A Tale of Two Kingdoms

truth-2015

 

A TALE OF TWO KINGDOMS

 

Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him
Acts 9:22-23

 

One of the consistent themes present in ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth seen in the Scripture, is that soon after God does something, Satan also makes his move.

When you read verse 22 and learn that the Apostle Paul was literally proving that Jesus is the Messiah (or ‘Christ’ in Greek) , you hardly would expect that the next verse you read would be, ‘and so they plotted to kill him.’

But as you carefully read through Scripture, you begin to see that this sort of retaliatory effect to the Kingdom of God being established on earth is consistent all throughout the Word of God.

 

Kingdom of Light: Jesus heals a crippled man.

Kingdom of darkness: The Sanhedrin plots to kill Jesus.

 

Kingdom of Light: Joseph receives a prophetic dream from God regarding His future provision for Israel.

Kingdom of darkness: His brothers want to kill him; throw him in a hole, and sell him to a caravan.

 

Kingdom of Light: God uses Jeremiah to tell the kings of Judah of God’s impending judgment and to surrender to the Babylonians.

Kingdom of darkness: King Jehoiakim and Zedekiah painfully persecute Jeremiah for his prophecies.

 

And there are far too many more instances to count!

But the interesting difference about the verse from the book of Acts that I’ve highlighted today that makes it stand apart from the examples in the Old Testament including the Gospels, is that Paul is proving the truth with ALL of the information now revealed!

Not only do we have the Torah and the Tanakh (the Old Testament) as a foundation, but we also have the very fulfillment of the prophecies in these writings about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus completed and accomplished!

So you’d think to yourself, ‘well maybe they’d change their minds about it all now, because after all, we don’t just have to simply live hoping that these future promises will be fulfilled, but the actual promise has now come!’

But no, instead we see that the kingdom of darkness – as it is rightly called – still continues to darken the minds of the unbelieving to a now substantiated, established, and proven historical act that fulfills these prophecies… The crucifixion!

Just like a man who has a male anatomy from birth can somehow be convinced of the lie that he is instead a woman, men and women also convince themselves that the truth of Jesus can be a myth, or an allegory, or a legend.

And I didn’t choose that example to bash on people with issues concerning sexual identity, I merely intended to use it to show us how partial we are with truth, dogmatically affirming what is clearly apparent in one case, but not as zealous to apply that logic consistently to all things.

But this only affirms to us that just as history reveals, the kingdom of darkness is still at work even after the cross and resurrection.

Although Satan is disarmed and in all truthfulness is powerless to reign, he can still manifest his murderous lies to eternally separate men and women from God wherever ignorance of history and unfounded reasoning for unbelief are still idolized.

 

When I looked up the word used in Acts 9:22 for ‘Proving’ that Paul used, it was the Word: Sumbibazó (Greek). And this was it’s meaning:

to grasp a truth by intertwining ideas needed to “get on board,” i.e. come to the necessary judgment (conclusion.); to prove; reason; conclude.

 

Similar to the days of Noah, there’s a new Ark that has been constructed, and the facts all point to the man Jesus Christ!

He has bore our sins, taken away our shame, released us from the burden of our guilt, and welcomes us freely into relationship with our Heavenly Father.

 

Proven – Established – Truth

 

Get on board…

 

 

 

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

 

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Servants of Light – by Raymond Mowla

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What does it mean to be Christian and follow Jesus in this generation?

What is the call and mission of those who are called by His Name?

Five years after giving his life to Jesus Christ, these were just a few of the questions Raymond Mowla was asking of God.

Servants of Light is thirteen short stories of discovering God’s supernatural response to these questions, and His divine appointment to Christian service.

Get your copy today!

Available at:
Essence Book Store

Trust ♔ Jesus!

Rethinking Justice

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While Yahweh may have said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay”…. It would seem that our society … considers itself to be God …. And nowhere is the Spirit of punishment more visible and more virulent than in our prisons.
– Excerpt from “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Punishment”

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Whenever we thrust ourselves in a role exclusively reserved for God, we sin. God is the lone just judge. When we forget this, we are prone to mistake punitive responses to crime for justice. Justice is not seeking legislative vengeance, issuing retributive sentences, or condemning to the death penalty those who commit violent offences. Our Creator is the only magistrate and jury who should possess the power to end life. Capital punishment then is antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is predicted on reconciliation, redemption, and restoration.

– Excerpt from “Rethinking Incarceration,” by Dominique Dubois Gilliard – Advocating For Justice That Restores

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The work that faithful volunteers across the country do each day on behalf of *Prison Fellowship Canada* for prisoners, returning citizens, and the families of the incarcerated is so crucial.

After being labelled, degraded, denied basic human rights and taught through experience that retributive justice is God’s solution to sin, is it any wonder why the concept of the unmerited favor we call *’Grace’* is so foreign to Returning Citizens, (ex-prisoners) and the association of a professing Judeo-Christian based legal system has become a stumbling block to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

If we truly want the scofflaw and prisoners to know that we believe in a loving God who offers forgiveness and community restoration to sinners, we have to first begin by demonstrating it to those who we – and society at large – believe deserves otherwise.

————

One of the most profound examples of restorative justice is found in an unlikely place – the book of Numbers.

Most people perceive that the God of the Old Testament ruled punitively and the Mosaic Law dictated all interpersonal interactions. In the New Testament, on the other hand, God’s grace abounds, and the Spirit guides the Christian community toward compassion and mercy. It is therefore surprising for many to see what unfolds in Numbers 12.

In this passage, restorative justice is divinely implemented within a relational context.

Numbers 12:1 says,

“Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.”

The cause of their animosity toward Moses is clear. But why was marrying such a woman so problematic in their eyes?

Cushites were from the region of Cush. The people of Cush were known for their black skin. There is another reference to the distinctive skin colour of Cushites in Jeremiah 13:23 which reads,

“Can the Ethiopian [Cushite] change his skin

    Or the leopard change his spots?
Neither can you do good,
    Who are accustomed to doing evil.”

The emphasis this passage places on the hue of the Cushite people’s skin is intentional. Cushites were infamous because of their blackness.

Furthermore, Biblical scholar David Hayes writes that Cush was “where a Black African civilization flourished for over two thousand years. Thus, it [Numbers 12:1] is quite clear that Moses marries a black African woman.”

As Aaron and Miriam slandered Moses because of their prejudice and ethnocentrism, God intervened. God summoned the three stakeholders to the tent of meeting. There God confronted Aaron and Miriam about their sin, calling them to confess, repent, and make amends. It is worth noting that Aaron and Miriam were faith and community leaders who held positions of power and influence in spite of their bigotry, but God does not allow this to continue unhindered.

As God departed from them, Miriam’s skin became “like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb, with its flesh half eaten away.”

Miriam’s skin was leprous – a condition notoriously associated with the depletion of skin pigmentation, causing skin discolouration that leaves a person with pale, albino-like white skin.

Because of bigotry (racism), Miriam is rendered pigmentless, left with unnaturally white skin by God because of her antiblackness.

If the story were to end here, this would be divine affirmation of a retributive system; a wrong was committed, the violators were confronted, and a punishment was administered (at least to one of the offenders.)

However, the story does not end here. Upon seeing what happens to Miriam, Aaron turned to Moses, confessed their sinfulness, and pleaded for Moses’ forgiveness.

Following a meritocratic ethic, Moses could have said, “You got what you deserved.” Nevertheless, Moses heard the confession of Aaron and cried out to God in response saying, “Please God, heal her.”

Aaron’s confession and repentance moved Moses from harm to healing; *Moses shifts from being the victim to being an advocate for those who victimized him.* This kind of transformation is only made possible through the power and work of the Holy Spirit.

Nevertheless, God’s gathering of accountability made room for the Spirit’s movement.

Despite Moses plea, God determined that punishment was warranted for Miriam and Aaron’s sin. God replied to Moses,

“Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.”

Numbers 12:14

This is important because some critique restorative justice as soft on crime. However, even within restorative approaches, at times an offender does need to be removed from the community to reflect, learn from, and change in light of their violation. Nonetheless, as we see here, there must be an integration plan.

Restorative Justice affirms the Biblical truth that as a covenantal community, we cannot truly move forward until everyone is welcomed to reintegrate into community. Though not everyone will accept this invitation, part of our covenantal responsibility as people sacramentally marked and sealed by God is inviting and welcoming people in – especially those the world shuns.

Excerpt from “Rethinking Incarceration”

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“Then the King (Jesus) will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Matthew 25:34-36
Trust ♔ Jesus!