WS Update: Hearing Prayer, Seeing Tears

November 13, 2023

The Old Testament is wise, mysterious, disturbing, and hopeful. A monolithic reading that interprets its writings as reflecting a wrathful God as opposed to the gracious God of the New Testament misses the thread of the larger story that leads to Jesus and the character of our eternal God. For example, Ahab, the husband of Jezebel, is described this way in 1 Kings 21:

There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.

It’s hard to imagine a character in the Bible more deserving of God’s judgment, and yet when Ahab heard God’s verdict (“I am going to bring disaster on you”) he put on sackcloth, fasted, and “went around meekly.” God’s response? “Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

A few chapters later Hezekiah, one of the few kings who didn’t pursue idols, is diagnosed with a terminal disease and told by the prophet Isaiah he was going to die. Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed:

“Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

God’s response?

I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. I will add fifteen years to your life.

Ahab was evil. Hezekiah was righteous. God is slow to anger and abounding in love. He hears your prayers, sees your tears and is now, through the Spirit and Jesus our High Priest, praying with and for you.

I need to remember this daily, and perhaps on this Monday morning, you do as well.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. – Psalm 86:5

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Autumn may bring fabulous fall leaves and fall fashion, but most importantly, it offers a time to focus on extra-thankful fellowship! And we can’t think of a better way to share that spirit by breaking bread together.

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