“ . . . LET IT BE RATIFIED IN HEAVEN.”
Today’s Scripture Reading
10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
11 “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,[a] your foundations with lapis lazuli. 12 I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. 13 All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. 14 In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.
15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.
16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; 17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.
As we have seen, the majority of the phrases in the Wesley Covenant Prayer necessitate that they be tied to either the preceding or succeeding statement in order to fully show the context and to identify the main idea. “Let it be ratified in heaven” is explicitly tied to its preceding phrase, “And the covenant which I have made on earth,” and can't be isolated in its main idea, which is that, while the covenant is made on earth, it requires God's blessing to be wholly authorized.
God's blessing is simply God's approval or God’s sanctification. This means, to pray, “let it be ratified in heaven,” is to prayerfully seek God satisfactory agreement that consists of mutuality and relevance. The Bible is full of places where people are soliciting God's blessing. The following show a number of places, just within the Psalms, in which God's blessing is pursued or mentioned:
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
19 How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
17 For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.
17 May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
When we pray, “let it be ratified in heaven,” alongside Wesley -- and countless other Christians past, present and future -- we are making certain to communicate that we know God is the one who sanctions any covenant that we might make, and we ask for God's blessing to make it so. We are one party in the contract, so to speak, and while our covenant might be genuine and sincere, it is only half of the needed equation in order for the treaty to be confirmed.
This understanding, of God being the confirmer of the covenant, is important for several reasons. First, it makes certain that we understand where authority dwells. we have a particular purpose and acquire meaning from our participation in God's mission, but it is God's mission and God reigns over our stated promises and God prompts our daily actions.
Second, praying, “let it be ratified in heaven,” accounts for the supernatural and mysterious nature of God. God does the ratifying, but God does so from heaven -- our future paradise. The Kingdom of God is both already and not yet. This notion is a key linkage in the Wesley prayer as it takes into account that Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God and that one day, the Kingdom of God will be fully consummated. Consequently, the Kingdom is already here, but not all here yet. We await all things being made new, or whole, and while we wait, we do the redemptive work of God in the world through the power of the Holy Spirit so that the earth looks like heaven.
Finally, when we pray, “let it be ratified in heaven,” we do so realizing that God is not only the sending one who empowers us to do God's work, but also the one who evaluates the faithfulness with which we do the work. Our work, while meant to be a witness to the world, is not evaluated by the ones around us; it is evaluated by God. Others may help us in our attempts to do the work by coming alongside of us for accountability, support, encouragement, and critique. Ultimately, though, God determines and measures the faithfulness in which we serve.
To pray, “let it be ratified in heaven,” then, is to pray knowing that the full authority for authorizing the covenant resides with God. It is also to pray knowing that, as we await a world made new -- our future paradise -- we do God's redemptive work. We know that God is the one who determines and measures the degree of our commitment or faithfulness in doing the work.
Do I live as though God reigns, as though God is the king of my life?
If I am half of the equation, how must I live to have a treaty with God?
We long for a new world in which we will dwell with you, God. We wait patiently but expectantly. In hope, we live with anticipation for a world where there is no darkness, death, or despair. Amen.
Read the passage from the Book of Revelation. Circle or underline the words or phrases that strike you or mean the most to you.
After you have read the verses, write a sentence or two describing what you are most looking forward to when paradise is restored.
22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
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