Sunday June 13 2021

A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS

Isaiah 51:10:

“Are You not the One who dried up the sea,

the waters of the great deep.

That made the depths of the sea a road

for the redeemed to cross over?”

There was a popular song of the early 70’s that spoke of a bridge over troubled waters.

Aretha Franklin took this Simon and Garfunkel song to church giving credence to the “bridge” of the song as a metaphor for “The Bridge” of our faith. Below are the lyrics.

“When you’re weary feeling small, when tears are in your eyes,

I’ll dry them all, I’m on your side.

Oh, when times get rough and friends just can’t be found,

Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down.

Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out, when you’re on the street;

When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you.

I’ll take your part. Oh, when darkness comes and pain is all around,

Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down;

Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down.

Sail on silver girl, sail on by. Your time has come to shine.

Oh, if you need a friend, I’m sailing right behind.

Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will ease your mind.

Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will ease your mind.” 1

Christ is our bridge.

In the larger realm, He is our bridge between a Holy God and an unholy people.

As many of you are already aware, the Tabernacle of the wilderness was a picture of the ministry of Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Each item spoke of some aspect of His redeeming work.

The first glimpse one had approaching this structure was of the pure white linen fencing surrounding the Holy Place. It was a reminder of the holiness of God and of our separation from Him.

There was also the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place within the tabernacle proper. The message being, we are totally separated from a Holy GOD.

All activities undertaken by adherents spoke of our need for an Intercessor – an Innocent One – to accomplish what we were powerless to achieve. A Holy One to ‘bridge the gap’ between the sinner and the Holy Father.

This was and is Christ.  Hebrews 10:19-22 puts it this way:

“Having therefore brethren, boldness to enter into

the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way,

which He has consecrated for us, through the veil,

that is to say, His flesh;

and having a high priest, over the house of God,

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,

having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,

and our bodies washed with pure water.”

This passage is infused with examples of Christ’s ministry as it was foreshadowed in the tabernacle.

As one would enter into the grounds of the tabernacle, through the only entrance – “the door” – they would pass by the brazen altar, the laver for washing in pure water, move into the Holy Place where stood the table of showbread, the altar of incense and the candelabra, they would come face-to-face with a thick veil that acted as a separation between this Holy Place and the inner room – the Most Holy Place.

Within this inner room – the Most Holy Place – stood the ark of the covenant topped by the mercy seat. This is the place that GOD had established as His meeting place with the people of Israel. This is where the Shekinah glory resided – the glory of GOD – the pillar of smoke and the pillar of fire. This was the place of meeting with the most Holy GOD.

Only one person – the High Priest – and only once a year, would anyone ever be allowed to come near. The Holy GOD was separated from a sinful people.

The veil represented this separation.

All of the elaborate fixtures and ceremonies spoke of our separation from our Holy GOD and of our need for a mediator

Our access to our Holy GOD was strictly restricted. Only on the one day of the year – Yom Kippur – was the high priest allowed to draw near on our behalf.

Cleansed and purified during days of his preparation with washings and prayers, the high priest would venture in under the veil of separation.

He would carry for us the blood of the innocent sacrifice and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat as a covering for our sins.

Only a covering – never a removal – of our sins for a season. This action spoke of the ultimate shedding of the blood of the Perfect, Pure, Innocent, Lamb of God, soon to be shed upon Calvary for the eternal removal, for all time, of the sins of the world.

And the “whosoever will,” who accessed this gift of grace through faith in this the finished work of Jesus, would enjoy a freedom and a renewed fellowship.

The believer now has a “boldness” to enter into this Holy Place. One by one each of us in our own time, each personally appearing before our Holy GOD.

And our access into the presence of the Holy Father is accomplished by our “passing through the veil.” Listen to Mark 15:38:

“And the veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom.”

In the very hour that Jesus, the Lamb of God, died upon Calvary’s cross, the veil in the Jewish temple was ripped in half.

The access to our Holy Father was now made available. The “wall of separation” was removed.

And the action – the ripping – was from top to bottom, from heaven to earth. It was God’s work and not man’s.

It was due to the offering of Jesus, the pure lamb, and His precious blood that we have obtained a  “new and living way,” to enter into fellowship with the Father.

Christ is our Bridge to the Father. It was not through the offering of dead animals, but through the offering of a living Saviour.

Hear Isaiah 1:11:

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Says the LORD.

I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts;

And I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.”

Ritual had become meaningless. Hearts were not changed. Pride and selfishness still ruled. No one really sought after GOD. All had fallen away.

Something more was needed – in fact something more was always the plan.

1 Peter 1:18-21:

“For as much as you know you were not redeemed with corruptible things,

as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish or spot,

Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world,

but was manifested in these last times for you.

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead,

And gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”

It was always known and planned that only the blood of Christ was sufficient to remove our sin. The sacrifices of animals was but a foreshadow of what Jesus would accomplish for us.

And for those of us who believe in what God has said and done, in raising Jesus from the dead, which gives us the confidence and the hope in this finished work of redemption, we now possess through this our faith, a hope and a future and a fellowship with our Holy God.

Jesus our Bridge over troubled waters.

And now returning for one further thought on the Hebrews 10:19-22 Scripture, consider the following.

Where once the High Priest sprinkled blood of animals on a mercy seat, now, this verse tells us that we can “draw near with a true heart and in full assurance of faith” because our hearts have been sprinkled with the blood of Christ!

And our bodies have been washed in pure water so that we are now cleaner than any previous High Priest could hope.

Where once, the blood of dead bulls was sprinkled upon a metal mercy seat, now the blood of a living Christ is sprinkled upon our once-dead hearts.

And the results are life altering – we no longer wrestle with “an evil conscience.”

Christ is our Bridge. Scripture states this in another way. Consider the following.

Romans 3:25

“Whom [Jesus] God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,

to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past,

through the forbearance of God.”

Again from 1 John 2:2

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only,

but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Then once more from 1 John 4:10

“Here is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us,

and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Jesus is our propitiation. Here is what this word means.

It is related to an appeasing or expiating action, having placating  force.

“It is a picture of the cover on the ark of covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of  the expiratory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which was merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God, by this ceremony, was appeased and their sins expiated); hence the mercy seat, the expiation, the propitiatory.2

Christ, the Bridge, the Go-Between, The Gap-Strider.

Christ is our Mediator.

“But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry,

by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant,

which was established upon better promises.”

(Hebrews 8:6 KJV)

“And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament,

that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions

that were under the first testament, they which are called

might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

(Hebrews 9:15 KJV)

“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,

and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel.”

(Hebrews 12:24 KJV)

These verses tell us that Christ is the Mediator between the Old Testament – first testament – and the New Testament – better covenant.

For Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:17:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets:

I am not come to destroy but to fulfil.”

Jesus, our Bridge and Mediator between God and man. Hear 1 Timothy 2:5.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men,

The man Christ Jesus.”

There is a painting by William C. Ressler that pictures the cross of Christ as our bridge over troubled waters. 3

 It can be viewed under the artist’s name.

 

I am reminded of a few verses from Psalms concerning the passing through (over) troubled waters.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah”

(Psalm 46:1-3)

In the opening lyrics of the Simon and Garfunkel song we hear the chorus,

“Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down.”

As troubles beset us, Christ promises to the that Bridge that will lay Himself down so that we can cross over.

He lays Himself down, over our troubled waters, and we pass over to victory.

This is suggested by the third stanza of the Simon and Garfunkel song.

The first two stanzas speak of trouble and sorrow and loneliness and Christ “laying Himself down” for our deliverance.  But the third stanza speaks of victory!

“Sail on silver girl, sail on by. Your time has come to shine.

Oh, if you need a friend, I’m sailing right behind.”

It speaks of the victory; of sailing atop troubled waters for Christ is sailing just behind.

Christ is our bridge over troubled waters and our guide through such troubles.

Early in the song He is our bridge who lays Himself down over troubled waters.  Then, when we experience victory it is our minds that are soothed.

We cross over and find peace – that peace that passes all understanding.” 4

Troubled waters are everywhere today. We face many such challenges both individually and collectively.

The world is a surging storm front. There is no peace for them, not yet, perhaps soon for some. Perhaps some will find The Bridge.

I am reminded of Isaiah 57:19-21.

“I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off,

And to him that is near, says the LORD; and I will heal him.

But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest,

Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked.”

Are you facing troubled waters?

There is a bridge over troubled waters.

Look to the Bridge and not to the troubled waters. Psalm 46:1-3.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains

be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,

though the mountains shake with swelling thereof. Selah”

Amen.

PASTORAL PRAYER

For our prayer this day, let us lean upon His word.

“The righteous cry, and the LORD hears,

and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is near unto them that are of a broken heart.

And saves such that be of a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous:

but the LORD delivers each out of them all.”

(Psalm 43:17-19)

Father God hear the cry of Your people; deliver each of us out of all our troubles. In Jesus name.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

(Philippians 4:13)

We seek Your strength dear LORD to accomplish the tasks You have given us. Be our strength in weakness, and our strong tower. In Jesus name.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.

And GOD is faithful.

He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.

When you are tempted He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

(1 Corinthians 10:13)

LORD, You who understands the sting of temptation, the deceit of temptation, show each a way of escape – provide that bridge to victory, in Jesus name.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that you might have peace.

In the world you will have tribulation:

but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33)

LORD thank You for Your victory that allows we too to experience victory in Jesus name.

“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;”

(Romans 12:12)

Yes LORD, we will be faithful to Your guidance and direction. Reveal to each of us as the need arises, how we should respond to life’s challenges, knowing that You who called us, will equip us unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:21) In Jesus name.

“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God

through our LORD Jesus Christ: by Whom we have access by faith

into the grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of GOD.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:

knowing that tribulations work patience, and patience experience;

and experience, hope: and hope makes us not ashamed;

because the love of GOD is shed abroad in our hearts by

the Holy Spirit that is given to us.”

(Romans 5:1-5)

LORD we thank You for these promises and even though our tribulations cause us pause, we know and affirm that You will see us through them all, equipping each of us to carry this hope and Your amazing love to others. In Jesus name.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those that love GOD,

To those who are called according to His purpose.”

(Romans 8:28)

Thank You that You first loved us and as a result we can grow in our love for You. Thank You also that we have been called according to Your purpose and so we acknowledge that all things are indeed working to our good. In Jesus name.

“Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; knowing this,

That the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work,

that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.”

(James 1:2-4)

Complete Your work in each of us LORD. We determine to remain upon Your potter’s wheel until Your work in us is complete and we stand before You as perfect shinning vessels, prepared to take Your glory to others. In Jesus name.

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.”

(1 Peter 5:7)

We cast our cares upon You dear LORD. We thank You that You will never let any go. You know Your sheep, You know our voices, You know our names. In Jesus name.

Dear Jesus thank You for listening. Thank You for being our most Holy High Priest. Thank You for being our propitiation. Thank You for being our Mediator between us and Father God.

Thank You for being our “Bridge over troubled waters.” In Jesus name, Amen.

1  Simon and Garfunkel A Bridge Over Troubled Waters 1970

2  Blue Letter Bible Propitiation

3  William C. Ressler Painting Cross of Christ

4  Bible Philippians 4:7

 

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