May 24, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.” (Revelation 8.6)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
What will we choose to believe when the time comes for us to be accountable for our belief? As the NBA playoffs are at hand, the conversation of “the GOAT,” designated by the media pundits of this world as “The Greatest of all Time,” has once again entered into the forefront of accolades and promotions. In another venue of mine, you may remember the warning I presented concerning such a title. We hear it especially in the sports world, but it trickles and leaks out into other arenas of our interest; especially in things that actually do not matter in the greater scheme of life. The title of “GOAT,” from a biblical perspective is nothing to brag about nor a one that should be desired. When it comes to the Book of Revelation, the final judgment separates the “sheep,” those who choose to align themselves with the Godhead: Father and Son and Holy Spirit and commit themselves to follow them to the very best of their intentional ability, and the “goats,” those who have chosen human opinion and popularity or their own embrace or that of anything else but God to be their god and the leader of their lives and life’s ambitions. In the Old Testament, the “goat” was the bearer of the sins of the people and the nation of Israel and led into the wilderness to die. There it symbolized the “carrying away of unrighteousness” from the midst of the people. You might say “out of sight, out of mind.” Sadly, everyone knew where the “scapegoat” went and was tethered. I have a sneaking suspicion that those who had been made “outcasts” themselves by the leadership of Israel feigning obedience to God’s Law as they interpreted it went and found it and ate it. They were “unclean” already so what difference did it make. They were hungry. There was food. Maybe they even bred wild goats and the scapegoats to create a herd of goats for themselves and be sustained. They might have even said “See what the Lord has provided!” Who am I to judge how God takes care of those whom He calls “His own”? Anyway, I am not a fan of the title put on anyone to be called “The GOAT.” I would prefer they all denounce the title and point instead openly and often that they are servants of God sent to minister to His people. The talent and ability given to them is not for self-promotion but for the promotion of God and the fulfillment of scripture which says “All these gifts are to be used to build up the body of Christ until it attains the full measure and stature of Christ Himself; He who is the head of the body.” Yes, we are to grow into Christ just as we have been urged to “grow into some big shoes” when we were kids.
On that day of ultimate and final accountability, we will be given the “fruit of our labor.” Sheep will be gathered into the sheepfold. Goats will be sent out into the wilderness. Sheep will live in the fullness of the care of the Good Shepherd. Goats will live in the fullness of the Bad Shepherd. That pretty much sums up the “justice” of God’s mercy and grace. He leaves the choice to us to determine who we want to be. Jesus even conferred on His disciples that they should seek to be the servant of all. He said of Himself, “I came to serve and not be served.” He didn’t walk around declaring “I AM the King; bow down and worship Me.” But, to those who claimed Him to be their King of kings and Lord of lords as Messiah, Master and Savior, He did not defer the title. But, He also never accepted the title of “GOAT.” Now, before you think I have gotten off the trail of Revelation reflection as it pertains to chapter eight, let me bring to mind the connection between Ezekiel 5 and Revelation 8. In both chapters, we hear God speak of judgment being poured out onto the people of the earth and the world in which they have made for themselves. We must remember that no one escapes the judgment which God rains on the “just” and the “unjust.” Now, in today’s previous designation, God rains on the “sheep” and the “goats.” And those who trust in God will be spared. We must remember that our faith in God does not excuse us from trial and tribulation. It does help us pass through it as the Good Shepherd leads His flock “through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23) Our faith in God helps to sustain us from the peril of sin which comes into the world by the bad, or false, shepherd. (I won’t even dignify the title with capitalization.) The peril of sin is “eternal death” and the inevitability of God ‘s grace never reaching us. Not that it cannot but that even if it was offered it would be refused, turned away and denied as to it’s existence, promise and power.
So, what does Ezekiel 5 and Revelation 8 share in common? There is in both the stark reality that one-third of all life and living will be destroyed before the final judgment comes. It will be poured out on all things. The result should be that the two-thirds which survive in whatever state of existence that would be, would see the awesome and powerful presence of God’s truth and repent. It happens for a time in both the days of Ezekiel, John and now. But, only the truly penitent shall make it through as the “remnant.” Judgment comes. It will be a frightful time as everyone will experience the “fear of the Lord.” It is what we do with that “fear” which then determines the rest of our story…because there is more to come.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
You are our God and we shall be Your people in spirit and in truth. Continue to dwell among us. Let the revelation by Your Holy Spirit inspire us to greater service in a more refined identity. We do not live as ourselves for ourselves. Rather, we live in Christ as He lives in us. We declare it with all the elders and angels in Heaven, saying “Holy, holy, holy is He who was and is and is to come.” In Jesus’ name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.