Two pictures combined in one, the reconciliation of heaven and earth.
I thought the gospel was good news. The son of man receiving kingship, backed by angels rather than military forces: isn’t that time for dancing in the streets, celebrating the end of oppression?
Why did Jesus describe the people of earth as mourning? Are they unhappy he’s in charge?
Matthew 24:30-31 (my translation, compare NIV)
30 Then will shine the sign of the son of man in heaven. Then all the tribes of the land will mourn and will see the son of man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and much grandeur. 31 He will commission his angels with a great trumpet, and they will gather his chosen from the four winds, from one side of the heavens to the other side.
Truth is, we can’t enter a great future without dealing with the pain of the past. Reconciling means facing each other. It starts with facing him: the son of man, the heaven-appointed leader who draws us together in himself.
Jesus composed this word picture by combining two images from Israel’s story. From heaven’s side, authority is taken from the beasts and given to the son of man (Daniel 7). From earth’s side, the people weep as they realize how they’ve treated God (Zechariah 12). Combine the two pictures, and you have the perfect description of Jesus’ ministry: reconciling heaven and earth.
The mourning tribes in Zechariah
Continue reading “Why are the people of earth mourning? (Matthew 24:30-31)”
Our survey of the apostle’s gospel in Acts summarized the good news like this: God has installed his anointed (Christ) as our leader (Lord) by raising him from the dead (resurrection), so the earth is under his governance (the kingdom of God).
What response does God expect to this good news?
God expects our allegiance to his Christ, reorienting our lives as the community that implements his leadership. This kingdom perspective provides a rich understanding of the terms that describe our response, words like faith and repentance. Continue reading “Responding to the good news”
Ever been robbed? You come home to a broken window and the realization that someone has been in your space. They’ve taken your stuff — some of it irreplaceable, like that ring that belonged to your Mum.
The thief doesn’t care about you, or your Mum, or how your children will sleep after the intrusion. For the thief, you’re not human; you’re just your stuff. Continue reading “Thieves vs philanthropists (Ephesians 4:28)”
Yesterday, a routine flight from London (UK) to Dusseldorf (Germany) landed without incident, until the passengers heard the pilot’s voice, “Welcome to Edinburgh.” Scotland?
Yep. They’d landed in the wrong country.
Continue reading “Heading the right way?”
If the gospel isn’t a message about personal guilt, why did Jesus commission his followers to announce “repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name?”
My friend Tim Healy has responded with a great question. We’ve been emphasizing that the gospel of the kingdom is good news of the restoration of God’s kingship, liberation of the earth through his anointed ruler (Christ, our Lord). Over the last 2000 years, the Western church has veered towards a message about individual guilt. We need to recover the blazingly good news Jesus announced and enacted.
Here’s Tim’s question:
Continue reading “Forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47)”
To become a king in the ancient world, you needed a prophet to declare that God had chosen you.
Open Matthew 3:7-12.
Politics and religion were so intertwined in the ancient world that if you wanted to become king (other than by birth), you needed a prophet to announce that you were God’s chosen leader. Samuel was the king-maker for Saul and David (1 Samuel 10:1; 16:13). Nathan anointed Solomon (1 Kings 1:34). There’s an awkward moment when Jeroboam takes most of the realm from Solomon, but it could not have happened unless YHWH decreed it, so Jeroboam had his prophet (1 Kings 11:29-40). Nehemiah’s enemies accused him of sedition, claiming he had lined up prophets to proclaim him king (Nehemiah 6:7). So if Jesus is to be the king of the Jews, he needs a prophet to announce him. Continue reading “A king announced by a prophet (Matthew 3:7-12)”
What turns someone around? A revelation of who God is.
Jacob’s alone. In the dark. Fleeing with nothing. With no one. His greed destroyed his family. He hopes Esau doesn’t find him.
None of this changes the sovereign’s plans. The God who promised land and descendants and blessing to his father and grandfather reveals himself to Jacob. Yes, Jacob goes into exile for his sins, but he does not go alone: Continue reading “Jacob’s new direction (Genesis 28:18-22)”