Thursday, April 28, 2011

Death is Mankind's Friend

To some people God's statement that “the soul who sins will die,” as recorded by the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, and the apostle Paul's statement that “the wages of sin is death,” as recorded in the New Testament, are just further examples of God's nasty side.

What a spoil sport! What a harsh tyrant God is!

If we look at these through the lens of love rather than the lens of punishment and vengeance we again see God's good side, God's love.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God banished them from the garden so they could not eat from the tree of life in their sinful condition. God did not want them to live forever in such a fractured relationship with Him. Instead they were to die, be removed from the garden, and eventually from the earth, until Jesus had come to earth and paid for their sin, and they could be restored to their original relationship with God.

Strange as it might seem, death is mankind's friend. 

Those who lived BC left the earth at the end of their lifetimes and waited in hades for Jesus to deal with their sin at Calvary. 

Those of us who live AD are headed in one of two directions on our death.
Those who belong to Christ immediately move to the New Jerusalem, “my Father's house”, as Jesus called it.
Those who do not belong to Christ go to hades as their AD predecessors did, until their resurrection to face judgement and rehabilitation at the end of the ages.

Either way God's love for His children will prevail and His children will be reconciled to Him in the end.

Death is the doorway into hades and ultimately to life or directly to life, depending on whether or not people belong to Christ in their time on this planet.

What do you think of this?
Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Parable of the Wise and Loving Parent

The big day has arrived. Your son has just turned 6 and you arrange to give him an exciting birthday party in the back yard. 

During the games and activities your child makes a real pest of himself. He is a poor loser when someone else wins a competition. He has to have the first piece of cake going around, and the biggest piece at that. He shows extreme displeasure with some of the presents he has been given. He is a pain and is beginning to arouse anger and frustration in his guests. The party is ready to explode.

Do you leave him continue this way, and risk ruining the party, and worse still, risk losing all his friends?
Of course not.

You quietly take him from the yard and give him some time out in his room where others can't see him and where he can not make things any worse, for himself or for his friends.

Were you angry with your son? Most definitely.
Did you still love your son? Most definitely.
So, what will you do next?

After a certain length of time, you visit your son, help him understand what has been happening and its present and possible future consequences, and help him change his attitude and future behaviour and to see the potential benefits that would come from these changes. 

Those changes would also have the benefit of removing your anger and being reconciled to your son, moving on in harmony with him.

God watched on as his children behaved badly in the days of Noah. He loved them, yet was angry with their behaviour. He decided to remove them from the earth and give them some time out in hades, where others couldn't see them.

Was God angry with them? Did He make a judgement about their behaviour? Did He destroy them, remove them from the earth? Did He place them in hades? Did He love them? Did He visit them later in their room, in hades? Did He talk to them about how things could be better for them in the future?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

If we can do these things well as sinful, earthly parents, how much better is God as the most loving parent of all at restoring his wayward and badly behaving children and having them lead a life that is pleasing and reconciled to Him?

Blessings, Barry

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A difficult verse

Hi everyone,
As you will have noticed I have been silent for a while.  No-one said they wanted to follow my sidetrack on end-times, so I have been doing that study without any posting here.
But I have now veered back to our original focus so have some thoughts to share with you again.

How many times have I tried to discover the meaning of this verse?
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Matthew 19 : 30 ;  Matthew 20 : 16 ;  Mark 10 : 31 ;  Luke 13 : 30.

Several explanations have occured to me over the years, but recently I have been considering two others, which are related to some extent.

In Matthew's gospel this statement surrounds the story of the labourers and the generous landowner.  Although all labourers were paid the same amount at the end of the day, those employed last were paid first and those employed first were paid last.
This is a parable, so has a spiritual or prophetic meaning or application.

Possibility 1.
The Jews were God's chosen nation to inherit the kingdom and then to bring in  the Gentile nations.  However because of their failure to obey God and to accept their Messiah, Jesus told the Jews that the kingdom would be taken from them and given to the church.  (Matthew 21 :  33 - 46, which is another story of a landowner;  also Matthew 8 : 12)

Paul confirmed this by saying that AFTER the full number of Gentiles came in all Israel would be saved.  (Romans 11 :  25 - 26)
So the first chosen would now be last to enter, and the last first.

Possibilty 2.
This possibility is almost a variation of possibility 1.  After telling a story about two sons, Jesus told Israel's chief priests and elders that tax collectors and prostitutes (outcasts in Israeli society) would enter the kingdom of God before they would.  (Matthew 21 :  28 - 32)

Clearly the religious leaders would be expecting to be first in .... but they were to come in AFTER those like Matthew and Mary Magdalene who were not depending on their religious position or performance for acceptance, but on their belief in the gospel and their willingness to follow Jesus.

With a similar theme, Jesus' other story about two sons (recorded in Luke 15 :  11 - 32) has the younger, rebellious, but returning son coming into the father's house and enjoying the celebrations before the older "obedient" son.  The older would have been expecting first entry because of his fiathfulness but, if the story continues in the way we would now expect it to, he would have been the last to enter.

Both possible explanations hint at the same idea - the strictly religious are surpassed by those who throw themselves at Christ's feet for mercy.

Do you have any other ideas on this?
Blessings, Barry