Accusations about the liberation movement of African peoples are mostly smokescreen and political drivel. If the number of Christian leaders who have done something to make justice come alive for African peoples is more than a tenth of all leaders it would be highly suspect. We know that the vast majority model their work after ancient conventions known to be the tools of greed, oppression and ignorance. Real life in God has no outlet for merchandising and theft. “Ticket to heaven” salvation and little compassion for the oppressed is shallow stuff indeed.
Remembering George Floyd is more than an emotional experience. The knee that killed our brother is part of a beast that sees itself as sovereign, which nations can be if God authorizes that status. When they see the end of their misdeeds they blaspheme and become a lesson to the world of thick darkness and mental obesity. Understanding the trading of Africans as slaves and their humiliation is the circumcision the world is afraid of. Sometimes we hear people saying we should forgive the European powers and the United States and move on. The sentiment comes from the core of the knee. The knee tries desperately to rewrite history but time just ran out at this juncture in ways we could not foresee, which leads me to the conviction that the time to address the injustices of the so-called Judeo-C⁶hristian world has fully arrived.
Stalled for 230 years!
My head shakes involuntarily when I hear the silly MAGA slogan used by the bigot in the White House to dupe people into looking back for direction. These are the people who do not understand the nature of their constitution: how it grows and yet keeps the nation on course is not a mystery. Americans do not need to look to Europe or any other place for guidance in governance. Christians need to look no further than Jesus and Paul to understand the sources of community conflict. American history speaks for itself about the willingness to crush dissent and oppress because of jealousy.
They did set the bar – still a low-value metal – for humanity and intricate accountability and justice. Every observer of modern history knows that America is not Israel – there is only one Israel – and that Americans quickly decided not to vault by hanging on to the marginalization of Black people. It is like Israel at Sinai: “we will do whatever Yahweh says”, but pay homage to a golden calf as saviour. America and its institutions, including many denominations, chose to act out in jealousy and pure rage: jealous of the melanin and outraged that Blacks had many more blessings beside the melanin.
Great legal systems have stalled on getting wealth for some parts of their domain, and if there were ships secretly ferrying Africans to poverty today they would proceed with God’s blessing.
The crushing chaos of church commerce
Let’s say we go to church to shop for miracles (knowing full well that they are always free of charge) and not to participate in mutual edification in the excellencies of God our Saviour, it is deceptive not to have a new name for our assembly. That kind of assembly, for its lack of intelligent and honest participation and for the commerce we think it is, is no longer church in the same way that the Sadducees turned the temple into a place of merchandizing. It has become a knee on our neck.
Instead of prayers to which we can say amen we are being asked to give the nod to hollow decrees and irrelevant slogans which build neither faith, hope or love. We can always expect the merchants of magical moments, banquets and devotional books to keep saying they are having a church experience. We know they are not. We have to find new words to describe what has become of the great American enterprise. The church is known for its grace and the secular powers for their law and order regimes. Isn’t that the thing that sets the levitical kingdom apart from the church?
Knee on our neck
How the knee shows up
- Lies we identify at first sight
- Freedom that entails loss of dignity
- Power practiced as domination
- Love is realized in perfect compliance
- New means more of the same
The knee stands for staking a claim where millennial communities were flourishing. It stands for turning Jesus into a disciple of Moses. It stands for stifling the dreams of the next generation. It stands for loyalty displays without a grain of confidence in the symbols that represent the ideals.
Get the knee a new pair of ears
We can close our ears to the truth but it will catch up with us. The things we say we will defend to the death should involve our own death to the crooked generation that brought us the separation of church and state, righteous nazism, and the televangelist.
America and Europe have not been listening to its geniuses. They have become roadblocks to their stated destinies. They forget their meagre and late beginnings and act as if they were always prosperous and influential. Most disturbing is the fact that successive generations of young people have been duped into a sense of maturity based on computer and web savvy, deceived by eastern mysticism, convinced to follow shallow political ideologies, and a paradoxical spirituality, and left exposed to gun violence directed at schools. The knee is not listening.
This time the people must force the knee to listen
There will not be a Judeo-Christian beacon on any hill. That is an utterly schizophrenic concoction designed to nauseate God. He has been known to vomit. Since it was not possible for Judeo and Christian strains to combine in the land where both have their roots we should not expect a composite of the two to thrive anywhere. Looking back to ones roots can be an orienting experience but it can also lead to a pride in the beginning with no view towards growth in the direction of a mature society. When Christians look back our eyes get glued to the cross. We are not looking back to a mere event or festival. We look back to the intervention of God in our world planned from before the world was made.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.1 Cor. 3:11
What they said about Israel-Judah appears in the church
THE KNEE OF ANTIQUITY- sacred and secularEzekiel 22:26-30
26) Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. 27) Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain. 28) Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. 29) The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30) I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
The first day of the last week of Yeshua’s life is on public display at this time of the year again with its well-rounded appeal and its popularity as a fabulous deep. The light streaming from the triumphant entry is somewhat dimmed torch when compared to the untrimmed prophecy from which the gospel writers cited Zion’s joy. That now famous donkey ride calls for a closer look at Zion’s reason to rejoice greatly.
King nobody wanted
Yeshua’s contemporaries and the Jewish leadership objected to his preaching, teaching, and his healing. The people even exploited his feeding of the hungry: this food manufacturer could be our king. Was he not born king? Yes, but they did not really want the Nazarene. I think the Roman governor hit the piñata when Yeshua’s opponents tries to get the cross-sign changed from “Jesus, Nazarene, Jewish King” to “he called himself Jesus, Nazarene, Jewish King”
I N R I
In that last week Yeshua pushed the buttons to shift to the work he came to do: establish who is really in charge.
The ride into Zion is more than popular acclaim. The full prediction breaks out of the mold of Moses and the prophets.
The gospel-writer’s citationMatthew 21:5
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
The full Zecharian prophecy
A. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. B. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. C. As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.Zechariah 9:9-11
The lines following the procession description play out in the sayings and interactions in the following list. Israel’s pride is over. Everything she had at the top of her power list is now useless. Abraham’s family, those countless Gentile “sinners” will be have God’s peace through His decree. There comes a covenant that releases people from wells without water.
- Clearing the temple of merchandising
- Cursing the fig tree
- Condemning the rejection of the Baptist
- Evaluating and evicting the murderous tenants
- Identifying the wedding guests who disinvited themselves
- Separating Caesar and God
- Resurrection and human destiny
- Capping the law and the prophets
- Identifying David’s son
- Trashing the leadership (people in Moses’ seat)
Weeping over Jerusalem
The events in the list cover Matthew chapters 21 to 23 and they are clearly the final actions of the king before he finishes his work on the cross. Joy vanishes quickly as people return to their ways, kicking and screaming that YHWH was not their king. It was too much to be under the wing of a loving mother.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Desolation vs Covenant
The united memories of both Zionite and the waterless wells cannot paper over the manifest fate of Zion vs the desolation, not merely the physical destruction but the loss of spiritual relevance to life, of the temple. There is no evidence of a God until the airwaves begin to record the sound of relief. People have to welcome the king.
Blessed is he who comes in Yahweh’s name
Then he brought them outside and said, “Men, what must I do to be saved?”Acts 16:30
Are Christians trafficking in guilt and illness? What raises such a question? The lipservice given to the Sinai Covenant and the essential reality of falling short of God’s glory. Since claiming sinless nature or conduct is false (1 John 1:7-10) and since no Christian is in perfect health we can say guilt over sin and illness are being used to oppress and harass the elect.
“Be saved” is passive action. Passive action puts the person receiving the action as the actor. I must be saved, but who saves me is the question that will sniff out the truffle. As long as people keep separating the promise that makes lost people sons of God from generosity no safe space exists. Nothing is guaranteed. There is no real gift.
Here are two pairs of passive action and active action.
- He was saved by grace
- Grace saved him
- They are often kissed by their mother
- Their mother kisses them often.
Simple vs Infinite
Who is doing the kissing? Who is doing the saving?
In Ephesians 2 :8 “saved” is also passive but it is definitely not an ordinary (finite) action word. It is the linked condition or identity to “you”. Sesosmenoi (safe or saved) is like a colour or some other quality: in this case persons are sesosmenoi.
We cannot twist “saved” into an active statement such as
• Grace saved you
• Grace saved you through faith
Paul is describing an outcome or status. You are safe by grace through faith.
Saved, though it is a based on a verb, lacks person. It has the characteristics of a verb except for person (actor)
• You (one or more)
• He / she
It is a statement of fact, not action.
You are light.
You were blind
You are my friends
Need to come and let Christ save us
This is one of many cases where translations have failed to state what the text says. One is safe and cannot drag works into the picture, except perhaps if one wants to brag about one’s contribution to the redemption that is exclusively by Lamb’s blood. Moreover, if one accepts that Yeshua’s gift of the Holy Spirit is a downpayment towards (or a guarantee of) resurrection one cannot harbour the thought that Yeshua’s eternal will can be thwarted by human will or action. He did not need our will to shed grace on us, and he certainly does not need it to keep us graced. We only needed to come to him. We only needed to surrender our record and efforts to set ourselves right. Apparently most of us stil do.
Having a host of entities all ready to throw one book or another at us, it is satisfying to know that God’s adjudication of the human condition is far more noble than the rush to repay God with our faithfulness. It may come as a surprise that when God speaks in his court he speaks to justify or vindicate himself. This appears in Psalm 51 as David speaks about his sin and his recovery.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Psalms 51:4
The cross is God’s verdict, conditional on grace (his gift and my thanks) and faith (his faithfulness and my faith).
If David was condemned for his sin he should have also been executed. Apparently, God forgave him. Our Lord demonstrates his advocacy when a woman accused of a capital sin walks free when he rules “no condemnation from me”.
Everyone was pretty sure that she was worthy of death but not the Lord. Even faithful Moses, prosecutor-General (John 5:45), would have concurred. Recall Moses’ divorce allowance (amendment?).
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.
Divine justice. Romans 3:25
Mercyseat operations – blood and atonement – show his rightness.
[Christ] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
Since we cannot pay for our unbelief nor pay for the gift of life let us love with the love he’s given us. Is not thanks enough?
Lord, thanks for the grace
κύριε, χάρις χαριτι