Friday, December 13, 2013

When Hell Broke Loose In Heaven (part 2)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, " I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these word are trustworthy and true." ~ Revelation 21:4-5

The incarnation is serious. But just because it is serious does not mean it must be somber." ~ Seth Rydelnik, RELEVANT Magazine

Sometimes we more closely relate to the other John; John the Baptist. At least I do. Remember him? A wild man that wore rough woven clothes and ate bugs? Out of the wilderness desert he came bellowing, "Prepare the way of the Lord! Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins!" John's public ministry only lasted about eighteen months. Uncensored preaching landed him in prison, and while incarcerated he had a complete crisis of faith. How complete, you ask? Well, the Baptist sent messengers to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah, or should he keep looking. Absolutely nothing was making sense to John--what was he doing in prison? Nothing was working out the way John expected--where was the Kingdom? Unceremoniously--and literally--John's head was delivered on a silver platter to the honey of a despot. John's quandary…we can relate to that.

As an aside…

On the lowest day of John the Baptist's life, Jesus reinforced his high view of John: "I tell you the truth: among those born of a woman there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist."

Revelation's story of the Incarnation makes sense of the present contradiction of the angel's ancient announcement, "Peace on earth to men on whom his favor rests." Wouldn't we be hard-presssed to convince anyone that ours is a placid planet? The back-story in the Revelation tells us why. Satan, being hurled from the airy heavens hit the dirt hard so to speak. But he reorganized his forces on earth, and now, "He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short." God's will is done in heaven, but for the time being on earth, war is being waged against humanity. No holds barred. Extraordinarily cunning, the Deceiver makes life here just hell enough to believe that our good times are our only heaven, and our bad times are our only hell.  

So here we are until Jesus returns. Rays of hope and kindness still flicker, sure. The Spirit of God keeps Satan on a short leash. But our world will get worse. Social engineering can't fix it (but that is no excuse for any of us to be anything less than salt and light). Our eyes will release salty rivers, death will prove it respects no persons, morning after morning will bring mourning somewhere. At every level of the human experience, atrocities will batter mankind. The awful disorder we see in our world is masterfully ordered by the Prince of the power of the air. His hatred for the Prince of Peace has not waned. In particular, Satan bullies the children of the Redeemer. 

It's the truth. It's serious. It's somber. But it's not the entire story. In the meantime, just as Jesus told John the Baptist, Christ's Kingdom advances. Redemption and miracles continue. Christ in us is greater than the one who stands against us. We grieve, but not as those who have no hope. Loved ones and innocents die, just as the Christ child did. But the Risen One resurrected and death was swallowed up in victory. Christ's journey did not skirt the valley of the shadow of death, and like him we will be led right through it. On the other side our temporary bodies will dissolve, and a new one will be given. Indestructible. Incorruptible. Perfectly fitted to house our souls. In spite of the battles we may lose, in the end, the war is already won. Inexplicably, apart from faith, peace that passes all our understanding is ours to be had. God will one day vanquish the Evil One once and for all. 

He who was seated on the throne said, " I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these word are trustworthy and true."

So, through the new birth we celebrate with joy the birth of the Savior...

P.S. After Jesus confirmed the faith of John the Baptist he spoke these words about those who receive the Good News, and put their trust in Christ: "Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he [John]."

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