Today we have an extra edition of the letter in order to complete the series on the Prophets before Roger resumes again on Wednesday.
Sometimes in the prophets we get a sense of seeing the world as a stage on which individuals are acting, but under the influence of other forces off-stage. We saw that too in Job. Zechariah and Ezekiel had numerous visions and recorded them in scenes that defy interpretation. Daniel heard from an angel that “the prince of the Persian kingdom” had prevented him from answering Daniel’s prayer for 21 days. Then after this 3 week standoff, reinforcements arrived, and Michael, one of the chief angels, helped him break through the opposition. Like Job, Daniel played a role in the warfare between heavenly forces of good and evil, though what went on happened beyond his range of vision. You can read this in Daniel 10.
The only prophetic book in the New Testament, Revelation, offers the most vivid examples of scenes in the heavenly realms. Look at Revelation 12, the heavenly scene behind the birth of Jesus. Behind the Christmas story we commemorate on earth, the birth of Jesus had an effect on the whole universe, profoundly greater than the birth of a baby on earth. The ripples on the surface, as it were, that we see enacted on earth, from God’s point of view, was a massive disruption shaking the foundations of the universe. So when the prophets speak to us of military alliances, who gets elected, the rise and fall of kingdoms, these are merely the stage on which the real battle is being played out. The questions they address are ultimately more than the outcome of earthly kingdoms. They are about “Is the Kingdom of God advancing? Are God’s people remaining faithful? Do we believe that God is in control?”
When a baby was born, the universe trembled. When 72 disciples were sent by Jesus on a mission trip (Luke 10) Satan fell like lightning from heaven. What happens here on earth affects the future of the heavenly realms. God knows the future, and the prophets spell out that future for our encouragement: swords beaten into ploughshares, a lamb resting beside a lamb, a banquet feast. This is God’s ultimate plan for us and this is what God will accomplish. It is settled. The question, will we live believing it?
As we contine meeting without gathering together, let us pray that God will keep us united and prepare us for greater things ahead.
Let us pray for missions today, and those involved that are known to us,