When divine visitation is a response: Lenten meditation – Part 2
Since divine visitation is mostly God’s initiative, sometimes, it takes us by surprise. Pleasant surprises are great, but when we are caught unprepared, the effect of divine visitation can also be tragic.
Moses had settled to his fate as an exile in Midian and put his scrapbook of “memorable manifestoes for Egypt’s future” on the dusty shelf in Jethro’s house – for posterity. Then, on routine shepherding, he encountered God in the burning bush: “Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (Exodus 3:7–8).
Young Samuel’s inexperienced response is understandable, as was also Mary’s question to the angel. But not Zechariah’s, for the heavenly messenger applied a measure of discipline to him, who should have known better: “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” (Luke 1:13). God’s response in Israel’s history is captured by the Psalmist in these words, and the result of their cry in each case: “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (Psalm 107:6, 13, 19, 28).
When Zechariah, enabled by the Holy Spirit, expressed his praise to God, he did not lose sight of the fact of divine visitation: ““Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” …because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high” (Luke 1:68,78).
We are encouraged by these examples to cry to God and desire His visitation. He makes a difference in all our difficult circumstances and turns things around. Again, it must be noted that whatever He decides to do – even if in answer to our cry – He has His glory primarily in focus. While it is true that some Christians differentiate between God’s perfect will and His permissive will, no one or group can stampede God or compromise His sovereignty. We must pray to Him with submissive attitudes. Our plea for divine visitation should always have His glory as our focus.
Just before he died, Joseph encouraged the hearts of his brothers with these words: “And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here’” (Genesis 50:24–25).
As we see right before our eyes the breakdown of Christian values, indecent behaviour, injustice, lack of accountability, the increase of evil and wickedness, we yearn for God’s intervention. That is why a time like Lent is a good opportunity for us to cry to the Lord for the Church and for our nation, seeing that many things are a far cry from what they should be.