Can we have a personal response to a global crisis without considering or comparing ourselves to our neighbours? Can we see pestilences and catastrophic events without blaming God? If we did either of these we would not be the wisest people in history. We, the now generation, are so soaked in glitter that we are ready to sell it to the owners of the gold mine. Identifying the beast – the bad actor who is in responsible for global commerce, deception, and death threats – specific acts of God is a biblical exercise. Would you prefer to have a cop, a lawyer, a taxi driver, a pastor over to fix your elevator? God has marked the beast by its sheer humanity: 666 is the icon for failed and broken humanity, whcih is what the church looks like as long as it wants to be
That the church imitates the beast is evidence that personal success and influence are more important than growing in grace and loveliness. Comparing the beast’s behaviour to church interests will uncover some striking similarities that remind us of ancient Israel’s quest to be like the neighbouring nations.
- SLANDER – Rev 13:5. And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. ESV2011
- WAR – Rev 13:7. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, ESV2011
- ENFORCE WORSHIP – Rev 13:12. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. ESV2011
- DOES WONDERS – Rev 13:13. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, ESV2011
- CREATING UNITY AND CONTINUITY – Rev 13:14. and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. ESV2011
- DEATH SENTENCE TO PROTESTERS – Rev 13:15. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. ESV2011
- MARKS EVERYONE FOR IDENTIFICATION – Rev 13:16. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, ESV2011
Glitter glossy gee-wiz
The human element in church, state, work, and family, remains disappointing. The best of us – humans – can be found trying to ace every test, win every race, conquer every foe, remove every obstacle from life, and declare those outcomes the proud of our integrity. Of course it never seems to dawn on these triumphant ones that the Lord has a way to enjoy (no disappointment) us enjoying life without us dragging others into the picture.
It still eludes many of us that truth is not magical answers to every problem. Our preaching lacks precision if the outcomes we seek are so-called deliverance from the common lot of humans. Whether we are a herd of complaining brats or blessed children of God seems to have nothing to do with us wanting to acquire health, home (property), and honour.
Our greatest enemy is ourselves and having Christ – his love in particular – is more than enough to affirm our victorious status. The beast will deceive us as long as we are thrilled only with miracles and signs. Truth is divine, personal, and permanent, unlike the things we seek. Death and decay are with us until the Lord appears. It is no longer amazing to me that the church is adopting all the moves and attitudes of the beast.
Where does the Bible authorize blood for food? If we know that we also know the controversy that follows. So let us think and not clink glasses at every mention of blood.
Blood, blood, everywhere
Where do we find instruction about sprinkling blood for protection?
Does blood prevent death?
Does blood inoculate against sickness?
Why did Christ die?
Is shedding ones blood the same as dying?
Do sins come back like medical and physical conditions?
Pandemic for a lot of people means a determination to survive and courage to keep believing as the world relies on its tried and true projects, some heroic, some sour puss, others unhinged and manic.
THE END OF DAYS IS FULL OF TROUBLE
- Reports of wars and
- rumours of wars
- International conflict or insurrection
- jurisdictional conflict or insurrection
- pestilences, and
With these the party is just getting started. All these are the beginning of sorrows (birth pangs). Yet to come:
- deliver you up to be afflicted
- hatred by all nations for Christ’s sake
- many take offence
- betray one another
Pandemic puts the spotlight on people: all the people. As a man of African descent it is not easily that people like me can trust that fellow citizens are going to be truthful about washing their hands and reporting their symptoms. It feels like someone is preparing to count humanity. It looks like the typical beastly behaviour – breaking things then come in like a saviour. At least the progress towards good governance – human style – needs to have population statistics. There are four things that will come out of the coronavirus outbreak: (1) the data of infected vs non-infected people, (2) the vaccine we can expect to be rolled out soon, (3) the potential for draconian actions to address human safety and (4) the intrusion of government into spiritual life and freedom of thought.
Beastly interests vs the thunder
A pandemic forces humans to congregate at home. What do we have to lose? Few people have heard the thunder of the global voice calling for an end to the injustices of religion and politics. Fewer have heard the pin drop in the parade of good people. The truly important things about human destiny are not going to be written. In John’s prophecy the thunder utterances are classified. You and I need to hear the thunder for ourselves
The seven thunders spoke, and I started to write. But then I heard a voice from heaven that said, “Don’t write what the seven thunders said. Keep those things secret.” Revelation of John 10:4
Plagues – divine strikes or blows – are not like rain and snow. There are no human remedies, so let us not think we will ever pray a plague away. When this outbreak we will naturally be in a new place. God will still be God inviting people to come to him. If we see a line up for baptism across the affected areas it will be a different world from the one that followed the 911 murders. Let us not contribute to chaos and animalistic behaviour. Some people may feel that covid-19 is none of their business but the spread of concerted action in response is merely a shadow of the discomfort into which our lives will be thrown when the plagues begin. But, not yet!
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
Standout saying in today’s reading
The real prophets get persecuted and killed. The rest get acclaimed by the community – all men, not every individual.
Where is the prophet since John the Baptist?
If you do not know the answer to that question you are likely to be in the snare of a false prophet, not necessarily someone calling himself “prophet” but an authority figure.
The human body knows when it deserves urgent care. The doctor comes later. The spirit has needs too (none if we believe in immortal souls and perfectly fit persons, believers and nonbelievers healed by God) and it has healing and maintenance routines. Conscience, experience and faith build our spiritual health and fitness. Believing what God has promised is more than sufficient. Instead we have thought that positive thinking can replace the abject negativity of human righteousness (performing what we think God wants) we have the spiritual equivalent of a contagious and fatal disease. To sum up in simple terms, we suffer from icanitis, and tacking on “through Christ who strenthens me” does nothing to hide our proud foolishness.
We are showing the world how threatened we are by both surprising events and by scheduled ones. Death is coming and we have no remedy. Coronavirus threatens a lot of people and the remedy is not blood on the doorpost of anyone’s house nor are there buttons available to believers to vaccinate people or cure people.
Spiritual solutons are essentially cheap trash. Would we not expect our Jewish brothers and sisters to tell us that the solution to the pandemic is obedience to all the Commandments of God? Are Muslims saying that covid-19 gets beaten if we believe that Muhammad is Allah’s only prophet and there’s only one God named Allah?
Plague or plot
When exactly the blood of Christ became a commodity for Christians (and anyone else who dares) to pour, wipe, smear or sprinkle is not clear. It is not a Bible doctrine. Demons are responsible for the idea that Christ’s blood is for everything. It is not healthy to call bad things good but that does not restrain the fear mongers. They believe they can stop the plague from doing what God wants, but we cannot have the pandemic as one of the must-happens and complain about it and expect God to stop it before it does its work. When the plagues at the end of the age move into their last stage we do not see the masses repenting, and we cannot believe that catastrophic events are intended to help people see a loving God and worship Him. You buy that and you’ve lost your mind.
Look up! Redemption is near!
So when you hear the list of great things that will come about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic just be sure that that virus does not become the god that we are worshipping, which is the way it seems right now. How many of us are doing bad things so good can come? Is that a godly method? Get yourself a God who can hear you and talk to you and you will be in line for every day blessings, with or without pandemics, famines or earthquakes.