Monthly Archives: February 2009
A couple of days ago, I received a flier in the mail, an invitation to a prophesy seminar. Now, not too many years ago, I entertained a fascination with the whole The Late, Great Planet Earth, Left Behind phenomenon. I believed there would be an Advent 1.5 seven years prior to the ‘real’ Second Advent. I believed Christ would perform, as a cheeky someone whose name I do not recall once said, a ‘touch and go’ to extract the church from the world before the great tribulation. The church would be spared ‘the great suffering’ . I accepted the whole peculiarly American contemporary evangelical rapture theology, a theology of costless entitlement, without much question.
I want to state up front that in no way, shape , or form do I question the intent, character, motives, or sincerity of those who sent this invitation to this seminar. I also want to state that there are many godly men and women who accept this eschatology. Sophisticated, I ain’t, and all that being said, I think most would have to raise an eyebrow at the images from the flier below.
I think that this view of Christ’s return forces a focus on current headlines rather than the Word. Perhaps more accurately, it forces Scripture to be interpreted in the context of current news, a lens far removed from the context of the original readers through which Scripture is to be first understood. I also think this eschatology is a bit dangerous because it infers that the contemporary Church will not have to suffer tribulation as history approaches closure. Think about the persecuted church through history; think about those Christians in the third world, in Islamic countries, in China, in this day and age, who are being martyred for their faith in Christ. Where is their ‘rapture’ from tribulation? So much could be said on the subject.
In closure, as I read and study the Word, I am moving more to an amillennialist eschatology. I also look forward with great anticipation the return of my King, our mighty Redeemer and Saviour, Christ Jesus. His return may occur within the next heartbeat or long after I pass on, but I long to see my Saviour. Whatever your eschatology, I hope you, too, long for the Lord’s return.
…by John Piper to arrive at my doorstep in 3 to 21 days. Hope its closer to 3 than 21. Started reading Portraits of Christ in Genesis by Dr. DeHann, hidden away and unread in my modest library, a few days ago, a title written circa 1965 if memory serves. Don’t know much about this guy, but so far, the book is quite engaging and, not surprisingly as per the title, Christ-centric. His exegesis on Adam’s partaking of the forbidden fruit as an act of sacrificial love towards now fallen Eve, an act portrayed as an archetype, a protevangelium, of Christ’s redemptive love for His bride, His church, is an ‘interesting’ and honestly quite lovely take on the third chapter of Genesis. To tightly encapsulate, Dehann sees that Eve, after being deceived by the snake and partaking of the forbidden fruit, is now lost, under the sentence of death while Adam, at the time, is still a son of God (Luke 3:38) Adam, in his profound love for her, sees that Eve’s only hope is to “lower himself to her level, assume her guilt, become partaker of her sin and condemnation, and then, the separation between them being removed, he could become the father of her seed.” Later, he states that Adam, while not being deceived (1TIm. 2:14), “stooped to her level in order to save her by becoming the only one who could bring forth the seed of the woman – the Redeemer” As interesting as this interpretation of Adams act of rebellion as the federal representative of mankind towards God may be, does your eyebrow raise a bit at this unpacking of Genesis 3? Need to think about this a bit more…I’ve never seen the text as an allegory of Christ’s sacrificial love for His bride before. Not saying it’s correct or in error, just something new to me… and I am curious to know what others think of this view of Adam’s rebellion, if they have heard this interpretation of the text. I would really like to hear some comments on this.
Addendum on 6:28:09 – further elaboration: I have been thinking a little bit about this post. I am compelled to say that the more I think about the author’s obliquely positive take on Adam’s disobedience, the more troubled I am by it. In retrospect, perhaps any glossing over the impact of the Fall and Adam’s role in it, no matter how well intentioned, may, I think, tend to diminish or dilute one’s understanding of the impact of the atoning work of Christ, of the cross. Haven’t had a chance to read much further in the book, but other that this aforementioned concern (and I honestly do not question his orthodoxy – even if an old-school dispensationalist -, it has been a very good read.
As an aside, a friend of mine asked me what I thought of The Shack. She had just finished reading the book and quite enjoyed it. Never read it, but have read reviews of the book written by people whose judgment I trust. I did not go into any great detail about my reservations about The Shack (not the time and place…busy day at work), but I did later print out for her Tim Challies excellent review of the book. Let me tell you, Christian bookstores can be a potential minefield for the unwary.
I really thought these videos were just too funny…and, after an epiphany of sorts, I see them somehow connected…
“…what better fish to learn from than a fellow mammal…”
From the latter video….After being struck by an ‘existential epiphany’, Fred Taylor asks the ref, “What meaning can life have if the future can be dictated by the random chance of this coin? Existence is a vulgar absurdity.” To which the Onion News commentator responds, “You can’t just wise off to a ref like that…especially at the start of the game.” The other commentator states that “coach Del Rio chewed Talyor out telling him to quit pondering the inconsequence of being in the universe governed by chaos and just play some football.”
Further along, “Those fans must have been furious.” “Well, they were upset. No one likes to be told they were just specks of dust floating through the the universe without purpose.”
“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
This was a surprising question coming from John the Baptist.
It’s unclear exactly when John first consciously knew that Jesus was the Son of God, whose way he had come to prepare. The Apostle John quotes him as saying, “I myself did not know him” (John 1:31) around the time he baptized Jesus.
This is remarkable because John’s mother, Elizabeth, had known. She knew because John announced it to her in utero by leaping when she heard Mary’s voice. Was she not allowed to tell him? We don’t know. Regardless, John had known even before he knew.
What is clear is that when the revelation came it was an overwhelming experience for John. That day, when Jesus approached him at the Jordan near Bethany, John couldn’t contain the shout: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” With awe and trembling hands he had baptized his Lord. And then saw the Spirit descend and remain on him.
That day had also marked the beginning of the end of his ministry. From that point he had joyfully directed people away from himself to follow Jesus. And they had.
Now he sat in Antipas’ filthy prison. He had expected this. Prophets who rebuke sinful kings usually do not fare well. Unfortunately, he had not been an exception. Herodias wanted him dead. John could see no reason why she would be denied her wish.
What he hadn’t expected was to be tormented by such oppressive doubts and fears. Since the Jordan, John had not doubted that Jesus was the Christ. But stuck alone in this putrid cell he was assaulted by horrible, accusing thoughts.
What if he had been wrong? There had been many false prophets in Israel. What made him so sure that he wasn’t one? What if he had led thousands astray?
There had been false messiahs. What if Jesus was just another? So far Jesus’ ministry wasn’t exactly what John had always imagined the Messiah’s would look like. Could this imprisonment be God’s judgment?
It felt as if God had left him and the devil himself had taken his place. He tried to recall all the prophecies and signs that had seemed so clear to him before. But it was difficult to think straight. Comfort just wouldn’t stick to his soul. Doubts buzzed around his brain like the flies around his face.
The thought of being executed for the sake of righteousness and justice he could bear. But he could not bear the thought that he might have been wrong about Jesus. His one task was to prepare the way of the Lord. If he had gotten that wrong, his ministry, his life, was in vain.
But even with his doubts, there remained in John a deep, unshakable trust in Jesus. Jesus would tell him the truth. He just needed to hear from him again.
So he sent two of his closest disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
The affection that radiated from Jesus was palpable. Jesus was familiar with John’s sorrows and grief and the satanic storms that break on the saints when they are weak and alone. He loved John.
So he invited John’s faithful friends to sit near him as he healed many and delivered many from demonic prisons.
Then he turned them with kind tears glistening in his eyes and said, “Tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” John would recognize Isaiah’s prophecy in those words. This promise would bring the peace John needed to sustain him for the few difficult days he had remaining.
Out of love for his friend, Jesus didn’t include Isaiah’s phrase “proclaim liberty to the captives.” John would understand.
When Jesus had sent John’s disciples away, he said something stunning about John: no one born of women had ever been greater. This, right after John questioned who Jesus was.
In this age, even the greatest, strongest saints experience deep darkness. None of us are spared sorrow or satanic oppression. Most of us suffer agonizing affliction at some point. Most of us will experience seasons when we feel as if we’ve been abandoned. Most of us will die hard deaths.
The Savior does not break the bruised reed. He hears our pleas for help and is patient with our doubts. He does not condemn us. He has paid completely for any sin that is exposed in our pain.
He does not always answer with the speed we desire, nor is his answer always the deliverance we hope for. But he will always send the help that is needed. His grace will always be sufficient for those who trust him. The hope we taste in the promises we trust will often be the sweetest thing we experience in this age. And his reward will be beyond our imagination.
In John’s darkness and pain Jesus sent a promise to sustain John’s faith. He will do the same for you.
“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar of 1500-year-old, 200 proof grace—a bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the gospel—after all these centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your own bootstraps—suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home-free before they started. Grace was to be drunk neat: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale.” – Robert Farrar Capon
Psalm 3: Smashing Faces, Lifting Heads
Absalom stole David’s throne and stole from David the hearts of Israel. And David hightailed out of Dodge.
Overnight, David was tossed from his throne and hunted in the wilderness. Now he is pressed against a dark cave, listening in the distance for the sound of approaching hunters, enduring the heart-stopping responses to the smallest sounds, listening for the crack of twigs, holding his breath.
David cried out to God.
I fear too often the god I cry out to is a god of my imagination, fitted with padded boxing gloves, a stick for a sword, and a cap gun to make a lot of noise. He becomes a god who cannot break a sweat, and could never break an enemy.
This is not our God.
Our God is the lifter of heads, holding up the downcast, the discouraged, the fearful, and the hunted. But He is also dressed for battle, at war against sin, and fully aware of every enemy crouching in the bushes waiting to rise.
God is also the smasher of faces.
And as violent as this sounds, it’s under the shield of this God that David finally rests, being hunted but no longer in danger, shielded from the blows of his enemy, released from fear, released from the adrenaline kick that kept him watchful and alert, free from the worry that raced his heart, released from tension, sustained in God, now slowly becoming limp, a powerless body mercifully given over to sleep.
Perhaps because we fail to balance both sides of our God, we lack confidence in Him as our shield. And we don’t sleep well. We respond to the blows of life as if there is no iron shield to protect us, as if we are abandoned in the cave by a God who is too busy, too unconcerned, or simply too incapable to help us.
The god who cannot break his enemies is a god who will not comfort the fear-filled.
Among a thousand worries we are safe in Him. And if this is our God we have no cause for fear. No longer do we need fear over the economy, worry over personal finances, and toss and turn all night in the sleepless tumult of tension, worry, hypotheticals, and the fear of the unknown.
This Psalm teaches me a simple lesson: God is both the One who lifts heads and breaks teeth. A powerful, sustaining, defending God like this can remove all fear. He is strong enough to spread a blanket of sleep over the foxhole of life.