GOD’S KINGDOM IS FOR EARTH-LOVERS

GOD’S KINGDOM IS FOR EARTH-LOVERS

God’s Kingdom originally was The Garden of Eden, the perfect place on the perfect earth, boasting boundless beauty, marvelous magnificence, unequalled splendor, year round delicious fruits for the picking, shalom galore: not a dissonant note, only wholesome harmony.

In that perfect place God eased Adam and Eve, charged them to read that beautiful book, the Book of Paradise, where every creature reflected God’s glory: they were there to live, to learn and, especially, to relish.

Picture these two creatures: imagine those two humans, feeble man and feeble woman, creatures among creatures, two tiny bits of the universe endowed with self knowl¬edge, two tiny bits of a world that had become self-conscious: there they were, not even in control over their own heart beat.

There they stood, these two, fragile, weak members of that over¬whelming massive context of the Kingdom. But there they also stood as rulers, as a prince and a princess among all creatures, and as owners. Psalm 115:16 unequivocally says, “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to humanity.”

Wow! God entrusted this beautiful world to this naïve pair and to us! So when the enemy came, posing as a friend, they were bound to fall for his clever talk.
And they did!

THE BIRTH OF CAPITALISM ALREADY THEN!

Look at this: Genesis 2: 9 paints Paradise, “And the Lord made all kinds of trees grow… trees that were PLEASING to the eye and GOOD for food.
Note the order: beauty before utility.

Then, in the next chapter, 3: 6, the order is reversed, “And the woman saw that the tree was GOOD for food and PLEASING to the eye”. Again note the order: now utility before beauty. Right there the birth of Capitalism, and the beginning of the END. That simple reversal embodied the death of creation and the need for renewal.

THE TWO HOLY WORDS.

On every page the Bible makes plain that the meaning of creation resides only in the one overarching motif: the motif of God’s Kingdom. That is why Scripture and Creation are never at odds: they always form a unity where the one reinforces the other.

The church has recognized this.

Here’s what the Belgic Confession says,

“We know God by two means:
First, by the creation, preservation, and government
of the universe,
since that universe is before our eyes
like a beautiful book
in which all creatures,
great and small,
are as letters
to make us ponder
the invisible things of God:
God’s eternal power and divinity,
as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20.
All these things are enough to convict humans
and to leave them without excuse.”

The Belgic Confession continues:
“Second, God makes himself known to us more clearly
by his holy and divine Word,
as much as we need in this life, for God’s glory
and for our salvation.”

That gives us TWO HOLY WORDS: Creation as God’s Direct and Primary Word; the Bible as God’s indirect and Secondary Word.

However, the church has reversed the order, in many cases eliminated Creation as God’s Holy Word altogether. Just as the beauty aspect was pushed back to give priority to utility, so the church took the easy way out and let reason, the intellect – the inspired human Scriptures – have precedence over God’s direct creation-word.

Now, in the End Time, this has resulted in immense natural disasters because the vast majority of Christians does not even see creation as God’s word at all and strictly relies on the Scriptures as the key to Salvation, resulting in such ungodly ideas as RAPTURE.

Paul recognized that when he wrote ROMANS 1: 20, “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.”

I repeat, “All these created things are enough to convict humans and to leave them without excuse”.

We can never claim ignorance. When we appear before God’s judgement – and we all will be judged – believing in the CREATION word is decisive. Romans 1: 20 does not say that reading and believing the Bible opens up the way to salvation. No, not recognizing Creation as God’s Holy Word: that is enough to convict people.

THE NATURE OF THE KINGDOM

Here’s what the Bible says about THE KINGDOM, God’s perfect earth.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find the word harmony, but the idea of synergy, of concordance, is one of the most essential features of the entire doctrine of creation found in the Bible. And that innate cohesion – everything is connected to everything else – can only be so totally harmonious because every part in that great edifice of creation is, in its deepest sense, focused on the one common goal: devout obedience to the will of the Almighty, in which men and women, angels and animals, plants and stars, sun and moon, are united.

The world in which we live is a well ordered world. We read in Scripture that God was very pleased when he saw what he had made, “and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

EVOLUTION!!.

Creation explains where Scripture lacks: we can’t find an answer to homosexuality in the Bible. For that we have to rely on creation, where it does occur naturally. Also the age of the earth can only be deduced from investigating the earth itself.

The Kingdom of God was not intended to be static but dynamic. From its very inception the Kingdom contained an incentive to develop, evolve, and unfold all its potentials and powers contained in it.

Here I hear an echo of Nietzsche’s words: Remain true to the earth!
Bonhoeffer in his Creation and Fall, dealing with the first three chapters of the Bible, Genesis 1-3, writes, “The human being is the human being who is taken from earth…. The earth is its mother…. It is God’s earth out of which humankind is taken….. Its bond with the earth belongs to its essential being. Human beings have their existence as existence on earth.”

Johan Herman Bavinck in his Between the Beginning and the End: a radical Kingdom Vision writes,
“A long time ago the Bible tells us, God fashioned the first human pair from the earth. The Hebrew word for soil is Adamah, from which Adam comes. The word adam reminded the Israelite immediately of the first Adam who was taken from the soil of the earth, hence the well-known saying: soil we are and to soil we shall return. Just as we have red clay and black soil, we too have people of different colors. The word ‘adam’ typifies the human race in its unbreakable unity. We all come from the earth and we all go back to the earth. Earth-bound we are, forever. We, the human beings, are adam, and belong to adamah, the life-bearing earth. With every sinew of our exis-tence we are tied to the earth, which bears us and feeds us.”

God gave us authority over the earth and its plants and animals, to rule over them and to utilize them for God’s service, to fathom and under¬stand creation’s hidden powers, and so bring to full deploy¬ment the infinite possibilities of creation.

THE SIN AGAINST THE KINGDOM.

We have ruptured the Kingdom; we have brought dissonance into the world order. At one time everything in heaven and on earth was united in one over arching purpose, in devout submission to him who created it all. We now have excluded ourselves from this goal.

The heavens declare God’s glory and the expanse tells us the work of his hands, but we, the human race, we alone have refused to be included in that act of worship. We have torn ourselves away from this all embracing body and have declared ourselves to be sovereign.

We have become a law to ourselves and by that act clothed ourselves with the mantle of loneliness, no longer able to hear and understand the song of creation, and, sadly, in turn no longer seen by creation as part and parcel of it.

Today we experience this sundering of creational harmony with the most ominous results. I fear what is in store for us in 2018, if 2017 is an indication.

The disappearance 75% of all insects is deeply frightening. E.O. Wilson, the world’s foremost expert on insects, says that, when all insects go, the human race has only a few months left. The most likely cause of this INSECTAGEDDON has come because the land has become hostile: “Cursed is the soil because of you,” Genesis 3: 17.

Even more frightening is the melting of the Arctic. On January 2018, methane levels as high as 2764 ppb (parts per billion) were recorded there. The very high reading was likely caused by methane hydrate destabilization in the sediments on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.
In the short term methane is 100 times more lethal than our CO2. There are billions of tons of this explosive gas on the Arctic seabed. ARCTIC NEWS calls it “The Unfolding Arctic Catastrophe”, and, if the hydrates are affected, gives us no more than 8 years.

Last week Gerald Caplan in the Toronto Globe and Mail had this to say,

“In any event, there are other roads to doom. For a start: the updating of nuclear weapons, climate wilding and Mr. Trump’s America spinning out of control. Take the third: there’s no reason to believe that this summer’s outbreak of violent anarchy in Charlottesville, Va., will be the last. Countless Americans are ready to erupt. It’s estimated that hundreds of heavily armed neo-fascist militias threaten to unleash their power, knowing they have an ally in the White House. Both furious African-Americans and frustrated whites have had enough. America feels ripe for its second civil war, which, like the first, would unleash forces that can hardly be imagined. How can any normal sensible person fail to be shaken? I include me. Frankly, these feel to me like the apocalyptic End Times that the hysterical Old Testament prophets foresaw many millenniums ago.”

ANGRY NATURE CAUSES ANGRY PEOPLE.

We now see God’s work of art embroiled in the power of demons. Satanic forces have thrown themselves onto nature, onto us humans, onto the entire radiant creation.

No longer is our universe one of only beauty and harmony, but, especially in our days, one of unpredictable powers which threaten us with annihilation from all directions. The world in which we live is dominated by demons. Every hour we experience the terrible influ¬ence of this satanic situ¬a¬tion.

It is impossible to visualize the immense difference between the majes¬tic, harmonious unity of creation as it emer¬ged from God’s hand, and the frantic, demon dominated planet in which we, the cursed human¬ity, dwell after the fall into sin.

THE KINGDOM IS IN SHATTERS.

That is the profound tragedy con¬fronting the life of the world. This goes far beyond the fact that we have torn up its cohesion: it actually means that God has surrendered his own creation to Satan and his followers, whose only purpose is to abuse it and destroy it.

The Kingdom, after all, com¬prises all things, all plants, all animals, all people, all angels. The King¬dom includes the sea and the land, the moun-tains and the valleys, all that was and is and is to come; and all of it is incorporated in a great and mighty whole.

The Kingdom is the place where all things are in their rightful place and where everything can fulfill its function and deploy its potential in complete harmony with all that surrounds it.

The Kingdom is synonymous with light, peace, joy, service to God, in harmonious vene¬ra¬tion. Where the Kingdom is being destroyed, where this structure comes apart at the seams, there is decomposition, brokenness, frag¬men¬tation, enmity, contra¬diction, meaninglessness, darkness, death. The Kingdom is the smile of God’s good pleasure: “See, it was very good.”
Soon, very soon, almost any minute now our prayer “YOUR KINGDOM COME”, will become reality.

Remember, That KINGDOM IS FOR EARTH-LOVERS, because John 3: 16 says: “For God so loved the WORLD – THE COSMOS – EVERYTHING that lives and moves and has a being – that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

That is our hope in life and death.

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LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH

DECEMBER 30 2017

LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH. (1)

My sorrowful ‘end of the year’ message.

Last week I was listening to Handel’s Messiah and the aria, “he was despised, rejected by men, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.”
No wonder. How would you feel when your Creation, your very finest work of art, is destroyed? How would you feel when the church, your very own people, is the leading agent there? Jesus himself tells us that we, his children, have to suffer with Jesus: no crown without a cross. Instead….
Of course we cannot expect the world to know better but for the church to reject its Saviour by destroying her creation adds insult to injury and most surely calls for LAMENT, LAMENT, LAMENT.

Look at the Protestant church: utterly depressing. Just imagine: Franklin Graham is now a Trump prophet. “Never in my lifetime have we had a President of the US willing to take such a strong outspoken stand for the Christian faith like Donald Trump,” tweeted Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham. The Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress sees a divine hand at work: “God intervened in our election and put Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

For weeping out loud, for shedding tears by the bucket: that’s what the Conservative Evangelical Church now stands for. It embraces a man who is the human embodiment of the question “What would Jesus NOT do?” Trump is the very opposite of all what Jesus stands for and the very opposite of what the church at large should stand for but does not: the true Jesus is despised and rejected by church and nation. The majority of North American church people believe in Rapture, the falsehood that encourages the Rape of Creation, the destruction of God.

If that is not depressing, then what is? Yes, LAMENT is in order.

That’s why today denominations are doing more harm than good. Their emphasis is exclusively on personal salvation with heaven as the goal.

Here is what my Bible tells me, and it could not be more different.
(1)There is no such thing as ‘personal salvation’. The ‘me with God in heaven’ is pure paganism.
(2) The heaven heresy has poisoned every church and almost all church members.

Am I too harsh here? I know sincere believers who are ‘heaven believers’, so let me not judge them, but when they purposely molest the earth, and embrace TRUMP, the liar in chief, a true disciple of The Evil One, then I have no doubts.

Here’s what the Bible says.

When Jesus explains the Gospel to a leader in Israel, Nicodemus, as recorded in John 3, he makes two radical statements.
In verse 13 Jesus plainly and convincingly states, “Nobody has ever gone to heaven except he – Jesus – who came from there, and in verse 17, “God loved the cosmos so much that he bartered the life of his only son – Jesus – to buy it back from Satan.

History repeats itself: the church is falling into the same trap as before Jesus, but this time it is worse.

The Old Testament Jewish religion emphasized the Torah, with the church officials, the Scribes and Pharisees, adding their own requirements for salvation. When Jesus criticized this, they killed him.

Today it is worse: the pagan-based heaven belief has made the church a willing helper of the evil one – Satan – and that same church is now in the process of killing creation, effectively killing God.

The biblical Truth is that we must love with all our might, with every fibre in our body, our origin and ultimate destination. Our origin is, as Genesis 3: 19 tells us, “Soil we are and to soil we shall return”. God fashioned us from the earth and to this same earth we will return in eternity. (See my previous series on IMAGINING ETERNITY). The earth is our origin, the earth feeds us, the earth clothes us, and the earth is our final destination. God made the earth, that’s why it is holy.

The day of quibbling about church teachings and presenting sermons is over. All we need to know is that Jesus replaced all laws and all confessions and all doctrines with the Love Commandment: love even one’s enemies and love creation. That means hands-on action, especially in our times of rapid Climate Change.

However, today the message of the church at large is that Jesus died to save sinners and sinners only. With hymns, almost all of them, this message is reinforced every Sunday repeatedly.

That’s why I write that all denominations have become useless and all sermons a copout: a hindrance to salvation. It is still possible to influence a gathering of saints on the local level, but it is impossible on the denominational scene, as it would involve rewriting all hymn books, and scrap all confessions and all church doctrines.

Why such revolutionary words?

There was a time when churches had their place but that is no longer the case. It is now time to LAMENT and pray MARANATHA, Lord come quickly. Today only one pronouncement reigns supreme: “God so loved the world that he bartered his beloved son to buy the cosmos back from the great deceiver, the prince of lies.”

That love must be reflected in our life and life-style, invalidating all human prescriptions, a prerequisite for entering the New Creation. That simply means that, unless the local church initiates and implements such a life, reflecting “love for the Cosmos”, the use for churches is over: hence my painful title LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH, because it fails to do so.
This makes loving Creation the new piety, is the visible confession, is the most effective way to evangelize, is telling everybody that this is Our Father’s World.

Real conversion – metanoia = total reversal – will not happen. In my own church already dissent is happening and people are leaving, believing the unbiblical RAPTURE scenario. It pains me no end and causes me to identify with Jesus by becoming a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

This past week I also listened to the St Matthew Passion, in which Peter said three times, “Ich kenne des Menschen nicht”. And then the rooster crowed, revealing the bitter truth.
Our denying Jesus and his creation, has resulted in us not hearing the warning signs of the rooster’s crowing, so we now have the melting of the ARCTIC, the floods, the fires, the earthquakes, and in the USA unrestrained environmental destruction encouraged by the ‘CHRISTIANS’ who believe that pre-tribulation RAPTURE will happen, meeting Jesus up in the air before the shit hits the fan.

LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH: the terrible truth.

The terrible truth is that we too don’t want to know Jesus, as this means unconditionally loving his creation. Not wanting to know him is all-pervasive in the church, because Jesus came for the sole purpose to restore creation to its original state of perfection and rightful ownership. The church denies this or pays mere lip service, in effect canceling or, at best minimizing Jesus’ entire mission.

The Roman Catholic Church is no better.

Both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict made pronouncements on the LORD’S PRAYER.

Pope Francis said that God does not lead us into temptation as the Paternoster suggests so that line ought to be changed.
His predecessor, Pope Benedict, when he still was Cardinal Ratzinger, also once commented on The Lord’s Prayer.
Let me deal with him first. Pope Benedict was a New Testament Scholar. He once elaborated on an obscure Greek word: EPIOUSIOS, which only appears in the Lord’s Prayer, and has been –wrongly – translated as DAILY. Pope Ben recognized this, concluding that it literally means SUPERSUBSTANTIAL, that it exceeds something that has substance, something that has form or shape. I can understand that the church did not want us to pray, “Give us this day our ‘supersubstantial’ bread, so knowingly it stuck to the wrong translation.

Prof. (Oxford) Dr. Diarmaid MacCulloch in his classic book “CHRISTIANITY, The First Three Thousand Years”, also comments on this word. He writes, “If we can assign any meaning to EPIOUSIOS, it may point to the new time of the coming Kingdom.”

Of course he is right because the entire Lord’s Prayer is geared to the Coming Kingdom: it’s first and foremost request is, “Thy Kingdom Come.”

That kingdom points to the return of God’s original kingdom, The Garden of Eden, which we despoiled, a fact becoming more evident by the day. Jesus was born, lived and died, not to save sinners, that too, but primarily to restore that Kingdom. See John 3: 16 again. That’s why we must see the entire Lord’s Prayer, in the light of the Kingdom.

This means that the next line, “Thy will be done on earth” means that in everything we do, we must see the earth as God’s. So having an ATV or snowmobile for fun goes directly against God’s will. Taking a cruise on the Rhine today is purely a polluting enterprise and goes directly against God’s will.

That’s why the next line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our DAILY BREAD” totally distorts the meaning. It has nothing to do with us having sufficient food. It has everything to do with the Kingdom. It should read, “Give us the wherewithal to constantly pursue the aims of the Kingdom, the welfare of creation.”

That’s why “FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US must also be seen with the KINGDOM in mind. Reading it in that context we ask the Lord to FORGIVE US OUR SINS AGAINST CREATION, which we do this all the time, every minute and every day. Not only must we ask pardon for ourselves, but also for our neighbours, as we are a human community, all affected by world-wide pollution.
In that Kingdom context the next lines must also be read. Pope Francis objects to the line: LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. Of course God does not do that. So the current Pope wants a change. That’s good. I like the man, but the change must affirm the Kingdom goal. The trouble is that the RC church sees the Church as the Kingdom, not the new earth to come.

It is in the KINGDOM context that we must read, “LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION”, to which Pope Francis objects. Today we constantly are exposed to temptation. Every newspaper ad, all of TV, every shopping center is there to lead us into temptation: all induced by the Evil One, who really is in charge of creation, as 1 John 5: 19 tells us.

One more little change: Ridderbos in his THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM prefers “deliver us from the Evil One”, which makes more sense because Jesus really believed that “the evil one” was in control then and now.

Oh, the church.

It simply boils down to the fact that the church has separated itself from the very earth from which humanity has been taken. It totally has lost its ‘earth affinity”.

Today we live in times where two matters stand out.
(1) Women assert themselves and attain parity
(2) The church is unaware that it is on the wrong path.

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM.

The root of the problem is that Pope Francis and all churches and denominations are caught up in that NATURE/GRACE system. This heresy finds its origin in the Socrates/Plato discourses, and has resulted in honoring heaven at the expense of the earth. It sees the church/heaven as GRACE and the earth/human action as NATURE and the twain do not meet. That also means that the entire Lord’s Prayer is interpreted in that light. “Lead us not into temptation” and “deliver us from the evil one”, must also be seen as kingdom related, as everything else. The evil one – our great enemy, now in charge of creation – wants to destroy God’s creation, and the church, seeing it as nature, not touched by God, has become a willing ally.

I love the church. For close to 90 years I have been a member of the church. I pay my pecuniary dues, I love the minister and my closest friends are found there. But it has strayed away from Creation, has distorted the Kingdom idea, has denied Christ’s real sacrifice, and so my heart-felt cry has resulted in my LAMENT FOR THE CHURCH.

More about that next week in the New Year 2018.

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IMAGINING ETERNITY

DECEMBER 23 2017
It’s the season to be merry, so here is an episode of pure playfulness, a good example of what I think ETERNITY is all about.
Imagining Eternity (part 4)
]
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO AND TWENTY THREE
Of
DAY WITHOUT END.

A ball game: unrivalled ever.

The sounds of many people and animals can no longer escape us: the roaring voices of lions, the trumpeting of elephants, the snorting sound of bears are plainly audible. Curiosity gets the better of us. What could be happening?
Initia gives me my sandals which I had left lying on the field and we hurry to the open field in a valley where we also meet Arctica and Jethro. We approach a natural amphitheater, with the edges all around rising, creating an ideal playing field, perfectly suited for spectators and players alike.
On the field are animals: lions, tigers and bears. Huge bears, grizzly bears. They are all in motion, running, jumping, kicking. They are kicking a ball! Elephants are trumpeting, calling all people who are arriving in droves. The air is electrified with excitement. I ask some people nearby what is happening.
“There is going to be a game,” they reply. “Some sort of ball competition between lions and tigers.”
Sure enough, bears wait at either end to be the goalies. Elephants extend their trunks until they touch, forming the goals. Monkeys are ready to fetch the ball when it goes out of bounds or when somebody scores.
All animals huddle together around a man who stands in the centre explaining the rules.
The session is over. A few lions need some clarification, but the elephants are off already, wobbling quickly to the ends of the field. The grizzlies race them for it. A pair of tigers try out the goalie who proves to be quite agile in catching the ball, standing on his hind legs. While he stretches, he almost touches the extended trunks. The elephants do not move one inch.
Who is the referee, I wonder, and who are manning the lines? Then I see some eagles overhead. One is hovering over the centre. He holds a large ball in his claws. Other eagles are flying over the edges of the field, apparently on the watch for any out of bounds ball. I am sure that no infraction will escape their attention.
But who is the referee? Is it the person who has given the instruction to the animals?
I count twenty tigers and eighteen lions on the field. I hear a sharp whistle and promptly a number of animals leave and settle on the side lines. The others arrange themselves in a proper position, just as in human soccer games I have watched.
I can sense the tension. The referee?” It is Jesus,” the man next to me whispers?? walks to the centre. He places the ball, which the huge eagle has dropped in his arms, in the centre. The eagle remains overhead, slowly circling above the middle of the field.
Now there is a moment of silence. Total silence to honour the Silence who made all this possible. Even the crickets are quiet. Then the birds begin to sing, one first. A nightingale, so pure, so clear, so uplifting, that soon other birds join in. Still the ball lies there, untouched.
I hear the concert, but my eyes are locked on the ball and so are the eyes of thousands of onlookers.
How long will this last?
The animals tense up. They stand, waiting for the signal to start.
Jesus looks up to the eagle, who wags his wings. Then the whistle blows.
The centre lion looks up. He moves his head from right to left to make doubly sure that his forwards are in place. His tail whips up and down. Then he jumps, and with his hind legs skillfully passes the ball to the lion behind him, while he runs way ahead to the goal.
The game is on. The ball sails through the sky, a long pass to the left corner.
A tiger intercepts it on his head and swiftly passes it to another teammate who lets it roll to the goalie. The grizzly throws a long, high ball to the centre.
The crowd is in motion too, following the game with rapt attention. I see Jesus run up and down the field with a swiftness I had never thought him capable of, but then I had never pictured Jesus as a referee in a game such as this.
The whistle blows. The eagle on the right line has detected an offside: the tigers have been a bit too eager.
Free kick for the lions.
The tension mounts, a pleasant tension, as winning is not important. Only the sheer delight of the playing counts, the display of skill, the marvel of animals acquiring such talent. Not a circus in the old world could ever have remotely approached this extra-ordinary entertainment, so delightful are the skilful passes, the marvelous motions of running, the vaulting through the air in pursuit of an elusive ball. It all adds up to a scene of amazing cheer and amusement.
I have always been an ardent soccer fan, have even attended international soccer matches. But never a game such as this.
It makes my legs itch to go out and play soccer as well and when half time comes and the animals go to the sidelines, the eagle picks up the ball and throws it at me. How, I wonder, does he know my wish? Never mind. I dribble the ball to the centre, and, as if by magic twenty-one other players appear. We have a quick conference, the goalies are placed between the stalwart elephants, and we supply the half-time entertainment.
We don’t have the speed, the cunning, the agility the tigers and the lions have, but what fun! It is sheer joy to run the field, pass the ball, trying out new techniques, so easily done here because of our superior body condition and the unadulterated air.
What a joy, to run, to fly, to kick, to jump, to live. What a delight to do the impossible, to play against others who also do the impossible. The whole game is mathematically impossible, as we all are perfect players, kicking perfect shots, which cannot possibly be stopped, and yet are stopped, making perfect passes, which cannot possibly be intercepted, and yet are intercepted, as still some passes are more perfect than others.
What is perfect is the fun, the total abandon into sheer physical enjoyment, the outwitting of others, the rapturous pleasure of perfect co-ordination.

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

How long is this intermission going to last?
The eagles hover overhead, following the movement of the ball. I can sense their concentration; they do not lapse their attention for one instant.
A pass comes my way, sailing through the air. I am ready to receive it but it keeps on sailing. The ball abruptly has acquired a momentum of its own. Strange. That is not the way it is supposed to be.
All eyes are riveted on the ball. It goes outside the playing field and lands in the outstretched arms of our Brother, the Son of Man.
He laughs and we all join in. He walks from among the people, the teenagers who have cluttered around him, the women and the men, and makes his way to the centre of the field, throwing the ball up to the centre eagle with a swift motion of his arm. He calls the animals and human players to him.
In the centre of the field we gather, women, tigers, lions, men, grizzly bears, elephants, the centre eagle still holding the ball overhead, the two other eagles perched on top of an elephant.
Equals all?
Are we all equals to our Brother, the Son of Man?
Are the lions equal to us?
The question boggles my mind.
Our Brother looks at me. He knows my dilemma. Is this a “yes, but” situation? True, we all have eternal life. True, we are perfect, yet I cannot see myself equal to the Son of God. But is he also our Brother, the Son of Man, just as I am a son of man, born out of humanity?
Perhaps over time, perhaps in the course of eternity, as I grow more acquainted with matters eternal, my feelings–and that is what they are–will change.
What is to come next?
The eagle has dropped the ball and the Son of Man holds it up in his hand above his head. It reminds me of referees I had known, ready to signal the resumption of a game after an unforeseen interruption.
A tiger brushes against my legs; I feel its muscular body. Next to me a rather tall man is dwarfed by an erect grizzly bear. A little further I see a teenager seated on the elephant and a young woman nonchalantly leaning against a lion.
Jesus also looks at me, when he says: “Creatures of God the Father. Together we are now in charge of creation. Our work is now play, our play is now work. In all circumstances we will proceed in complete accord. The welfare of one person, the welfare of one animal, the welfare of one tree, one plant, one flower, one piece of soil, one drop of water, is the welfare of all of us. Everything and everybody is tied in with everybody and everything.
“As humans our task is to uncover the Eternal Plan, embedded in creation from the beginning. Every creature reflects the creator’s greatness, but we humans more so. Every person and animal tells us a bit more of our Creator: every tree, every plant reveals something more of His magnificence. Through any and all of us here we see God the Father as He really is and through any and all of us we can see ourselves as we really are.
“This soccer game offered us some insight into our future. The animals always have been portrayed as lower than humans. Now they too have been liberated from the suffering of our sin and have come into their own. Playing together offered us a different perspective, showing us their intellect and physical prowess.
“All of you, humans and animals, must work together for the good of the kingdom and rejoice together as well. A start has been made and having fun is an important part in this. Through recreation also we will accomplish the fullness of creation and the building of the new Jerusalem.
“Now, go your way, discover the cosmos, roam our realm, learn her secrets, investigate all things and retain what is fitting for you. You will find the Father’s world infinite as you are infinite. Enjoy yourselves, be merry, and take your time.”
With words like this, understandable to humans and animals alike, our Brother speaks.
He throws the ball up in the air. A grizzly neatly bounces it from his head to the next towering bear who catches it in his paws and throws it to me.
I am taken by surprise, am a bit dazed by this unexpected throw. I nevertheless react swiftly and kick it out of my hands high and far up in the sky where the eagle catches it and keeps it.
The crowd disperses.
I join Initia, Arctica and Jethro, who have remained among the spectators and have followed the games with great interest.
“What is your opinion of all this?” I ask Jethro.
He rubs his chin or scratches his beard: it is hard to tell which. It is plain that he seems a bit confused by it all.
“This is all so foreign to me,” he says finally, “such an emphasis on fun now, on play. In my first life, lions were my enemies: they wanted my sheep. I killed them. Now I walk up to a lion and embrace it as I saw you doing. Before, we were mortal enemies: my cunning versus his. Now we will combine our abilities to discover God’s greatness. Fantastic. I am eager to try it, especially now that I know that there never will be failure or disappointment but only success and satisfaction.”
“Do you want to join us?” I ask. “Will you come with us?”
Jethro looks at Arctica who is quietly but intensely following our conversation. “I don’t have a flying tool,” he objects.
“Why don’t you share mine,” offers Arctica. “I can sit on your back or, better, we can extend the platform a bit so that we can stand on it together. You are actually not much bigger than I am. As a matter of fact I think you are smaller,” and with a mischievous grin, she jumps up and makes him stand back-to -back with her. “See, I beat you, you little squirt.”
Jethro laughs. “OK, let’s try it. I’m curious to find out how this works anyhow.”
Arctica explains the simple tool to him. Jethro, by placing his two feet on the left pedestal, sees it extend automatically. He asks Arctica to step on the right footrest and this too extends to comfortably fit her. So, in no time the first two-person space hopper is ready.
“Handy fellow to have around,” I say to Initia, as we watch them improvise the first two-passenger space stilt. Together they balance on the foothold, and with Arctica setting the instruments and saying ‘go,’ they take off, disappear, and the next instant, it seems, return.
“Beautiful way to travel,” says Jethro, “Let’s go.”
“Not so quick,” interrupts Initia. “I would still like to know more about Moses. Tell us more, first about you and then about Moses. Will you?”
Jethro looks at us and we all sit down again. “I came back to this oasis to take up my old life, but it seems that this plan is not working out. I wanted to take up where I had left off. Life in Midian had its tensions but in many ways, it almost was perfect.”
Lost in thought, he muses, “True, my daughters were bullied by their male counterparts in the sheep-herding business. And I never had a son, although that had not bothered me too much. I loved my seven daughters and then suddenly Moses was there. He became like a son to me, even more than that: my closest friend as well. His coming changed my life.
“What a surprise it had been that late afternoon when Zipporah brought him home. He was a good-looking man. In spite of his dusty appearance, I could see that his clothes were expensive, the finest of Egyptian linen.
“He spoke a different language, but knew enough words of our language to explain that he came from Egypt. He already knew a lot about us and our family, because after my daughters had come home with the sheep, he had asked the other shepherds about the settlement and in particular about our family, the family with the seven fair daughters.
“How different he was. He asked the silliest questions, but was quite guarded about himself at first.
“With my daughters he was a real hit. Especially with Zipporah, who was head over heels in love with him from the minute she had met him. She was the one who had raced back to fetch him when all of them begged me to invite him.
“It took a while for him to tell his story. We invited him to stay for the night and we had a special meal. You know most of that story. Soon he became my son-in-law.
“He knew an awful lot. He spoke many languages. In no time he had mastered our language and also learned Arabic. It was fascinating to see him write. He made all his notes in Hebrew and he guarded his notes quite carefully.
“I was a priest and he wanted to know everything about our religion and told me about his. He learned from me, as I learned from him. We both believed in the same God, the God Creator, who had revealed himself in his creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
“After he had done a lot of traveling in faraway countries, he asked me to let him tend our sheep. He had acquired so much material, heard so many stories that he wanted time to reflect and to record all this.
“He also wanted to become intimate with the ways of the desert and to be close to God. He was a most scholarly man but also practical. He was a great man to have around: a good husband, a good father, a good son. Fun too. He played the harp and took it along when he tended the sheep, just as David did later.
“Moses learned a lot more in his forty years with us. Those were really his maturing years when things fell into place for him. He walked with God continuously and slowly through the Spirit of the God Creator he learned more. He also gained much knowledge from others about the birth of creation. He had pored over old records everywhere and so he had pieced together the lives of Cain, Lamech, Noah, Abraham.”
Jethro pauses to take a bite from one of his fruits.
“One day he came home, his face shining, radiant, as if the light of the sun was bouncing off him.
“The sheep had followed him home in such an orderly manner, so subdued, as if he was leading them on a string. Unbelievable. I have been around sheep for a long time and never seen such a scene before or since, I knew something extraordinary had happened.
“It was days before Moses talked about it. When Zipporah saw him, she actually was a bit scared. He acted very differently, as if he had seen God.
“‘Yes,’ he told me when the shine had faded somewhat from his face. ‘Yes, God has appeared to me.’ Well, you know the rest.
“He went to Egypt. Went the same route he had traveled forty years earlier. Alone, as he had done so often in the past years. The Lord Creator would be his guide.
“Our life was different without him. Later he sent word that the Exodus had taken place. After that, I met him again and brought his family along. I was glad I could be of some assistance to him then.”
“I wish I could talk with him,” I say, when Jethro falls silent.
“Well, go ahead,” I hear a voice behind me and when I turn around I see a rugged-looking young man.
“Welcome back, Moses,” says Jethro, embracing him and introducing us. Moses is different from any other person I have met. Is it because his grave has never been found? Is it because he has been in the Lord’s company, and, together with Elijah, has planned the early stages of the new creation?
Here he is standing in front of me, a giant in the kingdom, a prince in the Church. So far none of the popes or cardinals, princes in the earthly church, have been noticeable by any particular sign. Moses is not really different at first glance and yet he stands out: his expression, his bearing, his authority, his radiance are striking. In a world filled with saints, he catches the eye.
We sit down again. Initia and Arctica sit on either side of Moses with Jethro and I opposite them.
Jethro gives us a drink, rather thick and white, like cream, which he has taken from a coconut-like fruit.
I drink it cautiously first, more curious about its taste than its nutritional value. There is no such hesitation on the part of Moses and Jethro. Apparently the fluid is familiar to them and the eagerness with which they reach for it reveals their desire.
There is so much I want to know from Moses, so after he has finished his drink I ask him, “The first five books of God’s record to us, the Pentateuch, are called after you, the five books of Moses. Jethro told us a few things about them. Can you give me some more details?”
Moses smiles and looks around at the others, expecting more questions, but all four eagerly look at him. Before speaking he extends his cup to Jethro who fills it again with the cream.
“Well,” he says, “I did not write five books. I wrote one story about the people of God from the beginning till just before my death. In my writings I first relied on documents I located in the library of Pharaoh where I started my research. I then simply wanted to learn more about my ancestry. There I found interesting material about Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. Joseph had written down much of what Jacob had told him. Later, when I met Jethro and married his wonderful daughter, I settled in Midian and traveled throughout the Middle East, questioning many wise people and scholars. Guided by the Spirit of God I found all sorts of creation accounts, most of them similar.
“Of course you know that I was not there when God created the cosmos. I could never, in exact detail, describe God’s creative actions. Yet, to an agricultural people as the Israelite nation was, I had to give an account of the origin of God’s kingdom in such a way that it would be understandable to my people who lived so close to the land, and who had no real schooling. When I finally put the creation account on paper, I did it with a great degree of prayerful caution, because what I really did was put myself in God’s place and asked myself time and again how God would have wanted me to do it and I think his Spirit guided me in this. I wrote it, in the first place, for the people of Israel while they were in the desert and needed more precise ideas about the ways of the Lord Creator.
“Had I written it in your time, I would have said it quite differently, I imagine. God’s Spirit guided me, but also, the Lord in his goodness allowed me a great range of different experiences in life, and this made me more suitable than anybody else to write about the beginning. Later, when I was with the Lord Creator and I saw the entire picture, I could see how my description of the creation account was inadequate at best; no more than a mere retelling of an act basically beyond the power of words. No mortal could ever have fully described the creation of the world.”
“Where did you find the accounts of Abel and Cain, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel?” I ask. “Did you try to find the Ark and were there still some ruins of the Tower of Babel?” asks Arctica, while Jethro refills our cups.
“Yes, I did find the Tower of Babel, or what was left of it. It was just a pile of rubble. Roving tribes had carted away much of the stone and only some irregular pieces were still around. But even those were impressive. No, I never looked for the Ark. I have spoken to people who have seen its location, but there again, all of the remnants were used for firewood and building materials. I found documents aplenty describing the two events as well as references to Cain and Abel. About the big Flood, too, I located numerous accounts. I called often upon the Spirit to infuse me with the Truth.”
Arctica nods, and remarks: “Now that we know what really happened I am truly amazed how simply you have worded the Scriptures and how comprehensive your accounts were.”
“Thank you very much.”
For a while nobody says anything, then Jethro says to no one in particular, “When I join the three of you on your world tour, I would like to go to Egypt.”
Moses looks around the circle and smiles. He is ready to leave but Initia still has a question. “Moses, as you can see, we all are from different parts of the cosmos and also from different time periods.
“I have noticed,” says Moses, “that each one of you has your particular accent. You also use expressions that are typical to your origin. You also look different, of course. What is your question?”
“Did you know about us at all, before you met us here?”
“I knew about you, Initia, and about you too, Arctica. For a long time, you Initia, were the lone star in your big country. Later many of your kin became part of the Way. Many of your people, Arctica, were close to the Creator and I must say that I deeply admired your way of life in the barren north. Too cold for my liking, but admirable.”
“Ours was a clean life, peaceful, harmonious, close to the earth,” responded Arctica. “The winters were long and that is what I liked the best: the stories, the tall tales, the togetherness, almost like this. We talked about the Infinite, about God, and later about the Son and the Spirit. We talked and prayed and sang our Inuit songs.”
“Actually I know quite a lot about you two,” says Moses. “Just as I was in charge of the wandering Israelites in the desert for forty years, so the Father Creator gave me, upon my request, the supervision of the diaspora, people like you and Initia, the loners of the Way. I supervised Cornelius, your guardian angel. Now I am visiting my past flock.”
“Were you are in charge of a number of the guardian angels?” wonders Initia.
“Well, ‘in charge’ is too big a word. They really were quite independent but we discussed the more difficult cases, difficult in the sense of their communal support or lack of it and so I helped them to arrange periodic visits from other saints. Oh, before I go, I have something here for you, Jethro. You will find it interesting, I am sure. I have to go now but I do know that we will meet again soon. ”
“A remarkable man, this Moses,” says Jethro. “He looks younger now than when I first saw him at forty years of age. When I met him later, in the desert, he still had that youthful appearance, even though he was well over eighty. Zipporah told me that when the Lord took him at one hundred and twenty years of age, he still was like a young man, full of strength, full of zip, with keen eye-sight and a sharp brain. He truly was a man of God and the more years he added to his life, the greater his reliance on God, the Father Creator.”
“What did he give you?” asks Initia.
Jethro hands her the parcel Moses left, another seeing device and disks, all in one unit.
Since I have handled them before, Initia gives them to me. On the box it plainly says, “To be viewed on location in Egypt.”
I show this to the rest of our group and thus we set our dials for Egypt, the Nile Delta where we find ourselves in the next instant.
?

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IMAGINING ETERNITY

DECEMBER 16 2017

IMAGINING ETERNITY – Part 3

I picked up a book last week. Its foreword said,

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge-
That myth is more powerful than history.
I believe that dreams are more potent than facts-
That hope always triumphs over experience.

Below is shown a chapter of my DAY WITHOUT END – available from Lulu.com-Bert Hielema.
In it I show that imagination is stronger than knowledge, that dreams are more potent than facts. There I express my hopes for eternity, my vision for a NEW WORLD where the COVENANT between God, Creation and Humanity is fully implemented.

A few words of clarification.

An introduction is needed, because I suddenly jump more than half-way the book, which starts with me meeting my Guardian Angel, whom I called Cornelius. He was there when I awoke, welcomed me into the New Creation, and guided me into this perfect world. Later he introduced me to a small group of people from different countries and periods.

The section I chose illustrates how we need the experience of others to learn how to have a diet from nature based on gathering edibles. Especially we latter day saints need that knowledge.

In the book’s beginning I picture a huge rally where the words of Matthew 26: 29 are fulfilled. There Jesus says, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s Kingdom”.

That day has arrived and the gathered saints, safely ensconced in the Father’s Kingdom, his New Creation, enjoy perfect communion with the Resurrected Christ, and drink real wine of the same quality Jesus made in Cana, his first miracle, wine that gladdens the heart (Psalm 104: 15) especially in the Father’s Kingdom.

The book is written from a personal perspective, the main character being Novissimus, the newest person around.

In this particular episode Novissimus is accompanied by Arctica, a woman – you guessed it – from the Arctic, an Inuit, and Initia, a former ruler in China, some 1,000 years ago who learned about Christ from her tutor, a Greek scholar, who had brought with him a Greek New Testament.

Our guardian angels provided us with a device that made it possible to read the history of the places they travel in.
Our three-some had decided to travel first to the Middle East, the cradle of civilization.

So here I go, imagining eternity!

CHAPTER TWENTY

We find ourselves in a fertile valley, what had once been the country of Iraq. The deserts, the vast seas of sand, are gone.
I tell my companions of the Oil Wars that took place there during my life time. Setting our history-recorders to the late twentieth century, we see the massive smoke columns caused by the retreating Iraqi armies when they had ignited some 700 oil wells in Kuwait, the country they wanted to annex.
We see how some years later this was followed by a much longer conflict, now caused by a combination of oil and religion. This prolonged struggle proved disastrous for the world economy and was the beginning of the end, as the entire world became embroiled when the need for oil, mostly stored in this region, pitted the ‘Christian’ Western world against the mostly Arab and Muslim countries, on whose territory the oil reserves were located.
In the end the majority of the oil wells were ignited by nuclear bombs. The resulting fires destroyed the ozone layer, that protective shield which had guarded us humans from being burned by the sun, speeded up Global Warming and Climate Change, all of which combined to make the Final Conflagration a fact.
I talk about all this to my companions as we walk. Initia compares this war to wars she is familiar with. “I thought that our wars were cruel and senseless, but they were nothing compared to the disasters the people in your time created. And all for those silly sand hills and the polluting oil?”

In the distance we see such a patch of desert, a mere sandbox in the vast lush surroundings. I imagine the Lord left it there as a reminder of the former situation. The oasis in the centre of it is almost a relic of the past. Actually it is not an oasis. After all, an oasis is a haven of wholeness in the desert of nothingness, amidst solid seas of sand. Here there is no such nothingness. Even the small stretch of desert serves to accentuate the fullness of the present landscape. Yet it is different. The area has a well. The palm trees are beautiful and lush in the ever-glowing light of God’s presence. A small pond near the well bubbles with water, creating a water mist in the air and painting a glorious rainbow there.
Beside the pond, lazily lying in the lush grass is a figure, his head covered with a colourful, bright orange cloth. Without removing his cover he greets us, motioning us to sit down. We do, curious to find out more.
Though I can’t see his face, his Bedouin clothing suggests that he is a desert-dweller, savouring his return to his native land.

He yawns unceremoniously. With another yawn he sits up, removes his head covering, and rubs his eyes. Upon seeing us-two women and a man-he makes an unfruitful attempt to fashion his wild beard and flatten his somewhat thinning hair.
He grins. We respond in kind. “Didn’t expect company,” he says, “I am Jethro.” He again stifles a yawn and says, “Excuse me. I must have dozed off. One of my daughters married Moses. It was at this well that my seven daughters saw him first. I am just treasuring this moment, which was also a turning point in my life. At one time I was also known as Reuel, Friend of God. Make yourself comfortable and have a drink of this excellent water.”

While we get a drink, he continues to talk.
“For forty years Moses lived in this area. This place, this oasis, was much smaller then, and the desert was certainly less fertile than it is now. I was thinking about going back to sheep tending for a while, but this time I will do it differently. Even in my days I saw this area becoming less and less productive as the desert expanded. I warned my people that their grazing pattern was to blame for this, but they wouldn’t listen. They raised more and more sheep and goats, all wanting to outdo each other and become rich. In the end we hardly had enough to feed ourselves.

“You are the first persons to come this way since the Day has begun. I only arrived here a short while ago. Moses dropped me off here. But, I am forgetting my duties as host. Who are you? I can see that you are not native to this area.”

His face looks young. I imagine that we all look young, though I have not seen myself in a mirror. I guess we look young because we feel young and sense ourselves to be in the prime of our lives.
Somehow, because he had been the father-in-law of Moses, I had expected an older man and certainly a more solemn person. After all, he also had been a priest.

This fellow is a real character. A character? On second thought, he is right in character, perfectly at home here. He is where none of us have been yet, right where he was born and raised.

Arctica introduces us. Pointing to our name badges, something Jethro does not have, she says: “This is Initia, he is Novissimus and I am Arctica. We are on our way to explore the world. We are very pleased to meet you. What can you tell us about the area here? Of course, we know about Moses and I think that I faintly recall something about you.”

“A great man, my son-in-law,” says Jethro. “Yes, forty years is a long time. Each day we were in touch and I taught him a great deal. A quick learner he was, too. A bit rash, with a touch of arrogance at first, but the desert and its people soon cured him of that.

“The ways of the desert! There is no better school to learn self-reliance. I knew it as no other. I taught him all I knew. I remember telling Moses, when he was leading the people of Israel through the desert, to keep the column of people and animals as narrow as possible to keep the surface largely undisturbed. Of course they did not know this, but the Lord God smoothed the entire trail after them. I learned about this because I lived in the very area where they traveled for forty years and saw the terrain a few days after they had left their camp. Not a trace could be found.

“Moses gave me a briefing on the happenings in my area since I died. He showed me visions of the two desert wars. Unbelievable. It seemed to me that in this general area human civilization began and also ended. For centuries nothing but camels had traveled here and I was curious how it all had changed. I guess you know all about this.”

Again I nod. An interesting man he is. Perhaps having been alone for a while has made him a bit more talkative? No, he just loves the desert. He loves this area and feels in his guts that this land of his also has suffered greatly. He had known the way of the desert as Arctica had known the way of her region. It had hurt him to the core of his being to have seen the havoc caused by the destruction of modern warfare.

“I am glad you came,” he continues. “I was getting a bit lonely and my being here reminded me of my days in the desert, when it was just me and my herd and God. Now things have changed. God has not changed, but I have changed and the desert has changed. It is now like a paradise, green as”–he is groping for a word–“green as an oasis, as trees in the spring. It is so beautiful. When I first saw it, I cried.

“So you are touring the world? I will offer you something you have never had before. I have a desert special here. Let’s have a feast.”
Jethro is certainly not what I had expected an ancient priest to be like, a man specially chosen by God to teach Moses a thing or two.
I look at Initia, who is faintly shaking her head and just slightly raising an eyebrow, having similar thoughts.

Jethro is now walking around with Arctica following him. He is directing her to a special tree with curiously shaped fruit, sort of banana-like but coloured a deep red, like a very hot pepper. They pick about eight of these and then go to another tree which has a peach-like fruit. There, too, they pick eight, making sure that each fruit is quite ripe. Jethro gently squeezes them and also looks at their colour. He shows Arctica how to detach them from the tree, with a quick twist. He has a particular, very gentle way with them. “Listen,” I say to Initia, “he is talking to the trees!”

I move closer to find out. I hear him ask the tree to allow the sacrifice, to help us with the fruit of their making. And the tree responds! I see a definite movement in the tree, as if agreeing with the request.
I see Jethro look around, going past numerous other trees, until we–I have now joined them–reach a small, shrub-like vine. It bears fruit in clusters of a bright green. To me they look inedible but Jethro, going through the same ritual with this vine, picks four clusters. He gives them to me to carry.
Back at the well, Jethro motions Arctica and me to give him the fruit. He most certainly acts his part as a priest, raising the fruit to heaven and saying words in a language I don’t understand. Arctica, upon hearing his words, responds in a similar fashion. Has she been a priestess as well? Arctica continues to surprise me.

Solemnly Jethro divides the fruits between us. He gives each of us two red bananas, two of the yellow, golden peach-like fruits, and a cluster of the ones that look like green grapes. I place them on my lap and so do the others, expecting to hear another incantation.

Jethro also sits down, pauses and looks at each of us as if he is evaluating us. I am becoming more curious but wait patiently. In my former life, I would have been a bit irritated, but now, serenely, trustingly, I accept his deliberate ways.

“I discovered this fruit,” he says, holding up the red-pepper-coloured banana, “in a very remote oasis. It grew on a tree with treacherous thorns on it and was very difficult to get at. The thorns not only stung, but, when I touched one by accident, it also poisoned my skin. I had learned about this fruit from a Bedouin whom I had met at another oasis. Thirsty and hungry, he had eaten one. He felt better immediately. He had never seen the fruit before and called it ‘fire fruit.’ Curious to find out more about it, I traveled to that oasis, but when I found it, the tree had died. There was only one dried-out fruit left with some seed left in it. I tried to propagate a tree here, where I lived, but it never took hold. Somehow the remains of that seed must have been revived in the re- awakening of creation after the great clean-up the Lord Creator did. Since I have been here, I have practically lived on them. The thorns are gone and so is the poison but its medicinal and nutritional characteristics are still there. When you leave here, I recommend that you take some along; they keep well.

“This peach-like fruit is like a nectar, sweet, juicy, refreshing. It is a common oasis fruit, belonging to the pomegranate family. It also stores well and is a feast to look at and to savour.” He holds it up for us to have a close look. “Then there is the green grape, the fruit of the vine.

“I think since the Day the quality of these fruits has improved: they are even more fragrant and tasty than before. Here, just smell them!” He holds a bunch in front of my nose. “I think that only one or two of them give nourishment for a long time. They keep well, too. The Lord certainly had us desert rats in mind when He created them. Please, eat all of it.”

“Thank you,” I say, grateful for his explanations. We eat the fruits in silence, feeling immeasurably strengthened by them, also spiritually. I am reminded that eating is a sacrament, a holy act. We all are lost in our thoughts for a short while.

My thoughts go back to my own apple and pear trees, the struggles I had trying to keep them alive through changing weather patterns: first freezing, then a disastrous warm spell, causing tremendous stress on their ability to cope. Here they grow, infinitely superior in health, strength and fruit bearing.
The fruits are certainly a feast, and so is the encounter with Jethro. He is a brilliant talker.
I ask him what his reaction had been when Moses had so unexpectedly shown up.
Jethro scratches his beard, now much more flowing and orderly. He smiles, recalling the details.
We settle in for a long story, slowly relishing more of the fruits.

“It all started,” he begins, “one day when my daughters-I had seven of them and I loved each one of them- came home from their chores. They talked and giggled and I immediately noticed their different behaviour. They were unusually early. I asked them, why are you home already? You’re never here before sundown and here it is the middle of the afternoon.”
“‘When we came to the well,’ they told me, all at the same time, “there was a man, a stranger. We were at the well early to let the sheep drink, and when the other men with their herds pushed us away, that man came and helped us to go first. He even helped us to draw water and feed the flock.’
“‘And you left him there?’ I thundered. ‘Go and get him so that we can repay his kindness.’

“Zipporah, one of my daughters, literally ran out of the door. Soon he came and my wife prepared a special dish. His clothes, his manners, his speech, all portrayed an educated man, a man of great culture. After the meal we had some wine and he told his life story. He was very open and candid. A man after my heart. He stayed with us and soon married my daughter Zipporah.

“Moses had taken considerable treasure with him, which gave him a degree of independence.
“He bought a camel and gave me one, too, and together we traveled and explored and learned a lot; I from him and he from me. He also joined other caravans that frequented our oasis. He had a keen interest in the history of these nomadic people. He questioned them on their religion, their traditions. He also visited the cities, and talked to the ruling and religious dignitaries.

“He kept a careful record of all he had learned. He visited Ur, where Abraham had originated, and he talked to the patriarch’s distant relatives there. He met a priest there and from him he learned a lot about the stars and also about the God-Creator. He visited Babel twice, if I recall correctly. Sometimes he was gone for months and once even for over a year.
“He really matured here and it was no surprise to me when the Lord Creator appeared to him and informed him of his mission. The rest you know.”

What a man Jethro is. Arctica, in particular, enjoys his company. Both were born and raised in the desert, one frozen, one hot. She has immediately taken to Jethro and he to her, recognizing in him her nomadic nature, the love of the land.

Jethro and Arctica continue quietly talking, while Initia and I are walking around. The oasis certainly is a little paradise. I can well picture Adam and Eve here. That reminds me of animals. I go back to Jethro, who is still in deep conversation with Arctica.

“Jethro,” I say, “where are the meat-eating animals? There is lush growth here, plenty of water. Where are the lions and leopards? Don’t they belong here?”
“The animals,” Jethro repeats as if the whole matter had never entered his mind, “the animals. Yes, I asked Moses about it, since they had been so much part of my former life.

“You know what he told me? He said, `The Lord Creator has held them back for a little while.
“‘First we have to learn to live with each other in a proper way before they can join us. We have to learn to live without the flesh of animals. We have to learn without them sacrificing their lives for us constantly. And the animals have to learn to live in peace with each other as well.'”
“You mean a complete new way of living is in store for the animals as well?” asks Arctica, for whom meat often had been the only diet.
“Yes,” continues Jethro. “Not only do we have to learn to live without eating them, but also animals have to learn to live without eating each other. The wolf has to learn to dwell with the lamb. The lion has to learn to live with the wild beasts of the field and not lording over them.

“We have seen a lot of birds, we heard frogs, we noticed the smaller animals, the rabbits, the squirrels, fishes and turtles,” I say. “I have seen deer. Are only the larger animals, the carnivores missing?

Jethro nods. “They need a fundamental re-orientation to life, treating all fellow animals in a new respectful way, acknowledging each other’s right to exist. The animals have to learn to live at a different level, with a spiritual dimension and with new intellectual and learning powers, almost bordering on the human. Just as we moved up a step, becoming equal to our brother Jesus Christ, so they too take up a step on the ladder of development. Our God Creator wants us to assist him in this matter.”

He turns to Arctica. “Arctica.” (He pronounces her name with his peculiar, singing accent.) “In your region there were animals I never imagined to exist. Tell me a bit more about them.”
While Arctica recalls some of the animals that she has seen, Initia and I compare notes on animals we have known and in what way their world would have to change to be able to fit in this new order.

“I have seen tigers and leopards and they lived exclusively on the meat of other animals. Would a tiger then not be a tiger any more?” Initia wonders aloud. “How will they feed themselves? On grasses and berries and nuts and other fruits? What about their claws, their digestive systems, so geared to raw meat? How about their nature, to hunt, to stalk their prey? Should we ask the trees?”

“The trees?” I ask, a little taken aback.
“Yes, I think that trees are the key to this,” she answers. “I don’t know why, but this is my gut feeling.”
“Well, perhaps you are right,” I say, “but how do we talk to a tree and what sort of tree shall we talk to?
While discussing this, we are already walking toward the trees. No time is wasted when Initia is involved, I discover.

Of course, I had seen Adam and Eve talk to trees and had noticed Jethro doing this also. We also have noticed how trees now are very sensitive to what happens around and with them. But for me to talk to them? I am inclined to scratch my head, perplexed. I had never before talked to trees, nor had they ever expressed their opinion to me, except here, of course. However, we aren’t puzzled for long. As we wander among the trees, not quite knowing how to start a discussion with them, we hear a voice, somewhat raspy, perhaps a bit too affected. It certainly is a booming voice, echoing through the forest.

“So you think there is a problem here,” and then there follows a belly laugh that makes the earth shake. All the surrounding trees join in, so that the peal of laughter sounds more like thunder, not the low, rumbling kind of thunder, but an octave or so higher, with the occasional shrieking whistling sound, probably coming from the younger trees.

This is followed by a rhythmic pounding, similar to what I have heard at public gatherings. Now I know: the trees are clapping their hands and, on cue, as if it is the most normal thing in the world, animals emerge. The unbelievable scene reminds me of a song I know:
“The animals come out two by two, hurrah, hurrah!
The animals come out two by two, hurrah, hurrah!”

It looks as if the Ark is being emptied. Our question has been answered. The God Creator has provided. Again.

And the animals? There is only a certain kind. Earlier I already had seen deer and herbivores, but no carnivorous animals. Missing were the lions and tigers and panthers and any of the large or small catlike creatures. Now they are here, purring like kittens. It sounds as if hundreds of bees are buzzing by. The air is filled with their feelings of felicity.

There is reason for them to celebrate, too. Their pain, their anxiety, is gone, dissolved in the re-birth of creation. Gone, too, is their shyness and their reluctance to encounter humans. They look at us. They brush against us. Yet they are different. They must be. No longer can they be meat-eating creatures. Or can they be? How will they survive?

Some of the animals, a few of which I have never seen before, graze lazily. I suspect that they have been omnivorous creatures, Others, former meat-eating animals, single out certain trees, trees totally foreign to me. Without touching the trees, the animals give a certain sound while looking up into the trees. Then they curtsy, animal fashion, inclining their heads and the trees, in reply, stately bow a bit and release the desired fruit.
What a beautiful ceremony: so polite, so cultured, so totally different.

Initia and I approach one of those special trees and we follow the animals’ example. We curtsy, we bow and then the tree shudders for a brief second as if touched by a sudden waft of wind, one branch in particular vibrating and a kind of coconut falls. It has a very hard shell. We give it to a cougar, who pounds on it with his claws, and, after some considerable effort, opens it and eagerly eats the contents. I pick up another fruit that has fallen on the ground and hit it several times on a sharp, pointed rock until it splits in two. I offer one half to a nearby animal and together Initia and I examine the contents of the other half, which smells like fresh meat and has essentially the same texture as a pure, uncooked, warm-blooded animal body.

So there lies the secret. The animals’ anatomy has not changed: special trees, with special fruits, provide the carnivores with their needed nourishment.

More surprises await us.

Next week a Christmas bonus:
A ball game: unrivalled ever.

Chapter 22 of
DAY WITHOUT END.

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IMAGINING ETERNITY, Part 2.

DECEMBER 9 2017

IMAGINING ETERNITY. Part 2: Setting the stage.

From CHAOS to COSMOS to CHAOS to COSMOS.

It’s truly amazing how history is going full circle today. The Bible starts with, “In the Beginning the earth was formless and empty”. Formless means no shape, no order, no law, no structure, amounting to nothing. The word NIHILISM has at its root ‘nihil’ which means ‘empty, nothing’. Nihilism typifies today where much of society lacks cohesion and purpose and stability.

In the Beginning: Chaos. Then God spoke – Psalm 33:9 – and chaos became cosmos. Cosmos is the opposite of chaos. Cosmos means everything chaos is not: purpose, logic, harmony, cooperation. No wonder God loves COSMOS – John 3: 16!!
The Garden of Eden symbolized all that: perfection in spades.

That state of serene wholeness did not last long. Almost immediately after the FALL humanity imposed its will upon creation with such disastrous results that today again we have CHAOS, needing complete renewal. This means that everything is going full circle: from CHAOS to COSMOS to CHAOS to COSMOS.

J.H. Bavinck in his “BETWEEN THE BEGINNING AND THE END” puts it this way:

“The end time again picks up the threads which have deter¬mined human life throughout the ages; in the end-time all things return to their beginning. Just as the book of Genesis paints us paradise, the place where human life started, so the book of the Revelation of John brings us back to that same place. End time and Urzeit are indeed intimately related. In short, the end time reveals again the realities of the Urzeit”.

We have seen in Part 1 that Abel was killed by his brother because of different views of the future: Abel envisioned an organic development, in tune with creation, while his brother Cain favored ‘dominating’ creation. Guess which force is dominant today?

The dispute between two brothers basically was a religious matter: ever since, religious wars have been the most atrocious and long-lasting.

Primary Productivity again.

At the time of Creation the entire budget for life, its Primary Productivity, the total amount of planetary mass, for One Hundred Percent, was directed to maintain all of Creation. Everything and every creature flourished. Cosmos meant balance, meant complete harmony, total shalom for trees, plants, animals, people. People then learned the secrets of plants, the edibles and the medicinal value, the pros and cons of certain trees and shrubs. They were the original Nature-Gatherers. There was symbiosis, absolute affinity between plant, animal and human.

The way I picture Paradise, the Garden of Eden is having total respect and complete comprehension of all created matter, treating everything as equals. I can imagine how humans, desiring a certain fruit, would ask the trees for permission.
It could quite well be that the original sin was to grab fruit without properly asking, asserting that humans were the dominant force in creation, rather than the servants in chief.

As we have seen in the previous blog, Dr. William Rees has calculated that we, the human race, now need 98.5 percent of all of life to satisfy OUR own wants and needs. That include the domesticated animals we (ab)use for our consumption, as well as the house pets we keep. All this leaves little or nothing for the original wild life and other species, much of which has disappeared.

This astounding number – 98.5 percent – explains why the current extinction rate is 1,000 times that which existed before human domination of the planet. We, 7.5 billion of reckless and feckless fools, have simply stolen the food, the rich – that means us – a lot more than others.

Destroying the earth has a long history.

Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BC, a contemporary of Socrates, reported that there had been a time when a person could walk across North Africa from the Atlantic to the Pacific and always be in the shade of trees. One look at the world map tells me that this covered Morocco, Algiers, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Today, most of this is endless emptiness of undulating waves of sand, unforgiving sun, oppressive heat and desperate people.

So, what spurred the shift from woodland to wasteland?

A new study suggests humans played a big role. Author David Wright, an environmental archeologist at Seoul National University, says that as humans spread west from the Nile river 8,000 years ago, they brought with them sheep, cows, and goats that gobbled up, mowed down, and trampled over native vegetation. This transformed the landscape and altered the local climate.

When God created, the earth was perfect. Not anymore.

Six thousand years before sodbusters broke up Iowa, our Caucasian ancestors broke up the Hungarian plain, an area just northwest of the Caucasus Mountains. Anthropologists call them the wheat-beef people. These early Europeans had a full set of domesticated plants and animals, but wheat and beef dominated. All the domesticated animals came from an area along what is now the Iraq-Syria-Turkey border at the edges of the Zagros Mountains. This is the center of domestication for the Western world’s main crops and livestock, ground zero of catastrophic agriculture.

I don’t know when Job lived (if he ever did), that fellow now famous for having ‘the patience of Job’ – not altogether correct, but that is beside the point – but, good man as he was, he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, and thousands of oxen and donkeys. Fine and dandy, but this is exactly the reason why we now have deserts.

Reading Genesis, when Abraham and Lot dwelled in what today is Israel, they then too had trouble finding adequate pasture for their huge herds. I imagine the NEGEB desert found its beginning there.

Don’t look to the Bible for guidance on sustainability. Another example of misguided practices is found in Joshua 17:14-18 relating to the period around 1400 BC. There Israel’s leader, Joshua, the successor to Moses, instructs the tribes of Joseph to clear the trees from the hill country to have enough land for his tribe. This practice was clearly unsustainable; it would lead to erosion of the soil on hilltops.

For ecological guidance, for all matters scientific, we must not go to the Bible, but to God’s Primary Word, his creation. The one explains the other: they go hand in hand. If you don’t believe what God’s creation tells us then you can’t understand the Scriptures.

In other words, The Bible is not to be used as a guide for environmentalists, nor to follow for health rules.
I often have a glass of wine, but as a cure for stomach trouble? Yet the apostle Paul recommends to his young friend Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23), “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

Back to the church which still thinks strictly in anthropocentric terms.

I just looked up Exodus 20, the chapter where the Ten Commandments are listed. The commentary on “you shall not misuse the name of God”, says that ‘swearing falsely by his name is sin’.

That is the way the Church explains this, the anthropocentric –man – centered reading. If, however, we believe that God is the creator, this really means that God’s name, his signature, is on every created item. To abuse any part of God’s creation is ‘swearing falsely by God’s name,’ something we do all the time.

Seen in that light we do a lot of swearing, constantly taking God’s name in vain. The result is that all systems are threatened, not only the air, but also the 70 percent of the planet, the seas and oceans. “Oceans are under greatest threat in history”, warns Sir David Attenborough. The BBC shows in its Blue Planet 2 series lay bare the shocking damage humanity is wreaking in the seas, from climate change to plastic pollution to noise.

Of course our land mass too is poisoned. Take growing crops and keeping life stock. We can give it a pious twist, but fact is that farming has been disastrous for the earth.

Iowa is a more recent example. The state used to be beautiful prairie land occupied by millions of bison with the native people killing the odd one for meat and other uses.
Iowa is almost all agricultural fields now. Little prairie remains, and if you can find what Iowans call a “postage stamp” remnant of some, it most likely will abut a cornfield. Walk from the prairie to the field, and you probably will step down about six feet: that’s how much topsoil has disappeared since 1900.

Plows destroy the deep mat of prairie roots that hold the whole business together, triggering erosion. The Dust Bowl was no accident of nature. A functioning grassland prairie produces more biomass each year than does even the most technologically advanced wheat field. The problem is prairie grass is mostly of a kind that humans can’t eat.
So what did we do? We replaced the prairie with our own preferred grass, wheat, corn and soybeans. Never mind that we feed most of this to livestock, even though that livestock is perfectly content to eat native grass. And never mind that there likely were more bison produced naturally on the Great Plains before farming than all of beef farming raises in the same area today.

Just imagine the folly of industrial farming: 40-60 million bison freely roamed the immense grasslands of North America. We now grow grains to feed captive cattle, jail them in feed lots with hundreds of heads crowded together, emitting a terrible stench, exposing the cattle to immense pain and suffering, injecting them with antibiotics, and producing a substance – red meat – that causes strokes and heart attacks, taxing the medical system where – at least in the USA – it bankrupts many, as the cost of healthcare is so high.
The process poisons the soil, killing the Gulf of Mexico with the fertilizer overflow, kill people: all that evil, while nature provided free-ranch for the bison.

We still call the human race: homo sapiens, which means ‘the wise human. This same human race has abandoned God, even though honoring him – loving his creation – is the beginning of wisdom. No wonder we travel:
From CHAOS to COSMOS to CHAOS to COSMOS.

No doubt today we live in CHAOTIC times. All steadiness has disappeared: no more steady jobs, no more steady climate, no more steady families, no more steady politics: everything is in a flux.
The CHAOS is not confined to matters of soil where we have switched from a soil-based diet to an OIL-based diet.
Take a look at your kitchen: every food item there has been shipped from far away, has been grown on oil-based fertilizer, worked with colossal equipment, processed by machinery, transported by truck or train or plane to your home, wrapped in oil-based plastic.
It is no exaggeration that we use TEN energy-carbon-based-calories for every ONE food-calorie we consume. If we want to stop Climate Change we have to stop eating or grow your own.

Politically, socially, religiously, financially, instability reigns. The weather is weird, earth tremors abound, warning us of greater quakes to come. Greenland last week saw temperatures 30 Celsius above normal. Chaos is now universal.

So what are we to do?
Godspell comes to mind, that musical with the catchy tune, “Prepare ye the Way of the Lord,” sung by John the Baptizer.

We live in times not unlike 2000 years ago when Jesus appeared on the scene, his coming announced by a crazy character, a nature-gatherer, in direct touch with the earth. Does that give us a hint? Then the official church also ignored Jesus, even as three kings from the East came to honor him, and the lowest rank of people, shepherds having nightshift, were the first to be informed.
Today total CHAOS calls for total renewal, a restored COSMOS.
I was greatly encouraged reading Barbara Kingsolver’s FLIGHT BEHAVIOR, a novel squarely dealing with Climate Change. I was delighted to read how in that book the author has a church minister in the Baptist South proclaim from the pulpit that “A love for the Creator means we love his creation.”

In next week’s Part 3, I imagine a sustainable nature- gathering society, Chapter 20 of my 65,000 words novel DAY WITHOUT END.

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IMAGINING ETERNITY

December 2 2017

IMAGINING ETERNITY

Part 1: Setting the stage.

This week I start a three – perhaps a four – part series with the ambitious topic of IMAGINING ETERNITY.

It is true that nobody has come back from eternity, so I cannot rely on eye-witness accounts or can consult ancient sources to bolster my ideas. You may say that Lazarus, who had been dead four days before Jesus resuscitated him, could give an account, but no luck there either. As a kid I asked my mother why Jesus called him back from ‘heaven’, believing all the stories I heard about it being so wonderful up there. Kids ask the craziest things.

The first part will touch upon the early chapters of Genesis, relating what happened when two brothers, with different outlooks, Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve, then already had totally opposite views on how life should develop. Today, after many millennia, this very question is coming to a head.

The second and perhaps a third essay will trace how early human development still has significance for today, with particular emphasis on agriculture and its consequences.

In the last part I visualize eternity, the NEW CREATION. To illustrate that episode I have selected a chapter from my book DAY WITHOUT END, a 66,000 word fantasy, playing entirely in the New Creation. The book itself is available from LULU.com-Bert Hielema.

By the way: my visualizing eternity is not all that unique. The church has done this for many centuries: it has described heaven, especially by means of hymns. Almost all church songs somewhere have a hint or sentence referring to heaven, in spite of Jesus’ very own words, recorded in John 3: 13, “No one has ever gone to heaven, except the one who came from heaven, Jesus himself, the son of man”. This has not prevented the church to teach that heaven is our final destination. Invariably almost every Sunday I sing hymn extolling the merits of heaven. Funerals especially feature them, “By the Sea of Crystal saints in glory stand… robed in white apparel…. myriads in number?”
Questions abound: Everybody dressed the same way? Yet every snowflake, every leaf is different! Reigning in heaven, ignoring creation? Myriads in number? How to square that with Jesus’ words, “many are called, few are chosen”, see Matthew 22:14.

So why do I venture into the unknown?

Call it my gut reaction. I feel that Christ’ return is imminent, something the Bible keeps on repeating: it’s got to happen someday, so why not soon!

I sincerely believe that the time for ‘conversion’ is over. The church no longer has the courage and conviction to radically change people. Revelation 22: 11, “Let those who do wrong keep doing that”, suggests to me that people no longer can be convinced, because, by and large, churches have lost the Message of the Kingdom. The words of Jeremiah come to mind (51:9), “We would have healed Babylon but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to his own land, for her judgement reaches to the skies, and rises as high as the clouds.”

I also believe that the world has gone too far on the road to ruin to change course, so now we must consider the next step and prepare for our ultimate future. That Babylon – the present world – is beyond healing is evident from the essence of our Capitalistic system which can only function by destroying creation. America and our entire Western world have been built on creational domination and exploitation of the most vulnerable.

In THE TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY Jacques Ellul, the eminent French philosopher and astute Christian, accurately describes the present state of affairs. He writes that “technique has become indifferent to all the traditional human ends and values by becoming an end-in-itself…..which has nothing human in it to which we must accommodate ourselves as best we may…… In the technological society we humans are but a single tightly integrated and articulate component.”

Now in 2017 we are indeed so tightly enmeshed into The Technological Society, especially with Television, its Internet offspring and mobile devices that escape is nigh impossible.
Neil Postman in his classic AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH has phrased it correctly. In our Brave New World, Postman writes, “we are moving toward some preordained paradise, and technology is the force behind that movement.”

Technology’s march is indeed relentless, but the “paradise” paradigm is no longer possible because there is no leisure without work: there simply is no solution to the unemployment situation as robots rob jobs from workers while brains have been dulled by the BOOB TUBE and by the incessant silly chatter on the many media tools.

Revolt was possible earlier.

It happened in the early 19th century. That’s when the first generation of workers had the experience of being suddenly thrown out of their jobs by automation. But rather than accept it, they fought back—calling themselves the “Luddites” – and staging an audacious attack against the machines.

In the first decade of the 1800s, the textile economy in Great Britain went into a tailspin. A decade of war with Napoleon had halted trade and driven up the cost of food and everyday goods. Fashions changed, too: Men began wearing “trousers,” so the demand for stockings plummeted. The merchant class—the overlords who paid hosiers and croppers and weavers for the work—began looking for ways to shrink their costs.

That meant reducing wages—and bringing in more technology to improve efficiency. Huge factories were built where coal-burning engines would propel dozens of automated cotton-weaving machines. And the owners grew rich. The Luddites were not so much against progress: they revolted because the owners made millions while the workers starved.

Today is no different: the rich have grown richer while the poor now have TRUMP, the ultimate conman. Today the redundancy of labor, supplanted by efficient machines, is already creating an enormous “useless class”, without economic or military purpose. So what will happen to this human surplus? Cannon fodder as was the case in the 1930’s?

The real culprits are Robots and computers which are taking over the work place where once humans toiled. So will Corporate Capitalism outlaw robots and computers?

We simply cannot set back the clock to the 17th Century when wind and water fueled economic life. Yet eliminating fossil fuels has become necessary as continuing and increasing its use – as the current USA regime wants to do – will hasten the Day of Reckoning.

Let’s not fool ourselves: we are in for the most terrible of times. The rumblings are all too evident, in the weather, in the economy, in the deteriorating state of the global health, in the TRUMP tragedy, in the irreparable Middle East drama: it’s time for the people of God to extract ourselves from political, economic, self-destructing circumstances that inevitably will lead to total disaster.
Yes, let me be honest: my Calvinistic tentacles, my Bible-based opinions tell me that we will self-destruct. I now suspect that Climate Change is the deciding factor with the Arctic holding the key, the place where untold trillions of tons of methane are about to emerge. Before the final denouement, before our entire world will go up in flames, we will experience wars, famines, mass migration and state failure. These are the Horsemen of the coming Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

The Titanic to come.

Just as in the case of RMS Titanic, when today’s ship called Industrial Civilization sinks there will not be enough life boats, and those that there are will not be fully utilized. That is the reason why we must prepare for eternity now.

All the way back to ABEL and CAIN

You may recall how the two first sons of Adam and Eve were quite religious and made an offering to Yahweh. God accepted Abel’s gesture of devotion, but rejected Cain’s, because he was not sincere in his approach to God. This infuriated Cain so much that he killed his brother.
Pursuing eternity – as Abel did – is a dangerous business: it cost him his life. Jesus embodied eternity which got him killed. The same with Bonhoeffer who wrote that, “The Church of Christ witnesses to the end of all things.” The Nazis hanged him: his grave was never found. Churches that proclaim true eternity will lose most of their members.

Cain, after killing his brother, fled and we read that he built a city, signifying that the human desire to exclude God from creation is the prime motive behind the founding of the city.

Cain, who murdered his brother Abel, is the first city builder. He called it Enoch, which means a New Beginning.

Jacques Ellul in his book THE MEANING OF THE CITY mentioned that it was Cain’s intention to re-make the world over again, with not the Garden of Eden but the City as the new paradise.

Ellul wrote: “Cain has built a city. For God’s Eden he substitutes his own, for the goal given to his life by God, he substitutes a goal chosen by himself. The city is the direct consequence of Cain’s murderous act and of his own refusal to accept God’s protection. ….The city is opposed to Eden….God’s creation is seen as nothing. Cain made a new start, a start no longer seen as God’s beginning, but of human making.

“And thus Cain, with everything he does digs a little deeper the abyss between himself and God….. With Cain we have a sure starting place for all of civilization. Paradise becomes a legend and creation a myth……..Cain takes possession of the world and uses it as he wishes…….It is man’s highhanded piracy of creation that makes creation incapable of giving glory to God. Cain bends all of creation to his will.”

Today we see this clearly in the aims of Trump: no consideration of nature whatsoever.

In his book Ellul does not glorify the country over the city, because, today, by and large, the countryside simply has become an extension of the city.
Ellul mentions that, “Babylon is not A city, it is THE city……..When the wrath of God is loosed, she is struck first…. She is the very home of civilization and when the great city vanishes, there is no more civilization, a world disappears…..The very fact of living in the city directs a person down an inhuman road. They are taken into the service and worship of a somber goddess.”

Is that the end? Does Ellul in his THE MEANING OF THE CITY offer no hope?

He does. No hope for the present system, but, as a sincere Christian, he points to the NEW CITY to come, a city the exact opposite of the city Cain founded, and in which we now live, which has to be destroyed, as it was and still is the representation of human security and human thinking and human intentions.

In the new city, the City of God, the Lord’s presence will be constant, his spirit all pervasive. And, promises Revelation 14: 13, “Our good deeds will follow us there.” Writes Ellul: “The new city is founded in humility, constructed in the acceptance of God’s decisions. ……….Just as the new city is the accomplishment of what we humans were never able to realize, she is also the exact opposite of the earthly city….and the exact counterpart of what we humans had wanted to do.”

Properly speaking the new world to come will totally reflect God’s will, will be a world where communion with God is perfect and for all who live there.

I believe that it is later than we think. The Bible also says that the collapse will be sudden and unexpected. ARCTIC NEWS keeps on raising the alarm. Here is what this blog says, “The outlook is terrifying. As I calculated last year, surface temperatures of the atmosphere could rise by some 10°C or 18°F within a decade, i.e. by 2026,” making true 2 Peter 3: 10-13, I might add.

We have to reorient our goals, away from the City of Man to the City of God where SHALOM reigns, where full harmony within all spheres of life and within all humans, animals and plants will be universal.

Next week Part 2 of IMAGINING ETERNITY

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