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Justin Taylor and Tim Keller on Scoffers, Scorners, and Snark.

Second, scoffers show no respect for opponents or opposing points of view. They do not simply refute them; they belittle, insult, and mock them (9:7-8.) There is always a tone of contempt and disdain. Together dogmatism and contemptuous derision comprise the spiritual condition of ‘scoffer.’ – Tim Keller

In Part 1 I focused on the Priestly response to the death of Osama Bin laden, and in Part 2 the Kingly response.  Now we take a look at how someone with the disposition and temperament of a Prophet might respond.

The Biblical Prophets spoke of the restoration of all things.  They were the ones reminding the people of their covenant relationship to God whenever they went astray.  When a nation was disciplined and its people suffered famine (recession/depression), plagues (rampant disease), or invasion and attacks (resulting in exile), it was the Prophets who had warned of impending disaster, and who afterwards restored hope and imparted a vision of a better tomorrow.  It was a part of their job description to reveal the heart of God toward them, even when it meant telling the people unpleasant things for their own good, whether they cared to listen or not.

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.  See, I have set you this day over nations and over Kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant …. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.  They will fight against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” (Jer. 1:9-10, 18-19)

The people often fought with and resisted the Prophets.  In fact, as you can see from the above quote, both the Kingly and Priestly types will find themselves at odds with the Prophetic personality.  They were ridiculed, mocked, dismissed as mentally unstable, labeled as trouble makers, often called unpatriotic, and accused of being traitors to their country.  They confronted nations and called them to repent; to return to God and his will as well as His way, and they were often killed for it.  Of course, long after they were dead, they were honored as great men, friends of God, with monuments built in their honor. 

But they were more than messengers of doom, which is actually a cliche’.  Biblical Prophets also spoke of the restoration of all things.  They called the people to grow in intimacy with God and obedience to his will, and they cast a vision of the type of world God desired to establish among them.

“A prophet disrupts denial and exposes the subtle and overt idolatry of the heart, provoking sorrow and shame that lead either to greater hardness or to repentance.  But repentance is always offered on the promise of restoration and healing.  The hope of a “new” day is the carrot dangled to arouse the desire for reconciliation and righteousness.  So the prophet seems to focus on two issues – the hardened heart and future hope – in order to disrupt deceitful complacency and idolatry, and to increase desire for what was meant to be.” (Dan Allender, 1996 Mars Hill Review 5 Summer)

 So how are things meant to be?  And how does that vision influence how the Prophet might respond in the aftermath of Osama Bin Laden’s death?

 Shalom: How it’s Supposed To Be When we hear the word shalom we generally interpret it to mean “peace”.  But Biblically speaking shalom means much more:

“The webbing together of God, humans and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew Prophets call shalom.  We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies.  In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight …. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.” (Cornelius Plantinga, Not The Way It’s Supposed To Be pg.10)

When the Twelve Disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he taught them what is now called “The Lord’s Prayer”.  Within that prayer are the words, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  That is shalom; heaven on earth; the restoration of all that is consistent with the abundantly good will of God for all his creation.  But we can’t speak of shalom without also considering the “vandalism” that has marred Gods creation: Sin.  Just as there is more depth and breadth to the meaning of shalom, so we must consider that in God’s view, sin is more than just an act, it is also a disposition; an attitude of the heart that is bent toward sin and idolatry, and every person is an idolater until they die to self.

“All sin has first and finally a Godward force.  Let us say that a sin is any act – any thought, desire, emotion, word, or deed – or its particular absence, that displeases God and deserves blame, and let us therefore use the word sin to refer to such instances of both act and disposition.” (Plantinga pg.13)

In Part 1 I asked the question: “Is it okay for Christians to celebrate the death of Bin Laden?”  I tried to draw a distinction between being grateful for the defeat of evil which threatened our welfare, and celebrating the death of another.  As a truth teller, the Prophet would not hesitate to point out that those who rejoice in the death or calamity of anyone, including an enemy, displease God because of their own evil disposition.  So in this instance the Prophet reveals the will of God not only by proclaiming truth, but by also asking the type of questions that would disrupt the soul and cause one to see the state of their own hardened heart , “In order to disrupt deceitful complacency and idolatry, and to increase desire for what was meant to be.

“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” 

God asks the above question in Ezekiel 18:23, and so the Prophet’s vision of shalom would compel him to ask of us the same question God presented to Israel: “Do YOU have pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”  And in case we are tempted to equivocate, God later states his answer unequivocally: “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.”  

So, if shalom is the vision set before us, is it enough to simply not hate?  Is that the measure of God’s shalom?  Is there also room for grief that one for whom Christ sacrificed his life did not “turn from his ways and live?” The very asking of such questions is an act of disruption.  The question also contains the self-evident answer, and in the case of Bin Laden’s death it is a question many find confusing, even outright offensive.  And understandably so – after all – the Cross and what it represents is an offence to our natural sensibilities. 

When I first heard of Bin Laden’s death, I saw it as an act of war, and thought that justice had been served.  But my own prophetic temperament did indeed keep me in check.  Unlike the Priestly type who will find it easier to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn, the prophetic type will often appear out of step with others.  Not that they are insensitive, but when others are celebrating, these odd people are already seeing the dangers that lie ahead, and the need of repentance; and when others are grieving they are often thankful because they already see God’s hand at work in turning their hearts back to himself.  The Prophetic type is aware that in human terms the concept of “Justice” is often elusive, and much that is at least justified may be perceived as less than just to others (anyone with children know that this is true), and the difficulty increases when dealing with life and death issues, across ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious borders, and in a world where few agree on any one concept of moral truth.  And though most would agree that Osama was evil, not everyone agreed on what should be done with him once he was caught, or how to respond at his death.  The Prophetic type wants to look at things beneath the surface and beyond the natural order of things.  Yes, they preach justice, and they want to know that God’s will has been done, and God’s justice executed in God’s way.   However, they also want to make sure that in victory an individual’s, as well as a nation’s, bent toward idolatry, vengeance, and self-exaltation is kept in check.  And for good reason:

Do not rejoice when an enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it and he turn away his wrath from him.” (Proverbs 24:17)

Like most of America, I too was glad to hear that our soldiers had defeated Bin Laden and his men in battle.  We were proud  (in the good sense of the word).  We had a healthy pride in the service of our military.  But some of it was overboard.  And before I’m dismissed as a killjoy, keep in mind that even our military was concerned about some of the rejoicing which crossed over into gloating.  One of the earliest videos to go viral was actually one from the U.S. Naval Academy where our recruits were seen giving an exuberant celebratory cheer “I Believe that we have won” followed by wild celebration.   I totally get it.  But in the excitement of the moment and the frenzy of the crowd, it took on an appearance that was disconcerting enough to the military that the Navy has pulled the video and it is now nowhere to be found.  Blood thirsty?  No, not at all.  Gloating?  That was the concern.  

But you should not have gloated over the day of their captivity; nor should you have rejoiced in the day of their destruction; nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress (Obadiah 1:12).” 

Whose Side Is God On?  Although Israel was gloating over their fellow kinsmen who had become their enemies (think civil war), there are examples in scripture where God allowed foreign enemies to overtake nations less wicked than themselves, and then punished those very nations for the manner in which they gloated in executing the very discipline He had ordained (see Isaiah 14: 24-32, Amos ch.1).   This is what I am most concerned about for America with our military might and talk of Exceptionalism (which seems more and more like an empty boast), lest we displease God and find ourselves fighting battles we cannot win – and that would indeed, be a terror.  

Now, this next line of questioning is what usually gets the Prophetic type accused of being unpatriotic or even killed.  How many of you balked just a little when you discovered the details of the operation?  Did it matter that the intense gun fight we were originally told about was actually just one man (his courier who was shot and killed along with an unarmed woman)?  I ask this not as an accusation, I’m just wondering if it muted people’s sense of celebration at all.  And when we learned that the encounter ended with the shooting of his unarmed wife (in the leg), and an unarmed Bin Laden in the Chest and in the head, did it make you at all just a little anxious that the rest of the world would see this as an execution, and a re-enactment of the American Mythology of heroic vengeance?  Did it cause you to doubt what was earlier perceived as a holy and “just” kill, and maybe relegate it to the status of merely “justifiable“?  These questions are not attacks, but if you are like me, simply asking them causes just a little bit of anxiety, and is offensive to many:  “How dare you disrupt our peace with subversive questions?!”  “Why should we think about such things?!” “Don’t you support our troops!” “Are you sympathetic toward terrorists?” “Why disrupt the national mood of exultation with needless considerations?!”  The Hebrew Prophets were also accused of being disruptors of the peace, and so it is with these types; “A prophet disrupts denial and exposes the subtle and overt idolatry of the heart, provoking sorrow and shame that lead either to greater hardness or to repentance.”  

Prophetic types ask these questions because in these times of constant threats, and valid security concerns, they want us to remember the ultimate vision; that the goal is shalom.  More than just peace, as in the death of our enemies, or the absence of war and terroristic threat – they want “truth in the inward parts”, the flourishing of the human soul and the restoration of all things good; that we would prosper only as our soul prospers.  And so, where the Priest will comfort and encourage, and the King govern and protect, it is the Prophet who will often prod and provoke us into seeing more clearly where we are complicit in injustice, what is righteous, and what is possible.  And yes, they will continue to be put to death for it.  Maybe not a literal death, though that still happens, but the powers that be will find a way to discredit, or silence them (this is the prophet’s death), in order to preserve the status quo.  We need Prophets now more than ever.        

In Part 1 I focused on the “Priest’s” response to the death of Osama Bin laden. Now we take a look at how someone with the disposition and temperament of a King might respond.

To Serve and Protect As leaders Kings build infrastructure and make decisions. Of course we all must make decisions, and will do so according to our temperaments, but someone who approaches life as a King, finds it easier to do so than say, the “Priest”. They are action oriented, have a knack for building allegiances and coalitions, and are willing and able to make the tough decision. They are able to take that which is complex and make it, well, less complex, so that goals are clarified, and action taken. Yes, they might be bold, but if the King stays connected to the people they serve and their real life concerns, they will lead with both strength and compassion, to protect and serve.  

 An excellent example in scripture of one who exhibited this leadership quality of a King, is ironically one who was not a king at all, but a cupbearer to a king who had conquered Israel: Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, and he exhibited incredible leadership and organizational skills. Artaxerxes was King of the Persian Empire (now Iran) and had already conquered Israel and a host of other nations in battle. The Jews who had escaped and survived the conquest, continued to live in Jerusalem under subjection to Artexerxes, but the city and its walls, were in ruin, as were the people, who were living defeated lives far removed from their former glory:

 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’”

 We still have memory of the devastation that took place on September 11. The image of the ruin of the Twin Towers is indelibly seared into our nations psyche. The lives that were lost, the economic downturn, the spiritual and existential crisis that was the result of this event not only left the Towers in rubble, but left us feeling as the Jews must have felt during then aftermath of their attack, “In great trouble and disgrace.   

What was amazing to me after 9/11, was the way we as a nation came together, and rallied around the people of the city of New York. We began to clear away the rubble, and bring healing and restoration to lives that had suffered great loss. But we also took steps to secure our borders, cover our economic base, and evaluated and improved our infrastructure and defenses. It was because of the foresight and skilled leadership of earlier “Kings” that we have a foundation from which to fortify and rebuild. This is the gift of good Kings, and the legacy they leave behind.

But imagine if the attack on New York hadn’t stopped there. Imagine both the city and the nation experiencing such devastation by an overwhelming attack of invading forces; the unimaginable loss of lives; our infrastructure dismantled; important significant landmarks and memorials destroyed; places of worship defiled; and our defeated forces and leaders paraded through the streets like trophies, their shame exposed, so that neighboring countries would be warned of what happens to their enemies (this was the way of the Godless nations in scripture).  Imagine many of the best and the brightest of our nation taken into captivity to serve the expansion and welfare of a foreign kingdom, while those left behind fend for themselves, as best they can, subjects of a foreign ruler who cares little for their welfare. This is exactly the situation Israel found itself in; in great distress and ruin.  

Reconstruction and Restoration So Nehemiah, a trusted servant and administrator of the King, requested that he would be allowed to go and rebuild the city of his ancestors, with full provision from the king. We look at ground zero and wonder what’s taking so long to build a memorial, but Nehemiah was looking at an entire city and its inhabitants, still demoralized by the destruction and now unable or unwilling to rebuild. He goes back to their Ground Zero. But he doesn’t dwell on the past, or their losses for long. Nehemiah’s focus is on reconstruction and restoration, not on inciting the people to fight new wars, nor instigation of greater conflict with present enemies. Sure, the detractors among his own people who had a vested interest in his failure opposed him, and even tried to get him to make decisions that would cause their enemies to rise up against him. Men who benefited by leaving things exactly like they were, resisted him and tried to deceive him into making decisions that would cause him to lose credibility with the people and the surrounding nations, and disqualify him from leadership. But he succeeded by staying focused on the task at hand.

At this time, a King would be less inclined to second guess or justify his actions, because for this type the justification for taking action was already determined and successfully executed based on goals that were set before hand. His attention will now be focused on the continued rebuilding of walls and restoration of people; on providing for and protecting the people within his sphere of responsibility.

Nehemiah, surveyed the damage; communicated a clear vision to the people, a vision of the great nation God had called them to be, and instilled in them the belief that they could be that nation once again. Each man was assigned a task, given their part of the wall, the city, and their homes, to rebuild. They were called into account, and to a place of responsibility. They were to work with a tool in one hand and a sword in the other – diligent at work, but ever vigilant and watchful of attacks from the enemy.

From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.” (Neh. 4:16-18)

Nehemiah rebuilt their infrastructure, gave everyone meaningful work to do, brought to their remembrance their vision statement for living in community, The Pentateuch (their version of the Constitution), and rooted out crooks and thieves who profited off the backs of the working people.  He dealt harshly with businessmen who were guilty of usury (charging any interest whatsoever to kinsmen was forbidden in scripture, let alone the exhorbitant ones we see today), and who thereby had made slaves of their kinsman. He regulated how they were to do business with one another so that those who were wealthy could no longer exploit the less powerful. He, along with the prophets, also called them back into a covenant relationship with their God, reminding them that neglect of this relationship was why they were in such distress. It was their moral failure that had made them vulnerable to attack, not their lack of military strength:

“For unless God watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

Nehemiah knew this to be true, so along with all of his administrative gifts and leadership abilities, and the defenses he set in place, he was sure to make the kind of reforms that ensured that the people would live in community in such a way that promoted the peace and welfare of all, protecting them not only from enemies outside their walls, but from attacks from within. He called them to a higher standard; a God inspired vision of what it means to live in community.  

I believe that a good example of a Kingly response to Osama Bin Laden’s death would be modeled in the gifts and mission seen in Nehemiah. Kings, whether government leaders, civic leaders, or leaders of households, can learn a lot about how a Kingly temperament would respond to recent events by observing nehemiah in action. Even though recent events are not the same as those that faced Nehemiah, I believe that this type of personally would respond to Bin Laden’s death as an execution of God-given delegated authority:

“For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong doer.” (Romans 13: 4)

This type is now less focused on “how do I respond to Bin laden’s death”, in fact, they may grow impatient with such “Priestly” considerations; it isn’t active or decisive enough for the Kingly type. The King is now thinking, now that action has been taken, and the threat to others neutralized, how do we as a Nation, a Business, a Community, a Family, go about rebuilding our lives; how do we reconstruct what was weakened, or exposed as insufficient protection for those I’m responsible for; and how do we restore a vision of Faith, Hope, and Love, so that the people may once again flourish, just as God intended. This is the perspective, and function of a King, and the task at hand.

Next: Part 3 – The Prophetic Response

Yes, Osama Bin Laden is dead, and there is cause for relief, gratitude, even joy that he can no longer use his influence to promote hatred, and terror in the world.  As scripture says, “when the wicked perish, the city rejoices”.  It is also safe to say of him what was said of Judas Iscariot, “He has gone to the place where he belongs”.   And yet, the Prophet Ezekiel also says that “God finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezek. 33:11).

When I presented to my friends on Facebook the question of how, in light of Bin Laden’s death, are we to responds to the seeming contradictions of these verses, and many others like them throughout scripture, the responses were varied, as they were on several other friend’s pages.  The responses covered a wide range.   Some seemed to question the newsworthiness of the event.  Others dismissed the coverage of it as merely “spectacle”.  Then there were others who were filled with sincere gratitude that this chapter at least was brought to a close, and joy in the assurrance that justice had been served.  Then there were others who seemed to respond with the kind of arrogance and disdain, even in victory, that muddied the satisfaction and Godly joy felt by many, reminding me that for some, this was not only a campaign of justice and protection, but one of vengeance, and who’s bloodlust was now satisfied – maybe.

Out of the various conversations, online and off, some questions that stick out:

  • Should we celebrate success in battle?
  • Should we rejoice in the fall of an enemy?
  • And does God take pleasure in the death and destruction of the wicked?

Since people interpret and respond to events differently based on all sorts of personal experiences and points of view, I’ve decided to make several posts looking at the topic through the lens of Christ’s mission as Prophet, Priest, and King.  I’m doing this not only to keep me focused on what I believe is a Christian response (of which mine is only one perspective even amongst Christians), but to also see how various perspectives and insights are needed in order to bring to bear a more complete and faithful witness of the one who is Soveriegn over all the affairs of men.

In scripture, Jesus’s influence on earth and in heaven is depicted in three types: Prophet, Priest, and King.  In scripture we see God calling and appointing men to function in these offices as leaders to protect and bless His people.  Even today each of us have certain gifts, abilities, and temperaments, that make us predisposed to view reality accordingly, and express our personalities and gifts primarily in one of these types (not official titles or positions), though Jesus was the only person to do so perfectly. 

Today I’m viewing Bin Laden’s death and our response through the lens of our calling as “Priests”.  The Priest wants to comfort people.  They speak words of life that encourage and strengthen those who are emotionally wounded, or burdened by life.  Life itself can be a battle, and they minister healing to those who have been ravaged by war (literally and figuratively), suffering, and loss. They stand along side those who have lost their way, or feel that perhaps God has forgotten them in their suffering and pain.   In the New Testament Christians are referred to as a Priesthood of believers, and as Priests we are called to the ministry of reconciliation; turning hearts back to God and to one another, reminding us that even as undeserving as we may be, God is still near and He cares, even when his presence is not felt in our lives.  We reveal the mercy of God even while we experience the severity of God, and the sinfulness of man. Priests are also, moreso than most, able to model the words of Paul the apostle in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

It’s for this reason I believe that Priests would be able to enter into the joy of the people at this time.  Why?  Because they know the pain and suffering that has been experienced by so many people.  Even if they have not personally experienced any severe loss, they have not remained detached from the suffering and fears of others.  The word empathy has been held in low regard lately due to politics, but Priests, like Jesus, are filled with compassion, and because they have mourned with us in our losses, they are able to also rejoice in the consolation of our grief. 

But some are asking, “Is it okay for me to rejoice over a victory in battle that has resulted in Bin Laden’s death”?   Granted, not many seem to be struggling with that question, but some are.  Scripture is filled with examples of Godly people celebrating a victory in battle, and 2 Chronicles 20:27 is just one of many: “Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.”  Does this mean that Jesus as our Priest gets pumped about going to war?  No.  Despite what some may think, Jesus isn’t a “Hawk”.  Nor does it mean that they rejoiced in the pain and suffering of their enemies (as we shall see in a future post, this type of gloating displeases God greatly).  Nevertheless, I do see in scripture that there are examples of horrible unjust wars that men start for all sorts of wrong and selfish reasons, as well as horrible, yet necessary wars, and God uses both to accomplish His purposes regardless of man’s intent.  The priest’s focus at this time is not on politics, it is focused on ministering to the lives of those touched by suffering and loss, as well as sharing in the joy of those revived by renewed hope of a safer more peaceful future.  No matter the Priest’s personal feelings regarding Bin Laden’s death, or the responses of others to it, even if they are unable to enter into the celebratory mood of the masses, they will find a way to identify with some aspect of joy that others are experiencing in the sense of giving thanks and showing gratitude to God for His faithfulness, and care.  After all, there is indeed much to be grateful for.  “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”

I understand the responses of those who are not only filled with hatred, but also with joy at the demise of the object of their hatred.  We are commanded to hate evil, just as God hates evil.  Scripture is filled with verses like Psalm 97: “You who love God must hate evil.”  And King David, a “man after God’s own heart” declares in Psalm 139, “I have hated them with a perfect hatred. They have become enemies to me.”  So keep in mind that scripture shows hatred to be a valid emotion, and we are to hate the things that God hates.  The need for justice is a God given sentiment, and we naturally rejoice to see Bin Laden’s reign of terror brought to an end.  But God’s “Perfect Hatred” (perfect as in, pure, Holy, just, and wholly righteous), is different than what we too often express.  

Consider what was shared with me this week about the Jewish Passover Seder; it puts things into perspective.  As the Jewish believers are remembering the pain and suffering their nation suffered as slaves at the hands of the Egyptian, and when they recall the Ten Plagues, they pour wine out of their glasses ten separate times as a way of showing that they will not raise a glass to the suffering of Egyptians.  What I like about this practice, and the Passover in general, is that what is included in this memorial of their deliverance from their enemies is not only a creative reminder and consideration of the remaining peoples of their vanquished enemies, but also an acknowledgement that it was God who gave them the victory, not the strength of their own hands; satisfaction mixed with a sober mindedness; joy and gratitude expressed to a faithful God who sovereignly intervened in their affairs when they had no hope of victory; and an acknowledgement of their dependency on God’s grace and mercy, not the strength of their own hands and military might, of which they had none.  And the whole passover meal is a retelling of this terrifing, wonderful story showing the faithfulness of God who delievered them from danger.  I believe the Jews have the right idea; after all – they wrote The Book.

Priests, just as in the Jewish Passover Seder, will also remind us of our shared stories, and our place in God’s larger story.  They will remind us not to forget that he is still the center of the drama, working to bring about his ends in the world.  And because of the suffering and loss so many of us have experienced, the Priest is aware  that there are those who are not yet able to enter into the greater story, nor into God’s rest.  I’ve listened to some share how they have not been able to yet share in the elation that others are feeling because at the present time these events have only stirred up some of the pain of the past ten years.  They feel the pressure, and even desire to be “happy” and yet are filled with anxiety, which they hope and expect to pass now that this chapter has closed.  But presently?  They still struggle with the memory, and reality of loss.  The Priest will continue to walk with such as these, helping them process their ambivalence and their lingering sense of loss, assuring them that,  “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Next – Part 2: The Kingly Response

“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:

  ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth.
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
      for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’” – Matthew 5:1-12 

Woe to you “christians” in politics who are christian in name only! I am not a democrat. Nor am I a republican. I am not a libertarian, nor a constitutionalist. If I were thirsty, I would not attend your tea party. I’m not even an independent (lucky for you). I AM! Why do you continue to treat your own desires as if they were synonymous with mine (My Word), when I told you that my Kingdom was not of this world? Yet each of you tries to recreate me in your own image, which is idolatry. I Am. I do what I please. “I will show mercy on anyone I choose, and show compassion on anyone I choose (Romans 9:15)”, yet you will be judged by every idle word spoken, as well as deeds done and not done while on this earth. You also strengthen the hands of those who deny me, who persist in sinful lifestyles. They that are perishing are made to feel that there is no need to repent that they may be healed. You’ve forgotten that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people (Proverbs 14:34),” and that “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness….Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:18-32).”

You on my left, who use compassion as a bargaining chip that you may gain power for yourselves, you keep the poor and the needy in a place of dependency so that they no longer look to me as their provider and sustainer, and the people, they would have it so. They are like Israel of old, “For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink….Therefore I have taken back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season…when you went after your lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord (Hosea 2:5-13).’”

And you on my right, Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.’ The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds (Amos 8:4).” You defend such as these even though they make slaves of you, and you scapegoat those who also suffer at their hands, those who endure the same fate as you. I warned you in my word to not show partiality toward the rich. Remember this the next time the leaders you defend ship your jobs overseas to “buy the poor” for pennies on the dollar that they may grow rich at your expense.

Woe to you Pharisees and hypocrites! You moralists and Pharisees, who judge others as less enlightened than yourselves; you Pharisees and moralists, you “salt of the earth” who judge others as less pure hearted (pure motives or pure-blooded?) than yourselves; beware: does bitter water and salt water flow from the same stream? “And once salt loses its saltiness, can it be salted again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled by men (Matthew 5:13).” Check yourself to make sure that you are in the Faith, because you who point the finger have no excuse:

Roman 2:17-24: “Now you, if you call yourself a Jew [or patriotic people of God]; if you rely on law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law [or your Constitution, or my word, or your philosophies; take your pick] the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law (morality), do you dishonor God by breaking the law (practicing immorality yourselves)? As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles [literally: ethnos, nations, or ethnic groups] because of you.’”

And yet, did I not command you to be kind to the alien and immigrant in your midst? Yet, you treat them with contempt. I called you to reach the nations with the love of Christ, but when I bring the immigrant to your door, to your neighborhood, and to your congregations, many of you keep them at a distance, while some treat them contemptuously, even defending and exalting leaders who incite my people to treat them thus. Should you follow your laws and hold the alien accountable? Certainly, but where is your heart for the lost? What happened to Pentecost; the fiery tongues of Pentecost, an expression of my love and purpose for the nations? Instead your tongues have become drawn daggers. I am not an American nativist (one who shows partiality toward their own people group and oppose immigrants). In my kingdom there is “No distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:11).” I love the alien in your midst and I have called you to love and respect them as well, that they may know me. Remember that in my Kingdom, you were once a wild olive branch grafted into the branch of Israel:

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles (those “other” than Israel), who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.

“Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either. Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off (Romans 11:17-22).”

Woe to you Shepherds! You were to teach my people how to distinguish the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to discern between the unclean and clean (Ezekiel 44:23). Instead you have tickled their ears, never weaning them off milk that they may discern good from evil, and you’ve white-washed their condition. Bowing to the culture around you, you no longer know my word, nor are you sensitive to my voice or discern the movement of my Spirit upon your hearts, and so every man does what is right in his own eyes, rather than in obedience to my word. Woe to you! Soon I will replace many of you with shepherds after my own heart. Many are hidden under my shelter, being prepared to be shot forth as arrows from my quiver. They are faithful, and what they speak will not veer to the left or the right. They are true, and they will comfort and lead my sheep, and they will teach them to discern the holy from the common.

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.” -Isa 42:3-4

Peace,

Ron

* Though the above was prayerfully “crafted”, it does, however, reflect what I believe to be the heart of God as reflected in scripture. As to its prophetic merit, that’s up to others to judge.  

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