(March 19, 2018) Stuart Reynolds reflects …
It was Swiss theologian Karl Barth who said, ‘Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.’
In this connection, do note how the Bible is a commentary on our times today:
- The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1: ‘But mark this: There will be terrible (literally ‘violent’ in the Greek) times in the last days.’
But note also a testimony to God’s triumph in Psalm 2, which begins with these words:
- ‘Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his Anointed One, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”’
Almost every news story could be introduced, explained and concluded with those words. Bad news is so often linked with rebellion against God or ignorance or breakage of his laws.
Let’s consider three important issues:
1) Humanity’s Petulance
A father was driving to school one day. His youngest child was standing on the back seat. Realising the danger, the father said, ‘Sit down, son, I may have to stop suddenly and I don’t want you to get hurt.’
‘No!’ squeaked the rebellious refusal from the rear, ‘I don’t want to!’ Again the father said, ‘Please sit down, I don’t want you to get hurt.’ ‘No!’ came the stubborn reply.
Finally, dad reached back and pulled him down. The son sat there sullenly for a moment, then said, ‘I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!’
And so it goes with humanity and it’s petulance before God, the Father, in its refusal to obey God’s commands, resisting God’s order and rubbishing his authority.
The Message Bible tells us in Psalm 14:1: ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”’ Nowadays, it is no longer pent up on the inside but vented fully on the outside in an openly declared war against God, his word and his people – ‘Let’s get free of God! Cast loose from Messiah!’
We see this false ‘freedom’ outworking in…
- The nations, and in increasing measure this is now officially government policy.
- Education (God was put out of the classroom long ago).
- The redefinition of marriage.
- Resentment of authority – against the parent at home, the teacher in the school, and the police officer on the street.
- Realignment on gender – with men behaving like women and women behaving like men – even also, removing the lines of gender completely: transgenderism.
- The departure from the Bible, from within the church, in favour of psychology to explain our sinful behaviour and science to explain our ‘evolved’ existence. (Many professing Christians have rejected the Genesis account of a declared six-day creation in favour of the scientific suggestion of evolution.).
- The eclipsing of God by the obsession with self… just as you can block out the sun with a small coin. (This generation has been characterised by the ‘selfie’ self-portrait, dominated with a moment by moment record of how we’re looking, who we’re with, where we are, what we’re doing. Add to that, Twitter and the blog, all about self, where self’s opinion and stance are communicated).
Yet none of this amounts to anything more than that petulant son in the back seat – not because it is petty, but because of who God is and who we are before him.
None of it achieves anything worthwhile nor takes us to any better place. It’s all a rebellion without cause or purpose as we ‘conspire’ and ‘plot’ in ‘vain.’
2) God’s Insistence
A battleship had been at sea on its routine manoeuvres under heavy weathers for days. The captain, who was worried about the deteriorating conditions, stayed on the bridge to keep an eye on all activities.
One night, the lookout on the bridge suddenly shouted, ‘Captain! A light, bearing on the starboard bow.’ ‘Is it stationary or moving astern?’ the captain asked.
The lookout replied that it was stationary. This meant the battleship was on a dangerous collision course with the other ship. The captain immediately ordered his signalman to signal to the ship: ‘We are on a collision course. I advise you to change course 20 degrees east.’ Back came a response: ‘You change course 20 degrees west.’
Agitated by the arrogance of the response, the captain asked his signalman to shoot out another message: ‘I am a captain; you change course 20 degrees east.’ Back came the second response: ‘I am a second class seaman, you had still better change course 20 degrees west.’
The captain was now furious and shouted to the signalman to send back a final message: ‘I am a battleship. Change course 20 degrees east right now!’
Back came the flashing response: ‘I am a lighthouse.’
How futile – we can no more bully or banish God than that battleship could the lighthouse! We’re rebels without a cause. And if maintained, our collision course with God only has one outcome: Disaster!
Yet God insists in loving us, warning us, in encouraging us to turn to him in time!
No wonder Psalm 2:10-12 Message urges: ‘So, rebel-kings, use your heads; Upstart-judges, learn your lesson: Worship God in adoring embrace, Celebrate in trembling awe. Kiss Messiah! Your very lives are in danger, you know; His anger is about to explode, But if you make a run for God – you won’t regret it!’
How true: The greatest – and safest – thought of our lives is the knowledge of our personal accountability to Almighty God. He is always himself – not ‘I Was’ but ‘I Am’ – and still and always and ultimately to be reckoned with.
3) Our Repentance
Here’s a prayer that Joe Wright, some years ago now, gave at the opening of the new session of the Kansas City Legislature:
‘Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know your word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done.
- We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
- We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word in the name of moral pluralism.
- We have worshiped other gods and called it “multiculturalism.”
- We have endorsed perversion and called it “an alternative lifestyle.”
- We have exploited the poor and called it “a lottery.”
- We have neglected the needy and called it “self-preservation.”
- We have rewarded laziness and called it “welfare.”
- In the name of “choice,” we have killed our unborn.
- In the name of “right to life,” we have killed abortionists.
- We have neglected to discipline our children and called it “building esteem.”
- We have abused power and called it “political savvy.”
- We’ve polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it “freedom of expression.”
- We’ve ridiculed the time-honoured values of our forefathers and called it “enlightenment.”
‘Search us, oh God, and know our hearts today. Try us, and show us any wicked in us. Cleanse us from every sin, and set us free – Amen and Amen!’
That pastor’s prayer, based on Isaiah 5:20, is one we all need to own today, personally as well as nationally!
May we not be rebels without a cause but willing disciples of Christians who know God’s word and readily obey his will as we follow his ways fully trusting him!
Stuart Reynolds, Ears 2 Hear Ministries, is an itinerant preacher, teacher in evangelism and revivalism in the UK and USA. UK links: email@example.com / mobile +44 (0) 7816 853 551 / http://sdhareynolds.wixsite.com/earstohearministries. His book The Broken Pastor speaks candidly to the church regarding the reality that many pastors are hurting, even on the edge of quitting.
Stuart’s latest book Getting Ready for Revival seeks to stimulate our minds out of our ignorance of God’s Word and stir hearts over our forgetfulness of God, returning us to the ‘wells we did not dig’ (Deut. 6:10–12) of God’s provision, carrying an insistence that we may not die in the graves our own wells are. Various quotes from revival writers such as Gypsy Smith, Finney, Orr, Tozer and Ravenhill are highlighted. Available direct from the author: firstname.lastname@example.org for £8.50 including postage.