DAY OF THE LORD . . . Still another version . . . And more chances for wrongful living!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” (Reference: 2 Peter 3:9-13 )

God is patient. And all things happen according to God’s time and not our time. Perhaps that is why some 2000 years after the writer of 2 Peter wrote this, we are still here. And perhaps that is why some 440 years after historic Anabaptist Jan Hendrickss was put to death we are still here. Hendrickss, like many others, wrote to his wife exhorting her to life a Christian life saying, “Let your meditation be in the word of the Lord, day and night concern yourself in His commandments and statues, and watch for His coming, and long for it, and avoid all appearance of evil, and act not as though you might live many years yet, but walk before the Lord just as if you were to die immediately.”

For many of the historic Anabaptists their best hopes for being reunited with family was when the Day of the Lord came and the Lord created a new heaven and a new earth for faithful believers. Earning a spot in that new heaven/new earth was where they hoped to be reunited with beloved friends and family for all time. If that day has not come, does that mean that the historic Anabaptists have still not yet been reunited? Or does the tremendous time between the writing of 2 Peter (and all the other gospels and letters), and the time between the historic Anabaptists now, mean that those passed from this old earth do not have to wait?

The question is, beloved, since we are now in the year 2014, and near the end of it at that, does all the waiting for new life in God still continue? It is easier to think that we need to wait if we do not anticipate the wait to be long. The gospel and epistle writers were sure that Christ would return soon. The historic Anabaptists were sure (I gather this from their letters) that the Day of the Lord would not be long in coming. But still we wait. And if this was not enough, I am writing this several days before you are scheduled to read it. And I am fairly certain my writing this will not bring about the end, anymore than the gospel/epistle writers and the historic Anabaptists writers writing were foretelling a speedy coming of the Day of the Lord.

Rather than living as if the Day of the Lord will come soon, we need to live as if the Day of the Lord is decades and centuries off. But that does not mean we can live any way we want! Quite the contrary! We need to live even MORE accountable lives! Each day we live longer than the day more, the more chances we have to go astray of the Lord. Each subsequent day brings dangers and dangers anew for sin and corruption, evil and vice.

We live in fearsome times, beloved. As fearsome as our spiritual ancestors, and more so. I pray for you beloved, as I pray for myself. May the Day of the Lord find us in good and correct relationship with our Lord. And may all the days until that last day may we draw courage, strength, endurance, and wisdom from our God. Selah!

DAY OF THE LORD . . . Another version

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (Reference: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 )

I do not know how consistent this narrative of the “Day of the Lord” is to other narratives, either written by the same writer as that of 1 Thessalonians (Paul) or by other epistle writers. It would be an interesting study. Such a study would need to take into account whether the “Day of the Lord” is the one of punishment or the gathering of the faithful – both dead and still living. Even in this series of verses on the theme of “Day of the Lord” has not been consistent in its accounts.

It is accounts such as these from the first letter to the Thessalonians that rapture stories are made of. I remember them first in the early to mid 1970’s, and then again with the “Left Behind” series, that has been a subject of many of my postings. In fact in December 6, 2009 I wrote about the “Left Behind” series and made some observations about that series in conjunction to this passage and a possible explanation as to why Paul wrote what he did to the Thessalonians. Clink on the underlined Dec 6 date to be taken to that post. I also post there what historic Anabaptist Jan van Hasebroeck wrote to his wife. It is, beloved, a love letter. It is of course a reminder and exhortation to faith – a great deal of the writings of the historic Anabaptist were. But it is also a love letter, testifying to his love for his wife and children and the hope that a time will come when they will no longer be separated.

This portion of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is also a love letter, outlining the love that God and our Lord Jesus Christ have for the believers, both those now dead and those still living. If Paul’s vision is accurate and correct, it is also still relevant. That everyone one who Paul knew and wrote to has already passed away, and their families also have passed away, and even theire descendents have passed away, and that countless generations after that have passed away – none of that matters if Paul’s vision is still accurate. It could still happen! Will it happen that way though? I do not know. But it is a lovely thought and vision.

May you beloved hold fast to your faith and belief so that when Christ returns, however the Divine returns, you will be welcomed into that holy presence! See you there! Selah!!

DAY OF THE LORD . . . Distinctive enough not to be missed

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.” (Reference: Luke 17:20-24 )

 

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This picture is just part of my ongoing collection of pictures that I have found. If you or someone else knows to whom credit should be given, please let me know. I just know I find it very impressive. And illustrative of this verse. Can you imagine power like this being within you? But if we take these verses, and Jesus speaking of them, as truth (or gospel) power like this is within us. Does that mean we can “lightning” like this? Actually, no. But what it does mean that within us is understanding and knowledge of God that is a magnificent as the power captured in this picture. In fact knowledge or understanding of God is this powerful. Remember this also, our understanding and knowledge of God is only partial, so the actual power and magnificence of God is even greater than this picture, and what has been captured on film. So, if we are looking for God, we should look for something even more impressive than this act of nature. Beloved, look for an act of God! Selah!

DAY OF THE LORD . . . And those whose task it is to wait and watch

Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back–whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: “Watch!” (Reference: Mark 13:33-37 )

I feel sorry for the servant at the door. While the rest of the servants are inside completing their daily tasks, and resting so that they may work again tomorrow, the servant at the door keeps watching, ready and waiting for when the master shall return. The servants inside eat at leisure and have time to talk with one another while the one at the door must keep his/her eyes alert and aware of everything that is going on outside the door. For him/her life begins and ends at the door. It is no wonder we Christians grow weary and lax; being ever vigilant is tiring. We long to take part in what is just behind us, outside our sight and hearing. And we stuck at the door, not being allowed to venture out into the world and see what is beyond the door post. We are kept on limbo, not part of anything, but waiting.

Why, you may ask, is it only the servant at the door who must be ever alert? The answer is simple – the servant at the door is to announce when the master returns. It is his/her task to let the other servants know when the master has returned, welcoming the owner of the household. Are we all, perhaps, to be “servants at the door” waiting for the Master? It is the task of all of us who work and dwell in our Master’s “household” to watch and wait for the Lord’s return? Sometimes, beloved, it feels like it is. At least that is the role I often see for myself. Being ever watchful and aware.

Historic Anabaptist Peter Glock wrote, “For how could we answer for ourselves if we were not prepared for the supper of the Lamb? . . . . Therefore let us watch, so that we do not perish with them [the wicked and unprepared]. For each will receive recompense from the Lord as he has acted, evil or good.” And he sums up my feelings exactly. How could I and would I answer if I were not always in readiness? Even at my age I am still discovering what that means for me.

May you beloved know your task in your Lord’s household, and if you are called to be a servant at the door, may your fulfill your task with diligence and perseverance. Selah!

DAY OF THE LORD . . . Terrifying in its coming

See, the day of the LORD is coming–a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger–to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir.” (Reference: Isaiah 13:9-12 )

What can I say beloved? That the writer of Isaiah is correct, and when the Lord comes all these things will happen? It will the apocalypse as if it was stage for a movie only the sound effects and special effects will be real as will the blood etc?! Is this how you envision the day of the Lord?

I do not hold to one of the end times over another. There will be tears, and there will be rejoicing. Which one does depends on whether are one of the haughty and ruthless. And if it would calm your fears beloved, I will tell you that this is actually an oracle concerning, and proclamation against Babylon. Yes, that generic, mystical and all-encompassing enemy Babylon. So, you have nothing to worry about . . . unless you are the haughty and ruthless enemy Babylon.

I will pose the question that I “danced around” yesterday – have you lived your life so that no one would call you their enemy – that you are not someone’s “Babylon”? Because if you are, then you should be worried about the “Day of the Lord.” And the cruelness you have committed against others will be brought back to you! But you are not such a person, are you beloved. When the Lord comes you will be part of those rejoicing that the Lord has come to the world and you will be spared what happens to those of “Babylon.”

The historic Anabaptists warned each other not to sin or be sinners, and I am assuming to not be like “Babylon. “Hence hear further the terrible, relentless and awful punishment of God upon sin and sinners, which has ever taken place and will yet take place. Take heed, my dear children, I counsel you, as much as you value your souls, to this special, eternal punishment of sin and sinners” writes Hendrick Alewijns to his children. It is simple and simplistic to say “be good” so as to avoid the wrath and fierce anger of God. But what more can we do?

While today’s scripture passage does not hold out much chance for mercy, we can still hope that on the Day of the Lord there will be mercy for us. And may that hope sustain you beloved. Selah!

BE WITHOUT BLEMISH . . . And be worthy through our Lord

“Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things *, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” (II Peter 3:14-15a from II Peter 3:1-18 [* Insert mine] )

* There will be a coming of the day of the Lord, when all things will be dissolved by the same word by the Creator who made them come into being. And this day is unknown to humanity but known by God. However God stays the Divine hand not wanting anyone to perish but all to come to new life in God. God has and will create a place for the Lord’s faithful to live, and all of this is worthy of the wait. (Paraphrase of verses 5-13)

Now that we can see this verse in context, let me turn away for a moment and discuss something else entirely. Each year I use a salutation in addressing you, my readers. I favor “gentle reader” and have used it with consistency this year. It is not the first year I have done so.

Looking into the New Year and the theme for 2014 I decided I wanted to use a different salutation, and had thought “Beloved” might work well. But then I started having second thoughts – until I read today’s verses. The writer of II Peter says this is the second letter he/she had written to the reader(s) and I am assuming feels enough connection to them to refer to them as beloved, and several times throughout the letter. As I have been writing for many years it seems, I thought maybe the time had come to express my care for all those who read this postings, and “beloved” seemed good to my ears and heart.

It may seem strange that I call you “Beloved” without knowing you and, when it comes right down to it, not knowing if you are worthy of the name “Beloved”. The writer of II Peter (yes, I am turning toward the verses now) exhorts his/her readers to be worthy of the special dwelling place that God is preparing/has prepared (the actions of the Divine are not accomplished according to human tenses and time spans). But salvation redeems us all, and if God is waiting for all who can be redeemed to be redeemed and has already given us Christ who is our redemption, then we all are – in God’s eyes – beloved. And if God already considers all of you beloved, then I do also. God’s love is unconditional, and I as much as humanly possible follow that mandate too. Right relationship, justice, and shalom. Our watchwords for this year influence (and rightly so) all of our actions.

It is my hope and prayer, gentle reader (and beloved) that you are and will continue to be without spot or blemish as we wait for the day of the Lord. Selah! And shalom for your day.