At Easter time, Christians’ thoughts focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. In today’s meditation, I invite you to focus with me on one hour, i.e., THE NINTH HOUR. In Bible times this was 3pm, which for the Jews was the hour of prayer and the time of the evening sacrifice.
• Elijah, the prophet, prayed on Mount Carmel at the time of the evening sacrifice (the ninth hour), 1 Kings chapter 18 verses 36-37.
• Daniel prayed for Jerusalem at the time of the evening sacrifice (the ninth hour), Daniel chapter 9 verse 21.
• Ezra confessed the sins of Jerusalem at the evening sacrifice (the ninth hour), Ezra chapter 9 verse 5.
• Peter and John went up to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray at the hour of prayer (the ninth hour).
All of their prayers were answered by God; indeed, none of them were forsaken by Him.
However, when Jesus was on the cross, ‘at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’, Mark chapter 15 verse 34. Remarkably, when Jesus cried, He was heard but He was forsaken by God (El; the God of power) but NOT by His Father!
We might ask why He was forsaken. Psalm 22, which opens with this cry of Jesus, gives us the answer: ‘But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel’, Psalm 22 verse 3. He was forsaken because the holiness of God demanded it. The prophet, Habakkuk, says that God: ‘You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness’, Habakkuk chapter 1 verse 13. We cannot plumb the depths of this because we do not fully understand holiness. However, we rest on the truth that God ‘made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’. 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 21.
O wondrous HOUR, when Jesus Thou, co-equal with the eternal God,
Beneath our sin didst deign to bow, and in our stead didst bear the rod.
O wondrous HOUR! May our hearts just bow in thankfulness and worship for the Saviour if the world. Has His work though been in vain for you? Why do you resist Him when through faith alone you can ‘become the righteousness of God in Him’?