Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Ultimate Call

The Ultimate Call
 
 
     There is a call of an ultimate kind which affects the destiny of men and propels the plan of God to its next phase.  Jesus had such a call and his entre upon the world scene would leave it forever changed not just in what is seen physically but most importantly what is unseen spiritually. We have seen such calls before in the lives of men such as Joseph and Moses. Each of these men had a call of God that moved the plan of God along its 'path. They were prophetically significant as discussed in previous posts, but when Jesus fulfilled his call, he moved human history the closest it had ever been to the summation of this age. The forces of evil both man and Satan had a vested interest in preventing the fulfillment of that call. We see that King Herod when he found out about Jesus from the wise men tried to have him killed. One must ask what did Herod have to fear from a baby? Odds are that by the time Jesus had grown up and assumed any kingship Herod would have been dead or perhaps incapacitated. Or maybe he thought that if people knew the awaited messiah of the Israel had been born, he would be commanded to step down from his place.
 
     In any event we see that Herod cared nothing for a better destiny for the people, but only for his position and the maintaining of his status quo. That's the way it is with men even today. The truth that an encounter with Jesus reveals is that one's status quo must change. If an encounter with Jesus does not demand a change in one's life, community, or society then it is not an authentic encounter with him. So, Herod represented someone in a political position whose only interest was in keeping the politics of his day going on as usual. And apparently from his actions it was a corrupt governance that he wanted to maintain.
 
     Because of his desire to hold on to the old, Herod according to Matthew 2:16 "...sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts from two years old and under according to the time which he had determined from the wise men."
 
     It is interesting but Herod is an archetype of Pharaoah who also wanted to slay the male babies of Israel among whom at that time was born Moses. Moses would eventually grow up and lead Israel out of physcial bondage and here was Jesus who would grow up and lead many of his people out of spiritual bondage. It is noteworthy that the resistance to the changing of the status quo came
not only from the political realm, but the spiritual as well. Jesus in his ministry would soon find himself butting heads with the religious leaders of his day. Whether they were Pharisees or Sadducees, these leaders wanted to keep the people in their stagnant spiritual pools. They tended not to be really interested in what Jesus was doing or saying to change people's lives, but only in the maintaining of their spiritual position, hanging on to the old and resist transitioning into what God was doing among them.
 
     I never failed to be amazed at the story of the man born blind who Jesus healed no less on the Sabbath day. The story is detailed in John 9 , but what always strike me when I read that passage is how little the Pharisees cared about the life transforming event of the man's life. They instead
chose to interrogate him and deny who Jesus was because he healed on the Sabbath. A rueful inner smile would always come out in me whenever I read how often Jesus performed miracles on the Sabbath. It seemed like sometimes he did it to definitely annoy the Pharisees. At the end of the day, the man is excommunicated because he dared challenge their spiritual pretentiousness. Therefore, we see that when men conclude that all spiritual wisdom and knowledge begins and ends with them they miss being a part of the next spiritual puzzle piece that God is putting into place. All their insecurities come to fore and they will do anything to maintain their position. Unfortunately, the story of the Pharisees is easily one of the church. The church has so many religious kingdoms represented in Catholicism, protestant denominations, non-denominations, etc. It's not to say these individual sects did not have their moment of revelation its just that they get stuck there. And the next thing you know without even being aware of it you're stuck in the stagnant stream of your group's individual spiritual thought.
    Hit me With Your Best Shot
 
     Before Jesus begins his ministry, the next nemesis who endeavors to take him out and once again prevent the status quo from changing is Satan. One thing that must be said about Satan is that He is slick. The spiritual forces of evil in heavens knew something of historic value was on the cusp of taking place. If Jesus really was the long awaited king of the Jews they knew their place of
rule in the heavenly realms was in danger of being toppled. Satan figured if he could take him out the same way he did Adam, then the status quo would definitely continue. Thus, he observed Jesus and decided to make his move when Jesus would be at his weakest. He approached Jesus after he had been in the wilderness fasting for forty days and nights. Naturally, anybody who had been fasting for forty days and nights would be famished. When Satan saw Jesus' hunger he threw his first pitch. It
was a fast ball. He said,"If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bred alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" So long fast ball. Jesus hits it out of the park. Unlike Esau Jesus would
not trade his inheritance for a pot of stew. The appeal to his physical life and flesh had failed.
 
     Satan then wound up for his second pitch. He took him up into the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple. He threw a slider. He said, "If you are the Son of God throw Yourself down. For it is written, 'He shall give his angels charge concerning you, and In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.' Jesus replies, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'" See you later slider. Homerun again. Jesus rejected Satan's appeal to the pride of life; the need to prove that he was somebody. Satan wound up to pitch again. He was saving his best for last. It was a tried and true method that appealed to all men. It was his curve ball. He took Jesus up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He then challenged, "All these things I will give to you if you will fall down and worship me." Matthew 4:8,9. Jesus sends this ball sailing with emphasis. He retorts, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." Matthew 4:10. At verse 11, the devil could nothing but leave him.
 
     Jesus had done something that is very difficult for men to do. He rejected the appeal for money. power, and prestige. Satan did not fully know how, but he knew he had just encountered the game changer. Jesus was not like the first Adam. The game plan would have to change. Jesus went on to fulfill his call all of which included his death and resurrection. Although Satan could not have known it, Jesus 'death had enacted the next to the last phase of his impending demise in this age. So, he now had to set his sights on preventing the last piece of the puzzle from falling into place. The piece of  the puzzle with the last ultimate call in this age is Israel of old and the church and we see looking back in history how Satan has muddied the waters of this instrument of God. But time has been and is approaching when God will have a church that understands and is walking in that ultimate call.  When that happens the last stone will be in place and the status quo is on its way out of the door.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Prophetic Significance Defined


Prophetic Significance Defined

             There is a rhythm to life where one day bleeds into the next, becoming many days and then many years.  People are constantly entering and exiting life, becoming a part of the invisible tapestry of time.  It is during the course of life’s rhythm that God imperceptibly disturbs that rhythm by intervening in human events.  When he does move in history, it is prophetically significant and accompanied by the employment of someone or a people whose call is one of prophetic significance.  The Lord’s creation of the heavens, earth and mankind was his first prophetically significant act as it was done with a particular goal in mind and underlying rationale.  But even more prophetically significant was the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Rev. 13:8).   So, when someone or something has a call of prophetic significance, it is a call historically situated in the coming expiration of this age. 
          We see this call demonstrated for example in the lives of Joseph, Moses and Jesus.   Someone with a  such prophetic call is instrumental in advancing God’s prophetic historical plan for the world.   Joseph for example was the eleventh son of Jacob whose name God changed to Israel.  Joseph had a dream which he wrongfully expressed to his brothers who hated him because their father favored him (Genesis 37:1-3).  His brothers sold him to Ismaelites who sold him to Potiphar an official of Pharaoh.  Although Joseph was not a free man, he prospered in Egypt and after spending sometime imprisoned, Pharaoh put him in charge of all of Egypt due to his interpreting Pharaoh’s dream. (Genesis 41:41).  At the end of the day Joseph’s dream about ruling over his brothers comes true when God causes a famine in the land and Joseph’s family goes to Egypt.  The Hebrews then end up staying in Egypt where they prospered until they were enslaved. 

         Joseph’s life was prophetically significant because God used him to fulfill the prophecy He had given to Abraham that his descendants would be slaves for four hundred years in a country not their own. (Genesis 15:13) Thus , God moved another stone in place in the building of his historical house.    He would do it again when he called Moses to deliver the Israelites from their Egyptian enslavers.  I will not go into the whole saga of Moses, but what should be observed is that Moses call to deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt would be a major prophetically significant event.  During their time in Egypt the Hebrews had grown exponentially as a people so much so that a new pharaoh who did not know about Joseph decided they should be oppressively enslaved. (Exodus 1: 8-11)  The pharaoh’s intent was that the harsh slavery would curtail their numbers, but what he did not realize was that he was butting heads with God’s promise to Abraham that he would make him into a great nation. (Genesis 8:12).  So, instead of decreasing paradoxically they increased the more they were oppressed. (Ex: 1; 12). 
     The pharaoh would next turn to exterminating the Hebrews via infanticide.  He ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill every boy they delivered, but to let every girl live.  (Ex: 1,16).  If the Hebrew women had complied with Pharaoh's command, the result would have been that in a generation Hebrew women would have no Hebrew men to reproduce with resulting in either intermarriage with the Egyptians or no reproduction at all.  Either way, the Hebrew line of Israel would be extinguished.  However, the Hebrew midwives ignored his death edict, fearing God instead. (17). Once again instead of decreasing in number the Hebrews increased even more. (20).  It was during this time of constant attempts to murder Hebrew baby boys, that Moses would be born and eventually be called to lead his people in deliverance fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that to his offspring he would give the land inhabited by the Canaanites . (Gen 12: 6,7). 
   
    Pharaoh may not have been aware of the prophetically significant call of the Israelites, but the principalities and powers of the air were aware of it.  They knew a time was approaching when the Lord would move his next prophetic piece in place so they in alignment with human sinfulness tried to thwart the move by killing fortuitously the one God would use for Israel’s deliverance.   Moses would eventually be successful in leading the Israelites out of Egypt but it was a journey accompanied with hiccups and frustration as any bible student would know.  But that is another story for another day.  I will next talk about the prophetic significance of Jesus in a separate post.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Prophetic Significance


Introduction

     In the course of human history, God has been orchestrating a story with a particular destination in mind.   This blog will focus on that destination in the context of bible prophecy of which there are no shortage of views on the internet.   We are in a time in history when the culmination of this age is drawing ever closer and the powers of heaven feel the drumbeat of it.  Since the resurrection of Jesus, there has been a concerted effort by men for some perhaps unknowingly and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places to avert the conclusion of this age with obfuscation and prevarication.   No doubt there has been much cosmic jostling taking place, but God in his infinite wisdom and essence is the master jostler.   This blog will be oriented around the concept of prophetic significance of which I will define in a later post.  It will also deal with some popular issues in today’s society.  I do not claim to be an eschatology guru, but by the grace of God and with his wisdom and understanding I aim to contribute to the conversation.  My hope is that I will have an audience who will take this journey with me reflected in comment and feedback.

To God always the Glory,

C. Bartlett