John names Christ the Alpha and Omega in Revelation, which is the beginning and ending of the Greek alphabet. In the twenty two letters of the Hebrew alphabet it would have been the Aleph and the Tau. This twenty second step on our path through the psalms is the end of the first chapter, but it is also the beginning of the next. Tau represents the form of creation which we experience as simple faith.
One cycle is nearly through and another about to begin. In the last lesson we saw a vision of the eternal King with a golden crown whose enemies were all destroyed. His trust for the Lord is the source of his strength and joy. Today, we begin with the words of Jesus as he hung dying.
22. Death and Doubt
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far away and my words go out into thin air? I cry out in the day and You donít listen, I pray at night and You donít hear. Yet You are holy and have the praise of all your people. Our fathers trusted in You and were delivered. They were comforted in their sorrow.
I am but a worm, not a man. I am despised and laughed at by everyone. They make faces, shaking their heads and saying, "He trusted in his God and look where it brought him." Lord, You are the one that caused me to be, You have been my hope since I was a child; You were my Lord before I was born. Be near me now, for trouble is close by and there is no one else to help.
Like angry bulls they surround me, they would trample me and tear me into pieces. I am afraid, my insides have turned to water and my bones wonít hold me up. My strength has withered and my dry mouth tastes like death. The foul dogs surrounding me have begun to bite. They have wounded my hands and feet and my bones are showing white through my skin. My enemies contend for my clothes and divide up my goods.
Donít be far away, O Lord, I need help very soon. Save my body from their violence and their henchmen. Donít let me be devoured and forgotten, You have heard my voice and have heard of my trouble. I will declare your name to my people, I will praise your name to them all. Those that fear You will praise You also, they will become your family and gain your inheritance.
You are not ashamed of the agony of your people and You have heard our cries. I will praise your name in front of everyone and I will give, as I am able, to those who fear You. Only the meek can gain from your power, they will praise You and seek for the truth and they will be sustained by your eternal heart.
The whole world will eventually turn to the Lord, all people of all nations will learn the truth. He made it all, it belongs to Him and He is its governor. The rich and poor alike will need to come to Him for life; all that live and die must worship Him because who can keep alive his own soul?
The seed is already sown, our children will hear of the Lord. The teachers will always be there, and declare the truth to every generation to come.
Why did Jesus cry out, ďMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Ē Was it because He was filled with doubt as death drew near, or was it because he had studied what we call Psalm 22 before he was twelve (Lk 2:42-47), and he knew what it meant? They were almost his dying words and they are a signpost to all who will listen.
"...I will praise your name to them all. Those that fear You will praise You also, they will become your family and gain your inheritance."
What a transition it has been from the image of the blessed king enjoying the favor of the Lord to the forsaken man: from having a golden crown and greatest blessings to being surrounded by biting dogs with bones showing through his flesh. The story led from Christ the King to Jesus on the cross, yet that was his path and it led to the salvation of all mankind.
Strange it is, no matter how many times we pray or go to church, or even have a good day; when the alarm rings and the Monday morning hammer falls we still sometimes wonder, "My God, why do I feel so forsaken?" We feel empty because we earned last night's sleep yesterday, and today we have to start all over. We are blessed and from us much will be required. We have to pay the price if we want to see the show and so we give our praises in thought and action regardless of how we feel because it becomes our will to do so.
ďThe rich and poor alike will need to come to Him for life; all that live and die must worship Him because who can keep alive his own soul?Ē
What have we to lose and to gain? What are the risks and what are the rewards? How ironic to live a lifetime missing opportunities for growth because of the fear of what is inevitible. In the Kingdom of Heaven death has been defeated: it is our desires and the habits they create that should be weighed and judged. The new law is the fulfillment of the old, that righteousness will survive and evil will pass away like smoke on the breeze.
Jesus gave up everything to give us a way, a door into the Kingdom. One day we will be asked to give up everything and follow Him on that path. We will have spent a lifetime doing and thinking and feeling in this world and the choice we make when we reach that door will have already been made. Right now we can break free of the past and become the person we would choose to become if we could; if we could only understand our true purpose. We are on this earth for a short time to learn how to live the eternal life we have been promised. Now is the time to pack up those old values that no longer work and pick the direction of our own choosing.