The little girl heard a bugler’s notes as a band marched by on the street below her house. Without having taken a lesson, she went to the piano and flawlessly played the bugler’s melody. Without knowing, three-four year old Jenny Lind had discovered her destiny. Enchanting Jenny Lind, 4-5.
The little three year old could pick chords. At four he played from memory. At five composed. At seven composed free-hand, without going to a piano. At eight played Handel and Bach. Did Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart instinctively know he had found his destiny? Durant, The Story of Civilization, X, 384
Prodigies do exist, to this day: in music, intellect, religion, Saul of Tarsus in Judaism an example Galatians 1:14.
The boy Jesus, all of 12 years, paid the first of many visits to Jerusalem in his formative years. In his introductory visit he had an epiphany that he clearly understood. At least by then he knew: he embodied the Godhood within himself as the Son of God.
It’s one thing to be a prodigy in the arts, in the mind and in religion. But at age 12 Jesus knew he embodied GOD in himself. That’s history-altering, world-changing. That’s why, as a mere lad he conversed on a level field with older and aged scholars in Moses. Here was the lad who recognized himself as the Living God in human form. Which realization he never lost, continued to prove and finally, as an always perfect human in suffering during ministry Perfected his perfection by a Perfect sacrifice to forgive sin. End Part III
As a 40 day baby Jesus proved sovereign in authority. At age 12 he proved sovereign in perspective. (Chapter 2 of the author’s Face to Face with Jesus has a fuller account. Chapter 1 re-creates the epiphany Jesus enjoyed as the basis of Chapter 2.)
The Passover Feast over, all children 12 and older found their families and with them joined caravans heading home. Except for 12 year old Jesus. He stayed near the Temple in Jerusalem, informing no one of his decision. Thinking he had departed with relatives, Joseph and Mary had no fear leaving without him.
Only after the day’s travel, and all children found their family camp and camp fire did their anxiety burst into terror: Jesus couldn’t be found. Returning to the city the next day they searched--keep the word in mind—every place they could think he might be. To no avail. To increasing dread and despair. The next day—the third—in desperation they entered the women’s court of the Temple to look.
What to their astonishment did they see but their 12 year old sitting among the teachers as a peer, not only listening to them but asking them questions. Some specially-gifted youths would be welcome as listeners. Posing questions to learned doctors astonished them. And when they asked him questions their mouths fell open before his profound understanding.
In an agony of relief Mary clattered forward, grabbed the boy and hugged him. Then, remembering the nerve-wracking anxiety he caused, pushed him arm’s length and scolded him: “Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you!” Luke 2:48. They never expected the answer he gave, but be on guard. What he said to them astonishes us still. Even as a boy Jesus held his own against Jewish Doctorates. What chance would ours have against him? End Part II
At what age do we want Jesus to be? A baby in Bethlehem? Someone over whom we can hover; murmuring soft love words; cooing our concern; admiring his little fingers and toes; hugging and kissing him tenderly?
Warning: that’s the only time he isn’t dangerous to us. The only time he’s dependent on us to meet his needs. Beyond infancy he rules and we submit. Even then, at 40 days of age—40 days!—he flexed his potential. Having been saved to see God’s Messiah, Simeon cradled him in his arms, looked wonderingly into his face and...foretold his authority over all humanity Luke 2:28-32, 34-35.
The beginning of that authority became obvious by his second birthday. Wise Men from the east came seeking him. When finding him, they rejoiced. When seeing him, they bowed and worshiped him. HIM, understand, not HIM and Mary, who stood nearby, watching. Having worshiped him as Israel’s King, they opened presents worthy of and designating a King. He alone the King, understand, not He the King and Mary his consort. Just when the Holy Spirit had the perfect opportunity to express Mary’s importance to the Kingdom of God, he instead expressed her irrelevance.
And the 2 year old had only begun. End Part I
By the early 1800’s Western Europe hadn’t experienced plague for 100 plus years, smallpox retreated before Jenner’s inoculation and Yellow Fever paid only periodic visits. Though other less-developed societies still knew the harshness of pestilence, they lacked the living standards of Western Europe.
Then, out of a clear blue sky thunder claps of cholera deafened the West. Convinced of their conquest of pestilence, the outbreak stunned the ruling classes, the medical field, the economists and the politicians. The “new prosperity” they envisioned on the horizon shrank below it, under the haze of an epidemic that carried off at least 50 million people. Armies of Pestilence, 162
How like humanity’s fate in every age, including ours. Just when it seems we have gained control, catastrophe wrenches it from us. Just when we begin to emerge from an economic collapse occasioned by human greed, world events shatter the recovery into economic depression. Just when our Space Ships carry payloads into space without difficulty and space travel seems safe as our freeways, a Space Ship shatters on impact with the earth’s gravity.
Calamity visits; cataclysms hound; unseen forces wreak damage we didn’t see coming. It’s all enough to get our attention; it’s never enough to elicit our repentance. It’s enough to scare us; but never enough to terrify us before God. It gives us pause; but never long enough to let Bible truth educate us.
Though preachers must always preach God’s word, they often function as mere wall flowers. A story from the Country Houses of 20th Century England illustrates. The upper classes built and enjoyed those houses, to which they invited carefully screened peers for parties, hunting trips and discreet political discussions.
One such house hosted 1000 people, who came and went as they pleased. What interested me was the role of the hosts’ chaplain at the party. After each breakfast he read “a few short prayer”, after which everyone went wherever his pleasure took him on the estate until the next meal.
He read “a few short prayers”. Few...short...canned prayers. Nothing heavy. Nothing challenging. Nothing worthwhile! Nothing taking his effort. Mere religious form.
If a preacher is good for anything, it should be as a spokesman for God to his people. Should he excel in anything but that, he is really good for nothing! Forgive him his sins and bear with his faults, but hold him accountable for faithfully preaching God’s word.
Human enterprises can begin small and grow large. Google founded in 1998, Facebook in 2004 and Amazon in 1994 as examples. They can also, after expansion to many, shrink to fewer, one or none. Sears an example of the former, Blockbuster the latter Tower Records the last.
The kingdom of God on earth began with one man, Abram, Genesis 12:1-2. He alone carried that heritage 100 years before God added one to it in a baby called Isaac. He carried it in himself until, at age 60, his wife gave birth to twins Esau and Jacob.
Quietly, unobtrusively and privately, Jacob shared the heritage with Isaac for 75 years, outlasting his father’s personal disregard for God’s word and will. From an appetite for red stew Isaac would have forfeited the promise God made to Jacob before he was born Genesis 25:21-34.
Rebekah, because she didn’t forget the promise God made—what mother could?—outwitted her husband’s rejection of God and saved the birthright privileges God promised Jacob. She sent him away when Esau’s fit of rage determined to kill him. Rebekah sent him to her home country. If she had known how long Jacob would be gone, and she would never see him again, she may not have been so willing to part with him.
Jacob flourished numerically in Rebekah’s homeland by fathering through four women 12 sons and 1 girl in 20 years. For the first time in history God’s kingdom had multiple members.
Anointing Joseph as savior when the kingdom grew to 70 members seemed to exalt him to carry the kingdom’s torch into the future. But no, God separated Judah from the brothers when he insisted that Israel allow the brothers’ return to Egypt for provisions. However, some 20 years passed before Judah would be revealed as the progenitor of the Messiah Genesis 49:8-11.
From 12 men, fathering 12 tribes, God reduced leadership of the kingdom to one man and one tribe. The tribe of Judah would thereafter be the focus of messianic expectations. On one occasion the messianic line would be reduced to a single male as its repository II Kings 11:1-4.
Nevertheless, with one or many, that LINE remained intact, never collapsing into a shambles or vanishing. Nothing in history before then, at the time, or afterwards eliminated God’s kingdom. Nothing in history since, and certainly now, has or can. Anyone who endeavors to be the assassin of God’s kingdom finds himself instead under the STONE that crushes all enemies to dust Matthew 21:44.
A San Diego Union-Tribune story, 3/8/19, noted that only one of formerly 9000 Blockbuster Stores remains, and that in Bend, Oregon. Netflix K-O’d the company. Tower Records still has a brick and mortar presence in Japan, but none in America. One Howard Johnson’s exists in Lake George, New York, the last of what had once been the nation’s largest restaurant chain. Dollar Tree remains a strong presence, but has closed nearly 400 of Family Dollar Stores in 2019.
By mid-February, 2019, retailers had closed 2187 stores in the U.S. All of this has a spiritual application. The kingdom of God on earth began with one man, Abram, Genesis 12:1-2, but what exponential differences distinguished it from all other enterprises. End Part I
Walt Whitman’s poem “O Captain! My Captain” celebrates the restoration of the Union after the Civil War. It also grieves the loss of President Lincoln. Each of the three stanzas ends with a reference to that loss: “Fallen cold and dead.” “You’ve fallen cold and dead.” “Fallen cold and dead.” The Union saved, YES! Abraham Lincoln, DEAD! Not a dream; a nightmare. The cause outlived the person who embodied it, because the cause soared greater still, however great the man.
But Jesus and the Kingdom of God, co-terminus, exist together, indivisible! He is both the Cause of the Kingdom and the essential Person in the Kingdom! Forgiveness of sin is experienced because he rose from the dead. Heaven is won because Jesus lives. Hope in tomorrow flourishes because Jesus Reigns forever.
And if we still can’t find in the promises what moves us to accept and live for Jesus, personalize them. All who now sing so low they can’t hear themselves will then be belting out hymns like Enrico Caruso, in solos or in vast choirs. Those who can’t imagine themselves standing in front of people talking will be preaching like Billy Graham.
Those who don’t know a scripture verse larger than “Jesus Wept” will be quoting long passages from David’s psalms and Paul’s epistles. Those tone deaf will be composing cantatas. Those who can’t move their hips except to walk will be like David, leaping in sacred dance before the Throne; or, like Joy Hurley, unfolding their arms in the sacred allure and soft moves of hula.
Those who don’t know high C from a C-note will find themselves experts in trumpets, guitars, violins and—Sergio Saucedo—accordions. They will all play in sacred harmonies the soaring passion of Elijah and the towering “lift you off your seat, rise from your seat and stand on tip-toe” strains of the Hallelujah Chorus.
And...for those who like to keep their distance from others—who feel uncomfortable hugging...we’ll be laughing and hugging everyone in sight and, when We All Get To Heaven, there’ll always be someone in sight!
The last word: hold lightly what we now cannot keep. Hold firmly what in faithfulness to Jesus Christ we cannot lose! Fini
Isaiah 64:4 says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Paul quoted an altered version of the prophet to stress the difference between those deaf to and open to the Spirit’s teaching I Corinthians 2:6-16.
This writer has discovered that even those open to God’s truth can hardly comprehend it, let alone adequately communicate it. We must ask God for help in doing both.
Thus, if the information in this blog has confused, not enlightened, you about Heaven, hang in there. One day ahead, and forever after, we’ll be illuminated and never again confused. Since God’s promises for our future remain beyond our mental and spiritual capacities, hang in there. One day ahead, and forever after, God will increase both capacities to envelop it all. We’ll find ourselves repeatedly saying, “”Uh huh,” I understand. “Uh, huh,” that makes sense. “Uh huh,” it’s all clear now.”
We now have a daily experience with the Living God and his Living Son. Yet nothing like what’s to come when we stand in their presence, our mortal bodies transformed into an infinitely greater spiritual body with an equivalent brain!
However, what we know of God NOW; what we experience with God NOW; right now, today, in daily life, we’re bridling with courage facing either life or death, problems or potentials. Even now, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us and gave himself for us. Hallelujah! End Part VI
The new heaven and earth are coming. The New Jerusalem will be the sole city of God’s beatific Heaven. This part suggests what MAY partially constitute our life there—as the least of what God has prepared, which human brains can only imagine in our present state. But in contrast with our earth-bound life, these possibilities.
Eternal life with God reveals secrets heretofore hidden; and revealing, calls constantly to mind, and never forgotten. It’s a life where our eyes see everything and miss nothing. Where our brains understand every mystery and retain it all with encyclopedic perfection. Where the spirit inside our new body develops luxuriantly in unmeasured grace.
A life where sorrow vanishes forever; where joy begins and continues always. Where righteousness rules without exception. Where safety guards and nothing makes afraid. Where tears stop and laughter begins to never end.
A life where we can start anew and go on—in a bliss that soars. A life that’s stimulating, spectacular, substantial AND all the while safe, secure, steadfast, worth being prolonged eternally.
A life whose depths cannot be plumbed, or heights climbed, or breadths enveloped. A life whose meaning remains inexhaustible however thoroughly investigated. Whose exegesis deepens with each new discovery; whose significance grows with each new revelation; whose dimensions expand with every explanation; whose experience exceeds itself as it’s practiced. End Part V