Sunday, November 29, 2015

1 Chron 12:32 report, 123: Last Days paralysis/fatalism vs the gospel of the Kingdom of God (an error of imbalance)

In recent months, I have been forced by circumstances to take a much more prolonged look at Bible Prophecy and Last Days teachings -- the technical term is Eschatology, the Doctrine of Last Things -- in and around the Caribbean church than I have been naturally inclined to do. The resulting observations and reflections, I think I would like to share with others, towards a more balanced understanding and practice.

Thus, this blog post.

(And, as this is a most controversial area, I ask pardon if feathers are ruffled, inviting others to share their own thoughts. Thus, we may all grow to a more balanced view.)

First, I cannot but notice . . . as headlined . . . that we tend to a sort of induced passivity and even fatalism, as we reflect on how things seem to get worse and worse all around us.

I think this is an error of imbalance.

We tend to focus too much on the demonic riot and chaos stirred up by Satan as he sees his ever shortening time in the face of the coming and growing of the Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus, and not enough on the revival, blessing and transforming renewal it brings.

As a first point of reference, as always, I draw attention to Our Lord's Olivet Discourse in Matt 24:
Matt 24:1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
I see here, a striking prediction of disaster (which came to pass scarcely forty years later) then a warning to be on guard against deception. 

A context of turmoil is put forward and we are told, such are early birth-pangs. 

A C1 AD silver coin celebrating Diana of the Ephesians
(Cf the story of Paul in Ephesus, Ac 19)
Next, there is the riot . . . hatred and persecution of the disciple leading to apostasy by many. An implication of which, is that -- as we see so often in the Acts -- there was first a revival as the gospel goes forward in power calling men to repentance and faith in Messiah. But, one man's blessed revival in the power of the Spirit who empowers witness and convicts men of sin, righteousness and judgement, is another man's rebuke or even (think of the idol-making silver smiths of Ephesus) financial ruin. 

Rage follows, and artfully stirred up riot.

If you cannot refute truth, you can easily distort it into what is hateful, stir up polarisation against it and those who stand by it, then mislead many to hate, dismiss, mock, oppose and attack the truth and the right.

And yes, who de cap fit, let 'im wear it.

There is therefore a call to endurance in the gospel.

Finally, we see the sign of the end: the gospel of the Kingdom goes forth as a testimony to all nations, and THEN the end comes in fulness, the culmination of history and prophecy.

I have therefore long contended that the principal sign of the last days is that the gospel goes forth in the Spirit's power and witness, bringing revival and triggering riots in retaliation. But always, the gospel keeps on going forth.

Again, Daniel 2 sets a context in which we can see the coming of the Kingdom of God as an Eschatological event (and obviously with Messiah as the Rock who falls on the Image and grinds it to powder, growing into a Mountain filling the Earth):

Thus, the Kingdom Message is foundational and the whole gospel message, starting with messiahship is through and through eschatological and transformational . . . the mountain that fills the earth:

Again, I point to Acts 2, where Peter says:
Ac 2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[b] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[c] and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[d] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
So, clearly, IN the last days God pours out his Spirit, enabling global witness in power. Where from prophecy of Messiah forward, the whole of the gospel is eschatological. The dominant feature of the period -- a period marked by the paradox already- and- not- yet -- is the gospel as it comes to us and goes forth to the ends of the earth.

Then again, the same Peter counsels:
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.  

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Yet again:

2 Peter 3:This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 

They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  

For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[c]
So, we must not lose hope, nor be tempted to dismiss the force of God's word. Even as in good time Messiah came, just so in good time the culmination will come.

But meanwhile, we are to live as the people of the kingdom, and carry its message forward, not caught up in the intimidating power of the devilish riot and chaos, but steadfastly moving forward with the message of Messiah and the Kingdom of our God and his Christ.

A message that is especially relevant at this season of Advent. END