Saturday, October 16, 2010

Seeds of the Kingdom devotional

Camp Hope

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1:13-14, NIV

Along with millions of others around the world I have been glued to the television screen as I watched the first of the Chilean miners emerging from the darkness of their prison, 700 metres below the ground. The sight of these men, for whom there seemed to have been no hope of rescue, has had the world fighting back the tears of emotion and joy, as these remarkable scenes unfolded before our very eyes. These were moments of extraordinary drama, as their families greeted the men who had been totally incapable of rescuing themselves. As they emerged from their rescue capsule, into the glaring floodlights of media publicity, they were hugged by the President of Chile.

These were amazing pictures which will become part of unforgettable world history. Never before have so many men been rescued from being so long underground. These were men who, after 69 days in their prison of rock, had been rescued from certain death and given another chance of life. It was as if they had been born again. As I watched these dramatic scenes developing through the Chilean night, I was deeply impacted by the living parable that was unfolding before my very eyes.

Man’s condition was so like that of the trapped Chilean miners. Since the fall of man, the whole of the human race has lived out its spiritual existence in the darkness of a prison, from which there was no possibility of escape. There was nothing the miners could do to effect their own rescue. All they could do was wait – first to be found alive, and then to be rescued. Those dramatic pictures that eventually emerged, of men surviving in the blackest of black holes, perfectly illustrated the condition of fallen man, existing, but without hope.

The miners were totally dependent on rescue from above. It took over two months to drill a hole wide enough for a rescue capsule to descend through the rock to the darkness of their prison. Then we saw the first miners enter the rescue capsule, one at a time, and be lifted from ‘the dominion of darkness’ into the light of freedom at the top of the San Jose (Saint Joseph) mine, now renamed by the Chilean authorities, and the world’s media, as Camp Hope.

Joseph was the man whom God chose to rescue the Children of Israel from death by famine. His brothers condemned him to death, but God raised him up to the highest position in the land, and through him Israel and his family were saved. Joseph became the picture of ‘Hope’ for God’s people, and Jesus became the picture of ‘Hope’ for the whole of humanity.

Isaiah prophesied that ‘the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned’ (Matthew 4:16). Man was incapable of rescuing himself from his self-imposed darkness. Like the miners, he had to wait for rescue from above. And when that moment came, it wasn’t the world’s media who were watching in awe, but the angelic host who gave ‘glory to God in the highest’ as they sang their praises and gave the good news to the Shepherds of Bethlehem.

The President of Chile waited at the surface for the first rescued miners to step out of the capsule. But the President of Heaven, Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, ‘manned the rescue capsule’ Himself and stepped down to earth to show man the way of escape.

Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him and mankind did kill Jesus. But the cross of despair was renamed Camp Hope when God raised Him up on resurrection morning! The rescue capsule to take man from the realm of darkness to the Kingdom of Light can, like it was for the miners, only be entered one at a time. To choose to be rescued is a personal decision, but, as the writer of the Hebrews so accurately expressed it, ‘How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?’(Hebrews 2:3)

The miners were ‘living in darkness, in the land of the shadow of death’. Today they have been given a chance to live a new life, freed from their underground prison. One of them expressed it so powerfully when he said, ‘We were with God and the devil underground – and God won!’ All of humanity outside of Christ is ‘living in darkness, in the land of the shadow of death’. God gave man a way of escape, so ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:7). Just as there was great joy on the surface of the mine with the rescue of each and every miner, Jesus said ‘there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents’ (Luke 15:10). What an amazing rescue! What a Saviour! Hallelujah!

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the amazing rescue of the Chilean miners and for the new life they now have to look forward to. But thank you even more, for your amazing rescue of mankind and that there is a way back to God from the darkness of sin. Help me never to forget what Jesus did for me on the cross, when the hill of Calvary became Camp Hope for lost humanity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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