True Comfort

I began reading Isaiah 40 devotionally looking through the Hebrew text and found it too rich with meaning to slice off more than 8 verses before stopping to record this meditation. 

Scholarship remarks:

So far as the language is concerned, there is nothing more finished or more elevated in the whole of the Old Testament. … He [Isaiah] no longer has his foot upon the soil of his own time, but is transported… even the language retains an ideal and, so to speak, ethereal character. … It commences with a prophecy, which gave to John the Baptist the great theme of his preaching. It closes with … the creation of a new heaven and new earth, beyond which even the last page of the New Testament cannot go. And in the center the suffering and exaltation of Christ are proclaimed as clearly, as if the prophet had stood beneath the cross itself, and had seen the risen Savior. … Throughout the whole we never meet with a strictly messianic prophecy; and yet … [Isaiah’s words] have more Christological depth than all the messianic prophecies taken together. [“Commentary on the Old Testament In 10 Volumes,” C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, vol 7] p. 129-130.

Translations [unless otherwise specified, I use the NIV here.] are challenged trying to translate the text; so that, we might fail to appreciate the theological thought that gave this book its designation as the “fifth gospel.”

There are phrases written multiple times for an emphasis that should give us pause to reflect often on its meaning.  By the Holy Spirit’s direction, we need to capture at least some of the passion of God, some sense of His burden for His people!  Isaiah begins here:

  • Verse 1 “Comfort …comfort..” The word “comfort” could also be translated “pity” but no version of the text uses “pity” not even the Greek! So we will go with “comfort.” Spoken twice this thought carries a sense of urgency, a sense of burden, a sense of intense desire. We are to find hope and comfort in the following verses.
  • Verse 2: “that her sin [Israel’s ..AND OURS, too] has been paid for…” “Paid for” [Leviticus 26:41, 43]. The word speaks of finding pleasure, being pleased, finding acceptable the level of punishment for sin. Isaiah calls it twice meted out.”
    • What pleases Him here? Is it not the fact that through the provision of Calvary there will come an end to their unfaithfulness and misery in sin?
    • The Lord is saying that Israel’s punishment will amount inevitably to a double payment for her sins: once because of the misery inflicted on her for her unfaithfulness to God (in captivity) and then with the Savior’s death. (It is reasonable to imagine that God has nothing else on His great mind and heart but the plan of the ages to redeem Israel and us.
    • We are drawn to Isaiah 53:6, 10. When Christ will have taken upon Himself the punishment for sin, there will remain, then, no more condemnation for those who are in Him [Romans 8:1]
    • God takes no pleasure in the punishment for sin, He takes pleasure in mercy. It is time to be comforted.
  • Verse 6, 7, & 8 Isaiah then relegates all man’s greatest moments to the ash heap of a forgotten history. Declaring our God the One and alone, the glorious redeemer, a voice cries out, “grass withers… [its] flower fades…. ….All people are like grass … Surely the people are grass” The word flower comes from a word meaning “to shine.” How men shine in their own imaginations …but these achievements in the light of the Cross are dying embers of a temporary greatness.  
    • Where is the comfort in the world’s greatest accomplishments fading like grass in the hot summer sun? How does one find the words when one has lost everything they thought worthy of their efforts? Outside Christ, we build no bridge to the future to make our lives better!? [2 Corinthians 4:18]
    • Our understanding of this text concludes that, outside our faith in Christ and His work, all we have done in this life will become dried up grass. [Psalms 1:4] The flower of our greatest thoughts withered and trashed [Philippians 3:8 “worthless and detestable”].
    • “the glory of man is so fleeting” – David Guzik

The Unspoken Language of the Soul

The prophet bursts into language unfamiliar to our ears  but somehow the unspoken language of the soul is given voice.

 
  • Verse 1: the phrase” saith your God” is peculiar to Isaiah. It is written as a future or as something ongoing as if to proclaim a divine comfort that is continuous. Does this refer to God’s ultimate source of comfort in Christ!? Prophecy often has a dual meaning: referring to a current situation at the time of writing and also referring to the incarnate Savior’s work. We cannot ascribe the term “temporary” to our God. “…the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Isiah 40:8.
  • Verse 4: The words “rough ground.” [“crooked” in KJV] means “deceitful” in Jeremiah 17:9 and “polluted, bloody footprints” in Hosea 6:8 and is used nowhere else in the Bible. “…rugged places” [“rough ground” in KJV] is also written only here. (not to suggest that the words are unique to the prophet but that the concept is.) The context is clear [Isaiah 40:3, 5]: the “way” has to be “prepared.” Christ’s coming is to be announced. His birth was proclaimed by shepherds and magi. His return will be with trumpet proclamation. [1 Thessalonians 4:16]
    • It is the heart that needs to be prepared. Nine times Isaiah in this section of His gospel (chapters 40-64) refers to The Lord as the Holy one of Israel. In Isaiah 40:25 God’s holiness is to be respected. He is our Redeemer [Isaiah 41:14] and the cause of our rejoicing [Isaiah 41:16]. The human heart needs to be prepared to receive His mercy. The rough places serve His purpose. [Isaiah 57:15]
    • I surmise that the places spoken of in Isaiah 40:4 are places difficult to traverse.  For most, life is difficult at best. The journey is hard because of our waywardness but God’s desire is to bring us to a highway or a path which will be a joy to walk called “the Way of Holiness.”
    • In general, the meaning”, says the commentator, “is that Israel is to take care, that the God who is coming to deliver … [them] shall find … [them] in such an inward and outward state as be fits his exaltation and his purpose.” [K&D. 142]
    • The Lord’s going to smooth out things. Going to fill in the valleys and bring down the hills. He’s going to straighten the crooked paths and smooth things out.” -Chuck Smith
    • And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. Isaiah 35:8

Messianic

  • In verses 3-5 the prophet announces the Lord’s coming. We know verse 3 prophecies of John the Baptist: “prepare the way for the LORD.” [Malachi 3:1] And here’s the comfort, verse 5:
    • “And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together.” 
    • I like the way Peter observes all this in 1 Peter 1:24, 25: For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”And this is the word that was preached to you.”
  • And I was surprised to read in verse 6 the word for mercy used in 241 places in our Old Testament and often referencing God’s mercy and kindness. The Psalmist in 144:8 calls God “rich in love [our word].”  The NIV chose to translate this word “faithfulness.”  The King James uses the word “goodliness.”
    • A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field (And since someone is shouting this message, we need a couple exclamation points to denote the excitement) !!
    • Our ability to show mercy is far insufficient to assuage the misery, or lessen the grieve of the painfulness of sin.  Mercy of another kind, a much more glorious act of kindness, would be needed to deal with Israel’s—and our—unfaithfulness.  This mercy has to be administered by a loving God … provided on Calvary.
    • “all their faithfulness [KJV goodliness] is like the flowers” [?] Scholarship says it “seems to signify …beauty.” [man’s contribution that beautifies our world; man’s achievements designed to better life but that will dry up like grass in a parched land. ]
  • Verse 7: Surely the people are grass.
    • “Surely” – means assuredly and is totally in Isaiah’s style of writing and thought. “Look up and be encouraged.  Let hope arise in your hearts!”  As our abilities languish in a desperate effort to survive the wickedness that defines us, God sent His Son, on our behalf, to show mercy, to give us a new heart and reconcile us to Himself.  These are comforting words.  Man’s glory diminishes. [John 3:30] but God’s daystar arises in our hearts. [2 Peter 1:19]

For our part? 1 Peter 1:17 “live out your time as foreigners here.” I am impressed with the simplicity of this encouragement. My life does not need to be special nor do I need trophies of accomplishments to please God. My life by very definition is a witness for good, if I live a holy life. No other personal achievement accrues to my spiritual benefit  [Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:16]

God’s accomplishments in and through us alone are significance in the scope of things. Jesus’ coming to die and rise again is the single event in history of any real meaning. As Dorothy Sayers said it, 

“From the beginning of history until now, this is the only thing that has ever really happened.” [Sayers, Dorothy L. The Man Born to be King. Page 290]

Whatever we achieve on our own should never be cherished above the touch of God upon our lives. Man’s glory fades while God’s Glory shines brighter and brighter!! The significance of the Cross is more glorious as we in humble dependence on its provision in simple faith appropriate  it for His glory …and leave the rest to Him.    

Verse 8 needs no commentary:

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. 

For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the LORD, “plans to … give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Therefore comfort one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:18

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Blackface & Identity Politics

It is interesting to observe the struggles a society put itself through when it fails to recognize and take to heart the wisdom of Scripture. The news cycles for the last week or so have been monopolized by concerns about white folk using shoeblack, burnt pumpkin and other means to give themselves a blackened complexion to mimic a black individual. Most, if not all, blacks have been understandably offended. This continues to emphasize—to many—the importance of identity politics where all Americans regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, social and economic status are legislatively to be treated as equals under the law. [President LBJ’s dream, The Civil Rights movement of the mid-60’s, interrupted sadly by the war in Vietnam.]

Such rights are already guaranteed in Christ for all believers who take seriously their inheritance in the Savior’s death and resurrection.   Identity politics is a non-sequitur for true followers of Christ because in Him these divisions do not exist.   [Galatians 3:28]  Christians who are true Bible believers are color blind, gender indifferent, and genuinely excited over the ethnic diversity that our God is calling together.  [Mark 13:27]

Christian fellowship is unique to true christians. God created this quality when He created the church. [Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:7] To be precise, grammatically, look at our word fellowship

…which … according to John’s teaching, consists in the fact that Christians are partakers in common of the same mind as God and Christ, and of the blessings arising therefrom. [Thayer’s Lexicon. p. 352]

By a use unknown to professional authors. fellowship in the New Testament denotes also the contribution as exhibiting and as an embodiment or proof of such fellowship [2 Corinthians 8:4]. (This language is far stronger, more emphatic and binding in principle than the Old Testament tithe, but don’t tell the preacher.) This definition of fellowship: sharing, contributing, partaking together of like Christian agape or love, “foster[s] a mutual love” according to scholarship. [Thayer’s]. Fellowship, as a concept, represents an acceptance or a bond of unity unknown, unidentified, prior to the writing of our Bible.

Christian love, in a sense, ignores cultural differences and at the same time embraces them.  These differences are not abrasive interactions to create a stress that breaks us apart. These differences become, in a sense only God could engineer, the glue that solidifies our unity.  We need the ministry we provide for one another; we come to thank God for the very believers that are so diverse.  Christian fellowship in God’s design represents a society that, we can say, defines acceptance in the absolute terms of the heaven we long to be a part of. It is the only real utopian concept reachable ..and it is only in Christ!

Christian fellowship is far more than social networking.  It is not a cultural unity that requires legislation to—may I say, artificially—hold it together. It is not only the recognition of peoples of differing lifestyles and views but the genuine acceptance and interest in these differences. We come to see these differences as essential to our own well-being! The burden of legislation to somehow control a clash of differences or offensive behavior has to be overwhelmingly unsuccessful, because the level of unity required is only guaranteed in Christ. [John 17:21]

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians [Acts 2:9-11] were all introduced to Peter’s message of the Cross at the feast of Pentecost on that memorable day in Jerusalem when the Christian church was born.  And 5,000 joined its ranks—suggesting to my understanding the very reasonable conclusion that this represents the diversity of the first church. 
 
We don’t need identity politics nor do we want them.
 

 

And so, what about “blackface.”  The answer is as simple as the heart that longs for this fellowship with God and others: Just don’t!

There are things that offend me and some of these things have not been sufficiently understood to know why I am so bothered.  But if I am, I am. And I appreciate believers who empathize enough to walk around these issues and keep me safe.  Whether its pork to a believer of Jewish practice or a shot of whiskey to a recovering alcoholic, or to me my many phobias and idiosyncrasies that make me a bit gentler to handle, we need each other’s fellowship as part of the healing—as the real expression of who we are together in Christ.

Blackface is understandably beyond inappropriate and offensive.  It is never the path to unity and fellowship. On some level mimicking, like sarcasm and trying to create a laugh, produces the opposite results because the “clown” in this case has no real connection with what he or she is attempting to portray. 

Other times, like crimes against an individual or a culture, it is painful to be reminded of yesteryear’s abuses. We do not want symbols paraded in front of us that recall the anguish of being abused, rejected, marginalized, or treated as an outsider by the very society we long to be an essential part of.

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. 1 Corinthians 8:13.

 

 

 

 

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Forgiveness

Consider the potential impact for peace of a religion whose founder promoted a wide-spread and unconditional forgiveness at the moment of his death—a tortured and undeserved death. Consider the testimony of one of the followers of this religious thought whose final words while being stoned for that very religion were, “Lay not this sin to their charge” [Acts 7:60] ..forgive them. Some critics tend to get swallowed up in the word “sin” as if in a philosophical black hole and never see the record for what it really is. Here was a christian wanting God, in keeping with his faith, to let go any retribution, any punishment, any vengeance, on the perpetrators of this vigilantism.

Modern day christians teach an eschatological forgiveness from God who, in their understanding, promised to leave them out of it when He returns to judge the world. They see this “no condemnation,” this acquittal, [Romans 8:1] from heaven’s court as forgiveness …and understandably so; since, they maintain the message of Calvary as documented in the Gospel record.

A brief overview of Judaism and Islam, the two other forms of monotheism, betray an absence of this central christian theme …for an obvious reason: In the historical development of religious thought, Judaism and Islam pulled up short of the Christian New Testament message of forgiveness. The dogma of forgiveness is uniquely a central tenet of Christian thought—not only the good news of God forgiving us, but a message of peace and reconciliation that encompasses our relationships with each other—and the fellowship and unity possible by that reconciliation ..and thus, the power of forgiveness.

Yes, God’s forgiveness is proclaimed for those who adhere to the rules and practices as written in the Tanach or Quran but not as a proclamation of a divine action by His death and resurrection. As Dr. Gregory Boyd, a professor at Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote:

There is no other belief which does this… Only the Gospel dares to proclaim that God was born a baby in a … stable, that He lived a life befriending the prostitutes and lepers no one else would befriend, and that He suffered firsthand, the .. depth of all that is nightmarish in human existence.” [Boyd, Gregory A. Letters From A Skeptic (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communication Ministries, 2004), 151.]

Christians should practice this message more faithfully if they want a solid testimony to their world. Gibbons in his work on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire made singular note of Christian community and love as the reason for its growth in its beginnings. And I can easily see how this alone argues for its reality and distinction in this current time of religious skepticism.

The message of Calvary, ultimately, is not simply being reconciled to God but being reconciled to one another. [I John 1:7] Christian fellowship, then, should display a level of unity that has no racial, gender, or ethnic element. “Fellowship” affectionately known also by its Greek term, koinonia, is the term found in Acts 2:42 at the birth of the church which even an English dictionary defines as “intimate spiritual communion.” There is no such fellowship without forgiveness as a tenet of a faith that unites not just us with God but us with each other. We should be one as Christ and His Father are one. [according to the doctrine: John 17:11 ]

We are believers?! Forgiveness is our  term! Forgiveness is our  doctrine! Forgiveness is the central theme of our  faith! We need to proclaim it in our actions. We need to recognize that christian love, [“deeply, from the heart” I Peter 1:22] is capable, without breaking, of stretching to cover a multitude of offenses. [I Peter 4:8]

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Forgiveness v. Atheism

Atheism maintains that all religion is debunked by the sheer fact that it lives outside any scientific measurement of authenticity. If we are to credit religion with anything, atheism says, it has to be the many wars, the hate, and … Continue reading

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Proving God Exists


The cornerstone of science is that true results are repeatable. But a little chaos intervenes at times to suggest we are not the guardians of 100% of the facts, whenever the same experiment offers slightly varied results. Still approaching a 99% consistency does suggest that science is discovering some natural law that governs the results we observe.



Science has troubling limitations, though, on its sphere of discovery. Not everything discoverable is within the range of its experimentation and expertise. One problem is with “time” and another is with the limitation of the human mind, “reason and logic.” Both of these are measuring yardsticks we use to measure scientific results. All scientific results are a measurement of time and clearly limited by our ability to understand those results. The “stick” itself is not fixed outside the experiment but is part of our experiment.

As Richard Vigilante puts it, “When baking a cake, we don’t measure the flour against the sugar or the orange against the vanilla. We don’t say we need two butters of bacon or three apples of orange. No, we use measuring cups and spoons from outside. We use measuring cups precisely because no one thinks the best use of a measuring cup is to bake it into the cake.”



Defining morality provides a simple example. We define morality to fit our culture or our own patterns of behavior. There is even a philosophy to discredit the concept altogether. What is normal of “us” has to be understood in terms of a majority percentage of those in our society. But should not a true definition of morality come from outside the culture—outside human behavior—say, as perhaps, God would define it: an absolute moral concept?  We will set aside for now the problem inherent in this approach, that such an idea introduces “sin” as a real concept and Calvary as a necessary historical, not just theological, event to rescue us from our immorality.  But first we need to maintain that God exists—which is the burden of this article.



So “time” is our measuring cup.  (Take a deep breath. I encourage you to read this section.)
Did you know that the meter is the distance traveled by light in a vacuum during the 9 GHz emissions of the ground state Cesium atom or the distance light travels in 1 / 299,792,458 seconds. What this is saying is that linear measurement is determined by time. Even kilograms (weights) are tied to a universal unit of “time”, Planck’s constant, which is energy multiplied by time used to convert quantum wave functions into joules per second. Just last 16 November 2018, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) voted to redefine the kilogram by fixing the value of the Planck constant, thereby defining the kilogram in terms of the second and the speed of light. All measurement is decided by some measurement of time. Even the value of money is tied to time. They call it interest. There are few exceptions.

But time is a measurement of decay, of change, of movement. ..and that’s fine as far as it goes. This doesn’t discredit science but it does place an eternal God—a timeless God, a God that does not change or die—outside its sphere. Grace is infinite and there is no entropy or waste. [Ephesians 2:7]



I argue that as with any mammal, our humanness defines the logic we consider logical, the reasoning we find reasonable. When there is not outside influence, no outside relationship, no outside law, we define the results of our observations based on our limited ability to make such observations and understand them.



We do not know someone exists because we see them because our eyes might deceive us. Anything from an apparition to a mannequin may look perfectly human to our sight. It is not sufficient. Seeing is never believing—and anyone who has had a picture doctored or who has been hallucination through drugs knows this well.

The true test of existence for anyone is the dynamic of relationship by talking to them, touching their lives and confirming the possibility that they are indeed alive.



God is outside our science. He is eternal and outside time. Science cannot measure Him. He is gloriously holy [Exodus 33:22]and is only visible to our logic to the extend He allows.

The humble will see it and rejoice. You who seek God, take heart! Psalms 69:32 CSB

Therefore He can only be known to exist through relationship, by talking to Him and touching Him in a spiritual sense. (We call it prayer.) And that begins with reaching out to Him …by faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

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Off Script

I’m [was] in my bedroom at the foot of my bed using my iPhone as a “kind-of” microphone. Reminds me of when I used to be in the pulpit and I couldn’t take back whatever I said, I couldn’t edit it, I couldn’t dig my way out of a bad comment or thought. We take chances when we speak “off-script.” I like to watch good movies and the movie is good if the script is good. I often put captions “on” just so that I can read the narrative to see if it is good. But when we go off script we’re liable to say things that are regrettable—unless of course as a preacher or pastor the passion of our hearts is somehow under the providential care of a guiding Holy Spirit.

It’s my opinion that in many ways the church is going off script. We are at times like fifth graders in the schoolyard arguing over the rules of some dumb game instead of learning our lessons. [I’ll leave it to you to apply this metaphor.]

We also spend endless hours following the narrative of the media, which incidentally is designed to control the nuance, to control our thoughts and our feelings.  The script that God wrote that should be understood through a life of prayer is not being listened [adhered] to.

God’s Script, His Word, is not the same message [as the politics]. In fact in some critical regards it is very, very different. It’s important to have our pulpit graced not only by astute men of learning but by men—and women, I apologize—who are hearing what [from] God … through times of earnest prayer and preparation.

I may sound argumentative. I may sound almost paranoid or conspiratorial but we are closing in on the last days, at least that is what we have been told to believe. And I believe it. We need to spend time listening to the true news, the prophetic news, that comes only from God.


My thoughts are commingled with the timely alert taken from “Christians In the Age of Outrage” by Ed Stetzer. Professor Stetzer speaks to the divisiveness in the civilize world that is generated and maintained by the political pundits, editorialist, journalists, and politicians who find the game lucrative and entertaining. Admittedly, we like watching a good wrestling match where the opponents slam each other to the mat. We like feeding the monster, this growing outrage, by allowing a non-biblical message to impassion us. But this is not as it suppose to be!

And now we are, or are becoming, outraged at anyone outside our tight-knit circle of interpretation, our chosen ideology, theology, or worldview.  …so, so  sad….

In his influential book “Not the Way It Supposed To Be,” theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. examines the two forces at work in our world: shalom and sin. According to Plantinga, shalom means “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight.“ In other words, it is the way things are supposed to be. —  page 90.

For all those who don’t buy into a “Garden of Eden” scenario, this beautiful Hebrew term, shalom,  is filed down to a meaningless, “Hello and Goodbye.” But as Professor Stetzer summarized:

We recognize that the outrage we see around us is merely the visceral reaction of the world estranged from its heavenly Father. — page 91.

The snake is back in the “Garden” and it is “…more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD  God had made” [Genesis 3:1] This slithering apparition unseen and unimagined can see multiple moves ahead while most human intelligence is based on a single—and often desperate—play for happiness.  But the serpent’s craft is overmatched by the prudence, the wisdom, in God’s Word.

Some of us may have even “culturalized” the concept of sin.  We have all but lost site of the biblical concept of idolatry: worshiping other things in God’s stead—of lending voice to controversy and division, of promoting hate instead of christian love, of making political bias our platform instead of the gospel message. Going back to Plantinga,

“…for the Christian church… to ignore, euphemize, or otherwise mute the lethal reality of sin is to cut the nerve of the gospel. For the sober truth is that without a full disclosure on sin, the gospel of grace becomes impertinent, unnecessary, and finally uninteresting.“ Page 107

Professor Girdlestone in describing sin said it this way:

The pictorial power of the Hebrew language is seldom exhibited more clearly than in connection with the various aspects of evil. Every word … is a revelation. …. The Hebrew Bible meets us with a full acknowledgement of [the] manifold aspects of human suffering, and blends wrong doing and suffering to a remarkable degree, setting forth sin in its relation to God, to society, and to a man’s own self…R. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament. Page 76.

This ought not be!!  I have to believe that you, as I, long for things to “be as they are suppose to be” [shalom]:

[God] will keep in [shalom: things will be as they should for] those whose minds are steadfast [fixed on Him], because they trust … [Him]. Isaiah 26:3

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The End of Money

Many christians long to dissect the book of Revelation to decipher its message in a modern context. We may, at last, be appreciative how events support the believer’s heart cry for the imminent return of our Lord. Natural disasters suggesting climate change with crop failures, mystery pandemics, and “signs in the heavens” which might be connected to the global satellites modern technologies are dependent on [Luke 21:11]; the dissolution of the traditional family unit [Luke 12:53], and an apostate world at war against the people of God in the Near East [Ezekiel 38:15; Revelation 16:11-16]  are all elements of this prophecy which now appear at least in embryonic form [I Thessalonians 5:3].

The coming sorrow is characterized by one more condition: The ultimate crash of a global market upon which all buying and selling was contingent.

“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore Revelation 18:11

Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” ’ Ezekiel 38:13

The prophecy speaks of the final end of “the love of money” or greed [Luke 12:15] which has traditionally stood in opposition to simple faith [Matthew 6:24]. As such the “market” must be seen in a biblical context in opposition to God’s provisional care.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…. Hebrews 13:5 NIV

 


The details of a collapsing market place could not even be imagined—let alone, explained—before globalization became a key concept. The globe has shrunken down into a virtual one country, one “peoples,” central marketplace.  The Stock Market has become active across economically poorer, developing countries in Africa and the Far East.  These are  known as emerging markets.  These in effect are dominoes just waiting to be toppled by a lawless greed.

Few still cannot imagine the prophecy gaining any traction since world markets seem to be expanding, but some economists may now envision the possibility since the civilized world redefined what money is. We went off the gold standard in ’71 and decided to put our future profits in “land.” Real estate is a limited resource with respect to a demand for housing. Buy old houses, fix them up and resell them for a profit. Sounds good but most people don’t have the business acumen or resources for it. So investors decided to make money itself worth buying and selling.

There is a new word to learn: Seigniorage. Money is now simply printed, bid on, and bought and sold like any stock, bond or other market vehicle. But what do you buy money with? Buy Euros with dollars or Yen with British Pounds, etc. The Mercantile Exchange in Chicago introduced currency futures as a derivative to hedge against large swings in the price of the currency of choice.

I picture the day when paper money (and specie) will no longer exist. (It’s beginning in Scandinavia.) Wealth will be only a ledger entry on possibly a “bitcoin” or e-currency balance sheet. Money always was three things: a source of wealth, a medium of exchange, and the standard of value. But this description no longer works.

Seigniorage is the profit from creating money. $5.3 trillion per day is done in trading currency. — George Gilder , “The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does” p.66.

Money as a measuring stick—a measurement of wealth—now is constantly changing [a floating currency]. The value of any currency now fluctuates with the market. It is no measuring stick it all.

Just a footnote here:  A free market or capitalism only thrives in a democracy which is culturally faithful to the rule of law.  Anarchy, autarky, and communism see an advantage in greed (which is the market’s governing passion) and does not have the moral or ethical fortitude to allow—or even want—a global prosperity to work.

The stage is near set for the seals to be broken and the prophetic scrolls of Revelation to be read by the Lamb of God at His pending return.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20

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The Magi

“Who were they” “why were they seeking Jesus” “what became of them” “why gold, frankincense and myrrh”?


Four meanings are found together in almost every age.

  1. A magician
  2. A deceiver or seducer [2 Timothy 3:13 uses a synonym.]
  3. The specific meaning of “a member of the Persian priestly cast.” they are the interpreters of special signs. An adherent of the religion Ormuzd-Ahriman. [Mithraism, of which I wrote extensively in my book “Challenged.”] “It is obviously forbidden to Jews to have anything to do with them:” [bShab. 75a.] He who learns from a magus is worthy of death.” Philo, on the other hand, saw the Persian Magi, like alchemists, as involved in a pre-scientific research.
  4. Astrologers were said to be “the possessor and user of supernatural knowledge and ability.” [Daniel 2:2 shares the Hebrew word borrowed from the Babylonians, “an astrologer ] The name Magi originally belonged to a high sacerdotal cast among the Persians and Medes, who formed the King’s privy consul, and cultivated astrology, medicine, and all occult natural science. — Lange


There is no means of determining whether the magi from the east in Matthew 2:1 are specifically Babylonian astrologers or astrologers in general. The former is more likely, since it is only in Babylon, by contact with the exiles, that the Magi would require an interest in the Jewish king or Messiah. Magi here means the” Possessor of special, secret, wisdom,” especially concerning the meaning of the course of the stars and its interconnection with world events. — The Theological Dictionary of The New Testament, volume 4, Page 358.

The gifts had both a practical—as a provision for the holy family in their impending flight into Egypt—and prophetic significance: “the gold to the King, the incense to the Lord, the myrrh to Him who was to taste of death, the great high priest.” — Theophylact,

Prof. Trench called these gifts “The unconscious prophecies of heathendom.”


??  …don’t know.  But as the saying goes, Wise men still seek Him!

 

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Of Heavenly Things

  • Eternity [I John 5:13];
  • infinite and unconditional love and forgiveness [I John 4:18];
  • a peace that knows no threat, no anxiety, no fear [Philippians 4:7];
  • a joy with unlimited energy [I Peter 1:8];
  • a voice that never tires [Revelation 4:8];
  • a song that is ever new [Psalm 40:3]

…we have no words for these! The language of heaven cannot be translated into our current tongue. The realm of heaven bears no comparison to our present sphere: …no sun or moon and no churches, [Revelation 21:22-23] Just to be able to look upon Him, Who gave all to get us there, will become a life-changing experience. [I John 3:2]

Still it’s fun to ask questions, some ridiculous, some silly, some serious enquiries, that need not be answered.

  • If nothing dies, what will happen to the clippings when we trim the rose bushes … will there be no rose bushes or don’t they continually grow? Will we grow?
  • And what if God’s idea of human beauty is 500 pounds, wrinkled skin, and white hair?
  • I plan to gorge myself at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Are there bathrooms? or is heaven’s ambrosia fiber-free?
  • Must God wipe away “all” tears? [Revelation 7:17; 21:4] What about tears of joy!
  • Will there be flies or gnats or chiggers there? Hope not! But I think dogs and cats are fine. [Romans 8:22]
  • The Bible mentions streets of gold [Revelation 21:21] but the pavement is translucent. Is it really gold? Gold—for that matter silver, and platinum—has no value there. …not to me! I think its a reflection of God’s glory off whatever is beneath our feet.
  • Are we going to drink wine in heaven!? [Matthew 26:29] Don’t tell the evangelicals and fundamentalists—unless this is just grape juice.
  • Revelation 22:2: One tree with 12 different fruit—not exactly genetically similar to the present morphology. [Genesis 1:11]

I should be permitted to expand my imagination into regions of truth I have yet to explore or realize. I should be able to dream beyond my current reality. I have God’s permission to hope for a tomorrow that exceeds all current expectations of happiness—though the details be known only to Him. [Deuteronomy 29:29; Acts 2:28] I like to picture what I cannot put into words: a mind and a heart that no longer knows the restrictions imposed upon them by this life and its weaknesses. [Hebrews 9:26] I have a right, given of faith, to conceive of a sinless world. How will things be in a theocracy under grace ..without law? The concept of “law” or righteousness will be defined  upon the heart! [2 Corinthians 3:3]

Since ancient times no ear has heard or perceived, no eye has seen, beside You, God, what You will do for those who wait on You. — Isaiah 64:4

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him. — I Corinthians 2:9

It is mostly a place that beforehand
We imagine in the words of a song
Of a promised though never explored land,
Where we know in our souls we belong. [2 Corinthians 5:8]

We are dreamers who share in the promise
Of a beautiful world to possess—
Though for many a sad, doubting Thomas
They must see to believe it, I guess [John 20:28-29]

It might seem whenever we’re hurting
Much too fancy a thought to be true,
But “a place” our Lord is asserting
“I go and prepare for you.”[John 14:1-2]

Oh! The discourse of men can’t explain this!
What assurance of infinite grace!
Words tied to this life can’t make plain this
Gloriously incomprehensible place! [Philippians 4:7]

If we try to interpret this picture,
This world in its wondrous array,
There is little, alas, in the Scripture
To redress any mournful dismay. [1 Corinthians 15:51

So whenever our hearts sink in sorrow
Our eyes are awash with our tears,
Let us cling to a hoped for tomorrow
When God will have quelled all our fears.[1 Thessalonians 4:13]

These are glories not seen but in vision
Of joys unimagined, unheard;
God’s promise is God’s sure provision
If we will but trust in His Word. [1 Corinthians 2:9

The Spirit encouragingly whispers
Of glories outside of this realm.
For us who by faith become listeners
Of wonders that now overwhelm, [John 16:13]

Be assured,  what this life must conceal,
In that moment, that one final sigh,
A new world God’s grace will reveal,
“In the twinkling,” Paul said, “of an eye.” [1 Corinthians 15:52]

We shall enter to dancing and singing
Wearing righteousness as a white gown
With heavenly accolades ringing
And eternal life worn as a crown. [James 1:12]

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I’ve Changed my Mind

I had found it emotionally painful and stressful to watch the cable news networks where most of the argy bargy is pure bilge—rhetorical expostulations, dogmatic flapdoodle and the vituperations of popinjays not journalists …and this 24/7 because many people find a good shouting match entertaining and it’s good for ratings. (NOT ME!!!) Both sides of any issue deal with a different set of “facts” which makes the whole shouting match meaningless to me.

I wanted to discover real issues, first as a voter, and then in a serious interest in determining how close we might actually be to our Lord’s return.


When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28

What things?

  • Jerusalem under siege by Israel’s enemies; (Luke 21:20)
  • wars fought—not for freedom but motivated by rampant vengeance (Luke 21:22);
  • and a ubiquitous sense of terror gripping a terrified mankind because the entire earth and sky is “roaring” (Luke 21:25-26) which could mean many things.  (I have my theories, too.)

If our Lord’s return is imminent should the cable news chatter really concern us?  I have changed my mind on this. I now find it interesting, not stressful. I am excited about the possibilities for prophetic meaning. For this reason, I accept the results of the recent election in the U.S.A. (and the Brexit battle in the U.K., etc.). I am very interested in seeing what happens if a flood of immigrants manage to crash through the border barricades.   I am very interested in who is going to be the next Speaker of the House in Congress and what they and their committee chairs plan to do (perhaps in an effort to unravel the current U.S. president’s agenda?)


Do I want them to succeed in destroying President Trump’s presidency?  Of course not, but if they do, in my opinion, we get closer to the divine Parousia.  Socialism which is their heartthrob will kill free capitalism and weaken the U.S.A. economically and militarily, taking  America out of world events as a major player.  We will no longer be a superpower if the middle class which has been the life blood of a free capitalistic society is weakened to the point of none-existence …and this is what socialism is.  (You can put lipstick on the pig and call it “democratic socialism” but it’s still a pig!)

I am reading about China, “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower.”  China, I maintain, will play a major role in Biblical prophecy. (Revelation 9:16) They have tricks up their sleeve that alone can explain the general sense of terror that will grip the globe. All the more reason to prayer for those in authority. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)


None of this is upsetting to me while I prayerfully anticipate our Lord’s coming.  The people in power are primary sources of real information (their plans and actions)—the Truth liberates (John 8:32) while the editorial filler on the “news” is just the haphazard guesswork of pundits that cannot begin to figure things out. They are watching the chess match between political enemies being played out and can only wonder what each next move might be without having even an inkling as to why the move will be made.  (A waste of time.)

If you must watch, seek out the comedic skits and pundits on your favorite side of this isle and learn to laugh at yourself.

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