A blog series on “Kingdom Vision”; to live and orient our lives according to His ways.
Get the right prescription
Have you ever heard of the word phoropter? My guess is no, but if I showed you a picture of one, you would know exactly what I am referencing. A phoropter is an instrument used to test your eyes when you go in for an eye exam. Amazingly, as the correct lens drops down, the letters that once appeared blurry now appear amazingly clear, assuming you have the right prescription, that is. So besides being a great word that is a lot of fun to say – phoropter – I also love the imagery this instrument provides as we think about what it means to have kingdom vision. What are the lenses by which we view the world around us? As followers of Jesus, we uphold and believe that Scripture provides us the correct framework to live in and engage this world with kingdom vision.
God’s hope in the midst of dark times
Not too long ago, as part of my reading plan with our interns, I was meditating on a particular passage that provides a unique perspective into the heart of God as He engages His people. As a bit of context, the Lord gave a message to a prophet of God, Ezekiel, during a particularly dark and despairing time for His people. Though the Lord had provided clear instructions to the Hebrews time and time again – if you obey Me, then it will go well for you – as per human nature, the people of God fell prey to their vile hearts, choosing their way and not the way of the Lord. Consequently, it led to the deportation of Judah to Babylon and the eventual destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Despite turmoil marked by idolatry and injustice, may your soul absorb Ezekiel’s words of hope for a rebellious people:
FOR THIS IS WHAT THE LORD GOD SAYS: SEE, I MYSELF WILL SEARCH FOR MY FLOCK AND LOOK FOR THEM. AS A SHEPHERD LOOKS FOR HIS SHEEP ON THE DAY HE IS AMONG HIS SCATTERED FLOCK, SO I WILL LOOK FOR MY FLOCK…
The Lord has not abandoned Judah, though they have utterly rejected Him. Therefore, I Myself will search for My flock. As a good shepherd looks for his lost sheep, so the Lord will look for His lost sheep.
I WILL RESCUE THEM FROM ALL THE PLACES WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN SCATTERED ON A CLOUDY AND DARK DAY. I WILL BRING THEM OUT FROM THE PEOPLES, GATHER THEM FROM COUNTRIES, AND BRING THEM INTO THEIR OWN LAND…
“I am the good shepherd,” says Jesus; “the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”(1) There is no place too remote; there is no one person too far gone. Therefore, I will bring them out and restore them.
I WILL SHEPHERD THEM ON THE MOUNTAINS OF ISRAEL, IN THE RAVINES, AND IN ALL THE INHABITED PLACES OF THE LAND. I WILL TEND THEM WITH GOOD PASTURE, AND THEIR GRAZING PLACE WILL BE ON ISRAEL’S LOFTY MOUNTAINS. THERE THEY WILL LIE DOWN IN A GOOD GRAZING PLACE; THEY WILL FEED IN RICH PASTURE ON THE MOUNTAINS OF ISRAEL. I WILL TEND MY FLOCK AND LET THEM LIE DOWN.
“The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it.”(2) “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters; He restores my soul.”(3) So the Lord God will tend to His flock.
THIS IS THE DECLARATION OF THE LORD GOD. ‘I WILL SEEK THE LOST, BRING BACK THE STRAYS, BANDAGE THE INJURED, AND STRENGTHEN THE WEAK, BUT I WILL DESTROY THE FAT AND THE STRONG. I WILL SHEPHERD THEM WITH JUSTICE.’ (Ezekiel 34:11-16, HCSB)
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. . . I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me . . . I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also…”(4) “Blessed are you who are poor . . . and hunger, and weep, and when men hate you . . . Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”(5)
Restored to abundant life
Commentator Chisholm summarizes Ezekiel well when he says, “Though God’s people were scattered in exile, He had not abandoned them. He would miraculously restore them to their land, reunite Israel and Judah under an ideal Davidic ruler, establish a new covenant of peace with them, and annihilate once and for all their enemies.”(6) Much like Judah, we tend to fall prey to our own rebellious ways of pursuing pleasure apart from Him, only to find it marked by guilt, shame, and death. Yet the Lord, in His abundant grace, calls us to Himself as our good shepherd, such that we find full and abundant life in Him.
Love that compels us
Friends, as followers of Christ, this message of hope – gospel restoration in the lavish love of Christ – should not only bring joy and peace to our souls, but so also compel us to share the great treasure of Christ with those around us. Just as the Lord poured out His love upon us, even while we were His enemies, may we be so bold and Spirit-filled that we passionately share the hope in Christ that can reconcile all people unto Himself. There is no one person or group of people too far gone such that they are out of the reach of Christ. “O Lord, gather Thy lost sheep! Let Thy kingdom come, amen.”
1. John 10:11 (NASB).
2. Psalm 24:1 (NASB).
3. Ps. 23:1-3 (NASB).
4. John 10:10, 14, 16 (NASB).
5. Luke 6:20-23 (NASB).
6. Chisholm, R. B. (1998). The Major Prophets. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.