“A church that is not eschatologically focused is a negligent culture.”
I just finished reading 1 Samuel and all the corresponding Psalms. I find this to be one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible with mentorship being just one underlying theme beginning with that between Samuel and Eli. God used Eli to teach Samuel to discern His voice. Yet Eli’s life was a disaster. Ironically the first message Samuel received from God and was told to proclaim was that Eli and his family would be cut off and that no sacrifice could be offered for forgiveness.
When was the last time you heard a prophetic word like that?
Samuel went on to anoint and mentor Saul and finally David both of whom committed the most abominable sins. Saul disobeyed God then made excuses to justify his actions. So God rejected him as King. Amazingly, Saul was more concerned with how people viewed him than he was about his status in the eyes of God. 1 Sam 15:30 He had zero interest in God’s ultimate plan beyond his own role in it.
David committed adultery with his friend’s wife then had him killed. His actions were not without consequences but God forgave him because he repented. Even so, a gentle displacement story did not work and David only repented when Nathan confronted him directly. 2 Samuel 12. Later David is mentioned by Paul in Acts 13 as “a man after God’s own heart.” and his faith is acknowledged in the Heb 11 Hall of Faith.
Eli and Saul not so much.
It occurs to me that I have had one or two Eli’s, a couple three David’s, and a whole slew of Saul’s for mentors since I first surrendered to Jesus. All of the Saul’s were gifted and charismatic men who exert tremendous influence over people in Jesus’s name. My immaturity magnetized me to become attached to them. Some were tremendous teachers. Others were gifted in prophecy and healing. Still, others could raise financial support in ways reminiscent of Moses bringing forth water from a rock. A few of these men behaved in ways that would result in an immediate loss of following and financial support were people to witness what lay just behind the Man of God façade. As is so often case they fell into the trap where their purpose and livelihood became contingent upon their being honored by men rather than God.
That’s a lot of pressure.
More than one of these men was prone to dishonesty, childish, and even violent outbursts when things didn’t go their way. Still, the issue was not the improprieties that can always be forgiven but the prideful refusal to acknowledge the sin and repent. Each time we parted ways. I haven’t heard from any of them since. Though I am told one of them is still periodically asks if I am saying anything bad about him.
David is the model.
I will admit that having my belief and trust violated has at times tempted me to believe that God delivered these men into my hands by exposing them like He delivered Saul onto David twice. Still, responding like David is my goal and it is not my right let alone my responsibility to expose them to the world. Hence, I will not be naming names. The relevant point that I am working toward is that Saul and all of these contemporary typological Saul’s had zero interest in eschatology. One of them loudly declared,
“Let me tell you something! I don’t give a rip about eschatology!!”
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 1 Cor 16:22
I’ve written about Maranatha before, the Aramaic word that depending on how it is pronounced means Jesus has come – Jesus is coming. It brackets the Christian life and history as a whole. All that occurs in the space between is ancillary to the truth maranatha represents. Furthermore, It is utterly impossible to comprehend the Bible and especially the the New Testament apart from an eschatological Maranatha focus.
This past Sunday I gave a message to the children and staff from our alma mater, the City of Refuge. I began with the question, “If you don’t know where you are going how will you get there?” It was a very brief, shoot from the hip outline of history beginning in Gen 3:15 with an emphasis on the origin, meaning and significance of Jesus’s reference to Himself as the Son of man and the culmination of human history in a wedding and the final declaration of victory in Rev 22:17.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
That said, it wasn’t teaching as much as a taste that hopefully inspired some to Acts 17:11 “Bereanhood”. The point that I hope everyone got is that Jesus’s declaration “It is finished!” does not mean everything is fulfilled. The gospel of the kingdom will only be fulfilled in its entirety upon His return in accordance with Dan 7:13-14, Mat 24:30, Acts 1:11, 1Cor 15:50-58, etc. Until then the primary task at hand is the preparation of a spotless bride, otherwise known as the church. Those with an exclusive focus on “Jesus has come” are usually just selling cheap grace, fire insurance, and the false promise of “your best life now”. The true gospel is at its core future-oriented. Therefore all Christians are called to a solid eschatological orientation.
How do we do that?
We can start by resolving to not reinvent the wheel by repeating all of King Solomon’s lessons in the book of Ecclesiastes. If you’ve never heard of King Solomon, he was the richest and wisest man in history. He experienced and possessed all the worldly things that a human being possibly could. Not because he was a hedonist. But because he sought the ultimate meaning and purpose of life. His conclusion? Nothing is new. Anything you think is new has already been done. Everything is meaningless including wisdom. But wisdom can save your life. Our only hope, meaning and purpose is to remember our Creator in the days of our youth, love God and keep His commandments. This is the whole duty of man.
– Jesus –
So what does that look like?
It certainly doesn’t mean a perfect adherence to 613 rules. If you are confused about this stop reading now and go to Eph 2 and Rom 7and 8. The Old Testament proves that fulfilling the law by ourselves is impossible. Jesus’s triumph on the cross frees us from that burden. That said, I submit that
the most concise daily plan for living in preparation for the wedding is outlined in Prov 3:5-8.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
As I explained to the kids, trusting in the Lord with all your heart rather than our own understanding means believing what God’s word says. It is our map. Of course, a map is useless if you don’t know how to read it. Believing means that regardless of how external circumstances look, Jesus not Satan has all authority in heaven and earth. “It is finished!” means Satan is defeated. Whatever happens today is according to the will of God. I explained that the devil did not shut the world down last year. God did. I said I believe it was a call to repentance that for the most part went unheeded. Trusting Him with all one’s heart means believing that everything that happens is advancing His kingdom toward its ultimate fulfillment in the eschaton. Rom 8:28 That final destination appears at the coordinates Rev 22:17. Hence Paul said we are to keep our eyes fixed on things above, not below. Col 3 Things above involve God’s plans.
Things below involve ours.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths means not just giving lip service to His majesty but making the pursuit of an intimate relationship with Him our primary focus in every moment. Intimacy “with” begins with knowledge “of”. This has been our aim in Honduras and we have testimony after testimony of Him guiding our steps and making our paths straight. It’s not that we don’t ever wrestle in our minds. Only that the repetition of this principle over time increasingly overrides our natural thinking especially in a life or death moment of truth. We used the landslide that destroyed our home as an example and explained how it has yielded so much spiritual and relational fruit in our community. I told them how people siphoning gas from our ministry vehicle had caused us to move it down the mountain less than 24 hours before the landslide. That we have a ministry vehicle at all today is the fruit of stolen gas.
In case you didn’t know “All things” means all things. Rom 8:28
Be not wise in your own eyes; means we should avoid casting ourselves in the role of what Oswald Chambers called an “amateur providence”. We are never to assume we have it all figured out, that we or anyone else is exclusively anointed to hear from God or that any spiritual gift overrides human frailty. Any ability we may have is contingent on our weakness and total dependence on Jesus apart from whom we can do NO-THING. The gifts may be without repentance. But our constant need for repentance remains.
But that is not a popular message to preach if for no other reason than it would require preachers to forfeit their dreams of pulpit stardom and repent in the presence of their followers. One of the most prophetic moments for me last year was when the previous Vice President sugar-coated 2 Chron 7:14 and omitted “from their wicked ways” during a MAGA rally prayer. That so many leaders fail or refuse to acknowledge the wickedness of our nation and instead declare our supreme righteousness before God is an assurance that we are a nation under God’s judgment. That so many fail to understand how that could be, is a direct result of negligent church culture. There would be no fake prosperity gospel, CRT, or Qanon Christians if the church was eschatologically focused. If that were the case “fear the LORD and turn away from evil” would apply and dominantly so. The fruit of an eschatological focus is always the fear of God. The fear of God births repentance and repentance, a further conformation to the image of Christ.
Acknowledging God means loving God. Loving God begins with learning everything we can about His character, history, ways, and plans to align our lives with Him and His end game. Not loving God means being obsessed with MY self, MY history, MY opinions, MY ways, and especially MY goals and plans such that I imagine MY goals are his goals instead of making HIS goals mine. While the most blame will be assigned to those who teach, it does not absolve us as individuals of the responsibility to search the scriptures and studying ourselves approved. But don’t take my word for it. Be a Berean and check my work.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 1 Cor 16:22
Anathema means accursed. Accursed means going to hell.
Begin with the end in mind.