To most of this fallen, unrepentant world (locked as it is into denial of God), the Holy Bible is a highly confrontational document. Most now appear to reject it out of hand.
Do you remember the Sixties? Maybe, you were a ‘flower child’?
They emerged upon the world, supposedly innocent and free from guile. They sung a mantra of free love (and many paid the price in their bodies, for it was advanced that one should take many lovers). They were personified by resistance to the word of God. Some of them were taken by drug addiction, some by murderous depravity, as with the ‘Manson Family.’
Some of course maintain that they simply ‘grew out of it.’ I wonder?
I’ve listened/watched a few of those with celebrity status as they were being interviewed over the years. Many appear to have never changed. Sure, the innocence and beauty of youth is long gone, but not their apathy. It seems coupled to the belief that it was the single, best thing that happened to this world since the advent of ‘sliced’ bread.
From where I sit, any surviving remnant of The Age of Aquarius and its ‘flower children,’ are still determined to resist. And what they resist is, invariably, the concept of a God who cannot, who WILL NOT, be manipulated.
Such a God is a direct assault on the bastion fortress of their stony hearts. And certainly does not fit their warped sense of morality, so-called ethics and the doctrinaire dictates of political correctness which appear to have much of its gestation in that era.
The legacy of Flower People cuts deep. It flowed through into all reaches of society. And as they grew older, though forsaking the colored head bandanas and beads and getting a haircut, they graduated Suma cum laud, many assuming key positions in politics, law, the arts, of course, and…the Church.
Little wonder to me that allegedly Christian Churches now preach a doctrine of appeasement. They have also replaced the Cross with a created legion of Social Justice ‘warriors.’
Ah yes: The Age of Aquarius. And believe it or not, it appears hand-in-hand with the Greens and Socialists.
Yet, in Holy Writ, their version and now the prevailing world view of such a Lord, is not so described. For the world has attempted to deprive Him of Holiness as if to neuter His might and power and presumptive rule over the world of man.
God has not changed, either in might, omnipotence or power.
Even as he describes Himself to Moses, “‘I AM WHO I AM’ [from the Greek], YHWH, YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.'”
Moses saw the true face of the Lord (though not his actual face, for the Lord would not let him see that lest he be consumed and die). First, God placed Moses in a safe place.
Moses was permitted by God (who called Moses ‘his friend’) to actually see the back of the Lord from a safe position in the cleft of a rock on Mount Sinai, as the Lord passed by Him). Moses also knew that His Lord was a God of mercy and forbearance.
Following the Golden Calf worship incident, God was moved to destroy all the Hebrews and re-establishes a new nation from the seed of Moses alone but, humbly, Moses then prayerfully confesses that the LORD is a forgiving God.
Quoting Bob Deffenbaugh, Bible Org:
“The King James Version translates God’s response to Moses’ prayer (Exod. 32:14), “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” The NIV translates it, “The Lord relented”; the NASB puts it, “The Lord changed His mind.” But any way you put it, there must be something to learn about prayer from a man whose prayer had such a powerful effect on God.
There is a great difference, of course, between man’s repentance and God’s repentance. Man’s repentance involves turning from sin to God. But when the Bible speaks of God repenting, there is no thought of sin. Neither is there any hint of vacillation, as if God wavers in His purpose or changes His plans in response to man’s doings. God is unchanging or immutable. His purpose has been fixed from eternity and He will establish it (Isa. 46:10; Eph. 1:11). He does not change His mind as man does (1 Sam. 15:29).”
The Old Testament account readily tells us, chapter and verse, the punishments that befell those who had incurred the wrath of the Living God. Their sin apparently so repugnant that Almighty God, his patience ended, acted.
When the Father is so provoked by our acts of denial and rebellion, rarely does He hold back His hand.
There are however, singular examples of intercession by men who begged God to stay his hand (at least for a time), and he did.
Abraham begged God not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if fifty righteous beings could be found in the cities. His exhortation was protracted. Finally, as he humbled himself in complete, prayerful, submission, he exacted a promise from God.
The terms of the promise that the Lord agreed to was that if any TEN such persons could be found, THE CITY WOULD BE SPARED. No such persons could be found.
The cities were razed in a fiery holocaust of tar and Sulphur. Which, by the way, its extent can still be seen in the immediate area adjacent to the Dead Sea, wherein the adjoining valley lay two very cosmopolitan but totally evil societies.
This present world wants its ‘gods’ entirely on its own terms. Better still, to replace divine worship of the Triune God with self-adoration and worship.
Those rejecting the call of Christ often comprise those I refer to as ‘Sunday Come to Meeting Churchies.’ They nominate as Christian but, within themselves, are often reluctant to readily accept the mercy and graciousness of God. A Father who is slow to anger and full of love and forgiveness. The bar being, of course, that within their nature there is still unrepentant sin (and so denial).
Their reluctance to abandon secret sin for Jesus means that nature is still reigning supreme over the nurture of forgiveness made available to us by God through Jesus, His Christ.
This includes holding positions that are totally offensive to God. Invariably, they are positions, practices and attitudes that are nominated as such against the background of a literal understanding of the Bible.
Those congregations that accept allegory are most likely to fall into this category.
Allegory muddies the waters of faith, blurring its edges. Allegory makes it easier to adopt a sinful position that they will not be forced to compromise by repentance.
Philo of Alexandria: was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the Roman province of Egypt.
Philo used philosophical allegory to harmonize Jewish scripture, mainly the Torah, with Greek philosophy. His method followed the practices of both Jewish exegesis and Stoic philosophy. His allegorical exegesis was important for some Christian Church Fathers.
Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria (Greek: c. 150 – c. 215), was a Christian theologian and philosopher who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was familiar with classical Greek philosophy and literature. As his three major works demonstrate, Clement was influenced by Hellenistic philosophy to a greater extent than any other Christian thinker of his time, and in particular by Plato and the Stoics. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.
Clement is usually regarded as a Church Father. He is venerated as a saint in Coptic Christianity, Eastern Catholicism, Ethiopian Christianity and Anglicanism.
Rome and Canterbury, accepting as they are of the ancient ‘church fathers’ such as Augustine and Origen, absorbed and still teach these unholy concepts that married allegory into our understand of the Scriptures.
Allegory came about when the philosophies of Plato were used to create ‘better understanding’ of the Bible. This so-called ‘Understanding’ then gave way to the corruption of deliberate misinterpretation.
‘Well, after all, you couldn’t really believe that much of that stuff should be taken literally, could you?’ Though surprising, Jesus did!
Most congregations have little or, indeed, no understanding of this. And so, when their church or its clerical masters suggest or teach a belief of doubtful foundation, it is simply accepted.
After all, the mantra of this age is to simply ‘go with the flow’! And of course, in this case, always accept that ‘your’ church and its priests/pastors are feeding you a diet of the Word that is, in fact, helping to nurture both your soul and your understanding.
We have arrived at an age where many cannot and will not condone or accept a God who zealously defends his status as the One True God. A God who brooks no rivals. A God who cannot abide sin, particularly that which is unrepentant. A God whose holy Word is ignored at your very peril.
Yet the Bible is full of stories of the forbearance of the Lord God. Then, ultimately, with His patience exhausted, He exacts, not revenge, but terrible punishment and sometimes annihilation upon those who have rejected him and the rule of law he proscribed for the conduct of human affairs.
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Only one thing saves us from the wrath of God. It is that singular act (on our part) of repentance through the redemption offered directly and only through Christ.
A sacrificial offering of a broken and contrite heart, followed by acceptance that Jesus is the Christ of God and the personal admission that this is so, will get you home. Or as I often put it in jest, ‘On the 3.10 to Yuma.’
The prayer of a redeemed, forgiven and therefore immediately cleansed sinner, is a sweet incense and, thereby, a perfectly acceptable sacrificial, savory, offering before the throne of Almighty God.
“And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”
“And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD….”
“I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen in them.” (This verse, in my understanding, speaks to the reconciliation of the 12 Tribes of Israel and the conversion of God’s chosen remnant of them to become a nation of priests to the remnant nations that survive Armageddon).
We, who claim the Cross of Jesus, also claim His sacrifice of perfect redemption that forever washes away the filth of our fallen nature. We personify this state as we humble ourselves before our God and beg His forgiveness. This (our sacrifice), rising as a sweet savory smell before God. And because of Jesus, and Him alone, we are accepted and steadily prepared for the journey Home as His Holy Spirit rebuilds us from the inside out.
Jesus is the perfect, unblemished, sacrifice. His sacrifice was accepted by God as savory.
Thanks be to God!
Our acceptance of Jesus and humble brokenness is the essence of the ‘savory’ smell of the sacrifice of ‘self’ that rises before the nostrils of God. It is truly the smell of salvation.
The adverse side of this is that this world has become a stench, rising before the Throne of God.
In Isaiah 3, the prophet speaks to the prophesied destruction of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the sacking of the city. He describes the awful things that are going to happen.
Both the men and women of the City and the Nation at large were sinful.
The city was affluent, and many women lived (certainly as do many today) in a self-indulgent lifestyle. They dressed provocatively, flaunted their sexuality, wore much gold and silver jewelry to attract attention of men and had affronted God with their promiscuous behaviour. To be perfectly blunt: to God, they stank and were unacceptable, though many, married to high officials, were prolific tithe-givers to the Temple and allegedly devout and religious members of the community. In secret, they were covetous and heartless. Amos referred to them as the ‘fat cows of Bashan.’
Isaiah 3:16-24, Warning to the Daughters of Zion:
The LORD also says: ‘Because the daughters of Zion are haughty—walking with heads held high and wanton eyes, prancing and skipping as they go, jingling the bracelets on their ankles—the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will make their foreheads bare.’ In that day the Lord will take away their finery: their anklets and headbands and crescents; their pendants, bracelets, and veils; their headdresses, ankle chains, and sashes; their perfume bottles and charms; their signet rings and nose rings; their festive robes, capes, cloaks, and purses; and their mirrors, linen garments, tiaras, and shawls. Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a belt, a rope; instead of styled hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, shame.”
The stumbling block has always been that the rejected capstone (JESUS) is the only sure ‘Get Out of Gaol Free’ card that permits you arrive at this acceptable, ‘savory,’ state.
Thinking about this helped me to create this poem.
The Bible says clearly that there will be a terrible reckoning. A final roll of the dice and, that we who have rejected him, will fall into the ‘them’ or ‘us’ category. I have simply put to verse some prophecy from Ezekiel 37 and later, the Book of Revelation.
“Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, This is what the Sovereign Lord says: come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.
Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone: we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord'” (Ezekiel 37:4-14).
I am not claiming that Ezekiel 37 is a prelude to what the Jewish Torah calls Har-Megeddon, ‘a day of reckoning’. It is simply a literary example of poetic license to marry the two books (Ezekiel and Revelation) together for the expediency of this poem.
That Day. (Har Megeddon)
Rise my children from hoary tomb.
Let cindered ash and dust exhume.
Dry bones I will with flesh replace
and reknit sinews to run apace.
Archangel sound your trumpet horn,
Summon the Heavenly Host,
for rides to battle, the Holy Ghost.
In patient aeon my hand has stayed,
as I gathered lost sheep and flocks that strayed.
That precious remnant I now raise high,
with Me to rule and never die!
Dawns the time called Armageddon,
a day revealed midst skies so leaden.
Gathered the foe with his dreadful visage.
Assembled the nations from all the lands:
false Gods they worshiped and blood on their hands.
The Anti-Christ harangues and shouts,
exhorting his armies and stifling their doubts.
But I Am,
who ordains and pays,
with final cleansing and scourging raze.
The plain that stretches from Megiddo’s great Tell,
strewn with corpses, their souls called to Hell.
I see thou, Great Beast, with your loathsome jeers!
Cast you the Pit for a thousand years.
It is done!
The scavenging carrion pick now the bones
the battlefield silent, no cries or groans.
Angelic chorus; hosannas ring.
Into Jerusalem walks the One True King.
The Mount of Olives splits in two:
Again stands My Temple so precious its hue.
All this is written and soon to be.
May the Lord God preserve you,
as well as me.