Thursday, January 11, 2018

subway walls and tenement halls -- part 2

The Word for today:
Micah 4:8-5:15
Yesterday we asked,
Are the prophets speaking to America today?
Today we will draw our conclusions on the wall.
The biblical prophets spoke specifically to their own time and place--to Israel and surrounding nations. But here is the biblical principle that makes their words as valid and immediate to us, now, as they were to Israel then:
God is no respecter of persons. (1)
Which means that God treats all alike--whether rich or poor, old or young, black or white, then or now.
The last phrase--then or now--is the one that writes the words of the prophets on our "subway walls and tenement halls" (2). God is eternal and unchanging, and so are his judgments. His spiritual laws apply just as universally as his physical laws do. Justice, and mercy, and faith--which Jesus called the weightier matters of the law (3) --have spiritual mass and volume, exerting consequences that are as predictable as the gravity exerted by the mass and volume of the spheres…
The overriding prophetic constants are these:
1. The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). The New Testament says it this way: The wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23a)
2. When I see the blood, I will pass over you (Exodus 12:13). The New Testament says it this way: …but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:23b)
Any person who does not apply the blood of principal #2 faces the judgment of principal #1. These principles form the breath -- the inhalation and exhalation -- of prophecy. They account for the prophetic voice, which seems at irreconcilable odds with itself -- breathing out pitiless judgment, breathing in unconditional forgiveness -- as it expresses the kindness and the severity of God (Romans 11:22).
These truths have been in effect from the foundation of the world (4), but did not collide, in time and space, until the cross of Jesus Christ.
Just so, the words of the prophets will be seen, ultimately, as no respecters of nations, or of eras. Though prophecy is enforced for some now, for others later, it will ultimately be enforced for all.
We can, and should, read the prophets with urgency--with a sense of immediacy and proximity. Certainly their prophecies were written to Israel, but just as certainly they are written for us.
Prophecy has engraved the initials "USA" on a card, and placed it at a certain seat at the table. We -- not the prophets -- are the ones who are late for the party.
But when we get there, we will face the music. And the song remains the same:
You have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. This is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN
This is what these words mean:
Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain.  (excerpted from Daniel 5:22-30)

Whatever a nation sows -- whether in Babylon, Israel, or America -- it shall surely reap. Sooner or later, now as then, it's only a matter of time.
(1) Acts 10:34; (2) Paul Simon, "Sounds of Silence," 1964; (3) Matthew 23:23; (4) see Matthew 13:35; Revelation 13:8

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