“Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour, and caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping.” — Rupert Brooke died WWI 1915 http://ow.ly/i/wS3f
Archive for April, 2012
I planted my lettuce and sugar peas today. The western Pennsylvania spring can be a frigid, unforgiving lover. I have lost Roma tomato plants to a frost in early June-twice. But but not this year. I feel the earth tilting under my feet and I shall play the harlot and plant my zucchini early. Yes, For I am a rascal–I shall arise Monday morning and plant my Romas too! I shall wear my t-shirt and I shall dig my 4 inch mounds and I shall defy the vehemence of a PA April! These are wicked, desperate times. http://ow.ly/i/wO4f
Edward Gibbon in his seminal work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire says that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end. First, a mounting love of affluence. Second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor. Third, an obsession with sex. Fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity. Fifth, an increased desire to live on welfare. Sound familiar? Are we looking at Hazael?
That must have been the way the disciples felt. Only three years with Him. Three short years. And while his work seemed to fall on deaf ears, the evil Romans prospered. Caiphas prospered. Herod prospered. Evil would win after all . . . and Elisha wept.
Jesus wept too. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus spent the last night of His life. Alone. He had to die. He knew it. And He was so afraid that He wept blood. Sometimes I think we make the cross into something less than it was. It was a horrible death. To wear a cross, for instance, in Jesus’ day, around one’s neck was like wearing an electric chair around our neck today. No, Hazael will live. Jesus will die. And Elisha wept. . .
Elisha began his ministry during the last half of the ninth century B.C. Leaving his parents’ farm in the upper Jordan valley, he trained under Elijah for several years, then served in the northern kingdom for over fifty years.
Elisha was not isolated and unpredictable as Elijah often was. Instead, he spent time with people, sharing meals and staying in their homes. He traveled throughout the kingdom on a donkey, visiting villages and the communities. Elisha’s miracles among these people reflected a deep compassion for the poor and needy.
Despite his loyalty to Israel, Elisha relentlessly fought against the idol worship of her kings. Obedience to God’s instructions took him as far north as Damascus, where he appointed the Syrian king who would eventually oppress Israel. A similar mission in Israel brought the downfall of her evil kings and a massacre of the prophets.
But, Elisha knew all too well, that Hazael would live and someday he would destroy his nation. The rich and the poor alike would suffer. They would suffer because the nation was evil. . . was unfaithful to God. And Elisha wept . . .
To a large degree, we are to do nothing. We are to wait. The Hebrew understanding of “waiting” is “to stand firmly and actively watch God’s will be revealed.” The Greeks and the Romans and some of us today tried to build society upon their gods. But these gods will not be big enough because they are finite, limited. Even mighty Rome, with all its power, did not have satisfactory answers to the questions plaguing humankind. So they fell. They are finished. They were Hazael.
But we serve a God who never slumbers or sleeps. A God who in a blink of an eye created the universe. A God who has no beginning nor an ending. A God, also, who loves us enough to send His only begotten Son to die for us . . . that is one response to Hazael–embrace the Son of God as our Savior–do not rewrite the rules of the game–play another game!
When the three young students refused to worship mighty Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar they were thrown into the fiery furnace (see Daniel). “We believe God will deliver us,” they said. “But even if we die, we shall not worship you.”
Believers, are we willing to stand firm in our faith no matter what the cost? If we are, then Hazael shall not have our souls . . . even if someday he takes our lives.
Will we stand with Joshua on the edge of the Promised Land and proclaim: “You may follow whom you will but as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord!”
As Elisha weeps, he stands with saints of all ages–he stands on Carmel with Elijah–with Moses on Horeb–with Abraham on Moriah–and he asks us again, “If Baal is god then worship him; if God is God worship Him! But choose ye this day . . .”
I know that it seems that we are looking into the face of Hazael . . . and we are. But let us stand–as countless saints before us stood–let us stand firm and choose life this year. . . eternal life! If the present home school movement does nothing else let us call our nation to be hopeful in the face of Hazael because . . . our Redeemer liveth!