Who Will Wipe The Tears From God’s Eyes?

Southern Christmas Tree

I am writing tonight near the beautiful Southern Adventist University campus near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’ ” ( Revelation 21:4, NKJV).

As I read the key verse in this week’s SS lesson, I pause and ask myself, who will wipe the tears from God’s eyes? People say there will be no crying in heaven, but obviously there is, or God would not have to wipe tears from our eyes. God created us with emotions, and He will not turn us into hard-hearted robots, when we see that some have chosen to be lost after so great a price was paid for their salvation.

Yes, there will be tears in heaven, but God Himself will wipe those tears away. Again, my question, who will wipe the tears from God’s eyes? If you are lost, do you believe God will turn Himself into a hard-hearted robot and just forget about you? No way! God says, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3. To me, everlasting means everlasting.

While God’s love is indeed everlasting, some have thought that meant they could get away with anything, and God will still love them. While that is true, unconditional love does not mean unconditional salvation. You see, I can be lost and go to hell, and God will still love me! Which leads me back to my question once more. Who will wipe the tears from God’s eyes?  In Isaiah 49:15 NLT God asks, “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” God is not simply making the comparison to a newborn baby. The word “nursing” is present tense. God is saying it would be harder for Him to ever forget you, than it would be for a mother to forget her child while she is nursing it! This is impossible!

Friends, if I were lost, that would be sad for me. However as sad as that would be, my sadness would not last forever. I would be destroyed by hell fire and then would be no more. I would not be missing God for all eternity. But if I were lost, would He be missing me? Would there always be an empty place in God’s heart?

Imagine the prodigal son’s father looking out from the front porch for a trace of his wayward son somewhere off in the distance. Looking day after day, year after year for just a glimmer of hope. Then one day he hears that his son has died while roaming. He won’t be coming home. Do you think that Father who for years watched from his front porch, will no longer pause as he looks out his window into the hills off in the distance?

In Hosea 11:8, After years and years of Ephraim’s rebellion and idolatry, God wrestles with His own emotions, as He cries, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?”

Revelations 6 finishes with the 6th seal and asks the question who will be able to stand when Jesus comes, and not ask for the rocks and stones to fall on them? Revelation 7 answers that question, that it will be those who are sealed with the character of God. Revelation 7 goes on to describe the various tribes or characteristics that will be sealed. The tribe of Ephraim is not mentioned. Ephraim is not among the saved.

Revelations 8:1 says that after the sealing, there is silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. Many scholars agree this half hour is one week in Bible prophecy, when heaven is emptied of angels as they attend the Son of God as He returns. Without disputing that, I wonder, could the silence be God pausing, just asking Himself if there was anything else He could have done to save Ephraim? In Isaiah 5:3-4 Could God have been referencing a future judgment when He cried,  ”O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”

Of course God has done all He can do! Still, doesn’t a parent in those situations pause to ask themselves if there was any other way a wayward child could be saved, even when reason tells them everything that could have been done has already been done? Our God is a God of principle, but He also created us in His image with emotions. Do you believe God in His infinite wisdom, knowing that all has been done, will just wipe His hands clean of the lost? My God may be a God of infinite wisdom and principle, but He also has an extremely huge heart! No parent has ever loved with as much passion and emotion as my heavenly Father has loved you! And if there has ever been a parent, who has lost a child, and asked themselves what more they could have done and even second-guessed themselves, it would be my heavenly Father!

Does my heavenly Father err? No! Has He already done all that could possibly be done? Yes! Do I still think He may pause for a moment, before declaring the doom of the lost, to search the depths of his infinitely wise brain just one more time, to see if He can come up with just one more idea? Yes I do! Will He find one? No. Everything has been done.

In Genesis 44 Judah tells the Egyptian ruler, not knowing it was Joseph, about how he broke his father’s heart when his father lost his son. He goes on to explain the heartbreak it would bring his father if Benjamin does not return home. Judah then goes on to convey that he will not break his father’s heart again. Judah would rather rot in prison than break his father’s heart.

Friend! Don’t break my Father’s heart! Yes, you may be able to forget Him but He will never be able to forget you! Please! Be there for my Father! He loves you so much! Be there on that day for my Father. If you choose not to be there, who will wipe the tears from His eyes? Who will be there to put their hands on His shoulder as He peers from His front porch off into the distant hills, and remind Him, no, you aren’t coming home – ever?

I have broken my Father’s heart so many times already, but I, like Judah, refuse to break His heart like that again. I want to be there, not just for myself but for my Father! Will you be there too? If not, who will wipe the tears from God’s eyes?

Be there. Please.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

 

Jesus Wept; The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 13

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sunday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the questions, “What kind of prayer life do you have? How much time do you spend in the Word of God? What are ways you can make your devotional time more meaningful and life-changing? However important that we spend time in prayer and reading the Word, time alone isn’t the only element. What other factors are needed?”

I do not pretend to be an authority on these topics, but I will attempt to answer these questions personally.

First question: What kind of prayer life do you have? I have learned that every breath can be a prayer. I have learned that just because I say “amen” the prayer does not need to end. I talk to God about everything. I ask Him to help me find eternal life while contemplating the themes of life, but when at the grocery store I ask Him to help me find the enchilada seasoning mix. I have learned to not only pray before reading the Bible, I also pray before reading any book. I pray for God to help me find anything that will make me a useful better person. I have also learned that when someone calls and asks you to pray for them, that they want you to pray with them right there on the phone-now. I have learned to pray in restaurant parking lots, Wal-Mart isles, and anywhere I am with people who are asking for prayer. Sure I will pray later, but these people want prayer now.

How much time do you spend in the Word of God? My job as a Bible Instructor requires I spend a lot of time in God’s Word, but that is not why I do it. I want to stay in a relationship with Christ. I haven’t always been a Bible Instructor. For a couple of years, in Fort Worth, Texas I worked at UPS from 3 to 8 AM every morning and then went straight to my day job from 8:30am to 5 or 6pm or later. My schedule tore me away from a lot of things, but I was determined it was not going to tear me away from God. I often hear people say they are too busy to study the Bible and pray, but my attitude was that if life was too hectic to spend time in God’s Word then life had just defeated its purpose! Everything else is meaningless without God so why let it take you away from God? I had my Bible with me all the time. I read it first thing in the morning at 2AM. I had it with me on breaks and lunch hours. I had the Bible on CD in my car. What I would have given to have had it on my cell phone back then like I do now! (Today you can get the Bible and Sabbath School lessons on your cell phone.) I want to share something very important right here. My parents raised us with having family worship every day. If we had guests, they were invited to join us, but we never skipped it. If we were visiting family or friends we had it in their home. I believe my sister and I are still in a relationship with Christ today because of this foundation. I think this is something we need to hear a lot more about. We go on and on about Christian education and good church schools which are great. However, I am convinced that Christian Education often takes credit for what was going on in the home. Fact is, many and I mean many kids who attend Christian schools leave God once they are out of school if they were ever with God at all. The kids who attend church school and stay with Christ were also having family worship like my family was. I do not mean to take away from Christian schools, but we need to give credit where credit is due, and I believe family worship needs to be preached in our church as a necessity even above placing your kids in Christian schools.

What are ways you can make your devotional time more meaningful and life-changing? I have always enjoyed having special places where I meet with God. In Fort Worth I loved going to the Japanese Gardens in the Botanical Gardens. Here I love going to the parks on the river or by the bay. It also becomes more meaningful and life changing when I share the relationship I have with God with others too. I love to write or blog or even just post statuses on Facebook  about what God is teaching me. If you are not as transparent as I am and a little more private, then try just writing in a journal for personal reference. Many Bible apps for your cell phone provide opportunities to make notes.  Even if you don’t want to share what you are learning with the whole world, share with somebody.

However important that we spend time in prayer and reading the Word, time alone isn’t the only element. What other factors are needed?” I remember a while back going door to door, asking people if they wanted Bible studies, and I met a lady who told me she reads four chapters a day. To me, that sounded a little legalistic. I don’t use a stopwatch when spending time with friends and I don’t use one while spending time with God either. Yes, there is a lot to spending time with God, but sometimes it is better to read a small passage and mediate to get the whole meaning, than it is to read several chapters and not comprehend any of it. Sometimes you can just let one phrase soak in. For example, in Genesis 12:3, God tells Abraham “in thee (his seed) shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Take some time and let that soak in. How has every single family in the world from Adam to today been blessed by the seed of Abraham? How have atheist families been blessed? How have families suffering from physical and sexual abuse been blessed? How were families who were born and died in slavery blessed by Abraham’s seed? You will be begin to sense the power of the cross as you let that short phrase really sink in instead of just quickly skimming over it on your quest to read several chapters.

Again another important element is sharing with others. This is where Sabbath School comes in. Small groups are fun and educational too. One on one Bible studies are helpful as well. If you would like to find out how you can become involved in a Sabbath school class, small study group, or one on one Bible studies, please contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net I would love to hear from you!

Redemption in Romans, Lesson 13

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS Lesson covers Romans 14-16. Now Romans 13 ends with Paul telling us “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Paul is telling us to set a high standard for ourselves. In Romans 14 He transitions from looking at self to our attitude towards others, telling us, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, [but] not to doubtful disputations,” and “Let us not therefore judge one another any more.” What jumped out at me here, is that while Paul is telling us to set a high standard for ourselves, he also tells us not to judge our brother just because he does not have the same standards we do. This reminds me of something a pastor told me back in Texas, “We need to be conservative towards ourselves and liberal towards others.” How I interpret that is, We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard but not expect anyone else to have the exact same standards we do.

 

I remember when I was first learning how to golf I would go to the driving range. I was self conscious with the other golfers there who could see me. I don’t say watching because in reality they probably weren’t paying any attention to me at all but I thought they were. I did not want them to see me mess up. I would be relieved though when I saw them mess up, because it made me not feel so bad about myself when I saw that they too messed up. Then I remembered, something Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” Again I was reminded to not watch others, but to strive for a higher standard.  I pray for God to help me reach His standard while at the same time accepting and not judging my brother.

 

 You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of the Cross.