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The Past of Our Future

Read Amos 9:8b-15

HOPE! Part 1 of 3

After what we’ve been reading in Amos, v.8 is so refreshing! “‘Except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,’ declares the Lord.” God will sift His people through the sieve of His judgment, but a remnant of solid stones will remain!

Remnant. God always takes a bit of the past in order to build the future. Remember Noah and the Ark? God could have really started from scratch, and just made a new Adam and Eve. But He doesn’t.

Evangelical Orphan was launched out of a desire to better know the remnant God has used through time to bring me us where we are today. I was “orphaned” when I became a Christian in a Restoration Movement church. Leaders adopted an ahistoric primitivism, saying that the remnant through Church history was irrelevant after the New Testament accounts, and that all we need is God’s pure revelation, the scriptures, in order to build our family expression today.

True?

But God, and His Word, betray a different agenda. Encased in our texts is our Biblical heritage, Old Testament and New, warts and all. God wants us to know this time-and-space history. And Jesus came as the fulfillment of that history: the seed, the root, the stump, the branch. And now we are grafted into that history through the Messianic gospel being proliferated to the nations.

God never gave up on His covenant people, and did a do-over. Why do we think that, since Christ, God gives up occasionally on His Church, but does a contemporary do-over today? Because we deserve it more than they have in preceding centuries? Because we’ve are more, I don’t know, enlightened? (Don’t get me started…)

“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old” (v. 11). God could start over. Instead, He deals with ruins. And the completed project will be a re-stored people “as in the days of old.” We look back for an image of our glorious future. (I love that the “booth” or “hut” of David is contrasted with the ritzy, collapsing temple at Bethel earlier in the chapter.)

“I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them”  (v. 14). God will restore (see also v. 11, v. 15), but the people will do the rebuilding. Like Nehemiah, we are to be about God’s business of exploring our collective rubble, and rallying our people for the rebuilding of our tradition.

The past provides the plumb line for our building of our today, and our tomorrow. Our hope is firmly imbedded in our heritage. Without a keen sense of our history, we are lost. With it, we have hope.

Who is this hope for? And what will it look like? Two more days, friends…two more days…

– EO

 
 

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Trust. Listen. Hope.

Advent Sunday 2

Read Amos 3:1-11

To the secular world around us, the “celebration of Advent” must look absurd. After all, the world has decided that there is no God Who is in control of things – it’s all random, says science. And, if there is a God, (s)he has done an insufficient job of making the divine self known to mankind in a convincing way. The thought that God has spoken to us through people (prophets), either in the past or now, is too ridiculous to believe.

In today’s passage, through a series of rhetorical questions, Amos says there are three things we can take to the bank as we await the coming of Christ, and the conclusive last days.

  1. God is in complete control. “Does disaster befall a city, unless the LORD has done it? (v. 6b). When you see the incredible evil in our world, do you ever wonder if God still has His hands on the wheel? The Bible says not only that God is still in control, but also that nothing happens outside of God’s sovereign plan. God is good, and we are fallen. When humans are prodded or allowed by God to do heinous things, there is “a strong hand of love hidden in the shadows” (Mark Heard).
  2. God is yelling at us all the time! “Surely the LORD God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (v. 7). Anyone who doesn’t think that God is communicating with the human race simply won’t accept the ways God has chosen to speak. Through creation, through prophets, through experiences, through creation … “The heavens declare the glory of God!” (Ps. 19:1).
  3. The prophecies are going to happen! “The LORD God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” (v. 8b). As we’ve seen, not all of Amos’ prophecies are good news for the people. But Amos can’t possibly be shy about sharing the Word from God, good or bad. He’s saying it! And if God is saying it, it’s written in stone – it’s going to happen.

So, the Advent application: Trust. Listen. Hope. The sovereign God has spoken clearly, and it will come to pass.

– EO

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2015 in Advent 2015, Amos

 

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1st Wednesday of Advent – 14.12.03

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things(1 Pet. 1:10-12)

Today’s text reminds us that longing for the Advent of Christ is a very ancient tradition, going back dozens of generations before Christ. As Martin Luther describes, “The beloved prophets had a longing in their hearts for the grace and salvation that was promised in Christ … they sighed for it with a deep longing of their hearts … with a delight and joy in the promises.”

Prophets-of-bible_472_354_80The Hebrew-Christian tradition has always been one of waiting, hoping, longing. Since the Garden of Eden, we’ve been awaiting the ultimate recapitulation of all things, whereby life in Eden could be experienced again. Melchizedek’s ministry, Abraham’s visions, Jacob’s wrestling, Joseph’s dreams, Moses deliverance, Joshua’s conquests, Samuel’s faithfulness, David’s glory, the return from Exile … all of these were tastes of redemption along the way, that whet the appetites of the prophets for the most fulfilling taste of all:

“[The prophets] were satisfied in that they saw and knew from afar the grace and salvation that should be experienced by the whole world through Christ, and they also comforted themselves with it.”

The prophets knew that all of God’s salvific, covenantal acts came to a crescendo in the coming of the Christ! Luther claims that, though they longed to see His coming, they were in the meantime satisfied and comforted in their hope.

Yes, Christ came. We beheld the glory of God in the face of His Son, and received the deposit on our eternal salvation, the promised Holy Spirit. But, Jesus left! And we are left once again in our hope – this time, for His second coming.

joyofeverylongingheartHere’s the Advent question. Can we, like the prophets of old, find hope fulfilling? Satisfying? Comforting?

“[The prophets] served they us by explaining and developing those promises more richly and fully. … they did it in service and love to us, in order that we might go to them to school and learn also the same lesson.”

I’ve got to admit it … I’m not a very good “hoper”. I don’t like to wait. I want what I want, and I want it now. As the proverb states, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). And who wants a sick heart? But the second half of that proverb tells us that “a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” The heartache, the longing, the not-yet of our salvation – it’s all part of the package.

before-after-xmasA final thought. Christmases past. My memories are about presents under the tree…of peaking into the corners…of wondering, dreaming, and longing for Christmas Day, when we would get the thrill of having what we hoped for. I find it interesting that I remember the days before Christmas fondly. And the days after Christmas, well, kind of depressing. I do believe the days of hope were the richest of the season.

Maybe I’m closer to getting this whole hope thing than I thought.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in Advent 2014, Hope

 

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