The Crash of 2008 part three

I have described in the two earlier posts on this topic that we are living in historic time as we undergo what could be one of the most dramatic crashes of history. Crashes aren’t new, but that doesn’t make them easy to endure.

I have also pointed out that human greed, Mammon worship, sin and the actions of high power players will bring problems to our lives and nations. God has His way, despite the activities of men. And that is what brings us to this posting. Here I want to discuss what God is doing.

What is God Doing?

Since God has claim upon our lives and the right to direct and interfere with the affairs of human existence it is to be expected that He will step in and deal with nations as He has done in the past.

The global flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of the lush and sought after region of Sodom and Gomorrah are two of the more striking examples of God dealing with mankind on a large scale. Add to that the total destruction of various nations, such as Moab or prosperous cities, such a Nineveh and Babylon, and you get the idea that God has a track record of dealing with mankind.

Prophetic Messages

There have been prophetic messages which have been passed around. Some well known and many unknown people have sensed that God is at work and has a plan in all that is going on.

Various prophecies indicate that God knew all about this financial upheaval before it happened and that He is willing to care for and protect His people in through it.

Sharon Stone Prophecy of Mid 2008

I cannot vouch for the quality of some information passed to me. I pass on the prophecy from Sharon Stone because it seems to come with solid endorsement.

Dr. Sharon Stone gave a prophecy in Glasgow, Scotland in the summer of 2008. In it she said, “September is a turning point and a sign of the times. A USA world bank’s shares are in trouble.” Note that Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy, September 15, 2008. “I see government in the USA bailing out mortgage giants.” There was a Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, September 7, 2008.

“I see a European airline failing with no notice.” British owned XL Airlines filed bankruptcy, September 12, 2008.

“I see the eyes of the world looking to see, ‘Who is this coming out of Alaska?’” Sarah Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate, August 29, 2008, and she had centre stage during September 2008.

“And I see smoke coming from the Chunnel.” (the tunnel under the English Channel) Fire in a freight train started on September 11, 2008.

So far so good. After an impressive start like that one tends to pay attention. She goes on, “As I see these things, I hear the encouragement of God to His Isaacs in the earth who sow in the times of famine and reap 100 fold in the year. September will convince you that you must connect to His economic system.”

“Your storehouse is not an earthly bank. Hold on and I will bail you out of your mortgage issues. Am I not better to you than any government? I will not leave you stranded on foreign soil, and I will carry you above the circumstances better than any plane or jet. And your hope is not an Alaskan saviour, but Me.”

Cindy Jacobs

Cindy Jacobs is relied upon as someone who hears from God. She had her own sense of financial issues needing to be dealt with. She explains, “During a January (2008) worship service, the Lord spoke to me, ‘Cindy, the strongman over America doesn’t live in Washington D.C.—the strongman lives in New York City! Call together my people to pray for the economy.’

This emphasis on New York points to Wall Street as having more authority in the nation than the elected governments.

Australian Perspective

I have spoken to several people who have received dreams or impressions about what is happening. Two different people have now told me of seeing dreams of a terrible storm or whirlwind devastating Australia while they were perfectly safe in the eye of the storm.

Back in August 2007 I was told of a prophetic word that “A Storm is Coming”. Since then I have heard of multiple extensions on that theme.

What is important in the things being heard by Australians is the emphasis being put on God’s jealousy for the nation and His wish that Australia would acknowledge Him. It seems that God is allowing devastation to humble the Australians who are living as if they can make their own rules.

The warnings go to the effect that if the leaders and people of Australia try to find a solution that ignores God then God will hit them with yet another wave, overturning the plans. If they continue to resist Him then He will continue to humble the nation until there is nothing left.

What to Do

I have some suggestions about what people can do to brace themselves for what might be a protracted and difficult season. There is plenty of hope for God’s people, so I am not recommending dire steps. In the next and probably final post on this topic I’ll pass on my recommendations to you.

Politics in the Bible

Expanding a point made in a recent post about God’s Supremacy [The Supreme God] I want to celebrate with you the place of God in politics, by showing you politics in the Bible.

God as the Ultimate Political Figure

Reading through Isaiah recently I was struck by the familiar words of Isaiah 66:1.

“Thus says the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build to me? And where is the place of my rest?”

I was reminded of Isaiah’s vision, described in Isaiah 6:1.

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.”

There is no more powerful political symbol than the throne. While some modern monarchs are reduced to a mere formal role in their society, the throne still bears the age-old significance of ultimate authority.

Of Thrones

The fact that God is seated on a throne immediately speaks of his political authority. Thrones are the places from which the rulers speak. It is their place of power over all in their dominion.

Yet thrones do not always prevail. That is to say that one kingdom will be overthrown by another and the old throne of authority will be displaced. This has been the process of history. Kingdoms come and go and kings reign for a season before being replaced by an alternative kingdom.

God’s Enduring Throne

The Bible tells us that God is on a throne. That throne is special in several ways. It is ‘supreme’ in several ways.

Firstly God’s throne is in heaven. His is not an earthly throne that draws its scope from earthly territory. God’s throne is in heaven, so its scope spreads from there. Earthly geography is just a small portion of the realm over which His throne presides.

Secondly, God’s throne is an eternal throne. It is not vulnerable nor will it ever be replaced by some competitor, or superior force from another land.

“Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of your kingdom is a right sceptre.” Psalm 45:6

Historical Evidence

God’s primacy as the supreme political force in human history should be evident in human history. If it cannot be seen in practice then its reality becomes irrelevant.

Do we see God interfering with human political process? Do we see God exercising His personal political authority over the political affairs of men?

The short answer is ‘Yes’. So let me summarise some of the historical evidences.

Confrontation of Rulers

We see that God’s people were able to confront kings and act completely independently of the prevailing political landscape. God’s people were able to defy kings and rulers, without resorting to violence and without recourse from those they confronted.

Consider the examples of Moses challenging Egypt’s Pharaoh and of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego defying Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar.

Pre-emptive Prophetic Announcement

To prove God’s hand in the political affairs of men we have several examples of God pre-emptively announcing what would happen politically in the future.

God told Abraham about the defeat of Egypt half a millennium before it happened. Daniel prophesied of Alexander the Great and his achievements before they occurred.

God gave Nebuchadnezzar a summary of world kingdoms and their relative significance spanning many centuries into the future.

The prophets warned Israel and Judah of their captivities long before the various invasions and conquests took place.

Present Day Evidences

Current evidence of God being still on the throne and supreme over the events of human politics includes the existence of the nation of Israel. Prophecies of this restoration, against all the odds of human history, were made in Bible times, dating back almost 2,000 years.

The existence of the political entity of Israel is clear evidence that God’s place over the affairs of nations persists to this day.

Another evidence is the persistent ability of righteousness to prevail. If God was not involved in the political affairs of present-day human experience then the opportunity for evil to prevail would be enormous. Yet we see that righteousness still prevails. Evil processes, regimes and purposes, while able to emerge for a season, are brought down and replaced by that which is more reasonable and blessed.

Good Men of Good Intent Still Prevail

Despite the enormous economic and political influence of those who wish to exploit, control and abuse others, men and women of good intent continue to prevail. People with nothing on their side but principle, faith and character have been able to topple regimes, change laws, liberate people and change culture.

This is evidence of God’s sovereignty. God promises His people that if they will do such inane acts (in apparent practical terms) as repent and pray, they will have power and influence over the affairs of life. These otherwise insignificant men and women can achieve much, and they still do today.

God is Still on the Throne

God is the Lord of all the earth. His throne is in heaven and His eyes are on the earth. Any one individual who will be God’s agent in any situation or culture can prevail against all the forces known to man.

No political power, economic contract or military infrastructure can overthrow God, nor can it frustrate the man or woman who is acting in God’s supreme authority in the affairs of mankind on the earth.

Giralamo Savonarola Impacts Florence and is Martyred

This is the day that … Giralamo Savonarola was born to a noble family in Florence, Italy, in 1452.

At the age of 21, he left home secretly to join a Dominican monastery.

He was thirty when he preached his first sermons in St Marcos, Florence, resulting in ridicule and shame. “The disappointed thousands went away murmuring at the incompetence” of the preacher (Savonarola, by Rev. W. Rule, 1855, page 22).

For the next six years he retreated from the pulpit to master the art of preaching … and to study the Scriptures. His zeal was noted and he was recalled to Florence.

When he stood again in St Marcos, it was like a newborn John the Baptist, thundering out the Word of the Lord and calling sinners to repentance. “Tears ran profusely, mourners beat upon their breasts, crying to God for mercy; the church echoed and re-echoed with their sobs” (Prophets in Evangelism¸ by F. Barlow, page 159).

And among those whose sins he lashed was the infamous Medici – Lorenzo the Magnificent, Prince of Florence! Humanist notions had been promoted under Lorenzo. And even the Pope “who, though claiming to be head of the Church, was living openly in sin” came in for a powerful rebuke from this Italian ‘prophet’ (Yarns on Christian Pioneers, by E. Hayes, page 15).

Pope Alexander VI – one of the Borgia family – was denounced as “a heretic and an infidel”. Bear in mind that Savonarola was himself a Roman Catholic. But corruption and sin were rampant … and Savonarola attacked both clergy and civic leaders.

In 1493 Savonarola was given charge, as the first vicar-general, to reform the Dominican order in Tuscany, which he had proposed.

His great bonfire in the city plaza – 7 February, 1497 – saw the destruction of “lewd books, obscene pictures, carnival costumes, playing cards, dice, false hair, books on astrology and witchcraft – indeed anything that reeked of sinful living”.

The Venetian Ambassador offered him 20,000 gold ducats for his pile of ‘vanities’ heaped so high in a tiered pyramid. But Savonarola burned the lot!

The death of Lorenzo, and the invasion of France (destruction of the city averted by Savonarola’s face-to-face encounter with the French king), led to this remarkable preacher being the uncrowned ruler of Florence.

The republic of Florence was to be a Christian commonwealth, of which God was the sole sovereign, and His Gospel the law: the most stringent enactments were made for the repression of vice and frivolity. Gambling was prohibited and the vanities of dress were restrained by sumptuary laws.

It became a stronghold of puritanism … though not in doctrine!

By 1490 the tide of popular opinion was turning against him. Pope Alexander VI ex-communicated him (13 May, 1497). He was accused of heresy. He ignored the orders and continued in public office, but the next year the Medici were returned to power and Savonarola was ordered to stop preaching.

He was brought to trial for falsely claiming to have seen visions, and uttered prophecies, for religious error, and for sedition. Under torture he made avowals which he afterwards withdrew. He was declared guilty and the sentence was confirmed by Rome. On May 23, 1498, this extraordinary man and two Dominican disciples were hanged and burned.

A biographer records an interesting incident as Savonarola was led through the crowd to the place of his martyrdom. Some “broke through the police lines and slashed at his bare legs and feet with their knives and daggers …” But a poor old woman offered him a crust of bread. “Take and eat, Blessed Father Girolamo,” she said. He smiled, “Thank you, my daughter, but I need no food now. I have so little way to go. In a moment I will be in the mansions on high having sup with my Lord and Saviour” (A Crown of Fire, by P. van Paassen, page 313).

So it was, on 23 May, 1498, at the age of 46, he was hung and burned in the Plaza. During these final hours, the Catholic Bishop had said: “I declare thee separated from the church militant and triumphant.” To which Savonarola replied: “From the church militant, yes; but from the church triumphant, no; that is not yours to do!”

Luther spoke of Savonarola as “a pioneer of the Reformation” and another writer adds that this Dominican priest “seems to have believed in justification by faith” (Who’s Who in Christian History, page 608).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Book of Books

I am staggered at my ongoing discovery of the Bible as a profound and amazing gift from eternity. So let me extol to you just some of the wonders of this amazing Book of Books.

My Background

As a lad I heard people say that the Bible is the “Book of Books”. I knew that they held it dear, but I could not understand why. It seemed to me that maybe they were the ‘sentimental’ type, or had less personal resource to draw from and so needed something else to assist them.

I was given my first Bible for my tenth birthday, by my Sunday School teacher. She told me she had a wonderful gift to give me for my birthday. When it turned out to be just a Bible I was visibly disappointed. She tried to enthuse me with the wonder of this profound book, but I just couldn’t get excited. I am not sure I was even thankful.

Book of Books

When I heard the term ‘Book of Books’ I realised it was ambiguous. The Bible was both a collection of 66 books written by diverse authors over several millennia, and also a book that stood supreme over all other books. It was “the book” among all books.

I gradually learned to appreciate the Bible. My journey in that direction was painfully slow, despite my regular church attendance and attempts to establish daily Bible reading using the Scripture Union notes. I most often ended up cramming several days’ worth in a dash to catch up on forgotten reading. My main motivation was fear and guilt, not a love for the Bible. I thought that reading the Bible would make a good impression on God and save me from any nasty things I might rather avoid.

New Discovery

Just recently, however, I was excited to discover the true meaning of the term ‘Book of Books’! I am surprised I never saw this before and the discovery quite intrigues and motivates me.

What I came to see is that the Bible is so rich in and of itself that it is able to speak into people’s lives and circumstances as if it was a set of diverse texts, not just what it appears to be. That’s a long way to say it, but I’ll try to explain. I want you to catch the same sense of discovery, assuming you haven’t already caught this insight. Maybe you’re wondering why I’m so excited about something you knew all along. If that’s the case please bear with me.

The Obvious Book

The Bible is obviously a religious text. It is full of things religious people quote and study all the time. So it is most readily relegated to the religious section of any library. It is a book for the religious boffins and devotees who care for such literature. It contains prophecies, regulations, prescriptions for rituals, esoteric spiritual stuff that doesn’t have immediate practical application, a religious vocabulary and much more that attests to its place as a Religious Text.

Now it has been used for much more than religion, but the casual observer could be forgiven for thinking the Bible should be put alongside the Koran, Hindu texts and texts about Confucius, Buddha, etc.

But the Bible is much, much more than a religious book. It is a religious text. That is its persona as one of the books it can serve as. But it is able to be pulled off the shelf as other books as well.

A Library in Itself

Imagine having one book on your shelf. When you want a cooking book you grab that one book and open it up. There you find recipes. Then, when you want a handyman book you grab the same text and open it, to find that it is full of drawings and instructions about home maintenance. Suppose then you need a book on managing your home finances. You reach for the same book, open it up and find that it has instructions on budgeting, managing bank accounts, and so on.

That book would be a library in itself. And, in a similar but different way the Bible is just that kind of library in one book. What has impressed me is a sense for just how profound the Bible can be to a diverse range of applications.

The Familiar Diversity

Stories: We are all familiar with the stories recorded in the Bible. Many children, including me, were enthralled by the amazing and wonderful historical accounts given in the Bible. David and Goliath is a perennial favourite, along with Daniel in the lion’s den, the crossing of the Red Sea and the miracles of Jesus. This is a story book par excellence.

History: We are also familiar with the historicity of the Bible. The events described in the Bible are mostly of historical account. They inform us of events and practices which we have next to no other record of. Historians rely on the Bible as a source book for cultural and historical insights.

Poetry: We are all familiar with the Bible as a source of poetry. There are various books in the Bible which are categorised as Hebrew poetry. Other portions are so beautiful and sweet in their content that they are often used as readings in such ceremonies as weddings, funerals and religious observances. So the Bible can be pulled off the shelf when someone wants some deeply beautiful and meaningful poetry.

Wisdom: We are also familiar with the Bible as a source of wisdom. Some books in the Bible are referred to as Wisdom literature. These books, incidentally, are also in the poetic category. Wisdom about relationships, problem solving, avoiding trouble, maintaining the peace, and so on, can be found in the pages of the Bible. So many people who need wisdom for their lives turn to the Bible as a valued resource.

Guidance: We are also familiar with the idea of the Bible being used for guidance. A girl I knew in primary school told me that her mother would open the Bible and point at the page, expecting whatever she chanced upon to be a word from God for her. This is not a recommended practice, as it tends to turn the Bible into a fortune-telling tool, contrary to God’s curse upon such activity. Many Christians, however, do prayerfully put their questions before God and then read their daily Bible reading with expectation that something will speak into their situation.

Moral Mentoring: We have all heard people refer to the moral standards given us in the Bible. Many people have acknowledged Jesus Christ the most exemplary person to have ever lived. He is spoken of as the “greatest man that ever lived” and His life has been studied by many, even when they did not believe Him to be the Son of God. The Bible could be used by every youth, not as a religious text, but as a text to guide them toward exemplary moral character.

From these examples you can see that the one book functions as multiple books, on hand for different applications.

What about ….

The Bible speaks into many other subjects as well, so have you ever considered the Bible as a text book on those things?

What about health and medicine? The Bible promotes sanitation and various health regulations. Certain foods are promoted over others. Is the Bible not a worthy resource text for such things?

And what about government? The Bible has much to say about leadership, forms of government, responsibilities within social order, and so on. So maybe the Bible could be taken off the shelf and studied just as a text for governmental order.

Then, what about business administration? There are many instructions to do with payment of employees, delegation of authority, enterprise and the like. These are business matters which are so valuable in themselves as to recommend the Bible as a business text book too. The Character First organisation applies the character qualities given in the Bible as a means of improving business efficiency and productivity. There may be many applications

The Bible has much to say about legal matters, so the Bible is a worthy Law textbook.

If you were to embrace the Bible for any one of these and other applications you may find that it comes alive in your hands as a much more valuable and richer text than you have ever counted it to be.

If that were the case it would become to you a Book of Books!

The Bible – The Profound Book

The Bible is the most Enduring, Authoritative, Profound, Resilient, Enlightening, Impactful, Endorsed and Significant book in all of human history.

The AUTHORITY of the Bible is only one of the factors that make it quite PROFOUND. The quite amazing qualities of the Bible which make it profound include: the numerous prophecies which it records that have come to pass, even centuries after the predictions; the surprising unity of the text, despite the centuries over which it was written and the diversity of the human authors; and the dynamic nature of the text, which remains current and relevant, despite the passing of entire millennia.

The Bible is the only book in human history to present us with prophecies which are fulfilled up to centuries later.

Considering the number, diversity and time separatedness of Bible writers the Unity of the Bible is profound.

So too is its authority, relevance and impact through history. It is a miracle of human literature that such a book should be created at all, let alone under such circumstances.

The Bible is also “living”. It has the power to bring to fruit in a reader improvements which they could not achieve by other means. The Bible, therefore performs as a type of seed which germinates within the reader and produces fruit.

It is also spiritual truth that sets people free. Its truths about spiritual things are attested to by their positive impact on lives and cultures.

These qualities are unique and set the Bible into a category of its own. It is truly a profound text.