd immunity” from a virus that we don’t know enough about to even know if that works, no wonder we feel like sheep to be slaughtered. To be honest, with our herd mentality panic buying toilet roll and pasta, we act like sheep too. Thankfully the Lord is a good shepherd.

The Lord leads and guides His people like a flock in the wilderness. But if we don’t belong to Jesus, death is our shepherd, as Psalm 49 warns us. Thankfully if we cry out to God, He will adopt us as one of His sheep.

Even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t need to fear evil, for God is with us, His rod and His staff comfort us. He leads and guides us. He puts us back into line when we go astray.

“Lord our Good Shepherd, please help us to trust and follow You all of our days. Please guide us through the wilderness of this life to the promised land of glory. For the honour of Your name, amen”

Glad :)

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So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror. When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly.

Psalms 78:33‭-‬34 ESV

What was true of the ancient Israelites will hopefully be true of the world. Even as God allows people to live in terror until He demands their lives of them, He’s giving us an opportunity to repent and to earnestly seek Him. Even if we live to a ripe old age, in the light of eternity our days are just a breath.

We don’t need to be afraid if we trust in God. But He can terrify us in order to cause us to trust in Him. If we fear God, we’ll have nothing left to fear, because He is more fearsome than anything in existence.

Often, people will ignore God. But if He starts killing us, that tends to have the effect of causing us to seek Him. When we realise our own mortality, we realise our need of reconciliation with the Maker we will soon meet.

So what must we do to be saved? We need to repent and to seek God earnestly. When we seek Him, we will find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts.

“You God are our God, earnestly we seek You and ask for Your forgiveness and transformation. In Jesus’ name, amen”