Every now and then you might have heard a zealous believer make the following statement, "that you have to have a relationship with God". Yet quite often they are unsure how exactly to define what this relationship looks like. There are however two books, one in the Old testament, and one in the New that give a very graphic picture of how God looks at this concept. To understand this incredibly important subject we of necessity must start at the beginning with God's chosen people, the Jews. This exercise will not be time wasted.
Of course, the history of this chosen people began with one single man by the name of Abraham. He has become known as the father of faith because of his unwavering believe in God's promise. So as to test his faith God told Abraham to offer up his son of promise Isaac. Abraham could have very easily made this son a "sacred cow" not to be touched by anyone including God. Instead he trusted God implicitly, and his faith pleased God. In the passage of much time, four hundred years to be exact the Jews became great in number even though they were in slavery to pharaoh in Egypt. They cried out to God for a deliverer, God heard their cry and sent Moses. The rest of the story is history, you might want to brush up on it. The many miracles of God were quite incredible. After their miraculous exodus from Egypt their history as gods people was not exactly the picture of perfection. They would have seasons where they would do well followed by times of idolatry, and immorality. Gods intended form of government for his chosen people was theocracy. The prophet's responsibility was to deliver the word of the lord to the Jews. The judges were there to settle civil matters that would inevitably arise. Samuel was at the for front of these prophets giving the word of the lord. Undoubtedly one of the ugliest days in Israel's history is when they demanded that Samuel would appoint them a king so that they could be like the rest of the nations. Dejected Samuel, blaming himself for this tragedy came before the lord with their demands. The Lord knowing his sad countenance told Samuel that they were not rejecting him this day, but they were rejecting God. God's prescribed form of government was that he would be their king. As stated, this is called theocracy, gods rule. God none the less granted their demands and little did they know how it would come back to haunt them.
In any event at an unprecedented low period in their history it became necessary for God to show them just how far they had backslidden, as only he could do. He chose an "up front in your face" drama of sorts to mirror the depths of their backslidden condition. He told his prophet Hosea to take as his wife the Harlot, Gomer. This woman, Gomer was an insatiable whore who by no means intended to be faithful to her new husband Hosea. Instead of following the law of Moses, and giving her divorce papers, Hosea was instructed by God to forgive her repeated adulteries' and take her back. By law she could have been stoned to death for her many indiscretions.
Gomer... became the undeniable picture of Israel's true fickle heart towards God. God was clearly telling them that he considered Israel to be his betrothed. At least in God's heart their existed a bond between himself and Israel that paralleled the marriage vows. God displayed his role as husband through the "Hosea, and Gomer" saga. He was willing to forgive their insatiably fickle hearts if they would collectively repent, put away their idols, immoralities, and conduct themselves as God's betrothed wife. Again, I would encourage you to refresh your mind and spirit by reading the book of Hosea. It is not very long, but it is extremely powerful in understanding our relationship with God, which I have only touched on.
Alright beloved, on the wings of the first commandment "I am the Lord your God, thou shall not have any God's before me". Let's fast forward around eight hundred years from the time of Hosea and pick up this theme of our marriage to God in the book of John's Revelation of Jesus Christ. This book was penned coincidentally by the apostle John, known as the beloved of Jesus, while in exile on the Island of Patmos for his faith where he also died. Incidentally John wrote many things about the final seven years known as the seventieth week of Daniel. There are however certain things that will be revealed as these seven years unfold, in my humble opinion.
I made mention of the subject of obedience to almost being taboo in certain circles. For one example there is a Bible teacher whom I have followed from a distance since the early seventies. recently I saw him in an interview which lasted nearly an hour, his subject was that we must please God. Much to my surprise in this hour-long interview, not once did the word Obedience fall from his lips. Well friends, if you haven't guessed as of yet this subject of our obedience to God will be a recurring theme throughout these writings. This is not to say that I believe obedience is easy, far be it for me to imply that. We clearly are in a lifelong battle in which our wills are under attack by the powers of darkness to win its loyalty. Jesus made it clear however when he said that those who do the will of my father, these are they who are sons and daughters. Looking back to the letters to the seven churches in chapters two and three of Revelations one might conclude that the church with the best report as in phillipi would simply be told to carry on. Their instructions however were the same as those of Laodicea, the Lukewarm church. In particular all seven churches were given the admonition "to those who overcome I will grant." There is logically only one conclusion that can be drawn from this picture of the seven churches, and this would simply be that overcoming is to be our lifelong companion right up to our last breath. As crazy as it might seem Solomon, said by God, to be the wisest man ever, and yet towards the end of his life he allowed his wives to draw him into idolatry. Human nature has a built-in propensity to grasp hold of, as I like to call them "sacred cows". A sacred cow is anything that we in truth regard as untouchable. When I consider the word repent which of course means to change our minds, we must ask the question, "what does this change of mind look like, and what are its parameters. The word that most clearly brings this term to life is the word "relinquish". When we repent weather, it be out first time, or our thousandth time we are relinquishing the controls of our will to God. Our sacred cow can be anything from our American dream to our bank accounts, or anything in between. Allow me to remind you on this note, that Abraham very easily could have made his son Isaac his sacred cow but did not. In his unwavering obedience he was honored to be known as the father of our faith.
So maybe you're asking yourself the question, why does all this matter, what relevance does all this have to me. I said the sinner's prayer..., I'm going to heaven, right? so back of with all this obedience stuff and leave me alone. God is all about grace and love anyway, right? Well there Saint, if you can hear it, it could be best understood by asking yourself this question. Who in truth is my heart of hearts married to? The world and its myriad of distraction's, constantly vying for your loyalty, or to God our Lord and maker, the only one who is worthy of our love and devotion. As previously stated, the time of the great tribulation is very much about removing the fence of Lukewarm, puke warm mediocrity. It has nothing to do with God being a wife beater. He who knows the heart of man also knows that affliction separates the sheep from the goats. Just as in the book of Revelation they either cursed God or they cried out to him. As we cry out to him, we learn also to relinquish the sacred cow we so desperately hold on to. It is in fact his love and grace to afford us the opportunity to be purified, made spotless, and refined as the angle put it in the twelfth chapter of the book of Daniel. Never forget that the sword of the spirit is word of the lord, it alone has the ability to separate the thoughts and intents, and the motives of the heart as God sees them. if we indeed are lovers of God, and his truth, he is more than willing to show us what we need to relinquish into his hands.
The apostle John states it like this in the nineteenth chapter of John's Revelation, "hallelujah for the lord our God reigns, let us rejoice and be glad, and give him glory for the wedding of the lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready". Please note that this passage implies the ongoing processes of being purified. "fine linen bright and clean was given her to wear. Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints". The riotous acts or the saints is a direct reference to her obedience. "and the angel said to me write blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the lamb, and he added these are the true words of God."
OK people... on that note I rest my case, I gave you fair warning at the beginning that the road just ahead promises to be quite Rocky. Blessed are those who can hear it and be purified. If you so choose as in the example of the proverbial cigarettes, to ignore God and mess around with a fickle heart, you have nobody to blame but yourself. Very soon I intend to give you my testimony. I am doing this because I believe that it is only fair that you know who I am. Trust me when I say that it has not all been pretty. I have gone through some extremely dark times, and I have tried to learn from these dark times. While in the throes of this darkness the one thing that I believe I can say honestly was that I refused to complain. Complaining, when you boil it down, amounts to accusing God of not knowing what he is doing. I always tried to thank God, especially when in my darkest hours. Somehow, I knew deep inside that if he indeed still loved me, and there were many times when I doubted this, that he was hard at work trying to restore me as well. This next poem, "the divine romance" is one of my favorites. Eventually when the smoke cleared and the dark clouds passed, I was restored to a new level of love and devotion to this wonderfully compassionate God that we serve. This poem is all about my heart's marriage to God, may it always grow and never diminish. My simple prayer is that it will mean for you what it has meant for me.
May we never loose sight of what the master himself said was the of the commandments, "you shall love the lord your God with all you heart mind and strength." Allow me to close with my observation of the two word's, belief and faith which are intrinsically wound together, yet different. God is not some kind of divine politician looking for those last few votes of confidence. This is not what it means to believe or to have faith. To believe in CHRIST is intrinsic to buying into everything he espouses hook line and sinker, even though this is an ongoing revelation from the time we start to believe. Faith amounts to a step of obedience just as in the story of Abraham. Abraham wasn't justified simply because he had a mental ascent that agreed with God, no... he was justified because his faith had action, and obedience attached to it. God was the one who saw his heart as obedience, and he stopped the action which was already in progress. It is our belief intrinsically attached to our faith that makes us citizen of his kingdom. We no longer are citizens of this world, which is passing away, we are now citizens of a kingdom that will never pass away. We simply are "just passing through" as they say. All our efforts amount to working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, as we learn to embrace the ways of his kingdom bringing them into a world in the clutches of darkness. The fear and trembling part are a matter of soberness. he is a loving, compassionate, forgiving God, but he doesn't play either! As Paul put it, "should we continue in sin that grace may abound", may it never be. If our hearts are inclined to make light of this darkness, we are only foiling ourselves. The word sober means not being drunk, but in this context, we are not talking about alcohol. We are however talking about a clarity of heart and mind, not intoxicated with the distractions, and love affair with this world.
This fifth essay, and poem "the divine romance" is a turning point in my website, hopefully it has served as a solid foundation that will serve you well in your pursuit of God. The following essays, and poems will hopefully serve to support all five essays, and more to come.