GOD AT WORK IN HIS WORLD

The Lord has made known his salvation and revealed his righteousness to the nations …. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” Ps 98:3

Come and see what the LORD has done, The desolations he has brought on the earth; He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth” Ps. 46:8-9

A look back into history can be both stimulating and sobering. The two scripture texts above help us to look at history through God’s eyes and see what God has been doing in his world. The first text is hugely stimulating; the second is very, very sobering. We need to look at both to get a full picture. It is fascinating to apply these two texts to the 20th century, even if historically we are barely out of it. It was an exceedingly tumultuous century. There are important lessons to be learned from doing this as we travel further into the 21st century.

The good news, the stimulating news, is in the first text, “The Lord has made known his salvation and revealed his righteousness to the nations”. Nothing could be more accurate than this statement when we survey the last hundred years. Millions came to follow Jesus in those one hundred years. The text has proved to be remarkably prophetic, having been written at least 2,500 years ago. But the psalms have a marked prophetic strain running through them, and so we, in our generation, can see those words fulfilled in a way that the psalmist could never have imagined.

When the 20th century dawned great strides had already been taken in planting the evangelical gospel in many “patches” in the world. Salvation was reaching the nations. In particular, Africa had been penetrated to its centre, and also inland China. Thousands of people of many nations had become followers of Jesus. But with the 20th century there came a massive increase in “the making known of God’s salvation”. This was largely due to a succession of very powerful “revival” movements which completely transformed the picture of the Christian world. One of the earliest and long lasting and perhaps the most outstanding of these revivals was the Pentecostal revival which began in an inauspicious Azusa Street of Los Angeles in 1906. Marked in particular with speaking in tongues, but also characterised by healings and other gifts of the Spirit, it spread rapidly as a great many people from many parts of the world came to and from the meetings. The revival’s most spectacular advance was into the Hispanic areas of America (Mexico, the Caribbean Islands) and then into South America proper. In S. America there were some 2 million converts by 1940, there were 5 million by 1950, 10 million by 1960, 20 million by 1970 and 90 million by 2000, 30 million in Brazil alone. This revival spread all over the world, not least in Britain, and the Pentecostal missionary arm was very strong right from the start. By the end of the 20th century there were some 200 million denominational Pentecostals. In addition the Pentecostal revival had, in the latter part of the century, a huge impact in refreshing other mainline denominations, including the Roman Catholics church. By 1985 Catholic “Charismatics” numbered 7.5 million in 80 countries, and by 2000 there were 50 million.

20th Century China was also the scene of repeated revivals. There were revivals in 1908 in Manchuria under Jonathan Goforth, and in 1927 under Watchman nee and John Sung, but the great outpouring of the Spirit came in the latter half of the century after all foreign mission agencies had been ejected by the Communists in 1949-50. At that point the church numbered some 1.5 million. By the end of the century, as a consequence of a purely indigenous revival under heavy persecution, Christians numbered an estimated 50-70 million at least, very probably many more. Africa was also the scene of revival, particularly East Africa. At the beginning of the century there were some 14,000 Christian missionaries at work world-wide, but at the end of the century there were some 200,000 missionaries. Enormous strides were taken in the proclamation of the gospel; previously there had been no century that could remotely equal this 20th century advance; it was unique.

This is just a glimpse of “God revealing his righteousness to the nations” in the last one hundred years. (A fuller account can be found on the website under the Complete Pamphlet Index in pamphlet no. 47 “Signs of the Times – The Gentiles”.) It is very stimulating because one wonders just how much greater the revelation and the harvest could be in the present 21st century. There is a possible prospect of a time of reaping that might dwarf the last century. It could be the era in which the “fullness of the Gentiles is gathered in” Lk. 21:24 . This should hugely strengthen our faith in the prophetic word of promise of Jesus that “this gospel will be preached in all the world and then then end will come” Matt.24:14.

But what about the second text – “see what desolations he (the LORD) has brought on the earth”? This text is equally, and alarmingly, true of the 20th century. This is not such good news! The Lord has revealed his righteousness, but the Lord has also brought desolations.  In context  the “desolations” that the psalmist has in mind seem very clearly to be wars. Certainly the major area of “desolations” that strike me most forcefully in the 20th century is in the wars that have ravaged the world. We have been reminded in the last year or two on the anniversary of World War 1 of the utter desolations of the battlefields, the wanton and senseless killing and the deep desolations of grief in the homes of the millions killed. A Second World War of even greater magnitude saw greater desolations; again millions were killed in battle; millions of civilians were killed and lost homes. Western Russia was the scene of many massacres, genocide and physical destruction; Germany saw most of its large towns bombed beyond recognition; China was ravaged and devastated with gross cruelty by the Japanese and then by civil war; the Japanese themselves felt the force and horror of atomic bombs. Britain was financially devastated and lost its empire. Then, as this second world conflict came to a conclusion the ensuing stand-off between East and West saw a threatening “cold war” with a nuclear background. It was indeed a century of desolations.

The text brings us a challenge to “come and see” these desolations. We are to “look at them”, “and take note of them”. Interestingly enough the stories of war and battles are very popular; one of the biggest sections in any bookshop is always the section on military history and there is a constant flow of new titles – this has certainly been the case with World War 1. Growing numbers of people now visit the battlefields etc. But I often wonder whether we are just intrigued rather than sobered and concerned as to how and why all this happened? The bible interest certainly is not in weapons or tactics or strategy but in why wars happen and man’s responsibility.

The real challenge of this text, however, lies in the implication that this is God’s doing, “Come and see what the Lord has done”! On the face of it the truth seems to be rather that this scene of desolations is what man has done. It’s the consequence of humanity’s pride, greed, ambition and cruelty. Man is his own worst enemy! The letter to the Romans helps us to put these two viewpoints together: it tells us that men have turned their faces away from God to pursue their own violent, warlike lusts, and God has given them over to the consequences of their choice. Paul describes this “giving over” as a manifestation of the “wrath of God” (Romans 1 and 2). So humanity itself works out the judgement of God by its own actions. God judges the nations through man’s own folly. This is always the case so far as war is concerned. God allows it because men insist on it. And in this conflict of nations, so called “innocent nations” are generally not quite as innocent as they think they are.

What, then, of the 21st century so far? We have not had war on a global scale, but we have certainly seen war, and at this very moment things seem very threatening globally with the lust for power and the fear of being powerless being very much in the ascendance. Modern cyber strategies and other technological advances have now been added to the nuclear threat creating immensely horrific possibilities. And ambition, pride and greed among world leadership show no sign of diminution. The rejection of God and rejection of his call is everywhere. The judgements of God are still running and could escalate. The nations of the Middle East, in particular Syria and Iraq, have suffered enormous distress and desolations, with bitter and vicious fighting, and hundreds of thousands of refugees and homeless people. It has not been a good start.  AND YET even throughout the Middle East, indeed particularly in the Middle East the, Lord is making his salvation known in extraordinary manner with thousands of people turning to him as he works with his power and miracles.

It’s a time soberly to take heed of the judgments and pray for restraint (“He makes wars to cease“), and a time to see God’s world-wide plan at work and to praise and give thanks; a time for sober-mindedness and a time for thanksgiving and hope.

Bob Dunnett

N.B. To-day there is a new Bible Page on the subject of “The Beauty of Holiness”. Go to Home Page and click on “Bible Page

HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

At the very heart of the Christian faith is the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Whatever else we may believe about Jesus, if we have not grasped this truth in our hearts we do not have an authentic faith, indeed our faith is meaningless. Paul the Apostle made this point very clearly when he wrote to the Corinthian church: “if Christ has not been raised’ our preaching is useless and so is your faith”;if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:14, 17). For Paul all hope of sins forgiven and resurrection to glory is pinned on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, bodily and actually. Our faith can never be reduced to a moral code, no matter how crucially important it is for humanity to live by a moral law. It is much bigger than that. The resurrection speaks directly of the need of a new dynamic that makes genuine moral living possible, and provides that dynamic. It also speaks, on a much bigger canvas, of God’s ultimate purpose for humanity in a resurrection after death and in a redeemed new creation, human and natural.

What this means for us as Christians is that we need to have a grasp of this truth at the deepest level and not settle for an uncertain acquiescence in an inherited doctrinal formula. We need to walk increasingly in the reality of this truth and we must constantly wipe away anything that dulls a clear apprehension of it and robs us of the warmth, joy and hope that it releases in our spirit. There is nothing more releasing and heart-warming than a personal knowledge of eternal life to come (and thankfully, not in this world!)

It is good to know, however, that in grasping this truth we are not simply left to believe in the resurrection of Jesus as a matter of blind faith, as many people, Christians included, often suppose. The contrary is true. There are very definite ways in which we can know that Jesus is indeed alive and walking with us. We need to be aware of these different ways and learn to walk in the assurance that they bring. These ways are focused on what we can and should be experiencing of the risen Jesus in our lives now, and they are clearly demonstrated in the gospel stories of how Jesus revealed his resurrected presence to his disciples. They are not focused on any historical discussion of evidences for the resurrection. I have space to comment on only two of these ways on this blog, but in due course there will time I hope to comment on others.

On the afternoon of the resurrection two disciples were walking to the village of Emmaus. The crucifixion and the reported events around the tomb of Jesus earlier that day had left them completely bruised and perplexed. As they discussed these events Jesus drew near, and without revealing his identity entered into their conversation. He then proceeded to give them what was in effect a bible study, taking them through all the Old Testament scriptures which prophesied and explained the need of his death and resurrection. The length of the journey was limited, but the time spent on it was not; it was clearly a very exhaustive, engaging and profound study. When they had reached Emmaus they pressed him to stay for a meal and he agreed. His identity was still unknown to the disciples. At some point Jesus took bread and pointedly broke it before them. As he broke the bread they realised who he was, and he disappeared. Instantly they reversed their steps to Jerusalem to share with the apostles what had happened.

The interesting question here is why he kept his identity hidden from them until he had given them the bible study and broken the bread? It becomes more interesting in the light of the fact that later on the same evening he appeared to the apostles and followed an exactly opposite sequence. On that evening the apostles were together and actually listening to the two disciples sharing their experience on the Emmaus road when Jesus simply appeared in their midst. It was an immediate, direct, physical and recognisable appearance. For a moment they thought they were seeing some kind of spirit, but Jesus quickly showed them that he was indeed Jesus, raised from the dead. He let them touch and feel him, and actually ate food with them. Thus they came in the most direct and literal of ways face to face with the resurrected Jesus bodily. All the doubts and confusion that had accumulated during the day gave way to mingled joy and amazement. Having physically established his identity, Jesus then went on to turn their attention from his physical presence to the Scriptures. He showed them from Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms all the prophetic Scriptures that spoke of himself; his ministry, his death, his resurrection and his future intentions for all the nations.

It is not merely an interesting matter as to why he should have chosen to keep his identity concealed in the afternoon encounter, but a very instructive matter. After Jesus had disappeared so suddenly  at the supper and the two disciples were discussing between themselves what had happened to them on the journey to Emmaus, they agreed on one thing: “were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us”. “Burning” is a very expressive word! As they had listened to Jesus the revelation, relevance and truth of the Scriptures literally seemed to have been inwardly setting them on fire with new light and understanding; Jesus’ exposition was giving the disciples the answers they so desperately needed to hear and giving them so clearly and powerfully. In this they were learning a crucial lesson for the future; Jesus could make the scriptures relevant in the most astounding way. He could make truth that was buried, so to speak, become intensely alive. Jesus would eventually ascend into heaven and would no more be seen, but the scriptures would remain and his ability through his Spirit to make them “burn” would also remain. The lesson was that they needed now to look to the Scriptures and gain strength and wisdom through them and trust him to bring light to them through his Spirit. This was not something that would be given to everybody, but it would certainly be given to those who loved him and followed him.

Perhaps one of the greatest comforts that followers of Jesus have had through the centuries is that of reading the scriptures and finding that from time to time they do actually burn very deeply into the heart, especially at times when, like those two disciples, we are downcast, perplexed, distressed or in need of some wisdom. At all times the scriptures strengthen and illuminate, but there are special moments when, through the Holy Spirit, they have that extraordinary “Jesus touch”; they “burn”. When we experience these moments it is no human imagining at work but a divine reminder of a living Saviour who himself laid such extraordinary weight on the importance of Scripture speaking to us. He is still the living Jesus of the Emmaus road.

A further and complementary thought, however, to contemplate. Why did Jesus choose at Emmaus to reveal himself through the breaking of bread at a very simple homely meal? Why, on the first day of his resurrection, did he pick up so obviously on something that he had made the centre of his last supper meal with his disciples?  Amongst other things, he was obviously making it clear that they were not to forget what he had told them to do. He was investing the breaking of bread with great importance – he was making it a medium of revealing his presence. Perhaps we should seek to be rather more aware of that fact and look more for his “touch” as we “do this in remembrance of Him”. Jesus as healer has again and again made himself known in the breaking of bread.

The scriptures and the breaking of bread are pathways to experiencing a living Jesus. They need to be approached with expectation!

Bob Dunnett

 

“THERE WILL BE WARS AND RUMOURS OF WARS”

This blog comes to you in Holy Week. The title and subject hardly sounds appropriate! It looks much more like an everyday current newspaper heading. Perhaps a more devotional or religious topic would be preferable? On a closer look, however, it is really very much more appropriate than it might first seem. To begin with, these much quoted words came from the lips of Jesus and, furthermore, they were spoken right in the middle of Holy Week, only a day or so away from his crucifixion. How did that happen? Why at that time?

You may remember that last week’s blog on the subject of Palm Sunday revealed Jesus in awesome prophetic mode, riding on a donkey and deliberately fulfilling a prophecy of Zechariah concerning his messianic kingship, and then prophesying with tears the downfall of Jerusalem. That “prophetic cloak” rested on him throughout the week that followed. At one point during that week, as he was leaving the temple the disciples were speaking of the wonder of its construction.  Jesus abruptly told them that every stone of that temple would be “thrown down” Matt 24:2ff; he was re-iterating the Palm Sunday prophecy about the fate of Jerusalem.  The disciples wanted to know when that would happen, and more significantly what would be “the sign of his coming and the end of the age”, since to them the destruction of Jerusalem would equate with the end of the age. That was a serious question; when would this age end, when would Jesus show his full glory and the Kingdom of righteousness come? Jesus chose to give them a full and serious answer. He was glad to give them a vision beyond the cross.

He spoke first of the coming of false messiahs, famines, earthquakes and wars among nations. That would be the unhappy shape of life in the world in the future, but none of those things would be a sign of the “end”, or of his coming. As far as “wars among nations” is concerned many idealists and earnest peacemakers have tried to bring wars to an end, but have never succeeded. On the contrary the fact is that since Jesus spoke these words, every generation has seen war somewhere in the world. The 20th century attempts to prevent war in the shape of the League of Nations and the United Nations, grandiose and far reaching as they are, have not succeeded. World leaders have always made treaties, and always broken them. I am writing in Holy week and even as I write an American strike on Syria has just heightened tensions in a war-torn Middle East, whilst at the same time a task force is on its way in the Pacific toward North Korea, and this  is not to mention the terrorist strikes in Sweden and Egypt this same week. The current “rumours” are very serious. Such is the way of a sinful world where there is always more than a few self-seeking, power-seeking, ambitious and unprincipled leaders at the head of the nations.  Jesus’ comment about wars was, “these things must happen but see to it that you are not alarmed”. That is a call to trust and to pray, a call to patience. No wonder Paul instructed Timothy with these words: “I urge, then, first of all that petitions prayers, intercessions be made …. for kings and all those in authority, that we might live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” 1 Tim. 2:1. Only the restraint of God can bring about some sort of peace.

The bombing of two Egyptian churches on Palm Sunday not only points to wars involving terror, but also to another aspect of Jesus’ reply to his disciples about what was to come. He underlined very clearly the persecution to which Christians would be subjected: “You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated of all nations because of me” Matt. 24:9. In a few short and very recent years many tens of thousands of Christians in the Middle East have been dispossessed of their homes, and many have lost their lives, simply because they are Christians. There has been much suffering. One thing is certain; it is not inappropriate to Easter to dwell on Jesus’ words concerning the persecution of his church. Quite the contrary: His sufferings and death were unique, but the church’s trials nonetheless reflect his sufferings to a degree. An article in a leading newspaper today in Holy week has made a plea for the world and its leaders to recognise how much Christians are being persecuted world-wide, and not to continue to ignore it. It is unfortunately a matter much glossed over.

But none of these future things Jesus had mentioned would be a “sign of the end”! They “would only be the beginning of trials“. However, in sharp contrast Jesus did clearly speak of a sign that would indeed herald “the end”. He said, “This gospel will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”. Matt. 24:14. The end would not come until a world-wide spiritual harvest had been gathered. In saying this, Jesus was putting a focus on the real work that lay ahead of the disciples; they were being challenged with the task of speaking out the good news right across the world. Until that happened the end would not come, but when it had happened the end would come, he would return. It was something to really watch for. This, of course, was an audacious prophecy by Jesus. He had a small following, he was due to be crucified and would leave a hapless, fearful, band. It seemed utterly absurd. Yet here we are this week celebrating Easter along with millions of Christians world-wide. What a vindication of Jesus’ prophetic ministry! What a matter of thanksgiving! We are watching a sign being fulfilled. Perhaps we are “at the beginning of the end”? We should not forget at any rate that it is our work of “mission” that will bring about the end! We are involved.

Finally, Jesus told the disciples that at the coming destruction of Jerusalem the Jews would be dispersed throughout the whole world. (Lk. 21:24). An astounding prediction, and remarkably fulfilled! It is important for Christians to know and understand the history of the Jewish people; it has many lessons to teach. It is very appropriate, as is the custom of some Christians, to pray particularly for Jewish people at Easter. But he spoke of a hope for those people when he said the “trampling down of Jerusalem by gentiles would come to an end when the harvest of the gentiles had been fully gathered in” – an enigmatic comment but full of meaning and well worth contemplating in our age!

Have a very happy and thoughtful Easter.

Bob

P.S. If you want to pursue further the themes above please go to pamphlets 46 and 47

To-day there is a new Bible Page (“The Love of God in the Death of Christ”) Go to Home Page and click on Bible Page

JOY and TEARS – The Approach to Easter

What a wonderful time Easter is! Spring lambs, longer days, first buds, and here in the South West masses of incredibly colourful daffodils. But, of course, the real glory is undoubtedly in the Easter story: a panorama of the most momentous events in the life of Jesus. It’s a prime time for meditation and reflection. So I thought for this blog I would reflect on the beginning of that Easter story. This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, bringing us the first act of that great Easter drama and a particular relevance to the main theme of this web-site. As Luke records, it has two distinct phases or pictures; the first involves much rejoicing, the second involves profound tears. Generally we tend to speak of the first (and why not!) but neglect the second. It is important, however, to look at both.

Jesus began the Palm Sunday proceedings in what was a truly dramatic manner. He took the colt of a donkey, sat on it and proceeded to ride into Jerusalem. In so doing he was making a clear and open prophetic statement; he was Israel’s king and Messiah, and he was fulfilling the word of Zechariah, “See your king comes to you … lowly and riding on a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). He was surrounded by a crowd of disciples. What followed during that ride was an intolerable affront to the religious establishment, but a matter of great joy to his disciples. Both parties, it would appear were much aware of the implications of what Jesus was doing.

The crowd of disciples added something important to the fulfilment of the word of Zechariah, for that word included the call to “Rejoice greatly”. The crowd was a very large crowd, so Matthew tells us, and it was immensely exuberant and did indeed rejoice greatly! They people threw their coats on the road before the donkey, they spread palm branches on the road and they were shouting out aloud with great affirmations of their king Messiah, “Hosanna to the Son of David”. Like King David of old, they may well have danced and leapt!  It was enough to cause a great stir in the city, with people wanting to know who this person on the donkey was. On reflection this huge, unprecedented burst of praise seems clearly to have been something more than a purely human response; the jubilation has all the hallmarks of the presence of the Spirit of God on it. God was there in that great crowd adding his witness to his Son.

Luke tells us what was at the heart of their rejoicing, “They began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen” (Lk 19:37). Most of them were probably from Galilee where Jesus had done most of his miracles. They were “disciples” who had come to believe on Jesus and follow him (they were not the crowd which bellowed later in the week for Jesus’ death!). They had felt the healing touch of Jesus in many different ways, and had found new life, joy and forgiveness in following him. The Messiah they had longed for had come, and they had found him to be a man of the people, a man of righteousness, and a man of compassion, tenderness and love. Doubtless they would be sharing and strengthening each other with their experiences of Jesus, what they had seen him do and what he had done for them individually. What a wonderful pointer this occasion was to the nature of the church that Jesus would later establish; it was an embryonic glimpse of the joy, grace and peace Jesus would bring to those who would follow him in the generations to follow. It would have been a wonderful experience to have been part of it.

At that point we tend to stop the story, but Luke does not. He goes on to record that in the midst of all this acclamation and rejoicing Jesus began to weep as he approached the city. The tears were not tears of joy, but of profound sadness. Perhaps we stop at that point because the tears seem to get in the way of the upbeat rejoicing. We want to stay with the rejoicing, to go on with our acclamations of His glorious grace and kingship. Maybe Jesus felt the same! Why should he bring a sad note into such happy positive occasion? Why spoil the party with anything sombre, especially the sort of sombre warning that was to accompany the tears? Why not go straight on with the unsullied witness of that great praise march?

Well, we have to ask why the tears. Jesus was to die on a cross within days, but he was not crying on that account. The tears started to flow as he rode down from the Mount of Olives and saw Jerusalem spread out before him. The tears were for the city and what he knew was going to happen to it. The Messiah King, most likely stopping the donkey at this point, suddenly spoke prophetically over the city, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Lk. 19:42-44. This was a devastating, unrelenting prophecy of judgement, seemingly at a most inappropriate moment, in the middle of a praise meeting,! I wonder what those nearby who heard it made of it? It was not something they would want to hear (no one likes to hear of judgement!), and the message seemed no doubt utterly bizarre, even outrageous; the destruction of Jerusalem? Impossible! Even if it were true, who would want to hear it at that point of triumphal witness to the city? Without question, however, it was a moment of revelation and prompting of the Holy Spirit. In the natural Jesus knew that already the religious leaders were planning his death, and he knew they would succeed. The city would reject his witness. In the Spirit he knew that a judgement was decreed. His tears were for what that would mean for the people of Jerusalem. He was crying for them in their blindness, crying for what they were to bring on themselves.

So we have a devastating word of judgement accompanied by tears from the Messiah who is the Prince of peace and the King of love! What a seemingly impossible combination and contradiction. The tears were, of course, genuine. The pain and heart break were deeply felt; the sadness was evident. The love he has for the people, even the people who were to reject him, was revealed very clearly in those tears even whilst he prophesied. His heart longed for their peace, and he wanted desperately to give it to them. There is not the slightest hint of any cheap vengeance here for what the people of the city would do to him. He is not eager to give them their “just deserts”. He is not thirsting for vengeance, In fact the last thing he wanted was to see judgement come. There is no hardness in his eyes, no brutality in his heart to those who will ill treat him. He weeps in distress for them, for the choice they have made and for what it will inevitably bring upon them.

Jesus reflects perfectly here the heart of his Father. God is a God of love, desperately concerned in his love to bring peace to people, even to the point of giving over Jesus to die for them in order to bring them into fellowship with him. God weeps over those who reject him, for in their rejection of him they put themselves outside of his protection and grace. Indeed the proclamation of judgement is itself designed to challenge them to repentance and to adopt the way to peace; it is not a condemnation without hope! It is with that in mind that Jesus later in the week more than once faced the Scribes and Pharisees with parables of judgement simply to show them the way of blessing.

The rejection of God in general and his purpose in Jesus in particular constitutes the greatest damage humanity can inflict on itself: it is the way to lose everything that makes life worth living. The acceptance of the living God and Jesus constitutes and releases the greatest blessing humanity we can have, a blessing that extends beyond this life. God longs to save, but people must choose. When a nation increasingly rejects God there can be only one outcome, and ours, amongst others, is moving fast in that direction.

At a personal level, I really have no desire to “spoil the party”. I have known and been blessed by the Spirit of praise and rejoicing for nearly sixty years. It’s a wonderful place to be in. I dwell in it and constantly seek to encourage others into it. But the Spirit has other promptings I’m afraid, and they must be spoken, and listened to, especially, perhaps when they are warnings.

Bob

WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO DO?

I have frequently noticed that whenever a strong message of national judgement has gone out Christians are left puzzled about what they can or should do in response. They may well agree with the diagnosis of the national situation and even with the truth of coming judgement, but then feel quite helpless because there is very little they feel they can do to stand against the powerful forces which are driving society downwards. How do you puncture the media’s vested interest in blatant sex and violence? It’s too big! How do you make a move against kleptocracy, those that steal their countries resources for their own personal ends? It’s too remote! How do you combat the growing levels of corruption in all walks of life? etc. These are great swirling tides that overwhelm us and leave us feeling helpless and demoralised. So, the question that is uppermost is, “What do you want us to do?” It is the same question that was asked of John the Baptist in response to his preaching. Read more

A RECAP ON NATIONAL JUDGEMENT

It was in the year 2000, after some years studying the Jewish prophets, that I first felt I must speak a message of a severe impending national judgement. I called it “The Amos Word”. Let me explain this “Amos word”. Prior to one of the worst national catastrophes that the Jews have ever suffered, namely the destruction in 722 BC of the historical Kingdom of Israel and its capital Samaria, God had given a word of warning to Israel that such a blow would fall. That word came through Amos, and was epitomised in a simple but remorseless and repeated pronouncement, “I will spare them no longer”. The sins calling for this destructive judgement were outlined by Amos, and his prophetic contemporaries. Reading through them I  realised they were strikingly and precisely the sins which were being so blatantly and increasingly practised in our own nation and throughout the western world. At that point I became profoundly impressed that the “Amos Word”, “I will spare them no longer”, was God’s word for our own generation. We, too, were facing a devastating cataclysm**; we would not be spared. So I spoke about this and eventually wrote a pamphlet explaining more fully this “Amos Word” and its relevance to our own times, and gave it the title Living in AmosTimes.

However, it is now 2017; things appear to be very much the same, so people might happily conclude that the message was all a big mistake and just the consequence of a personal pessimistic moment that had no real substance. Certainly not many people were inclined to take note of such a message in those early days or give it more than a passing thought. It was actually difficult to find an audience! Over the years I have been left with it to ponder over and wrestle with. Perhaps by now I should be sensible and consider it as something dead and buried!

Yes, perhaps I should – except, however, for one crucial thing, and this one thing also sprang out of Amos’ own experience. It was the startling fact was that the word of judgement which Amos first preached about 750 BC was not fulfilled until some twenty five years later, in 722 BC, when the whole land of Israel was completely devastated and the nation was taken into captivity by the Assyrians, a disaster of unbelievable proportions. In other words, fulfilment only came twenty five years after the prophetic word was first spoken!

Happily, (or unhappily!), when I first spoke out this “Amos word” in 2000 I had already become aware of this time gap between word and fulfilment. In fact I wrote a pamphlet about those long years of delay and gave it the title “Countdown to Chaos”. In it I made some analysis of what was happening in those years; I felt it could be very illuminating. They were marked by a continuous increase in the very things that Amos had been warning Israel about – the gross moral decline in the nation, its increasing rejection of its traditional Jehovah religion with its strong ethical base, its love of money, its unjust accumulation of huge wealth by a few at the expense of the poor, and its ever increasing craving for drink, pleasure and high living. All these things were getting worse. These 25 years were also years characterized by a collapse of principled and wise political government. In other words instead of heeding any word of warning about the nation’s behaviour, the nation was blindly and persistently getting worse. The nation was in fact getting riper and riper for judgement. I knew that such a delay would be part of the process we were involved in.

It is important to note, therefore, that a long time delay does not mean that a prophetic word is wrong. In the case of Amos it simply meant that God was slowly setting the stage for the judgment which had been prophesied. Had the nation repented in those “25 years of grace” rather than just going on as usual, God might have mitigated the judgement (as with Jonah and Nineveh). But instead of repenting, there was hardening. So the stage was set for the eventual emergence of a very aggressive, powerful Assyria which would which would be the instrument of judgement, destruction and exile.

So, No! I do not consider the message of 17 years ago as void. On the contrary I see that everything that happened in Israel after Amos’ prophesying has been happening in our own country (and in the West generally!). We have been in a “Countdown to Chaos” of our own. Ten years after 9/11 I wrote a pamphlet entitled “The Contemporary Countdown to Chaos” in which I tried to make some assessment of what had been happening to our society over those ten years. Five features stood out: futile foreign ventures (Iraq etc.), financial crash (the fiasco of 2008), growing corruption and conflict in high places, fast moving moral degradation (especially sexually) and a growing exclusion of God (the Judeo-Christian framework collapsing). The last six years since then have seen a marked further downward trend in all those areas.

So, 17 years on, I feel a very strong need to revisit a message which I feel is ominously on course for fulfilment. I want to consider its implications in the weeks and months ahead.

I understand that there may be people reading this who struggle to make the personal direct application of Amos to our own times that I have made. For those I would simply say that the study of the Old Testament prophets for themselves will none the less be an eye opener on a panorama of how God deals with nations. He is the God of the nations and has dealings with them. The large section of the Old Testament  which is given over to the prophets is very important in our global age. Study them and let God speak through them.

Next week, in addition to the blog, the first of a two weekly Bible Page will be published on the site. It will be on the subject of “The Fear of the Lord”. Next week’s blog will explain.

Bob Dunnett

** I use the word “cataclysm” carefully and advisedly. I would use this word for such events as the wholesale slaughter of men in the trenches of W.W.1, the utter destruction of German cities and populations in W.W.2, along with the devastations perpetrated on Russia, and the appalling devastations in China following the Japanese invasion in the 1930s. Large and widespread natural disasters could also be called cataclysmic.

N.B. All the titles in bold print are pamphlets which can be read, listened to or downloaded from the website

HELLO AGAIN!

It is now some three to four years since I last published a blog, though one or two old blogs have been republished in that time. So “Hello, again!” to any of you who used to follow the blog, and “Hello!” also to any new friends who have tuned in. My intention is to pick up again on the blogging, and hopefully to make it weekly, published on Wednesday.

Why the long break? One of the main reasons is that for those years I have had the privilege of helping with a church which has been working with Middle Eastern asylum seekers and witnessing a genuine touch of revival. It has been hard work and demanding but so very uplifting to see what God has been doing for these people right here in our own country. So many of these refugees have come to the Lord in amazing and miraculous fashion from quite devastating backgrounds and experiences. This has also brought home very vividly what God is doing by his Spirit in that devastated and war torn part of the world. It is God’s time of reaping in that very historic and absolutely strategic part of the world. What a privilege!

It was as though, during these years, God took me away from the prophetic burden of national judgement which had been on me for several years previously and which had produced all the pamphlet writing about judgement, and took me back to my fundamental ministry of many years which was to seek for and envision the church for revival. I first touched revival in Korea in the 1990s and now for these past few years I have touched it (though not on the grand scale -yet!) where I have always wanted to see it – in our own country. And I have also learned a lot which I hope I may in due course pass on.

But now in His providence I find myself re-settled in Cornwall and by “quiet waters”. After several months there, however, I am finding a growing compulsion and burden to reactivate the warnings of judgement and the web-site. I seem hemmed in to doing this. I really should not be surprised by this when I consider how much further moral chaos, nationally and internationally, there has been over these last four years. They have been years where the rejection of God has deepened very considerably indeed – and that can only reap one reward. God is very much concerned to warn!

The word of Judgement has not died; I believe it needs to be sounded again at this time.

However, I have always strongly held to the view that to talk of judgement is in no way to discount or eliminate the vision for revival by the Holy Spirit. On the contrary history clearly demonstrates that God has again and again broken out with revival in the midst of judgements or as a consequence of judgements. Literally thousands of people are finding out the truth of that at this very moment. So I am also concerned to bring the understanding and vision of revival much more into the focus of these blogs.

One last word. Alongside the blog I hope to bring in a new “Bible Page” which builds up biblical understanding on issues that the blog deals with. The first of these will appear two weeks from now.

Bob Dunnett

 

The Resurrection of Jesus

This was first posted in April 2012.

Personal Testimony

I hope you won’t mind if I share a personal testimony with you on this occasion.

I began the Easter period this year with a prayer that I might have a deeper grasp of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. In the prevailing sceptical climate I felt the need for it. It has always seemed to me that a warm, fresh, revelatory (rather than mental) grasp of that great truth is a paramount need of Christians. After all, it was the grasp of that reality that brought back life and joy to the disciples after Good Friday and gave them their new strength and momentum. It was the resurrected Jesus was the starting point for their preaching and witness.

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The One Person

This post was first written in 2012 but is as relevant now as it has always been!

“At the moment I am taking a bit of a break from “engaging” with the world in which we are living, so that though all sorts of things (important things) are happening in the world I am not making comments in that direction. I am offering you instead a few lines from one of my notebooks …….

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Eternity

Looking Up

One of the saddest aspects of city life is that we rarely think to look up at the sky. For one thing the city is always well lit up at night and we have no need of stars or moon. Indeed the cities of earth are all more visible from space than space is from them! We miss an awful lot, both by day and especially by night. Moreover the city is very busy; it’s the place of pavements, roads, buildings, noise, movement, speed and the place where a thousand and one things clamour for our attention. Our focus is below, not above; the sky is obliterated.

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