The Sanctuary God

Happy Thanksgiving 2022! “My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Psalm 45:1.

Life on earth itself. What on earth is it about? I picture a lush garden scene suitable for pleasures I’ve never yet really experienced on a cool morning, and as if having stands filled with angelic spectators a large, thick, burgundy curtain rises with expectation on a scene with Adam walking. Why did God do it? Why is it today still going on with its current scenes? I can taste his purposes over it all dimly but only as one character somewhere in another short scene.

Proverbs 18:10 reads: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” I’m writing this today on a laptop surrounded by three screens. I have perhaps tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment in the room I’m in. Yet Proverbs 18:10 is mine. I picture an African man who’s never walked on pavement before being handed a large, glossy, full-page book detailing New York City. I see him flipping through its pages as if looking at Mars. Yet Proverbs 18:10 is as much his in Christ as my own.

Jesus said, “…I have come into the world to testify to the truth.” What truth exactly? How can I- if possible- identify anything specific here that would suffice as a summary of it? A keyword search in my NASB 95 English Bible of the word “truth” returns 192 results Bible wide and 22 in John’s Gospel alone. Oh, how I value truth! Truth, truth, truth! Give me truth or give me death! Jesus is full of it (John 1:14). I worship him now in it (John 4:23) as I must (John 4:24). It sets a disciple free (John 8:32). It is God the Holy Spirit himself (John 14:17) as it is God the Son (John 14:6). It sanctifies the freed (John 17:17). It makes me believe (John 19:35). I cited it just above how Jesus said to a corrupt man about to call for his predestined death: “…For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37b. A fit summation then of what Jesus came to bear witness to is what? It’s so very much, but today on this Thanksgiving, as my family of six and I prepare to stuff ourselves in God’s sweet life, I’m trying to convey what would be true of that truth since the start. Truth under sun and moon in every generation, time, and people since the curtain went up. The “truth” Jesus bears witness to (as he said to Pilate) is everything God has said. Everything about his word in the Bible’s 66 books. How we as mankind got here. How God made the universe in which we reside from nothing. How mankind near the start fell in sin and we all in them. How this once perfect place was bludgeoned. How it was cursed. How God hates it and all that’s evil in it. How he promised to defeat the death we creatures introduced (we all being exactly in our fallenness what both angels and Adam and Eve became) and how he defeated our death through his incarnation, substitutionary death, and Ascension. It’s the whole story of creation under God that Jesus came to bear witness to. It’s in its totality that Jesus says to some in a scene what’s true of all in every scene, “…unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24b. God’s Law from Moses outlines and defines our sinful nature under, through and beyond all our myriad excuses for it. And unless you believe in Jesus, reader, you’ll die in it like all those in the previous scenes who’ve gone before you and any who are to come. Jesus’ life, death, Resurrection, and Ascension bears witness to every jot and tittle of truth in Scripture in turn and the whole scope of life on earth in totality. This is why unbelief in him is the wallpaper on the very lowest rooms of hell.

So, what’s it all about today? What of me on my laptop in my home in this Texas desert this Thursday, the people in the flats of London England, the castles of Scotland, the huts of Papua New Guinea, the jungles of Peru, the plains of Africa, the sands of Saudi Arabia, or the tepees of old Americans? What unites us all who scattered from Babel? The only thing is the truth of it all that Jesus came to bear witness to in your life today, and in the lives of your kids tomorrow. Do you not understand that it’s about truth? That it’s about God and not you? Not us? We should be afraid of missing the point, friend. The Bible is filled to overflowing with imagery of God who is to be feared. There is only one. The triune God of all. Israel for roughly one and a half millennia served as a national example of why he should be feared. But this is to speak to us all who are in the last days today. In the former times, at a time when the House of David (Judah, southern Israel) was being invited to fear God over their northern enemies, God speaks through Isaiah and says, “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. “Then He shall become a sanctuary…” Isaiah 8:13-14b. This is a truth far outstretching its 8th century BC context. It unites us all. The Cross of Jesus the Christ was the Pacific of God’s honorable wrath displayed against SIN. All of us. It was also the display of God’s love to us scattered lump in every generation from Adam to the last. In any way God will display his mercy to man in the end, the Cross is the justification for it all. God has always been a rescuer. Today, to every sinful people group under heaven this Thursday at 11:57 AM I repeat to you God’s command through Paul:

“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:29-31.

To you now, reader: “…unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24b. Repent of your sins and believe the good news today. Christ is risen. Jesus bears witness. God’s hate is not petty. Jesus bears witness. It is commensurate with his perfection. Jesus bears witness. God’s not just an older you with a longer beard. He is holy. Jesus bears witness. He is not a god among gods. Jesus bears witness. Like me, you too are a part of God’s universe, and you have no say in it. We will never change it. He made you and he alone owns it all. It was all made by him and for him. Colossians 1:16. Fear him. The curtain went up. The play has had many scenes of both joy and sadness. You’re in one now on this Thanksgiving Day. Will God’s wrath for your sin or his mercy by his Cross be your scene’s catharsis and resolution? Whether you’ve ever worn shoes or not, Jesus came to bear witness to it all over us all. To men by candle or nuclear light, it’s in Jesus alone that you can know God and eternal life. John 17:3. And from Adam’s fall to today, God has not left us without witness. Acts 14:17. Again, Happy Thanksgiving as some of God’s witnesses I pray fill your bellies!

Thank you, God, for preserving Squanto through England as you did your servant Joseph through Egypt. Thank you for establishing this American nation in the so-called “new world” at the first with those pilgrims who feared you. Today, in my life now under heaven, and at my table, as with the 102 passengers on the Mayflower in Cape Cod who said, “Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith” I give you thanks in advancing the same. I unite with them for the common good of all in preaching this Gospel under heaven in the land they established by you and for you. May you be honored for who you are.

The world has gone dark and cold many a night. Like an exposed stone on a winter night, it is made to be under the sun each morning. The Son has risen over it, and all the nations will stream toward him. For us all, no matter what, it’s what God told the people of Judah through Isaiah: “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. “Then He shall become a sanctuary…” Isaiah 8:13-14b. Jesus came to bear witness to this. You reader should be terrified of missing the point. “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant.” Psalm 25:14. To fear God is to repent and to believe in Jesus, God’s Son, who lived, died, rose again, and Ascended back to his abode. To not do this is to reject him and to not love him. Those who reject Jesus will have no mercy. They will only have the wages of their sin. John 6:23. Payday is coming. They will only have a death of the second kind. Revelation 20:14. But, but, but, but to those who fear him there is one common cry:
As “Mary said:

“My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.” Luke 1:46-50.

Reader, I must finish on my spiritual ascent again this blessed morning. As I do, please hear my heart with the Psalmist on his way up to Jerusalem so long ago who said,

“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.” Psalm 130:3-4.

If God were to only hold you and I accountable for our sin and there was no mercy with him, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.” Isaiah 22:13b. I would take my fill of sin, vomit that up to make room for more, and run after it until exhaustion alone paused my next serving. But the Cross haunts mankind that God is to be feared because “there is forgiveness” with him. There is love overflowing. There is mercy un-imaginable. There is joy. There is hope above it all. There is Jesus.

Those who love God find him not a dred, not a judge, not a foe any longer, but a sanctuary.
To all the nations and to all its peoples upon whom that ancient Edenic curtain has long since risen I say- repent or perish. And Jesus bears witness.

Joseph Pittano

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