The A&E television series Intervention will start a new season tomorrow. The story line is pretty much the same every episode: a bunch of people come together to stage the rescue of a hapless family member whose substance abuse and/or prostitution to support their addiction has brought them to the edge of a precipice.
In short, it’s a televised last-ditch effort to save somebody from the grave. Invariably, the person at the center of the intervention insists they don’t need help. Sometimes they relent and accept rescue. Other times, they tell their family members to go to hell and walk away.
It would be tempting to judge these people as whacked and to congratulate myself for not being “like them” – were the show not so graphic a depiction of the human condition.
At our core, we all are fatally addicted to sin; we can’t help ourselves. To quote T.D. Jakes, “There is no human remedy for sin.” Each of us needs Divine Intervention. Yet, like the church in Laodicea, we live in denial.
You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Rev 3:17
Search the Bible and you’ll find one helpless sinner after another and a God who stands ready to intervene.
Consider two snapshots:
- In Ezekiel 37, the prophet stands in a valley of dry bones. These bones belong to the long dead, bleached by the sun, brittle, disconnected. God asks the question: Can these bones live? From a human perspective, they’re hopeless. But the question is being asked by God with Whom nothing is impossible. So the prophet replies: “Lord, you know.”
The bones can do nothing for themselves. God takes the initiative. He does all the work.
He tells the prophet to speak to the bones these words: I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
Then God does what He says right there, right then. The image is of God opening the grave, calling out and reassembling a bunch of raggedy skeletons and speaking life to them so that they stand upright, a living, breathing, mighty army.
- In Zechariah 3 Joshua the high priest is standing before the Angel of the Lord in filthy robes. Filthy as in: vile, dishonored, morally defiled, unclean. Picture a priest standing in a holy place before a holy God to perform some religious ceremony while wearing clothes covered in excrement. Despicable. Beside him, ready to accuse him, is satan himself.
“Look at this guy,” satan is prepared to say. “He isn’t fit to serve God. He doesn’t deserve to be here. Look at him; he’s nasty, full of sin.” Joshua stands mute. He can say nothing in his own defense. The charge is true. The Lord Himself rebukes satan. The Lord gets the filthy robes removed from Joshua and gives him new, clean clothes.
This is the human situation before God. Dead, filthy, justly accused, hopeless without the work of Christ on the Cross. That work is The Ultimate Intervention, and that’s worth contemplating during this season of Lent.