I woke up this morning thinking, “If there’s one thing we’re learning during this pandemic, it’s that we need God.” I imagine to many people that’s become blatantly obvious already, but the next question I had was, “Yes, but God in what form?”
We say we need God but what kind of God, or what picture of God, do we have in mind? And that’s when it dawned on me that we are in very much the same position today that the Jews were in before Jesus came, and the kind of God they were hoping and looking for.
The great hope of the Jews back then was the arrival of the Messiah. And it’s what they were hoping the Messiah would come as, and what he would do, that ties in exactly with the kind of God we need today too.
The Messiah would come first of all as a Saviour, nicely defined for us by Zechariah in Luke 1 when he thanked God for “raising up a horn of salvation for us,” meaning “salvation from our enemies,” verses 69 and 71, referring back to “the oath God swore to our father Abraham to rescue us from the hand of our enemies” in verses 73-74. The kind of Messiah the Jews were hoping for, then, was one who would deal with the evil forces that had oppressed and suppressed them for centuries.
And in practical terms isn’t that the kind of Messiah we need right now too, who can rescue us from the evil forces that we are stuck with and have no way of escaping from either? Because who among any of those in powerful positions today – politicians, social media and Silicon Valley gurus, or billionaires addicted to power and profits – have we personally got any control over? We don’t. Nothing we do as regular citizens can stop their agendas, just like there was nothing the Jews could do about the Romans occupying their country and ruling their lives in the first century.
We too, then, are learning very rapidly during this pandemic what it’s like to be oppressed and suppressed by powerful forces we have no control over. And it’s not a pleasant place to be in, when threats to the freedoms won for us by the blood of our parents and grandparents against evil forces are being made by tin pot dictators mandating policies that hobble careers, education, livelihoods and the mental stability of young and old alike. And all supposedly under the banner of health and safety, when it’s leaking out more and more that bullying us into conformity is what’s really driving government policy.
Thankfully, the Messiah we’ve been given in Jesus promised peace in John 14:27 to those who trust him, which he defined as “our hearts not being troubled and not being fearful.” Jesus clearly knew what we were in for, but offered us a solution too. Now that’s the kind of practical Messiah I need, who knows what we’re going through, and promises us personally that he will rescue us from imploding and exploding mentally.
Which ties in with Jesus the Messiah also being our High Priest who is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses,” Hebrews 4:15, having also experienced what it’s like living as a human in an oppressive culture. But now in his position as our High Priest we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence,” knowing for certain “that we may find grace to help us in our time of need,” verse 16.
This is the kind of Messiah I need, who “is able to to save completely (or forever) those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede” for us, Hebrews 7:25.
And not forgetting that Jesus our Messiah is also a King. And a mighty king at that too, because in Daniel 7:14 “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power” over “all peoples and nations,” and “his kingdom will never be destroyed.” So for all those in our world today who think they hold the strings and we’re just helpless puppets, they’ve got a wake-up call coming. Which makes it just a bit easier knowing that for now I’m just a little guy at the mercy of evil forces, but not forever.
And isn’t that the kind of God we need during this pandemic? A God just like the Messiah the Jews were hoping for – a loving and all powerful Saviour, High Priest and King.