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~ The Kingdom's Advent ~
Luke records, “...the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the desert” (Luke 3:2b). Luke held this event in such esteem that he carefully cited when this happened with five references to the reign of rulers and the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. He wrote “the ‘rhema’ of God came to John,” literally the “utterance.” John fulfilled the calling of the prophet Isaiah, “Prepare the way for the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3). Isaiah used the Hebrew “Yahweh” (the Self-Existent I AM) for “Lord” while Luke wrote “kurios” (Supreme in Authority.) While the “utterance” (translated as “word” or “message”) came to John, he was to prepare the way for the Word, the “Logos”. That Word, the apostle John wrote, is God.
In response, Christ uttered, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God’” (Hebrews 10:5-7, NIV).
God is not difficult to find, nor does He play hard to get. “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:18b-19, NIV). Since the creation, He was the first to call to us. He chooses, blesses, utters, reveals and loves. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When “the fullness of time” came, God said, “Let’s prepare for Me a body, that I may redeem my loved ones, for I so love the world.”
God began the dialog. He is the “author and finisher of our faith,” the “Alpha and Omega.” The tendency of many Bible studies is toward literary, historical and theological knowledge. The danger is mistaking this for knowing God. Knowing anyone begins in dialog of word and heart. “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11a, NIV). What wonder and privilege! Yet, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15, NIV). Jesus continues in prayer, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20b-21a, NIV). God extends Moses’ privilege to all of us, again taking the initiative!
We need to contemplate the importance and implications of this. Paul urges, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16, NIV). The book of Hebrews asserts, “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power – making it active, operative, energizing and effective” (Hebrews 4:12a, Amplified Bible). Paul again: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ; for it is God’s power working unto salvation (for deliverance from eternal death) to every one who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance” (Romans 1:16, Amplified Bible).
Since “the Word was made flesh (human) and lived with us” there is only one Word, one Logos. All of Scripture is “alive and full of power” with that indwelling Word. The entire Bible is an expression of the one Incarnate Spirit called the Christ. A contemplative reading of Scripture is an attentive gaze into the Heart of the beloved Christ, ever watching for the emergence of the Bridegroom, “alive and full of power.”
“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly and more clearly. And that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers]; and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]” (Philippians 3:10-11, Amplified Bible).
This knowing is obviously that of profound intimacy, not textbook knowledge. “Then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12b). This knowledge is a reflection of a dynamic relationship. I have studied the Scriptures in the academic sense. But such studies are futile unless I learn to know them “as I am fully known.” On this earth we are stuck with the many languages (babble) born from the tower of Babel which repeat over and over in diverse ways and forms the one Word, consolidated in Christ. The multiplicity and complexity of our words and the utterances of God can always be reduced to the essence, the primal source, the Christ, the one Word.
Interestingly and strangely, God told the prophet Hosea, “Go and take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness” (Hosea 1:2). (God’s ways are indeed and delightfully “mysterious.”) Many frustrated spouses who believe they can change the ways of their mates just by marrying them are disappointed and crushed. Gomer, Hosea’s appointed wife, continued in adultery. She was even sold into sexual slavery. God’s next decree? “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes” (Hosea 3:1, NIV). In the following verse, Hosea writes that he bought his wife back for “fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a letheck of barley.” I see Christ here! I see Him everywhere, in all Scripture, in all creation! We are all spiritual adulterers and He still buys us back into His possession, care and love.
“Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them” (Hosea 14:9, NIV).
But let’s examine this term “rebellious.” The Hebrew is “pasha” derived from a verb meaning to “break away from authority.” Many of us are rebellious in the face of secular and cultural mandates and politically imposed authority. So be it and many times quite justified. But given “the ways of the Lord (Yahweh) are right,” it is no surprise that those of us who “break away from [His] authority” stumble. After all, we are speaking of God.
But we speak of God who means nothing outside of our dynamic relationship
and dialog with Him. Advent is a time to prayerfully devote ourselves to
just that, in anticipation of our daily prayer, “Your kingdom come.”
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
~ Education, Research and Advocacy
in the Christian Faith ~
Spiritual Resourse Services © December 12, 2003
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