Friday, November 11, 2016

Trials to Test Our Faith - Part 1

Introduction

1 Corinthians 10:1-6 is a passage of scripture that I have been thinking about for a few weeks.  The more I think about it, the more I see in it that I want to write about.  Instead of one long post, I will be breaking this into several smaller posts.  This first post will deal with the similarities between the Corinthian church and the children of Israel.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they were all drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were cut down in the wilderness. These things happened as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did.  (1 Corinthians 10:1-6 NET)

The Problems of the Corinthian Church

Much of the epistle to the Corinthians is spent in scolding and correcting the bad behavior of some of the believers who made up the church in Corinth.  Among the problems that Paul mentions:
  • Divisions and infighting in the church. (chapters 1-4)
  • Sexual immorality in the church. (chapter 5, 6)
  • Believers within the Church bringing lawsuits against each other. (chapter 6)
  • Divorce in the church. (chapter 7)
  • Problems with idols. (chapter 8)
Paul was the one who brought the gospel to Corinth and he lived and worshiped with them of a year and a half (Acts 18).  He considered himself the spiritual father of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:15) and cared for them as a father cares for his children.  To some extent, I think Paul's relationship to the Corinthians was like Moses' relationship to the Israelites.  He was very concerned about them.

The Example of Israel

So having this great concern for the Corinthians, Paul chose to use the example of the children of Israel during the exodus from Egypt as an illustration and a warning for the Corinthians.  Knowing the heart of Paul, I imagine that he could clearly see the parallels between what had happened to Israel and what was happening to the Corinthians.  His goal was to wake up the Corinthians so that they would change the direction in which they were heading. Here are the sins of Israel which Paul mentioned.  Take a moment to compare these to the list of the sins of the Corinthians.
  • Idolatry  (1 Corinthians 10:7) 
  • Sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 10:8)
  • Putting Christ to the test (1 Corinthians 10:9)
  • Complaining (1 Corinthians 10:10)

People of God

I have focused on the negative similarities between the two groups, but that is not where Paul started the illustration found in verses 1-6.  Paul started with the positives - both the Church in Corinth and the Israelites were called out and set apart to be the people of God!  

The children of Israel were "under the cloud" (vs. 1).  The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21) was God's very presence and protection in their midst.  Like the Israelites, the Corinthians also had the presence of God in their midst.  They had the Holy Spirit dwelling within them! (1 Corinthians 3:16).

The Israelites passed "through the sea" (vs. 1).  The sea represented destruction and chaos.  When the Israelites found themselves between the sea and Pharaoh's army, it appeared that they faced certain death (Exodus 14:10-11).  Salvation came when, through Moses, God parted the sea and they passed through on dry land.  Like them, the pagan Corinthians were being herded toward death by Satanic idolatry.  They had no hope of drawing near to God or obtaining eternal life.  But their salvation came when Paul brought the gospel to them.  They heard, they believed and they followed in baptism.  

The Israelites "all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink".  They were sustained in the desert by water and manna provided directly by God.  The Corinthian Christians ate of the Lord's supper - which represented the body and blood of Jesus Christ - and through partaking of his death on the cross - also were sustained towards the promise of eternal life.

In the case of both Israel and the Corinthian believers, God had done the work of salvation.  God had reached out to those who were hopeless and called them to Himself.  He had created a people for himself when the people had no way to approach him.

In Danger                            

Israel had started well.  They had seen the miraculous hand of God defeat their enemies and provide for them in the desert.  They had a visible confirmation of God's presence with them every day and night.  But in the end, the generation of Israelites who walked through the sea were "cut down in the wilderness".  They died in the desert without ever seeing the land that God had promised them.

Paul could see the pattern being repeated in the lives of the Corinthian believers.  They were in danger just as the Israelites had been.  His warning was written in 1 Corinthians 10:5-6.  This was a very serious warning.  If it happened to the Israelites, Paul seemed to be saying, it can happen to us as well!

What caused God to be so displeased with the children of Israel?  Was it really possible that the Corinthian Christians could be disqualified from inheriting the promises of eternal life?  Or was Paul speaking of something with less eternal consequences?

These are questions we will take up in the next installment, Lord willing.  Until then, I will leave you with this verse to ponder:

As it says, “O, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For which ones heard and rebelled? Was it not all who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership? And against whom was God provoked for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient? So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:15-19 NET)

Jay

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wane Grudem I Hope Your Happy Now by Steven McAlpine

In light of this blog's focus on the coming Kingdom of God, I thought this post from Australian blogger Steven McAlpine was excellent on the day after elections in the U.S.

Read Here

Friday, November 4, 2016

Dying to Make God Famous

Article by Jimmy Needham at DesiringGod.org


"Imagine Peter’s confusion. Peter, you’re going to be crucified. He has just been commissioned by his leader to care for God’s people, charged to teach them, and then that same leader ends his charge with, Oh by the way, you’re going to be executed in a horribly painful way. Doesn’t Jesus know that crucifixion would massively inhibit Peter’s ability to preach and care for the church? The conversation feels so counterintuitive."  Read Full Article

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Obedience of Paul

The Last Trip to Jerusalem


In Acts Chapter 20, as Paul is wrapping up his third missionary journey, he has his sights set on a return to Jerusalem.  He is trying to get there before the day of Pentecost, so he makes a decision to by-pass Ephesus (Acts 20:16).  I believe the reason for this decision was because he knew that if he stopped in Ephesus it would be hard to leave again quickly.  He had spent 3-1/2 fruitful years there and no doubt had many dear friends who would desire to see him and spend time with him.

Even though he didn't stop there, he was not willing to be "in the neighborhood" (in Miletus - about 38 miles from Ephesus) without seeing the Elders of the church in Ephesus, so he sent for them and had them come see him in Miletus.  When they arrived, he dropped the bad news - the reason he had wanted to see them was because it would be the last time he would see them on this side of the resurrection (Acts 20:25).  During his time with them, he explained why:
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem without knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit warns me in town after town that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. - Acts 20:22-24 NET

Compelled by the Holy Spirit.....to be Imprisoned and Persecuted


In the quoted scripture above, Paul notes two messages he has received from the Holy Spirit.
First, that he must go to Jerusalem, and second, that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for him there.  Regarding the directive to go to Jerusalem, it appears that the Lord directly laid this on Paul's heart.  We see that in Acts 19:21 that he had resolved while he was in Ephesus that he should go to Jerusalem, and afterwards Rome.  The message that he would be imprisoned, however, was delivered by the disciples and elders in the places where he went along the way.

Callings, Warnings, and Confirmations


It's fascinating to me that  these two messages came from the same source (the Holy Spirit) but were delivered in completely different ways and even with different intentions.

The drive that Paul had to go to Jerusalem was clearly an internal calling.  God had shown him that he was to go to Jerusalem.  The Holy Spirit had laid on him a great burden for the unbelieving Jews.  He was compelled to go and "testify to the good news of God's grace" (Acts 20:24).

But over and over again, when the disciples and elders along the way heard that Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit clearly spoke to them and told them that Paul would be imprisoned.  This was extremely alarming to the disciples, and they took it as a warning from God that Paul should avoid going to Jerusalem.  They loved Paul and knew how the Gospel had advanced because of his preaching and could not bear the thought that he would be imprisoned - effectively ending his ministry.

But what they perceived as an urgent warning, Paul perceived as a confirmation.  Paul knew two things - that it was God's will for him to go to Jerusalem where he would be imprisoned, and that it was God's will for him to travel to Rome (Acts 19:21).  I imagine that along the way he had his moments of doubt.  Surely he struggled with how these two futures could possibly be reconciled.  But when doubt threatened to overtake him, I picture God sending a brother or sister to warn him that imprisonment awaited him in Jerusalem - thereby reinforcing the path that he was on and acting as a confirmation that he was heading in the right direction.  It seemed to get even more dramatic the closer he got to Jerusalem:

While we remained there for a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.  He came to us, took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it, and said, “The Holy Spirit says this: ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man whose belt this is, and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, both we and the local people begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be tied up, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Because he could not be persuaded, we said no more except, “The Lord’s will be done.” - Acts 21:10-14 NET

Obedience

Obedience in Paul's case was not easy.  I'm sure that it was a daily struggle between the desires of his flesh (not to be beaten, imprisoned and killed) and the desire that he had to do the will of his Lord.  For Paul it was literally a battle between faith and unbelief.  Would he believe that God would use him to preach the gospel in Jerusalem and also that he would make it to Rome?  Or would he take matters into his own hands, preserve his freedom and head to Rome without going through Jerusalem.

If you have read the rest of Acts, you know that Paul stayed the course, preached to the Jews in the temple in Jerusalem and eventually made it to Rome (as a prisoner).  While in Rome he wrote four letters which eventually became books that we have in our New Testament - Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.  While he was in chains, he also testified before very powerful people - kings, rulers, and soldiers - of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Paul is a great model for us.  He obeyed even when everyone was telling him not to.  He truly had the "courage of his convictions".  We would do well to learn from him.

Jay

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Paul's Preaching in Ephesus

In Acts Chapter 19 we see Paul spending a significant amount of time in Ephesus (approximately 3 1/2 years).  This was during what is known as his third missionary trip.  This post will highlight a few interesting points about Paul's preaching in Ephesus.

So Paul entered the synagogue and spoke out fearlessly for three months, addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God. But when some were stubborn and refused to believe, reviling the Way before the congregation, he left them and took the disciples with him, addressing them every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all who lived in the province of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord. - Acts 19:8-10 NET

It Started in the Synagogue


As Paul usually did, he began in Ephesus by preaching in the local synagogue.  That means he was preaching primarily to Jews, but also to "God fearing gentiles" (gentiles who believed in YHWH - the God of Israel).

Paul had a pretty good run in the synagogue - much longer than in other places.  He actually preached there for 3 months before the he left.  Not that it was easy - he obviously had to muster a great deal of courage to continue to preach for that long.  Acts says he preached "fearlessly".  This tells me there was opposition - the type of that could cause fear.  So, there were probably threats of various kinds and I'm sure Paul was maligned both in the synagogue and in the city.

It was not the threats that eventually caused Paul to move on - it was the stubbornness of the Jews.  I suppose it came to a point where he could see that he had gone as far as he could within the congregation.  Notice that when he left, he took the new disciples of "the way" with him.  I wonder how much the Jewish congregation shrunk on that day?

It was focused on the Kingdom of God


Interesting that Paul's primary message during his three months in the synagogue was about the Kingdom of God.  The NET says he "addressed and convinced them" regarding this subject.

I'm already convinced that the primary message of the gospel is the Kingdom, so this is another affirmation from the scriptures for me.  Paul's message focused on what Jesus calls The Age to Come (Mark 10:30) when Christ will reign over all the earth in fulfillment of the many prophecies of the Old and New Testaments.

The preaching of the Kingdom is always about what you must do now (believe) so that you will be ready to enter in to the Kingdom when it arrives.  Note, that this is NOT a message about "going to heaven" - it's very earth focused - on the time of the "restoration of all things" at the return of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:21).  It's the same kingdom that Jesus taught his disciples about during the 40 days after the resurrection (Acts 1:9-10) and the one the disciples asked about before his ascension (Acts 1:6-8).

Funny (not really) that today we rarely hear teaching like this.  Instead we get teaching about how "Jesus loves you and has a terrific plan for your life".  Paul's preaching seemed to be "Jesus loves you and has trouble in this age, but a terrific plan for your eternal life in the age to come".

Many of the Jews in the synagogue had an issue with this message.  I'll bet they had their hearts set on a king that would reign NOW - not in the age to come.

It Ended in a Public Lecture Hall


It seems as though Paul eventually got to the point where continuing to preach in the synagogue was not an option.  When he left after 3 months, he moved his preaching spot to a public lecture hall.

We don't know much about the lecture hall of Tyrannus, but scholarly speculation is that it was a place for the men of Ephesus to go each day during their leisure time and debate and discuss the latest philosophical ideas (this was what they did for fun back then?).  Paul's talks must have been really popular, because he was able to continue having them for two years!

This seems to be a pattern - the rejection of the Jews brought salvation for the gentiles (Romans 11:12).  When Paul left the synagogue, his message and ministry actually expanded greatly.  Still, Paul was committed everywhere he went to bring the gospel "first to the Jews, then to the gentiles" (Romans 1:16).  It was the Jewish disciples who he brought with him when he left the synagogue who undoubtedly became the leaders of the church in Ephesus.  

And at that time, "The Way" of following Jesus as the crucified and risen messiah was still seen as a Jewish movement.  It's remarkable to me that God designed it this way.  Of all the unlikely scenarios to spread the gospel in the first century - that a small band of Jews would turn the entire Greek world upside down with this backward message.  Yes indeed, the foolishness of man is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Jay

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mark Chapter 4

Recently, reading in Mark Chapter 4, The Holy Spirit showed me something that I had not seen before:  The contrast between Jesus' public and private ministry.

Publicly, Jesus only spoke in parables.  Privately, Jesus explained the parables plainly to his disciples.
He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. (Mark 4:34)
 Why?  The parables that Jesus spoke were impossible to understand without interpretation because the parables themselves did not contain enough clues or references for the hearing public to figure them out.  In the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-8) how could they possibly understand that the seed represents the Word of God or that the bird represents the devil without Jesus himself giving the interpretation?  The answer is - they could not!  Jesus had no intention of the public understanding his parables.

This is made clear in verses 10-12:
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, So that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
Jesus was quoting Isaiah 6:9-10 and his mission was the same as Isaiah's.  Both Isaiah and Jesus were sent to a people who had become apathetic to the Word of the LORD.  The people's apathy would lead to their judgement, since they would not seek the meaning of the word, they would not repent and return to the LORD.  In Isaiah 6:11-12, Isiah asks the LORD how long it will be that the people will hear but not understand:
Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
The general public was excited about Jesus' ministry.  They were caught up in the hype, hoping that maybe they could benefit from being part of the throng.  They were thrilled by the miracles He performed.  They were giddy with anticipation that this might be the promised King of Israel that would lead them out of bondage while smiting the necks of their Roman oppressors.

But when he spoke disturbing and difficult parables to them they said in their hearts "Why does this guy have to be so confusing?  Why can't he just stick to the script - get on with the business of being the great Messiah already?"  The truth is, they did not care to understand the parables.  If they did, they would have sought him out to question him for understanding.  They would have become disciples.

And that is precisely the point of why he spoke in ways that were impossible for the general public to understand.  He wanted (and still desires) true disciples - those who sought him out, who yearned to understand his teachings - not those who heard his teachings, but then moved on to something more exciting when "the thrill was gone" or when things got dangerous.

In our day, you could say that Jesus does not care for Facebook friends or twitter followers. But he desires those who will not stop seeking him, even when the answers are terrifying or costly to the seeker. Mostly - he wants disciples who will continue to follow him even when they don't understand, because they believe in who he is.

At one time in his ministry, Jesus had many disciples.  But when he spoke to them of things which caused them to be offended, many of them left him.  The story is told in John Chapter 6:
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”.....When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”.....After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
 Brothers and sisters, let us not be like the contrite disciples that turned back from following the LORD when they could not understand his sayings.  Let us instead be like the twelve who followed him even when they did not understand him, because they believed in who he was, not just in what he taught.  Let us follow by faith.

Jay





   

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Guest Post - Christians: Stop Looking for a "small s" Savior (Stephen McAlpine)

Note:  The following post is from Stephen McAlpine - an Australian blogger.  From the little I know it seems that the cultural revolution ongoing in Australia and the United States have taken / are taking similar tracks.  You can change a few words and people's names in this post and it makes perfect sense for the United States.

-Jay

View Original Post

If the recent turmoil in Australian politics has shown me anything it is that too many Christians are looking for a “small s” saviour.  One that is going to come and lead them out of the dirty morass of post-Christendom culture and same-sex-whatever, into the promised land of, well whatever it is they’re not too sure, but it sure ain’t what we’ve got now.

And if you are a Christian in Australia (and elsewhere in the West) who is constantly fretting every time your “small s” saviour gets deposed, voted out, or dies (that does happen you know) then you need to stop fretting about things and start to see things from the “big S” Saviour’s perspective.  You need to start seeing history eschatologically.

This was driven home to me this morning when I read this letter in the online edition of The Australian newspaper on the back of Tony Abbott being deposed as Australian Prime Minister:

"The Liberals have lost my vote. Australian values are more than economics and smart talk and gay families. Gone forever will be righteous, godly values and beliefs that have supported our Western civilisation for centuries. I grieve for our future. God help us all –"
Really?  When I read that I get a little peeved.  For a number of reasons:

Firstly, it’s a naive assumption.  Surely we do not think that prior to this seismic shift in culture back in the 60s that righteous, godly values and beliefs were the defining marks of Australia, do we? After all, adultery, drunkenness, racism and violence were rife in Australia back then.  Lots of stuff was hidden, that’s for sure, but there was enough going on in the seamy underbelly of Australia, and behind the closed doors of those white-picket-fenced houses, that would shame us.

Such a view – and I’ve heard it often – betrays a misunderstanding of what true holiness and godliness is like – and more importantly – where it is located, among the people of God as they are ruled by King Jesus.

Granted there are benefits to a culture when it more or less align with the wisdom of God as laid down in his word, but we are naive when we expect the culture to be so aligned.  And if we so expect it, then the tendency is to engineer things to ensure that the culture DOES align with us, and the naysayers end up being cannon fodder in our sights.  The fact that currently traditional Christianity is the cannon fodder in the sights of a post-Christian liberal elite does not grant us the same right to so treat it.  And that’s a hard, but necessary lesson to learn as our influence diminishes.  We are about to find out what it truly means to go outside the camp and bear the reproach of a crucified Messiah. And I don’t think we can even comprehend what that means yet, not in a Western context at least.

All too often our response to “our side” losing is less than ideal.  The increasing bitterness and despair I see among some Christians doesn’t auger well for how we will respond in and to a post-Christian Australia.

Secondly, it’s a untruth.  I get peeved because of those words in the letter: “gone forever”?

Surely not! Surely that’s the point of the book of Daniel. Go to Daniel ch2. In King Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of a statue of golden head, through to feet of iron and clay, the king sees a stone not cut by human hands smash the statue and then grow to be a mountain that fills the earth. Something’s gone forever, but it sure ain’t God’s agenda!

And if you still feel like our hopes are “gone forever” with the demise of a Christian Prime Minister, then you would do well to read the oft-neglected back half of the Old Testament book of Daniel.  Remember Daniel chs7-12?  Oh you don’t?  Oh you mean after the Lions’ Den, the Fiery Furnace and the Writing on the Wall, you pretty much skipped to Hosea?  I mean, what was Daniel imbibing to write all that weird stuff: beasts coming out of seas, male goats bashing into rams, 70 weeks, anointed ones, kings of north and south, horns that speak boastfully? Crazy talk!

The back half of the book of Daniel gives us true confidence that whatever history (in the form of  foaming tempestuous oceans in Daniel 7) throws up at us, it’s not the end of the story. Daniel himself had to learn that Jerusalem’s sacking and the peoples’ exile did not mean their hopes were “gone forever”. He would, after all, still go and open the window in his Babylon home and prayer towards the city of his hope.

Maybe we could take a leaf from Daniel’s book. Maybe we could pray towards and for the city not made by hands. That is where our hope lies. One day, as Revelation 21:1 tells us “there will be no sea”, meaning that the churning turmoil of history will be ended as God’s good reign comes to fruition. The city of God is not something we can create, it is something that descends from heaven (simply meaning it is not in our power to achieve or build it, but God’s power to gift to us).

Daniel himself lived through tumultuous times. He was subject to a culture turned against God’s people, one that had exiled him, and forced him to a deft cultural dance in which he had to be one step ahead of others all of the time.

But Daniel never got to see the glorious future city – he didn’t even get to see the end of the exile and the return to the earthly Jerusalem. When, after seeing amazing visions of what is going to happen at the end of time, Daniel asks when these things will all happen. He is simply told:

“Go your way Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the end. Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:9-10)

Daniel is then told to “go your way till the end”, meaning that the solution to all of the grave situations he has just seen, the political intrigue, the wars, the kingdoms, the beastly empires, will all continue long after he has died. It didn’t mean they were gone forever. Rather it mean they were not for his lifetime.

Here’s our current problem.  Too many of us are simply not patient enough to wait it out.  Things go pear shaped and we moan that our liberties, our values and our hopes are “gone forever”.  Too many Christians are pinning their hopes on a vain attempt at calming the churning sea of history through their preferred earthly political leaders.  It’s a futile gesture and one that has no eschatological vision or hope.

Thirdly, God HAS helped us already, so why are we grieving!

Why are we grieving for whatever our vision of the future of Australia will be? The resurrection of Jesus is our hope and our joy. The people of God are the future of God’s kingdom.  The resurrection of Jesus has ushered in a future that starts of like that small stone in Daniel 2, but one that will eventually become a mountain that fills the earth.

Now I happened to like Tony Abbott.  He would walk into most rooms in Australia and easily be the most intelligent, well read, well educated and erudite person in the room. Easily.  And he’s a Rhodes scholar, a former Bulletin journalist, with a intelligent Catholic upbringing and a well rounded view of the world.  And if you love to sneer at Tony and take glee in his downfall, then you are probably a proud person who thinks too highly of their own intelligence.

I also happen to think he was not a great Prime Minister, and whatever else he was, he was not the “big S” Saviour of Western culture in Australia that many, including many Christians, seem to wish him to be. He wasn’t even a particularly solid “small s” saviour.

And like it or not, when we put him into the context of the book of Daniel, especially chs7-12, the political process of which Tony Abbott is a part, is akin to the churning seas of history.   Whether he was the head of gold or the feet of clay his day would end as all of our days do.

So Christians in particular have no reason to throw the toys out of the pram, or try to engineer the culture to suit their agenda – especially at a time when clearly the majority position in Australia is moving against us on a number of big ticket items.

Do we really want to shape Australia into our vision of the good life by sheer force?  Wasn’t that the very problem many had in Jesus’ day?  Isn’t that why so many ended up disappointed in him in the end? The were looking for a “small s” saviour, when Jesus was going to be a “big S” Saviour. Isn’t that why even his disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 mourned that they had “hoped he was the one to redeem Israel”? Their hopes just weren’t big enough – as Jesus then went on to show them.

If our hopes are tied up in this age then Christians – depending on their flavour – will be constantly looking for a “small s” saviour on the Right or the Left who will implement their cherished Left/Right manifesto. And disappointment and anger will be their lot every time an election, political coup, or referendum does not go their way.  Our man or woman is going to be deposed/outvoted/die.  Those are the only options.  And if our hopes are tied up in them, then our hopes will constantly be dashed.

We, if we understand our biblical theology, have reason for a clearer hope than even Daniel who saw that vision.  Amidst all of the turmoil and churning in Daniel 7, Daniel sees one coming :

“like a son of man” whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14b).

Now we stand on the other side of the Son of Man’s first appearance awaiting the second appearance of our “big S” Saviour – one who has dealt decisively with the true enemy at work behind the evil of this world.

We have seen the inauguration of his kingdom, the tangible proof that a day is coming when every small “k” king, every “small r” ruler, and every “small p” prince, will bow the knee and declare that Jeus is “big K King” “big R Ruler”, and “big P Prince of Peace” to the glory of God the Father.

And it will only be then that righteousness and godly values will truly be at home in Australia  – forever