From God Alone (Vindication Part 2)

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“But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Isaiah 54:17) New Living Translation

How is that for a promise!  Your vindication will come for Your children, for Your servants.  You have spoken it and all that You have ever spoken will come to pass.  But I had better keep in mind David’s words in Psalm 24:3-4.  “Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.  They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.”  So, if I’m looking for vindication, howare my hands and heart?

Maybe I really need to understand what vindication means.  I mean, how often do I really use this word?  And if I’m going to ask for it, well, I ought to know what I’m really asking for.  Why?  Because what if I’m asking for something I don’t deserve?  If I ask “amiss” I won’t get what I’m asking for.  I better make sure I’m lined up with the requirements.  So vindication is being validated, justified, upheld, rectified, or exonerated.  But it’s never something I do for myself.  This, at least in Your case, Lord, is something that You alone can do for me.  You alone can take my times of being misunderstood, unappreciated, ignored, questioned, oppressed, hurt, belittled, slandered, short-changed, and wrongly accused and set me above like one of Your lights so the world will know the truth.

But do I understand enough about vindication to know what You promise, Lord?  Do I have the right expectations?  Do I have Your expectations?  Maybe there are some things that I should know.  My brother in the Lord and wonderful teacher, Bo Barredo, shared seven things the other night that we need to know.  I would like to share them also, because when we receive a wonderful gift, it’s only right to share it.  So let’s start with the first.

Well, the first truth I’d like to share is that vindication comes from God alone.  Like I said, it’s not something I can do for myself.  There’s a reason I can’t vindicate myself before others.  I can’t stand as my own witness before my accusers.  You, Lord, established this precept, “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.”  (Deuteronomy 17:6)  You reiterate that again in Deut. 19:15, “One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”  And it’s not just supported in the Old Testament.  Paul reiterates this precept in 2 Corinthians 13:1, “This will be my third visit to you. ‘Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'”  But you know, the witnesses matter.  And the only witnesses that can truly vindicate as we’re looking for are You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  My witness isn’t always true.  Other peoples’ witnesses aren’t always true.  But Your witness is ALWAYS true; You see into the heart of the matter every time.  Well, actually, I guess we have two Witnesses because the Lord is our Judge.  You, Lord, take the testimony of Your Witnesses, who dwell in us, and You vindicate us based on their testimony.

This isn’t anything new.  You did it for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that year that Nebuchadnezzar thought it was a bright idea to raise up a golden idol of himself and call all the people to bow down and worship it at the grand unveiling.  And here were these three young Hebrew men who had been taken as prisoners from Israel’s captivity and trained as “wise men” in the court.  But somehow, they kept their focus on the God of Israel and didn’t give in to all the teaching and the god’s of the culture.  Yet, neither were they bitter men.  I know that because of the way they spoke to the king.  Let’s go back and read from Daniel 3:14-30.

Now the mandate had gone out that whoever didn’t fall down and worship at the sound of the music would, at that same hour, be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace.  Well, when the music sounded and everyone bowed, there were three men left standing, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  And there were some “bitter” Chaldeans in the crowd.  Let me tell you why I say that.  These Chaldeans came to the King to accuse these Jews.  Now the Hebrew word used to describe how they did that is the word “qrat.”  Do you know what it means?  It means “chew up, devour.”  So the intent of their heart was “slightly” different than the intent of our three young men.  Now, these men were out for damage.  And they mixed truth with lie to enfuriate the king against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  They told the king that these men didn’t regard his authority and that they didn’t bow to the image.  The truth is that they didn’t bow.  But believe me, these men understood totally and respected the authority of the king.

So the king calls these servants before him, and he’s really ticked off.  Yes, he’s really angry.  “Is it really true that you don’t worship my gods and that you didn’t bow down to my image?  I’ll give you one more chance to bow down and submit to my ultimate authority or else you go to the fiery furnace!”  Now, listen to their response.  “King, we don’t have to take time to think this over.  We know our answer.   We serve One God and He alone is able to deliver us from your fiery furnace, and He alone can deliver us from your hand.  But even if He doesn’t, we cannot and will not serve anyone else but Him.” (my paraphrase)  There was no disrespect toward the king.  There was only truth about why they couldn’t bow.  There was only upholding of the Lord.  No bitterness.  No resentment.  Just obedience and love for God.  Just faithfulness to the One who is above all.

And what did that get them?  Well, Nebuchadnezzar thought it was getting them death in the fiery furnace.  He was so angry he heated it up seven times hotter than normal.  His fury shone and his face raged against them.  The furnace was so hot that the men who tied their hands and threw them in the furnace died instantly from the heat.  But behind the closed door, through the window, Nebuchadnezzar was amazed.  “Weren’t three men thrown in?  Look, there is a fourth walking with them, and He is as the Son of God!”  I think his “visage” changed again right then.  He called the men out.  He had to call them.  I mean, who could release them?  No one else could come anywhere near them!  They came forth, the three, unsinged, no smoke smell, the ropes gone.  Stop and think about that.  Who opened the fiery door?  Who walked where the others were killed only coming close to the fire?  Yet here Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego just come forth out of the midst of the fire.

Why?  How?  Because God was vindicating them.  And in vidicating them, He was vindicating Himself.  They had stood up for Him.  But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were just men, just like us.  And in order for others to see God, well, they have to see Him and not us.  Maybe that’s what vindication is all about.  Maybe it’s about us being instruments of showing who God really is.  But first, in order to do that, I have to see and know who You really are.  Well, these men knew and they stood up for the truth they knew in You.  And You stood up and showed that truth to be TRUE before a whole nation.

And look at the result of Your vindication done Your way by Your hand and by Your power.  “Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded thier bodies, that they might not serve nor worhip any god, except their own God.  Therefore I made a decree, that every people, nation, language, which speaks any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.’  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.”  How is that for vindication!  Not only were they delivered from the furnace, but Your vindication was a witness to the king and a whole nation.  Your witness, Lord, turned the heart of a proud king toward You.  And…You elevated the position of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Babylonian court!

Well, Lord, let me get that one point for today.  Let me understand that You alone are the One who provides vindication.  But let me also remember that my intent matters, the cleanness of my heart and hands matters.  And I think I want to ask You to remind me one more thing.  When I cry out for vindication, let it not be about me and my image that I’m worried about.  Let me cry out that You would be vindicated, Lord.  Let me cry out for You to be made great, for You to be proclaimed by my actions and my words.  Because it wasn’t about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, well, not in their hearts.  It was always about standing up and letting You alone be God in their life.  So let me follow in their example.  Let my life be about standing up for You and Your righteousness and all that You are.  Let me be willing to pay whatever the cost.  I want to trust in You no matter what is going on around me and I want to live in that trust.  And when others call me on that and try to knock me off that trust, well, Lord, vindicate me for Your glory as You give  me the strength to stand firm in You.

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