There’s a phrase I used to hear a lot when I played sports: “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.”
I know. That statement is not politically correct. Still, it’s a kick back to the days of opera when the big gal got up and belted out the final tune, a song that sometimes lasted 20 minutes or more. You could anticipate that the end was coming… but there was still much time to go.
After she sang… Well, then- and only then- was the show over.
Coach after coach used to tell us that phrase to keep us focused- even while we were losing. Their point? It’s not over until the final whistle blows. Keep going. Even if you think it’s almost over, keep on…
With Jesus, it’s never over. Ever. Not even when the big gal is warming up. The highway to hell is never irreversible.
Read Psalm 139. David says that if he ascends to the highest height, Jesus will already be there. And, if he sinks to the deepest low… the abyss… even sheol (hell)… Jesus will already be there, too (see Psalms 139:8).
“There’s nowhere I can go from your presence,” he muses.
Or- to say it another way, “There’s no pit too deep for you to reach me!”
Or- "You can't out-run the grip of grace."
Let this one burst your theological box into smithereens: Revelation 14:10 tells us that Jesus- not Satan- rules hell. That’s right, Jesus rules everything. That’s what it means to have all authority, right? In the end, Satan isn’t in charge of anything.
Satan isn’t a “bad god” that has a pitchfork and runs around poking people in the rear while he roars at them like churches used to demonstrate back in the late 80s and early 90s in their Halloween “Judgment Houses.” Satan is a fallen angel. A strong one, but still an angel…
Jesus torments him, in the end…
Let me repeat it: According to John (who wrote Revelation), Jesus rules Heaven and hell… and everything in between. That means, logically, there’s no place He doesn’t have jurisdiction. There's no place out of His redemptive reach, because there’s no place Jesus doesn't have total authority.
David is right. If you could find your way to hell, He’d already be there, too. I know, that’s a rabbit hole and a theological quagmire all in one…
Back to the here and now...
In the book of Joshua, we read about Rahab, the prostitute who sees her impending doom and joins herself to the story of God’s people. As the Children of Israel approach the Promised Land 40 years after leaving Egypt, Joshua sends two spies to survey the land.
They make their way to the house of harlot where it will be easy to hide amidst all the other “coming and going” traffic of the city (see Joshua 2). Yeah, no one ever reveals who they see in the brothel…
She declares the Lord’s deliverance of them- she knows of their redemption from slavery (see Joshua 2:9f.). She asks to be part of the deliverance, to be included in the story (2:12).
Destruction of her city- and her life- is merely days away when she cries out for help! Arguably, with her lifestyle, she already sits in a deep pit. Yet God hears her prayer!
The spies rescue her, and she becomes the great, great grandmother of King David (Israel’s greatest king). She’s the mother of Boaz, the gracious man who marries Ruth. No doubt he learns great grace from his mother, for he redeems Ruth from her poverty and distress and becomes a model of Christ. In fact, Rahab is in the lineage of Jesus, mentioned in the first genealogy of the New Testament (see Matthew 1:5). Interestingly enough, Rahab's redemption includes the redemption of her entire family- because she asks for it (Joshua 2:12).
(Remember that statement we made about faith in episode 7 of the podcast- that sometimes Jesus heals based on “other people’s” faith? Here's an example where He redeems an entire family based on the faith of the “black sheep” of the household.)
Rahab’s story is a prime example of what the Bible means when it tells us that we were redeemed from the empty ways that we inherited from our forefathers (1 Peter 1:18-19). Rahab was likely living in the rut that she had always known- a rut that had likely existed for generations. In a moment everything changed and she became an ancestor of Jesus.
You may be living the patterns you simply grabbed from your parents and friends with whom you have associated. Sleeping around. Binging. Anger. Wrong thought patterns.
Perhaps it’s a pit that runs generations deep…
“We’re all like that,” you may think. “It’s just who we are. It’s not what we want, but we don’t know a way out…”
Those life-patterns are all expressions of the cosmos, that is, the world system in which we live (more in episode 44). God can pull you out. He can give you a “do over.” Even if the odds were so stacked against you that you never had a first shot at actually getting it right, Jesus redeems…
And, remember, since Jesus has authority over all areas, there's no place beyond His redemptive reach.
You can't out-run grace.
Links mentioned in this talk
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