Monday, September 7, 2015

Who are we waiting for?

A jealous God, that is what we are stuck with, if we believe in the God of Moses. Even when His jealousy is low key, even when He is not storming at us with threats, there is a firm, underlying tone of ‘it’s Me, or the world. Make your choice.’ He’s quite up front about this. In His special issue of commandments—special, because not only did He audibly speak them to living people, but He personally wrote them out with His finger on real stone tablets—He devotes the first one or two, two or three, specifically to this issue. When you read them, you immediately see there’s no room for doubt, no wiggle room.

He said, ‘I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no gods except me. You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God and I punish the father’s fault in the sons, the grandsons, and the great-grandsons of those who hate me; but I show kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Exodus 20:1-6

No wonder the ancient Church was plagued by those who couldn’t accept that the God of Moses was the same Being as the fatherly God revealed in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. The Church insisted and continues to insist that there is only One God, the same in the Old and the New Testaments. God’s nature has not changed, only the terms of the agreement, or covenant, between us and Him. That covenant includes a few clauses which even the Church herself has, I think, either failed to appreciate and take advantage of, or else decided that the time hasn’t yet arrived to do so. What clauses?

Well, for starters, the startling assertion made by Jesus that, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is master even of the sabbath’ (Mark 2:27-28). People read these words and unthinkingly assume that Jesus means that He, being the Son of Man, is the master of the sabbath, and no one else. But this is not the case, as we can see from what He tells Peter, after his confession of who Jesus is. True, Jesus alone is ‘the Son of Man’ in the sense that He is the Christ, but His becoming man has opened to all who believe in Him a share in His status as ‘the Son of God.’

He was in the world that had its being through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own domain and His own people did not accept Him. But to all who did accept Him He gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of Him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God Himself. The Word was made flesh, He lived among us, and we saw His glory, the glory that is His as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:10-14

And then there’s Peter’s confession. The other disciples may have known inwardly, though perhaps with some doubt or misgiving, who Jesus was, but they did not have the courage to declare it, even to Him. It was Peter alone who spoke the truth, which was validated by Christ, who declared that upon this confession, not arrived at by any human reason, or sense of loyalty, or any other merely human need or desire, but by God the Father Himself, His Church would be built, and that to those who confess as Peter did, He would give such extraordinary authority as no man on earth has ever held, except Himself.

‘But you,’ He said, ‘who do you say that I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said, ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this Rock I will build My Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
Matthew 16:15-19

It seems clear to me, that the Rock upon which the Church is built must be ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and not Peter himself, though as primate of the apostles he fulfilled that role in the first generation Church. It also seems evident to me from history that the Church as a whole has not grasped what Christ has awefully given into her keeping. If she did, if she fully realized what power and authority is given her, to legislate on earth for all mankind the terms of the New Covenant, and not merely to enunciate dogmas, canons and customs, what a new and different world we would be living in.

The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal His sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.
Romans 8:19-23

When I remember all the squabbles and in-fighting among individual Christians and the splintered fragments of the Church, especially over such ignorant issues as Creationism versus Evolution, or such worldly and political ones as Primacy and Jurisdictions, in the light of passages such as what holy apostle Paul writes to the Romans, it becomes hard to sit still and complacently go along with it all. What we believe to be holy scripture shouts at us, ‘The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal His sons,’ and we nod agreeably and smile, and busy ourselves religiously till Christ returns, or hell freezes over.

The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh has been given to me, for Yahweh has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favor from Yahweh, a day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all those who mourn, and to give them for ashes a garland; for mourning robe the oil of gladness, for despondency, praise. They are to be called ‘terebinths of integrity,’ planted by Yahweh to glorify Him. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise what has long lain waste…
Isaiah 61:1-4

The passage that Jesus reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, when He is called up to read in the synagogue, the event commemorated on the first day of the year that began on September first, is from the Old Testament. Where is our jealous God now? or of what is He jealous? that we may serve other gods or make graven images to worship? Yes, the passage says, ‘a day of vengeance for our God,’ which possibly accords with the notion that God is angry. And He probably is, but what is He angry about? For even the prophets who did not know Jesus in the flesh, have told us what to do to please Him.

For I, Yahweh, love justice, I hate robbery and all that is wrong. I reward them faithfully and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their race will be famous throughout the nations, their descendents throughout the peoples. All who see them will admit that they are a race whom Yahweh has blessed.
Isaiah 61:8-9

Has this ‘race’ appeared? And what is our jealous God going to do when they turn up? And how long must He wait? Yes, brothers, ‘the whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal His sons,’ but what or who are we waiting for?

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