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Tag: Prophecy

Unconventional Prophets

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“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’ Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.” John 11:49-51 [Emphasis mine.]

There is nothing like raising the dead to get people’s attention. In the aftermath of the Lord Jesus calling His friend Lazarus forth from the tomb, many people “believed in Him” (John 11:45.) Christ’s enemies could not deny that He performed many miracles as signs of His identity as the Messiah. Therefore, they decided to do away with the One that they viewed as a wonder-working Nazarean upstart. What is more, they also plotted to murder Lazarus, the latest evidence of Jesus’ power (John 12:10-11.) “If one does not care for the evidence, just bury it,” seemed to be their motto. This incident was merely one more example of the long history of this world’s opposition to God’s Word.

Asleep In The Light

The Almighty has taken great care to reveal Himself to His creatures, but in their sin they habitually refuse to receive the light that He provides through the Scriptures. Of course, the Bible shows us the Son of God, Who in turn manifests the God the Father to mankind (Matt. 11:27; John 14:7-9.) Yet some of those who claim familiarity with its contents demonstrate a woeful neglect of the God Who is revealed on every page. As the Lord Jesus told the observant Jews who confronted Him: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40.)

The religious leaders who dominated the Temple and the ruling council (the Sanhedrin) set aside the miraculous evidence that vindicated Christ’s claims, electing instead to do away with this nettlesome teacher. They prejudged Him without giving due consideration to the facts surrounding His ministry (John 7:51-52.) They conceded that He performed “signs”; yet these mighty works failed to sway their stubbornly entrenched opinions concerning His provenance (John 11:47.) Judaism’s earliest position on the Lord’s miracles was to attribute them to Satanic power, a view that was later reaffirmed in their revered Talmud (Mk. 3:22; cf. Tractates Sanhedrin 43a & Toledoth Jesu.)i
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The Comforter Cometh

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“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and
devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Luke 2:25
In this world of sorrow people yearn for deliverance from life‘s problems and stresses. If only
someone could give them relief from the things that oppress their spirits and make their lives
drudgery, they reason, then their lives would be ideal. First-century Israel was no different, for
the Jews of that day longed for liberation from the onerous yolk of Rome as well as a restoration
of the glories of their independent past. Against this backdrop, a devout man named Simeon
walked into the Temple precincts one day in order to see the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. His
aspirations went far beyond nationalistic sentiments or personal desires for an easier life. Rather,
he awaited the coming of ―the Consolation of Israel‖ – the advent of the Messiah, a person
whose life and actions would have cosmic and eternal effect for Israel and the nations.
Thou Wilt Command Thy Servant’s Consolationi
The translators of The New King James Version rightly capitalize ―Consolation‖ in Luke 2:25,
recognizing that it is a messianic title, and not merely a description of an activity towards Israel.
It is true that the nation will one day be consoled – in addition to many other nations that will
share in the blessing of Christ‘s millennial reign – yet one must remember that this comfort is
bound up in one person: the Messiah Jesus.ii The phrase ―the Consolation of Israel‖ certainly had
technical messianic overtones in other contemporary Jewish sourcesiii, and later Rabbinic
Judaism frequently employed it to refer to the Messiah.iv As one historian notes: ―In Rab.
Judaism the ‘consolation of Israel’ is a blanket term for the fulfillment of Messianic
expectation…‖v Another author agrees: ―…’the consolation of Israel,’ is rooted in the consolation
language which in Isaiah is connected with God‘s eschatological restoration of his people (Isa
40:1; 49:13; 51:3; 52:9; 57:18; 66:10–11).‖vi David Gooding further elucidates the origins of this
expression, saying:
The delightful term ‘consolation of Israel’ suggests that his expectation was based on the
programme enunciated in such passages as Isaiah 40ff. He was looking for the day when
Israel’s warfare and chastisement would be over, and God would ‘comfort his people’.
Nor was Simeon narrowly concerned simply for the future of Israel. Basing himself again
on Isaiah’s predictions (e.g. 42:6; 49:6 etc.) he foresaw the time when the light of God’s
salvation would spread to the very ends of the earth (see 2:31-32).vii
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When The Earth Shakes

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They shall go into the holes of the rocks, And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold,
Which they made, each for himself to worship, To the moles and bats,
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks,
From the terror of the LORD, and the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
Isaiah 2:19-21
The recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan – not to mention Haiti and Chile in 2010 –
ought to remind people of the unstable nature of life on this planet. Yet one must keep in mind
that “the earth is the Lord‟s and all of its fullness”; as the Creator He controls its destiny (Psa.
24:1.) The Bible teaches that He sometimes uses natural catastrophes to turn men back to
Himself. On other occasions, He judges cities like Sodom and Gomorrah through cataclysms of
one sort or another (Gen. 19.) Natural disasters are a result of the Fall: the event when Adam and
Eve brought sin and death into the world (Gen. 3.) Ever since that tragedy, the creation has
groaned under the weight of sin‟s corrosive effects (Rom. 8:20-22.) Thankfully, the Bible assures
people that it will not be this way forever, when the glorious liberty of the sons of God dawns,
the broken power of sin will be rolled back from planet earth.
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Of Excuses & Autocrats

The unregenerate human heart recoils from taking responsibility for its evil actions and moral failings. A recent book review unintentionally noted a practical example of this problematic but common attitude, citing many former officials from Saddam Hussein’s regime as examples. Like the Nazis who were put on trial at Nuremberg after the Second World War, the men interviewed by Wendell Steavenson tried to excuse their actions by shifting the blame to their superiors. In the words of the reviewer:
Perhaps most dispiriting of all, virtually none of those interviewed acknowledges responsibility for what was done. Most of their explanations are variations on ‘we were only obeying orders.’ ‘What could I do?’ ‘But I helped people, many people!’ ‘I suffered also, you know.’ ‘This was usual then.’ The gassing of 5,000 Kurds in Halabja was, concedes a seemingly upright general, ‘a political mistake.’
Steavenson comments: “I liked them. I joked with them. I sympathized with them. But not one ever looked me straight in the eye and admitted responsibility for the crimes of the government which they had served.” At this point, the reviewer interjects: “Even after the depredations of Saddam Hussein, many of those Ms. Steavenson talked to still hankered after someone like him. Iraqis, says one, are ‘an unruly mass of shirugi – slang for thickheaded Marsh Arabs – who need the rule of the rod, a strongman, to control them.’ ”i Indeed, if people are able to transfer the guilt of their actions to another, then they will cede total power to such a one in order to sin with impunity.

To read the entire article, click on the title.

Of Excuses & Autocrats

The unregenerate human heart recoils from taking responsibility for its evil actions and moral failings. A recent book review unintentionally noted a practical example of this problematic but common attitude, citing many former officials from Saddam Hussein’s regime as examples. Like the Nazis who were put on trial at Nuremberg after the Second World War, the men interviewed by Wendell Steavenson tried to excuse their actions by shifting the blame to their superiors. In the words of the reviewer:
Perhaps most dispiriting of all, virtually none of those interviewed acknowledges responsibility for what was done. Most of their explanations are variations on ‘we were only obeying orders.’ ‘What could I do?’ ‘But I helped people, many people!’ ‘I suffered also, you know.’ ‘This was usual then.’ The gassing of 5,000 Kurds in Halabja was, concedes a seemingly upright general, ‘a political mistake.’
Steavenson comments: “I liked them. I joked with them. I sympathized with them. But not one ever looked me straight in the eye and admitted responsibility for the crimes of the government which they had served.” At this point, the reviewer interjects: “Even after the depredations of Saddam Hussein, many of those Ms. Steavenson talked to still hankered after someone like him. Iraqis, says one, are ‘an unruly mass of shirugi – slang for thickheaded Marsh Arabs – who need the rule of the rod, a strongman, to control them.’ ”i Indeed, if people are able to transfer the guilt of their actions to another, then they will cede total power to such a one in order to sin with impunity.
To read the entire article, click on the title.

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