The GREAT Escape ? ? ?
As I journey through life, I sometimes have to intentionally focus so as to keep my mind from drifting. In the last R.E.S.4T. blog, we talked about how God spoke to us in the most awesome way possible: He spoke to us through His Son who is Jesus. We also hear Him say that God had spoken through the Prophets, and even Angels.
He begins here throwing up a CAUTION sign: Given the life circumstances of the Hebrew writer’s audience, the Hebrew scribe seems to notice something deadly. He sees people making a huge mistake. They were drifting. Eternal values, that would change their lives forever, were being addressed; and yet, he sensed they were not listening. It sounds a whole lot like church on Sunday morning. We have only four short verses here, but the revelation in these verses is jam packed with 21st century potentiality and power; needless to say, if this revelation is ignored, there is a real possibility that the ignoring one’s life will be filled with some extremely serious loss. Let’s listen in to what is being said:
PAY ATTENTION Y’ALL!
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Here is a game for you: Check out the word picture below, and then see how many words you can find in our scripture lesson. Why do I want you to do this? First, it’s a bit entertaining. Second, I ask you to do this because this passage is important. Finally, I ask you to do this because I hope this will help you pay attention to what is said:
Okay. How many of the words did you find in the passage? Did they help you grasp what is written? Did it help you pay attention? I hope, without me writing another word, you are able to take hold of this passage. I hope you can embrace it. Okay let’s break this passage down for our 21st century minds:
First paying attention is an absolute MUST. We absolutely, positively, indisputably and dogmatically need to be careful to hear what is being said. If we don’t focus on the message, we are going to miss something. Second, if we don’t pay attention, we are going to drift away. Now it’s one thing to drift in the right direction, but it is quite another thing to drift out into the ocean of the wrong way. Third this message, the one that is prepared to seal you into the Eternal Life Covenant God has for you, is binding. More binding than the messages the Angels imparted to Moses … more binding than the ones imparted to the prophets. These Angelic messages, when not paid attention to (when violated) carried with them some highly significant consequences. The wages of such failure included death. Some paid attention, but others ignored them. So they missed out on God’s rescue. The consequences for not paying attention to the words spoken by Jesus are far more deadly. Ignoring God’s offer results in death. Scary huh? But this is not what God wanted for them. It’s not want God wants for you. It’s really kind of weird just how many of the Old Testament humans seemed to want to live independent of God. I hope you, the reader, do not.
Something greater is at stake for you and me. The very journey with Christ, that Jesus offers you, is at stake. It is called Salvation. This salvation is a salvation from bondage to the sin that is in each one of our lives and salvation from death itself. It is a salvation that brings a person out of stumbling in the Kingdom of Darkness and transfers them into the Kingdom of Light. This salvation removes all condemnation and brings eternal forgiveness. This is God’s Eternal Life Covenant. So, God is reaching out with His salvation offer, and like the ancient ones, there is a free choice for human beings. Each one can decide to listen (pay attention) or not.
Four Shout Outs From God
The thing about this is that God has shouted at the top of His heavenly lungs in four ways just to get humanity’s attention: Check it out in our passage. (One) This salvation was first announced by God in the form of Jesus. God Himself was actually speaking on earth through “the Lord.” (verse 3) (Two) Crowds of people heard it and confirmed it. They confirmed someone died and was resurrected from the dead. (verse 3.) (Three) God even provided “signs, wonders and miracles” just to get God’s point across. (verse 4) Then, (four) once the Church took over, and the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, God started distributing gifts according to His will. Thousands of lives/souls were saved at a time, and the miraculous transformation of these lives was on public display for every human being –and creation itself — to see. I am one of those transformed lives living in the 2oth and 21st centuries, and I have lost count of all the transformed lives whom I have observed who have experienced God’s salvation. But while I have lost count, God certainly has not.
Good News! Sad News For Our Times
We live in what could be called a miraculous age. Instant messaging, pictures, videos, Face Time, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and email make it possible for us to keep our minds and bodies busy every waking moment. The good news is that we can actually connect, and even stay connected with “friends” relatives, associates and neighbors wherever we are in the world. We can be on the other side of the planet, across the international date line – and even in a separate day – from our loved ones. Yet we can have a face to face conversation. Some of you reading this web log are doing so from the other side of the planet from where I am located. And don’t let us forget how we can focus on the virtual pokeman on our cell phones. Yup! it is real easy to “connect” in these ways. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Yet there really is a downside spiritually and emotionally and even physically. This is unique to our day and age: What are you talking about Chaplain? I am talking about what happens to the human brain while we consistently live in a virtual world. Studies clearly demonstrate that the part of the brain which fires up the emotions, and revs us up with adrenaline has consequences. Continual, rarely pausing, virtual world living slows the use of that part of the brain that causes us to be still, reflect, relax, relate, authentically connect with one another and even experience God. For all too many, the anterior cingulate cortex –the part that knows God — goes into hibernation.
Here are some examples of this: Just watch one American family sitting at a table eating breakfast “together.” They are staring at their phones, tablets or computers not even looking at one another, texting to someone, but they are not connecting with each other. If they cannot actually relate to one another, how can they focus on God? View the carnage of crashes of those who text while driving. Talk about physical impact? Give me a break! One young teenage lady’s last words ever shared were on a text, “The happy song makes me happy.” Then she died in a car crash. She wasn’t paying attention to driving. She was “connecting” with her friends. There is an adrenaline rush that seems to accompany techno geeking. And for some this becomes an adrenaline addiction. It’s almost impossible for such persons to put the technology aside.
The Mammoth Problem
Technological Wizardry and Social Engineering Vs The God Brain.
With all this great stuff, and the social changes that have taken place in the last fifty plus years, one of the mammoth problems for individuals, in the real world, is the concern where all of the technological wizardry and social engineering have replaced the potential for eternal salvation to be received. And when these take the place of God, no matter what God offers or says, it’s difficult to pay attention to the message of the very Son of God. In The United States, the Bible, prayer and the church’s influence were forced out of our school systems. Even Christian teachers fear today they cannot talk about God. Secularism fills the vacuum accompanied by technology; therefore, what Dr. Timothy Jennings has dubbed the “God brain,” has difficulty coming out the sleep mode. It’s really difficult to wake up that part of the brain of any child attending our public schools.
Needless to say, it’s challenging for generation NEXT to realize that breaking God’s law, like breaking humanity’s law, brings severe consequences. Because people’s brains are busy in the virtual world and secularized world, it takes something drastic in the real world to happen before such persons can hear that Jesus took their punishment because God loves them. Sadly because of their present mindset,it’s really not a concern for them. They are getting their fix in the artificial world. Secularistic virtuality dwellers have to be disconnected from that artificial mindset in order to hear that God demonstrated the greatest love which was ever shown by Jesus death. This pervasive virtual reality blinds way too many to the wonderful gift that Jesus gives power for a new life. Because he lives we can receive the power through him to also live! This is the salvation message. It use to be the only “worlds” in competition for people’s hearts and minds were the physical and spiritual. Now we have a secularistic and virtual world consuming people in this world, and it’s difficult for them to hear what God has to say to them from the Heavenly dimension. It’s hard to “pay attention” or even wish to pay attention.
The Ultimate Question
I close with a very pointed question that only you can adequately answer for yourself. God offers you salvation. God offers you salvation from bondage to sin and death. He offers you a salvation from hell itself! He offers you a home in The Heavenly dimension, which is the eternal reality. He has made a covenant designed for you. You do not have to go around feeling guilty and being condemned for all you did wrong and for all the bad things that may have happened to you. Neither do you have to burden yourself with the pseudo guilt (false guilt) that wears on you like steel metal jacket … the kind of guilt where you blame yourself for things that were NOT your fault. You CAN experience forgiveness (even forgive yourself) once and eternally for all. Why? Because Jesus lived a sinless life, was crucified died, was buried and rose from the dead. With the sacrificing of his blood and his body on the cross, and with him rising from the dead, we will see, in the coming days, (God willing) how he has made a sweet deal with us which I am calling The Eternal Life Covenant, with you. He calls this “SALVATION!” Now here is the ultimate question: “How shall we escape, if we ignore so great a salvation?” Ask more personally, “How shall YOU escape if you ignore so great a salvation. Each of these represent a good question … good question indeed. The answer is we can’t escape, if we don’t “pay attention.”
Hope you will be here next time. There is way more to come, and I don’t want you to miss out.