• David Osteen

Maximum Shock Value

The Lord has made Himself known in some absolutely incredible ways. So incredible that I’d likely use the word “unbelievable” in the figurative sense if it weren’t for the fact that some would take it literally. These were events that were so “shocking” that the aftershocks were to reverberate throughout the generations of mankind upon this earth until its very end.

Take for example the flood (Genesis 6&7). Out of the thousands of people alive on the earth at the time of the flood, all were destroyed but eight. Those eight were led by one man of faith who built a massive ark. God preserved these upon this massive ves-sel and then sent the waters. Waters from above and waters from below, ravaging the earth for 40 days and 40 nights, unlike anything the earth had seen before or would see again until its destruction by fire in the judgment (II Peter 3:1-12). The Lord baptized this terrestrial ball in a way that has been imprinted upon the human psyche ever since. Four thousand years later people are still talking about the flood, and after the rains, when we look up into the bow-filled sky we see the ever-present mark of His promise. Why? So that we would never forget. I don’t know how much more incredible the story of Noah and the ark could be, but it seems the Lord used the “maximum shock value” so that mankind might “never forget”.

“Never Forget” is a slogan that most in the United States should know quite well. It was the slogan that echoed across this land when it seemed for one day at least, we were no longer a country divided, but a country united, by the terrible events of 9/11. That day there was no republican or democrat, there were no red, or yellow, or black, or white people, there were no rich or poor, there was no division—there was simply unified horror, and a unified resolve, to rise up in the face of such tragedy and terror, as “one nation”… we pledged that the shock wave that reverberated through out our nation on that day was a time that we would “never forget”. We would be more vigilant. We would be more proactive. We would be more united. The terrorists, by hijacking planes and crashing them into the Twin Towers of New York City and the Pentagon, they were going for “maximum shock value”. The events live on in the hearts and minds of those who lived through them. We remember.

The chosen people of the Lord were a nation of over a million people living in captiv-ity in Egypt under harsh and cruel pharaohs. One such foolish Pharaoh mockingly retorted to the Hebrew Moses, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2) The Lord made sure that the Pharaoh would know who He was—without any doubts! The Lord instituted a series of progressive plagues upon the land of Egypt that would build and build and build the knowledge of who the Lord was, what His power was, what His authority was, and exactly why all should obey His voice! Though time and time again Pharaoh rebuffed total submission to the Lord, the final plague, the loss of the firstborn in every household of the Egyptians, this was the plague of “maximum shock value”. It was this plague that broke the hard-hearted Pharaoh into pieces of sorrow and humility… and he let the people of Israel go; where the Lord immediately followed the plague with a miracle of “maximum shock value” when He parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14). What the Lord did was known, not just in Egypt, and not just in Israel, but the reports of it went throughout all the land, so that all came to know the Lord; so that all would remember, and never forget—even from generation to generation—who the Lord was, and is, and will always be. (Joshua 2:10; Psalm 78)

The bible is filled with many stories like this: Amazing! Incredible! Awesome! Shocking stories that leave an impression upon the heart of the hearer. But there is perhaps no story more shocking, than that of the love of Jesus Christ. Deity, coming to earth in the flesh, born of a woman, raised as a man, living, healing, teaching, touching, and dying for the lives of the very creation that rejected Him in a horrific manner of “maximum shock value”. How could we do this to the son of God? Or better yet, how could He do this for us? We who are so undeserving. We who are so worthless. We who have nothing by comparison to give in return. What grace! What mercy! What forgiveness! What compassion! Is there anything more shocking… than His love? The only thing more shocking... is not loving Him back. Do You?

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