This is post #3 of a series entitled Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace. We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here you’ll find very practical and biblically-sound advice on building bridges instead of walls, offering hope instead of despair. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click on the link below to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Truth #1: Peacemakers Understand the Times in Which We Live.
Today’s Lectio Divina: “Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know (The Son of Man) is at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; My words won’t wear out.” Matthew 24: 32-35 (MsgB)
Allow me to summarize what we’ve covered thus far.
Jesus of Nazareth states it very clearly (see Matthew 24: 3-12).
In the time prior to the second coming of Christ, confusion will be the order of the day. Lies and half-truths will flood the scene, coming even from men and women who represent God Himself. Hatred will traffic our planet and through it all, the worst thing that can ever happen to a human being will occur. Many, apparently, will allow their hearts to grow stone cold. Or as Eugene Peterson translates it:
Overwhelming spread of evil will do (us) in—nothing left of (our) love but a mound of ashes.
Now please, don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say. I don’t know if we are at the point of history Jesus is referring to here in Matthew’s gospel, but I am able to say with certainly that:
- Lies and half-truths are certainly on the increase, with social media being the primary platform where confusion can spread quickly and easily.
- There seems to be an increase in the number of men and women who say they represent God, yet are seducing many into ungodly beliefs and actions.
- Contempt for others is on the increase, and in too many cases, hatred is being preached while love and compassionate understanding are on the decline.
In other words, I don’t know if we are at the specific time just prior to the second coming of Christ, but I am aware of the growing epidemic of manifestations Jesus warned us about.
In today’s Lectio Divina, we find Jesus telling His disciples to get their heads out of the sand, stay alert, keeping their eyes and ears open for the ever-increasing signs of Christ’s return. Time and space simply won’t allow for us here to mention all the texts found within the four gospels where Jesus calls for such acute awareness.
So, in light of these stern warnings of Jesus, allow me to go back a bit in time and present to you a little awareness story hidden away in the Old Testament.
As you might know, Jesus of Nazareth has several names assigned to Him by the New Testament writers. One of the most common names assigned to the Master is the term: Son of David. As a matter of fact, there are fourteen times in the New Testament where Jesus is called such. Many, of course, believe that name is used because much of New Testament was written for Jewish readers. And it was those Jewish believers, living in 1st century Israel, who knew very well that Messiah, when He appeared, would come from the ancestral lineage of King David, a branch from the tribe of Judah.
You see, one of the primary expectations of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah was the return of Israel’s prominence as it was displayed when King David was on the throne. To a first century Jew, when Messiah appeared, everyone expected a full restoration of the glory days of Israel, when God was in charge, a righteous king (David) sat on the throne, all of Israel’s enemies were put to flight, injustice was banned, and shalom (peace) ruled and reigned over the people of God. In other words, most godly people living during Jesus’ day, were looking for a king to make Israel great again.
If you know the Old Testament story, you know that it was a long, hard process for Israel to come into its glory days. King Saul, Israel’s first appointed king, started off well, but quite honestly, made a sham of the whole deal, failing miserably in governing God’s people the way God had commanded. But as it always is with God, He never quits, so behind the scenes, God had chosen a new king, one who would do it the right way, following God and putting Him front and center, as God had commanded.
In 1st Chronicles, we find the whole story of transition from King Saul to King David. And in the 12th chapter, the writer of Chronicles gives us a list of men and their families who stepped into place, pro-actively involving themselves with David and all God was doing in setting up His time of great favor in and through Israel.
One tribe is mentioned in chapter 12, verse 32. The tribe of Issachar. And the text says two unique things about these men and their families. One sentence that speaks loudly through the centuries, calling us to a similar role as God continues to move throughout history.
Here’s the text:
From Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command. 1st Chronicles 12: 32 (NIV)
Two hundred men and their families who had nothing more, yet nothing less than:
- An awareness of the uniqueness of the time in which they lived, and…
- An awareness of what they should be doing in such a unique time.
Wow. Now, allow me to go back to Jesus’ words in today’s Lectio Divina:
Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know (The Son of Man) is at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; My words won’t wear out.
It seems to me that as we trek through these turbulent times, you and I just might want to be asking God for these same two ancient awareness gifts given the families of Issachar so many centuries ago.
- An awareness of the uniqueness of the time in which we live, and…
- An awareness of what we should be doing in such a unique time.
Lord, hear my prayer.
My Prayer: Jesus, I hear Your words. I heed Your warnings. If I keep my head in the sand, choosing to be deaf and dumb while You are working all around me, I risk losing the unique God-given opportunity of being aware. In ancient times, when God was doing a major work in and through His people, there were a handful of women and men who were given two amazing gifts of awareness. 1) Knowing the uniqueness of the times in which they lived, and 2) knowing what God was asking them to do during those times. Holy Spirit, I choose to operate in these same ancient gifts during these times of transition. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Questions to Ponder: Am I positioning myself, like the 200 families of Issachar, so that I’m growing in an awareness of the unique times in which we live? Am I seeking the leading of Jesus on what specific work I need to be doing during these turbulent times? What steps can I take today to better position myself to operate in these two ancient gifts of awareness?
So, how are you experiencing God’s presence as you are becoming a peacemaker for the cause of Christ?
Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace.
We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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