Until late afternoon yesterday, Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida planed to burn a pile of Qurans in commemoration of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
His decision stirred a hornets nest—not because he planned to do something that has never been done before. Books have been burned in the past, including many Bibles.
People are afraid. For the American troops in Afghanistan and for Americans at home. They’re afraid of escalating the ongoing conflict between the West and Muslim terrorists around the world.
If a full-scale war between East and West had ensued, life as we know it could have come to an end. What do we do then?
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2 Corinthians 11:16-33
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Isaiah 6:1-7:25. In chapter 7, the northern kingdom of Israel and Syria (referred to as Aram) have joined forces to oppose Assyria. At the time, Assyria was conquering surrounding nations and completely decimating them. They would remove the people from their country, move them to Assyria, and force them to intermarry with native Assyrians. Then they would move native Assyrians to the conquered country. As you can guess, losing to Assyria meant the permanent end of your country.
But allying with Israel and Syria was a risky proposition. If Judah allied with them and lost the battle, it would be the end of them as well. Since the two countries acted as a buffer between them and Assyria, Judah could refuse to ally with the other nations. Israel and Syria’s loss would at least slow down the progression while they waited for deliverance.
Israel and Syria, however, desperately needed Judah to help them defeat this imposing country, so they plotted the overthrow of Ahaz in hopes of replacing him with someone more cooperative (the son of Tabeel in verse 6).
So, God sends Isaiah to evil king Ahaz to reassure him. In the process, we read our first prophecy about the Messiah in verses 14-15.
2 Corinthians 11:16-33. In the effort to undermine him while he was away from Corinth, the false apostles boasted about their exploits and Paul’s weaknesses. So, Paul explains the many ways he has suffered for the cause of Christ. If they want to play that game, he basically says, he can play it. But then he tells them that it is better to boast about our weaknesses than our strengths.
Proverbs 23:1-3. After reading this passage numerous times, I think I finally understand it. Why should people put a knife to their throats because they crave the king’s delicacies? Because the desire to live like a king—both in terms of power and lifestyle—can drive them to resort to violence in order to overthrow him. So the writer is saying, if you want to overthrow the king, you might as well put a knife to your throat right now because that’s what is going to happen.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Like storm clouds looming on the horizon, the people of Judah felt a sense of fear beginning to rise. King Uzziah embodied security. His leadership and longevity (he reigned 52 years!) enabled the people of Judah to enjoy lives of safety and stability. In fact, during his reign, their borders had increased and their military had become much stronger. With Assyria slowly devouring nation after nation, their only hope was Uzziah’s strong guidance.
But now Uzziah was dead—and his son and successor Jotham was nothing like his father. What would they do?
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” (Isaiah 6:1–3)
Despite the ominous clouds, God was still on the throne.
When we worry about our kids…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.
When economists tell us that that the worldwide financial system is going to continue faltering…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.
When we struggle finding a job in the middle of continued high employment…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.
When a loved one dies…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.
GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE!!
It’s significant that Isaiah heard the angels saying “the whole earth is full of his glory.” No matter where you go, no matter what you encounter, there is not one square inch (or square centimeter) of earth that God doesn’t say “Mine!”
That includes the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran, and any soil Osama Bin Ladin’s feet had trod.
This doesn’t mean that we should live with the fatalistic worldview that says, “I don’t need to do anything because I can’t change it.” But it does mean that we don’t need to worry. The details that reside beyond our grasp reside firmly in his. Even when we don’t understand.
Modern Israel’s existence today tells us what happened. Assyria never conquered Judah.
But if the world as we know it comes to an end…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE!
Even if Terry Jones riles up the Muslim world.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- In what area(s) of your life do you need reassurance that God is still on the throne?
- What prevents you from believing it?
- How can God still be on the throne when your world seems to fall apart?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.