Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thrown Down

Thrown Down

Ray Rooney Jr.

Usually, it takes something like a comet in the night sky growing brighter and brighter as the days and weeks pass for people to begin wondering if the end of the world is upon us.  
Changing millennia prompts questions about “the end” as well (remember Y2K?).  Really, any perceived natural or man-made disaster gets people running for the hills and contemplating Armageddon.

Sometimes, however, it’s the movement and direction of culture that spurs many to wonder if the end is approaching.  I could go through a whole laundry list of things that have taken place culturally over the last 50+ years that has stirred the minds and souls of many to begin contemplating “the end” but I think two recent things have really accelerated serious-minded and sincere people to begin wondering if “that day” is fast approaching.  One would be the recent Supreme Court decision to grant homosexuals the Constitutional right to marry and the other would be the horrendous Planned Parenthood videos that are currently streaming out to the public.  The legalization and legitimization of a practice the Bible repeatedly calls an “abomination” and the callous trafficking of aborted babies’ organs has a lot of people thinking God is going to put into motion very soon any and all things that need to happen for the Second Coming of Christ.

Although the Gospels reveal Jesus alluding to the subject of “the end” quite often in parables and peripheral remarks there is really only one instance related where He seemed to intentionally address in a fairly comprehensive manner the whole issue of eschatology (study of end things) and parousia (a more specific study of the Second Coming of Christ).  That being Matthew 24-25.

Most people just dive right into the heart of it by starting with 24:3 “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 close of the age?’”  But to do so is a great mistake.  The things that led up to the discourse on “the end” are every bit as important as the discourse itself.  The question that really needs to be asked is “What prompted Jesus to talk about the end?”

Christ’s time with the Apostles was drawing to a close.  The Olivet discourse on “the end” took place in the midst of Holy Week.  If you had been an Apostle here are a few things that would have been weighing heavily on your mind.  According the Matthew, the first thing Jesus did upon entering Jerusalem was to head straight for the Temple and overturn the money-changers tables calling them “robbers.”  The chief priests and elders immediately began to press Him on how He thought He had the authority to do or say anything in the Temple.  Trick questions were arranged and put to Jesus.  Animosity between Jesus and the city’s leaders began to increase exponentially. Plans were being made to get rid of Him once and for all.

Finally, it reaches critical mass as Jesus lambasted the “scribes and the Pharisees” pronouncing the seven woes upon them in chapter 23.  He concluded the verbal lashing with the famous lament over Jerusalem.

Now, come the two verses (24:1-2) that both set the stage and prompt Jesus to sit down and talk at length about the end.

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.”

There is no “question” per-se and yet Matthew says “he answered them.”  As I have demonstrated, there was surely a lot going on in the minds and hearts of the Apostles at this point.  This trip to Jerusalem was not going well (from their perspective) and maybe there was finally some concern registering about Jesus’ repeated predictions that He was to be killed in Jerusalem.

What if the unthinkable (to them) actually began to take shape and substance in their minds and Jesus were actually taken away from them?  What would become of them?  What would happen to the movement?  Surely, as long as those noble buildings which testified of the goodness and sovereignty of God remained standing God would continue to keep the Jewish way and customs intact…right?

Historians say the white marble, gold, and bronze that adorned the Temple in Jerusalem made it hard to look at during the day with the sun shining off it.  The king’s palace.  The wall surrounding the entire Temple Mount.  Literally and truly jaw dropping and awesome.  Surely, as long as the Temple Mount was adorned with such fantastic architectural structures and buildings symbolically pointing to God, He would continue to dwell in their midst.  Right?

The first two verses of chapter 24 make a whole lot more sense if the Apostles were seeking for a little reassurance from Jesus following a really difficult week and a face to face verbal sparring match with the holy city’s religious leaders.

Read it again: Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple…

They were grasping at straws at this point.  And rather than help their feelings or allow false hope He rather blandly predicted “there will not be left here [where they currently stood amid the Temple complex of buildings] one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

The last hope the Apostles had in living out a nice life wherein God was acknowledged and honored was mercilessly shattered by Jesus.  “These buildings you put so much hope in?  Razed to the ground…all of them…soon.”  And history confirms that around 70 A.D. the words of Christ concerning “the buildings of the Temple” were fulfilled.

That, was the context for the question that prompted Jesus to begin a discourse on “the end.”  Matthew 24:3 puts it this way: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

When the religious leadership fails to reflect the character of a holy God and the cultural markers that affirm (at least symbolically) His blessing and presence on the nation are torn down…then it is time to start talking about “the close of the age.”

Are the light bulbs going off yet?

Yes, Christian, it is time to seriously begin contemplating that this age has just about wrapped up.  The perversion of the Gospel and watering down of the Bible is as prevalent today as hypocrisy and arrogance were ingrained in the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  The stones that built a Christian nation that glorified God are being thrown down right before our eyes.  The Bible is ridiculed.  The Constitution is being ripped to shreds.  The judiciary is redefining something as basic, foundational, and fundamental as marriage.

And now, because Planned Parenthood is in part funded by every American taxpayer we are all engaged (even if unwilling and indirectly) in institutionalized murder and trafficking the body parts of the innocent victims.  When Jesus predicted the undoing of the religious and cultural icons of the people of God it was clearly time for the Apostles to ask about the end.  Likewise, today, as we stand back and behold the breathtaking arrogance (toward God) and brutality (toward unborn human beings) that has become American culture…it’s time to ask the question about the end and prepare for it.

When sexual perversion becomes enshrined in culture and given legal status by government and profiteering from infanticide is nonchalantly discussed over wine and supper…it’s time to seriously consider that God’s judgment is fast approaching.  The longsuffering and patience of God is surely (hopefully?) drawing to a close.

This blog was not about what to look for concerning the signs of the end or how close it may very well be.  Rather, its purpose was to suggest that now is the time to read Christ’s discourse on the end.  Our nation and culture are collectively dismissing the holiness of God and removing (stone by stone) all vestiges of the divine imprint on our society.  For those of us who are concerned…its time we start asking Him the hard question(s) about the future.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Judgement is coming to America...Part 5

Jeremiah 7

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words… For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if ye thoroughly do right between a man and his neighbor… then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, forever and ever. Behold, ye trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are free to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, said the LORD. ~ Jeremiah 7:3-5, 7-11

And now because ye have done all these works, said the LORD and I spoke well unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye did not hear; and I called you, but ye did not answer; therefore I will do unto this house, which is called by my name, in which ye trust, and unto this place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. ~ Jeremiah 7:13-16

to make cakes to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods that they may provoke me to anger. Shall they provoke me to anger? said the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus hath the Lord GOD said: Behold, my anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man and upon beast and upon the trees of the field and upon the fruit of the ground, and it shall burn and shall not be quenched. ~ Jeremiah 7:18-20

For I did not speak unto your fathers, nor command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt (EUROPE in the case of our American foefathers) concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing I commanded them, saying, Hear my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the way that I have commanded you that it may be well unto you. But they did not hearken, nor incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels in the imagination of their evil heart and went backward, and not forward since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day. I have even sent unto you all my servants, the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them; yet they did not hearken unto me, nor incline their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt even call unto them; but they will not answer thee. Therefore thou shalt say unto them, This is the nation that did not hear the voice of the LORD their God, nor receive chastisement; the faith is lost and was cut off from their mouth…for the LORD has cast off and forsaken the nation of his wrathhave done evil in my sight, said the LORD; they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name to pollute it…And they have…burn(t) their sons and their daughters in the fire,(see ABORTION!!!) which I did not command them, neither did it come into my heart. ~ Jeremiah 7:22-31

And the carcasses of this people shall be food for the fowls of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth; and there shall be no one to chase them away…for the land shall be desolate. ~ Jeremiah 7:33-34

Jeremiah 8

Why then is this people…slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, but my people did not know the judgment of the LORD. How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Behold, certainly in vain did he make the pen; the scribes were in vain. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them? for each one from the least even unto the greatest is given to greed; from the prophet even unto the priest every one deals falsely. ~ Jeremiah 8:5-10

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among those that should fall: when I visit them, they shall fall, saith the LORD. I will surely cut them off completely, said the LORD: there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fall; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them…for the LORD our God has put us to silence and given us water of gall to drink because we have sinned against the LORD. We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble! For, behold, I send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, said the LORD. ~ Jeremiah 8:12-15, 17

You Can Have A Clean Heart and Renewed Mind

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to Thee; but his heart is not with Thee.” Proverbs 23:7

A teacher asked a little boy to finish this proverb: “Cleanliness is next to...” And he said, “Cleanliness is next to impossible.” Well, friend that little boy wasn’t that far wrong, was he?

It’s amazing what people do to try and purify themselves – fast, pray, kneel, walk, self-flagellate, hibernate, isolate. But sadly, they discover that human efforts aren’t the pathway to purity because they keep doing what Zig Ziglar calls “stinkin‘ thinkin‘.” Before we can hope to have a life of purity, we must have a clean thought life.

God works from the inside out. He knows that you cannot purify the water by painting the pump.

When was the last time you memorized a verse of Scripture? It’s easier to stay away from “stinkin’ thinkin’” when your mind is focused on the Word of God. This is a good time to memorize yesterday’s passage, Psalm 51:10-13: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.” Start working on memorizing this passage today.

C.S. Lewis Daily

Today's Reading

On comfort
God is the only comfort. He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way. . . . Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.

From Mere Christianity

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