Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Which Would We Prefer: Good News, Bad News, or No News?

As Christians and churches, we rightly confess that Yahweh’s steadfast love for us endures forever. We rightly affirm that Abba is for us, Jesus is with us, and the Holy Spirit is in us. Jesus himself tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7, New American Standard Version, here and following). He assures us,Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Good news!
Yes, God is love. Sometimes, though, we experience God’s love as wrath. That’s right: God’s wrath is always an expression of God’s love. We might define God’s loving wrath and wrathful loving as God’s rejection of our rejection of him.
Yahweh chose prophets to speak his words to his people to warn them of the wrath to come. This warning was intended to challenge the rejection of Yahweh by the people of Yahweh. As Yahweh put it through his prophet Jeremiah:

13 The Lord said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it, 14 but have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them,” 15 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink. 16 I will scatter them among the nations, whom neither they nor their fathers have known; and I will send the sword after them until I have annihilated them” (Jeremiah 9:13-16).

This passage reminds us that Yahweh is no god to be trifled with. That, in the past, he has granted his people their fondest wish. He has allowed his people to experience all the calamitous consequences of identifying with the false and destructive Olympian gods. We know that Yahweh spoke words of stark warning to his people. Bad news!
But we must affirm one last, little known, and less appreciated response of Yahweh to us his people. When Samuel, prophet and last of the judges of Israel, was growing up, we are told, And word from [Yahweh] was rare in those days (1 Samuel 3:1). The prophet Amos puts it even more starkly:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the Lord.
People will stagger from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord,
But they will not find it" (Amos 8:11-12).

That is where we are today. Today, as Christians and churches, we face the silence of God. No news.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven Farsaci.
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