Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thunder and Thievery - A Biblical Connection?

God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. 
- Job 37:5

It had been a wonderful but tiring weekend when Megan and I settled into bed for a long night's sleep on Sunday evening.   We'd played at a local bar and grill on Saturday night only to wake up 6 hours later and lead two full services at a church just south of Tyler that next morning.   Suffice to say we were ready for bed. 

The rain was beginning to fall outside when we began to sleep hard....that is until around 4 am when what sounded like the very hand of God splitting open the earth like a watermelon.  The sound literally shook our home causing us both to pop up out of our deep sleep and into a moment of sheer terror.

It was only thunder and lightning you might say.    Most definitely, but going from peaceful sleep to what sounded like a bomb outside our bedroom window is no way to be awakened.  There were no smaller strikes to prepare us just silence then one devastatingly loud BOOOOOOOM!

All electricity cut off immediately, Megan grabbed my hand and said, "check on the girls".   I moved clumsily like I'd just absorbed a blow to the face from Mike Tyson and Megan breathed heavily thanking God it was only thunder.  The next morning Megan and I agreed that for a split second we'd thought that God was coming for us!   It was terrifying! 

I saw that the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying, as with a voice of thunder, "Come and see!" - Revelations 6:1
It's not hard to understand why John the Revelator would use thunder to describe the voice beckoning God's return.   What is more striking (pardon the pun!) in all of nature than a bolt of lightning shooting down from the heavens with all of nature's authority and direction?  

Suddenly, in an instant,  the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.  - Isaiah 29:5, 6

Nearly everyone I knew had a basement in their home on the "Tornado Ally" flat plains of Western Oklahoma where I grew up.  We were all quite accustomed to reacting to weather patterns in the Spring.    There was always a strange excitement when the lights would go out and we'd grab candles and get burrowed downstairs to wait for the storm or tornado to pass.  There was a sense that something was happening that none of us could control in any way.   

We were at the mercy of something much bigger and stronger than our entire town - something destructively out of control.  Some prayed and others worried but everyone watched the weatherman's forecast.   If he gave us hope the storm would pass around our town, we were relieved.  If not, then we'd "batten down the hatches".  We always wanted to be prepared.

...for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.   But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4

Our surprise at that lightning the other night caused me to consider the connection between lightning and thievery.    Now I'm not nearly well-versed enough in eschatology to take a position on how the "end days" will come and none of us could describe the when, where,  and what of Christ's second coming but this much I can say:  I'm eternally grateful that by His grace I will be found ready in Him.  

"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." - Rev. 16:15

Why would the Son of God compare himself to a thief?  Thief terminology definitely denotes a threat, an unknown hour and an "all-of-a-suddenness"; we have negative connotations of all three.   A real thief would never come when his thievery is anticipated and when he does strike it will be without warning.  Christ is clear in both Matt 24:43-44 and Luke 12:39-40 that no one will know when He's coming.  This ought strike fear in the heart of all who are to be judged  (that's everyone!) yet once again for the Christian there's a completely counter-intuitive perspective. 

As Paul writes to The Thessalonians, because we are not in spiritual darkness we know that one day, should we still be living, we will be stolen away from this world by Him who sits on the throne and is making all things new (Rev. 21:5).   Thus in reconciling all things to himself (Col. 1:20 Christ promises to even revolutionize and purify the act of thievery and as swiftly as lightning strikes we will be rescued by Him from this world.

Notice Christ's juxtaposition between Satan and Himself.... 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. - John 10:10

We can await Christ, the good thief, with open arms because of the confidence He's given us by the power of His death, resurrection and ascension.  Paul reckons that because of Him who has captured us by His grace we are justified before the Father.....
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. - Rom. 3:23-25

We have been clothed in His righteousness.   Those who have believed in Christ cannot be found to be naked in their sin like Adam and Eve.  Instead, like the newly "found" Prodigal Son who is clothed in his father's finest garments,  Christ's righteousness has been imputed to us that we might walk in Him with blessed assurance. 

"What believest thou concerning the forgiveness of sins?"
 "That God, for the sake of Christ's satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, neither my corrupt nature, against which I have to struggle all my life long, but will graciously impute to me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never be condemned before the tribunal of God."
- The Heidelberg Catechism, Question and Answer 56

For the guys.....couldn't help it.....

This Week 

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
   The Obedience Option - Chapter 4
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* Sunday - The Magills @ Grapevine First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX

* Join me in praying for the people of Japan who are experiencing horrible devastation after the Tsunami.   Pray that our God who's always in control would win countless hearts to Himself through this disaster.   God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purposes (Rom. 8:28).

* Please pray for us this week as we meet with several couples whose marriages need Christ's healing and redemptive touch.


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