FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9
Recap, reflection – and the message that emerges
2 Kings 2: 1-12
Elisha succeeds Elijah, in a demonstration of utter reliance on the Lord and His anointing
Reflection 1: How do you work out the partnership between what God has made you uniquely capable of doing, and what He is uniquely able to do? What might Elisha’s example be teaching us in this?
God calls the consecrated people to the court of His covenant – both heaven and earth together
Reflection 2: How do we, post-resurrection and relating to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, celebrate and renew our covenant relationship with Him? What does God really want from us?
For further study, read the whole of Psalm 50 and the passages on ‘insincere sacrifices’ in Isaiah 1:11, Amos 4:4, Micah 6:6-8; NT and post-resurrection perspective Luke 22:20, Galatians 4:6.
Heaven appears to those on earth at the transfiguration of Jesus
Reflection 3: This was an encounter with God beyond the scope of imagining for most of us. Could you imagine being in a situation where you draw near to God and His glory becomes real to you?
2 Cor. 4:3-6
Heaven’s strategy in the good news of Jesus is contrasted with scheme that the god of this age, the devil, operates
Reflection 4: Where are you, along the line from a closed-mind unbeliever to a person of strong and open faith in God? Where are there pockets of ‘unbelieving’ which give the god of this world opportunities to block the light to that part of your heart?
The emerging message – how heaven and earth are connected
Although three of the readings show us how “God shines forth” in dazzling light, a light that shines in hearts to reveal the glory of Jesus, the real message that emerges is the close connection between the affairs of heaven and earth. How do we understand it, and how do we work with it?
It’s an important question. The lack of understanding of the interactions of heaven and earth, the spiritual world and our victories and setbacks, has left us, Jesus’ church, a lot less effective for Him than we should be.
The four strands of this teaching on interaction start with utter reliance on God in the handoff by Elijah to his pupil Elisha – the power and right to confer it belonged to God alone.
Psalm 50 teaches us about covenant and, unusually in a psalm where usually man speaks to God, God speaks to man about the responsibilities of covenant relationship and being ready to be called to account – for reward or for rebuke.
The Transfiguration is where we see the interaction most closely, as it seems that the top of the mountain is a ‘thin place’, so thin that Moses and Elijah are instantly recognisable conversing with Jesus in a scene that is both heavenly and earthly. This tells us that heaven is a real ‘place’, with real people. In heaven there are actions and conversations that impact ours, on earth. It’s not too big a jump to see behind the scene a strategy – and if we can join in that strategy, making our moves in step with heaven, that is a covenant relationship to strike fear into the devil and his minions.
That is really the point Paul is making in his second Corinthian letter. Not only has righteous heaven a plan and purpose being worked out, so the enemy of souls has a scheme. It’s always the same scheme – to keep people in fear, confusion and spiritual blindness. Knowing that scheme is the key to overcoming the scheme.
Many of us have grown up with the perception that there is a heaven, a kind of spiritual layer ‘above’, and we know all about the human realm on earth. We have believed that between these there is an ‘excluded middle’ like thick insulation keeping the two apart.
The reality is that the separation is caused by man’s pride and sin, but God’s mercy and our standing in Christ is such that we can bring the two back into a measure of connection by our praise, devotion, and especially repentance. Having an awareness of how the connection works, is a large part of making that connection. And that is where the kingdom of God, the major theme of Jesus’ teaching, begins to be manifest.
Read ahead – all the readings for Sunday, Feb 11