He Steadfastly Set His Face To Go To Jerusalem

Mount Everest from Kalapatthar.

Mount Everest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         There are times in our lives when we have to make tough decisions.

         We must decide to obey God.

         I remember hearing a relatively well known preacher several years ago make a statement regarding such tough decisions. In all honesty he said, “I’ve rebuked the Holy Ghost so many times…”

         What he meant, of course, is that there was no way what he was hearing was from God. It was too hard. Too difficult. Impossible, even. No way could it be God. He would never ask (command) me to do such a thing.

         But, of course,  it actually WAS the voice of God…

         Not only does the Lord have “hard sayings,” He also has very hard things for us to do at times. And this portends the theme of this article, that God, in all His grace and love, commands us to do impossible things that put our lives in peril and sometimes destroy our comfort zones.

         A lazy, lolling river suddenly becomes fast and filled with white water and giant boulders. But instead of simply getting over to the bank ASAP, the Lord directs us to enter headlong into the churning, violent rapids and commands us to ride the wave of the future.

         Right.

         These are some of the stepping off points in one’s walk with God. How many Christians are there in this world who are no longer real Christians because they refused such commands? How many are merely playing games, fooling themselves and almost everyone else in an attempt to live for God in disobedience?

         It can’t happen, you know. Would that you were hot or cold…

         You get the picture. Refusing God’s commands while claiming to be right makes one a veritable dab of spit at best and pool of vomit at worst.

         Yes, the Word of God actually says that. As Yogi Berra would say, “You could look it up.”

         The title of this post illustrates such tough obedient choices. The Lord knew all along He would make that fateful trip to Jerusalem one day and enter into the mouth of the dragon. He would drop His defenses, lose all protection, and become the object of not only the wrath of mankind, but the wrath of God.

         But how is that possible? Jesus IS God.

         And again, that’s the point. The strong must support the weak. The strong must do very difficult things on behalf of the weak. The strong must carry the day.

         Now, in English, the phrase Set His Face To Go makes no sense. We think it makes sense but only because we have discovered what it means. This phrase is an obvious example of a Hebrew idiom that found its way into the literal translation. It comes to us from the KJV translators and is over 400 years old. However, it is based on the earlier English translation of William Tyndale which is going on 500 years old. I do not think those people had any clear understanding of Hebrew idioms. Later translations give a clearer understanding in English. The following is from the NASV:

         He was determined to go to Jerusalem… [1] 

         Young’s Literal Translation states, that he fixed his face to go on to Jerusalem.

         The Hebrew idiom, from an original Hebrew Gospel, means that the Lord Jesus could not possibly be swayed from facing His fate. He was resolutely determined to complete His mission. He set His face like a flinty rock to enter the belly of the beast. This was not only sheer determination and willpower to do the job He was called to do; it was also the determination to face the greatest physical, emotional, and mental torture ever suffered by anyone in taking on the massive burden of our sins, and actually become sin on our behalf.

         He had every reason, in the natural, to reject such a trip. How could it be God’s will for me to face such a horrible fate? Anyone else would have found a way out, and would have justified his disobedient behavior.

         But not the Lord Jesus.

         He wasn’t thinking of Himself.

         He was thinking of you.

         So, we must set our minds at ease in that whatever difficult circumstances He is commanding us to undertake, He will never ask us to go to the cross the way He went to the cross.

         But we must go to the cross. We must be crucified. We must destroy our sinful and selfish human nature through real repentance and allow His life to course through our born again veins and arteries, and allow our hearts of stone to be transformed into living hearts of spiritual love and mercy.

         He made it relatively easy for us, you know. There is a place in each of us reserved for His Holy Living Spirit. The key to being like Christ, therefore, is not to engage in some ascetic attempt to be “holy” and Christlike through our own power and religious methods, but to unlock the door of our hearts, open the door wide, greet the Lord who waits patiently on our doorstep with a gracious smile and a loving hug, invite Him in, and give Him the best room in the house.

         Whatever price we must pay to get us to the point of accepting such a visitation is worth it, don’t you think? And so is anything else He asks us to do, no matter how scary or difficult.

         We must all Set Our Face to do the will of God. We must go to our own version of Jerusalem. We must swim across the ocean and ford every stream and climb every mountain (including Everest) and dream the impossible dream.

         We must sacrifice our lives in the greatest act of giving for the sake of His abundant life.

         It’s what people do when they’re in love.

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on June 16, 2012, in Real Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Wonderful reminder RJ, God bless!

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  2. Thank you, Patricia. Ride the wave!

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  3. Great post, Bob. I read your post before attending worship and Bible study this morning. We must be eternally committed to follow the call of Jesus… Whatever the cost… However long it takes. It will require sacrifice and step(s) of Faith.

    We had an excellent message at worship this morning on forgiving ourselves and others out of gratitude for the forgiveness we have received. The preacher used the Crossing of the Jordan (Joshua 3:7ff) in stressing the point that just as the children of Israel had to take that first step in faith, we have the PRIVILEGE of taking the first step in forgiving others. It is our response to Christ’s love in forgiving us in that we out of that same love forgive one another. It is up to us to take OUR first step… He has gone first, and we need not wait.

    It struck me during the sermon this morning that in a similar way, responding to God’s call requires our total, sacrificial, and confident commitment to taking the “plunge…” For His sake. It is our way of proving our Faith (or lack of it) by our actions.

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  4. Thank you for the good word, Don. I was just studying in part on the Crossing of the Jordan when I saw your comment. Joshua knew very well that forgiveness is key, as well as patience and humility. He was forced to wander the Sinai with the faithless for forty years, though he was faithful and ready to take the land. He served humbly under the leadership of Moses in that time. And he had to make a huge step of faith in crossing the Jordan River. All of this is what is required to defeat one’s flesh (the Sinai).

    In those times of “Steadfastly Setting Our Face To Go,” we must be forever courageous as was Joshua in overcoming fear and going against the grain of man’s wisdom and religious standards to do the greater work of God. Be blessed, my Brother. Onward.

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  5. Excellent post. He always asks us to do what on the surface seems impossibe and without Him it is impossible. But with Him, all things are possible. “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27. May you be blessed as you do the impossible for and with Him! Tom

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  6. Thank you, Tom. In our walk with God things start to make a lot more sense when we consider that we are often called to do the impossible, as you have stated, even though the impossible makes little or no rational sense. It is the same with spiritual warfare, that, once considering its possibility and more than that, its probability, puzzle pieces start to fit, and the picture becomes much clearer (Oh. So THAT’S why…).

    When the Lord determined to go to Jerusalem to face His fate, He was most likely the only Person on the planet that understood it. It made little sense to anyone else, especially His own trained disciples. Years later, the apostle Paul had to do the same thing, go to Jerusalem under very questionable circumstances, though everyone was begging him not to go. Following the Lord often takes great courage and an apparent disposal of reason. Yet, great things await on the other side of “Setting One’s Face To Go…”

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  7. Great post! There’s no room for “wimpy” Christianity here – not if we want to be in the place of blessing and realization of what it means to have “Christ in us” – being conformed to Him through the work of His Holy Spirit.

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    • I appreciate it, Marcy. And right you are.

      The thing we sometimes miss in our walk with the Lord is that we put too much pressure on ourselves and others and lose track of the giant role our Savior plays in whatever “impossible” or challenging situation we are faced with or called to perform within. Paul said we can do ALL things through Messiah Jesus who strengthens us. That is the answer. His indwelling presence is made more powerful and free as we ride shotgun and get out of the driver’s seat.

      In reading the accounts of powerful great awakenings and revivals, the one key component to allowing the Lord to manifest His glory and miraculous power is our own repentance and humility, and recognition of our “wimpiness” without Him. Yet, traditional institutional Christianity still refuses to let the Lord Jesus be in charge, and the pitiful, ridiculous, and lack of “Book of Acts results” are obvious.

      When Christians “Set Their Face” to go to the cross, resurrection LIFE is released…

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  8. Great post and response Marcy and Bob. Prostrate before the Father with an open heart, He Fills us and Wills us… All fear and “wimpiness” vanishes… Resurrection Power is ours. Blessings Flow… What a Joy.

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  9. Many thanks. May the Lord Jesus be glorified among His people, and may the full expression of His love and power come to pass. The Great Awakening is in process…

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  10. Great post! The main character in my books (and this is how the Lord told me to write it), always prays like King David…flat on his belly with his arms outstretched to show total humility before God!

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  11. Thank you, Lyn. And thanks for the visit. There is no doubt that humility is a door, as David discovered. Keep up the good work!

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