Blest cross! Blest sepulchre! Blest rather be
The man that there was put to shame for me.
— Paul Bunyan
My background is pentecostal. Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada to be precise. Under the pentecostal banner, there are a wide variety of experiences. Some churches resemble liturgical mainline parishes. Others are full-out charismatic with all the excesses that brings. Most are somewhere in between these two poles. Maybe I shouldn’t have used a polarizing metaphor! Church reality is far more subtle than the stereotypes.
One of the streams that I’ve noticed in some churches is the tendency to thank God for something before he does anything. You often see it when people pray for the sick. It sounds like this: “Lord Jesus, we thank you that _______ is already healed.”
At its worst, it becomes a mind-game—a way to trick God into thinking we believe so much, we are already thanking him. At its best, though, it can be a deep expression of trust in God’s sovereignty.
. . .
We’re in the middle of a section in Ezekiel about a future battle: the Armageddon-style conflict between God and Gog. In the current passage, God announces the utter defeat of Gog one more time, and concludes with these words:
It has come! It has happened, says the Lord GOD. This is the day of which I have spoken. (v. 8, NRSV)
The difference between my pentecostal experience and this passage is that here God is doing the talking. When God says that something is done, it is—even if it has not yet played out in history.
. . .
Maybe I still have Easter on the brain, but this reminds me of Jesus. In fact, you can understand this battle with Gog as having happened on the cross. The battle was over when Jesus said, “It is finished”. A few days later when Jesus rose from the grave, he proved that he had defeated Gog—even death itself.
So where does that leave us?
We’re in an awkward time when we know Jesus has defeated sin and death, entropy and decay, but are ravaged by them nonetheless.
I think we need God’s perspective from v. 8. “It has come!” “It has happened”. Even if the consequences of that day have not yet played out in history, God’s work is fully accomplished.
Regardless of your view of eschatology, we all agree that the decisive battle has been won. All that’s left is for the kingdom to spread, and for the remnants of evil to be driven away like shadows from a candle.
. . .
Lord God, in discouraging times, help me to remember that the you have already defeated death. Give me the endurance and patience to continue announcing your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.