Category Archives: Religious

“What is my place in this world?” – Is it too late to ask?

“What is my place in this world?” –  Is it too late to ask?

Teenagers face the question, perhaps more than those of us who are not: what’s my place in this world? It’s a healthy question methinks.

Some of us may have forgotten that struggle – either content with the path we’re on or accepting of our lot in life. Then there are those of us who’ve never really come to terms with the stage of life we’re in. I’m not just talking about the unrequited: “If only”; “I shouldn’t have”; “I could have” and the like. Sometimes we wake up with that sense of purposeless. We look back at the field we spent so much time ploughing and ask: “for what.” We come up with a suitably parental response to keep going like: “come on put on the uniform and go to work.”  Perhaps we are reminded of what we believe the purpose to be and take courage and move on, motivated and cheerful, brushing off that devilish little intrusion into our contentment. Or you don’t and it lingers like a hangover from too much of something that seemed good enough to indulge in the night before.

 

Indulgence often does that, brings up that question, the one you asked when you were a teenager. “Is this what it’s all about?” Getting here where I have the freedom to indulge in the thing that I want. The thing that’s not only not there the next morning but couldn’t face another bite of, sip of, moment of, if it was. After all, this morning I have to face reality, none of which was washed away by my television binge, escapist novel, vice or even sleep. Today is a new day.

A ‘New Day’ now there’s a thought: Jeremiah a prophet who contributed to the Old Testament, someone who contemplated these questions not only for himself but for his entire nation:Israel, on a regular basis through times of crisis wrote:

The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:

The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him, So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—“ Lamentations 3: 20-26

Simon Peter’s response was remarkably similar when faced with the very unpopular choice of following Jesus after he had said something particularly offensive to His people.

John 6:68 records: “ Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”

Where else can we go? The Lord is IT.  We don’t know what the future holds but we can know who holds the future.

We live in a subculture where we want nanny voices to say “there there” and make it all better. Or perhaps we look for stirring words of motivation from inspiring people. Often we feel, as the eminent Austrian psychoanalyst Victor Frankel believed, that you will be content as soon as you discover your sense of ‘meaning’ – your purpose. Well that sounds like a handy thing to discover – but when such questions plague us let’s face the One who holds the keys to life, who claims to have a future and a hope for us. Obvious?

Jeremiah assures us that God’s love is unfailing and new toward us each morning – it’s an unconditional thing. We would do well to reflect on that – His Love is new every morning, it’s all about today! So you’ve lost your way, or maybe taking a moment to contemplate the manufacturer’s built-in re-alignment questions. Jesus didn’t necessarily give Peter an answer right there and then about where to go, what he was for, where did he fit into the grand scheme of things. He just gave him a choice and Jesus gives you a choice each new day: “come.” The invitation to come is an invitation of hope and I suppose hope is like a waking dream.

Peter sounds almost exasperated when he ‘comes’ “Where else can we go.” But at the end of the same book this man sat down and ate fish and bread with the resurrected Jesus discussing the way ahead even his death, his place in this world.

What I really want to draw attention to is not that we should ask the question with the view to getting an answer. Rather that we should ask the right Someone with the intention of listening to whatever it is He chooses to say. It’s another excuse to cleave to, confide in and covet Jesus.

There’s just no substitute to coming to Jesus in quietness and trust – your place in this world.

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Course Excerpt: introducing the difference between Greek and Hebrew thinking.

Appendix 2

Hebrew and Greek language reflects their respective worldviews…

 Since our contemplations in this course come largely out of what some may refer to as an Hebraic (Hebrew) worldview as opposed to an Helenistic (Greek) one it may be worth considering the about-turn in this part of the course where we are examining a scripture more analytically.

Some simple examples concerning language may help us understand why we consider these to be different paradigms. In the Biblical world, past and present, two major cultures emerge and hence have influenced our thinking and methodology: the Hebrew and Greek. Both of these cultures view their surroundings, lives, and purpose in ways which would seem foreign to the other. With the exception of a few Bedouin nomadic tribes living in the Near East today, the ancient Hebrew culture has largely disappeared.

What happened to this ancient Hebrew thought and culture?

Around 800 BCE,  new worldviews arose to the north of Israel. These paradigms began to view the world quite differently to that of the Hebrews.  Around 200 BCE the Greeks began to move south causing a coming together of the Greek and Hebrew culture. This was a very tumultuous time as the two vastly different paradigms collided. For over 400 years conflict of cultures finally led to Hellenistic (Greek) domination, virtually eliminating all trace of the ancient Hebrew worldview. Greek thought then in turn became the greatest influence in the Roman Empire and thence European cultures to emerge and similarly in European Colonial empires even the modern Hebrew culture in Israel today.

As 21st Century South African Christians we may be tempted to read the Hebrew Bible as if a 21st Century South African had written it. In order to understand the ancient Hebrew culture in which the Tanakh[1]  was written, we must examine some of the differences between Hebrew and Greek thought.

“Abstract vs. Concrete” thought

Greek thought views the world through the mind (abstract thought). Ancient Hebrew thought views the world through the senses (concrete thought).

Concrete thought is the expression of concepts and ideas in ways that can be seen, touched, smelled, tasted and/or heard. All five of the senses are used when speaking and hearing and writing and reading the Hebrew language. An example of this can be found in Psalms 1:3; “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither”. In this passage we have concrete words expressing abstract thoughts, such as a tree (one who is upright, righteous), streams of water (grace), fruit (good character) and a unwithered leaf (prosperity).

Abstract thought is the expression of concepts and ideas in ways that can not be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or heard. Hebrew never uses abstract thought as English does. Examples of Abstract thought can be found in Psalms 103:8; “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger, abounding in love”. As you noticed I said that Hebrew uses concrete and not abstract thoughts, but here we have such abstract concepts as compassionate, gracious, anger, and love in a Hebrew passage. Actually these are abstract English words translating the original Hebrew concrete words. The translators often translate this way because the original Hebrew makes no sense when literally translated into English.

Let us take one of the abstract words above to demonstrate how this works. Anger, an abstract word, is actually the Hebrew word   (awph) which literally means “nose”, a concrete word. When one is very angry, he begins to breath hard and the nostrils begin to flare. A Hebrew sees anger as “the flaring of the nose (nostrils)”. If the translator literally translated the above passage “slow to nose”, it would make no sense to the English reader, so ” awph “, a nose, is translated to “anger” in this passage.

Appearance vs. Functional Description

Greek thought describes objects in relation to their appearance. Hebrew thought describes objects in relation to their function.

A deer and an oak are two very different objects and we would never describe them in the same way with our Greek form of descriptions. The Hebrew word for both of these objects is    (ayil) because the functional description of these two objects are identical to the ancient Hebrews, therefore, the same Hebrew word is used for both. The Hebraic definition of    is “a strong leader”.

A deer stag is one of the most powerful animals of the forest and is seen as “a strong leader” among the other animals of the forest. Also the oak tree’s wood is very hard compared to other trees such as the pine which is soft and is seen as a “strong leader” among the trees of the forest.

Notice the two different translations of the Hebrew word    in Psalms 29.9. The NASB and KJV translates it as “The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve” while the NIV translates it as “The voice of the LORD twists the oaks”. The literal translation of this verse in Hebrew thought would be; “The voice of the LORD makes the strong leaders turn”.

The Message makes full use of this license with: GOD’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches. We fall to our knees–we call out, “Glory!”

When translating the Hebrew into English, the translator must give a Greek description to this word which is why we have two different ways of translating this verse. This same word is also translated as a “ruler” in 2 Kings 24.15, who is a man who is a strong leader.

Another example of Greek thought would be the following description of a common pencil: “it is yellow and about 8 inches long”. A Hebrew description of the pencil would be related to its function such as “I write words with it”. Notice that the Hebrew description uses the verb “write” while the Greek description uses the adjectives “yellow” and “long”. Because of Hebrew’s form of functional descriptions, verbs are used much more frequently then adjectives.

Impersonal vs. Personal Description

The Greek culture describes objects in relation to the object itself. The Hebrew culture describes objects in relation to the Hebrew himself.

As in the example above of the pencil, the Greek description portrays the pencil’s relationship to itself by using the word “is”. The Hebrew describes the pencil in relation to himself by saying “I write”. Because Hebrew does not describe objects in relation to itself, the Hebrew vocabulary does not have the word “is”.

A Greek description of God would be “God is love” which describes God in relation to God. A Hebrew description would be “God loves me” describing God in relationship to myself.

Passive vs. Active Nouns

Greek nouns are words which refer to a person, place or thing. Hebrew nouns refer to the action of a person place or thing.

The Hebrews are active people and their vocabulary reflects this lifestyle. The Greek culture recognizes the words such as a knee and a gift as nouns which by themselves impart no action. But in the Hebrew vocabulary the nouns come from the same root word, because they are related, not in appearance, but in action. The Hebrew word for knee is (berak) and literally means “the part of the body that bends”. The Hebrew word for a gift is (berakah), meaning “what is brought with a bent knee”. The verb from the root word is (barak), meaning “to bend the knee”. As you can see, both Hebrew verbs and nouns have action associated with them where the Greek nouns do not.

Even the Hebrew nouns for father and mother are descriptive of action. The Hebrew word for father is   (av) and literally means “the one who gives strength to the family” and mother   (em) means “the one that binds the family together”.

The Old Testament needs to be studied with this language and culture in mind. In the New Testament we need to apply ourselves differently keeping in mind that  it was largely written by Hebrews, though in Greek. The Analytical Greek mindset is not misplaced in digging out the hidden nuggets of New Testament in my opinion.

{For more information please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to expand on the subject of the influence of Greek and Hebrew and related topics.}


[1] Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ״ך) (also Tanakh, or Tenak, is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. The acronym is based on the initial Hebrew letters of each of the text’s three parts:

1. Torah תורה meaning “Instruction”. Also called the Chumash חומש meaning: “The five”; “The five books of Moses.” Also called the “Pentateuch.” The Torah is often referred to as the law of the Jewish people.

2. Nevi’im נביאים meaning “Prophets.” This term is associated with anything to do with the prophets.

3. Ketuvim כתובים meaning “Writings” or “Hagiographa.”

The Kingdom Of God was, is, is delayed and not yet.

Dear Bob,

You really are a silly sausage going off like that at the end of the service. I appreciate the dilemma you are in given your theology but lets try and unpack some of what happened and why. I’ll be the first to admit that Agatha Murgatroid leaping out the window like that was most irregular but sometimes people have an eccentric reaction to the movement of the Holy Spirit. I do so want to share with you the theology underpinning what you witnessed. As for the ‘Holy Spirit Prayer’ I’m really excited about showing you how we come to the place of praying like that. It’s all rather boringly orthodox when it’s laid out though – it’s not at all like saying abracadabra or something. Remember how Basil used to say how “you’re smoking your socks” when we got into those debates with the guys from theFirstChurchof the Wealthy and Prosperous.  So let’s be civil, old sausage and try and work our way through some of the Kingdom Theology that is the foundation of our churches practices best we can. Sorry if this all seems rushed but I’m boiling an egg and I do prefer a soft one.

Rather than getting bogged down in cessationism and signs and wimbers (good one hey!) and all that how about looking at some of the Old Testament roots of the Kingdom. That’s what we’re talking about here, an expectation that theKingdomofGodcan be manifest in our time. It’s out of that place that we announce- ‘Come Holy Spirit’ which is essentially rooted in the Lords prayer. Bob before you read on look at Luke 11: 13 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” If you lay all this before the Lord right now what’s the worst that could happen?

Lets consider for a moment what Jesus himself believed about theKingdomofGod. Jesus didn’t just teach or share anecdotes about the Kingdom but was demonstrative. Some people like to use the phrase: “the words and the works of Jesus.” I think this is helpful since Jesus seemed to announce or proclaim the Kingdom and then respond to people’s faith oftentimes – an expectation if you will, performing works – demonstrating theKingdomofGodas a present reality.

In Luke 4:16-21 Jesus unscrolled Isaiah[1] (not him the scroll) declaring that the prophesy was fulfilled. This quote from Isaiah is part of the promise that God Will Reign, God himself, the King would come. He would break through into Israel’s history as He had done before.

Bob, have you noticed how much ‘royal language’ there is in scripture: dominion, throne, crowns and so on? Well we could get into all of that before Exodus but the Exodus gives us such a clear picture of what sort of God we serve. He’s a God of confrontation. He’s sovereign. He interrupts the course of history to fulfill His promises and liberates us from the mess we get ourselves in or others put us in. The model for us is in the ‘Exodus event.’

In Exodus 3 God appears to Moses in a burning bush. God reminds Moses of His covenant with the Israelites by referring to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He explains that He has heard the Israelite cry for help. Remember these were a people gravely oppressed. So we are let in on the character of God a little here: God is a god who intervenes in the world of men to fulfill His purposes. In this case to fulfill His covenant to Abraham. God commission’s Moses to be His representative to Pharaoh and  insists that God’s people be set free. God is announced by the use of His name, I AM.

Now pay attention here Bob because this is a vital key to this whole soap opera. Bob you know how important names are in the Bible – they encapsulate so much and certainly among the Hebrew people they are like calling cards. Well God’s name teased out means more than I AM as in Exodus 3:14. If you look at your footnote in your Bible, I know you use the NIV it says I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE[2]. You can take this further using G. R. Beasley Murray’s help from the first chapter of his Jesus and the Kingdom of God. The name of God reveals an astounding characteristic of God Himself. He intervenes in the lives and doings of men and women. He makes Himself present. His name could be cited as “the I was, I am and I will be, from generation to generation, the becoming present one, coming down into the situation of man to deliver and transform from bondage to liberty. “ If you spend some time processing Ex 3:7-15 and 6: 2-8 the Divine Name of God is revealed this way.  I just love that way of reflecting on God’s name.[3] Think of all the songs with the word Hallelujah in it, yes like the one in the Mr. Bean sketch. Hail to the Becoming Present One. It’s like what you always refer to as the Our Father: “Our Father, Who is in Heaven Hallowed be Thy Name.”

This announcement revealing the nature of God to the Israelites, has the supernatural consequence of expectation. Doesn’t faith come by hearing the Word of God? Romans 10: 17. Imagine the message of hope this must have been to these oppressed people. God had not forgotten His covenant with their Forefathers. This is part of the invisible or spiritual battle. Bob we live in a materialistic culture where we’ve got it all the wrong way around. Eugene Pietersen quote’s G.K. Chesterton as saying: …there are two kinds of people in the world: When trees are waving wildly in the wind, one group of people thinks that it is the wind that moves the trees; the other group thinks that the motion of the trees creates the wind.”[4] EP goes on to point out how Chesterton observed that a new breed of people had emerged who blandly hold that is the movement of trees that creates the wind. “ The consensus had always been that the invisible is behind and gives energy to the visible; Chesterton noticed how in his time (turn of the 19th to 20th centuries) the majority had begun to assume that the visible accounts for the invisible. This is common paradigm among those in the church who shun the presence of supernatural phenomena in their midst. In Exodus the model we see how ‘the wind moves the trees.’ So the political and military power that oppressedIsrael had to be defeated in the invisible world – spiritual if you will. Hence God’s judgment on the gods ofEgypt by use of plagues. One example would be how the Egyptians worshiped theNile god H’pi:  the ‘god of fertility’ turned to death (blood). Finally the historic worship of  Pharos as divine was judged by the death of his first born son. God’s reign in the invisible precipitated event in the visible.

The consequence of the victory in the invisible translates into the visible. The military that enforced the political power of Pharaoh was defeated. To quote Miriam’s song: “the horse and rider he has hurled into the sea.” Ex15:1bIsraelwas finally delivered from bondage. God the King had revealed himself in name, announced by Moses, building an expectation and a hope. God sovereignly confronted, judged and defeated the invisible forces that heldIsraelin bondage and the result is the defeat of the visible – God demonstrates that He is King and He brings His Kingdom here on Earth as it is in heaven. (This model remains consistent throughout scripture.)

This is confirmed in how the people ofIsraelrespond to God. Miriam’s song uses God’s divine name eleven times. The song is not only a song of celebration but of liberation by  the I Am of Israel – the ‘ever becoming present one’, as revealed by his name, announced by Moses and demonstrated by signs and wonders and the resultant victory and liberation. The people confess that “The Lord Will Reign forever and ever” Ex15:18. That is to say: “Our Lord is King.” For after all, it is a King who reigns and His Kingdom brings liberation.

Similarly Jesus is the fulfillment of theKingdomofGodas he spoke with an authority greater than that of Moses. Matthew 21:23-27  God again would intervene in history for all people: Jew and Gentile alike. There would confrontation with Satan himself as Jesus would demonstrate His authority over demons, sickness, sin and death and the elements –  finally defeating the Devil and liberating mankind from the bondage of sin and death.

There are other ‘pictures of the Kingdom’ in the Old testament: the Sinai covenant, the invasion of Canaanand the rule and reign of David and Solomon. In these circumstances the people of Israelconfessed that their God reigns. However as consistently more sinful generations of Kings led to the judgment of God through the oppression of heathen empires, that refrain changed to The Lord Will Reign, Our Lord Will be King. Isaiah and Daniel in particular reveal the growing expectation through the centuries of exile. This expectation continued through the intertestamental period resulting in some desperate imagery.

It would be to our benefit to consider what those expectations were since this reflects what Jesus taught and demonstrated here on Earth.  At this point let me introduce a term you would be familiar with I’m sure: Eschatology. Since Eschatology is the study of last things, in the context of the Kingdom it’s the study of the intervention of God’s kingdom at the end of the world as we know it – the end of the age or end of history. The eschatological nature of books like Daniel and Isaiah have a distinct ‘Kingdom’ flavour. Apart from their partial fulfillment in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah these prophetic words teem with words about how God will fulfill His promises of the Kingdom to come just as He had fulfilled the promises in their own time. However this New Age to come would be like none other before it: God won’t just send someone He would come Himself Is35:4; He would save his people 45:22; He would comfort His people Is 40:1; He would reveal His glory Is 4: 5-6; Is 60:19-20; The King would come  Is 4:2; 32:1 and  rule with justice Is 32: 16-17; 33:5 and establish his covenant 42:6; 55:3;  ministering as God’s servant 42:1-9. The Spirit would come Is 32:15 and 41: 16-17. Salvation Is12:2-3, forgiveness and healing 33: 24, 43: 25 liberty for the prisoners 29:17-19, peace 32:15-16, resurrection of the dead 25: 8, joy and praise 12:3-6; 42: 10-13 would all come.  A new nation from all the world’s peoples both Jew and Gentile in a new Jerusalem would be formed Is 2:2-4; 33:20-21;11:11-12; 60:3-4. There would be a New Order: a day of Judgment 2:12-18; 24:1-13;23: 17-22; 66: 24. A New heaven and new earth 65:17, 66:22-23. All this would come at the end: in the ‘latter days’ or the ‘Day of the Lord.’

In the Exodus event discussed earlier God acquired a people for himself and established his covenant with them. The promised land and all its benefits were only achieved during the time of David and Solomon a golden age revealing and fleshing out, if will of the concept of Shalom: the all encompassing peace and prosperity. Isaiah’s view of the Kingdom to come came via this perspective. His expectation was extravagantly more utopian than had been experienced during that Golden era.

When Jesus came he did so announcing the Kingdom in the context of the expectation of the promises of the Kingdom. He used the language of the book of Isaiah. Jesus introduces his ministry with the previously mentioned quote from Isaiah, recorded in Luke 4:16-19 (Is 61:1,2). Jesus particularly intimates the concept of the year of Jubilee found in the Mosaic law – herein communicating the arrival of an age of liberation – in him. Matthew 11: 2-9 renders this account: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor.”

In John6:35Jesus quotes Is 54.13 “They will all be taught by God.” Jesus saved people Luke 7:50; pronounced the shalom of God: Luke 24:36; Glory began to be revealed: John1:14and in Luke 2:9; Jesus said that theKingdomofGodis among you Luke17: 20-21.

Further to this Jesus spoke of himself as the Son of Man. Herman Ridderbos puts it like this: “It may be said, therefore that the messianic character of the Kingdom of heaven preached by Jesus is determined by the central place occupied by the Son of Man in the coming of the kingdom.” [5] (Sounds awfully stern about it but he’s quite pithy old Ridderbos.) Going back to the promises of the Kingdom in the prophets we look now at Daniel. In Daniel 2 we see emerging a kingdom not of this world that will obliterate all other kingdoms. In Ezekiel 1:26 we see a divine figure emerge and Daniel 7 reveals this in full as both a corporate and individual figure. So when Jesus announced himself as the Son of Man the Hebrew expectation was aroused, this is the individual who will bring the Kingdom of God. Paul uses similar logic in his discourse to the Corinthians in 1Cor 15:45-48 referring to Adam the first man and Adam corporately, that is mankind[6]. The key here is expectation, the Hebrew people had put their hope in the promises of Kingdom to come, a King, the Son of Man would come and reign. The Lord will be King!

The Kingdom that Jesus announced outstripped what even the prophets expected. John reveals Jesus as the first and last 2:8 using the word eschatos referring to the end of of the world and final judgment of God. Since the Day of the Lord is the end, and Jesus is ‘the end’ or eschatos –  when we come to Jesus we meet our destiny our final Judge. Wherever Jesus went he brought the end into the present. Bob when you gave your life to Jesus all those years ago back at the sardine filleting factory – you met your end, your final judgment! (Now tell me that sardines will ever look the same to you – those were sardine you were filleting weren’t they Bob?)

The end contains all those elements of the Kingdom to come promised in Isaiah. But this is a mystery for us to fathom.[7]  One could say that Jesus’ worldview was one of two ages. A present and a future age. We must go back to our word Eschatological. If the Kingdom promised is of the end, the Kingdom is eschatological. In His Olivet discourse (Matthew 21-25) Jesus tells his disciple that the Kingdom will come as some future cataclysmic event. Paul chose this theme in the epistles in 1 Thess 4:13-5:11; Revelations 6:15-17;19:11-16. In the endRev 11:15 we see the classic phrase sung in many a songs: “the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and he will reign forever and ever.” (I know you love playing the bag pipes to that one.) Jesus taught his apostles that there would one day be a final fulfillment in a final intervention by God. We too are expecting that the Kingdom is yet to come.

However with equal emphasis Jesus taught that the Kingdom had indeed come! (No wonder the disciples had some awkward moments.) Luke 17: 20-21 “The Kingdom of God is among you.” Jesus brought Daniel 2’s Stone forcefully into the present in what seemed ahead of time. Matthew 11:12. Demons were cast out and seemed surprised that Messiah had come so soon. In Matt 8:29. It seemed that this intervention by God, this King ignored the political tyrants of the day and had bigger fish to fry – the invisible was under attack. The visible manifestations overflowed the vessel of that which was prophesied by Isaiah. Matthew 11:11—15 reveals the passing of the baton of the history to Jesus. Luke 7: 21-28 reveals the punctuation of the period. Malachi’s prophesy of the coming of Elijah to announce the expected Messiah was fulfilled. So between the birth, ministry, death and ascension of Christ with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost we see the Kingdom has come.[8]

So where does this leave us: Jesus taught with ‘razim’: mysterious sayings. In parables like the parable of the virgins who were foolish in the absence of the delayed bridegroom. The parable of the talents too speaks of the Kingdom being delayed. In Matthew 24: 30-37 the Son of Man comes after the tribulation a future event. In fact in the Luke 19: 11-27 rendering of the parable of the talents Luke says this was taught for the very reason that people believed that the Kingdom had already come in its entirety.

Finally Jesus used enigmatic language in Mark 1: 15. When He says that theKingdomofGodis at hand. It was near and some would suggest in the sprit of Mark’s pithy busy gospel that the phrase suggest the immediacy of the Kingdom. This may help us with Matt10:23 and Luke 21:32 referring to the disciples generation not passing away until the Kingdom had come.

So one may feel legitimately befuddled by such a conundrum without some Holy Spirit assistance. [9] I rather like Augustine of Hippos comment speculating the motive of God in this.[10]

This mysteriousness should not surprise us since the prophetic works this way. How else do we explain the fulfillment of prophecy both within the times of the Old Testament prophets and in the coming of Messiah. The immediacy and future nature of this scenario did not seem to trouble the prophets. Clearly God breaks though successively throughout the Old Testament and then promises to do so in the future. Jesus continues in this vein, be it unexpected in it’s extent. GE Ladd refers to this as the presence of the future in his book by the same name.  “Inaugurated Eschatology” and “living between times” are also phrases intended to help us with grasping this.

This leads us to Pentecost. Hadn’t Isaiah and in particular Joel announced the expectation of an outpouring of the Spirit? “When Peter interpreting the Pentecost outpouring on the basis of the citation from Joel Act2:16, characterises what is occurring as that which happens “in the last days” this likewise means that the present days are already “the last days” and that they are preliminary signs of the end.” Page 156 OC. The eschatological phenomena prophesied by Joel in2:28-32 speak of the end events. Jesus’ Olivet discourse comes to mind and Revelations 14:14-20. Peter stands up confidently on the day of Pentecost and announces that Joel’s prophesy is fulfilled (Acts2:16). Again the future age penetrates the present age. When we experience the phenomena that comes with the manifestation of the Holy Sprit we receive {Message translation of Ephesians1: 13-14} Since we have not received our resurrected bodies yet – the powers of the future age are a shock to these mortal frames. (This may explain poor Agatha’s behavior.)

Jesus commissioned the seventy in Luke 10: 1-9. In Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:45-49 coupled with Acts 1:1-11 and John 20: 19-23 Jesus recommisioned the disciples post resurrection. This commission is passed down through all generations of the church until Christ comes. We are to expect God’s intervention in history, into human lives similar to the day of Pentecost and successive breakings in of the future age into the present.

Jesus Christ Messiah and King (Mk12:35-37); Matt12:42) Luke19:28-44) announced the Kingdom – these announcement were events. When He spoke events occurred as he proclaimed that which was promised culminating of the future in the present. The sick were healed, lame walked, deaf heard, sinners forgiven, demons driven out, dead raised and so on. All the elements of Isaiah’s promises of a future Kingdom demonstrated in the present. Jesus announced and proclaimed the Kingdom. Often referred to as ‘the words of Jesus’. Then the Kingdom came manifesting a form of life yet to come – demonstrated, ‘the works of Jesus’.

Bob you may ask how we should do these ‘works of Jesus’? Jesus taught us how to pray: Matt 6. “Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In order to pray this prayer with the expectation that the announcement of it proclaims requires Biblical revelation confirmed by eyewitness testimony – experience.

As we contemplate the pictures and promises of the Kingdom and allow the Holy Sprit to bring revelation of the heart and the intentions of Our Lord we begin to be able to grow in out expectation of the Kingdom in the here and now. So when you hear someone pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’ or the Holy Spirit Prayer we are praying nothing other than: let your Kingdom come” empowered in the context of Pentecost. The process springs from a life of private prayer and study of the scriptures manifesting briefly in this public prayer/announcement.  From there we rely on the sovereign will of God to manifest His presence, manifesting the future age here in the present. The Kingdom come.

So Bob my egg is ready and must have breakfast before the Kingdom comes (a little Kingdom Humour there.) so let’s conclude: Jesus came fulfilling the promises of the prophets permeating this age with the age to come. Jesus demonstrated this by fulfilling the promises that God, the King would come and serve, forgive, heal, cast out, take authority and save. He did this as the Son of Man promised in Daniel; as the suffering servant promised by Isaiah as God confronting the evil forces that bind up God’s people – intervening and setting them free. Whilst not completely fulfilling what had been promised all element of promise were wrapped up in Jesus the end, the Eschaton bring the Judgment of man upon himself and defeating death by resurrecting as the first fruits redeeming all mankind that will believe on him. Jesus fulfilled the expectation of the prophets and ascending into heaven His Holy Spirit came upon the Church at Pentecost empowering them for service. His commission to them is the same for us to day – to preach the Kingdom to all people until He returns. The church lives in the tension of being empowered by the age to come whilst dwelling in this age. So dear Bob: “Seek first thekingdomofGod.” And you too may see old ladies flying through windows.

Bibliography

Oscar Cullmann, Christ and Time,London: SCM, 1952.

George E. Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism,Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996, ISBN: 0802815316.

Herman N. Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom,Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1962, ISBN: 0875524087, or Grand Rapids: Baker, 1962.

Eugene H. Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places; a conversation in spiritual theology.Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2005 ISBN 0-8028-2875-2

St. Augustine, City of God; against the Pagans (Translated by Henry Betterson) Penguin Classics 1972 (First published 1467)


[1] St Augustine City of God Penguin Classic 1972  I rather like Augustine’s comment about Isaiah being one of the Evangelists: “Now Isaiah in the course of his arraignment of wrong and his teaching …..made many more predictions about Christ and the church, that is about the King and the City which he founded, so much so that by some commentators Isaiah was called an evangelist rather than a prophet. Bob the key to much revelation about the Kingdom lies in a book of Isaiah – he is indeed an evangelist.”

[2] Oscar Cullmann Christ an Time Page 63 Primitive Christianity knows nothing of a timeless God. The “eternal God is he who was in the beginning, is now, and will be in all the future, “who is, who was and who will be” Rev1:4)” Pithy – I like Oscar but can’t remember where the D-day analogy starts – I’m SO FRUSTRATED! I desperately wanted to start where he starts – but ran out of time.(excuse pun) Bob fear not I will lend you the pirate copy mi-hearty!

[3] G.R.Beasley-Murray.Jesus and theKingdom ofGod. Eerdmans: Paternoster, 1986, p. 3-10.I’ve taken this out of the notes simply because in this context in makes sense to do so. I haven’t read Beasley-Murray for many years but have read sufficiently to grasp DMs comments in the Kingdom 1 Course Material Page 14.

[4] E.H. Peterson Christ Plays in ten thousand places. Eerdmans 2005 Page 20

[5] Herman Ridderbos The coming Kingdom The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company pg31

[6] Oscar Cullmann Christ and Time Page 91 The same Christ  who is to redeem the world from sin into which it will fall is the mediator of its creation. Therefore Adam is mentioned as a first Adam, Whom Christ follows as the second (Rom 5: 12ff.; I Cor.15 : 45 ff.)

[7] Herman Ridderbos The Coming of the Kingdom Page 128: Jesus’ word was bound to remain enigmatic in many respects; and neither about himself nor an indirect, veiled answer which therefore remained enigmatical in the light of their continuing unbelief. Herman thrashes out for me the point of why didn’t Jesus just teach a little less ambiguously. Then the Kingdom would be so much easier to understand. It’s all about the heart Bob. The rest of Page 128 is very helpful but space does not allow.

[8]  Herman Ridderbos The Coming of the Kingdom Page 466 Here Ridderbos is also referring to Cullaman centering of time. “But in central importance of Jesus’ suffering and death for the preaching of the gospel, and in the gathering together of the New Testament church; it is clearly implied that the time of fulfillment is not at an end with the death of Christ, but has its starting point and presuppositions in this event. Cullman therefore rightly argues that in the synoptic gospels the center of time no longer lies in the future…as it does in Judaism but in the past, viz in Christ’s coming and action.”

[9] Oscar Cullmann Christ and Time Page 93 In conclusion, it must further be emphasized that according to the New Testament the new division of time, with Christ as the midpoint, can only be believed .To this fact in the last analysis refers the revelation of the “mystery” of the divine redemptive plan, concerning which it is said that it is “now” revealed (Eph 3:5; Col. 1:26).” Uncle Oscar’s trying to point out that even though he’s a bright bloke and has time to write 300 pages about Christ and Time at some stage he appreciated that this is a mystery and had to believe. I must say I’m rather fond of Uncle Oscar but I wish he had a used an acronym for Primitive Christianity. It must appear thousands of times in his book.

[10] St Augustine City of God Penguin 1972 Pg 807 We observe the partial fulfillment of this prophecy {Hag 2:6} we await its completion at the end of history….For head had first to be loved by those who believe, so that he might be longed for by those who look for his appearance. He then quotes Zech 9: 9. with great joy.