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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Faithful Have Vanished

“The faithful have vanished”, David wrote.

Not that the faithful have been exterminated and evil has finally won the day. Not that the faithful have apostatized or lost their salt.

They’ve vanished. Elvis has left the building, folks.

This is not simply David’s personal experience here. No way, not without at least some exaggeration or hyperbole. Matthew Henry says, “It is supposed that David penned this psalm, in the latter part of Saul’s reign, when there was a general decay of honesty and piety, when religion, truth, and righteousness, seemed ready to expire, and every kind of wickedness was without control.”

Yeah, I suppose. Maybe.

Times and Circumstances

Or there’s the explanation I prefer: that Peter came much closer to it when he wrote that “the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”

David was a prophet. He wrote things he didn’t understand and longed to, things outside his own experience. Yes, the latter part of Saul’s reign was surely a pretty lousy time for the righteous in Israel. But David, on the run from Saul, had a small army of men that loved and protected him, risked their lives for him and who were only too willing to be exiled with him.

“The faithful have vanished” would’ve been pretty insulting to that group.

One Chapter a Day ... Times Two

The last year or so I realized it was taking me too long to work my way through the scripture in my daily reading, so I started reading one Old Testament chapter a day and one New Testament chapter right after. I read them out loud to myself instead of just browsing the page and registering the words in my head and you’d be amazed how much that helps my comprehension.

As with all personal spiritual activity, your mileage may vary on that.

But you’d also be amazed how often something in my random OT reading coincidentally supports and amplifies what I’m reading in the NT on the same day. (Well, the reading is not randomly selected. I’m moving through both Testaments in order. But the combination of Old and New chapters is not calculated; it’s ‘random’, insofar as any spiritual exercise can be completely random). Today it was Psalm 12 and 2 Thessalonians 2.

A Strange Similarity

It dawns on me that maybe I’m reading about the same time period. The “faithful have vanished” fits right alongside Paul’s teaching about “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him”:
“Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the LORD;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

You, O LORD, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.”
1 and 2 Thessalonians are the epistles that explicitly reveal the truth of what Paul calls “our gathering together to him” that is currently, colloquially and often critically referred to as The Rapture:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
The faithful will vanish.

Sometimes a coincidence is not a coincidence. Just sayin’.

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