Monday, June 11, 2012

JUMPING THE GUN

I am at a point in my life and walk with my God where I know there is plenty of opportunity for me to be impatient.  There is a dream I have not seen come to fruition that I long to see materialize. I have had this dream since I was a Junior in High School (1987).  I am now 42 and have not seen it via anybody else in all these years, which is promising but makes me want to speed up the process a little.  Scripture says this is inadvisable.

The first Scripture passage that comes to my mind that warns about impatience is Genesis 16.  Sarai, Abram and Hagar form a love triangle that is reminiscent of some soap opera relationships I have seen.  God promises Abram countless descendants and his wife, Sarai, who has been barren for years on end suggests to Abram that he "have relations" ;) with her maidservant Hagar (maybe to speed up the process and help God along with His plan).  First, this plan did not come from God.  Secondly, this plan was not blessed by God even though it was agreed upon by Abram.  The consequence was "He [the child of this impatient plan] will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." (Genesis 16:12)  This son's name was Ishmael.  He was NOT the son of promise from God.  So, all of Ishmael's descendants cannot claim any right to anything.  Isaac WAS the son of promise that came from God.  It is through his descendants that God's blessings and promises flow. 

Can you imagine thinking God's promise of many descendants not being sufficient even in the face of barrenness?  That is what I feel Sarai experienced.  After all that had happened up to this point you would think Sarai would give God a chance.  Before Genesis 16 you have the Lord speaking to Abram in visions, encountering Melchizedek (a special High Priest), Abram uprooting his family and moving by the word and promises of God.  Then you have Abram who "believed the Lord, and He [God] credited it to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:6) - concerning the promise of a miracle child to start Abram's descendants.  But Sarai looked at her barrenness and did not believe in God's word, God's timing, or God's track record.  Sadly, "what have you done for me lately?" is how many of us, including me at times, treat God concerning our circumstances - past, present, and future.  I'm slowly getting the message that the dream that was instilled in me was God's in the beginning.  For me God's timing and the whole lesson of trusting in Him is a difficult one to keep re-learning.

However, here is another Biblical example that shows the power of God and our immediate need not to get ahead of ourselves and especially not ahead of God.

First, here is the excerpt to consider -

"When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. 4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?' 5 'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'I am he,' Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, 'Who is it you want?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' 8 'I told you that I am he,' Jesus answered. 'If you are looking for me, then let these men go.' 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me." 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, 'Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?'  Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus."  (John 18:1-12) 

This passage is packed full of "goodies".  To give the information to you in lightening round fashion..... Jesus displayed just a speck of His power on 300 to 600 soldiers ("detachment of soldiers" is Spira in Greek - meaning a group of 300-600) that accompanied Judas and the High Priest officials as they "drew back and fell to the ground" while attempting to arrest Jesus at the Mount of Olives.  Then Peter tried to seize the vulnerability of the moment and began to force things - literally.  He grabbed a sword and went after the representative of the High Priest (Malchus), which is where all their trouble had been coming from for years, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.  Peter missed the High Priest servant's head and cut off his ear.  According to the Greek word apokopto that was used here the "cutting" performed was one of removal not a little cut, slice or graze.  Luke 22:51 records Jesus healed the man shortly afterward - "But Jesus answered, 'No more of this!' And he touched the man's ear and healed him."  So, we see Jesus giving us a glimpse of His power, practices what He preaches about doing good to those who persecute you and heals the High Priest servant's ear, and does not allow Peter's distraction to move Him off mission. 

Besides the soldiers and officials being knocked down by the proclamation of who He was and is ("I am he." or "I Am.") there was another instance where Jesus simply told the Disciples of the potential firepower He had at His disposal should His Father will it.  "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.  Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (Matthew 26:52-54)  It is interesting to me that of all the "Almightiness" that Father God could give Jesus to combat His situation, Jesus spoke of angels that would be the instrument of choice and right after He gave a sneak peak at His power as The Logos or The Word of God!  


Mr. Rick Renner, in his book Sparkling Gems From the Greek, asks some pretty awesome questions about the servants of heaven.  "How much strength do you think one angel possesses?...What is a 'legion'?  How many angels would there be in twelve legions?  What would be the combined strength of this number of angels?" (p.228)


Answer time:
  1. One angel in Scripture was so strong that it killed 185,000 men in one night (Isaiah 37:36).
  2. The word "Legion" is a Roman military term meaning a grouping of soldiers numbering at least 6,000.
  3. 12 Legions x 6,000 angels per Legion = 72,000 angels
  4. Let's just talk one Legion  - "Since a single angel was able to obliterate 185,000 men in one night, it would mean the combined strength in a legion of 6,000 angels would be enough to destroy 1,110, 000,000 (that is, one billion, one hundred ten million men)" (p.229)
"Now let's multiply this same number 185,000 by twelve legions, or at least 72,000 angels, which was the number of angels Jesus said was available to Him on the night of His arrest.  When we do, we find that there was enough combined strength at Jesus' disposal to have annihilated at least 13,320,000,000 (that is, thirteen billion, three hundred twenty million men) - which is more than twice the number of people living on the earth right now!" (p.229)

However, Jesus did not use these angels He mentioned.  He stayed on the cross for me and for you.  He trusted in Father God and Father God's plan for His life.  Even though The Plan meant His own bodily death, Jesus knew it also meant life for all things.  Jesus paid the price, was raised, and now sits at the right hand of His Father awaiting the perfect time to come snatch true believers, the church, to the place which He has been preparing for some time now.  

I have to say, if I was there that night in The Garden when Jesus was arrested, I would have desired to do something during that period of time that Jesus took down 300-600 men with His word.  I might have run or joined in the fight if Peter acted quickly before I ran.  Either way, it does not paint a good picture of me.  In one scenario I am right there with Peter trying to force Jesus to the throne of Israel in Jerusalem by violence.  In the other case, I am abandoning Jesus.  I should just wait on Jesus and His instructions.  

Yes, I did use the "W" word (wait).  Patience is a virtue and it is a virtue that is developed while we wait.  I believe in God's Word.  I believe in God's timing, even though I may not agree with it (long-suffering).  I believe in God's awesome track record in my life.  But, even with all this belief God still may have a reason to say, "Wait." and I must trust Him.  If I want my strength to be renewed...  If I want to feel as though I am flying with eagle's wings...  If I want to run an endurance race (like this race of life we run) and not be weary...  If I want to walk and not faint...THEN I must Qawah - expect, patiently wait for, hope.  (Isaiah 40:31).  I must, I have to Trust in Him and His plan for my life.  I simply await further instruction and pray that my mind, body, and spirit is tuned to His voice.