- ABOUT US
- Calendar and News
- READING PLAN
- The Chosen
Christ is No Mirage
If I could put a subtitle to today’s message, it would be, “The World’s Mirage verses The Reality of Christ.”
As this new year began, the Lord pointed me to present a two-part message revealing how the Cities of Refuge were a type and a representation of the coming Messiah, and then how Jesus fulfilled their very purpose.
And through this, the Lord was showing me how there are so many Scriptures that speak to the coming Messiah and how Jesus fulfills them, which is at the heart of our message today, because the verse that I would like to share with you isn’t really anything that we would say, “Hey, that’s amazing,” when we read it, but that is exactly what it is.
Now, Isaiah 35, where our passage is taken from gives us a preview of the coming of Christ, that is, the Messiah, and the great salvation He will bring, but not only that, how He is none other than the Lord God Himself. And it begins with how great it will be in those days, and how the Lord Himself is coming to destroy our enemies, and then is says that “He”, that is, the Lord God Himself, “is coming to save us” (Isaiah 35:4).
And this idea of salvation coming in and through Jesus is seen in His very name, as the name Jesus means, “God saves.” And in the Old Testament it is the name, Immanuel, or “God with us.”
And then Isaiah gives us the signs of His coming.
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing.” (Isaiah 35:5-6a NKJV)
In fact, Jesus references this very thing in describing His ministry to John the Baptist who sent his disciples to see if Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
Jesus responded, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5 NKJV)
Now, Isaiah gives to us what is so often quoted about the revival that is to come.
“For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35:6b NKJV)
And then we come to the verse that literally took my breath away when I looked more closely at the wording at what it means to us.
“The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water.” (Isaiah 35:7a NKJV)
Now, at first glance it would seem that this is just further explaining what the end part of verse six says about water coming forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. But it is so much more.
And it’s found in the meaning of the word “parched ground.” In the Hebrew this word is “sharab.” And according to the Strong’s Concordance it comes from an unused root meaning “to glare,” a “quivering glow of air,” and then it gives this definition, “a mirage.”
To fully understand the importance of this, and how those reading it in the time of Isaiah would have understood this is that the people of that time were somewhat nomadic, and something they would have been well aware of, especially as their ancestors wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they could enter into the Promised Land.
You see, a wilderness was a piece of land where nothing grew, a desert in the purest form of word, that is, nothing but sand and heat, and a place where there is no water.
Now, those who would traverse these stretches of parched and dry earth would always be on the lookout for an oasis, that is, whatever water they could find. This was Israel’s main difficulty as they continue to complain against Moses and the Lord, where once again they found themselves in a location where there was no water.
But, those who traversed these spaces, what would happen is that they would see something glimmering, something looking like water, and so they would head toward it only to find it was nothing but a mirage, that is, it looked like water, but it was nothing more than glowing sand.
And that is what a mirage is, it is where the cooler air would meet the heat that was rising from the sand, and the light was refracted giving the appearance of the color of the sky, which just so happens to be the color of water.
And this is what people today are experiencing in this world we are living in. And that is, people today are always moving to the next mirage the world is offering thinking that it is a source of satisfaction, only to find out once again that they’ve arrived at nothing more than a mirage, glowing sand with no life.
People today are looking for what is real, but only finding what is not. People today are tired and weary from this journey of life they are on, especially in this pandemic. You see, life is filled not only with problems and difficulties, but with contradictions as well.
So where can we find the truth about the reality of life. Well, it all comes down to what we are journeying toward.
So, what are people looking for? How about a little peace and joy? We are looking for a life with no conflict, something that will give us rest, relief, power, and life. But here is where the paths diverge as the world offers us one thing, which is outside the boundaries that God has set up for life. But the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, offers us something beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations.
This is what I want to take some time now and look at. First let’s look at some of the things the world offers to us.
Now another word we could use is that of entertainment. That is, anything that will divert or get rid of, for a time that is, the troubles, problems, and difficulties that assault us in this world.
You see, the world is great at catering to our wants and desires, all the while assuring us that if we would just accept the message they are trying to sell, that we shall obtain what our hearts so long for.
Let me take a moment and point out some of these so-called pleasures. You have drinking, drugs, food, gambling, which cover the vices, but there is also reading fiction and watching shows that take us to another place and another time where we can live for a while in our minds.
All these again are the world’s attempt to remove us from our present reality. You see, all of us are looking for and seeking after satisfaction, but unfortunately, we think what the world offers will give it to us.
Solomon was a big supporter of this until he saw it for what it really was.
“I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure;’ but surely, this also was vanity … I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools … I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces … So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-9 NKJV)
“Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10 NKJV)
But look now at Solomon’s conclusion of not withholding anything He desired.
“This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:26b NKJV)
Now, the part where he said that he gathered great riches and possessions leads me to the second mirage the world offers up.
Wealth & Possessions
This world has sold us a lie, and we’ve bought into that lie, hook, line, and sinker. And that is, money can buy happiness, and therefore all of our troubles stem from economics and the economy. And so, an economic solution is sought for. Yes, having some money does make life a little easier, but it doesn’t bring the satisfaction our heart and soul desires.
But something even more, and that is, what is in our pockets today, will be someone else’s pocket tomorrow, and if our goal is to accumulate wealth to satisfy our needs, then in the long run, it will bring depression and a whole slew of vices, like greed, hoarding, and loving money more than we love God, because if that is our number one goal, then it then becomes its own form of idolatry.
But what spoke to my heart, when I did have millions of dollars and then in a relatively short period of time lost it all, was a verse the Lord shared with me prior.
“Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:5 NKJV)
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT)
Another thing the world tries to sell us that they say will bring us satisfaction is relationships. This has taken many down the wrong pathway of illicit sexual activities and relationships.
But there is also this subtlety, and that is that we believe that having a relationship with someone will bring us happiness. Like, if only I had a boyfriend or girlfriend. But soon that’s not enough and it becomes, “If only I was married.” And then when problems begin to develop, without working them out through God and His word, then we move on to say, “If only we had some kids.” But not long after we wonder, “What were we thinking of?” And then the rallying cry is, “If only the kids would move out.” But then the empty nest syndrome hits, and our cry then becomes, “If only I could have some grandkids.”
And if these are not our rallying cry, then it is something worse, and that is, “I need a new start,” and so we want to find a way out of marriage and parenting.
If we want satisfaction, and have a rewarding relationship with others, such a relationships can only be found in and through having that relationship with God.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12a NKJV)
Now, at this point you may be saying and thinking that this is disproving what I just said, and that God is saying that having a relationship with another is a good thing. And it is! But a relationship without the Lord God to hold it together and to give it meaning will unravel in time.
“Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12b NLT)
A rope cannot be of two strands only. If it has only two strands, then it will quickly unravel. But when a third strand is introduced, then it brings strength and durability. And in a relationship, if we want it to stand up to the trials and tribulations of this world, then we need a third strand, and that is, we need a relationship with the Lord, not only individually, but also in our relationships.
And while I believe these are the three of the major mirages, let me give you two more.
I’d like to address this starting with the United Nations, which was established in 1945 after WWII. It was to be an international organization aimed at maintaining peace and security around the world through international cooperation designed to harmonize the actions of its participating member nations.
It hasn’t worked. Why? Because they are trying to bring human ideas and solutions to something only God can do. Before anything can happen in our own nation and in the world, it must first happen within the hearts of the people.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)
People today believe that if only this or that party gets into power then everything will be made right. But it won’t. Righteousness can never be forced from the outside, that’s called conforming. But the Bible says that only a transformation will bring the change God wants, and transformation comes from within, and this only happens when our hearts align themselves with God.
Spiritually or Religion
There is another mirage that the world tries to sell us, and that is, that there are many ways to make it too heaven. That we just need to be good enough, and it really doesn’t matter what we believe.
This has put the world’s population on a spiritual or a religious merry-go-round. And this has proven itself through our history. Humanity is always looking for that new thing, because that which was the new thing, after a while becomes the old thing, and no longer satisfies. And so, it’s off to something new.
We see this played out, mostly in the rich and famous, or Hollywood, because that is who the media likes to report on. They try this, and they try that. They go from Kabala, to Scientology, to Jehovah Witness, to Islam, to Budda, and the list just keeps on going.
And, unfortunately, the same might be said for those who come to Jesus. There are many who try Jesus on for size, the way that try on a piece of clothing. They’re seeing if Christianity fits their lifestyle, or the way they want to live their life. They don’t go to Jesus to have their lives changed, instead they go to Jesus to help give them a good feeling about themselves.
But, if we want true satisfaction, then Jesus is the only way, in fact, He said so.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
And Jesus also said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)
And it is this that I now want to share with you the good news of Jesus Christ, and what a relationship with Him offers, which I said was something beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations.
I think I made this clear in the beginning, but the reality is that we are all feeling fatigued and tired, with a dash of disappointment, discouragement, and dissatisfaction thrown in. But as we have seen and experienced in this world, and what the Bible makes abundantly clear is that the promises of the world are nothing more than mirages, but not so Christ.
In other words, in Christ the mirage will become an oasis. The question is “How?”
Speaks to the Reality
The gospel speaks to the real nature, or the reality of life.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NKJV) that is, we fall short of God’s holy and righteous standards for life.
And then later the Apostle Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NKJV)
The gospel also talks about the fact that we as humans only have so many years here upon the earth, but then an eternity awaits. But the question becomes where will be spend that eternity.
And so, the gospel message makes us take a hard long hard look at the condition of our soul in the sight of a holy and righteous God, and then tells us the way we can get right with God so that we can spend eternity with Him.
Over the last several weeks we’ve had several memorial services of those who have made the move up to heaven. And what I find interesting is that the Bible tells us that these memorial services are just the thing that we need. It says that it is a good thing.
“Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2 NKJV)
The reality is that while we may be here today, there is no guarantee that we’ll be here tomorrow. So, it is good, as the Bible says, to examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Speaks of the Way
The Bible tells us that the only way into heaven isn’t through religion, or the keeping or maintaining a set of rules. Rather, the way to heaven is through a person, and that person is Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
As we’re beginning a new year, a lot of people start making all these New Year’s resolutions. From getting healthy physically to getting healthy emotionally and spiritually. But have you ever noticed that they don’t last long?
The gospel tells us that this doesn’t work. That getting our lives right with God doesn’t come through keeping this or that resolution, nor through the keeping of rules or belonging to this or that religion or even denomination.
Instead, it tells us that we’re on this journey through life, and pictures us in the desert of sin, always moving from one mirage to another. And it reveals just how tired and worn out we are when we live life in the manner. We’ve tried all this stuff the world offers, and we’re left unsatisfied.
But the way of the gospel is through the way given to us by God, and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus went to the cross as that sacrificial lamb, the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist says, that takes away the sins of the world. And it was there upon the cross that Jesus bore our sins, and carried our sorrows, and died the death we all deserve so that we can be made right with God.
Gives Us a New Nature
Through belief in Jesus Christ, we have been given a new nature and a new life. The gospel doesn’t tell us to adopt a new set of morals, or a code of ethics. Rather, it fills us with a new outcome to life, and fills us with a new desire. And beyond that, it gives us the strength and power to overcome, enabling us to defeat the enemy of our souls, Satan.
Jesus now satisfies our every need, and will never leave us or forsake us, even at the time of death. Death then for a believer is moving from this existence into an eternal existence in the presence of the Lord in heaven.
It is where we’ll hear Him say to us at the Judgement Seat, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of Your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)
And so, Jesus is the pool, that is, He is what gives life, whereas the world give death through the mirages that it says satisfies.
Whenever I think about this, the woman at the well comes to mind. Here Jesus asks her for a drink of water, and a pretty long discussion ensues as she continues to question His assertion, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 NKJV)
Jesus is the one who gives us the living water of life, He is that pool, that oasis that replaces the mirages.
Nothing created by man, not pleasure, wealth, possessions, philosophy, job, or even religion can fully satisfy what the human soul hungers for. Only a living, loving, and personal relationship with Jesus Christ can do that.
But I know there are some who say, “Who says that Jesus Christ and the gospel message isn’t just another mirage like the rest?”
To this question the answer is that Jesus is no mirage, and His resurrection from the dead proves it. Jesus is that pool, and the mirages of this world will disappear when we come into that relationship with Him, and in place of these mirages Jesus show up with life-giving water. He is that oasis.
And so, Jesus is the answer because He proved that what He said was true, that He is the only way to heaven and that’s because He is the only one who was raised from the dead and is alive.
So, let’s quit falling for the fake, that is, everything that this world is trying to sell us, and let’s start living the truth that is only found in God through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus is no mirage, instead He is the oasis in the middle of the desert, replacing the gleaming sands of the world, that is, the mirages of this world with living water, or better the water that brings life to the thirsty soul. J
Wednesday Evening Bible Study