Sunday, February 05, 2023

Semi-Random Musings (29)

Three unrelated thoughts about failures of memory.

Critics of dispensational teaching frequently insist that it cannot be valid because we do not find it discussed explicitly in the writings of the church fathers or, to the best of our limited knowledge, throughout the next couple of millennia of church history. I have always found that a weak argument, not least because both our knowledge of church history and of the opinions of the church fathers are so fragmentary. In fact, precious truths are far more easily lost than we might think.

Perhaps that’s why Proverbs says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it.” Some things are invaluable.

There’s what amounts to a paragraph or so in Nehemiah that really boggles the mind when you start to think about it. I’m referring to chapter 8, where the returned exiles celebrate the Feast of Booths, also called Succoth or “Tabernacles”. In the middle of that account, we find this statement: “All the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so.” That’s a period of over 900 years, from approximately 1390 to 432 BC, during which something God plainly ordained was almost completely ignored by his people. Generations of Israelites never even heard about it.

I say “almost completely ignored”, because there’s a lonely little reference in 2 Chronicles to the Feast of Booths. During the glory days of the nation, Solomon celebrated it at least once. It’s also possible Hezekiah briefly reintroduced it, though Succoth is not explicitly included in a more general reference to “appointed feasts”. So we may take the statement in Nehemiah to mean something like “had not celebrated the Feast of Booths consistently or regularly”, or perhaps “had not celebrated it with due attention to God’s instructions”.

How does that happen? The Feast of Booths is right there in Leviticus 23 along with all the other appointed feasts of YHWH, the seventh of seven. It was an eight-day annual pilgrimage festival scheduled to take place on the fifteenth day of every seventh month. Moses instructed the people to gather to present food offerings to the Lord while camping in booths or tents constructed from the interwoven boughs of palm and willow trees. Its purpose was to commemorate the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness after its exodus from Egypt, its grateful spirit similar to that of a Christian Thanksgiving celebration.

Moses dedicated eleven verses to the Feast of Booths, the longest description of any feast. At eight days, Booths also was the longest of the feasts and the last in any given calendar year. Deuteronomy 16 and 31 both refer to it, in case anyone missed it in Leviticus. Theologically, it speaks of God’s gracious provision for the needs of his people during their time of wandering. Prophetically, it foreshadows the glories of the millennial reign of Christ, during which not just Israel but all nations will celebrate it.

And for most of Israel’s history, the Feast of Booths was forgotten, not because it wasn’t there to be found in the word of God, but because God’s people paid insufficient attention to that word.

Light gets lost. Sometimes light gets found again. Zealous men get into the scriptures and see something previous generations did not. The validity of a teaching is not to be judged by church history, but rather by whether we find it in the word of God.

*   *   *   *   *

Speaking of the human capacity for forgetfulness, Nebuchadnezzar provides an interesting case in point. In chapter 2 of Daniel, the Chaldean monarch has his dreams interpreted for him by the God of Israel, prompting him to make Daniel ruler of the province of Babylon and chief prefect over his wise men. At that time, he remarks, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”

“God of gods and Lord of kings.” That’s a pretty profound statement. Act consistently with that truth, and you are getting somewhere in life. But the penny has not really dropped yet for Nebuchadnezzar. Entrusted with the knowledge that both his own empire and those to follow it would ultimately be destroyed and totally eclipsed by a kingdom set up by the God of heaven, Nebuchadnezzar promptly constructs an image golden from head to toe, unlike the less-stable image of his dream. It’s as if he is saying, “My dominion will last forever.” He then orders everyone to fall down and worship the image — as if by wishing hard enough for transcendence he could somehow make it so. In response, God miraculously rescues his servants from the king’s foolish edict, and Nebuchadnezzar again has something to say about God: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” and “There is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Both are profound thoughts.

Still, the penny has not dropped. Another dream, another interpretation, this one with the threat of judgment to come. Unduly impressed with his own glory, Nebuchadnezzar becomes the object of a seven-year divinely imposed learning curve, after which he says some truly splendid things about his Judge:

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’ ”

In short, Heaven rules. Lesson finally learned.

Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar knew all this, but learned nothing from it. It would be almost unbelievable if we didn’t see the same sort of thing happening in the lives around us every day.

*   *   *   *   *

Finally, here’s something they probably wish we would forget. The Australian Medical Professionals’ Society sent a letter to its medical practitioners dated January 11 advising them that their federal government never followed through on a promised scheme to indemnify them from the possible legal consequences of administering the COVID-19 vaccines to patients who experienced adverse reactions as a result. Medical professionals are now without any government liability protection in the event that they have failed to obtain informed consent from all the patients they vaccinated. Such consent is not considered “informed” unless the patient was warned of material risks related to vaccination.

That would have been an awfully tough order for these poor doctors to have complied with, given that they had received a joint statement by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency and the National Boards almost two years ago threatening them with regulatory action in the event they made any anti-vaccination statements either in their practices or on social media. The same government agencies that barked out the orders to push the vaccine at all costs are now throwing their doctors under the bus for following the rules they made for them.

The letter also makes the unprecedented concession that “evidence from reputable sources demonstrates that COVID-19 provisionally-approved vaccines have real known and unknown harms and immunocompromising effects”. It links to this report by Phillip M. Altman and colleagues from August 9, 2022, which is the most comprehensive refutation of the “safe and effective” narrative I’ve seen anywhere to date.

Oh well. I guess someone has to take responsibility. We all knew it wasn’t going to be the politicians.

No comments :

Post a Comment