It was the question Zedekiah, king of Judah asked Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 37:17), when he was faced with destruction of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar.
Coronavirus, Self-Quarantining, Ventilators by Ford Motor Company, whole hospitals dedicated to stopping or at least slowing a minuscule, but deadly virus. Masks, gloves, social distancing, washing our hands until they chafe and bleed, searching grocery store aisles for the precious commodity, “hand sanitizer.”
It’s a verified, first of my lifetime (almost 71 years) pandemic, a definition of which is “a disease prevalent over a whole country or the world.”
We’re hearing new words and cryptic descriptions; we use advanced medical terms as though we truly understood them, that somehow, since a deadly and unseen monster migrated from China to the entire globe, we know all about it when the truth is, if you’re anything like me, you don’t have a clue about the all the dangerous realities and the ultimate prognosis accompanying this pandemic. And those masks that have changed the portraiture of whole cities and nations. We’re told to wear them on Monday and by Tuesday we’re informed that masks don’t work.
Economic turmoil, “rumors of wars” nation after nation shuddering in the cold reality of societies unhinged. And the biblical Books of Daniel, Ezekiel, the Revelation. Gog and Magog, Seventy Weeks, Seven Seals, Seven Bowls, Seven Trumpets, signs in the skies, Antichrist, Tribulation, “the Rapture” of the church. Deep State Conspiracies, Pestilences, Swarms of locusts, a massive Dust storm from Africa, fear and trembling, hearts “troubled” at the things coming upon the earth. And in the midst of all these, the question must be asked,
Is There Any Word From the Lord?
I was formally trained in the classical sense; I attended a brick and mortar university where professors lectured and instructed and probed the strength and the efficacy of our faith and God-knowledge. Men and women dedicated to educating rising generations of God-called preachers, pastors, missionaries, teachers and all manner of Christian leaders prepared us to seek to discharge the various ministries of the church and the kingdom of God.
We were taught “truth” in the orthodox and established sense of the word, meaning that truth is fixed, it is static, it does not change, cannot be re-defined, is not subject to any re-imagining of the thing that Christ revealed would set men free (Jn.8:32).
My undergraduate major, and the study that I gave effort to in the ensuing years was the discipline called ‘theology,’ simply defined as “the study of God.” Our primary text was the Bible itself. We learned lower and higher biblical criticism, discussed Immanuel Kant, became familiar with various and sundry theological ideologies, theories and philosophies. We learned to apply biblical hermeneutics to the interpretation of Scripture. Hermeneutics, the study of the methodical and essential principles of interpretation of the Scriptures was a discipline I had never known until I became a second-year theology student. Summed up, we learned to trust our eternal souls and those of every human alive on the absolute veracity of the Word of God.
It was assumed by our professors from the first day of our under-graduate education that we would leave their campus with some certain and solid grasp of a systematic theology of the Christian faith (and the teachings of non-Christian faiths and religious beliefs s as well).
It has been nearly fifty years since I first experienced a reality that we Pentecostals understand in a theological and not primarily a cultural sense. I may speak with tongues, but I don’t handle rattlesnakes. Snake handling or poison imbibing has nothing to do with knowing the God who revealed himself to man through His Son, Jesus Christ. Those activities also are the result of a very poor to non-existent hermeneutic.
I have laid hands on the sick and have witnessed instantaneous healings, deliverances and freedoms. I’ve seen creative miracles, such as the woman in Manila, the Philippines who had been born blind, without even eyeballs until, at about 30 years of age God created and placed within her face two, beautiful and perfectly functioning eyes.
I have prophesied (in the biblical, New Testament, New Covenant sense). I have experienced the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. I have been the vessel but not the source of manifold words of knowledge (See on 1 Cor. 12:8).
I’ve heard easily hundreds of voices raised to prophesy everything from life to death. I’ve heard revival being promised, “new waves” of healing or liberty or transfers of wealth from dirty, rotten sinners into the hands of the holy minority (the church), to YOU, Christian!
I’ve heard of coming “tsunamis” bringing either revival or destruction, based upon, it seems the mindset and theological persuasion of the speaker. I’ve heard prophecies promising that “God has had it; He’s really angry now. This time, judgment will fall, and no amount of repenting will change His mind. This time. I’ve seen God’s mercy and grace in dimensions I would have otherwise thought impossible.
Sadly, I’ve seen pitifully few of those prophecies bear any fruit – any fruit, of any kind, good or bad, helpful or not.
I’m not suggesting that prophecy is not a mechanism used by God to speak to His people (and even those who are NOT His people). God does speak through prophets and even those who are not called to fill the New Covenant office of prophet.
Yet I remain aware whenever prophetic-sounding words arise that “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1, 2a).
Allow me to repeat a phrase, dear friend, “in these last days (God) has spoken to us by His Son…”
A relevant word: the Hebrew writer declared “in these last days.” Christ followers in the past five months have asked me, over and again based upon the malady of a mysterious corona virus, collapsing economies of nations, unrest, rebellion, destruction, earthquake and anarchy and the simultaneous appearance of all these challenges, “are we living in the last days?” My answer: The disciples of Jesus understood that they were living in the last days and now two thousand years have expired since the question was first asked. Yes, these are the “last days.”
Now back to my main thesis. Concerning words from heaven, prophecies, words of direction, encouragement, wisdom and knowledge, the Second Coming of Christ:
We ought to listen first for the sound of the voice of the Son more than we are fascinated by the sound of the voice of the modern-day prophet.
At the same time, the role, gift, office, the ministry of Prophet and of prophecy remains vital and necessary among the church of 2020.
And lest we become distracted by the many voices seeking a hearing in these turbulent days, allow me to echo the Hebrew writer, “…. (God) has spoken to us by His Son.”
The primary Voice, the principal provider of understanding and direction and wisdom and truth is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. John, who walked with the Savior and absorbed His teachings declared, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1,2).
In the beginning
Was the word
Was with God
The Psalmist wrote, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” Creation, “in the beginning” was accomplished through and by the Word of God, the preincarnate Christ” (Ps.33:6). And “He upholds all things by (the same) word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). The word of His power, the Logos, Christ, a Nazarene carpenter appearing in the form of a man called ‘Jesus.’
And once we have established the identity of “Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and because His identity as God, Himself is not hidden by Scripture but rather is laid before us to plainly see and to know, we can know and understand that no matter how violently the storms blow, if we are found to be “in Christ,” we have no reason to fear or to dread. “Christ in you” is more than sufficient to overcome every threat and worry and every demon of hell. We, who are “in Christ” need not fall victim to anxiety, alarm or terror, because “He that is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Jesus spoke of two men, one who built his house on sand while the other built on rock. And when – there is a “when” to every life, to yours, to mine, to everyone – and when the storms raged and the winds blew and the rains assault, the man who had built on sand saw his efforts vanish while the man who had built on rock experienced the same “when,” with rain and flood and wind and his house did not fall, because it was founded on the rock. And the Rock is Jesus.
No matter what happens, no matter the blasting of hurricane winds or the raging floods of destruction and persecution and violent storms, “in Christ” we are secure. “In Christ” alone we are not only comforted, but we know that He has gone to prepare a place for us, and if He has gone to prepare a place for us, we know that He will come again back for us. “If it were not so, (He) would have told us.” “He will come again, and receive us to Himself; that where He is, there we may be also.”
It’s not the word of the television newscaster or the political pundit or even the preacher in his pulpit that I am listening to: It is the word of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, appearing in flesh and the life-giving, soul-saving blood alive, eternal and full of mercy.
Look to Him. Seek Him. Listen to Him. Follow Him and you will never be left alone since He will “never leave you or forsake you,” but He will be with you, especially at “the end.”
Is There any Word from the Lord?
There is . . . “Maranatha!”