Jul 31, 2009

The Whole Story

Some of my favorite things to read are the Old Testament passages where the Lord starts off explaining the wickedness of those who have not sought Him, the destruction He will bring because of it, and then the absolute grace and mercy He will pour out on the very same people who rejected Him. Zephaniah is like this -- the whole book is just three chapters long; it begins "I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land," and by the end a "meek and humble people" are trusting in the Lord.

I love seeing the whole picture (which is why when I sit down to read the Old Testament, I'm lost to the world for a good chunk of time). And the "whole picture" usually follows the same pattern:

a.) wicked & rebellious us
b.) holy and just God
c.) unmerited favor/rescue/grace from His Hand

Oh, and then of course,

d.) happy us

Usually the fact that God is jealous comes up somewhere there in the middle. This struck me again today in Zeph 3:8. "All the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy." Immediately after starts the beautiful ending song, where He gives us a pure language, takes away our pride and shame, and brings great rejoicing. "He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

I remember hearing Oprah describe how she began her descent away from God. She was sitting in church, and the very animated preacher declared that God was a "jealous God". Offense and unbelief entered, and she turned away from Him. It is epically tragic, to the point of poetic irony, that the very phrase describing the extent of the astounding personal love God has for us should be understood by her (and so many) as the utterly opposite emotion, one of selfish violence. Good being spoken of as evil -- the predictable, and all-too-often-effective, tactic of Satan in his campaign against God.

But for such a thing - such a trick! - to lead to the unleashing of the most extensive and powerful harlot spirit in centuries, as it has with Oprah! (Where is Tolstoy when we need him?) Is that it? Can Satan manipulating semantics among people who don't read the whole story really be the tipping point on the world's journey into moral relativism, secular humanism, and the end of the age?

It was already there. The whisper, as horrible a thing as it was referring to, was yet assuring. The anger at God, the rebellion, the sin leaving one open to offense...these things are already existent in a heart that looks to observers like it was suddenly, without warning, smashed by as light a thing as a misunderstood meaning. No, none of it is the fault of semantics. At root, already there, making the heart ripe for such reaping, is demonic wisdom and human pride that have combined to build vast complexes of empty heartroom just waiting to be filled with the anti-Jesus spirit.

(Gulp of air)

Those are my Zephaniah thoughts for the day! Thanking Jesus for His mercy to even grant us humble and pliable hearts, and for promising in the end that we "shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain," I shall move on to my next task for the day -- cleaning the windows! (Those bothersome spiderwebs shall finally, thoroughly, be demolished.)


Anonymous said...

that's a good theological post.

deannacs said...

did you really mean the word "harlot" spirit in your paragraph about Oprah? Doesn't it mean a promiscuous woman?

Amy Rachel Peterson said...

I guess that sounds pretty weird, eh?! I wasn't calling Oprah a prostitute. The term "harlot spirit" refers to a demonic power (or philosophy, depending on who you're talking with) that seduces humans away from the one true God, and to the worship of false gods. This is prophesied to happen in a huge way near the end of the age...the Bible calls it "a great falling away." Right now, Oprah exemplifies this process, as she has been using her huge popularity to induce people into New Age studies and philosophies. Tons of Christian women, unaware of the spiritual seduction they're exposed to, are hooked on her shows, and a lot have even started doing her New Age studies. It's referred to as a "harlot" spirit because of how enticing and delightful it makes false gods look. God often compared His backsliding people to a harlot who keeps leaving her husband (Himself) to be with other men (false gods, false comforts, idols, etc.) The book of Hosea is all about this.

Hope that makes sense! I've been thinking about you...was looking through a bunch of photos yesterday and remembering such good times! Tons of love! Amy

Suz said...

Ames, where's your blog???