Prophecy 107 (Retribution)
Prophecy 106 (I Know What You Did Last Friday)
“He is risen!” But is that good news? How did that sound to Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate?
There is a legend that Pilate’s ghost still nervously washes its hands every Good Friday.
Why are you nervous... just in general?
Jesus said, “I am the truth.”
What if every time you deny truth, you deny Jesus?
And every time you betray truth, you betray Jesus?
Jesus said, “I am the life.”
Have you ever taken a life? What about your own life?
If he really is “the life,” then there is only “one life,” and it is not yours.
Jesus said, “God alone is Good.” And John said, “God is Love.”
Have you ever violated Love and realized that you were bad . . . that is, evil?
Even as a child I did things that made me feel like I had crucified the Good, that something in me had died, and that the Truth was calling my name. I once stumbled upon a mountain lion. I could hear it breathing. And I ran! It’s the closest I’ve ever come to being stalked by a lion. Shame is like being hunted by a lion.
David wrote, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.”
What if the lion is the Truth, the Life, and the Good in everyone you meet?
What if you have violated him, taken his life, crucified the Good, and made everything die... and now, “He is risen!”
In John 19, John tells us that these things “took place” that “Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced.’’”
It reminds me of an old movie, titled “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” The tagline on the movie poster read: “If you’re going to bury the truth, make sure it stays buried.” Well, that’s why I titled this week’s Easter message, “I Know What You Did Last Friday.”
In John 19, John is quoting Zechariah 12: “On that day... I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”
Who is “they,” and when is “that day?”
“They” obviously isn’t just a couple of Roman soldiers. All the debate about who killed Jesus is insanely stupid. “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” It wasn’t Romans, Jews, or nails that held Jesus to the tree; it was you. It was his love for you—for all of us. The Lord arranged for us to kill him... that we might all might look on him whom we have pierced.
“They” is us, but when is “that day”?
The phrase “on that day” appears 18 times in Zechariah 9 through 14, and what the Lord through Zechariah says will happen “on that day” (which can also be translated “at that day”) is utterly astounding—particularly when one realizes that John and Jesus speak as if “that day” happened last Friday: Good Friday.
Zechariah 9 through 13 read like a description of Holy Week on steroids, combined with Pentecost, the destruction of Jerusalem, the spread of the Gospel, and the inner workings of the human heart as it is conquered by Love. “On that day... when they look on me, on him, whom they have pierced... On that day, a fountain will be opened.” It must be a fountain of tears and blood, and the life is in the blood.
Zechariah 14 begins, “A day is coming,” but then reverts to “On (or at) that day.”
“On that day, there shall be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night.”
“On that day, the Lord will be one and his name one.”
“On that day,” a plague will “rot the flesh” of all who do not celebrate the feast of ingathering.”
“On that day,” everything in this “New Jerusalem” will be holy.
And, “On that day, there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord.”
How could one day be “that day,” and how could it be like the worst da
Prophecy 105 (Mess With the Word and the Word Will Mess With You)
Jeroboam, king of the northern kingdom of Israel (also called “Samaria”), didn’t want his people journeying to the southern kingdom of Judah to worship according to the Word of the Lord. So, King Jeroboam made two golden calves and said to his people, “Behold your gods.”
He messed with the Word of the Lord, in order to create a religion more conducive to his political ambitions. That makes some sense. But, if you are going to make idols, why would you make calves rather than something cool, like a lion? I suppose calves are useful to Bronze Age farmers... and calves are safe; lions are unsafe.
Respectable civic religion is by far the most dangerous type of idol—which is thoroughly ironic, for it seems so safe. Yet we know it wasn’t sex-crazed pagans who crucified Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah; it was the respectable religious leaders of Judah—the Jews.
“We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah... and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies,” wrote Dorothy Sayers.
As a pastor I know that there are portions of the Word of God, recorded in Scripture, yet best not mentioned in church if I want the institution to flourish—Scripture verses on divorce, the dangers of wealth, or duty to immigrants, but most of all, Grace. Grace is the lion’s claw that cuts most deeply into human flesh, for it reveals that I am no better than my neighbor.
Jeroboam messed with the Word of God, and the Word of God messed with Jeroboam. Mess with the Word of the Lord, and the Word of the Lord will mess with you.
A “man of God” from Judah prophesied the destruction of Jeroboam’s altar, and when Jeroboam resisted the Word, the Word withered his arm. And when he relented, the Word of God, from the man of God, healed his arm.
The Word is Jesus. And Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. In the Chronicles of Narnia, he is depicted as Aslan the Lion. “Who said anything about safe?” declared Mr. Beaver to the astonished children.“Of course he isn’t safe. But he is good.”
In 1 Kings 13, the man of God refuses to eat with King Jeroboam, for the Word had forbidden him to eat with anyone in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Yet on the way back to Judah, an “old prophet” —a lying prophet, part of the religious establishment—finds the man of God and tells him that an angel had appeared to him and revealed that the man of God should eat with him in his house. “But he lied.”
The man of God relents; he surrenders the Word in his heart to the words of the old lying prophet. In order to belong, he surrenders to religion—the religion of men.
At table, the Word of the Lord suddenly comes through the mouth of the old prophet, announcing that the man of God will die. And once again, on the way, a lion in the way kills the man of God and drops his body in the way. The lion is the Way. Jesus is the Way.
The lion kills the man of God who surrenders the Word of God, in the temple of his own soul, to religion.
This not only happens in the Old Testament; it happens in the New.
The Lord protects his infant church from those who would sacrifice Truth in the sanctuary of their own soul in order to belong to a religion; he protects his church from Ananias and Saphira, and he delivers Ananias and Saphira from themselves.
He does that with each of us; we must lose “our lives” to find them.
1 Kings 13:28, the Lion kills the man of God but doesn’t eat him. The Lion guards him in the way; the Lion is the Way. This must be the Lion of Judah.
The old prophet then finds the man of God lying in the way; he declares that the man of God had truly spoken the Word of God, places the man’s body in his own tomb, and instructs his sons to place his own bones next to the bones of the man of God from Judah when he dies.
300 years later, his bones are prese
Prophecy 104 (The Voice of God and How It Sounds)
Elijah cried out, “The God who answers by fire, he is God.”
The Prophets of Baal cut themselves and danced around their altar all day. And there was no fire; there was no voice.
Elijah lay the offering on the wood on an altar named “Israel” and called upon Yahweh.
At 3pm, the fire fell on Mt. Carmel and consumed the sacrifice —the same hour of the day that Jesus breathed his last, while nailed to the wood by Israel before the fire fell on Pentecost.
Elijah slaughtered all the prophets of Baal. And as the rain began to fall, in the power of the Lord, he ran ahead of King Ahab’s chariot all the way to the palace of Ahab and Jezebel. Elijah must have expected a revival at the revelation of the power of the Word. Jezebel did not; she ordered the slaughter of Elijah. It appeared that the Word of God had failed.
Afraid, Elijah ran for his life and curled up under a tree in the wilderness and prayed that God would take his life. The “Angel of Yahweh” woke him and fed him bread and water, saying, “The journey is too great for you.” What journey?
Elijah then “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the Word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
Elijah spoke the word, and now the Word is messing with Elijah.
Mt. Horeb is where Moses received the law and where God hid him in the cleft of the Rock, saying, “No man can see my face and live.”
“What are you doing here?” asks the Angel of Yahweh.
Maybe he came for more direction, more law, and more firepower?
Maybe he came because he wanted to die?
Maybe he came because he wanted to live?
He had run to save his life, then asked God to take his life; perhaps he hadn’t even begun to live Life?
“The journey is too great for you.”
Perhaps the Angel meant the journey to the cave; perhaps he meant the journey you call “my life.”
Have you ever asked, “What am I doing here, living ‘my life?’”
The Word—the walking, talking Word of God in the cave with Elijah—says, “Go out and stand before the face of the Lord, Yahweh.”
There was a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire.
But Yahweh was not in the wind, earth, or fire, (although fire, earth, and wind are in Yahweh). And after the earth, wind, and fire, “the sound of a low whisper (ESV),” “a still small voice (KJV),” “the sound of sheer silence (NRSV).” Most literally translated, Elijah heard “a voice, a thin silence.”
I’ve always wanted to hear words from the Lord the way prophets seem to hear words from the Lord. And people have told me to listen for the “still small voice.” I’ve driven myself nuts trying to listen for the “stillest” and “smallest” voice.
Once I did hear words from the Lord, very crisp, clear, and wonderfully devastating. And later that day, the Lord literally pinned me to the floor, almost broke my arms, pulled back the curtain on my mind, and I realized: The Voice of the Lord is anything but still and small, and yet, in an amazing way, it is silent; it is not simply sound waves in the atmosphere of this world—the Voice of the Lord.
When my son was born, he wouldn’t stop crying. The nurse handed him to me and said, “Speak to him; he knows your voice.” The moment I did, he stopped crying and rested in my arms. How did he know my voice?
Well, I had drawn a face on my wife’s belly, and every night I’d speak to that face. I’d say, “Scooter, I’m your dad. Hope you’re doing OK in there. I’m so excited to meet you. I love you.”
When I spoke, everything in that womb-world would vibrate to the sound of my voice, and yet my voice was not a particular thing in that world. Are there things “in” this world that cannot be found in this world or explained by this world
Prophecy 103 (The Not Boring Heaven)
It’s happened several times now since I began preaching that Jesus is the savior of all: People will say, “That’s great. But to be honest, I’m struggling with the idea of actually going there because . . . Heaven sounds so boring.”
In tenth grade, I prayed to Jesus, saying, “I love you, but please don’t come back until I get my driver’s license and go on my honeymoon (this means sex).” I figured that they just didn’t do that sort of thing in Heaven, since, according to Jesus, there will be no “giving or taking in marriage.”
If “eternal” means “forever without end,” how could Heaven NOT be boring? And if “eternal” means timeless, how could one do anything or go anywhere—you’re already there? That’s boring.
Heaven sounds boring, ethereal, unfamiliar, embarrassing—everything is exposed to the light—and everyone must be thoroughly repressed. But the Prophets speak of a place that sounds so thoroughly different.
Isaiah prophesies a city on a Holy Mountain where God will make a feast of rich food and the best wine, where he will “swallow up death forever” and “wipe the tears from all faces.” He swears that to him “every knee will bow, and every tongue swear allegiance.” He tells his people to lift their eyes and see their sons and daughters coming to this city where the gates are never shut, and where God himself will be “our Glory.” (Think you’re cool now? Just wait until God is your glory!) All the nations come!
“For behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth,” says the Lord in Isaiah chapter 65. “I will create Jerusalem to be a joy... no more shall there be heard in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his years.” (That’s weird—there will be babies, and you know where babies come from... And it sounds like folks will die, although death will be no more; as if you could “die, yet live.” You could “lose your life and find it,” all in the same moment.) Then Isaiah prophesies that old sinners will “build houses and plant vineyards,” and none shall “labor in vain or bear children for calamity.”
Then he writes, “Rejoice with Jerusalem... that you may drink deeply from her glorious bosom with delight” (sounds not boring or repressed). Then Isaiah ends with all people looking down on the corpses of all people in the valley of Gehenna, praising God as one —one city, one temple, one body of ecstatic delight.
In the Prophets, Heaven is so NOT boring, ethereal, unfamiliar—maybe embarrassing, in some sense—but, definitely not repressed. It’s so very exciting!
And yet, people actually argue that the Old Testament doesn’t even talk about Heaven. Why do we have such a hard time believing the prophets?
1. Zionism: In the 20th century, powerful forces tried to convince us that the prophets were talking about modern day Jerusalem. But I’ve been there. It wasn’t what Isaiah described. Maybe what Jesus wept over, but it’s not the Jerusalem that comes down from God.
2. Modernism: In the 20th century, we were taught that space and time were constants, but now we know that, in the word of Einstein, “the distinction between past, present, and future is a stubbornly persistent illusion.” The Prophets speak of a coming age, the Lord’s Day—that day when “everything is good and it is finished.” And they don’t seem to think it’s just poetry.
3. Individualism: In 20th century America, we were all about saving individuals. The Prophets spoke of God saving nations—actually, the entire world.
Those are some reasons we don’t believe. And here are some ideas that might help us to believe:
1. Eternity (“aionios”). It means “of God’s Age.”
Eternity is not timeless; it contains all time. And eternity is not time without end; it’s all of time filled with the End, w
Who Wrote the Book of Love?
Love the messages i have heard but won't download want to listen when I have no wi fi
Incredibly dynamic, powerful, thought-provoking. I'm amazed that this new podcast has 297 messages up already. I visited a few times up in Denver and it's great to be able to listen from our home in San Antonio, TX. May God richly bless Peter, his congregation, and his ministry.