2014-05-01 - Playbooks and Irony
Originally Published 1996-11-08
Before a game in most competitive, organized team sports like football or basketball, the coaches get together and pick the plays the team knows they feel will work well against their opponents. The plays are collected into a play book and these are the plays the team works on in preparation for the game. The team would work very hard to keep the plays and the playbook a secret to gain the biggest advantage from all their preparations. "Does Macy tell Gimbles?," as the old saying goes.
But like so very many things in God's economy, it is very much backwards.
Zechariah 14:1-2 Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.
Jerusalem will fall. In 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel recaptured the city of Jerusalem. Battle-hardened soldiers pulled out their prayer books and wept as they prayed at the Wailing Wall. The wall that is believed to be one of the last surviving external walls of Herod's Temple on the Temple Mount. For the first time since 70AD, when the Roman General Titus Vespasian laid siege to and captured the city, Jerusalem returned to the control of the Jewish people.
During this prophetic look into the future, God wields His power and draws all nations against tiny Israel. As the city falls, and the hope of the return of the Jewish Messiah seems to fade in the hearts of the survivors, homes are looted and burned, gross atrocities are committed against the people of the city, as the enemy seems certain to crush Israel forever.
Zechariah 14:3-5 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle. 4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and the other half to the south. 5 And you will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azil; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. The the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!
This is the moment that all time has been yearning for since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. The return of Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things. Jesus steps from eternity into time, leading us on white horses into battle. A battle which is over before it can begin. What happens next is amazing. The Lord opens His playbook to His opponents, and His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives... He tells them exactly where He will land. He continues to unravel His scenario. A great earthquake will split the Mount of Olives from east to west making a valley for the survivors to escape through. Why wouldn't the enemies of Israel simply drive to the lip of the valley and open fire? Because Jesus Christ will stand straddling the valley protecting His chosen people. In verses twelve through fifteen we get a picture of the staggering defeat of the nations that have come to devastate Jerusalem. In Revelation 14, the devastation of the armies of the world is chronicled. Verse 20 explains that the blood from the enemies of God who are slain will flow 200 miles from the plains of Armageddon. The blood, as it flows through the Kidron valley, will be the depth of the horse's bridle. Whose horse? The Lord's horse as He crosses the Kidron valley, just as He did the night of His crucifixion years before. As Jesus crossed the creek at the bottom of the valley, He would have noted the water tinted with the blood of the thousands of lambs slain during Passover. It must have reminded Him that His blood would flow the very next day. And now, the blood of His adversaries flows as He enters Jerusalem.
The Lord Jesus has done the unthinkable by human standards. He has explained, multiple times, in graphic detail, His plans to reclaim His creation. The plan was laid down in eternity past, when our ransom was conceived (Rev 13:8) before the foundations of the world were established out of nothing. It is known to His archrival. Over the years, that arch enemy has attempted time and time again to derail the game plan. The playbook is the most printed volume in history. And, it will come to pass, just as it was laid down untold ages ago. The irony is huge. Jesus has given every opportunity to identify Him, even as He returns, and the armies of the world, large yet finite, will turn and attack an infinite God in a final act of defiance. The Lord whose love and patience has withstood His wrath against man's arrogance for thousands of years. And they refuse to see.
John 10:27 - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one is able to snatch them out of My hand.
What a promise. No one or nothing, not even our own wills can take us from the hand of the Lord. He has promised to safely bring us home, kicking and screaming if need be. One glimpse of the eternal city, or the Lord in glory will throw any objection to oblivion. We have every reason to anticipate a celebration of massive proportions. One day, very soon, the Lord will descend in the clouds and catch His children out of this crumbling world. The governments, corporations and alleged powers of this world have been warned, and yet it will take them all by surprise.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.