Thursday, May 6, 2021

National Day of Prayer 2021


The need for a national day of prayer has never been greater than today. This country has forgotten its foundation as a Christian nation and fallen into division. The enemies of this nation have embedded themselves in the power structures of government, education, media, big tech, and big business. A great economic reset is being planned for the world. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Pandemic 2.0 comes along because fearful people are easily controlled. 

But our God is in control and nothing happens that He does not allow. He tells us to draw close to Him, and He will draw close to us. He promises to work everything for good. He reminds us that while this world is not our home, to live in the present as ambassadors of His Kingdom with an eye on our eternal home, as salt and light in this world. And in Psalm 37, He tells us to surrender to His will, waiting patiently, without being preoccupied by the apparent success of evil doers. 

Finally, we lean upon Him and His grace to do that which we can’t do on our own. So simple Yahweh’s request from the beginning: obey and He will bless His people. Yet we have strayed... again and again and again. A simple promise is found in 2 Chronicles to Israel. The name Israel means “struggles with God”, and like Israel, this nation dedicated to God at its foundation has struggled with obedience. The internal struggle is now a call to open defiance fighting with the call to return to God. Which will you answer? Will you turn to the God of our fathers or succumb to the rebellion in this world?

So pray. Pray that God will be merciful and work in His people so that we can obey His good and perfect will. Let this nation find the healing it desperately needs!


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Good vs Good

“It’s all good.” Now there’s a positive outlook for you… the phrase is used to soothe emotions after an awkward, sensitive or disappointing event. But if I stop to consider it, I believe this attitude is more accurate than the traditional “good vs. evil” mindset. It’s not my nature to see circumstances in this context. I can often overlook patches of vegetation, focusing on the barren ground that surrounds it, rather than the fact that there is life with the potential to grow further. I have allowed myself to become discouraged by the changes occurring in the 2020’s, but as long as there is life, there is hope!

It's hard to see the world as it is and as it could be

Yes, philosophically it truly is all good: evil is the privation of good just as cold is the absence of heat and darkness results from the lack of light. Weakness is the absence of strength. I believe God has given us many natural analogies to help us understand this truth: that evil is not an equally powerful opponent of good. Rather, evil results from a lack of goodness. Now there is only One Who is fully good, and that is God. But at some point, the lack of good in a person or entity is correctly labeled as “evil”.

So what is “good”? I can fall into the trap of “feeling good” over “doing good”, not that it’s wrong to feel good, but seeking to please oneself is hedonism. Some people have claimed that ultimately everyone is hedonistic, saying that philanthropic actions stem from the desire to feel good about doing good, but I know better: we don’t always feel good by doing good and with God’s help, we can persevere in doing good despite the negative reinforcement of some life experiences. The highest form of love, Agape, is doing what is in the best interest of another person even when they don’t want it and you don’t feel like doing it. That is the kind of love Jesus showed us in going to the cross. No one appreciated His sacrifice at the time, including His closest friends. And the night before His death, Jesus prayed for His suffering to pass Him by, but nevertheless, He fully surrendered in obedience to what the Father called “good”.

The Old Testament often referred to evil times as when people do what is right in their own eyes. In other words: people chose to only do the good that made sense to them at the time. We see early in Genesis that Adam and Eve desired the knowledge of good and evil so that they would be like God. In essence, they wanted to choose what was good rather than submit to the Author of all goodness. It’s really no different than when kids only obey what they want to obey. Their partial obedience is really rebellion / lawlessness. It asserts their will to choose what seems right to them as fits their own interest. I have seen my kids even get into fights because of partial obedience: “Dad said YOUR turn on the TV was over after that show!” First world problems flowing from selfish hearts; the symptoms may vary across cultures but the root cause is still the same. Mankind has a tendency to only do what is right in our eyes, a limited goodness that falls short of God’s best in our lives.

But God is good all the time and all His ways are good at all times. His Word is true and good; Scripture in the context of its entirety is always good and true. However, we live in a time when people choose segments of Scripture that make them feel good, while they explain away the parts that are inconvenient. Rather than doing good, people are more interested in feeling good, doing the good that pleases them. Many churches avoid the counter-cultural teachings in Scripture, and Christians avoid the awkward truths of the Bible when dialoging with others. While avoidance can be an acceptable tactic in conflict resolution, it is a poor long-term strategy. Confrontation can be abrasive, but it doesn’t need to be: stick to issues and respect people with opposing viewpoints. Love, Kindness and Self-Control are more important than winning a debate; good Fruit sows good seeds.

We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.
Hebrews 10:24-25

Be both patient and bold, seeking the Spirit’s leading in every word and inflection. The time is short. In this age of lawlessness, we need, each of us, a strategy for speaking the truth in love… the full truth in agape love. We were, each of us, placed upon the earth for such a time as this, being fruitful in the Fruit of the Spirit by watering in God’s presence daily.

copyright ©2021 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Mystery of Daniel Revealed

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Proverbs 25:2

Introduction

I have long been fascinated with the life of Daniel and the mysteries in his prophetic book. Daniel and his friends grew up in the ruling class. They likely heard about a religious fanatic who was despised by many of the nobles because he kept predicting the inevitable judgement of God. We know that fanatic as the prophet Jeremiah. I can imagine the parents of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah as devout followers of Yahweh and can picture conversations they may have had about the controversial messages of Jeremiah. We know that Jeremiah was ultimately was proven to be God’s man, but at the time, his behavior was strange even for a prophet, and his message was disturbing. God’s judgement came in the middle of Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry as the Babylonian exile began.

Daniel and his friends were contemporaries of not just Jeremiah, but possibly had childhood interactions with King Jeconiah before his rule and subsequent exile. I also wonder if they ever met and spoke with Ezekiel, either before or after the exile. And I’ve even read of certain rabbinic traditions that Daniel was Mordechai’s messenger killed by Haman in the book of Esther. Although this last relationship seems far-fetched to me, Daniel certainly lived at a pivotal point in Jewish history. 

Daniel’s life was surrounded by mystery and prophecy. From his early years before the Babylonian exile to his own growing understanding of God’s will as he studied Scripture, Daniel lived obediently and prayed for an ever-greater understanding. Yet the visions he received were often a mystery even to him, and more than once he was told to seal up the end times vision that was written for a future generation.

God has many purposes and He weaves all things together in ways we can only understand in part. While the book of Daniel has been used to strengthen believers through millennia, I have come to believe it was primarily written for God’s people in these end times to comfort and encourage us. 

A Book for the End of the Age

The Book of Daniel clearly predicted things that could not have been known by man, such as the rise and fall of Alexander the Great and the corresponding rise of Western culture. I believe God gave Daniel these predictions in large part so that we can have greater confidence in the events that have yet to unfold. It shows us that God is in control. It reveals the history of the world as foretold through Daniel and paints a picture for last days that God and His Scriptures can be trusted. More importantly, the book answers Daniel’s question to God about when Israel’s sins will be atoned and promises God’s redemptive faithfulness in the days that are coming.

So how is Daniel’s prophetic writing to be understood as an encouragement in these last days?

  • Chapter One encourages us to be faithful in captivity. Just as God blessed Daniel and his companions, He will reward our faithfulness to Him when circumstances pressure us toward compromise. 
  • Chapter Two reaffirms that man’s rebellion will be destroyed by the Rock of God, Jesus. God will destroy the rebellion of man as represented by the idolatrous image of man and will shatter the 10 regions (toes) of the final rebellious kingdom represented by this idol. The chapter also reminds us that God still speaks and answers our attempts to understand Him. 
  • Chapter Three teaches us that God protects the faithful. God will walk with us through our tests of obedience to Him, and He will use our faithfulness so that others will come to believe.
  • Chapter Four reminds us that God will discipline and humble us for our own good. He will do whatever it takes to break down our resistance to Him and His ways; His discipline is a reflection of His love. How much better if we discipline ourselves in humility!

After these first four chapters, Daniel’s story is no longer told chronologically. 

  • Chapters 5 & 6: Years go by, and Daniel is forgotten until a supernatural hand appears writing an ominous warning on the wall. The king who showed contempt for the God of Israel is disposed overnight and a new king is established who raises Daniel to a position of great prominence. All the schemes of the wicked have no significant effect upon Daniel. 
  • Chapters 7 & 8: Revealed to Daniel around 553 BC, years before the events of chapters 5 & 6, we see how God was unfolding the rise of western civilization to Daniel. God is in control and the shifts of world powers do not surprise Him; it is all part of His plan.
  • Chapter 9: around the same time as the events of chapters 5 & 6 (539 BC) and about one year before the Babylonian Exile ends when the Temple is rebuilt, Daniel prayed in intercession for the Israel and is given a revelation of the seventy weeks of Israel’s redemption. These are non-contiguous weeks that extend well past the Babylonian Exile, beyond the Diaspora and into our future. These final seven years that have yet to occur are when all rebellion against God will be brought to an end. 
  • Chapters 10 – 12: the final revelation in Daniel is explicitly for the latter days (Daniel 10:14) was revealed to him around 556 BC, long before the revelations of chapters 7, 8 and 9. Twice Daniel is told that this revelation should be sealed up until the end (Daniel 12:4,9) because it is not for him to understand. It is intended for God’s people in the last days.

The Book of Daniel is not just a prediction for Israel but for all God’s people. All of Scripture tells the story of how God created man as a companion, but man rebelled against God’s rightful authority and rejected His love. God was not surprised and already had a plan to end the rebellion and woo His Beloved back to Him. That plan is a Person, Jesus, meaning “Yahweh Saves!”. Still, God’s salvation plan through Jesus was initially rejected by Israel just as Daniel predicted. And that prediction continues to describe a time that is coming when the rebellion of man will ultimately be squashed… Jesus will be enthroned and the Remnant who accept His authority will be remade as God always intended us to be!! God is gracious, patient and loving, but He is also just. In these last days, the Bride will be lifted up, but those who continue reject His rightful authority will be cast into eternal fire. 

The Book of Daniel is a comfort for those who trust the promises of Yahweh and His plan of salvation through Jesus, but it is a warning of coming judgement for those who remain obstinate in their rebellion against God and His ways. Jesus is coming soon in victory. God described the end from the beginning and His Word can be trusted! Stand strong, Beloved, and purify your hearts in preparation for His arrival. The rebellion of man shall be put down just as the rebellious believe they have won, and King Jesus will present it all to His Father. 

Be strong and courageous, people of God!

copyright ©2021 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com /)