If God played battleships (Fighting Talk part 2)

I have been massively encouraged by David’s response to Goliath’s threats, particularly as they relate to battling against sickness and disease. He starts, in 1 Sam 17:45 by saying:

“you come to me” – You Think you have the initiative here? You think that I am in trouble? You think that your weapons can harm me? Oh, you have a big spear and shield and javelin but you have no idea what you have done or what is actually going on here.

Sickness and disease do not have the initiative. God is sovereign over all things and he alone rules over the events of history. He hates Satan, and evil and sin and sickness and will destroy them all, but they do, never the less, play an unwitting role in his plans and purposes.

What some intend for evil God intends for good. Ultimately he is not responding to Satan’s moves like an adversary in a chess game. He is not simply a better player, or a stronger opponent. There is no measure that can be put to God such that we might say “so and so is here on the scale and God is there on the scale”. He is not 1000 times more intelligent or powerful than Satan. His power and intelligence are infinite and of another degree or order entirely. He knows every thought that anyone has ever or will ever think. He works out his plans in full knowledge of what everyone will do.

If God was playing battle ships he would not only know where each of his opponents ships were but where all their bombs would land as well. The bible even says that he can direct our wills in the direction and to the ends that he pleases (prov 21:1). The closest I can get to understanding that is that God could actually direct your will towards choosing a particular grid reference in battle ships without himself being morally responsible for the consequences or even being happy about your choice and in fact still holding you accountable for your choice!  I’m sure thats a very crude and clumsy analogy and I feel like it misses something key, but it seems to be almost what the bible is pointing towards. The bible reveals a God who can can channel an evil will towards a particular  evil action that plays a key role in his plans without himself being in any way being morally culpable for it (Acts 4:25-28). “You come to me?” says David. You have no idea who God is, what he is like and what he is doing.

“with sword and spear and javelin” – These weapons are simply not sufficient. It’s like Goliath is running towards a modern day tank armed only with 1st century equipment. The purposes of God and the people of God are unstoppable. One version of the bible puts it like this: “no weapon forged against you shall prosper”. The does not exist not shall there ever exist a weapon that can destroy the church. People and even nations have tried and failed. They have thrown everything they had at the church and she has only grown stronger under the onslaught.

“But I come to you” – You have got everything the wrong way round. It’s not you that comes to me, says David, it’s me that comes to you. I am not defending  myself, you’re the one under attack. You are the one who is on the back foot. You are the one way out of your league. When we see sickness and oppression Satan is putting his head over the parapet to be shot at by those who are waiting for him. Those with God given weapons of the Spirit and the authority and courage to wield them. God has set an ambush ready in the form of his spirit filled church. We are to be like marksmen that lie in wait for the first signs of trouble.

“in the name of the Lord of Hosts” : And it’s not simply me that’s coming against you says David. I come in the name of God, and all his power and might is now arrayed against you. His army is bigger and more powerful than the one you see behind me. His power and might is beyond your comprehension. Before you is not a young boy, but the strong arm of the LORD. The hosts of heaven are arrayed against you, you silly little man! You are about to be totally overpowered.

Does God want to heal? Yes. Can he heal? Yes. So when we pray in his name, people will get well. It’s not me, its God who will defeat the giants of cancer and MS and arthritis, and heart disease.

Ant bully

“Whom you have defied” : You have defied God’s army and in doing so you have defied God!!! In your ignorance you have blundered into something you know nothing about. You are like a boy who delighted in burning ants with his magnifine glass,  but now finds himself shrunk down to their size. The tables have turned and boy are you in trouble now.

Men and women are made in God’s image and are precious to him. Satan failed to dethrone God so now he  goes after God’s people instead. He does some awful things, one of which is to make them ill. Now, it’s one thing to attack a Father but quite another to go after his children. You may think you are wise in going for the softer target, but you are bringing a far greater wrath down upon yourself. God will respond to any attack on his children with everlasting and ongoing destruction. Day and night for all eternity his anger will burn against the one who defied his precious people.

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Facing down the giants of sickness and disease (Fighting Talk part 1)

Disorientating shells of sickness and disease are still landing around me as I continue to believe God for supernatural healing. Giants of cancer, MS, and crippling headaches shout defiantly against God and his word. This cannot go on! They stand on the other side of the valley hurling their blood curdling threats at us hoping to instill fear in the ranks. “I stand against you and your silly thoughts of healing! I challenge you to stand against me. No one can beat me, I am stronger than any of you. See how the years have gone by and still no change! “. I feel like David who, if he felt fear at all, was totally given over to a deep sense of outrage that God’s people should be challenged in such a way. With a burning holy indignation he steps onto the battle field and puts himself in play. Picking up a few stones from a stream he moves in on the giant.

David didn’t go looking for trouble he just came across it while delivering cheese! I am not looking for ill people but they are all around me. In fact I am not well myself.  Turn on the TV or simply talk to people and you will see these giants scaring and oppressing people. It’s easy to see why some reject God as good or powerful when there is so much evil around. Every day I read the newspapers I cry out to God for his mercy and justice to prevail; that he would rescue the oppressed and stop the oppressors. (On a good day I might even ask for mercy for the bad guys.)

Goliath must have been a fearsome sight. What he said would have been very very scary. Think of the times you have been intimated by someone. In the play ground, in the street,  or at work. With Goliath stomping around the Israelite army may have wondered if God was really with them. Where was their their giant , their hero, their champion?

Well, he would come years later. He would not be anything impressive to look at or have any amour or swords but he would step forward and defeat our greatest and most fearful enemy. The story of David and Goliath is not untimely about David or Goliath, but about Jesus who defeated Satan and put his army to flight when he died on the cross. With that key perspective in pace, I think though that we can also see some helpful lessons for us in terms of supernatural healing.

In this series of blogs I will draw them out by looking at what David says in response to Goliath’s threats:

And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” (ESV) 1 Sam 17:41-44

How Satan must have laughed at Jesus when he became a man who could bleed and die. “Come to me” he must have said “and I will whip the skin of your body and nail you to a tree.” And that’s exactly what happened. But it wasn’t the end of the story, or Jesus for that matter. David points forward to Jesus who commission’s us to do what he did. In the next blogs in this series I will look at David’s reply to Goliaths threats and get his “fighting talk” into my spirit.

It’s not about me – or Wally

Last week I blogged about my struggle to press through the fog of moralism that sometimes clouds the truth in God’s word to find Jesus. The story of Abraham and Lot, I felt, was not there to show me about me and about what I must do but to tell me about God and what he has done.

http://marcusbible.blogspot.com/2010/08/genesis-13-and-14-thinking-little-about.html

Then I watched this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkNa6tLWrqk&feature=player_embedded#!

When I say “I couldn’t have put it better myself” I really mean it. I didn’t!  but this short video sums up something of what I was  groping for in my blog. The bible is  basically about Jesus and if I don’t get that then everything I think the bible says about me will be rather distorted.

In the video Tim Keller asks:

“Is the bible basically about you and what you should do or about Jesus and what he has done?…Is David and Goliath basically about you and how you can be like David and Goliath, or about him, the one who really  took on the only giants that can kill us. And his victory is imputed to us.

The bibles not about you!

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden (his garden, a much tougher garden) and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the  true and better Abel who though innocently slain has blood that cries out not for our condemnation but for our equital

Jesus is the  true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go into the void not knowing wither he went.

Jesus is the  true and better Isaac who was not just sacrificed by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us all. God said to Abraham now I know tyou love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from me . Now, we at the foot of the cross, can say to God, now we know that you love me because you did not with hold your son, your  only son whom you love from me.

Jesus is the  true and better Jacob, who wrestled and took the blow of Justice we deserve so we like Jacob only receive the wound  of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the  true and better Joseph who is at the right had of the king and forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his power to save them.

Jesus is the  true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and mediates a new and better covenent

Jesus is the  true and better Rock of Moses who struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the dessert

Jesus is the  true and better Job. He is the truly innocent sufferer who then intercedes for and  save his friends.

Jesus is the  true and better David whose victory becomes his peoples victory though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the  true and better Ester who didn’t just risk loosing an earthly palace but lost the ultimate heavenly one. Who didn’t just risk his life but gave his life. Who didn’t just say “if I perish, I’ll perish” but “when I perish I’ll perish for them so save my people”

Jesus is the  true and better Jonah who was cast out in the storm so that we could be brought in.

He’s the real Passover lamb, he’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light the true bread.

The bibles not about you!

Great stuff (Oh I’ve just found it transcribed on the internet so I didn’t need to copy it all out! Still, really enjoyable to have listened to it several times). It was in Jared C. Wilson’s blog written last year where he points out that it has been attributed to others like Lloyd Jones as well as Keller.  http://firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2009/10/a-christian-instinct-not-typology/. Here’s a couple of quotes from it:

“I remember when it was cool to see Jesus in The Matrix. When that five minutes was over, and even your father in law was reading up in 2 Kings to figure out the significance of Neo’s spaceship, the whole thing was a joke. “

Doh! I’ve just written an article that mentions the matrix, all be it along with the more recent Inception and the timeless classic Star Wars. Anyway, the blog went on to highlight the difference between mechanical typology that looks for Jesus in the OT and Spirit awakened instinct that delights in coming across him. My experience of seeing Jesus in the OT is more and more the latter. It’s like opening the door and seeing a dearly loved friend standing there. I cry out with surprise and delight, embrace them and, as I recover, invite them in.

The blog goes on really helpfully:

“I think this is one reason why, for all my appreciation (and utilization) of good scholarship, when a blogger goes academic about the Christian life and ministry, my eyes glaze over. It is why something John Piper said at the last Gospel Coalition Conference resonated with me so strongly: “Commentaries can be sermon killers. No commentary has the word Oh! in it.”

This is why I keep telling myself that my bible blog is not a commentary. I keep having to steer it away from being that and make sure it’s a genuine account of my reaction to seeing Jesus in the bible. Eight months ago I set out on a journey to blog the whole bible in order to climb higher and get a clearer view of Jesus. I am at Melchizedek right now. I’m on very safe ground in seeing a link to Jesus there as the NT has already joined the dots for me (Heb 6:20). No one can accuse me of playing “Wares Wally” with the bible on this one. I recon though that its right and good to go beyond the specific examples of the NTs use of the old in pointing to Jesus. Jesus said it’s all about him (Luke 24:27, John 5:39, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:28, …) and spent a lot of time explaining that to his disciples. Everything should therefore point to him in some way. I remember Lex Loizides play a game at a conference where he got people to give him random bible verses (and people dually obliged with some very random ones) and he showed how each pointed to Jesus and the gospel.

Wally

The “Where’s Wally” analogy for looking for Jesus in the OT is a pretty unflattering one. I prefer to think of it as holding up a jewel to the light and turning it slowly in my hand. With each new orientation prismic sparkles dance on its surface in a unique and wonderful way pointing back to their source. The Lord Jesus. (Rev 10:1-2)

I find more and more that I don’t just see Jesus in the bible; films and even newspaper articles remind me of him. That’s not surprising as he is the truth and any spec of truth points to him . Even falsehood and injustice remind me of Jesus, both the one appointed to judge sin the one who came to be it for us.

PS also found text here on a more recent posting.

http://chipanderson.blogspot.com/2007/06/jesus-is-true-and-better.html

Great to find a fellow Dyslexic blogging. His blog carries a warning ” I am dyslexic. I am sure we will have that with fun.” Perhaps mine should too. There should be a universally recognised sign for it.

We are all special people with a special task! (UEA Holy Spirit part 3)

Sampson wielding a donkey's jawbone

On the day of Pentecost when the disciples spoke about the Holy Spirit coming upon people they where not talking about something unheard of. The Spirit had come on David, Saul, Balaam, Sampson, Othniel, Jephthah, Gideon, Moses, Amasai chief of the Thirty, Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest, Joshua, Elisha, Elijah and probably some more I’ve missed out (I think there are a couple of guys that built the temple who had Gods Sprit on them). These were special people with special tasks. They won victories in battle, prophesied, lead, blew trumpets, ripped lions apart, killed hundreds with a donkeys jaw bone, healed people, and did all sorts of amazing miracles.

If someone if offering the Holy Spirit to people who know their Old testaments then they had better be aware of the expectations they are raising. But could it be true? The Spirit poured out on everyone? Yes! The prophets looked forward to this day. Joel, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel. And Jesus spoke a lot about it too. It turns out that now we are all special people with a special task, to boldly take the gospel where it has not gone before. That could be next door or half way round the globe. It can’t be done in the way God wants it to be done without the Holy Sprit. The Christian life is to be lived with power and the batteries come with the gift of forgiveness.