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Friday, 22 July 2016

Stop the world - I want to get off!

Was it a film?  Was it a song? I can't recall, but the phrase (or something very similar!) was certainly in vogue when I was a lot younger.  "Stop the world - I want to get off!"

As I try to keep abreast of contemporary world news, it is a sentiment that any sane person would surely understand - and with which many would readily identify.  Today's, apparently co-ordinated, attacks in the German city of Munchen (Munich) are but the latest in an ever-lengthening catalogue of violent and fatal incidents.  We have witnessed an abortive coup in Turkey; police officers murdered in the USoA; Bastille day celebrations in Nice cancelled because of another mass murder, using a bus.

Yes - will someone please stop the world.  I, for one, would be happy not to be here!

Of course, we know that such a wish is impossible to fulfil - at least in physical terms.  However, as Shakespeare has his character Hamlet say: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (Hamlet: Act 1, scene 5).

Yesterday morning, I completed a period in which I have been using the "minor" prophets of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures) as the basis of my private devotions.  It has, at times, been like reading the morning newspaper!  

The book of the prophet Joel is particularly applicable, as he writes about the coming "Day of YHWH".  His words are, of course, the words most quoted by the apostle Peter in the first Day of Pentecost of the Christian era.  That "Day of YHWH" has two applications.  The first may be seen as the destruction of the Second Temple and the dispersion of the Children of Israel when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.  However, that date and event does not exhaust the prophetic word.   Those words of Joel also point to the end-times - times in which many believe we are currently living.

Obadiah - the shortest book in the Tanakh - also speaks of "the Day of YHWH", and makes clear that, while the forthcoming destruction of Edom would be the immediate fulfilment of the prophetic word, that it also applied to the final move of Almighty God before the end of time itself, and the judgment of mankind.   

However, there is also a message of hope.  Obadiah assures his listeners and readers that "... in Mount Zion there shall be those that escape, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions." (v.17).  The later equivalent of that promise, that goes beyond the Children of Israel (Jacob), is found in the letter to Hebrew disciples of Jesus who, the writer claims: "... have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a Judge Who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel." (Heb 12:22-24; emphasis added). 

Joel also makes clear that if we are to escape that great judgment, then we must repent: "'Yet even now,' says YHWH, 'return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.' Return to YHWH, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil." (Joel 2:12-13). 

That, of course, is also the message of the Christian Gospel - that we confess that we are sinners; that we are, of ourselves, unable to do anything about our sin; that we accept that Almighty God, in the Persona (not a typo!) of the Son has, Himself, graciously paid the penalty for our sin; and that we need only come to Him, with repentant hearts, to receive cleansing and forgiveness, and begin a new life under His control.  If we have done that, then we need have no fear.  John writes that: "... He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (I John 4:4).

The crucial question is this: Have we found that salvation, deliverance, shelter, and strength only the Lord can provide when the final “day of the Lord” comes?   If not, then remember that "... now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (II Cor 6:2; emphases added).

If I may be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me at author@minister.com Alternatively, there are some useful links further down the page.  May you know the prompting of God the Holy Spirit.  May He give you no rest until you have accepted the great gift, purchased at such great cost.

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