The Vengeance of Christ


Luke records for us here Jesus reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in his hometown of Nazareth.  If we read this, it is clear that Jesus was announcing to those in his hometown who He was, the long awaited Messiah. But, He might have said more by what He left out here than in what He actually read.  It’s very subtle, and we can only grasp what it meant based in the hindsight we have in knowing how things all played out, both in the teaching of Jesus and His allowing Himself to be taken to the cross as our ultimate sin sacrifice.  
Jesus reads for those listening from the prophet Isaiah, in what is now known as chapter 61.  This was a key piece of scripture for the people listening, very well known.  You might say it was their version of John 3:16.  Everybody knew and understood this as predicting the coming Messiah to save Israel.  So, Jesus gets up up and reads – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.   Their eyes were fixed on Him.  They were waiting on what He would say next.  They KNEW what he would say next.  

 

Except they had no idea.  What he said next would change history.  He would announce to all listening that He was (and is) Messiah.  “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  “I am Messiah” is what Jesus is saying.  The spirit of the Lord is upon, I bring Good News to the poor!!  I am here to free the prisoners, and give sight to the blind!!  I am here to bring justice to the world, and declare the year of the Lords favor!!  But…what did he not say?  Exactly what those listening knew he would –  and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.  The people of Israel were waiting for a warrior Messiah, a warrior king, who would gain their vengeance on the world for all the trials and misfortunes they had gone through.  They were waiting on a king as they understood it – their own pharaoh, their own King of Babylon, who would rule by sword and power.  Jesus came on this day and announced that He was Messiah – but he was not a Messiah of vengeance.  He was coming to bring freedom and peace, not violence.  Those listening certainly understood what He left out, but not the significance of what it still means to this day.  2000 years later we barely get it, even in hindsight.  Jesus Christ does not rule from a throne based on vengeance and violence.  He rules from the throne of the cross.  But just as some in Israel are still waiting for their warrior king (How’s that working out?), we await for the return of Jesus riding a white horse, a sword coming from His mouth, lasers shooting from His eyes, and dragons rising from the sea to devour and kill all those who oppose us.  We read Revelation and sing songs about the lion and the lamb when there is NO lion in Revelation, only a slaughtered little lamb.  We still wait for our own warrior king, forgetting we serve Jesus.  We know he came to bring peace not vengeance, but that was only for THEM.  He’ll return taking vengeance at His second coming.  Except He won’t.  There will be no day of vengeance, either for Israel or the Christian world.  If Christ wanted vengeance, He didn’t need a second coming.  The devil offered that to Him in the wilderness the first time around,  Christ’s vengeance will come in the day his great commission is fulfilled and completed, when His Good News has been preached to all the nations.  The day His New Jerusalem is completed here on earth.  His vengeance, if there is such a thing, will be peace on earth.


“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:16-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/luk.4.16-21.esv

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord ‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

John Lewis

Love of the World


John writes this, and really hits home.  This comes just after he speaks of the victory we have over the evil one.  But what good is having victory over the evil one if we are going to love and live for his domain, the earthly desires and passions of this world?
 
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  Well, how can this be?  This is written by the same guy who gave us our favorite and most famous verse in the bible – “”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  So God loves the world, but we can’t?  If we love the world He created and loved, then we don’t have His live in us?  This seems contradictory when we read it.  Part of the problem is in translation – in the original Greek there are two different words used which we translate as “world.”  God so loved the world…meaning His good creation and the people He made for it.  He loves US – the people of the world.  Each individual person He created, He loves enough to send His own son so we (I) should not perish but have everlasting life!!   Do not love the world…we love the world, but not the people.  The systems we set up in the world, what we chase after, this is what love.  The systems of the devil.  We see this in the next verse –

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  The world we love – lust, greed and pride.  These were the temptations Jesus was faced with in the wilderness.  Lust (desires of the flesh) – “The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  Greed (lust of the eyes) – “And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”” Luke‬ ‭4:5-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  Pride – “And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭ESV.  Jesus did not give in to these temptations, but Eve did – “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust), and that it was a delight to the eyes (greed), and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise (pride), she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis‬ ‭3:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We still fall for all these temptations, lust, greed and pride.  It still gets us into all sorts of trouble.  We try and pursue all sorts of things seeking pleasures of our flesh – sex drugs and rock-n-roll baby!  We spend our lives pursuing things we feel look nice and make us look good – all of our toys and monuments.   Big house, nice cars, glitz and glam. We want the pride of position in life – good job, well respected.  In America, our pursuit of all these things was written directly onto the soul of our nation – we base our culture, our nation, and our lives based on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This has devolved into the pursuit of whatever makes me feel good, right here, right now.  This is who we are and what we love.   We are supposed to love the people God created.  Instead we love the systems the devil invented for the world.
 
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.  And so this is the truth we face – all these things we pursue and love are fading away.  Doesn’t matter how successful we are in the devil’s creation, the systems we live and operate under, it is all going to rust and fade away.  “It’s better to burn out than fade away.”  So says Neal Young and the rock and roll generations.  Better pursue all this world has to offer as quick and fast as you can, right?  It’s all about the experiential.  It’s all about the feeling you have, the exhilaration, the rush.  That’s the problem.  We are completely backward.  My pastor talks about being 5 degrees off course, we are 180 degrees off course.  We love the things and pursuits of this world, but hate the people in it.  We are supposed to love the people and hate the things.  Take up our cross and follow Him.  Do we follow Him, or our desires?

Love God.  Love people.  Not the world.


“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/1jn.2.15-17.esv

 

John Lewis

Live life, Love life, Love God!!


Imagine this scene.  Abraham, fresh from making his covenant with God.  He is just passing through the land God has promised to him and all his descendants, those descendants that will be numbered like the stars in the sky.  They are in the desert, so it is probably very hot – even 4000 years before global warming!   He’s at a place called Mamre, and there are trees there.  I’d pitch my tent too.  Shade is a good thing to find in the desert!  
Abraham is an old man.  He’s probably got some sort of flask for water near him.  Maybe a nice comfortable fold up camping chair (you know – from Wal Mart!). Maybe eating some local fruit, cool in the shade.  
All of a sudden, he’s got company.  It says And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.   The Lord appeared to him!!  Just a normal day, minding his own business.  He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.   They are in the desert.  Visibility is usually pretty good.  You can see for miles and miles out there.  He probably saw these three men coming, as he’s sitting there enjoying his ordinary, average day.  They approach, now they are in front of him, and it’s the Lord!!   But – it’s the Lord??   Not one man, but three.  Seems kind of mysterious doesn’t it?  Kind of weird if you ask me.

When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.”   As well he should be, Abraham is very welcoming to his visitors.  Hospitality is just a part of the nature of desert people.  They look out for one another, share meals with strangers passing through.   Just an ordinary day.  Wash your feet, please.  Get some rest.  

And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.”

We’ve got to prepare a meal!!  Make some cakes.  Get a calf, cook it up.  Get some milk, these fellas are hungry.  I’ll feed you, you sit and eat.  I’ll be right here if you need me.  Three men.  Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Accepting the hospitality of a humble desert nomad.  Enjoying the good, simple things this world has to offer.  The world He had created and declared good.  No on the spot miracles.  No water to wine.  No healings.  No multiplying of  food to be sure all could eat.   Because there was plenty of food available.  No need for a miracle.  But here’s the thing – it’s all a miracle.  They didn’t need a miracle, because the miracles already been done.  Creation, the existence of everything.   The calf.  The cakes.  The milk.  The water to wash their feet.  The oaks at Mamre in the middle of the desert.  The sun to make it hot.  What in this scene is not a miracle?   The calf just happens to be there, along with an uncountable number after.  The  cows producing the milk, all the different things that come from the milk.  The grain to make the cakes.  All miracles, every day of our lives.  

We live this scene out, every day, and we just don’t see it.  I’m sitting on my couch, typing this on my iPad, sipping coffee, annoyed with my dog.  All ordinary.  Father, Son and Holy Ghost right here with me.  We have breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.  There’s never been a meal where these three visitors have not been present.   Every meal we share together.  Every time we are hanging with our friends.  Every quiet moment when we’re alone.  All miracles from God.

Think about our taking Holy Communion.  Bread and wine, on the table.  Doesn’t get more ordinary.  But that’s where Jesus specifically told us we could participate in his suffering on the cross.  Miraculous.   Baptism in the water.  75% of our planet is covered by it.  Ordinary.  But miraculous.  

We wonder why there are no more miracles.  We are missing the point.  The ordinary is the miracle.  God said that the world He made was good, right?   We see certain things, certain images, nature, the earth, the unborn child still in the womb, and we know and appreciate the beauty and awe of what He created.  But somehow we don’t see it all as miraculous.  
Think about this.  We hear so much about evolution, and the belief that everything on this planet created by God is evolving to something else.  Our closest genetic relative is the Chimpanzee.  The genetic difference between us and them is at least 1.6%.  Sounds very small.  But this difference played out equals about 48,000,000 nucleotides.  I don’t know what a nucleotide is, but it sounds awfully small.  If 48,000,000 of the equals 1.6% of our human genome, then we have a very large number of them in every cell of our bodies.  Like over 3,000,000,000.  Here’s the thing.  The worlds leading genetic researcher, Dr Harvey Maddox, tells us that “a change of only 3 nucleotides is fatal to an animal; there is NO possibility of change.”  3. Out of over 3,000,000,000.  Fatal.  Happy accident indeed.

It’s all miracles everyday.  Live life.  Love life.  Love God.


“And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭18:1-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/gen.18.1-8.esv

 

John Lewis

The Vexation of a Fool


When I don’t know where else to open to, it must be a good day to visit proverbs.  I don’t spend enough time in the proverbs or psalms.  A knucklehead like me can use a little extra wisdom.  This section seems to have a lot to say about what we say, and how we relate to one another.
 
 An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous escapes from trouble.   Sometimes, when we are doing wrong and living wrong, we try to hide it.  So we start lying.   We start with stupid little lies, like lying about what we had for lunch today.  Then our lies get deeper and more involved.  They become a part of our habits.  That’s why I have guys  I sponsor begin to work on correcting their lies.  We are all liars to one degree or another.  Getting our honesty straight is a big part of what steps one and two of recovery are all about.  Because the righteous escapes trouble.  It is not avoided altogether, upright people living well have problems just like the rest of us.  They don’t have lying tongues making it worse.

From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.   We reap what we sow.  

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.   This one hits home for me.  I thought I was always right.  Would argue loudly over stupid points.  I was smarter than anybody else.  I didn’t need your advice.  I spent many years living as a fool, right in my own eyes, being my own God.

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.  Does the whole world need to know every time your feelings get hurt?  Do we have to return insult for insult?  It says here it is prudent to ignore an insult.  How many times do we allow ourselves to be drawn into our own personal pissing contests, only to later realize that was what our nemesis’ intention the entire time?   Sometimes…just let it go.  Where does having the last word in every disagreement get us anyway?  Just in a cycle of anger and conflict, bitterness and resentment.  Not good for our recoveries, not good for us.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.   Who is the one whose words are like sword thrusts??   One with the spirit of “the satan,” “the accuser.”  We see this thought in the book of James as well.   We can use our tongues and our words to build others up, or we can tear down.  

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.   If we speak the truth, we are consistent.  We are trustworthy.  If we speak lies, we will be exposed for who and what we are.  It’s just a matter of time.  Also…what of our legacies?  What will people remember about us when we leave this life?   Are we someone who speaks the truth, and will be remembered as a positive influencer by those we came in contact with?  Or are we someone who is dishonest, wears different masks for every situation, likely to be quickly forgotten for lack of any real impact in people’s lives?

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.   Very simply, do we want to be happy in this life??  Then build up and don’t tear down.  Be truthful about who you are.  Think BEFORE we speak.  Be open to good advice.  Be willing to let the other guy have the last word.  

Yes, it was a good day to visit Proverbs.  

“An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous escapes from trouble. From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭12:13-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/pro.12.13-20.esv

 

John Lewis

I give you thanks, O Lord

 
A psalm of King David.  Sometimes you just gotta give thanks to the Lord.  
 
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise – for all the things David got wrong in his life, this he always seemed to get right.  There is only one God to praise and worship.  David lived in a period in time and region of the world where people worshipped many different Gods many different ways.  It was one of their great temptations to go and worship the gods of their neighboring people.  But David loved the God of Israel with his whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and was not shy about declaring this truth before his neighbors or their gods.  

I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.   It’s all about worship, and praising and thanking God through our worship.   We love Him because he first loved us.  He has been faithful all the way to joining us in our weakness, to give us His own footsteps to follow in, then allowing us to hang Him on a crucifix to suffer and to die for our own sins.  He forgave us before, during and after the cross, then sent his own Holy Spirit to work within us, walk with us, and advocate for us.  “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:13 NLT.  What other name could be exalted above all others?
 
On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. Have you had that day when you had nowhere to turn but to the name of Jesus Christ?   He answers.  “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  Call on His name, you will not only be saved for eternity, you will be saved right where you are.  He will send his Holy Spirit, and His work within you will begin.  But understand this – God loves you just as you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay as you are. 
 
All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.  David, of course, was only thinking of the Kings of the world when he lived.  Those guys probably had heard the word of the Lord directly from David.   But it’s also prophetic – we know every knee will bow down before His name.  Even in our age, when most of our leaders do everything they can to lead the people away from God to worship of the state which they create and control, they call on the name of the Lord at certain times.  When tragedies happen, or they want to rally public support, or are simply trying to win votes, they all give thanks to God.

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.  The Lord has always been for the poor, the humble, the outcast.  Thank God for that!

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.  A very personal appeal to God.  We all walk in the midst of trouble in some way, somehow.  He never turns away from us, even though we turn from Him.  The world may be against us, He is always FOR us!!  He is the God who came to save, not condemn.  “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  His love endures forever.  He will not forsake the work of His hands!!
 
 


“I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭138:1-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/psa.138.1-8.esv

 

 

John Lewis

The Witness



I heard this in a sermon once by Brian Zahnd, so I am sharing with you today.  I am going to do a little play on words here.  Don’t get mad but I’m playing with the bible to make a point about the bible.  Besides, I think this actually works.  I think the analogy being made is true.  I am replacing all the references in this passage to John the Baptist and replacing “John” with “The Bible.”  Just as John pointed the people of Israel to Jesus, so the Bible points us to Jesus.  Some from the time of John confused John with Jesus.  Some from our time confuse the Bible with Jesus.
There was a [book] sent from God, whose name was [the Bible].   We believe the Bible is divine inspiration from God, correct?   Therefore, it is a book sent from God, and it’s name is the Bible!!

 [The Bible] came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through [it].  Just as John the Baptist came to bear witness that the light had come into the world, so does God’s Holy Bible.  It is our witness that the light of Jesus Christ has come and will come again!  

[The Bible] was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  Jesus Christ is the light.  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  We don’t get to the Father through the Bible.  We didn’t get to Him through John the Baptist.  We come to the Father through Jesus.  The Bible is not the way, but bears witness to us about the way.  In the earliest days of the church, the believers were known as followers of “The Way.”  Because Jesus is “The Way.”  I know this from my witness to these things, the bible.  It is not “The Way,” but it points me to the way.
([The Bible] bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”)   Just one last example here.   But you say the Old Testament came before Jesus?  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.   Jesus was in the beginning with God. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our ‭‭likeness…”  Genesis‬ ‭1:26‬ ‭ESV‬. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, let US make man in OUR image.   Many of our churches include “word” in their name.  “Word of life,” “the Divine Word.”  Do these churches worship the bible or Jesus.  Jesus of course.  Jesus is “the word,” He is “The Way.”  We are not “biblicists,” we are Christians.  It’s not “biblianity,” it’s Christianity.  But we still get caught up like Peter (the church) on Mt. Tabor at the Transfiguration, where Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets, appear with Jesus before Peter, James and John.  Peter gets the bright idea that he’s going to build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses, one for Elijah.  But God said NO – “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.” Mark‬ ‭9:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  God says this is my son, listen to Him.  But somehow today, we still try to make the Law and the Prophets equal with Jesus.  After all, it’s in The Bible, right?  We can justify a lot of evil in the world using the Bible in the wrong way.  You can find passages justifying slavery.  You can justify killing homosexuals.  You can stone adulterers and Sabbath breakers to death.  You can call down the fire of God on those who aren’t being hospitable enough to you.  The Catholic Church waged wars preaching the Bible.  One pope did the math – the prophet Mohammed was born in the year 571 + 666 years = 1237.  Good year for a Crusade, right??!!  We can use the bible to justify all kinds of evil, but we can’t use Jesus.   Just as I have a sponsor leading me in my recovery, I have a sponsor (Jesus) leading me through the Bible.   I see all things through the lens of how it points me to Him.  Old Testament law and prophets – how does this point me to Jesus.  Revelation – how does this point me to Jesus?   We know we are not under the law – so why do we try to hold others accountable to the law that we can’t fulfill?  We know Jesus came offering salvation, Grace, and mercy.  Why are we waiting for Him to return with hellfire, brimstone, and damnation?  

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a [book] sent from God, whose name was [the Bible]. [The Bible] came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through [it]. [The Bible] was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ([The Bible] bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:1-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬


John Lewis

Can I Bring Him Back Again?



  King David, the Man of God, was a dirty rotten sinner.  King David, the Man of God through whom the Messiah of Israel was promised (and came) was a murderer, schemer, and adulterer.  God would at times step in and “correct” David, chastise him, for his poor (to put it mildly) conduct.  David committed adultery with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah.  Rather than end the relationship, David arranged things as King to leave Uriah isolated at the front lines of the battle field against a powerful army.  In other words, he conspired to murder him.  After he succeeded in killing Uriah, he and Bathsheba had a child together.  Nathan the prophet predicted what would come next,
 
Then Nathan went to his house. And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick.  There are consequences for the things we do.  For David and Bathsheba, they would have to suffer the loss of the child that resulted from their adulterous relationship.

David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.   Even though he knows it is Gods doing, David still submits himself to Gods authority.  He doesn’t rebel, he prays directly to the God he knows is in control of the situation.  

On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.”   David stayed in fasting and prayer for the child for seven days.  He was in such a bad way, those around him were afraid he would hurt himself if they hold him the child had actually died.  The expectation and tradition of the time was for the closest survivors to mourn for 3-4 days after the death of someone, then those around them would encourage them to get up, get dressed, and begin to move on.  David’s behavior was totally unexpected by his servants.  He went into deep distress and mourning while the child was alive.  How much worse would he be when he hears the child is gone?

But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.  They had nothing to worry about.  As soon as he figured out the child was dead, David unexpectedly hopped up, cleaned up, went to church and began moving on.

Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”   His servants are puzzled.   He was non functional while the child was still alive, but now that the child he prayed and fasted for has actually died, he seems like nothing is wrong.  But as David explains, he prayed for the child to live, that God may spare the child.  But now that the child is gone, what is he to pray for?  The child died as punishment for his sin.  He mourned, prayed and fasted for seven days.  There is nothing else for David to pray for.  He can’t bring the child back.  We see this today, with people who have lost people after long battles with illness.  We wonder how they can carry on so quickly.  We forget that, like David, they’ve already gone through their mourning process.  They’ve gone to God, prayed, and many times have made their peace.  They’ve been able to say goodbye to their loved ones, know their loved ones had made peace, and are able to quickly carry on when those around them are wondering “How?” We weren’t watching as they went through their mourning process.  We expect them to be paralyzed with grief.  We don’t understand they’ve already been through that paralysis, and have already gone through the various stages of grief.  When the passing actually occurs, it’s actually the end of the process for them, not the beginning.  There’s nothing left to pray for.  They’ve already said their goodbyes.
 
 

“Then Nathan went to his house. And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.””
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭12:15-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/2sa.12.15-23.esv

 

John Lewis