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Face Value

Lord, Your word is true and it endures forever.
I believe Your commands
and I trust Your instruction.
Turn my eyes away from anything
opposing Your perfect law of love,
that I may walk fully in Your counsel.

Series Focus: “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear”

Have you ever read Dr. Seuss’ book, Horton Hatches the Egg? It’s a story about faithfulness and sticking to your word – no matter the obstacles, alternatives, or circumstances. Throughout the story, Horton repeats to himself, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one-hundred percent.”

We can take Horton’s words at “face value.” There’s no question. No variance. No trickery. His words can be trusted, and his actions will follow, always confirming his words.

There’s a parable Jesus taught, sharing a similar message about God and His word:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

At first glance, this story seems to be about a rich man and a poor man, but there’s so much more!

It begins with the rich man serving himself and neglecting the needs of Lazarus. The rich man in no way fulfills the teaching of the prophets – to help the poor, feed the hungry, and comfort the afflicted. This instruction is repeatedly weaved throughout the Old and New Testaments.

When both men die, the poor man finds comfort in the bosom of Abraham, while the rich man is tormented in Hades. The rich man represents those who, like the Pharisees, are comfortable in their own righteousness and means, caring for no one but themselves. The poor man represents the Gentiles. Jesus was communicating that we are to love God first; love others as He loves us; and that all are welcome in His Kingdom. It’s the same message He’s preached all along.

Next, the rich man begs Abraham to allow Lazarus to provide him comfort. Abraham refuses. Could this be the fulfillment of the truth Jesus taught – we reap what we sow? One who gives comfort, received comfort. The rich man provided no comfort to Lazarus. Therefore, he received no comfort from Lazarus. Again, another message affirming the lessons in scripture.

Lastly, the rich man inquires if Abraham would send Lazarus to his household to warn them. Surely if they had a supernatural sign, they’d repent and act differently. However, Abraham denies this request also, stating a sign wouldn’t cause them to act differently – for they have the words of Moses and the prophets. After all, scriptures are true and stand forever. Jesus called those seeking signs evil and adulterous.

That’s why this lesson Jesus taught reminds me of Horton the elephant. God said what He means, and He means what He said. He’s faithful 100%! We can take His word at “face value.” It’s never going to change. The promises – truths – instruction – commandments – they remain forever. He can be trusted. He performs His word. And everything God said always points back to the cardinal law of Love.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: Luke 16:19-31, 12:33; Isaiah 1:17, 40:8, 55:11, 58:9-11; Deuteronomy 30:6; Mark 12:30; Proverbs 22:8; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Matthew 16:4; Psalm 119; Hebrews 13:8


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