Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Prayers of Preparation: the Favorable God

Midweek in Advent 2
December 10, 2008
Psalm 85:1-13

Why dos our Lord look upon us favorably? Is it because there’s something about us that is favorable? Well, as a matter of fact, there is. What it is is that we have been created by Him. He created us because He loves to share the wealth. He owns everything and wants to spread around His abundance to us. He wants us to delight in His joy and glory.

So what it is about us that makes Him favorable toward us is not something of ourselves but of who we are. We are the crown of His creation. He looks upon us with favor even though we have not lived as who we are. He loves us even though we have spurned His love. That is the essence of His favor toward us, it is because of His grace and mercy, not because we deserve it. The fact is, we don’t deserve it.

His favor toward us is in view of Jesus Christ. When God created humans He loved them. Of course He did. When people have children, they love them. When God created us, He loved us. It came naturally to Him. So what was His reaction when Adam and Eve sinned against Him? Did He stop loving them? Did He give up on them? No, His reaction was the same. Love. Compassion. Favor.

But how can this be when He promised them they would die? How was it that He loved them when because of their sin they were separated from Him? The way it is is that His love moved Him to tell them that they were now separated from Him. If He would have ignored their sin they would have been lost forever. To truly love them, to truly help them, He had to confront them and their sin. This is favor. It is compassion which moves you to do those things that are hard, that seem unloving.

But this favor is in view of Jesus Christ, right? So what did that have to do with how God looked with favor upon Adam and Eve? It has to do with who God is. He is the Creator. As the Creator, He is the one who naturally loves us. His love for us moves Him to do all within His eternal power to care for us. In the case of our sin against Him, what that means is action similar to His first action of creating us. We could call it His act of re-creation. That action of God is done in His Son Jesus Christ.

It’s not something that only those during His life on earth and since then receive. God’s act of re-creation in Jesus Christ is for all people of all time. His favor is upon all because of the once for all sacrifice of Jesus. The prayer of the psalmist, and it is the prayer of all the people of God, that God be favorable to us, is a prayer that He would look upon us because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We pray He look favorably upon us because of the righteousness of Christ.

Those who truly desire life, eternal or otherwise, apart from Jesus Christ, desire life apart from God. He will always look with favor upon them but will never force them into His eternal presence. God’s sending of His Son, even as He first promised to Adam and Eve to send Him, is the sign that God is favorable toward all people. God didn’t explain away Adam and Eve’s sin, even as He doesn’t ours. But He did deal with it. He convicted them of their sin to bring them to repentance and the belief that Jesus is their only hope from sin and separation from God. He does the same with us.

During Advent we take time out to ponder the faithfulness of our Lord. In His favor He has blessed us beyond imagination. He promised to bring about salvation and did. He promises that the Savior He sent at Bethlehem will return once again—this time in glory. None of these things are for a select few. They are for all. We can take comfort that God does not favor some over others, that He loves all sinners equally.

Our prayers, then, are always that of sinners pleading to God for mercy because of Jesus Christ. Our prayers are always prayers of forgiven children who look to God in gratitude for His favor in Jesus Christ. The Psalm last week gave us comfort that when our prayers are raised to God, He hears us. He is the Listening God. We are also given comfort that He looks favorably upon us. He created us, He has made us righteous in His Son Jesus Christ. This favor He extends to us in His Word and Sacraments until that day when He will send His Son again to take us home to heaven. Amen.


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