The Donkey and The Horse

After publishing the post HORSE, WAR AND PROVIDENCE, I received a comment from a dear friend at church that prompted the need for additional thoughts about the post.  

First.  In biblical times, what the king rode announced his intentions. If he came on a donkey, he was coming in peace.  In the book of Zechariah we read this prophesy:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9 ESV

We know what Jesus rode into Jerusalem during His incarnation.  At the beginning of the week we call The Passion Week, Jesus was going into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and knowing that He was going to be charged, convicted and executed for crimes that you and I have done, not for any wrongdoing that He, in His perfect obedience to God, had committed.  But, before the crowds hollered “Crucify Him” they screamed “Hosanna to the Son of David”, as He rode into the city on a donkey.  

“They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.  Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.””  

Matthew 21:7-11 ESV

The King of Kings was riding a donkey and this had been foretold by Zechariah long before Jesus was born.  

Second.  If the king came on a horse, he was coming for war.  In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, the Apostle John had a vision of the end times and in that vision he describes what Jesus will be riding the next time He comes to earth as the triumphant King of King and Lord of Lords.

White horse statue, St Francois Xavier, Manitoba

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.  And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Revelation 19:11-16 ESV

This has not yet happened, but the Bible says it will, and that which God has ordained will, indeed, come to pass. 

“I am the LORD. I have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 24:14 ESV

We must never ignore or forget that God is totally sovereign over all that occurs in His world.  As Ezekiel says, whatever God says He will do, it will happen.  When He speaks, He does not lie neither does He forget; nothing gets in the way of what He has planned. He is not powerless when confronted by those whom we consider powerful.

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.

Proverbs 21:1 ESV

Beloved, if you have received the Lord Jesus Christ and have believed on Him alone for your salvation, these words should be of comfort to you.  Even though things look dismal, even when many are against you and they have surrounded you with malice, hateful words, threatening actions … you are God’s and nothing will wipe you out of His hand.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39 KJV

Are you persuaded?  Jesus came the first time as a baby, who as an adult rode a donkey when he came into Jerusalem for the last time.  The next time He visits our world He will be riding on a white horse, coming not as a helpless baby but as the living ruling King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  

Praise His Holy Name!

Father, I thank You that You provided a way for us to come before You through the sacrificial atoning death of Jesus Christ, your Son.  Thank You Lord Jesus for being obedient, even to the point of the cross, and thank You for welcoming those who You have called into Your family.  Thank You Holy Spirit for convicting us of our sin and for guaranteeing our salvation through faith in Christ alone.  And thank You Holy Spirit for indwelling us and for enabling us to become transformed into the image of our Lord.  We praise Your Name, Triune God, for You are worthy to be praised.

PAPERWHITES – LOST IN THE SEASONS!

This year we, in the southern United States, had a very mild fall and early winter. The temperatures were in the 60s and 70s when they should have been much colder than that. I’m not talking in the below freezing range, but surely colder than flip flops and tank tops for Christmas shopping attire.

 

The front lawn at our house is a challenge for us. Grass does not want to grow there because of the big trees that suck up the water and provide too much shade, especially along the street. We had a lawn service come in and put in new plants, but I don’t believe that the lawn service considered the fact that there is not a green thumb among any of the 20 fingers resident in our home.

 

front yard
Front yard along street where grass doesn’t like to grow!

 

Nonetheless, every year we try something new, trying to have our yard at least a little bit visually attractive.   This fall, we went to The Home Depot and picked up 2 bags of tulip bulbs and 1 bag of paperwhite bulbs. According to the instructions, they both would be good along the street and would provide some pretty flowers for cutting, etc. in the Spring.

 

So, my husband went to digging holes and (since my ankle was still not useable) I would sit on a chair and toss him a bulb to put into the ground. I wasn’t much help, in reality, since often my toss would send him out into the street to retrieve the bulb, but at least I felt like I was participating in this gardening effort.

 

We were very proud of the area along the street that had been cleaned, dug up and planted, with new top soil and a hearty dose of water, all according to the directions. Now all we had to do was to wait for Spring and we would have flowers galore.

paperwhites
Paperwhites coming up shortly before Christmas.

 

Imagine our surprise when, in early December we saw green spikes coming up in our tilled soil. They were not all over the space, just in the center where we had planted the paperwhites. The weather continued to be cool, not cold, and the spikes grew taller.

paperwhites 2
Two of the paperwhite plants up close.

 

Indeed, by mid-December we had a crop of precious paperwhites. They stood along the street so tall and proud of themselves, unaware of our laughter as we drove down the driveway and saw them waving in the breeze. In our effort to have the yard visually appealing in the Spring, we now were the only ones on the street to have flowers blooming beside the piles of dried leaves waiting for the collection truck.

paperwhites 3
The paperwhites share the curb with dried leaves waiting for the leaf truck.

 

The tulips apparently were a bit smarter, they are still in the dirt (unless the squirrels got them without our knowledge, always a possibility!) and we are anticipating some beautiful blooms in the Spring. Of course, we were expecting that from the paperwhites too, so our anticipation may not be well-founded.

 

And of course there is the next question, “What are the paperwhites going to do in the spring, when they are supposed to come up since they already made their appearance?” I don’t know … that is outside my area of expertise!

 

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes said:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

 

What the Preacher is saying is that God has ordained the seasons and, indeed, every matter under heaven. This, of course, includes the time to plant and to pluck up that which is planted. To put it bluntly, the Preacher is saying that God is sovereign.

 

God’s sovereignty encompasses all aspects of our world, its operation and workings, and humanity’s work, even each individual’s life and actions. The concept of God’s sovereignty is overwhelming to me. My finite mind simply cannot comprehend the scope of that which is subject to His control. His sovereignty is total – it is without limit – it is untouched by human plan or design. His decree will come to pass, without exception and without interference.

Yosemite scenic view  2011 cropped
Yosemite National Park

 

He is the Creator and has created and ordained the heavens and all beings therein, even the mountains and oceans do His work. Read Psalm 148 where the Psalmist commands that we and all of creation “Praise the Lord” and where he further says that what God has decreed will pass away.

Landscape Rainbow, Seward Highway, Alaska
Landscape Rainbow, Seward Highway, Alaska

 

One of the most beautiful statements of God’s sovereignty and majesty is found in the book of Job, chapters 38-41 where God responds to the questions Job has raised in his own defense to the situations presented to him. I encourage you to read the entire book of Job, but particularly these chapters. After listening what God has said, and after considering the chasm between God’s omnipotence and Job’s helplessness, Job replied, quoting his earlier statements and recanting from them, as follows:

 

Then Job answered the LORD and said:  “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:1-6 [ESV]

God knows the animals and has created them to accomplish that which He decrees.  Remember the story of Balaam and his donkey in Number 22, where the donkey saw the angels of the Lord standing in the road, blocking the way that Balaam wanted to go. In this case, God even opened the donkey’s mouth so that he could instruct Balaam! Also, remember the great fish that swallowed Jonah and then spit him up on to the land where God had told him to go! And remember the fish with the shekel in its mouth in Matthew 17, providing the money to pay the tax.

 

God even knows about the flowers in the field.

Flowers - Lillies (C)
Lilies blooming in the backyard.

 

How God sees the flowers of the field is revealed in Matthew 6 where Jesus is speaking:

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Matthew 6:28-30 [ESV]

 

Take time today to consider the magnitude and majesty of God’s sovereignty as it is revealed in creation and in His Word, the Holy Bible.   Spend some time pondering the omnipotence of the Creator God, and then thank Him for his grace, mercy and sovereignty.  Thank Him for knowing you, not just as part of the universal creation but on an intimate, personal basis, and thank Him for letting us know Him, as revealed by Jesus Christ and as expressed in His Word and His indwelling Spirit.

 

Father, I cannot comprehend your power, magnificence and majesty.  I cannot begin to understand the scope of your sovereignty.  All I can do is bow in humble reverence and awe, and claim your Son as my Savior and Lord.  Thank you for your grace, mercy and love, through Jesus Christ, I pray.