Thursday, February 11, 2016

What's a Child of God to do?

It's been awhile since I've written here, because life intervenes and, this year, those interruptions were pretty extreme. But, entering 2016, I've seen a lot of different elements coalescing into patterns. I see the fragility of individual lives and the power of hate, the fury of the devil and his cohorts; I've seen some devilish assignments against godly people and his vengeful attempt to "poison the ground", to destroy reputations and undermine the life-work of some people close to me who are dedicated to Jesus Christ. I see the ongoing rise of terrorism and, as the world contorts itself more and more into the twisted shape which Jesus describes as "the end of the age," I think it's obvious we're closer than we've ever been.

Well, duh - of course we're closer than we've ever been. Ironically, there are those who fall into the "everything will continue as it has" camp; they're the ones who will be most surprised by the end of the age; this is effectively described by Peter in the third chapter of his second letter, particularly verses 3 & 4:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

I appreciated a blogpost, "Why Pray About Terrorism?" by Doug TenNapel, written shortly after the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, in reaction to the cover of the New York Daily News screaming, "God Isn't Fixing This" and likewise another blog by Ken Ham - both ultimately shake their heads at 21st century American culture which, when it embraces God at all, too often embraces a God of its own manufacture, cobbled together out of carefully chosen nice-feeling snippets of scripture ("God is love"!) and pop-gospel and prosperity-gospel teachings which present God-as-Vending-Machine who will give you what you want if you pray enough, pray the right way, use the right scriptural phrases to demand this god do your will, etc.

But clearly that isn't the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of whom Jesus identified Himself as being uniquely the Son. Jesus not only knew the Hebrew scriptures, He embraced them and defended them. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17-18) Yes, Jesus was highly critical of the scribes and pharisees - because these were the men educated in the Law and responsible for rightly teaching others, but instead they'd revised it to suit their own purposes; look at the exchange between Jesus and the pharisees and scribes in Mark 7 for several examples.

It seems pretty clear to me that either God (YHWH as presented in the Hebrew scriptures and worshipped by Jesus) is Who He Says He Is and we'd best come into a healthy, wholesome "fear of the LORD," or we've been unraveling a theological sweater since "The Age of Reason" and soon it will just be a whole lot of yarn. So what do we do? If you claim to believe in God, consider carefully the nature of the God in whom you believe — if the words, "the God of the Old Testament" or "the God I believe in" ever come out of your mouth, go back to the source material, the basis for your belief and examine yourself carefully to see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5 - and if your faith doesn't conform to the gospel preached by the Apostles in the New Testament, on what basis do you believe what you choose to believe?

Because the God of the Bible has already "fixed" this, none of this is a surprise to Him and frankly shouldn't be much of a surprise to us. Oh, the details may be quite different from what we imagined but the core reality: a fallen world in the hands of a very powerful fallen creature, thrashing about in his last acts of rage and fury — that reality is recognizable. The days are shorter than they've ever been... so, people, get ready!

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