Obviously the collapse of the Twin Towers on September eleventh 2001 has changed the world significantly; that it was a sign is certain. Serious earthquakes have occurred but the worst natural disaster of the decade was the tsunami on 26th December five years ago. The Internet revolution has continued apace and multitudes use Facebook to communicate and cell phones, now ubiquitous, were rarely seen at the turn of the century. The lighter side of these is the ease with which communication can be achieved, but the darker side is the superficiality of much of the pseudo “fellowship” taking place as people use them. Perhaps this last year of the decade is best captured in the image of the Copenhagen Climate Conference scuppered by the self-interest of the greatest developed nation of the world along with the largest developing nation using its muscle too and even the man idolized by many as the great messiah could do nothing to alleviate this manifestation of greediness.
From these things we can see that man is unable to tame either his own heart or the mighty power of nature despite developments in scientific discovery and the attempts to understand the human soul. Much could be said about the rise of globalism and giant corporations manifesting little or no conscience as they go about their moneymaking endeavors. Politics appears to be an increasingly grubby ‘profession’ and the quest for power outweighs any sense of the statesmanship always present when leaders take seriously their calling to be good shepherds to their people. Many fear but do not understand the menace of a militant Islam sworn to fight against western imperialism and the sensuality epitomized in the Hollywood entertainment industry. The words ‘car’ and ‘career’ come from the same root, meaning mobility; nowadays the second of these has replaced words like work, calling and profession indicating that multitudes (usually the better educated members of society) are upwardly mobile and their greatest concern is getting to the top of the pile. The legal profession is muddied as the search for truth and justice is sidelined in favor of obtaining a favorable verdict for a client no matter what it takes. To rightly discern the world in which we live shows us that society is on the road to chaos. The ancient Greek civilization held that reasoning and words were equal to righteousness and truth whilst the Jew and Christian built their lives upon the fact that God is first righteous and just, all else, the use of reasoning, of words and the establishment of order is rooted there in His nature.
This is why God’s prophets spoke out so forcibly against immorality, injustice and tyranny when these things emerged in their own nation. My own limited reading concerning paganism, especially the religious ideas embraced by the nations round about Israel indicates that the elemental battle of the gods was between order and chaos and was not about justice, righteousness and truth at all. In this fact alone we can discern that our so-called postmodern world is increasingly pagan. But what of the church in the last decade, how has she been faring? In some places the progressive church has been all the rage, we have seen her experimenting and innovating, endeavoring to become attractive in the market place of ideas and religions. Sometimes she has diluted the gospel, presented a domesticated and rather effete idea of a God of love. As a reaction to these developments there are those churches that have retreated into the fastnesses of being last bastions of truth and defenders of the faith with all the elements of pride, exclusivity and isolation that go with that position. The church is not in the best of shape some would say and yet one of my own recent memories is of a conversation with a young lady after a small house meeting in a large westernized city. She had been a Christian for about two years and clearly loved the Lord; however she told me her father protected her, he was not a Christian but was a liberal minded Moslem and his brothers, militant in their faith wanted this girl killed, she was bringing shame on the family. This story alone indicates that God is surely at work in the world today, He is not inactive, far from it and yet it is evident that there is little prophetic vision and spiritual clarity to be found in many churches.
It is easy to live under the comfortable illusion that the forces at work in the world are not at root antagonistic to Jesus, yet they are and will do to those that walk with God what they did to His Son. Do we understand that God’s work must be done in God’s way and accomplished in His timings? Only God can preach and speak of God, only God the Father knows God the Son and only God the Son knows God the Father and the Holy Spirit is the revealer of both Father and Son to whomsoever it pleases God to make Himself known. Many churches run the risk of departure from Him. The gospel is often presented as God’s invitation rather than His command. The arrogant notion that man, given time will be able to sort out the many ills of the world has gotten into the churches suggesting that we only need to tinker with our methods, fine tune our ministries to make conversion a smooth and less confrontational transition. The fact is that the people calling themselves the people of God need Him to be the real preacher of His own word. God given prophetic vision and preaching will always challenge everything around about it, calling mankind to their proper being in Christ and thereby all the functions and works of humankind will come to their proper place and use.
When John Baptist came from God he warned that God had His axe all ready at the root of every tree and those that did not bring forth good fruit would be cut down. (Luke 3v9) Jesus Himself took up that same theme and said concerning religious leaders around Him, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Matthew15v13) John the apostle, banished to the island of Patmos, saw and heard from God in prophetic vision. Among the first things He saw were the churches like seven golden candlesticks and in the midst of them, walking amongst them, “one like unto the Son of Man.” (Revelation 1v13 & 2v1) The words the Son of Man spoke need to be pondered with great care by us all for every assembly on the face of the earth today is represented by one of those churches He addressed. At the end of each letter Jesus said, “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Prophetic vision and hearing ears are vital and we must listen to Him and obey; turning deliberately from other voices is essential to this.
Our soul must become “silent unto God.” (Psalm 62v1 margin) Six times in that psalm David uses the word “only.” Their repetition and use illuminates powerfully what prophetic vision is, for it leads us to wait for God ALONE (v1&5) because He ONLY is our rock, our salvation and our fortress. (v2&6) Prophetic vision will enable us to see the frightening fact that the church is being battered and attacked by the multitude of powers arrayed against it and they ONLY plan to thrust it down from its place, (v3&4) and those of low estate are ONLY a breath; and those of high estate are a delusion, in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. (v9) Let us turn to Him with humility and boldness ready to hear Him and obey for the axe is all ready to hew down what He has not planted and to pluck up what is not fruitful to Him.