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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS

~ Dreamers, Wake Up! ~

        "I hate my life. I will freely express my complaint. I will speak as bitterly as I feel. I will say to God, 'Don't condemn me. Let me know why you are quarreling with me. What do you gain by mistreating me, by rejecting the work of your hands, while you favor the plans of the wicked?
 
        "'Do you actually have human eyes? Do you see as a mortal sees? Are your days like a mortal's days? Are your years like a human's years? Is that why you look for guilt in me and search for sin in me? You know I'm not guilty, but there is no one to rescue me from your hands'" (Job 10:1-7, GW).

        The Book of Job is likely the oldest in the Bible. Thousands of years later, many of us are still asking Job's questions: "Why God? Why are You allowing this? Do You have my eyes? Do You feel what I feel? Do You understand my senseless pain?"

        Here is an image through God's eyes: "[My people travel] through a land of hardship and distress, of lions and lionesses, of adders and darting snakes…to…Rahab the Do-Nothing…These are rebellious people, deceitful children, unwilling to listen to the Lord's instruction. They say to the seers, 'See no more visions!' and to the prophets, 'Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!'" (Isaiah 30:6b; 7b,9-11, NIV).

        Rahab is a demonic sea creature, the name meaning "stormy arrogance." In the above passage, Rahab is God's image for ancient Egypt, a then powerful empire to which many of God's people of Judah looked for protection. Though God called Rahab "the Do-Nothing" creature who could not save the people from their destructive rebelliousness and self deceit, the people, by telling God's prophets to stop telling the truth and say what they wanted to hear and get out of their way, were clearly telling God to shut up and leave them alone. They were in the spirit of Rahab's stormy arrogance.

        Compared to God's heavenly and spiritual nation of Zion, all nations of this earth are powerless, do-nothing Rahabs. "The armies from all the nations will go to war against Ariel [Jerusalem]…All of this will be like a dream, like a vision in the night. They will be hungry people who dream that they're eating and wake up to find they're hungry. They will be like thirsty people who dream that they're drinking, and wake up to find they're lightheaded and parched with thirst. This is what will happen to the armies from all the nations that fight against Mount Zion" (Isaiah 29:7-8, GW).

        "The Lord declares, 'How horrible it will be for those rebellious children. They carry out plans, but not mine. They make alliances against my will. They pile sin on top of sin'" (Isaiah 30:1, GW). When we tell God to shut up and His prophets to leave, we turn our illusions into reality and believe our dreams are real. Intoxicated by self-delusion, dreamers will only see the truth when they are awakened.

        Even dreamers can believe they are worshipping God. "These people worship me with their mouths and honor me with their lips. But their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is based on rules made by humans. That is why I am going to do something completely amazing for these people once again. The wisdom of their wise people will disappear. The intelligence of their intelligent people will be hidden" (Isaiah 29:13-14, GW). These words were so crucial that Jesus quoted, in part, this passage for the Pharisees (Matthew 15:8-9).

        Dreamers then make up a reality they believe is true, they thank God for His perceived guidance and blessing, and go off to make war against God's holy Zion with plans and alliances that are not of His Spirit. Of course wisdom disappears and intelligence is hidden because the wise and intelligent are awake, and dreamers cannot hear them.

        Thus God has a succinct answer for Job: "Can a piece of pottery say about the potter, 'He doesn't understand?' " (Isaiah 29:16 b, GW).

        John the baptizer was a wake up caller. During this time between the Incarnation celebration of Christmas and the Resurrection celebration of Easter, God's proclamation is still relevant. In describing John's call, Luke quoted Isaiah 40:3-5 in his book: "A voice of one crying in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation'" (Luke 3: 4-6, NIV).

        These metaphors had a physical reality with which the people who heard John were familiar. When a city was preparing to host a visiting king or governor, the roads leading into the city were laboriously prepared . Debris was cleared , muddy sections were backfilled, steep hills detoured and new, graded routes were constructed. The way of the king must be made as smooth, easy, free and direct as possible.

        We are called to make the way of our Lord into our hearts and lives as clear direct and unobstructed as possible. Thus we are called to continuous repentance, holiness, obedience and perfection. We are even called to make our bodies "living sacrifices." In such a state, the Holy Spirit is able to inhabit and work in us without obstruction. Otherwise the Spirit is frustrated and grieved and must wait for our spirits to be broken and our hearts made contrite.

        Thus Paul's exhortation follows John's in spirit: "You know the times in which we are living. It's time for you to wake up. Our salvation is nearer now than when we first became believers. The night is over, and the day is near. So we should get rid of the things that belong to the dark and take up the weapons that belong to the light" (Romans 13:11-12, GW). Yes, it is time to wake up and allow the light to dispell our dreams of darkness we mistake for reality.

        Just suppose, as a spiritual self evaluation of sorts, God made you a similar deal He did with Satan in the book of Job. Pretend God tells you, "I am making you the chief archangel, second in power and will only to Me, for just ten minutes. Do whatever you want. Now go for it!" Streams of great deeds may flood your imagination, like flying in a flash to  bring peace to the Middle East, then feeding all the hungry in Africa and other nations, freeing the innocent from prisons, turning hearts of bitterness into reservoirs of love and the like. With a second left you flash back into God's presence, proud of your work and expecting to hear, "Well done." Instead, you hear, "Your prideful works of righteousness are as filthy rags in my sight. Didn't it occur to you that if all you 'fixed' on the earth should have been done, I would have already ordered my archangel, Michael, to do what you did? You are guilty of the same sin that caused my most exulted and powerful angel, Lucifer, to become Satan: Prideful autonomy."

        What then would be the response to God's offer most pleasing to Him? "Lord, You are Wisdom, the Almighty, my All. You are worthy of all my obedience, for I can do nothing but serve You. Please, my Lord, You tell me what to do for the next ten minutes." We can trust that God will be flooding you with smiles of blessed approval and grace. He may extend your ten minutes of archangelic power into an eternity of trusting in your faithfulness.

        This, however, is not a far fetched scenario. It is not a mere imaginary exercise. Peter writes, "As you come to him, the living Stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:4-5a, NIV). Paul challenges with a rhetorical question: "Do you not know we will judge angels?" (1 Corinthians 6:3a, NIV). Given this awesome destiny, we must fully and seriously heed the call of John: "Prepare the way of the Lord [our High Priest]!"

        Yet given all this, our God is infinitely humble! He emptied Himself and incarnated into humanity so "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15, NIV). So when Job implied that God couldn't understand what he was going through with questions like, "Do you see as a mortal sees? Are your days like a mortal's days?" The answer is yes. Christ abides in His people, suffering what they suffer to an incomprehensible degree.

        I am awed by the image of Christ's transfiguration as recorded in Luke 9. Moses and Elijah are discussing with Christ matters of eternal significance. God Almighty in the Incarnate Christ is in consultation with two humans! The image of a nation's president discussing global matters or military strategy with a couple of top advisors look like children playing in a sandbox compared to this. Moses and Elijah were flawed men who made some serious mistakes to which God responded severely. St. James reminds us that Elijah "was a man just like us" (James 5:17). And we are all called into, and being prepared for, God's holy and royal priesthood. Pause and let the incredible responsibility and meaning of that digest in our souls.

        So we again consider the ten minute offer to be second in command of all creation. These words resound: "It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in because of their disobedience…Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:6,11, NIV).

        Christianity isn't simply about salvation from hell and sitting back until Christ takes us home forever. It's about preparing to reign as a holy priesthood with God, the Almighty Creator of all, over even the angels, as heirs of His Kingdom! "Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts'" (Hebrews 4:7, NIV).

        No more dreaming that the business of this world, that consumes so much of our time, energy and attention, is more real and above that of the heavenly world of our Creator's Kingdom. Let us wake up, and keep each other from falling asleep, looking to the Second Advent, preparing the way of the Lord!

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
www.prayergear.com

Weekly Reflections © February 2, 2002

Responses are welcome at: Reflections@prayergear.com

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