One day as his people neared the Promised Land Moses got up to a peak overlooking the land and saw the land he was barred from entering. He knew that the horrors of taking possession would end quite badly. After forty years of flirting with unbelief and rebellion the great leader had no peers beside Caleb and Joshua. The Calebs and Joshuas of 2020 will live in world after the pandemic that is both a desert and an oasis.
I appreciate company more than isolation
When covid-19’s death roll ends and the sales of political favours and medical lifesaving equipment crawls to a shuffle we will have a bright new world. Since our life now depends on keeping our distance from each other we will want to begin the new day with a regard for every person that goes beyond “Good morning” to “Can you use some company?”
While his big brother was up on a smoking, convulsing mountain with the Deliverer Aaron gave in to the people’s request for a god. Moshe was not at this time known for meekness. His response to the idolatry that the future high priest took the lead for has to be a joke not mentioned. Moses did not say what he thought of how the golden calf came to be.
And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
Sometimes the thing we need most can seem like a dream, such as when the Lord reversed the fortunes of the exiled Jewish people, or when the risen Saviour appeared in a room with the ‘”marks of slaughter”. What was the chief of longsufferers to do at Thomas’ search for evidence of life from the dead?
Aaron’s fabulous fib
And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
Both Yeshua and Moses had faces that were designed to smile at good things and, you guessed it, jokes. What else could Thomas’ unbelief be to the glorified Nazarene beside a joke? If Moses did not see a joke in Aaron’s answer then he becomes a joke for not ripping into Aaron for leading the people into the cardinal sin of Jewish experience.
Fact or fiction?
I find myself smiling when I read Aaron’s report. The consequences of this episode hang around like the firmament enveloping our planet. Idolatry and going after other gods are, in the human and Jewish experience, like the night that makes daylight palpable and precious.
Just the facts please
2) And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3) And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4) And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
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.
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
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!