Archive for August, 2007
As you may or may not remember, I moonlight as a moderator of bibleforums.org under the psuedonym “the rookie.” I jumped in a year and a half ago to sharpen my dialogue on the end-times with those who don’t agree with me, mostly because I spend my days talking about the end-times with either a.) those who really, really agree with me or b.) those who have no idea what I am talking about. So, I spent many, many hours talking through interpretations of scripture like this one, from a very intelligent, sharp young pastor from Upstate NY:
Here’s my brief take on chapter 14 (I’m an amillennialist & partial preterist)…
Chapter 14 is, perhaps, one of the most difficult chapters in all of Scripture to interpret. Once again 2 major camps emerge. The first considers this a prophecy of the yet future second coming of Christ. The second considers this further description of 1st century events. Most probably fall somewhere in between, interpreting it with a blend of preterism and futurism.
The camp that sees this as the Second Coming argues that the language utilized could only speak of end-of-the-world events (’the Lord is coming,’ ‘all the nations,’ ‘the Lord will go out and fight,’ ‘His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,’ etc). The second camp, however, argues that this is common apocalyptic language and need not be interpreted in such a wooden literal manner. The ‘coming’ referred to need not be a ‘bodily’ coming. The Roman Empire could be spoken of as encompassing ‘all the nations.’ The presence of God on the Mount of Olives was symbolic for His exit from Jerusalem (Ezekiel 11:23). I, personally, am inclined toward agreement with the latter (preterist) camp.
If the preterist interpretation is correct, then chapter 14 is a prophecy of AD70. All the nations (the Roman Empire) came to fight against Jerusalem. The city was severely defeated (2) leaving half of the survivors exiled. God, who had protected Jerusalem during the Maccabean period, now removed His presence from the temple and city and resided, so to speak, on the Mount of Olives to watch His sovereign Judgment (like He had when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem, Ezekiel 11:23).
Some, however, would remain part of Jerusalem, but, according to this interpretation, in a new way. No longer would they be part of a physical Jerusalem (no longer possible seeing as how it is utterly defeated), but they were now part of a spiritual Jerusalem (the city of God’s people, the church). They would have access to living water (not literal water, but the Holy Spirit, see John 7:37-39). They would be part of the eternal Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that would remain secure forever. Subsequently, many enemies of the new Jerusalem would attack, but none would prevail against it. In fact, many of the enemies (gentiles) will become citizens of the new Jerusalem. In this kingdom, even the most mundane objects will be holy to the Lord. This seems to be a beautiful prophetic image of the church.
So, what do you think? Sound reasonable? I spent a year and lots of long hours trying to talk these passages through. The medium serves to sharpen your own understanding but is fairly hopeless when it comes to convincing others of the validity of your view. Something about the weakness of wise and persuasive words…
I’d love to hear your thoughts, though, if you feel so inclined.
August 28th, 2007
In this final section of our “Hosea diversion”, the beauty of God expressed through His incredible love for us comes to an incredible conclusion. What God expresses and declares, Hosea demonstrates in the natural realm in regards to the way he loves Gomer. Hosea’s love is expressed in a manner that treasures, honors, values, and delights in one so recently rescued from a life of prostitution and darkness. In loving her in such a holy manner, Hosea is able to establish true confidence and dignity in her heart as she learns to receive true, godly love. As such Hosea expresses the love of her Father in heaven before He demonstrates the love of a husband in leading and caring for her.
This kind of tender, protective, and fraternal love nurtures and frees her heart to receive and enjoy deeper expressions of love and walk in true bridal partnership with her husband. It is an incredible display of the leadership of the Lord related to the brokenness and woundedness of a heart caught in the snare of shame and sin. Hosea, then, becomes more than a prophet - but functions as a prophetic type or foreshadowing of the One who would come in the flesh and demonstrate love for us in a manner that would serve humanity significantly. Through the ministry of Christ demonstrating the Father’s love as a Bridegroom to the church, we have a means of connecting our understanding to transcendent, holy love.
In other words, what Hosea does for Gomer, Christ would eventually do for the whole body of Christ. The way that He loves us reveals the Father and helps us understand what that Father is truly like.
Hosea 3:1-5 – Hosea’s demonstration of the impact of Bridal love on the heart
What God promises related to the wisdom and superiority of His leadership is demonstrated for all of the peoples by Hosea. He tenderly loves and encourages his wife after pursuing her and buying her back. His devotion and loyalty is a prophetic picture of God’s pursuit and devotion to this apostate people – they are more than backslidden, but fully given over to another lover.
He will not be intimate with her immediately nor will he fully exercise the authority of his “title” as a husband – because she is too tender and weak at the beginning stages of her “deliverance” from the other lover. Gomer still cannot make the distinction between “husband” and “master” and thus is not able to rightly interpret even the intimacy of Hosea rightly. Thus he withholds intimacy to give her time to trust him with deep confidence and understanding. She must be gently and tenderly brought to the place of intimacy without shame, or intimacy rightly received – not as a possession to be used but as a friend to be enjoyed.
Thus, over time, she will grow in confidence and true love and devotion for Hosea, and once she does she will be able to accept and enjoy his leadership and his “rules” for the household. Hosea must lead her gently so that she voluntarily submits with confidence rather than gritting her teeth and resenting – love must be about the man not the money. In the same manner God wants to bring His people to a place where relationship flows from authentic love, devotion, and understanding – so that we would be able to place the “price” of His love and devotion in its right context and not make that price the terms of our relationship.
In the same manner, God has a chosen, anointed King to set over them in leadership – and His desire is that they would hunger and thirst for this King and actively seek Him out rather than submitting without understanding because of unenlightened obligation. “Rules without relationship equals rebellion” – and the rules are too critical to their health and well being for them to simply abide by them out of a misplaced sense of obligation and duty. God wants a people who will wholeheartedly pursue the “rules” and His ways because they fully believe that they are the wisest way to live, love, and become alive on the inside. This is the promise of God to Israel in Hosea 3:5.
Later this week, we will return to the throne room and take in the Jasper-like beauty of the God who dwells in unapproachable light.
August 27th, 2007
Just last Sunday night, fourteen hard-core intercessors gathered at the Blanc Spot and spent the evening engaged in rigorous warfare over selecting 182 participants of the National Football League.
That’s right - we had our annual fantasy football draft.
It’s something that we’ve been doing annually now for five years running. We started years ago with myself, Joel Sorge, Nate Rogers, Brent Steeno, Aaron Walsh, Tommy Hood, Jeremiah Gim, Clay Edwards, Kyle Scott, Zack Hensley, Nate Mosack, and someone else whose name will come to me sometime later. I’d hate to be that guy. We crammed into the little Onething Internship office on a Friday night and spent hours picking key football guys that would allow us to exert major dominance over our fellow brothers. Zack picked the Tampa Bay defense in the first round. We still bring that debacle up every year. If you ever have been involved with Fantasy Football, you know why.
Last year a bunch of first-timers jumped in due to the absence of many of the long-timers. All 12 guys came back this year, and we added two more for good measure. Shawn Blanc, our host and keeper of the entry fee, put that entry fee to brilliant use with food that destroyed every football gathering I’ve ever attended. Shawn is my new draft-hosting hero. This year, Jared Diehl (for those of you that follow the Ruckus Journal) joined and Nate Rogers re-joined. Jared, at my suggestion, mostly yelled “David Beckham! Bla-ow!” loudly and randomly every once in awhile to keep us on our toes.
The Daywatch Division is represented by Wes Martin, myself, Joel Sorge, Brent Steeno, Nate Rogers, Ian Rutherford, and the aforementioned Shawn Blanc. TheNightwatch Division sports Zack Hensley, Kyle Gebhart, the ever-dangerous Jared Diehl, Sutton Miller, Jason Wenth, Ben Wood, and Jonathan Ramos. The fact that half those guys aren’t even on the Nightwatch doesn’t really phase us one bit. We do have a good percentage of our IHOP-KC wordcasting community represented, however. So I’ll be sure to let you know how completely I dominate them all.
In case you’re interested - which I can’t imagine you would either be a.) interested or b.) still reading at this point - but if you made it this far, than you may want to know a few facts about our little league:
1. This year’s defending champ is Wes Martin; he took the crown from the surprising Jason Wenth who came out of nowhere the year before. Jason, of course, dethroned the fantasy football maestro, the one and only, well, me.
2. Zack Hensley has never won. Never. He came closest last year, and then disintegrated down the stretch faster than Fred Taylor’s hamstrings.
3. It is fairly certain that I will regain my crown this year. That statement may mean absolutely nothing to most of you, but I tell you that it means almost nothing to me. So there.
I’ll throw updates out there for the interested every so often. You can check out our league here.
August 24th, 2007
So, today at the dinner table, out of the blue, Daniel suddenly begins to tell a story to the family. It went a little something like this:
“I made a funny game today.” He’s looking down and chewing his food, speaking matter-of-factly.
“I raised my hand, and said ‘I know the answer!’” He demonstrated his hand-raising skills for us, mimicking exactly how he performed his funny game. “Then the teacher would call on me, and I would swallow air, and then I would go…” (insert burp here)
I looked down, trying to hold in my laughter. Everyone around the table begins giggling. “Everyone laughed at me,” he was back to speaking matter-of-factly again, chewing his food nonchalantly.
“Did your teacher get mad at you?” My wife asked.
“Nope.” Daniel said between bites, looking down at his plate. “She just said, ‘That’s not the answer…’” He relayed this to us in his best female teacher voice. Then he smiled a big smile, and finished up his dinner.
He followed that story up with another game he played. This time, he was sharing about how he threatened to put his friend in the toaster. His friend, according to Daniel, asked with a shocked look on his face (that Daniel imitated for us), “Are you joking?”
“No,” Daniel said, and scrunched his face. “I REALLY AM GOING TO PUT YOU IN THE TOASTER…” he droned for us, in his best monotone gravelly robot voice. I appreciated the monotone gravelly robot voice.
“Who are your friends, Daniel?” My wife asked as a follow-up.
“Everybody.” Daniel said, searching his plate for more meat.
“Any friends that are girls?” My wife wondered.
“Yup,” He said. “All of them.”
August 23rd, 2007
Hosea 2:14-23 – Israel’s incredible coming restoration and future blessing
Once she is stripped bare and exposed, her pride and sense of self-sufficiency removed, He will “allure her” – He will find her in her despondency and remove her from the wicked and false deceptions and influences that have seduced her; then He will comfort Her with the powerful realities of His transcendent love. This otherworldly and incomparable love will re-establish, reform, and reshape her heart that she might really know Him as He is and as He loves. He will root her and ground her in His great love – and she will burst into song in that place of being loved and enjoyed by God.
In that day, when she comes in to the fullness – the full impact, full understanding, and full connection – of His love, she will have a deep and established understanding of the true nature of His devotion and commitment to her. She will not relate to Him as a hard, stern, and demanding Master that she must serve (because she has been bought); instead she will understand why she was “bought”. Thus devotion, tenderness, and loyal love will flow from her lips as she expresses love for Him rather than duty-bound servitude.
This incomparable love will render the false systems and false promises of the inferior gods more than worthless and useless. She will be so captivated and devoted it will be as if the other loves and lovers never existed. She will be able to take her place as His bride and walk into all that it means to have that distinction and honor.
In this context of perfected love God will tame yet again all of creation for her to govern – a global peace and restored Eden will await her leadership on His behalf and in His name; for they will be true representatives of that Name, able to govern a subdued creation with a tenderness and wisdom that reflects His heart authentically. He will make that covenant with creation to prepare it to be governed wisely by His people, rather than, in their sin, be among those who “destroy the earth” in their foolishness (Rev. 11:18).
God speaks over them His eternal commitment to them, which will be far more powerful in the day that it becomes fully realized – He is betrothed to them according to the fullness of His nature. The standard of their relationship will be righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, and mercy – and faithfulness and the knowledge of the Lord.
The people that are destroyed for their lack of knowledge of God (4:6) are those who will be marked by a deep and affectionate knowledge of Him. The unfaithful people will be unusually faithful and devoted. They will take on His nature as they “take on His name”, so to speak. What was true about Him in that time will be true about them in the days to come.
In verse 21, heaven and earth are proclaiming the answer of God in full unity with Him (Eph. 1:9-10) as His will is established on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10) – and God gives them a picture or a glimpse of what this promise will look like on the earth. What was “sown” (“Jezreel”) in destruction and reaped in judgment will now be fully reversed – they will sow in devotion and reap abundantly from land fully redeemed by their obedience (Duet. 28:1-14; 2 Chron. 7:14; Isa. 62:4).
Tomorrow, I’ll wrap up my little journey through Hosea chapters 1-3.
August 23rd, 2007
We’ll return to the throne room after I finish my little “detour” through Hosea chapters 1-3. I am captivated by a God that would purposely and consciously “marry” a harlot knowing in advance that she will be unfaithful, broken, and weak. I am stunned that He would know beforehand that her children would come forth from the relationship more broken than their mother. Yet, knowing what He knew before the relationship, He still loved her - and loves her still. As such, He committed beforehand to lead her perfectly from the place of a harlot to the role of a queen and a dignified bride. I’ll never cease to be amazed by the beauty of His love and His leadership.
Hosea 2:2-13 – Overview of God’s Charges and Merciful Plan
The charges of the Lord against this people are brought forth with greater clarity once the central issues are established. Why are these Israelites not His people? Why are they called a “merciless” people? God exposes here their fully corrupted self-interest and self-protective nature: they are given to harlotry because they are completely self-interested and self-directed.
In her zeal for comfort and satisfaction she has turned to all manner of corruption and compromise to obtain both necessities and luxuries. She “thirsts”, or lusts, (v. 3) and thus she is warring with herself to obtain bread, water, and wool, linen, oil, and drink (v. 5). Rather than trusting her covenantal husband to do His part and keep His word, she has impulsively pursued shameful methods and sources of provision to lay hold of more than she needed. She is, however, unaware of how much more this exchange cost her.
Israel, like most of humanity, cannot buy into a lifestyle of restraint, prayer, fasting, and trust in God’s provision today for great abundance, blessing, and fruit tomorrow. The other problem is that many are not satisfied with God’s definition of abundance and blessing and imagine that they have a superior concept of what blessing is – and that they have figured out the better way to obtain it. We surround ourselves with little props and helps that serve to support our false thinking and facilitate our false systems.
God, however, refuses to participate with her vain imaginations. He will not empower or enable systems that will destroy her – He is not a “co-dependant” God that needs her affection and approval or permission to deliver her from her destructive tendencies. He is the most “Wonderful Counselor” and His methods are 100% foolproof – He will hedge her in and cause her schemes to come to nothing.
He will expose the emptiness of her natural and emotional props. He will prove to her the superiority of His leadership and His ways. He will strip her of the good and resources that enable her foolish independence. Even the small blessing and provision that she is currently enjoying in her disobedience is then spent on her pleasures and idol worship. She takes resource from the true God to worship the false ones.
Thus the judgment and the shaking that is coming and will come again in the future serves His redemptive, merciful purpose – to expose her true weakness by not allowing her to hide behind false strength. She is not connected to how much she needs her Bridegroom to make life work right and imagines that life can be fine without Him. Thus He will take away for a season His “contribution” to the relationship and then let her get as far as she can without Him – until she comes to her senses and returns.
Tomorrow, the dramatic journey of weakness, brokenness, and unfaithfulness takes a breathtaking turn as Hosea 2 continues.
August 22nd, 2007
I broke up yesterday’s Hosea post to make for easier reading:
Hosea 1:1-2:1 – Introductory Oracle of God’s burden and love for Israel
1:1-3: Hosea’s ministry and dilemma are introduced as a great paradox unfolds – the prophet knowingly chooses an unfaithful woman and knits his heart to her. This was to be done according to the plan of the Lord to show Israel His heart in a way that they had never considered or understood. God was not surprised by their unfaithfulness or harlotry – He “married” her knowing that she was an unfaithful harlot. He had a plan to show the nations that He was the most faithful God by choosing the least faithful people to commit to.
God also knowingly gave His heart to a union with Israel knowing that the children that would follow would be tainted and devastated by the sins of His people. The “children of harlotry” would emerge in far worse condition than the harlot that He married. That the peoples departed from the Lord was the logical consequence of being “children of harlotry”. Again, in committing Hosea to this purpose God was demonstrating to Israel His awareness of their true condition long before they were.
1:4-9: God names the children of Hosea and Gomer – each name containing a message of the coming judgment and true condition of the people of Israel. Pride and the unrenewed mind blinds us hopelessly from connecting with our true condition – in our mind’s eye we make ourselves the hero of every story and imagine that we are doing far better in morality and money issues than we actually are. Nothing exposes the truth of our carnality like our children. They reflect back to us our weaknesses and brokenness and then exaggerate those areas of sin as they grow. The pattern continues with their children, and the successive generations are often far worse than the previous ones. God uses the names of Hosea’s children to highlight three key issues:
Jezreel: the bloodshed caused by Jehu has had a devastating impact on the people and demands the judgment of God. His striking of the House of David cannot go unpunished – a powerful and harmful message would be imprinted upon the hearts of the people that would establish a similar enmity among brothers that Jacob and Esau carried. If God does not intervene, Israel’s fate could be like Edom’s. Yet His plan is to unite the tribes in love – thus He must judge Jehu’s bloodshed.
Lo-Ruhamah: There would be “no mercy” in that hour of history for the people of Israel – they had gone too far in their sin and internal corruption and were not in a position to receive mercy; mercy at that stage of their sin and worship of demons would have been a reprieve that would not gain anything redemptive nor would it be interpreted rightly by the peoples. Judgment was coming and was inevitable. Hosea’s preaching served to win back to God any that could be spared from the coming wrath.
Lo-Ammi: God tells them that they are “not My people” – they have strayed so far from the truth and relationship that He had initiated with them that they could no longer be called the people of God. This was an astonishingly tragic turn of events for the Israelites – they had drifted to far from their true identity, heritage, and destiny, that they could no longer be identified with the covenant people. The “children of harlotry” had drifted so far from the family it was as if there was no relationship to the people that came out of Egypt.
1:10-11: God’s redemptive promise to redeem the people of Israel – each of the three issues is reflected back to the people in the form of future redemptive promises related to God’s stunning ability to take even the worst of situations and bring redemption and fulfillment to all that is in His heart for Israel.
He is able to take those who are currently “not His people” and knit their future generations into an expression of devotion and family so authentic that they would be more than “His people” but “sons of the Living God”. God is promising a comprehensive transformation of the nation – so comprehensive that they would be true spiritual sons. This would be more than a spiritual designation but a true spiritual reality.
He will redeem the fratricide of Jezreel – the family conflicts and petty jealousies and offenses that have divided them – and re-gather the Israelites into one people, all of whom delight in one another and champion one another into the fullness of God’s plan and destiny. As Paul would later speak of the body and the different but necessary functions of a true unified body in 1 Corinthians 12, so would the Israelites fully understand the roles that each tribe was to play in the larger whole of the nation. They would “appoint for themselves one head” – no longer would they resent the Davidic line and promise, but embrace it as the best way for God to govern their affairs.
Thus when they are able to authentically embrace mercy from a place of significant tenderness and devotion to one another, they would truly be able to express mercy authentically in a way that reflects the heart of God. “My people” and “Mercy” come together powerfully in the way that the true people of God walk out the second commandment – thus they will be transformed from a merciless people to a merciful people.
The leadership of God is beautiful - and the manner in which He plans on restoring Israel is stunning.
August 22nd, 2007
As we took a moment to divert from the Lord to examine His throne, I want to look around for a moment in wonderment and astonishment at the emerald rainbow around His throne. As the sardius-like color and light that blinds and dazzles our hearts gives us a picture of what God looks like and the jasper-like red gives us an idea of what He feels like, the rainbow around Him connects our hearts to what He acts like. He is a God who delights in mercy (Mic. 7:18). There are many ways to illustrate how - but I want to take some time and examine His incredible, tender mercy in the book of Hosea. I just wrote these notes today as I went through the book, so the style will be a bit more “commentary-like” than you are used to.
HOSEA – THE MERCIFUL HEART OF THE BRIDEGROOM GOD
Hosea’s ministry took place over a period of time spanning approx. 45 - 50 years, from about 10 years after Amos until a decade after Israel’s destruction at the hands of Assyria. He would end his days in Judah having survived the great scattering of Israel; his ministry would begin during the height of prosperity and power for Israel – yet he would witness the steady decline through the death of the line of Jehu and the great turmoil of betrayal and assassination of kings that would follow. This volatile political situation led to the final period of great internal instability in Israel, with tragic decisions made at every turn.
Hosea 1-3 provides the overview of Hosea’s prophetic ministry and the lens through which the hearer is meant to interpret all of the prophetic messages that will follow. The promise of God in 2:10 – to “expose her nakedness” is carried out in part by the scathing preaching of Hosea later in the book. They are disconnected to reality and have no comprehension of their sin and distance from God. God’s plan, however, in exposing their delusion and shining a lamp of truth on their true condition, is to do so in a manner that serves their hearts. He wants them to hear his “tone” correctly.
The appeal of the Bridal paradigm to the human heart is that it equips and establishes our hearts in a root system that gives us courage to hear hard corrective words. Higher than the “thankful love” of a servant able to participate in the kingdom and higher than the “familial love” of a son to a good Father is the covenantal love of a passionate Bridegroom that stirs our heart with the assurance of His commitment to us.
Confidence in His unyielding commitment to our salvation and victory exhilarates our hearts, even in the face of the most difficult truths and corrections. Our bridal identity serves to remind us that our weakness does not negate the covenantal commitment God has made to us. Confidence in our identity thus helps the human heart deal with the “sting” of our true condition. When we are far from the “plumb line” and do not know it is the kindness of God to reveal the standard and then gently woo us towards it. The prophet Amos restored to them the standard 10 years earlier - and now God is presenting them with the courage to pursue that standard - through being empowered and motivated by love.
The fiery flame of love that comes alive within us over time will eventually run to the plumb line, rather than have another minute of distance in our relationship with God. The bridal paradigm “buys time” for the heart that we would not quit but fully participate with the leadership of God in our lives to transform our desires and realign our passions and value systems. Change will come by grace as we continue to say “yes” to God and stay in the place of engaged prayer and partnership with God – but many quit because they do not hear the correction of God rightly and misinterpret His zeal and jealousy.
We will look at Hosea 2 a bit tomorrow…
August 20th, 2007
I’m throwing out a quick post this morning as I wait for my 6:18 AM flight at KCI to my “old stomping grounds”, Upstate NY. This is one of my stranger birthdays - though nothing can top the birthday I spent in India having orphans cover me with flowers - as I am flying to Rochester today to attend the funeral of my second “dad” growing up.
Bill Stevens was a fixture of my childhood, teen years, and college years during the summer as my best friend and I would spend long hours at his house - sleepovers, drum sessions, army re-enactments, G.I. Joe adventures, and some of the most incredible nerf basketball battles the world has ever experienced. I ate more food at the Stevens’ house than my own house. At 3:20 on Wedneday afternoon, Bill slipped away quietly to be with the Lord after a two-year battle with a terminal condition few can even pronounce. He now is taking his place alongside all of the other saints in the place of intercession orchestrated by the Chief Intercessor, laboring with Jesus so that the whole church in heaven and on the earth would come into agreement and unity with the Head (Rev. 8:1-4).
I’m slightly jealous, of course. I’m also a bit sad, as the last ten years have passed by me without checking back in with “Coach Bill”. I’ll miss him during this next season of my life, but I look forward to the stories he’ll tell when I see him again.
Come, Lord Jesus - come quickly.
August 17th, 2007
Turning our attention away, for a moment, from the beautiful jasper and sardius God, we might find ourselves fixated on the incredible throne that He is seated on.
Revelation 4, the ultimate “throne room” chapter in the Bible, has surprisingly little to say about the “throne set in heaven”, or the first thing John lays eyes on when he is taken up in the spirit through the great door of revelation. Related to the events that would follow that grand vision, it was enough for John (and the church) to know that One was seated on the throne of sovereignty over all of history and all who dwell in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them. In other words, that He is seated tells us all we need to know about the shaking and trouble that would follow in the vision - He is the great and glorious King over everything that would take place and everyone that would take part.
Daniel’s encounter with the throne of God (Daniel 7:9-10)
When Daniel sees the throne room, however, God wants to send a different message to Him and to His people. In Daniel 7, it is the “Ancient of Days” who is seated on the throne - God wanted to speak to His people about the events of the past as well as the events that were to come. The people of God had been judged and sentenced to 70 years of captivity - was God still in control while pagan nations and demonized kings with inferior gods ruled over them?
In other words, the throne-chariot would have been instantly recognizable to a man in Daniel’s time, a time in which it was common for Kings to be great military leaders on the actual field of battle. Thus many of the great kings of the ancient times were also great generals and accomplished soldiers. Riding their own mighty chariots into battle, their ornate design set them apart from a group of bowmen that went to war in what was then an incredibly expensive piece of machinery for any nation. 2 Chronicles 1:17 tells us that a chariot cost 600 shekels, while the two horses that drove the finest ones cost 150 shekels apiece. At 900 shekels (or approx. 14 grams of silver per shekel), fielding a chariot was a ninety thousand dollar investment in those days.
Thus the chariots of Egypt had been long coveted by the Israelites to deliver them from the oppression of Assyria and Babylon - the speed, maneuverability, and power of a chariot in battle was almost unbeatable by foot soldiers. Lines of chariots would rain down lethal volleys of arrows upon an inferior army, quickly move and reposition when charged, and then run down the enemy when they inevitably scattered. The king, of course, reserved the finest, fastest, and most terrifying chariot for himself.
The Incomparable Beauty of God’s Throne
Thus, when Daniel sees the magnificent throne chariot of the Ancient of Days, he is seeing something incomparable in glory related to the kings of his time. It was an exploding throne of fire, a terrifying display of His power, superiority, and awesome unyielding zeal for complete victory over His enemies. The fire was also a divine statement of His white-hot holiness and purity, an all-consuming flame that would either expel or cleanse anything it touched.
It is doubtful that the fiery flame was red or yellow, as fire becomes when it burns at its cooler temperatures; hotter fires burn blue, but the most intense heat produces a pure, white intensity that would immediately burn off any impurity. Surely this was the flame that Daniel was confronted with. The heat, intensity, and power of that flame would be irresistible to any it approached.
And with fiery wheels, it would approach the peoples - it was more than a seat that others would have to approach. A throne-chariot pursues. It moves. It is agressive, rather than a passive object that gathers. The fiery wheels reveal the nature of the King seated upon it as well as His clear intentions. He is a conquerer. He is not going to make the nations come to Him, He is going to go forth and take the nations. He is a Warrior-King who will, in the days to come, commission His Son to go forth and conquer the nations in flaming fire. Ezekiel 1 reveals that the Son has His own fearsome throne-chariot, layered in fire, smoke, and light. It is a moving throne, more mobile and able than anything made by the hands of men. He is a fiery conquerer, a true consuming fire.
Our God is a Consuming Fire
From that fiery throne with wheels of burning fire a “fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him.” Revelation 22:1 describes a “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal” proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb; Ezekiel 47:1-12 describes this same river as it connects with the temple on the earth and forms into an uncrossable body of water that brings healing throughout the region - life will burst forth as it flows throughout the Middle East in the days of His kingdom.
I believe that there will be a thousand-year period when healing waters flow from the throne of God to refresh the earth. This water, however, will be be followed by cleansing fire that will flow from that same throne. The sea of glass is mingled with fire (Rev. 15:3), and God Himself is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). Isaiah asked the critical question - “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings??” (Is. 33:14).
Who among us will dwell with the Consuming Fire, the Living Flame, the One who is seated upon fire, from whom fire comes forth to purify, cleanse, and destroy? Yet even the destructive properties of the holy fire of God are to reform, refashion, reshape, and renew - the earth will be fully cleansed and reconstituted to contain the New Jerusalem when it is set into the earth like a diamond into a ring (Ps. 46:4-6; 97:5; 2 Pet. 3:10-11; Rev. 20:9-21:2). While all of our natural sensibilities are wired to fear fire, the cleansing white-hot fire of the Lord will be beautiful to behold. When the fire of the Lord came to the Temple of Solomon at it’s dedication, all the peoples trembled before the consuming expression of God’s zeal for His house and the awesome holiness of His presence.
In the coming days, we will truly be like moths attracted to the flame. Those who stand on the sea of glass mingled with fire - the very same fire Daniel saw enveloping the throne of God - rejoice and sing. They are the ones that John saw, able to dwell with everlasting burnings.
August 7th, 2007