Are You Who?
Hindsight is marvellous.
We know precisely why the other bloke got it
wrong. And we take great delight in telling him – and
anyone else who cares to listen – just what we would have
done in similar circumstances.
But imagine a friend appears on your doormat
one fine day. With him is a girl. Introductions all round. Olga
is the name. Scrubs up reasonably well. Her tinkling laugh
doesn’t shatter any windows. She claims to boil water
without burning it. And has held down a job or two over the
course of her shortish life.
Your friend makes some excuse to get you on
your own. He’s a bachelor – and has been heard to
complain loud and long about the miseries of the single
‘What d’you think?’ he
‘About what?’ you say, playing for
‘About her. Her and me.
You wax eloquent. ‘Hey, she’s just
great for you. Delay not. Pop the question. Elope.’ And you
trot out the cliché about marriages being made in heaven.
Okay, maybe you have mixed motives. Maybe you want rid of your
friend regularly sobbing on your shoulder on the subject of
loneliness. But, honestly, the prospective union looks
Then your friend shakes his head and drops the
bombshell. ‘But what if someone better comes along? That
would be disaster!’
There’s no answer to that one –
unless one takes the aforesaid friend and gently bangs his head
against a nearby wall until he sees sense.
And, trust us, it happens. People are
Would you believe that the Bible has
anticipated this style of trouble? Great book. Especially if you
read it like a how-to manual. And there’s a scenario just
like the above that we need to remember. Need to take seriously.
Because it applies to a whole swag of believers as of now –
and might just apply to you and us. Remember the tale of the
Baptist minister who lost his head over a girl at a dance..?
Sorry. Ahem! Let’s be serious. We
meant to say ‘remember John the Baptist?’
Let’s run over the story. John the
Baptist was the product of a miraculous birth. So was his cousin,
Jesus. (Yes, there are degrees of miracle, but don’t miss
the similarity.) John was highly likely to know the details. But
even if there’s the remotest chance that J-the-B
hadn’t heard the goss, you have to accept the incidents on
the banks of the Jordan.
John was there when the Holy Spirit in the
form of a dove lighted on Jesus. John was there when God spoke
from heaven. John was inspired to announce to the crowd:
‘Behold the lamb of God’. That’s not cute.
That’s a death sentence. The lamb of God –
God’s lamb – is simply the Passover lamb that
is specially selected to be slaughtered so that God’s
people would live. And he knew in his spirit – and had the
guts to teach it – that his ministry of heralding the
Messiah was on the way out.
So far, so good.
Then comes his little contretemps with
Herod, and his – John’s – imprisonment. Forget
all the Rembrandt lighting, clean straw and Gothic stonework that
look great in religious films. Middle East jails have mostly been
rough pits somewhere deep under the foundations of castles, forts
and palaces. Disgusting food. No showers. No sanitation. The
sickening stench of humanity. And always the largest, most
fearless, disease-ridden rats, bringing with them every type of
biting and burrowing lice and ticks to turn the blast-furnace
days and the bone-chilling nights into a living hell on
John starts to doubt. Wouldn’t you?
Somehow he smuggles a message out of the
prison that eventually reaches Jesus. It’s terse and to the
‘Are you he – or do we look for
If you’re sitting comfortably (as we are
at this particular moment) it’s easy enough to go over the
highlights of the story and tut-tut that a man of God like John
the Baptist could even briefly have second thoughts.
Hey! Life has to be lived through. Five
minutes of real toothache in the middle of the night can
undermine all the accurate – but glib –
clichés about the love of God. John was human. Like you.
And John began to wonder. Okay, there was
miraculous birth, a dove, the audible voice of God Himself
– but what if ‘someone better’ came along a few
years down the track.
‘Are you really the Messiah?
Jesus sends back his reply. No vehement
protest that he really is. No railing condemnation of his
cousin. Just a simple statement of what he’s doing out
there in the sunshine and the open spaces: the miracles, the good
news. And he adds a special word for his cousin – and for
all of us: ‘And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be
offended in me’.
In other words, there are times when we get
through on nothing but faith and gritted teeth. No miracles. No
voices. Just the sheer physical torment and the mind that
won’t stop buzzing with doubts and fears. Yes, it might be
possible for someone to do bigger wonders in years to come.
(Remember what Jesus said about ‘greater works’?) But
John has to live in the here and now of his day and age - and
That’s what faith is for.
So what point are we making? Just this...
There’s a lot of unbelief out there
about the return of Jesus. About the fulfilment of prophecy.
About the need to live with the immediacy of the murderous rise
of Islam worldwide, the compulsory numbering of every human, the
welcoming to power of a plausible, satanic leader, the snatching
away supernaturally of those who look for the Messiah, and, at
the very last moment, the return to Jerusalem, Israel, of Jesus
the King of kings and Lord of lords.
We’re not talking about unbelief in the
world. Unbelief in the church. Sometimes a total disbelief that
any of the relevant scriptures mean a bar of what they say.
‘Spiritual’ is the word used to wriggle out of them.
And sometimes there’s the dismissal that, yes, it all looks
interesting – but wait a few hundred years and things will
get worse. Much worse. And folk will think – again –
that the Second Coming is any moment now once more.
Are you he? Is this it?
The simple answer is yes and yes.
For hundred of years, godly men have said that
if the Jews ever returned to their land it was God’s sign
that Jesus was about to return.
Jesus himself spoke of the sign of the Jews
regaining control of Jerusalem.
Both those events have happened in our
Sure, you can fantasise that the Jews can be
dispersed and re-gathered again. And again. But you’d
better file that under ‘vain imaginings’.
We’re in the here and now of those two
events (and a whole heap more, but let’s keep it succinct)
having been fulfilled. Now is one of those damned uncomfortable
times when we get through on nothing but faith and gritted teeth.
When in cold faith we choose what we’re going to believe
and stick with it.
This isn’t conjecture. This is cast in
concrete. Some things are conditional; ‘If you will... then
I will...’ saith the Lord, style of thing. Not so the end
time scenario. It’s what scripture calls a ‘Set
Read Psalm 102 – and see the significance.
‘Have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea,
the set time, is come.
When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear
in his glory.’
We’ve waited a long time. But the
signals are there. Now we grit our teeth and encourage others to
do the same. As Hebrews says: ‘exhort one another all
the more, as you see the Day approaching’.
George & Eileen Anderson
PO Box 946
Ph/fax: (+64) (9) 433 5080