I wonder how many people there are out there in our world who are pretty sure that God (if there is such a being) never does anything good or bad, and cannot be expected to do anything, so they can safely continue to rule Him out and build their world their own way; the planet is their own and their lives their own to do with as they see fit.
Let me pass along to those who think this way a little counsel.
I am now 68—not old by today’s standards—and in those 68 years I have seen the most dramatic acceleration of change the world has ever seen.
When I was a boy I heard something in church about the earth waxing old “as a garment,” and I used to wonder in what far-off time that would come to pass. The earth growing old, getting worn out like an old set of clothes? Maybe hundreds of years down the road, I thought. It has come to pass in my generation. The earth on many fronts is on its last legs because of the abuse it has suffered from the tenants who were put here to be its custodians.
I think also of the acceleration in technology. I remember back in the 1950s when some of us neighbourhood kids went to visit a home several blocks away—people I barely knew—and we stood timidly in the doorway looking in at the bluish light of something called a television. We looked at one another and marvelled. It was not long before we had one in our own home. Now television is an ancient thing. In fact the technology revolution continues to antiquate things… sometimes you feel on almost a daily basis. The latest in computer technology is ancient history the day after it hits the market.
I remember also the 1960s, and the sexual revolution when all the restraints of a moral society were being cast off to the accompaniment of music that had entered a new dimension. I remember Woodstock, and LSD, and flower power. “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…” The older generation was alarmed by it all. What was the world coming to? That was all pretty Victorian compared to now. Now there has been such a casting off of restraint that they are redefining marriage.
This accords with Scripture, this casting off of restraint; we who know our Bible and our God knew this was coming somewhere down the road (2 Thes. 2:6,7, Ps. 2). It has come now—and is yet to come. What an acceleration of moral licence has taken place in one generation.
Things that had not changed much for generations, even centuries… suddenly in one generation exponential changes in the world of man.
And yet it is not considered that the living God might have anything comparable by way of an acceleration of His purposes, and an exponential manifestation of His own power and glory.
“Oh but,” someone wants to comfort me, “Haven’t you heard about the wonderful new things happening in Christianity? Third wave? Emergence? Convergence?”
Labour not to comfort me. These are man’s attempts to prop up a dying church order. For, by and large, institutional Christianity has become Ichabod—yes, even the big Charismatic churches where all the action is. The glory has departed. If we Christians cannot see this, the world around us isn’t blind. In fact, the world around us is impatient to see us acknowledge humiliating defeat, and toss Christianity into the dustbin of history where it belongs.
I agree with them, actually—that is, as far as what has come to be called Christianity is concerned. And I am not alone. Many Christians these days are grieved to the quick by how deeply dishonouring the present system of denominational Christianity is to the living God, and cry to Him day and night because of it. They are concerned for the glory of His Name.
God will not disappoint them. God will yet glorify His great and mighty Name.
He has done it before. He will do it again.
And He will do it at a breathtaking pace.
There is a time in the purposes of God when great patience, and long suffering, and long waiting, and relentless prayer, and persistent perseverance, and cries of, Oh Lord Jesus, how long, how long, till we shout the glad song, Christ returneth, Christ returneth… all this is the lot of those who have been called to stay faithful and awake on their watch in the night. God, it seems, is not moving, but we must learn to keep pace with Him in such times– He provides the grace to enable us to do so– and not run ahead of Him.
But then there comes an hour…
…An hour when the same God who takes forty long years in a wilderness to prepare a man who, by the time he is ready to do what God has in mind, has no interest in being God’s man of power anymore, for he knows he cannot do what God has in mind, and tells God He should find someone else… this same God uses that meek and broken man to deliver a captive people in a single night.
…An hour when after long centuries of waiting in which God has put it in the heart of certain of His chosen in all generations to “wait for the consolation of Israel,” suddenly the fullness of time arrives, and the Consolation of Israel has come! With what result? Straightway, immediately, forthwith (which are all English translations of the same Greek word) appears 40 times in Mark’s gospel alone.
…An hour when after much seeking, and heart searching, and attentive waiting, and great anticipation, “the day of Pentecost was fully come,” and “they were all with one accord in one place.” What a deep, deep work had been accomplished in them. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). Oh, glorious hour!
…An hour when it is nigh impossible to keep pace with this God now, and not lag behind Him. He moves suddenly, unexpectedly, swiftly, and we are hard pressed to keep up with Him, a time when “the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed” (Amos 9:13).
Can you figure that one out? The reaper with his sickle is cutting down the ripe grain. Suddenly he feels something hard against his heel. He turns to look. A plowshare! The plowman cannot wait to plant the new grain for a further crop!
And the treader of grapes is stained with the blood of the grapes that a moment ago the sower of seed had put in the ground of the vineyard.
Talk about acceleration!
Beloved, if there has been all this acceleration among the children of men in a single generation, do you not think the living God might have something even more spectacular—and surprising—in store? On behalf of His own glorious Name?
For He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth (Rom. 9:28).
If we believe this, let us not be among those who are taken by surprise when He moves.
Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Let us believe, and with loins girded up, be ready to keep pace with Him. He will provide the grace to enable us to do so.
More next time.