December 25, 2010

Breathing Room (part three)

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."

Revelation 8:1-5:

"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.


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