god-is-coming

One last message from the advent season…

god_with_us_wide
Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come…
God will come. This is the word from the poet of Christmas. Do you have an anxious heart? Are you waiting for God to show up and do something? Are you waiting for some kind of salvation? Are you troubled and anxious, distressed and distraught? God will come.
Isaiah is the great poet of Christmas. So many of our great Christmas carols and Christmas cards come straight outta Isaiah. Emmanuel, “God with us”, that’s Isaiah. Unto us a child is born. The prince of peace. All Isaiah.

brokenness-e1369873830704
 “The land mourns and languishes; Lebanon is confounded and withers away; Sharon is like a desert, and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves…And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”…The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?””

evelasting-fire

Isaiah‬ ‭33:9, 12, 14‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This is not on a Christmas card. But it is from the poem before the poem that is a Christmas card. Isaiah anticipates a time when both people and planet are broken. He anticipates a time when both land and lives are burning. A time when people are broken by idolatry and injustice…the land itself seems to bear witness. This can be seen throughout the the prophets from Isaiah to Malachi. Isaiah sees a time when the land will be burning, like a desert, and the people will be blind, deaf, and disabled. The land will be burning, and the people will be blind to the problem, deaf to the word of God, and unable to do anything about it.
But…something is going to happen to change all of this brokenness. “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.” The poet tells us God will come and change everything. And when He does – the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

prepare-the-way

John the Baptist knew what he was sent to do. He was sent to prepare the way. “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'”” Matthew‬ ‭3:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. But he had already figured how the messiah would come. “”I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Make no mistake – John the Baptist was looking for a warrior king. Jesus was supposed to bring his winnowing fork and separate the wheat from the chaff – by force. He was from the royal line of the great warrior king David. He was just 150 years after another great warrior, Judah Maccabaeus. This is what John expected. This is what almost everyone expected. Jesus was to come and change the order of the world, flip things upside down. We know he did this…just not as people expected.

fourth-of-july
John the Baptist is the one who prepares the way. John took this from Isaiah 40. John has recognized Jesus as messiah. As he took a prophetic stance against Herod Antipas marrying his brothers wife…he gets arrested. So as he sits in a first century prison run by a king who didn’t much like him, John is waiting for God to do something big. He knows Jesus is Messiah, he announced to the world that Jesus was Messiah. But John is waiting for the revolution, and it’s not happening. So he sends his disciples to Jesus with a pointed question. Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?   Jesus hears the question, and just keeps doing what he’s doing, which is healing people, preaching good news to the poor and and enacting the kingdom of God. In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. Then He sent John’s disciples back to John with this message – “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” What Isaiah said would happen when God comes, Jesus was doing. The eyes of the blind were opened. The ears of the deaf were unstopped. The lame walked. And blessed is the one not disappointed.
Jesus did not come to change the pecking order. He did not come so that the Jews could now be on top and peck down on the Romans. Jesus came to heal broken lives, throw out the pecking order and change the world. Blessed is he who is not disappointed by the coming of God…

missing-god
Jesus was announcing and enacting the kingdom of God. But it was possible to miss it. Not just Pharisees and Sadducees. Even John the Baptist got confused. He knew exactly who Jesus was, but he too got discouraged and confused.
The Pharisees missed Jesus as Messiah because for them, it was all about moralism. It was all about following the rules and following the law. And if you didn’t follow all their rules along with gage Law of Moses, then you were on the outside looking in on the kingdom of God. Then Jesus showed up freely forgiving sinners, just like that, and it disqualified Him immediately as any Messiah in their mindset. They missed God when He came to them.
The Sadducees were the religious elites controlling the temple. All the priests were from the Sadducees. They saw the world through the lens of religious sanction and elitism. Then Jesus comes and welcomes even those banned from temple. He goes straight to the least elite in society, the worst sinners, tax collectors, even lepers. He has dinner with them, visits them in their homes. So for most of these elites, not a chance they could see Jesus as Messiah. They missed God when He came to them.

bastille-day
John the Baptist was waiting for the violent revolution. He was waiting for Jesus, the Messiah, to come break him out of his prison, march on Rome and take down all those who were oppressing his people. He’s waiting for the liberation of his people. He’s waiting for the Fourth of July. He’s waiting for Bastille Day. But it’s not happening. He didn’t miss God, he announced Jesus to the world. But John did miss the signs himself that Jesus indeed the awaited Messiah.

revolution
Jesus was bringing a revolution all right. But instead of a violent, bloody revolution, He was bringing a love revolution. All the prophecies were coming true, right on time. Isaiah had the virgin birth, Hosea had it in Bethlehem, Daniel gad the time pinned down. The Magi figured it out. It was right there for all to see, yet for those who were supposed to be waiting for Messiah it was so hard to see.
God has come. It is Jesus. Jesus is the coming of God. Just as Isaiah predicted, the blind cloud see, the deaf could here, get lame could walk, and the mute could talk. But still, Jesus didn’t come as John expected. Or the Pharisees. Or the Sadducees. All of them, even John, had their own notions, their own vision of what the Kingdom of God would look like, they all had their own expectation of what the Messiah would do for them.

healing-of-the-blind-man-cropped
God will come and it will be Jesus. God is always coming, and it’s always Jesus. But will we see it? Will we recognize how and where Jesus comes into our lives?? Can we be quiet and contemplative enough to see beyond our own expectations and not miss what He is doing for us?
Do not draw a line from what you want God to do for you to how you believe He’s got to come. John was locked into a way God would come. He was waiting for a warrior Messiah to come liberate his people and drag the emperor behind His chariot. And John got disenchanted and discouraged when it didn’t happen.

John the Baptist in prison Matthew 14:3
God will come. But we don’t know how or when. God won’t be late, and will bring everything you need. John the Baptist never got out of King Herod’s prison. He was beheaded and died young. But – did his story end wrong?

john
Jesus did not do what John assumed he would. But he did not fail John. Have you ever heard someone lament -“That John the Baptist. He really could have been something. It’s too bad he died young, there’s no telling what he could have accomplished!” NO! You’ve never heard anyone say that. You’ve never thought that. John the Baptist is one of most honored lives in history. Every Orthodox Church in the world has an icon of John The Baptist. His story is told over and over again in churches around the world. Jesus did not fail John the Baptist. John was exactly where he needed to be. Jesus did not do what John assumed he would. But he did not fail John.
There is a message of the advent season. It’s a message for you if you’re in that burning desert, if you’re withering away, if you’re being burned in that fire.
Don’t be afraid. Trust God. God will come.

He will bring streams in the desert.

streams-in-the-desert
John the Baptist did not come to a bad end. We don’t expect to die in prison or get our heads cut off, but sometimes it feels like we are going to come to a bad end. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬. No one who loves the way of Grace ever comes to a bad end.

“”Now I will arise,” says the Lord, “now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted. You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble; your breath is a fire that will consume you. And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.” Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?””

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭33:10-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/isa.33.10-14.esv
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭35:1-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/isa.35.1-7.esv
“The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'” In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭7:18-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.7.18-23.esv

John Lewis

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14 thoughts on “God has Come

        1. No, but I need to. Just the most cursory knowledge. Just enough to know he was a famed warrior king type that many mistook for messiah about 150 years before Christ…and that his life is still very storied and famed among the Jewish people.

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          1. I wish Mel Gibson would make the movie! Read 1st Macc and see what I mean. Judas IS everything you want in a Messiah except for God. Well, and except for being of the true royal and priestly bloodline too.

            Actually, I differ with your characterization of the Pharisees. But I think you know that already. But this is a good example of why I differ with you. Judas met all the qualifications anyone could ask for except for the exceptions, but he certainly got the job done! He won independence for his people that lasted for a century! It is tough to argue against that!!! But alas the independence did in fact end, and despite his heroic life and influence on the people for centuries to come (including to this very day), it is obvious now that he was not actually the messiah after all.

            Couple this observation with the fact that “messiahs” are a dime a dozen for 150 years either side of Jesus Christ, AND that every single rebellion any of them ever led wound up getting that “messiah” killed (and so far this includes our Jesus Christ as well) AND in most cases got a lot of the subsequent “disciples” of said “messiahs” killed too, it became hard to really know which one was truly THE ONE! Shoot, even your post here points out that John the Baptist began to doubt Jesus!

            The Pharisees LOOK like some kind of morality police to us today largely thanx to Baptist scholarship (though I should not single out Baptists as the only ones, but they seem to have taken the lead on this) who rightly recognize that Pharisees measure people with a moral yardstick alright, but fail to point out that this yardstick is actually meant to be a way of determining who is the REAL MESSIAH. The real messiah surely will honor God’s law! He will be sinless! No?

            Of course he will be. Therefore you can measure him by this yardstick and determine if you have the real one or not!

            This is not the same as running around holding everybody and their dog to this standard, though there is no doubt some Pharisees may well have done that. And there are a few other complexities involved that lend themselves to this view, BUT at root it’s about exposing phonies before they get up a following and a lot of people die! This is a service, a valuable service, the Pharisees were providing. And if you had several sons of about fightin age in Galilee of the time, you would want these guys to sniff out the fakes before you let your boys run off with them.

            Oh… and by the way, Sabbath keeping, circumcision, and diet were the 3 biggest marks of a true, righteous Jew. These were the go-to moral standards of the day. There were others, but these were the first three you had to pass, and largely because there were a LOT of Jews who collaborated with Rome, and Greece before that, as well as others, and they were viewed as traitors/”sinners”! And you will see this stuff come to the foreground when you read Maccabees too. There are stories of people not getting circumcised and still others even mutilating themselves to make it appear they had not been circumcised (wonder if St Paul had some of them in mind when he told the Philippians he wished the circumcision party would mutilate themselves (a turn around to be sure)). Anyway, in the Maccabean literature you find where mothers of circumcised babies had their baby boys killed and then hung from their necks by the empire as a punishment for this resistance. IF the conservatives were willing to endure that kind of punishment for God, then you can bet they did not take kindly to liberals who were willing to skip circumcision to play nude in Olympic games! Yeah, this “morality” stuff was “political” LIKE THAT! And That is what drives the “morality” we see in the Pharisees.

            IF it is fair to characterize the Pharisees as people with a bent for rule keeping, we must at least acknowledge that it wasn’t true of the ALL, and the for those of whom it was true, it wasn’t some mindless way of “working their way to heaven when they died” but rather a matter of weeding out the fake messiahs that were popping up almost daily and leading young men into doomed revolts!

            But I have not convinced you so far, so I really don’t think I will beat this dead horse again…

            Aside from that, I am thrilled with your post! Very insightful. It seems you have a good overarching grasp of Judas Maccabee. I think your input on John is doubly insightful, and should give every believer cause for pause. If he could doubt, what makes me so sure? Have I really wrestled with God yet? Or have I just been going with the political flow or riding the coat tails of my parents, and grandparents faith? How do I KNOW Jesus is really THE ONE? What answer do I give that isn’t just a knee jerk reaction? AND IF Jesus is really the ONE, and I really believe it, then the difference he brings between himself and ALL the others will also surely be challenging to me – my faith, my way of life… etc….

            It is a good post! My quibble should not overshadow that!

            Keep ’em coming!

            X

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            1. Thanks Brother X!! I do appreciate out differences on the Pharisees. My understanding is that they are a group who started with right intentions and right ideas, to keep people about the business of being God’s people in a world not necessarily friendly to the people of God, but as happens to we humans they got off track and full of themselves at some point. It seems pretty plain from reading the gospels that they got off track, from the mouth of Jesus they were more concerned with their rules than with the humanity around them. I’m not going to quake any scripture here, just because I’m time deprived and need to move along…but it’s in there.

              Yes…there were many “Messiah” types in the time frame in which Jesus came. That’s one thing that makes it so interesting that Jesus was widely missed when he came…precisely because so many were waiting and watching. That’s why I like the answer Jesus gives John when he asks if He is, truly, Messiah.

              I will take exception to the fact that all the “Messiahs” got themselves and do many if their followers killed…and up to now this includes Jesus as well. Yes, Jesus died on the crucifix and we wait knowing that Jesus will come again…but He WAS resurrected on that Sunday morning!! A full, real, physical, live resurrection. He is ALIVE AND WELL right now. He ascended to the right hand of the Father, yes He hold He is with us even now, to the end of the age. He is not just another Messiah killed by the empire. He was raised on the third day, vindicating for all eternity the life He led among us and proving that He indeed was the one true Son of God, the only begotten son of the Father. So he was killed on the cross…but was resurrected by the Father and lives to this day. We await His physical return, but acknowledge that He is Lord, judging the world and the nations as we speak. He IS Lord, not waiting to be Lord. King of Kings and Lord of Lords…to be exact.

              And yes…not all Pharisees went so far off the beaten path. I’m pretty sure Nicodemus was a Pharisee….maybe even Joseph of Arimathea (sorry, not sure of the spelling right now)…who offered his virgin tomb to the fallen savior on Good Friday.

              Anyway, thanks as always brother, and Happy New Year to you and your family!!

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              1. Bro. John,

                Thnx for the reply.

                To CLARIFY, I agree that Jesus was raised from the dead. I cant figure where I gave you any idea otherwise. So let me clearly state. I agree. Jesus was raised from the dead. I agree this resurrection vindicates his claims to be Messiah. AND to go one step farther than you on this… I believe his resurrection is the clearest sign he is THE ONE.

                The point I intended to make… is that he got killed right along with all the others. That part is not what verifies he is THE ONE. Thus, the confusion which accounts for the Pharisaic program.

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  1. Sorry…hit send by accident. You said that so far this includes our Jesus as well…referencing the failed messiahs being killed. I thought this was a reference to Jesus coming again.

    I have no doubt you believe in the resurrection of Jesus! I actually just got the impression you got focused on a point you were trying to make and kind of misstated something you believe. But…that us really something I catch myself doing sometimes, maybe I was projecting one of my own faults onto you.

    Yes, He got killed along with many others…but I don’t think any of the others have disciples to this day still willing to die for any other name. That’s a powerful testimony itself, isn’t it??

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    1. I am not disputing that. No one is following Barabbas today, that I know of. Not one claims Judas is messiah, that I know of. But this is because they all died, including Jesus. And Jesus joins all the failed messiahs in dying. He is separated in rising. But when I made my point it wasn’t about what separates him but in all the things that he shares with all the others… including dying in the midst of bringing freedom for his people.

      Are you confused on this? Seems like we might both be beating a dead horse now. The original post was good. I had a quibble about Pharisees. But otherwise totally endorse your post AND the deep insight it offers – esp regarding John! And John was not there for the resurrection! He, like all the Pharisees, was faced with a messiah who was just like all the others in weakness. Precious little difference in this one and the others – except the biggest being just how weak his prophetic movement surely was! But this is now going beyond your first point too. And I sense we are waaaaaay far afield from that in this banter…

      Peace BRUTHA! Peace…

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      1. Nothing but peace my brother!!! I think we have a problem of two dimensional communication. I really was moving past the issue talking about how we still follow Jesus today…but I do see it doesn’t read that way. All apologies.

        Never met you in person, but love ya anyway. Happy New Year!!!

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  2. “…but (John) too got discouraged and confused.” This is one of the things I treasure about Jesus “first-stringers.” They lost it too! Paul prayed for judgment on someone who caused him “much harm.” Not very like Jesus forgiveness on the cross. Israel’s greatest king and a man after God’s own heart, David, was an adulterer and murderer. I’m comforted by the fact that even the greatest of the greats stumbled and fell. They were forgiven, not perfect. I am too. Even when I think I don’t measure up to them. It’s more like, I’ve “measured down to them!” That puts me in pretty good company! Thanks for the reminder!

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