December 25, 2010
It is fitting for me to share this with you in three parts. If you are wondering why, I would encourage you to read my post on the number three.
After reading about our God who is a consuming fire in Hebrews, I returned to Isaiah 63, finishing it and reading all of 64 as well (vs. 7- Ch. 64:12):
"I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us--yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
"He said, 'Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me'; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
"Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.
"Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people--where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses' right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown, who led them through the depths?
"Like a horse in an open country, they did not stumble; like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.
"Look down from heaven and see from your lofty throne, holy and glorious. Where are your zeal and your might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us. But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.
"Why, O Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary. We are yours from of old; but you have not ruled over them, they have not been called by your name.
"Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry.
"How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.
"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people.
"Your sacred cities have become a desert; even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you, has been burned with fire, and all the we treasured lies in ruins. After all this, O Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?"
When Jesus walked the earth, his enemies knew His name. Luke 23:44-46:
"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last."
"When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. he was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake."
I will leave you with some questions, but before I do let me say this: I know that three hours is different from half an hour, but it is possible that John's experience in heaven was calculated by heaven's time, whereas the account of Jesus' crucifixion was calculated in earth's time. John was the only man who would later write an account worthy of canonization who actually witnessed Jesus breathe his last breath.
With that being said, here are my questions:
~Is it possible that the Revelation was given to John because he had the context on which it could rest?
~Is it possible that these two passages are speaking about the same event? The silence, darkness, and earthquake that occurred at the crucifixion of Jesus?
~Didn't Jesus say, "It is finished," right before silence descended?
~Is it possible that John's Revelation was a revisit to the day of Jesus' crucifixion from a heavenly perspective rather than an earthly perspective?
~If so, how should this change our view of the end times and of who/what God's wrath is really aimed at in our lives?
I must confess that I am feeling a little exposed here sharing these kind of musings. I am not trained in seminary, and I know that these musings are a bit of a departure from the common beliefs about the end times. I'm not claiming to know anything for certain. I am just giving you a window into the musings of my heart, a glimpse of the questions I ask my Savior when I read His Word. I'm sharing with you the wonder I have when I contemplate the mysteries of God, and I'm thanking Him for helping me grow more comfortable with His affections and less afraid of His great passion for me.
I pray you will also sit in wonder and allow yourself to ask questions that go against the grain. Most importantly, I pray that you will grow more comfortable with His affections toward you.
December 24, 2010
In Greek, the word translated 'wrath' in the passage from Revelation is the word thumos, meaning "passion (as if breathing hard)." It can be translated"fierceness, indignation, and wrath," and it comes from the root word thuo, meaning "rush (breathe hard, blow, smoke). Thuo can be translated "kill, (do) sacrifice, slay."
I began to see that perhaps my fear of God's wrath is unwarranted. Isn't it true that we have been taught to believe that the end times will be frightening beyond measure? Have you, like me, ever had that feeling when someone isn't where you expect them to be that you've been left behind? I am convinced that Holy Spirit is trying to teach me that nothing should terrify me, not even Father God or the end times.
The dictionary defines wrath as "belligerence aroused by a real or perceived wrong" and "intense anger on an epic scale." Passion is defined as "a powerful emotion such as love or anger" and "something that produces a strong enthusiasm or interest in you" and "the painful death of Jesus Christ, according to the Bible."
This growing sense of wonder and affection for a God who has done everything for me was further confirmed as I read Hebrews 12:18-29:
"You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: 'If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.' The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, 'I am trembling with fear.'
"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
"You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel [also spilled on the ground].
"See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.'
"The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"
The next passage is very long, so I will save it for tomorrow. Until then, I pray that your thoughts will turn more and more to His sprinkled blood which has made you perfect.
December 23, 2010
Finally, I have a few minutes to share with you what I wrote in my journal the week I decided to re-debut this blog. There is a lot of Scripture in this post, so I am going to break it up into a couple of entries over the next day or two. They are all finished, so I will send them live over the next couple of days. I am excited that this is a meditation that some of you will read over the Christmas holiday. For those of you coming later, I am sure the timing will be of no less import for you.
I began this blog over a year ago filled with deep and heartfelt emotions, and the walk through Scripture with the Holy Spirit on the day I wrote this (12-16/10) was prompted by similar emotions of anger, helplessness, and discouragement. I was feeling trapped and hemmed in with no clarity.
As I took these feeling to Him, I sensed that He wanted to share something with me, so I sat and listened. I asked him where to read, and the Scripture reference Isaiah 63:1-6 popped into my mind. From there, He guided me with word phrases and my handy concordance. Here are the first passages I read:
"Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength?
"'It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.'
"Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress?
"'I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me. I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.'"
This struck many cords within me, not the least of which was a conversation I had with a friend over a year ago about the passage in Revelation about the winepress. Here is that passage (Revelation 14:14-20):
"I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one 'like the son of man' with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, 'Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.'
"So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
"Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, 'Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe.'
"The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia."
In this conversation with my friend, we were puzzling over the gore and harshness this scene evoked. We didn't know then about the correlated passage in Isaiah, and we didn't know what I have since learned about the word translated 'wrath.'
Tomorrow, I will share the Greek word for wrath and its definitions. Until then, may His face shine upon you.
December 17, 2010
Hello everyone. It has been over a year since I've written about the mysteries of God. It has been a tremendous year filled with breakthrough, defeat, victory, and of course the ever-present mysteries of God. I am eager to begin sharing with you from a new vantage point. I can definitely say I've climbed a bit higher up the mountain, and the view from here is glorious. I've learned the secrets to some of the mysteries I've long wondered about, and new mysteries have replaced them. I'm working on a little something I'd like to share, but I'm hard and fast against a deadline of my own making right now, so it will have to wait. In the meantime, I pray you will turn the lights down low, snuggle into your favorite blanket, and rest in His love and grace for you at least for a few minutes today.
Peace & Joy,