Hugh and Jake
Sometimes God gives compare and contrast moments that are inescapable. This morning I saw in the New York Times that Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, had died. Thinking biblically: “. . . you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God . . . because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6) Assuming he did not experience reconciliation with God before his death, he is now experiencing hell. Without self-righteousness, we can soberly imagine his present fear.
Soberly we consider him, and ourselves. We all in some way are etched in our minds and souls by Mr. Hefner’s product and legacy. We carry in our bodies the etchings of images past seen, or immorality engaged in. Many of us have “become partakers with [Hugh Hefner]” (Eph. 5:7). He was so “successful” because he had such a large and willing customer base, in the hearts of men (and women). What about us?
I also happened to read this morning about another immoral man - Jacob, in Genesis 28:10-17. He deceived his dying father; stole his brother’s inheritance; he’s on the run because his brother wants to kill him (naturally); even his name means “cheater”. A lying, manipulating, stealing cheater - exposed, lying in the middle of the wilderness. Time for God to drop the hammer, right?!
“And he dreamed . . . and the Lord . . . said, ‘I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring . . . in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed . . . Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
This is massive grace: Almighty God comes close, but not to drop the hammer. Thus Jacob too felt fear: God could have destroyed me. But worshipful, loving fear: instead God promises to give lavishly - an Offspring, who would die to bless Jacob. We immoral, cheating Jacob’s become Israel by believing God's promise to give us Himself, in Jesus.
Behold your God! Guilt and shame are great. But our God’s kindness and grace are greater. Let us fear; Almighty God has come close. Let us love Him; His kindness to us exceeds the heavens.