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Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.  Isaiah 1:3

Most of the sins we commit are not conscious.  It’s natural for us all to cruise along in a mental environment of easy-going benevolence, protected from self-awareness within walls of soft but impenetrable good intentions.

The Lord said, for example, “You are robbing me” (Malachi 3:9).  His people did not respond, “Busted!  We didn’t think you’d notice.”  They said, “How have we robbed you?”  They may have felt misjudged.  So God explained, and showed them a new path of realism and blessing.

Christ said, “You say, I am rich, . . . not realizing that you are wretched” (Revelation 3:17).  Then he counseled his people to do new business with him, “so that you may see” (Revelation 3:18).  Their loss would be painful — saying goodbye forever to the comforting illusion of their own okayness — but their gain would be the glory of his living presence (Revelation 3:20).

When Jesus wept over Jerusalem — he wept, he didn’t rage — he said, “Would that you had known on this day the things that make for peace!” (Luke 19:42).  In rejecting their Messiah, the people weren’t deliberately pushing away the shalom of God.  They just had a full to-do list that day, suddenly Jesus was more a problem than a resource and — well, their incomprehension made a snap judgment, and their historic opportunity moved on.  The Lord himself said, “You did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44).

To miss our own time of visitation, it is not necessary that we defy Christ.  Just not knowing, if we do not want to know, is enough.  We cannot repent of sins we cannot see, and we cannot see what we refuse to face.  But we can place ourselves deliberately out in the light of God’s Word, standing there without flinching, and ask the Lord to show us ourselves in our need, and show us himself in his all-sufficiency, and tell us what he wants us to do next.

In that place of honest self-reappraisal before the Savior of the world, he will certainly visit us, and wonderfully.

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2 thoughts on “How not to miss the visitation”

  1. This is so personally and pastorally helpful! Thank you, Ray! I’m so glad God has lifted you up to have an influence beyond your local church. I have been lifted up many, many times because your grace-saturated example has been “visible” through your writing and speaking. It’s most certainly not the first time, and I doubt it will be the last, but I do give thanks to God for you today. Num 6:24-26 on you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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