Sunday, July 30, 2006

living in this (hot) place and time

We're sweltering this weekend in Michigan. I picked a hot weekend to paint our bathroom. But even hotter still is the Middle East, both in the Hezbollah/Israeli conflict and in the Iraqi war.

Scripture characterizes humankind and the times of the Gentiles as being warlike (the dream of the four beasts in Daniel 7). A succession of empires denoting kingdoms in history is finally crushed and replaced by the rock cut out of a mountain, not by human hands, then becoming a mountain that fills the entire earth (Daniel 2). This is nothing less than the kingdom of God destined to reign over all the earth forever. Of course the Daniel 7 picture is one of a son of man reigning over the earth, given that authority by the Ancient of Days.

How do we look at our world today, and the heat of the Middle East in light of this truth? Do we distrust human governmental power, the power of earthly empires? In our time we speak of the United States as the world power. While other nations seem to be emerging on the horizon as important powers, particularly China.

I say we in Jesus as those belonging to the final, forever kingdom, should look at all such worldly power with profound suspicion. Can empires do good? Of course. We see that in Cyrus and the Persian empire, used by God to bring his people Israel back to the land. Even true of the Roman empire whose roads and freedom paved the way for the spread of the gospel and Christianity through the known world of that time. America too has contributed plenty of good in a number of ways (along with Britain preceding it). Missionaries sent from these latter two, evangelizing and translating Scripture has been a blessing to the world.

But the United States and Britain have their sins and excesses. And for all the good they've done, they cannot be made to be an exception to the rule of the worldly empires that are all to ultimately come down, in judgment by the King of kings and Lord of lords. The standard of the kingdom of God is high. That is the standard by which all nations are judged throughout history, to the end (see the OT prophets and their judgments pronounced from God on nations of their time).

Let us, like a Joseph, a Daniel, or an Esther be good participants, as best as we can, doing God's will in the midst of life lived in this kind of world. Let us do so, knowing we have only one King who we bow to in worship, with full allegiance. Amen.

4 comments:

Allan R. Bevere said...

Ted:

Great comments. We forget that the early church's affirmation that Jesus is Lord is a profoundly subversive claim politically.

Ted Gossard said...

Allan,

So true. Thanks.

Becky said...

Ted:

Thanks for these thoughts. I find myself overwhelmed with terrible news every time I open my web-browser. These are excellent reminders and an encouragement to recenter oneself as a follower of Jesus and participant in his kingdom, rather than as a passive participant in worldly regimes.

It's really hot here, too.

Ted Gossard said...

Becky,

Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.

Yes, somehow we fit into all of this. Good to know what's going on but sometimes I get surfeited in it. Need to be reminded who I am, and Who I belong to. Thanks for your thought on recentering. So true, and so often a needed reminder in my own life.