"Our Father..." (Part 4 of 4)
It is what we all look forward to—the great feast someday. The good news is, because he is our Father in heaven and because he is supernatural, he can visit us right here. In Romans 11, Paul is dealing with this very mystery that the God of Israel through the Messiah Jesus has joined you and me, former pagans, to the family of God. Paul explains all of this, and at the end he is so taken by God’s extraordinary mercy and grace that he breaks out in praise and in adoration. Verse 33—O, the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable his judgements, his paths, beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor. Who has ever given to him and it shall be repaid to him? For from him and through him and to him are all things, to him be the glory for ever and ever! We are stamped in the image of our Father in heaven, we are joined to the family of God. Paul can find no words to express this, it is beyond knowing, it is beyond searching out, who can understand it, who has advised God to do this? It is nothing but God’s grace, because he is a compassionate, caring and loving God!
Paul tells us it gets even more wonderful than this. We do not have to wait for God’s Spirit to come and take habitation in the midst of his sanctuary, because by his Spirit he is indwelling you and me. Galatians 4:4-7 (here is he writing to non-Jews). Do you understand how unprecedented, how extraordinary this is, that the King of creation who stamps you with his image now has put his Spirit (the Spirit of his Son) within you and now you can approach the high, mighty and awesome God, and say to him: “Abba, O Abba hallowed be Thy name, your kingship rule and reign in me—your will be done. Abba, thank you for giving me my needs today, thank you for forgiving me, just as I forgive others. Abba, thank you that you save me from that inclination within me to do wrong, and you deliver me from the Evil One!”
You see why Paul breaks out in doxologies? Who can comprehend this, that we—nobodies, pagans—should be able to approach the King of all creation and address him by this very familiar intimate term—“Abba.” Maybe you like to say daddy, dad, or whatever your favorite term is for your father; if it is a term of affection that is the term here that Paul is using. Abba is a term of affection, it is a term of intimacy.
In some ways our conception of God is just as limited as a little 7-year old child’s. We boast about our earthly father, but our Father in heaven loves for us to boast about him. My friends, in closing I want to say to you, would you please start boasting about your Father in heaven, would you find ways to boast about him—declare great things about him? He is God, and he alone is God! There are many prayers in the Jewish world that are such boasting.
Let us close with this prayer from the Siddur:
From Egypt thou didst redeem us O Lord our God, and from the house of bondsman Thou didst deliver us. All their firstborn you didst slay, but your firstborn you did redeem. You did divide the Red Sea and you drowned the proud, but you made the beloved to pass through while the waters covered their adversaries, not one of whom was left. Therefore the beloved praise and extol God, they offer hymns, songs, praises, blessings and thanksgiving to the King - the ever and enduring God, who is high and exalted, great and revered, who brings low the haughty and raises up the lowly, frees the prisoners and delivers the meek, helps the poor, answers his people when they cry unto him. Praises be to the Most High God, blessed is he and ever to be blessed. Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Thee with great joy, all of them saying, “mi kamocha be’elim Adonai” (Who is like unto Thee among the Gods, O Lord.) Who is like unto Thee—glorious in holiness, revered in praises, doing marvels! Abba, you are the greatest!
We bless your name, O Most High God, thanking you for stamping us in your image and for renewing us into the image of Jesus Christ. We boast about you God, there is none like you, there are no other gods, you alone are God. Thank you that Jesus has brought us into a relationship with you, characterized by Spirit, righteousness, joy, and peace. Receive our praises now God, and be honored in the way we conduct ourselves, even this day and in the days to come.