For most of us, using a password to gain access to something is a daily reality. We use passwords to log on to computers or internet websites, or to withdraw money from our bank accounts. Passwords are sometimes required to get into an exclusive club or event. And life can get a bit complicated when we don’t know or forget these passwords!
The use of passwords dates way back to the period 1380-1050 B.C. which is often referred to as the dark ages of Israel’s history following the death of Joshua. Israel experienced seven cycles of sin, servitude, supplication, salvation and silence. In spite of God’s persistent commands and Joshua’s persistent warnings, the people chose to accommodate rather than annihilate the Canaanites, thereby surrounding themselves with godless and immoral influences. “A task half done is as useless as a task never begun!” Because of the nation’s compromising attitudes, God allowed neighboring powers to test Israel by war to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD (Judges 3:1-4). Failing these tests, Israel settled down into a downward spiral spiritually, politically and morally. Israel’s failure began with compromise and ended with anarchy. A lesson for all of us that we are to have contact with the world, but not to be conformed to the world (Ro. 12:1,2).
The book of Judges in the Bible takes its name from the 12 spirit-appointed military leaders the LORD raised up to deliver the nation during these dark ages of declension and apostasy with no central government (only a loose confederacy around the central shrine at Shiloh.) At one point, when Jephthah was the judge in Israel, in contrast to a previous judge Gideon, Jephthah exhibited a proud “I-centered” attitude. The result was strife and war among brothers and long-lasting feuds (as characteristic of believers who have lost the sense of oneness in the body of Christ). The men of Ephraim were jealous of Jephthah’s victory over the Ammonites complaining that they had not been allowed to share in it. The Ephraimites mocked Jephthah’s people, the Gileadites, saying they were nothing but fugitives from Ephraim (Judges 12:1-4). Jephthah and his men attacked the Ephraimites and cut off their way of escape at the fords of the Jordan. Before anyone was allowed to cross the Jordan, he was forced to say the password, “Shibboleth” (a flowing stream). The Ephraimites could not pronounce this word correctly; they betrayed their identity by saying “Sibboleth” (Judges 12:6). Tragically, their jealousy and the civil conflict which resulted, cost the Ephramites 42,000 lives.
As costly as was this example of not knowing—or being able to pronounce correctly—a password, there is another password which is even more crucial for it involves our eternal destiny. In a sense, “Jesus” is our password to gain access to God and heaven. Peter, in addressing the rulers, scribes, and priests in Jerusalem (Acts 4:5-6), said, “…there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (v. 12). In the upper room, prior to His arrest, trial and crucifixion, Jesus had told His disciples that He would be leaving (going back to heaven, Jn. 14:1-3). Thomas asked how they could know the way to get where He was going (v. 5), to which Jesus replied: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (v. 6). Now, that doesn’t mean just by saying the word “Jesus” that we have eternal life and access to Heaven, it means to believe in the person, Jesus Christ, who He is (the Son of God, and God the Son), and what He did, died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins (II Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 2:24). “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all…” (I Tim. 2:5,6). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). There are many who use the name Jesus but haven’t entrusted their lives to the person. Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Mt. 7:21-24).
Not only is Jesus (the Person) the “password” for entrance to Heaven, but He is also the key to effective prayer. Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (Jn. 14:13,14). Again, this isn’t a just a formula to be attached on to the end of prayers, but means praying for the same things which Christ would desire to see accomplished. It is like using a power of attorney which a very dear loved one has given you. Jesus is the One who makes it possible for us to draw near to God and who brings our petitions before God. In the book of Hebrews, this role of Jesus is described in terms of the high priest of the Levitical order. The writer of Hebrews tells us: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession, for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
Christ is not only the “way to heaven” and to access the Father through prayer, but He is the key (password, if you will) to the entire Christian life. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). Every victory we achieve in our Christian walk is “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). If you have never done so, go through the book of Ephesians and underline every phrase “in Christ,” or “in Him.” You will find many! We have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing…in Christ” (1:3). Jesus, not just the name, but the Person, is the password we must know to have eternal life, and to experience the abundant life He promised while we are still here on earth (Jn. 1:10). Do you know the password?