Monday, November 13, 2017

Delighting in the Biblical Narrative and Finding Our Place in It (Part 2)

In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, we find a densely interconnected narrative which finds its source, center, and goal in Jesus. It speaks normatively about Yahweh—the one and only true god—and about our relationship with Yahweh from the beginning of our history together to its fulfillment in Christ’s glorious return. Our unimaginable privilege is to discern where, in this most meaningful of all narratives, our own little stories find their rightful place.
But this irreplaceable biblical narrative is not the only existing narrative. It isn’t even today’s dominant one in what’s left of Christendom. Today’s universally dominant narrative belongs to the six malicious yet conventional Olympian gods and their overwhelming yet fragile Global Technological System (GTS). Through the corporate media of the GTS, these parasitic gods daily seek to impose their Olympian worldview on every one of us and, at the same time, to weaken any affirmation of the biblical worldview. Most distressing is the fact that the gods, through their minions, have largely succeeded in getting even us Christians and our churches thinking their way. Now, rather than understanding the media and our world in biblical terms, we deconstruct the biblical narrative in Olympian terms.
Today Jesus invites us to do better. He invites us to discern and affirm, anew, the truth of the biblical narrative and at the same time some of the falsehoods that the gods absurdly seek to have us affirm as true. To help us in this process, we will recall affirmations which Jesus makes today, once again, through the Gospel according to Matthew. Today Jesus invites us to join him where he is and where we best belong.
Olympian narrators discredit the biblical narrative by denying that biblical people ever existed and that biblical events ever happened. Even Christian professors at Christian colleges and seminaries deny the actual existence of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and the Exodus, the magnificence of Solomon’s kingdom, and Jonah. In this way, Olympian narrators have largely succeeded in persuading even Christians and churches that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of fairy tales and that the only people who bother about it are rigid, narrow-minded, judgmental, superstitious hypocrites.
During his public ministry, Jesus affirmed the actuality of all these people and events. When he talks to us today through the biblical narrative, he invites us to do so in the same meaningful way.
The genealogy which opens the Gospel according to Matthew affirms that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were actual ancestors of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-2). It would be meaningless to think that the actual existence of Jesus came from imaginary characters.
At one point during the public ministry of Jesus, he is surprised by the unprecedented faith of a Gentile centurion. In response, Jesus tells his disciples, “many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12, New American Standard Version, here and following). In the age to come, I would like to join the real Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in this feast with Jesus. Being in fact cast into the outer darkness sounds much less pleasant.
When arguing with the Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead (another critical fact denied by Olympian narrators!), Jesus clinches the argument by saying, “have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). In saying so, Jesus affirms that the one true god is one of resurrection power and that God himself revealed this by speaking of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as still actually alive.
Shortly after Jesus tells his disciples about his imminent crucifixion and resurrection (Matthew 16:21), three of them—Peter, James, and John—actually witness Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-8). Either all of these people and events are actual or all of them are imaginary. Jesus daily affirms their actuality. The Olympian gods and their servile minions daily deny it.
Olympian narrators deny the historicity of the Exodus. The entire Old Testament is inconceivable without it. Even more, so is any meaningful understanding of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, his celebration of the Passover during what we now call the Lord’s Supper, and our repeated commemoration of this event (see Matthew 26:17-35).
The United Monarchy of Israel and Judah under King Solomon, denied by Olympian narrators as well as all of us Christians when we when wrongly believe them, was one of unprecedented wealth. Jesus invites us today not to worry about what we are going to eat or drink by alluding to the actual magnificence of Solomon’s kingdom. “Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29).
As a final example, let us take the prophet Jonah. To Olympian storytellers, masters of seductive falsehood, the story of Jonah seems ridiculous and we Christians have too easily embraced their mockery. Jesus, however, found the story full of profound truth. When his opponents tested him by asking him for a sign, he replied, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:39-41). When that great day comes, we want to find ourselves standing with the men of Nineveh and not with this Olympian generation as we Christians are now.
Now we may also began to appreciate more the devout work of James Ussher in establishing a meaningful chronology of these events based on a careful study of the Bible itself. He determined that the births of major persons and moments of important events occurred in the following years: Abraham: 1996 BC, Isaac: 1896 BC, Jacob: 1836 BC, Moses: 1571 BC, the Exodus: 1491 BC, the beginning of Solomon’s rule: 1015 BC, and Jonah in the belly of a great fish: 808 BC.
The Olympian gods and their minions, today’s political and corporate elite, have succeeded in corrupting our witness, as Christians and churches, to our good leader and savior Jesus Christ. They have done this by bullying, bribing, and deceiving us into believing that the biblical narrative is false and that theirs is true. Jesus, whose steadfast love for us is beyond all we could ask or even imagine, invites us again, today, to stand with him and hear the words he speaks to us afresh through his most favorite witness: the true words of the Bible.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.