I Must and I Must Now
Shine on My Steps

The Great Reversal

Father may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight.

You LORD, are our strength and redeemer. In Jesus' name. Amen.



A prophet, a psalmist, a Savior, and an apostle all attest to a great truth is today's scriptures. Wealth has no eternal value. It will fade away, or sometimes, be quickly snatched away.

Bernie Madoff enjoyed all the best that life could offer, luxury, respect, power, and unlimited funds - until he was caught. He had acquired his unjust wealth at the cost of many innocent victims. His lifestyle at the end of his days was dank and barren space in a prison.

For Bernie, it was a great reversal of fortune.

Yet, it was not fortune. It was an apocalypse, that is, an unveiling of reality and truth.

Amos begins with "woes."

Amos 6:1
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel resorts!

At ease in Zion. These are the folks who believe that because of their special relationship with God, that they are entitled to the best life has to offer. Furthermore, nothing will ever shake them from their position of entitlement.

To these, Amos cries,

Amos 6:4-7
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
and lounge on their couches
and eat lambs from the flock
and calves from the stall,
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
and like David improvise on instruments of music,
who drink wine from bowls
and anoint themselves with the finest oils
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

Exile, he warns, is their fate, and they will be first to go. That period of time, God's people, was a time of both judgment and redemption. It was a great reversal where the nation learned what it was to be deprived of privilege and to value what was truly valuable.

Psalm 146
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Do not put trust in princes, the psalmists sings. Trust God. God alone is the help of the people, God sets prisoners free. God restores sight. God lifts, loves, and restores. God watches over the downcast and the broken, yes, ever strangers, aliens., and all generations.

The LORD reigns.

The wicked are brought to ruin.

It is a great reversal.

Then Jesus tells a story of a great reversal.

He merges a Greek myth of Hades, the underworld overseen by a deity of the same name with a Jewish tradition of the righteous dead being gathered to the fathers. In this case, a poor man, embraced by Father Abraham. One tradition draws from the reality of revelation and the other from a pagan world view.

The irony is, that in this story, the rich man thinks he has a special relationship with Abraham, the father of his faith and that Lazarus, the poor man is somehow excluded and unworthy of attention.

Yet, when life is over, there is a great reversal. The rich man is separated and the poor man is embraced.

Let's let Jesus tell the story.

Luke 16:19-31
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.

He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.’ But

Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus in like manner evil things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’

Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

Without attempting to cover everything here, we notice a few things.

Lazarus' life is miserable. He is outside the gate, excluded, tormented, hungry, ignored, never called by name, hoping for crumbs from the rich man's table. The rich man, who is not named in the story, just passes him by.

In death, Lazarus has a name and a family. He is the one included. He is a true son of Abraham, He is inside. He is in the family.

There was a chasm before and Lazarus could not cross it to reach the rich man's life blessing and the rich man would not cross it. He loved his position, and privilege too much to stoop down.

In death, there is still a chasm that no one can cross. Lazarus may desire to reach the rich man, but cannot. The rich man still sees Lazarus as a member of the servant class, unworthy to be addressed directly. Send him to me with a drop of water, he asks Abraham.

"We cannot cross" is the reply.

"Well, then,. send him back to my brothers as a messenger."

"We cannot."

"They will believe if you do."

"I am afraid they will not, even if someone comes back from the dead."

Why, we ask, would they not believe?

What would they not believe?

They would not believe what Moses and the prophets had to say about God's enduring truth, about love of God and neighbor, about justice, mercy, compassion and righteousness. They were motivated by their own greed and pride and viewed all of life through that lens.

They will not believe that eternity is a great reversal. They will not believe that what we think matters most in this life matters not at all in the real realm of eternity. They will not believe that there are ultimate values that endure through and beyond time.

They will not believe that the real world is the unseen world.

They will not believe in ultimate righteousness, judgment, and truth or in the LORD of truth.

By now, the rich man wants his brothers to have a change of heart, mind, and direction, which is what it means to repent.

Abraham says, and it is Jesus' point, that they are too stubborn in spite of all the evidence.

we need a great reversal in this life to prepare for the great reversal that shall be imposed upon us by eternal reality. And it is not an easy thing.

Remember when Jesus painted the visual picture of the rich man being like a camel trying to be threaded through a needle? It was an impossible scenario.

Yet, when challenged on the impossibility, he said and I paraphrase, "With God, all things are possible."

So, we bring in Paul, to help us apply this truth with hope:

1 Timothy 6:6-19
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it, but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Pause in the reading: Contentment.

All of us are called to and enable to be content.

Real contentment comes from understanding our relationship to "stuff." We did not bring it with us to this world and we will not take it out in the great reversal.

Don't love what you cannot keep. It is the root of all sorts of evil.

It gets you in trouble.

It disorients your life.

It devalues the life of others.

It causes you to wander from faith and life itself.

It leaves you empty, thirsty for a drop of water. It causes you pain.

Be content.

But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Pause Number Two - Shun and Pursue.

Shun the junk and pursue what is of great value.

Have a reversal in your thinking. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness,

As you meditate upon and study these verses this week, consider each of these qualities. Contemplate Pau's benediction here and what it means to live in immortality and eternity. What does it mean to confess Christ? What will it mean for tyou to fight the good fight and take hold of eternal life with an eternal perspective?

That is your homework this week and for the rest of your life.

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches but rather on God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Final Pause - What if you are the steward of wealth?

Money is not evil. The love of money is the root of, not all, but all sorts of evil.

Money is neutral. In fact, that is the point the prophet, the psalmist, the Savior, and the apostle are iterate. Even the rich can have an attitude that great riches are found in God who provides all we need.

Some people are called to generate and manage great wealth, but Paul says they need to use it to do good, to be generous, and to share.

But their calling is the same as everyone else's, to build a sound and eternal foundation and take hold of the life that is truly life.

The message of the great reversal is that it is already here and it is coming.

It is a calling to have a great reversal in your heart mind, and life. In Christian tradition, we call that conversion. Jesus is standing before us calling us to turn from our turning away and turn toward him.

It is a great reversal.

It is possible at his bidding and he is bidding you come.

In Jesus, the Christ, there is forgiveness of sin, grace, mercy, peace, joy, and eternal life.

There is no need to fear being stripped of our riches, privileges, or life we we find those things in the arms of God. What we have in God, lasts forever.


Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.