Existentialist Firefighter Postpones the Death of Three

(via The Onion).

When asked if he felt something, anything, after briefly extending the lives of three human beings, Farber replied in the negative.

“I was doing what, at that moment, I was doing,” he said. “Tomorrow, if there is another fire, I will do the same. Perhaps in that fire, I will be the one who is killed. Or, on the other hand, perhaps I will not. Either way, there will be anguish and sorrow at some unknown point.”

 Well, that pretty much sums it up for Qohelth, too.

"Martha, Martha"

Calvin in speaking of Jesus correction of Martha has this to say,

“Though the hospitality of Martha deserved commendation, and is commended, yet there were two faults in it which are pointed out by Christ. The first is, that Martha carried her activity beyond proper bounds; for Christ would rather have chosen to be entertained in a frugal manner, and at moderate expense, than that the holy woman should have submitted to so much toil. The second fault was, that Martha, by distracting her attention, and undertaking more labour than was necessary, deprived herself of the advantage of Christ’s visit. The excess is pointed out by Luke, when he speaks of much serving; for Christ was satisfied with little. It was just as if one were to give a magnificent reception to a prophet, and yet not to care about hearing him, but, on the contrary, to make so great and unnecessary preparations as to bury all the instruction.”

John Calvin, on Luke 10, Harmony of the Evangelists

Yet I will….

Habakkuk 3 is Habakkuk’s response after being in the presence of the Lord. The genre of chapter 3 is unlike the previous two chapters. Both the language (the words employed) and the form (the way in which the words are put together) reflect the worshipful heart of Habakkuk.
If you have a reference Bible and look up the references in chapter 3, or if you are familiar with the psalms, one of the things you will note is that much of Habakkuk’s prayer contains phrases and expressions of the Scriptures. That is he lifted many of his phrases right out of other passages of the Bible.
Habakkuk’s use of the language of the scriptures reveals the value of memorizing Scripture or even hymns. Songs, I believe, provide a language for the heart to express itself. You see that Habakkuk knew the psalter and relied upon it’s language to express his faith. We would benefit from a ready language to express our heart, especially in times of trouble . We need to be steeped in thelanguage of other’s expressions of faith and devotion not merely because it is useful, but because without that language, our worship and devotional life will be impoverished. The gospel is not merely ‘good news’, but it is beautiful news. The gospel is not merely news for our generation, but has been news which has been good from generation to generation. In relying on the words of others, I think we will find strength and conviction in the truth of those words because in employing them, we stand with them in our faith–and they with us–as we rejoice the Lord who delivers and strengthens.

"I will look to see what he will say to me."

C.S. Lewis as he worked through the grief of losing his wife, Joy, to cancer, wrote the following,

Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more em­phatic the silence will be come. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast though forsaken me?’ I know. Does that make it easier to understand?
Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’
This captures the struggle in Habakkuk. Josiah’s reign has ended in defeat. Jehoiakim has been installed as king by Pharaoh Neco who has taken his younger brother back to Egypt. By Jeremiah’s account and those of Kings and the Chronicler, Jehoikim’s reign was oppressive and cruel. Would the Lord let it stand? Would he answer the defiance?
Habakkuk gets his answer from the Lord in the form of the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzer has inherited his father’s throne and has subjugated not only Assyria, but these Chaldeans have driven Neco back to the Sinai peninsula. The cruelty of this new hoard was worse than the oppression of Jehoiakim. And for Habakkuk, it all seems too much, too hard, too cruel. It is from the vantage point of the rampart of the wall of Jerusalem, that Habakkuk asks, “Why Lord? Why?”
Lewis, was caught in a similar trap. Facing the reality of a spouse being diagnosed with cancer, the cancer going into remission, the joyful days of companionship, the shock of cancer’s tenacity, and his wife’s body succumbing to terminal illness, Lewis found himself on the ramparts calling out to God and waiting for the reply.
Lewis, as he says, was not so much in danger of ceasing to believe in God. The temptation, he said, was in coming to believe such dreadful things about him. Lewis knew though, God was God and he was not. Lewis knew about suffering and loss and forlorn hope and death. Lewis also knew that he was part of an army–a soldier who must obey his commander, take his post and be ready to do what he was commanded.
In “God in the Dock”, Lewis gets at how the contemporary world would deduce that the cruelties of circumstances or the presence of evil were either license for unbelief or vindication for it. Lewis did not think so because he realized that if evil existed and was hated, then it’s counter-part, it’s antithesis, must also be real. The reality of evil is not proof of the non-existence of good, it is the contrary: proof that good must exist. And so, the real fight in the soul of the believer is to trust and obey and love God in spite of circumstances of one’s life.
Habakkuk is not “calling God out” like some ANE Bruce Almighty, Habakkuk is taking his station as a faithful soldier. In days when it seems that the world is falling apart around your head, the station–the place where the faithful make their stand is on the rampart–to watch and wait–“to look to what he will say to me.”

What Days are These?

Well, I haven’t posted in month. I’ve been back in the office two days after a three month sabbatical. And now I’m getting cranky. We’re scheduled to sing this Sunday, “Days of Elijah” a worship song by Robin Mark. Here are the words:

These are the days of Elijah,
Declaring the word of the Lord:
And these are the days of Your servant Moses,
Righteousness being restored.
And though these are days of great trial,
Of famine and darkness and sword,
Still, we are the voice in the desert crying
‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord!’
Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call;
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.
These are the days of Ezekiel,
The dry bones becoming as flesh;
And these are the days of Your servant David,
Rebuilding a temple of praise.
These are the days of the harvest,
The fields are as white in Your world,
And we are the labourers in Your vineyard,
Declaring the word of the Lord!

There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!

Copyright © 1997 Daybreak Music Ltd.

I’m put off a little. These are not the days of Elijah nor are they the days of Ezekiel. Matthew writes in his Gospel, (Matt 11:11) “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” So, if you can bear it, anyone in the church is greater than Elijah or Ezekiel. Why? Because we enjoy that for which they hoped but did not receive: salvation through the Gospel of Jesus and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit who convicts, calls, renews, counsels, empowers…. Indeed, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers in piece-meal ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son….”

These aren’t the Days of Elijah nor Ezekiel. These are the Days of the Kingdom of Heaven — the days in which all things are made new.