Good Morning Brothers…
Spring turkey season opens next week and I will be breaking in a different bow and hunting on different land. Although next week is only a week away, somehow it seems more distant. Anytime I pass from one season, into the off-season, and begin to prepare for the next season…the oncoming season always seems farther away than the calendar reveals. Time and distance are certainly related, yet distinct. The calendar says I have 7 days time…but my consciousness remains ambivalent as the pressures and motivations of the present…seem to take precedence.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday. I’m always reminded of Luke’s account of the triumphant entry when Jesus says, in verses 41-44, “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
The Christ, is weeping over the ambivalence of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The calendar has struck, the time is at hand, but the “muchness” and “manyness” of the present has overshadowed the “peacefulness” and “restfulness” of the Presence. I can’t help but read this passage and feel a bone weary sadness within me. I am saddened by the emotions within our Lord and Savior and I am saddened because we haven’t learned much from it. We are still plagued with “muchness” and “manyness” and none of us are exempt. Our singular focus on Christ has turned into a multifaceted approach to life where we attempt to have a little Jesus in everything we do, while keeping one eye on the prophetic calendar. It seems we operate under this assumed condition of “repentance later” is just as good as “repentance now.” It’s almost like we need to build up a bunch of sin first and then turn our repentance into an exercise in purging. As if, internally, we have a wall, a tolerance, for a certain level of sin. When the sin gets piled up to high, when the Spirit inside finally starts screaming at us, we purge ourselves of the iniquity…yet the wall remains intact.
In my reading this past week, I read again the story of Ahab. Ahab was King of Israel after the days of Solomon and after the kingdom was divided. His story starts out like this from 1 Kings 16: 29-30, “Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.”
Now…if you remember, Ahab was King during the days of Elijah the Prophet. His wife was named Jezebel. Her name has become synonymous with every evil thing that can be found in a woman. The relationship between Elijah, the man of God, and Ahab and Jezebel was confrontational. Confrontational in a Biblical sense, which is only fitting because it is the Bible that records these confrontations. These confrontations typically included miraculous super-natural fire falling from heaven type stuff on Elijah’s part…and threats of murder and mean nasty ugly things on Ahab’s and Jezebel’s part. An example of one such exchange is recorded in 1 Kings 21: 20-24, “Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel; and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin. Of Jezebel also has the Lord spoken, saying, ‘The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.’ The one belonging to Ahab, who dies in the city, the dogs will eat, and the one who dies in the field the birds of heaven will eat.”
Keep in mind, this exchange is after the 3 year drought, the fires falling from Heaven to consume the alters of Baal, and Elisha fleeing from the murderous hands of Jezebel. After all of that history, the Lord finally delivers His final prophecy concerning Ahab and his house…and then a funny thing happened. Lets pick up the story in 1 Kings 21: 27-29, “It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”
WHAT…Ahab repents? Not only that…but Ahab repents and God relents.
It seems the prophetic calendar finally got Ahab’s attention. It seems the distance to his end finally became visible and burned through the fog of his ambivalence. What a lesson we can learn from this story. We can learn that no matter how distant we may feel…God is always near. We can learn that the Church, the Scriptures, the whispering voice of the Spirit…all serve as modern day Elijah’s to alert us to the turning pages of the prophetic calendar. This story puts faces, names, and times with the passage in 2 Peter 3: 8-9, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Are we to busy watching for the parting clouds and listening for the sound of trumpets…that we’ve forgotten that “repentance now” is always more pleasing than “repentance later?” Have we missed our time of visitation like the Jews in ancient Jerusalem? Is Jesus weeping over us?
Join me…lets find our knees today.