While the World Comes Unglued . . .What?

Jackson Snyder

Based on William G. Carter

 

 

Mark 13:1-8 Olivet Discourse

 

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

When the Frogs discovered the eel’s easy good nature, they sent yet a third time to Jupiter to beg him to choose for them still another King. Jupiter, displeased with all their complaints, sent a Heron, who preyed upon the Frogs day by day till there were none left to croak upon the lake.  -- Aesop

 

Membership Visitation

   After the pastor’s membership report at charge conference, the church officers were surprised that of the hundred on the membership roll, only about a fourth regularly attended church.  On investigating further, many on the list joined years before but hadn’t darkened the door since.  So a couple dedicated church officers put together a list of ‘lost sheep’ and went out two-by-two to invite the absentees back.

   The visitors discovered that most on the list had other things to do on Sunday morning. One person said, “I’d come back to church if it didn't cut into my sleep time.” Another said, “We went until our kids outgrew Sunday School, then we stopped.”  Another said, “It’s my only day off!  I go huntin’!”  Another said, “I take the grandkids to their games every Sunday.”  Another said, “To be right honest, I used to like goin’ to church on the really big days, like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween.  But compared to that, church services are too boring.”  The most honest said, “I’m just too lazy and unmotivated.”

  The visitors went to see one fellow the church board never even heard of nor remembered how he got on the roll.  They found he lived in a big old house in the woods behind three overgrown pine trees. The curtains were drawn.  It looked like nobody was home. Suddenly a hidden door swung open, and a skinny little guy popped out and said, “My name's Kilgore. What do you want?” They said, “We're from the church.  We just want to see you.”  Kilgore invited them in and they told him why they’d come.

 

  Print    

Advertisement

Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

Advertisement

The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

   Kilgore shook a scrawny finger at them.  “I'll tell you why I don't go to church anymore. It's because I got in the habit of reading the Sunday paper before I went.”  One of the volunteers asked, “How’d that paper keep you out of church?  Too much time in the sports section?”  Kilgore had wild eyes as he harshly peered at her. “No, hardly” he said, “I just read the news; and I want to tell you that it's a horrible world out there – a terrible world – an awful world.  There are lots of diseases out there I don't understand.  Did you know that over eighty wars are going on right now out there?  Families are falling apart out there.  My own family fell apart one day out there.  And children are runnin’ through the streets with guns out there, killin’ each other and anyone who gets in the way.  And there’s murders out there.  Look at this paper right here – RIGHT HERE – the Green River Killer’s finally been caught – but not until he strangled forty-eight women out there.  Lots of people are dying before their time out there, including young soldiers in Iraq.  For no reason a-toll.  Take my advice, boy, the world’s falling apart, and your ol’ church can't do a thing about it.  Go on home, read the paper and wait your turn to go!”

  “Well, Mr. Kilgore,” one volunteer said, “you ought to come to church anyway. We have a young minister, good music and a Bible study.  You’re gonna love the program.” 

  “No way am I gonna love the program.” said Kilgore, “I go out there for groceries, but that's all I want to face.  I joined your church years ago, but the more I went, the worse the world got.  Then my wife died and we used our free cemetery plot.  I decided to sit tight and just watch everything out there fall apart until it was my turn.”

 

A World Coming Unglued

   Kilgore had a point. We live in a sorry world that seems to grow worse each day. It’s like Bible teacher Walter Brueggemann wrote,

 For all our ... confidence in our technology, a deep, unsettled feeling that things are indeed falling apart cuts across the spectrum.  Churches worry about survival; courts only sometimes yield justice; medical institutions provide sporadic access and care; schools only occasionally educate ... and the presence ... of violence is everywhere. (Walter Brueggemann, “The terrible ungluing,” The Christian Century, 21 October 1992.)

It seems to many like our world is ungluing and falling apart.  Why do you think the world is this way?  Because just as the frogs made the heron their king, we’ve made the Devil ours.

   One day, four disciples heard Yahshua speak about their world coming unglued; that the Jerusalem Temple, the very center of the world, would be pulled down with “not a stone left upon another.”  Now, this temple was a massive stone structure, the largest religious institution in the world – a half-mile square and ten stories high – all of huge stones like those of the “wailing wall.”  It hadn’t been completed when Yahshua predicted its downfall, but it would be, and only two years before Yahweh pulled it down. 

   The temple held all Israel together.  It was not only thought to be Yahweh’s seat, but it was also the hub of banking and commerce and the heart of tradition, history and national identity.  Now, imagine how hard it would have been for these simple fellows to believe it would fall!  Yahshua’s prediction was as if some bible teacher warned that the World Trade Center would crumble to oblivion.  Who could possibly believe that besides Kilgore?  No one in his right mind, that’s who..

     Yahshua goes on to tell them that they’ll soon endure wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions, beatings, betrayals and death.  In such a world out there, with all this crime, chaos and combat, what could anyone do about it?   Yet Yahshua gives these boys something to do – a commandment – an imperative – a royal decree!  When the world comes unglued and is pulled apart, what should every disciple do first and foremost?   Yahshua commands, “Preach the good news in the face of the bad.  Preach the Gospel!”  And that’s what he commands us to do: “The good news must first be preached to all nations.”  Now that’s a pretty strange order when the foundations of reality are crumbling!  Is this such a time to stand up and deliver a sermon? 

 

Signs in the Sky

   If we go down to Mark 13:24,25, we read Yahshua’s warning: that, “In those days, the moon will darken, the stars will fall and the powers in the sky will shake.”  Maybe you saw the eclipse of the moon last night  (November 8, 2003).  Indeed, the moon’s light darkened for two hours or more. 

   And I hope you saw Mars in the southern sky.  Mars is closer to the earth now than in the previous sixty thousand years.  It’s a sight you’ll never again see. 

   Have you seen that red and green haze in the dusk skies lately?  This year’s unusually large solar flairs are responsible.  It’s predicted that on Tuesday (November 11) the sun will cast off the largest solar flair in history.  This flair is supposed to shoot away from the earth.  Yet who knows for sure?  Be prepared!

   If you live in South America, next week you’ll experience the Leonid meteor shower; stars will fall on Argentina.  There’s nothing like a meteor shower. 

   I read all this in Thursday’s newspaper.  Yahshua predicted such signs as preceding his return to rule!

   Revelation 8:8 forecasts that an asteroid will strike the earth causing an unimaginable death toll worldwide.  This scenario has been the subject of many novels and movies.  Yet imagine that today’s newspaper tells us a huge asteroid is headed straight for the earth and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.  Impact is imminent.  Civilized life is about to end.  Imagine that an emergency meeting is called at the Civic Center to entertain questions.  Imagine the keynote speaker standing on that podium before thousands of horrified citizens in a black clergy robe and stole – hushing the expectant crowd, then speaking these words, “Dear friends: In this time of unmitigated crisis, let me offer you -- three points and a poem.”  A sermon now seems pretty silly, doesn’t it?

 

False Prophecies Abound

   Is Yahshua simple-minded when he tells them, “Preach the gospel when the world is coming unglued”? 

   Some church people take him to mean, “Get as many people in the church as you can.  Scare ‘em to death if you must.  Threaten ‘em with hades if you need to.  Tell ‘em G-d’s gonna get ‘em if they don’t join.  Remind ‘em that their kinfolk are burnin’ up right now.  Compel ‘em to come in any way ya can and make sure to get their names down on the church roll.”

     In sync with this nutty attitude, religious novels about the end of the world continue to churn out.  The Bible tells us plainly that the world never ends, but fictional scenarios about the end will continue to be published as long as there are religion hobbyists to buy them.  Novels take the place of Bible study.  Imagination takes the place of the truth.  Reading novels and watching movies are more entertaining and take far less effort than studying the words of Yahweh on yonder shelf reclining. 

   Most “prophecy” today strings together random or unrelated Bible passages to prove that Saddam or Prince William or Pope Paul II or Hillary Clinton is the Great 666 Beast, and before long Christians will just vanish off airplanes and out of cars, leaving billions behind to face the burning of the earth.  Each chapter warns that, “The time is short, so turn to page 467 and follow the Four Easy Steps to Salvation, then stop thinking about the world and start thinking about your mansion in heaven.”  Many teachings and churches emphasize escaping the world's calamities to a fault.  Escape is the only hope for those who simply haven’t the faith to stand tough and proclaim the Gospel until he comes.

   Most Christians are so spiritually handicapped by falsehood that all they can do is point to the sky and say, “I don’t care ‘bout nothin’ ‘cause my Jesus is coming for me.  I’m just gonna fly away and leave this ol’ world behind.”  One radio preacher claimed, “The Bible says that when things in the world get to their absolute worst, Christians won't have to suffer through it.  The trumpet’ll sound, and Jesus’ll gather all of his believers into the air and rescue ‘em from danger.  In fact, if you own a car, you have a responsibility to put on a bumper sticker to warn those left behind that, when the trumpet sounds, your Christian car will be going out of control.”  Yes, a radio preacher actually said these words. 

   Did you know that Yahshua warned against people like this preacher?  “Beware no one leads you astray.  When you hear of wars, don’t be alarmed – hang tough!  Wars must take place, but the end is not yet.  Nation will rise; kingdoms will go; there’ll be earthquakes all over the place; there’ll be famines and plagues and signs in the sky.  But the birthpangs are only just beginning.”  Now, Yahshua is talking about the birth pangs of the New Age, and I don’t mean the foolish New Age movement.  The New Age will be his age; the things Kilgore is so afraid of are the contractions in the world’s womb as the King of Kings commences his rebirth on Stage Earth.  Are we not to be a part of that?  Or are we to just get the bags packed, wreck the car and fly away?

 

Mark Knows Best

   In one sense Kilgore was right.  In this world, things come unglued, fall apart and are pulled apart.  The writer of Mark's gospel knows that, perhaps better than all the other New Testament writers.  This is a world of deception and meanness, where people spin the truth and do what they can to wrest power over others. This is a world of chaos, cruelty, hatred and apathy, where innocents suffer and the majority of lives are currently at grave risk – where thirty thousand children die every single day just because they can’t get enough to eat while we pay billions to lose those unwanted pounds.  Mark knows what’s true about his world – and ours.

     But Mark knows something more important: that Yahweh, the world’s creator, offers overcoming power for those who’ll proactively appropriate it.  How better might the world and it’s cure be expressed than in Luther’s most famous hymn?

Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.

The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;

His wrath we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,

One little word shall fell him.  (Luther, “A Mighty Fortress”)

 

The Word

  That one little word that can tear down the evil pale over our world is a NAME – Yahshua – the Savior of Yahweh – his name and all that it stands for IS the Word.  He’s mightier than all that can hurt or destroy, and at his name, all creation will bow, good and evil, terrestrial, extraterrestrial and subterranean.  You might consider this WORD to be an unlikely antidote to the ills of the cosmos.  How could one “little word” fell the entire evil enterprise?   Such an idea seemed very unlikely until one little airplane knocked down the world’s center of commerce and corruption. 

   This one little word we proclaim – Yahshua – it’s the new word and the new world we must speak at all cost.  This earth may be haunted by evil, but it still belongs to Yahweh, and he’ll have what’s his.  We may be but pawns of the Devil in the destruction of creation, especially if we choose to do nothing and hide, or just wait until we’re pulled out of that airplane seat, but we’ve been claimed by the mighty Son of Yahweh, and his love will never let us go, nor will he allow us to just go and do nothing.  For even when evil and unbelief overpowered him and killed him, Yahshua raised himself up out of death and took upon himself a body that could no longer be permeated by any enemy, least of all Death.  And he lives to keep on confronting his enemies, until the day they’re beneath his feet.  And we live, if we will, IN HIM.  That makes us mighty to the pulling down of strongholds.

   Though this is a world that comes unglued, falls apart and is pulled apart, Yahshua is stronger.  He tears down and he builds anew from sterner stuff.  He’s not given up and he never will.  He’ll win, and he’s already won.  That’s what we have to proclaim, and that’s what we’re bound to work toward.  “And greater works than these will you do,” says Yahshua, “because I go to the Father (to get you a bunch more love and power).”  That’s what we have to say.  And it ought to be good news to all those hand-wringing worrywarts out there.  No longer need they be 98-pound spiritual weaklings, but powerful word-workers, if only they will be more than just a name on a membership roll!

 

Speech and Action

     No wonder, then, Yahshua commands that Simon, Andrew, James and John preach good news.  They’d followed him ever since he said, “The time is fulfilled; Yahweh's kingdom is at hand. Turn and believe the good news” (in Mark 1:15).  They saw the kingdom advance one step at a time. The tormented demoniac found peace.  The eyes of the blind were opened. Deaf ears were unstoppled.  The lame jumped like a deer. The tongues of the dumb sang for joy.  Mountains were removed into the sea.  Kings fell from their thrones.  Entire evil empires were deconstructed, and new, godly empires were built from the smashed pieces.  In other words, preaching the kingdom is always more than simply orating three points and a poem. It’s a Word demonstrated both in speech and action.  It’s both saying and doing -- and succeeding in hard-working love.

     In the person and life of Yahshua our Savior, Yahweh's presidential candidacy has broken into demonic world politics.  As Luther’s hymn proclaimed, “he will win the battle” as well as the election.  It’s fixed.  Yahweh, the Almighty, will reign over the entire world through Yahshua, his alter ego.  That’s why we call him Yahweh Tsaviot, the L-rd of Hosts, the Commander of Armies.

   The four disciples wanted to know, “When will these armies and their kingdom come?” as if it were to be some glorious age in the distant future.  Friend, we shouldn’t consider the Kingdom of Yahweh as if it were a bus running behind schedule. We’re given the task of proclaiming what the Father has already begun.  Consider Yahshua’s first advent commandments before speculating as to his second!  The faithful believer never sits idly on a mountaintop to watch the world come unglued or await Yahshua to appear from the sky or to just fly away in the sweet by and by. 

 

The Great Disappointment {optional}

    In 1831, a well-meaning Baptist layman named William Miller put together a bunch of Bible verses and predicted that the world would end on April 3, 1843.  The New York Herald picked up on this story and printed it to ridicule Miller.  Miller’s theory caught on universally.  Thousands of Christians came to believe the world would end in 1843.  As that date approached, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists gave away all they had, put on white robes, and ascended hilltops to be raptured away.  Due to all the publicity, Miller had to put or shut up.  He found a miscalculation – there is no year zero.  So he recalculated the second coming to (March 22, 1844, then) October 22, 1844.  When the world was still spinning on October 23rd, the saints lost faith in their leader.  This non-event is still known as “The Great Disappointment.”

   Yet these “Adventists” didn’t give up.  Though they became known as fools to the world, Miller’s unfulfilled prophecy made them search the scriptures rather than give up in shame.  They learned one very valuable lesson – don’t just wait around for Yahshua to come.  Now, 160 years later, Adventists are the busiest of all Christians, preaching the Word worldwide and keeping the commandments of Yahweh, including the fourth commandment. 

   We’ve had our disappointments, too.  Yet we must hold firm, doing the work of an evangelist, preaching his word.  As the Adventists learned, we must take Yahshua’s First Coming extremely seriously before we can even consider his Second Coming!  The timing of the Second Coming is less our business than speaking and acting in Yahshua’s name now.  We’re called to do what Yahshua does: to proclaim Yahweh's reign in our word and in our deed, to act as if the times have changed already for the good, and to believe and behave as if Yahweh rules over every opposing power.  And he will.

 

The Poem

   I’ve had my three points now.  But my poem is one that’s run through my head (and other heads around here) for two weeks, since we had Bluegrass Gospel day.  The poem I’m thinking of is called “A Beautiful Life,” and exemplifies exactly what Yahshua meant when he commanded that we, in the midst of the chaos of our own communities, preach the Word.  If you would make this poem your creed, then you would indeed become far more than a name on a roll waiting for your free cemetery plot.  You would do even greater works and exhibit greater faith than He if you would only pledge:

Each day I'll do a golden deed by helping those who are in need;

My life on earth is but a span, And so I'll do the best I can.

The only life that will endure is one that's kind and good and pure;

And so for G-d I'll take my stand, each day I'll lend a helping hand.

I'll help someone in time of need and journey on with rapid speed;

I'll help the sick and poor and weak and words of kindness to them speak.

Life's evening sun is sinking low; a few more days and I must go

To meet the deeds that I have done, where there will be no setting sun.

 November 8, 2003