Where am I going when I die? How do I know what’s true? Is the geo-political world in a death spiral? In a day when truth has been thrown to the ground, and lies and “false news” are the norm, these questions, and many others, are impossible to answer objectively. That is, unless one has an internal compass that is calibrated to Prophetic Truth.
One of the most important reasons for studying and understanding Biblical prophecy, is not so we can predict specific times of events. Rather, in knowing how things have been prophesied and fulfilled in the past, we can have a certain hope of God’s faithfulness to fulfil future events with the same exactness. This certainty and hope not only pegs our place on the time line but also informs us of what God is doing and what we need to be doing in response and participation with His plan and will.
Approximately one third of the entire Bible is prophetic in nature. Some have suggested there are as many as 2500 specific prophecies, 300-350 of which have reference to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. To help us grasp the certainty of future prophetic events, and dispel any notion of mere coincidence, we need only look back at the way in which once future prophesied events have been fulfilled.
In the Old Testament there are 61 major messianic prophecies fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. If we were to take just 8 of those and ask “What are the statistical chances of these 8 events being fulfilled in one man?” we would find the scientific and statically calculated number to be 1 in 10 to the 17th. That’s right…1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. For one man to be born in Bethlehem; be proceeded by a messenger; to enter Jerusalem on a donkey; be betrayed by a friend; sold for 30 pieces of silver; have money be thrown into God’s house; be silent before his accusers; and to be crucified with thieves having his hands and feet pierced…for just these eight to be fulfilled by one man would be equivalent to covering the entire state of Victoria (or Texas for our US friends) in fifty cent pieces two feet deep, hiding just one marked coin amongst them, then blindfolding a man and sending him out to pick up that one coin on his first attempt. Impossible…for just 8 prophecies. We cannot even comprehend the astronomical improbability of 48 prophecies which is 1 in 10 to the 157th. Yet this is exactly what has happened, and will happen in the future.
Many times "A picture is worth a thousand words" and the pre-millennial, dispensational prophetic charts of Clarence Larkin (1850-1924) are no exception. In an age before computers, Larkin used his draftsman's skills to consolidate vast landscapes of prophetic scripture into over 90 charts. Six of these key charts can be viewed and downloaded along with his entire book "Dispensational Truth" on the Read page. Blessings as you re-calibrate your internal compass.
For many, daily life involves an excruciatingly long commute from home to work and back. The thought of being able to work from home or at least work closer to home would feel like such a relief, but we know it would take a miracle to accomplish it. This same dynamic is at play in our spiritual lives as well.
Many don’t even know they have a home, both now and one to come. They have no idea of the miracle that has already happened to make it possible for them to live and work “from home”. They feel an intense longing for relief of and for something they can’t even name.
Currently in the U.S., controversy is raging over a recently released movie called “The Shack”. Based on Paul Young’s 2007 book by the same title, it tells the story of a man who discovers he has a home to live in and work from. This home is God; Father-Son-Holy Spirit; The Trinity. Fuelling the controversy is the depiction of God the Father as both a black African American woman and later in the story as a strong male figure; the Son, Jesus is not surprisingly depicted as a Jewish man; and the Holy Spirit is a somewhat ethereal person best characterised as an Asian woman. Claims of “blasphemy” are circulating about this depiction of God. Yet, upon closer scrutiny, the claims of “blasphemy” actually reveal a sadly myopic view of the Triune God of Grace and an even sadder level of personal experience of fellowship within this circle of Divine Fellowship…otherwise known as Home.
The words of the following song were written by my wife in 1998, after we returned from living and working in the African Sahara. They echo the same cry for relief and the joy of discovery that the fictional character Mack finds in “The Shack”. May they encourage you with the same as you learn to live and work from Home.
Song for the Elder Brother
Out in the fields, working so hard.
Out in the fields, where has the joy gone?
So much to be done.
Out in the fields, doing “The Father’s Will”.
Out in the fields so many have questions.
But do I have answers?
If so many need to hear, and I am willing to go
If this is really obedience, why do I feel this way?
Why are you silent? Where is the fruit of your Spirit?
Where is your promised peace?
Where is the joy, the hope and the love?
All I sense is emptiness; don’t let me give in to bitterness.
And then your love broke through
And called me into your house,
Embraced me in my anger, and sorted a few things out.
“It’s not about the work. I’m doing it anyway.
It’s about us being together and learning to hear what I say.
Leave your work in the fields. Sit quietly with me.
Let me love you; enjoy you.
I’ve been longing for you to see
That this was my plan,
This is why I died.
This is how its been forever,
And you’ve been invited to dine.
Never leave my table,
For our fellowship is the glory I’ve promised,
It’s the treasure you seek.
Come, be loved my child”.
Fortunately by 10:00 pm last night it would appear as if some “sobriety” has returned to the Bible Society Australia in regard to their ill advised marketing campaign which our previous post titled "Beer, Bible and Same Sex Marriage...really?" challenged.
The original video has been removed from their website along with the original text and references to “…how a drop of Coppers Premium Light doesn’t hurt…” in helping us obey the scriptural command to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.
Also removed is the ungodly attribution “of a good beer being on the table” alongside the Bible as a reason why perhaps these politicians, and presumably the rest of us, were able to “thoroughly enjoy their profound disagreement”.
Whilst they may "have started a national conversation", it is rather unfortunate that it had to be this one.
To celebrate its 200th anniversary, the Bible Society Australia has teamed up with Coopers Premium Light. The brewery has created a special batch of “light beer” which features the Bible Society's logo, and has Bible verses on the cases. This new brew is coupled with a video campaign showing a Gay Victorian MP Tim Wilson and conservative Christian MP Andrew Hastie discussing their views of Same Sex Marriage. The video includes several lingering shots of the beer bottles, and a rather comedic host who is clearly trying to “keep it light”. It ends with both parties toasting to the Bible Society with their Coopers Premium Light and congratulate it on its bicentennial. The expressed purpose of this campaign, according to Bible Society Australia, is to reach more Australians with God’s word by specifically asking: “…Australians to try “Keeping it Light”.
Let me say, I have great admiration for any organization that has committed itself to making the Bible available around the world for 200 years. Let me also hasten to say that few things go down better than a cold beer after a hot days work in the Australian sun.
But “Keeping it Light”? Really? Promoting “Christianity light” through a comedian host and beer drinking politicians presenting “their views” is the very thing that inoculates many people from hearing and taking God and His Word seriously. Is “Keeping it Light” really what God has asked of us, particularly when it comes to the cultural moment’s trajectory regarding Same Sex Marriage?
How about “Keeping it True”? A lost world does not need “Christianity light”. God’s view is the one that matters. The world needs to hear and know the undiluted Truth. That Truth is in the person of Jesus Christ, apostolically disclosed and discovered in the Bible. A lost world does not need gimmicks, and the Bible needs no defence or shameful marketing campaigns masquerading under the guise of creativity. As C.H. Spurgeon said, “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself ”.
That “unchained lion” roars: “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord…” (2 Cor. 4:2-5)
May both the Bible Society Australia and Coopers Brewery re-think what they are asking Australians to do.
John Ruysbroeck, a 14th century Dutch contemplative, is remembered for saying, “The moral virtues are the ornaments of the spiritual marriage”. This simple sentence seems to contain the key to understanding why an invited guest was thrown out of a wedding banquet in a parable Jesus gave in Matt. 22:1-14. Historically speaking, this parable is a clear account of the Jewish nation rejecting Jesus their Messiah in the past. Prophetically speaking, it points to the universal reconciliation Jesus would accomplish in His impending death in the future. Personally speaking, it speaks to our response to what is given to us in the present, namely wedding clothes. These wedding clothes are the ornaments the spiritual marriage and they are given to every guest, both good and bad. The question is will we receive them and put them on or will we persist in ignoring the “fine linen, bright and clean” that was given to Bride of the Lamb to wear (Rev. 19:6-8).
The Father has given us His Son; Love defined (1 Cor. 13:4-8). The Son has given us His Faith; Love developed (2 Pet. 1:5-7). The Spirit has given us His Fruit; Love displayed (Gal. 5:22-23). The Triune God of Grace has given us wedding clothes of Love which we are to receive and put on in the multiplicity of moral virtues seen in these three passage. These are the ornaments of the spiritual marriage, and they are given as gifts. To reject them as unimportant or to try and earn them by works, is to relegate oneself “to the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Through Jesus Christ, you have been reconciled and brought to the wedding banquet of eternal life. You are not in because you are good. You are not out because you are bad. You are in by grace already given you in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and only out by refusing to receive, wear and abide in this grace, the ornaments of your spiritual marriage.