[Spoilers] – The End Is Revealed!

I don’t like spoilers. Not for books, not for movies or TV. I want to be surprised, caught up in the story and blown away by the reveal.

At least when enjoying fiction. I’m quite happy knowing what’s going to happen in real life and conversely can get quite stressed by uncertainty.

Which is one of the many reasons I like the Bible so much. It contains spoilers. Lots of them. From the moment the first book (Genesis) was written down, hints and reveals and clues towards the end were added. As the books (66 individual books make up the Bible) were written down, more spoilers for events yet to happen were given and while a good many of those have now indeed happened, there are still a number we’re waiting for. Spoilers for the end of history…

Right at the end of the book of Revelation, the final spoiler is given. No matter what happens between now and the end, this world will be transformed and made new, we will all face judgement and some will receive entry into this transformed world while others will be cast out, the God who created us will walk among us, healing and eternal life will be freely given to all who are welcomed.

We are living with the end revealed. Everything we do contributes to how we will be received by God. It places an awesome responsibility on us to keep that end in mind.

The word of the Lord

I was reading the book of first Samuel this morning and was struck by this verse: “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.” 1 Samuel 3 v 7 KJV If you’re not familiar with the story, Samuel was a young boy who had been conceived after his barren mother had prayed at the temple. After he had been weaned, his mother had given the boy back to God to serve him in the temple.

I love the way God is sometimes described as The Word. The first verse of the book of John especially uses this description to associate Jesus as being The Word of God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1 v 1 KJV

I relate this to the first chapter in Genesis where God said… And then there was. Without God’s words, nothing around us would exist. Without God’s words, we would not have life. Without The Word of God, without Jesus, we would not be able to know God, to talk to him, to hear him.

Until this point in Samuel’s life, the word of the Lord had not been revealed to him… Which seems really important to me. Samuel had been living in God’s temple, had been sleeping next to the Ark of the Covenant. It seems inconceivable that Samuel did not know of God, did not know who he was. Samuel must have hear about God from the priest Eli, must have heard and maybe even read some of the books of the law. Yet the word of the Lord had not been revealed to him…

Reading on, we see that after Samuel had been told to tell the Lord that he was listening, the Lord – the Word of the Lord – came and stood next to him. The Lord spoke and Samuel listened and finally we read “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 3 v 21 KJV

It seems to me that it is not enough to know about God, not enough to read his word and hear about him. If we don’t have a relationship with God where we are able to talk, where we are listening and waiting for him to speak, then we do not know him.

God is speaking to us, to me, to you. Will you take time to listen, to hear what he has to say?

A strong tower

The name of the Lord is a strong tower

I woke up this morning to a disturbing article. One I won’t share here yet – please forgive my reticence, what is the saying: “fools rush in where angels fear to tread…”

This morning I was able to go for a jog (at the speed I’m moving I don’t feel I can class it as a run!) and was able to take the photo above. I love to see ancient walls and towers being preserved and remembered, symbols of strength, of protection.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10 KJV

A long weekend

We arrived back in Scotland yesterday after a long weekend driving down to a reunion and back again.

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll have seen I didn’t manage to schedule in a post for early on Sunday. The first day of my 100 words in 100 days challenge that I was unprepared for.

On Thursday I finished a contract with a client, not knowing for certain whether they wanted me to come back in this week to do some more work. I find it hard to plan ahead when I don’t know if I’ll be working or even where…

Fortunately we’d been planning to take this weekend away for months. A chance to catch up with friends that ended up being a perfect round up to the contract and preparation for beginning the new project – writing the sequel to Fallen Warriors.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now. I don’t know for sure what direction this novel will take. I don’t know when I’ll next be working. I’m not even sure what I’ll post on this blog over the next few days…

I see that uncertainty mirrored in National and World events. Will Britain leave the European Union? Will our economy collapse?

There’s a disturbing chapter in the Bible – Matthew 24. It records Jesus responding to his disciples questions about when the temple would be destroyed and what would be the sign of Jesus returning and of the “end of the age?”

Jesus tells them of a series of sign posts events, many of which have already happened and are calamitous enough, but then goes on to talk about even more disturbing events that call into question the nature of our reality.

Given that Jesus kept messing with our understanding of reality – healing the sick and disabled just by placing his hands on them, raising the dead back to life, commanding a storm to be quiet and even cursing a tree so it shrivelled and died – when he talks about the sun being darkened and the stars falling from the sky, he does so from a position of authority.

To all those who love Jesus, this chapter is one of hope, a promise that no matter how bad things get, Jesus will return and will reward us for faithfulness to him. If you do not love Jesus then this is a warning to you, that any leader who promises things will only get better is lying to you, that war and turmoil will get worse, that one day you will be judged by the God who created you.

Jesus was sent by God to call us back to him, to take our place receiving the punishment we deserve for rejecting our creator, for the sin we have committed.

Jesus calls us to repent of sin, to seek him, to seek his forgiveness and follow him.

Will you follow Jesus today?

God loves a good story

Take the book of Esther. You have a beautiful young woman, sent to work for a rich and powerful man who seduces her and… (Wait a minute, just where did the idea for Fifty Shades come from?)

Anyway, we have a classic villain, Haman, who wants to kill every single Jew everywhere. (Genocidal villian – Ian Fleming could have based a few characters on him…)

We have the wizened old man, Mordecai, acting as mentor and spiritual guide… (A source for George Lucas’ Obi Wan Kenobi?)

The heroine risks her life to save her people, tricking her enemy and eventually leading a revolt that sees the Jews rise up to overpower those who would have slaughtered them.

Without doing too much reading between the lines, you have an orphan story, romance, sex, political intrigue, thriller and violence.

Someone should really make a movie out of that book!

Why would God want us to be obedient?

Obedience. There seems to be a real antagonism in UK culture to the idea that the God who created us should dare to demand our obedience. I see that antagonism reflected in government policy and media indoctrination that questions the idea that parents have the ultimate responsibility to teach their children to be obedient to them.

If you don’t have children and maybe even if you do, you may not want to teach your children to be obedient. You may feel that it is enough to love them. Even that if you love children they will naturally learn how to be the best they can be.

I doubt many parents can avoid the need for some training of their child to obey commands. Parents who do not teach their children to be obedient, at least in some ways are likely to watch their children suffer in miriad ways…

Burns inflicted because they got too close to a fire…

Fingers sliced after picking up a kitchen knife…

Broken bones after falling down stairs…

I could go on.

As a father I have taught each of my children to be obedient to me in order to protect them from danger until such time as they are able to discern and avoid that danger themselves.

It makes perfect sense then that the God who created us and sees himself as our Father in Heaven would have a perspective that wants us to obey his commands, in order that we are protected from danger that we might be unable to perceive.

Yet in our arrogance, like a stubborn child, we all too often think we know best, or simply just want to do something and do not care about the consequences.

I choose to believe that the God who created fathers, who sees himself as a father, has our best interests at heart.

Happy Fathers Day

What days are we living in?

I watch the news and fear for our future.

I stop watching the news and life actually seems mostly okay.

At least where I am… For now. For others life is hard and sometimes brutally short.

We are living in days when Christians are persecuted on a massive scale from North Korea to Africa to the Middle East. I remember as a child hearing frequently about the persecution of Christians behind the Iron Curtain. For now, in Russia, life has improved somewhat. I wonder what direction we are heading in within the UK.

I had no idea of the origin of this song. One of my favourites and perhaps a suitable one for the times we are living through…

Who runs your life?

I’m writing this on Thursday as an exit poll has just predicted a Conservative win which may lead to a hung parliament. By the time this post is published on Saturday, we’ll know who is supposed to be running the country… Or if no-one is…

Earlier today – Thursday – for the first time in my life, I took advantage of my right to spoil my ballot paper. Of the five political parties on our local ballot, I rejected all of them.

The government doesn’t run my life and I hope you realise it doesn’t run yours either. Scottish Independence, BREXIT, the economy, they might impact our lives, but they do not determine our future.

In Scotland, I understand the desire to declare independence and control our future as a nation – I wrote the story of how Scotland became independent after all – but regardless of whether Scotland was independent or not, each of us would still be solely responsible for what that future is like. Independence would not be a miracle cure.

Much was made of the magic money tree during the campaigning in this 2017 election. It seems likely that fears over what would happen to Scotland’s economy lost the first Independence Referendum. Yet, while banks may threaten to jump ship and industry bluster about pulling out, the fact remains that in an independent Scotland, each adult would still be an economic force, both earning and spending. We would still need jobs, would still pay taxes and even if some business did abandon us, we would still be able to attract other banks and other industry and whatever we needed to manage our economy.

Yet so many were afraid and put their trust in the UK government.

In Scotland, twice now, a majority has voted to turn away from independence, first from the UK and then from Europe. Yet a sizable minority of my fellow countrymen took a contrary position, rejecting union with the UK while they sought to remain governed in large part by Europe. (Ironically, all the arguments both for and against Scottish Independence could be applied to BREXIT…)

Most of us, it seems, desperately want a government in some location, to run our lives for us. To make decisions that we don’t understand or are overwhelmed by.

I’ve been reading the book of First Samuel recently. Israel was originally intended to be a theocracy, governed ultimately by God and managed on a daily basis by prophets and judges. But the people grew jealous of the neighbouring tribes who had kings to lead them. They didn’t trust the judges (and to give them their due, some of those judges were utterly corrupt.) Eventually they rejected both the judges and God in favour of a king.

I believe we were meant for more than being governed by other people. That God created us with the capacity to rule. Yet to rule, even in our small sphere of influence, takes great courage. It’s much easier to hand off to someone else that we can then blame when they get it wrong.

This week Heather Tomlinson wrote an article on Why Christians need to stop blaming the government for everything. Of course people of every faith and none blame their government. The real challenge though is to stop blaming government and start taking responsibility for our own lives. To seek to stop living off of someone else’s charity, to be the provider for others, to be the carer, the defender in our communities.

While I believe God wants us to seek his help and protection, I also believe he made us to govern ourselves. Will you live as God intended you to, or will you let others run your life?

The Woman and the Dragon

Stumbled across an interesting article online this week: A great sign said to appear in the heavens as the year of Mercy closes.

Apparently for several months an astronomical event has been taking place that shares a striking similarity to the prophecy in the first part of Revelation 12.

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.”

Right now, Jupiter (considered to be a symbol for a king) is visible within the constellation Virgo – within the womb of the woman… By the time Jupiter leaves the “womb” of Virgo, the king planet will have been visible there for nine and a half months… On 23 September 2017, Jupiter will be “born” while the moon is visible under her feet and the sun rises behind the constellation Virgo… The constellation Leo is always at the head of Virgo, but only has nine stars. However, on the 23 September 2017, Mercury, Venus and Mars will also be visible in the constellation of Leo taking the number of “stars” to 12…

The article refers to an earlier post on the Catholic site: The Remnant where Patrick Archbold wrote: Apocalypse Now? Another Great Sign Rises in the Heavens. (I couldn’t load this article on my phone, but was able to view it on a computer)

Both articles are absolutely fascinating and it is well worth comparing the projected locations of the planets with the constellations of Virgo and Leo.

On the Heavens Above site you can click on Planets, search for Jupiter and then type a date in to see the location in the past or future. Indeed, on September 23, 2017, the planets will align as forecasted and if you check the position of the sun and moon, they will also align.

The articles make reference to a term I hadn’t heard of: Retrograde Motion is an interesting one and the link I’ve included gives a useful explanation for it.

Reading through Revelation 12 it is almost impossible to know exactly what is being foretold. At times it reads like it is describing events that have already happened, like the birth of Jesus and the fleeing of Mary and Joseph to Egypt.

Some of the symbolism may point to the attempts of many to destroy the Jews and also the Church. Some seems to allude to a war between the angels which Jesus also prophesied. As with other prophecies in Revelation, there may be multiple layers of meaning and all of these events may be related.

I can’t say for sure that this alignment of stars and planets directly relates to Revelation 12, but it has my attention. What is your take on it?

We can all prophesy

I’ve always had a hankering to be a prophet. Being able to know the future, have the power to perform miracles… The prophets were the original super-heroes.

Skip ahead a few hundred years and prophecy was redefined: “the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.”

Prophecy is still a gift from God when it comes to knowing the exact words to say that will strengthen, encourage and comfort someone in need.

Each time we choose to speak strength, encouragement and comfort, could it be that we are taking God’s gift and using it as intended?