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Chiliasm: What the Scriptures Teach — post by Michael J. Findley

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The dissertation on Revelation by Dr. Charles Smith, The Apocalypse by Joseph Seiss (1865), or my Biblical Studies section on Revelation cover this in detail. This is more a definition than even a brief overview.

Daniel 9: 24-27: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (KJV)

Up to the point where the Messiah was cut off is now history. It was a prophecy when Daniel wrote this around 540 BC. Now we have the advantage of understanding historic events and applying that knowledge to the portions which are still prophetic. We know that the phrase translated “week” is the word seven. It means a period of seven years, not seven days. A modern translation helps our understanding some. (the ISV, International Standard Version)

Daniel 9:27: He will make a binding covenant with many for one week, and for half a week he will pause both the sacrifice and grain offerings. Destructive people will cause desolation on the pinnacle until it is complete and what has been decreed is poured out on the desolator.

The first word of verse 27, “He,” refers to the “prince that shall come.” The Apostle John calls him the Antichrist in I John and in the Apocalypse (Revelation). The binding covenant is what we call a treaty. While we do not know everything about this treaty, it allows the rebuilding of the temple and the resumption of Jewish sacrifices. In the middle of the week (3 1/2 years), the sacrifices are cut off and the temple is made desolate by an abomination.
Jesus referred to this verse in Matthew 24:15: When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand.) (KJV)

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So this passage was important to Jesus. He wants us to understand it. The outpouring of the Church Age began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. It ends with an event we call the Rapture, the taking of the Church, the bride of Christ, to ever be with the Lord. The word “rapture” comes from the Latin Vulgate translation of 2 Thessalonians 4:17. “Shall be caught up” (harpagesometha). Second future passive indicative of harpazo, old verb to seize, to carry off like Latin rapio. (Robertson’s Word Pictures)

It has the same meaning as the Greek word harpazo 1) to seize, carry off by force 2) to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly 3) to snatch out or away [Thayer]

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep [died in Christ]. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 KJV)

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinking of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

This is clear doctrine. The amillennial position claims that these words do not mean what they say. It follows the allegorical method of Origen for John’s Apocalypse. Our position is simple. The words mean what they say. We do not have the option of “interpreting” John’s word to mean something they do not say. Ezekiel describes a future temple in great detail which was not Herod’s temple. Ezekiel’s temple and the sacrifices of that temple are still future.

Revelation 18 describes God’s judgment on this world’s system, called Babylon. Joel and Zechariah describe this same judgment. At the very end, the nations of the world gather to do battle against the LORD. It is called the battle of Armageddon, but it takes place over a period of time, perhaps as long as two weeks.

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“And it shall come to pass in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have piered, and they shall morn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.” (Zechariah 12:9-11)

“I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem, to lay siege against it. The city will be capured, the houses will be ransacked, the women raped, and half fo the city will go into exile, but the remaining people will not be cut off from the city. ‘Then the LORD will go out to battle against those nations, waging war as in a day of battle. His feet will stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. Then the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. Then the Mount of Lives will be split in two from east to west, forming a very large valley, with half of the mountain moving toward the north and half toward the south. [Note: this is likely the event which causes the water to flow out of the temple Ezekiel wrote about.]

“You will run away through my mountain valley, because the valley of the mountains will extend as far as Azal. You will flee, as you fled from the earthquake during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah. And so the LORD my God will come, and all his holy ones will be accompanying you.’ [note: This is not the usual term for angel. Some speculate that we, the resurrected saints of the Church Age at the Rapture are these “holy ones.” We will ever be with the LORD, and He is leading His armies at this time.]

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‘At that time, the daylight will be neither bright nor overcast. It will be a unique day, known only to the LORD-neither daytime nor nighttime-and it will come about at twilight there will be light! At that time, flowing waters will run perennially from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half to the Mediterranean Sea [This means that the water flowing from the temple will continue throughout the Millennium. The following is a description of the Millennium.]

The LORD will be king over all the earth at that time. There will be one LORD, and his name the only one. The entire land will become like the Arabah plain from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem. It will be raised up and inhabited whier it is, from the Gate of Benjamin to the First Gate, then to the Corner Gate, to the Hananel Tower, and to the king’s winepress. People will live there, there will be no more destruction, and Jerusalem will be safely inhabited. [The following is probably looking back at the battle, war, of Armageddon at the end of the Great Tribulation.]

This will be the plague with which the LORD inflicts all of the people who have attacked Jerusalem: he will cause their flesh to rot away, even while they are standing on their feet. He will cause their eyes to rot away in their sockets, and their tongues to rot away in their mouths. At that time, they will be stricken with a terrible panic from the LORD. Everyone will attack each other. Judah, too, will fight at Jerusalem. Then the wealth of the surrounding nations will be gathered up: gold, silver, and clothing in great abundance. A similar plague will also strike horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all the animals in those camps. It will come about that all of the survivors of the nations who came against Jerusalem will come there from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, and to observe the Feast of Tents.

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If anyone from the families of the earth will not come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, there will be no rain for them. If the people of Egypt do not come to Jerusalem to take part, they will have no annual Nile overflow. A plague will come from the LORD to strike the nations who do not come to observe the Feast of Tents. This will be the punishment for Egypt and all nations who do not come to observe the Feast of Tents. At that time, there will be written on the bells of the horses: HOLINESS TO THE LORD and the pots in the Temple of the LORD will be like the bowls in front of the altar– every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be consecrated to the LORD of the Heavenly Armies. Everyone who offers sacrifices will come, will take them, and will cook in them. Furthermore, at that time, there will no longer be a Canaanite in the Temple of the LORD of the Heavenly Armies.’” (Zechariah 14:1-21 ISV)

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This thousand years of blessing ends with the battle of Gog and Magog, described in Ezekiel 38.

“Many days from now-in the latter years-you will be summoned to a land that has been restored from violence. You will be gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which formerly had been a continual waste, but which will be populated with people who have been brought back from the nations. All of them will be living there securely. You’ll arise suddenly, like a tornado, coming like a windstorm to cover the land, you and all your soldiers with you, along with many nations. This is what the Lord God says: ‘This is what’s going to happen on the very day you begin your invasion: You’ll be thinking, making evil plans, and boasting, “I’m going to invade a comprised of open country that is at rest, its people living confidently, all of whose inhabitants will be living securely, with neither fortification nor bars on their doors. I’m going to confiscate anything I can put my hands on. I’ll attack the restored ruins and the people who have been gathered together from the nations, who are acquiring livestock and other goods, and who live at the center of the world’s attention.”’” (Ezekiel 38:8-12 ISV)

“So it will be that on that day, when Gog invades the land of Israel,” declares the LORD GOD, “my zeal will ignite my anger. Because of my zeal and burning anger at that time there will be a massive earthquake throughout the land of Israel. I’m going to shake the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the wild beasts, all the creatures that crawl on the earth, and every single human being who lives on the surface of the earth. Mountains will collapse, as will their mountain passages and every wall will fall to the ground. Then I’ll call for war against Gog on top of every mountain,” declares the Lord GOD, “and every weapon of war will be turned against their fellow soldier. I’ll judge them with disease and bloodshed. I’ll shower him, his soldiers, the vast army that accompanies him with a torrential flood, hailstones, fire, and sulfur. I will exhalt myself and demonstrate my holiness, making myself known to many people who will learn that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 38:18-23 ISV)

Isaiah continues these events: “For the LORD is angry against all the nations, and furious against all their armies. He has doomed them to destruction, and given them up to be slaughtered. Their slain will be thrown out; and as for their dead bodies-their stench will ascend; the mountains will be soaked with their blood. The valleys will be split, all the stars in the heavens will fall down, and the skies will be rolled up like a scroll. All their starry host will fade away like leaves withering on a vine, or fruit withering on a fig tree. (Isaiah 34:2-4 ISV)

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John’s Apocalypse (unveiling) is mostly a repetition of Old Testament prophecies. He adds details, such as two resurrections and one thousand years in chapter twenty, but the main timeline of revelation is found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, and Zechariah. If all of these are nothing more than allegory, then what makes anything in the Bible factual information? The entire death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, using this method could be just an allegory of something, though no one knows what.

The allegorical method makes the reader or interpreter the authority instead of God. It replaces “Thus saith the LORD!” with “What do I want these words to mean?” While every possible literary device is used somewhere in the Bible, the Bible is not an extended allegory with no real meaning outside of the mind of the reader.

Image Credits:

Four Horsemen by Waiting for the Word Flikr Commons

Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984. Out of Print, released under Creative Commons License as a co-operative project. Wikimedia Commons

The Whore of Babylon Russian engraving 1800s Source/Photographer First upload to en.wikipedia by en:User:Ihcoyc as Whorebab.jpg Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

John Martin The Great Day of His Wrath Medium oil on canvas Credit line Photo: Tate, London Source/Photographer RQFpgg6aFrwrtw at Google Cultural Institute Tate Images Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

View of the Tapestry of the Apocalypse in Angers, France Author Kimon Berlin, user: Gribeco Wikimeida Commons

Chris Tolworthy The New Jerusalem from Revelation 20. A colored version of a Gustav Dore woodcut. Flikr Commons

Title screen from Revelation – The Last Cosmic Battle Parkside Church YouTube August 25, 2014 http://goo.gl/ulPPKU (Inclusion of this image does not imply endorsement of this church or its teaching. It is simply included as an illustration for the post.)

 

 

 

 

 

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Chiliasm — Post by Michael J. Findley

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Our authority is the Word of God and not the opinions of men. But the church historian Philip Schaff had to admit that “The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism; that is, the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Bactantius; while Caius, Origen, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine opposed it).” (History of the Christian Church, Volume II:Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325)

Schaff continues in the following paragraphs to depart from his usual scholarship and attack Chiliasm while espousing the virtues of his amillennial belief system. He does define Chiliasm with considerable clarity in this section.

“The Christian chiliasm is the Jewish chiliasm spiritualized [unclear what Philip Schaff means by this statement] and fixed upon the second, instead of the first, coming of Christ. It distinguishes, moreover, two resurrections, one before and another after the millennium, and makes the millennial reign of Christ only prelude to his eternal reign in heaven, from which it is separated by a short interregnum of Satan. The millennium is expected to come not as a result of historical process but as sudden supernatural revelation.” (ibid)

The next blog in this series will examine what the Scriptures teach. This blog will only correct some of the false charges made by believers in amillennialism.

The first false charge is that the premillinnial position is based on movies such as the Left Behind series. This does not deserve an answer. Please examine the evidence.

The second is that Chiliasm is turning a minor doctrine which we can disagree about into an issue of fellowship. When the Scriptures are presented in the next blog, you may decide for yourself how important this doctrine is. But it is up to the followers of amillennialism to break fellowship. We will continue to teach what the Scriptures teach. We teach the whole council of God and this is only one doctrine. You are responsible for doctrines you choose to ignore.

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The third false charge is that Chiliasm is new doctrine developed in the early 1800s. As Philip Schaff, himself an amillennialist, wrote, that is simply not true. Some knowledge of church history is helpful to understand this point.

During much of the time from the resurrection of the Messiah to the council of Nicea in AD 325, Christianity was illegal. (An interesting sidebar: the formal charge against Christians was atheism, for refusing to worship the Roman gods.) At times Christians were tortured and executed for their faith. At times all Christian literature was burned and those possessing Christian literature were executed. This is called the Ante (before) Nicene period, before the Council of Nicea. All available Christian literature from the Ante-Nicene period was well hidden and someone was willing to die for it. There were no well thought out systematic theologies from this time period. There are no longer original Christian documents of any kind except the books of the New Testament.

Papias (AD 60-130), bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, (in Asia Minor) wrote: “there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth.” (Papias, book 4)

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Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), from his Dialogue With Trypho: “there will be resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.”

Justin Martyr also wrote, “there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place.”

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Irenaeus (AD 130-202) Bishop of Gaul (modern Lyons, France). In Against Heresies he wrote, “John, therefore, did distinctly foresee the first ‘resurrection of the just,’ and the inheritance in the kingdom of the earth, and what the prophets have prophesied concerning it harmonize.” (Book 5, chapter 36, paragraph 3)

“But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom.” (Book 5, chapter 30, paragraph 4)

Tertullian (AD 155-240) “But we do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem, ‘let down from heaven,’ which the apostle also calls ‘our mother from above;’ and, while declaring that our citizenship is in heaven, he predicts of it that it is really a city in heaven. This both Ezekiel had knowledge of and the Apostle John beheld.” Against Marcion, book 3, chapter 25

 

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These four men are representative samples from a time when few documents were preserved.

While modern amillennialists claim premillennialism is a new doctrine, it was the only doctrine of the orthodox Ante-Nicene church. Origen of Alexandria founded a school of thought which allegorized the Old Testament. He stripped the law and the prophets of their historical content and replaced that with inventions from his own mind. This “Alexandrian School” was universally condemned as heresy by Ante-Nicene Christians. Origen and the Alexandrian School were the fountain and foundation of amillennialism. Until embraced by Eusebius and Augustine of Hippo, amillennialism was condemned by the Church.

To repeat the thesis, the Word of God is our authority. But there is abundant testimony that the Ante-Nicene church was Pre-millennial.

Image Credits:

Saint James the Just (whose judgment was adopted in the decree of Acts 15:19-29, c. 50 AD.), Public Domain,  from the days.ru open catalogue

Phillip Schaff, Public Domain, source unknown

Attributed to Pasquale Ottino (1578–1630) Title “St. Mark writes his Evangelium at the dictation of St. Peter” 17th century oil on canvas Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux
Source/Photographer http://www.europeana.eu

Apostle John the Theologian on the island of Patmos. Canvas, oil Author Andrey Mironov

Quintus Florens Tertullian, 160-220, church father and theologian. Source: http://www.higherpraise.com/preachers/tertullian.htm

all images from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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Coming Soon: Conflict of the Ages Part V: The Ancient World

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coa 5 teacher ebook 25

“We forget everything. What we remember is not what actually happened, not history, but merely that hackneyed dotted line they have chosen to drive into our memories by incessant hammering.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell

And [Abraham] said unto [the rich man in Hades], “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31

“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” John 5:46-47

Setting the historical timeline straight, this volume takes you through the Conventional Chronology flaws to discovering the fallacy of the 500 years of dark ages secularists want to insert into World History. It’s unnecessary if you just believe the Scriptures and examine the evidence with a true open mind.

We are seeking Beta readers with a knowledge of history and/or science to help vet the book. Please let us know at mjmcfindley@gmail.com if you are interested! Following are just a few of the hundreds of illustrations to whet your appetite.

2 globes and supercontinent

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Mesopotamian Hematite weights

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Tortoise Shell Oracle Bone with early Chinese script

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Prologue to Hammurabi’s Law Code

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Understand this Parable or Understand None of Them?

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James Tissot, “The Sower,” Brooklyn Museum. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

In Mark Ch 4 is the parable of the sower. Many people focus on Jesus’ ministry to sinners and the unclean and say how loving and inclusive He was. They say we mustn’t judge people, can’t know their hearts, etc. Just as a side note, lepers, the woman with the issue of blood, the woman who wept and anointed Jesus’ feet — Jesus accepted the touch of these people and they were cleansed by Him, not left “unjudged.” In more than one case, he commented that sins were forgiven and that people had faith for that to happen. But that’s a side issue. Back to the main discourse — the parable about which Jesus said, paraphrasing, “If you don’t get this one, how will you get any of my other teachings?”

But the Parable of the Sower is Jesus’ analysis of man’s heart, since that’s what the soil is. He sows the seed equally, if we take the parable at face value. It’s the reception by the soil that is the focus. The ground may even have received equal amounts, though we’ll talk more about that later.

The parable is about the reception by the soil. It doesn’t even say there were different kinds of soil. Just different conditions the soil had gotten into. It doesn’t even say whose “fault” it was that the soil got that way. Seed came down on it, so there was potential for all the soil regardless of condition. The soil isn’t blamed or excused for its circumstances. It’s given seed. It’s supposed to be soil and do what soil does. Give seed a medium in which to grow. Later on in Mark 4 Jesus says that the sower himself doesn’t really understand the process by which seeds germinate and grow in soil. The soil does it without effort. It’s just the vessel into which the seed is placed.

Roads are hard. They are intentionally packed down and cleared off and made the way they are for a purpose. But a dirt road is still, after all, dirt. Potentially seeds could grow there. And plants can take root and give soil strength and firmness, too, preventing erosion. But we learn here that Satan can take away a message God spreads from certain kinds of hearts. That sounds scary. Why doesn’t everyone get saved? How can God let that happen — let the Word get snatched out of someone’s life? Seems like it’s more up to the soil than to Satan. Maybe it has to do with humility and not fighting for your autonomy.

Jesus quotes the Old Testament and says people are hard-hearted about receiving the Word. They see and hear but they don’t perceive and understand or take it in and truly receive it. The hardness of heart thing has bothered people since Pharaoh. Seems like it’s on us not to get the process started and then it won’t be an issue. Stop arguing about the past. It can’t be changed. And stop dwelling on other people’s experiences and how God may or may not have dealt with them. Focus on your own soil. Be prepared to change if you need to so that you can receive what you need to do what you’re supposed to do.

Soil among the rocks is weak. It has trouble sticking together. It’s distracted, unfocused, pulled in different directions. Soil among thorns is letting those distractions take root and steal resources. It’s focused on things and externals rather than on the seed. There’s no room left for a good crop. The bad one’s taking up too much space.

Good soil doesn’t work. It just is. It hears and accepts and fruit comes naturally. No effort.

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Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio. Public Domain. Photograph by Daderot. Wikimedia Commons

Note that right after the sower comes the lamp. We seem to have backwards ideas about this light. It will shine. We don’t make it do the shining. All we can do is diminish it. We don’t have to work on getting it to shine. We have to avoid covering it up. Seems silly that anyone would, but Jesus wouldn’t tell us this parable if it wasn’t a problem. We are all worried about doing the shining. But what we really have to do is stop being an obstacle. Like the soil just has to be soil and then the seed will grow, we have to be the lampstand, not the bushel basket, and the light will do what the light does. Why would we be a bushel instead of a lampstand? Maybe we are afraid of what might come to light? What secrets might be revealed? We shouldn’t be. And everything will come out, anyway. Bushel basket thinking won’t even work. The light will shine even if it has to burn through the basket. Might as well get out of the way, get under that light, and lift it up like a good lampstand.

Back in the sower parable,  Jesus says people hear but don’t understand. He wants us to have understanding — soil that receives and gives the seed a place to sprout, and lampstands that let the light shine. Next Jesus goes on to say that we are like a vessel — a measuring container, like the bushel basket — and some have different capacities. I once heard a sermon about the Old Testament passage where Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall. The pastor said, more or less, that “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” was kind of like saying “Pint, Pint, Quart, Half-gallon.” No wonder the king couldn’t figure out what it meant. If you’ve ever followed a recipe, you know that you use different measuring utensils to get different quantities of ingredients. So it is with people who hear the Word. They’re different containers and they have different purposes in completing the recipe of God’s plan. Two cups of flour is not better or worse than one half teaspoon of salt. It’s just different. Like the parable of the servants given different amounts to invest, they weren’t better or worse because they got more or less. They were just different.

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Image by Alex Sartori. Public Domain. Pixabay.

You are the soil, the lampstand, the container. Your capacity determines what happens to what you receive. The parable says “when the soil permits” the crop will germinate, grow, and mature. Moving on to the parable of the mustard seed, we learn that the seed can be tiny but the yield can be enormous in shade, shelter, support, and sustenance.

Here’s a final question. Jesus calmed the storm at the end of Mark 4 but he chastised the disciples for lacking faith. Did He expect them to calm the storm themselves? No disciple or apostle ever performed a miracle that calmed a storm. Just wondering why, when they did so many others. That would have come in really handy when Paul suffered shipwreck. God has His purposes in all things, but I just wonder — why did no one ever calm a storm? What kind of soil, or lampstand, or vessel would that take? — Post by Mary C. Findley

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“Wave” by User Counselling. Pixabay. Public Domain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can We Not Know We Are Serving Christ?

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In Matthew 25:31 ff Jesus speaks about sheep and goats. They will be separated in the end times and the goats will be condemned. The sheep, on His right, will be praised in this manner:

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

Did you notice something odd about this passage? The sheep — the blessed of the Father, express surprise that they were “caught serving” Christ. They didn’t know they were doing it. How can that be? Don’t some of us work hard to “work the works of Christ”? Don’t we want to be known for serving Him? But these people … they are just going about their lives, doing what comes to mind, and earning Christ’s praise because it turns out they are serving and meeting needs for food, clothing, drink, shelter, all the way down to prison visits. Yet they react with surprise. They’re not working to earn a reward. They’re not looking for Jesus as they meet needs and show love. But there He is, and He’s blessing them and rewarding them.

I want to stop working so hard to please God. I want it to be natural and automatic to show love that pleases God. I want to be surprised when Jesus says, “You did these things, and they were for me.” — Post by Mary C. Findley

 

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Filed under Bible Teaching, Uncategorized, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Rolling Along Through Breakdown and Blessing

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I attended a church Book Club meeting last night and one of the icebreaker questions was “If your life was a book, what would the title be?” The title of this blog post is the one I came up with. Many readers know hubby has been an over-the-road truck driver off and on since 1998. Employment has always been tough to find while we wait for fame and fortune as authors (ha ha!) so truck driving has always been his most successful source of income. I also had the opportunity to “ride shotgun” with him for the last eight years. God has provided “just enough” for us financially as we lived in the truck and traveled the lower 48 and Canada.

However, in January, truck #3’s engine blew. We paid for diagnostics and discovered needed repairs that exceeded the true value of the truck. Even people with cars can relate to that Catch-22. We tried to qualify for a loan but apparently paying off 3 trucks did not constitute enough credit history (nothing current), so we had to scrap the truck for $3500 and come to stay with daughter in Tulsa OK at her apartment. We pay half rent, but the future still seemed pretty uncertain. BTW our daughter Vicky has been such a help and encouragement to us through the years, and more so now, putting up with me fulltime and all the rest. God bless her as she goes through her own transitions.

I applied for local jobs and Michael investigated some options, including going for a PhD in History at OU. I am now a proud part-time employee at a Walmart I can walk to, and my muscles and joints are groaning in protest about all this activity.

The results of Michael’s GRE exams were a bit disappointing so he was not sure what to do next. He met online a small truck company owner based in the Dallas area. He was looking to expand and agreed to take Mike on as a driver. Unfortunately that job has not worked out for various reasons. He is going to take the GRE again but in the meantime, a trucker friend had recommended the company he works for, a very small (4 trucks) outfit based in Ohio. Michael finished his last load for the previous company this week and has made his way toward the orientation for the new job, leaving most of his equipment and other property here at the apartment.

We have been pretty discouraged these past few months. The truck was our home and our income, and we had the freedom to choose the best loads as well as to travel and most of the time get work done on our books. But we got a bit stalled with all these life happenings. It felt like we were back in Basics for Believers, at the 101 course level, saying, “God, what is Your will for our lives?”

But there has been some encouragement. I am making progress on Conflict of the Ages Five, the next module in our homeschool curriculum, with the editing, formatting, and questions and images that need to be added.

Now, back to the Book Club meeting. The books we will read were already chosen, and I was a little discouraged about not having an opportunity to maybe insert one of our books. But the lady leading the group did acknowledge me as a published author, and I got to tell them about a couple of our books. The lady who is in charge of women’s and children’s ministries at the church asked for a list of all our books. That was exciting.

Hubby arrived at the airport for his new job orientation this morning. Unfortunately his checked bag(s) did not. (Everybody knows checking bags is a bad idea, but he had to take some extra things in case he goes straight out onto the road for a week or two before coming back here.) When the driver arrived to pick him up, he agreed that waiting for the next flight, which the missing bags are supposed to be on, was the best idea, so he is doing that while the driver makes other runs. But the driver said he has read our books Antidisestablishmentarianism and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Readers’ and Writer’s Guide for Believers and is eager to talk to Michael about them. Wow! Plus I had a fan of the Alexander Legacy series ask on the blog when the fourth book in that series is coming out. Encouragement! These are both people we don’t know!

We hope people who follow this blog are sticking with us through these transitional times. we are certainly not giving up on writing, and we are making plans to get back into video production, too. Stick around, folks. We don’t know what’s ahead, but it’s pretty certain breakdowns and blessing will always come. We hope you’ll pray that through both we can extend our reach and be a blessing to others. — post by Mary C. Findley

 

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Filed under Everyday observations, Uncategorized, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging