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Half Mast

My office overlooks a post office and the flag.  I see old glory waving each day.  Noticed over the last few years how often the colors are posted at half staff.

Nationally there have been many Presidential half staff order over the last few months.
  • Brussels
  • Nancy Reagan
  • Antonin Scalia
  • San Bernardino
  • Paris
  • Chattanooga
Of course state governors also have their own proclamations and there have been many across the country.

Lately it seems the flag is down more than it is up.  Larger symbolism at work I'm sure.

Mostly this passion week makes me think of the flag.  

The triumphal entry.  Christ riding on the foal of a donkey.  The KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS riding in the Eastern, Golden, Beautiful gate to present Himself as the perfect spotless sacrificial lamb.  The crowds are waving palm branches.  Stupid move.

The Israeli flag of the day - a palm branch.  I guess there was no Betsy Ross back then.

The high holy days, such as Passover, were always full of pilgrims.  Jerusalem's population swelled and so did the Roman military presence.  The Roman military garrison at Jerusalem - Fortress Antonia (named for Mark Antony) was brimming with reinforcements.

The Jews hated their occupiers and their national fervor, patriotism, sense of unity & strength were always high.

Rome was prepared for any insurrection and these were consistently addressed with swift aggression.

A palm branch was the flag of national pride.  

No wonder one of the motivations of the religious leaders caused them to urge Jesus to quiet the crowds, lest Rome's furry be released (as though it was up to them to hold the Jewish system together).  Jesus replied - if these people are quiet, even the stones will cry out.  (all of creation everywhere, every thought, every being - is made to bring Him praise - it is the only right response to the unspeakable unimaginable gift of grace)

Jesus' solemn ride should have evoked great brokenness over sin and reminded everyone of another flag - the fig leaf.  The symbol of a flag we all carry.  One of covering, hiding and inadequacy to address the sin of rebellion against the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.

Interesting, in Matthew 21, just a few verses after the palm leafs and shouts of Hosanna, Jesus condemns the fig tree with many leaves (much sin), but no fruit.

The right response to the polar dilemma of our vile sin and HIS altogether otherness and HOLINESS, should be fig leaves - shame over sin.  Not pride.

The book The Harbinger comes to mind and the verse in Isaiah 9:10 comes to mind (essentially God has brought/allowed judgement and without repentance we shout of rebellion, independence, patriotic pride and self-sufficiency).  This world's rejection of God as the author and finisher of all that is. God's earnest plea for repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and the insanity of the widespread hope in a political solution (have we not learned by now - that there is no hope in D.C.).

Also thinking about the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 - Jesus' statements on the Mt. of Olives, concerning the last days), where He declares that - when we see the fig leaf blossom, then time is up.

We at Unsealed, believe that this is a reference to the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948.  I think it is also a reference to the time when Israel will have brokenness over sin.  Instead of waiving the Israeli flag, they will present their fig leafs.

The right response to our sin and His grace, is praise and the fruit of discipleship.

Let us not simply be those who are covered in sin and fig leafs.  Let us not be those who are driven by discussion and hunger for another Tower of Babel political solution, but who hunger and thirst to share the hope we have with a world gone mad (I have much ground to take in this arena).

So much political animation is simply this: I would like life better, if things went my way.  I hear much emotion, anger and passion in this regard.  Very very rarely does a fellow disciple come to me with brokenness over sin and brokenness over those they are pouring into in their steadfast attempts to point people to the cross, before it's too late.

Many of us watch for a way out and every sign that our redemption is drawing near - but there is no fruit.  We long for the dessert of prophetic signs and wonders, but are not ruling until He comes. (I'm all for noticing the signs - Hebrews 10:25, John 3:10, Matthew 16:2-3, Matthew 24), but this is not the mission.

Many of us know there's a God in their head (James 2:19 - even the demons believe), but are unchanged, unmoved, unregenerate, unbroken and unfruitful.

Let us not simply be hearers of the word, but doers.

Let us move into the deep waters of abiding in Christ and the tension between the overwhelming knowledge of our sin and the thought of VERY GOD OF VERY GOD, ANCIENT OF DAYS - beaten, impaled, lacerated, scourged and crucified on a cross.  The tension should pull us apart and drive us to our knees, drive us to our communities, drive us into the word and drive us to deep sustained abiding prayer.




P.S. -

(lately the thought that I will stand before Him has become overwhelming.  I long for the signs of our escape, yet I have in only limited ways contemplated the translation deeply.  When I do the thought of standing before His holiness causes me to almost shake apart.  Who can stand in His presence?  Then I remember my faith in His sufficient work at the cross, sin and darkness flee and joy abounds).

C.S. Lewis - The Weight of Glory

In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised. I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us. It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God ... to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness ... to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.

Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Books, 1988), 147.

Dorothy Sayers has said that God underwent three great humiliations in his efforts to rescue the human race. The first was the Incarnation, when he took on the confines of a physical body. The second was the Cross, when he suffered the ignominy of public execution. The third humiliation, Sayers suggested, is the church. In an awesome act of self-denial, God entrusted his reputation to ordinary people. 

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1 comment:

  1. Well said, Dad. Powerful and sobering thoughts this Easter.



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