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" Falling on His Face "
    "And thus the secrets of his heart become revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will do homage to God and proclaim that God is truly among you." (1Co14:25)

    "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to Heaven, but beat his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner! I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Lk18:13-14)

When was the last time you saw somebody doing homage with their face to the ground? What? Likely Islam, where everybody carefully lines up in perfect rows, sticks their rears in the air, gets down on their hands and knees, and slowly lowers their forehead/s to the floor/ground... facing Mecca. For all their 'claims' to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, they bow with their backs to God's temple, while facing Mecca.

Anybody ever seen a person 'FALL' on their face? That's a different kind of event. That's an event where a person suddenly finds themself in the presence of 'royalty', in a culture where royalty stands erect, and servants grovel. If you've ever seen old Japanese samurai movies you may have seen it.

After WW2 a general call was issued by Douglas MacArthur for American missionaries to go to Japan. Japan's emperor had been declared "not a god", which fact had been 'confirmed' by Japan's defeat in the war. The General wanted to "fill the void" of Japan being without a god. When my parents went as missionaries I wonder how much was God's call, vs how much they were responding to the U.S. military General? As I was born over there, I grew up knowing Japan before I ever knew a thing about America. And in the rural area where we lived the people were more of the 'older ways' than city people might have been. I seem to recall a couple of occasions where somebody would see my dad, and would 'fall' to the ground, bowing to my dad. You know, part of the 'conquering' nation thing. As time went on and the people got to know us, it didn't happen that often.

But this 'falling' was a very specific act. It was not done slowly, lazily, as the Muslims do. It was done quite quickly. If you think of the Japanese word "hai" ("yes") (pronounced "hi"), only said explosively/quickly (as if "yup!") And then add an explosive pulse of air breathed or sucked in. The idea being that: We are in the presence of high-exalted royalty, and we must respond with due reverence -QUICKLY-, if not quicker...if it might be perceived that we were dilly dallying in our reverence, in the Samurai days we might get our head whacked off.

-THAT- is the feeling attached to "falling down on his face".

And 'why' is Paul talking about "falling on his face"? Before -WHOM- are they thus paying homage? God, Most High. The one before whom Isaiah wails,

    "Woe is me! For I am undone. for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts." (Is6:5)
John was the disciple "whom Jesus loved" and "leaned on His bosom" (Jn13:23) But when John sees a vision of Jesus in His full glory, it says...
    "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, Do not be terrified; I am the First and the Last." (Re1:17)
So, where does today's "church" come off thinking that dancing around sensuously, sometimes half-naked, raising their hands, and raising a ruckus in "party time!" is how they got saved?

Aaron "after he had made a molten calf. And they said, This is your god, O Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt! And they arose early the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, AND ROSE UP TO PLAY." (Ex32:4,6)

    "But with most of them God was not well pleased, for they were scattered in the wilderness." (1Co10:5)
If God didn't accept it of Israel, what makes today's "church" think it is acceptable? Oh, but "Graaaaaeeeeesssss" God accepts us "just as we are".


    "Take away from Me the noise of your songs; for I will not hear the melody of your lutes." (Am5:23)
It is in the culture of this sort of context that Jesus tells the parable of the tax collector. Last month we asked (in how many different ways) "how" a person is saved. Most of the items put forth were -NOT- how a person is saved...included amongst them was the "repeat after me" prayer.

But there -is- a 'prayer' by which we are saved. Salvation is summarized by the expression:

    "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ac20:21b)
When mankind sinned it was -God- whom he wronged. God metes out judgement. It is God's mercy we are imploring (praying for). But who is going to pay the penalty? We certainly cannot save ourselves. We are the sinners and deserving of death. On what basis are we expecting God's leniency?
    "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." (Ro5:6)
Jesus stepped in, died in our place, took our punishment, and as God saw the suffering of Jesus...
    "He (God) shall see the travail of His (Jesus) soul, and shall be fulfilled. By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant (Jesus) justify many; for He (Jesus) shall bear their iniquities." (Is53:11)
It is not enough -just- to "-LOVE- JESUS". What did Jesus say? Who is the one who receives justification?
    "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
This one, the penitent one, went home "justified".

And our attitude regarding Jesus Christ?

    "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those believing into His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (Jn1:12-14)
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