Wednesday, July 2, 2008


In the previous post I mentioned the issue of “relative security.” In the news right now are discussions of a threat by Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz, out of which is shipped about forty percent of the world’s oil supply. The U.S. has said such an action would be considered an act of war. One commentator said if the Strait were closed, gas prices in the U.S. would escalate to $8 per gallon overnight.

Either of those scenarios do little to enhance one’s feeling of relative security. Such an extension of war in the Middle East would have unfathomable repercussions. A sudden fuel price escalation of the afore mentioned magnitude would have extreme effects on basic structures we take for granted each day — transportation for food and the general stability of the economy.

It is amazing that, in the intricate interface of global issues, our own society is only one day removed from the potential of utter chaos and a threat of serious famine. We, who have felt so secure — so insulated — from much that plagues what we have called “undeveloped nations,” find we are not as safe as we have imagined.

I, as Amos told Amaziah, am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but as I read God’s Word in the OT prophets, I am struck with the multiple parallels between God’s chastening judgments on those ancient peoples and things we are hearing almost daily in our news. Are we seeking the Lord, asking to hear with understanding what He is saying?

Many professing Christians in the U.S. are saying these are gathering signs of our Lord’s return. I respect that this very well may be true, but I do not respect the blithe way it is often said — as if we can expect a free ticket from the suffering that always accompanies a major work of God on earth. When I read throughout scripture of what happens to God’s people in the midst of world upheaval, I can only pray that Jesus will give me strength and the faith that perseveres.

When Malachi gave God’s Word in anticipation of the First Coming there was reason to take seriously “the fear of the Lord” — the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness (Mal 3;1b-3, NRSV). We should not expect the time of the Second Coming to be different in this respect.

The main thing we Christians are called to do in That Day — and any and every day — is to live in the love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Every day I pray for grace to do that, knowing that if I cannot live in His love when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Lu 23;31). I sometimes pray over the words that John Michael Talbot wrote in one of his early songs: When the fields yield full harvest, it’s easy to share; and when you’re insured this world’s friendship, it’s easy to care. But when every nation has crumbled to dust, will you still reach to give the Lord’s mercies or will you kill if you must?

Trusting in our Lord is a far greater issue than temporal security, but I’m afraid the priorities are usually switched, even among many who claim the name of Jesus. Paul told the church long ago that the present form of this world is passing away (1Cor 7:31).

Peter expands on that and exhorts the response of faith: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home (2Pet 3:10-13, NRSV).

I know of no better juxtaposition of “security and trust.”

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