Bread – Signs

July 21, 2017


Psalm 74

Your foes have roared in the midst of Your meeting place; they have set up their own signs for signs.”  Ps. 74:4

Those who are of the world and are not for God are against God.  “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?”  Jas. 4:4b  Therefore, the word “foes” here not only includes people who would see God removed totally from life on earth, but also those who wouldn’t go that far but are still hostile to God and those who are neutral toward God, perhaps believing that there are many gods.  So, God has many foes, many enemies.

But what do the enemies of God do to demonstrate their enmity?  The most obvious way is to work to depose His people on earth, to imprison them in their homes or churches, to make sure that none of their infectious ideas (like eternal life through belief in Jesus Christ) are spoken in the public square or reflected in public policy or laws.

The less obvious way is to create symbols and signs which lead away from God or, worse, mislead people into finding a false god.

Ultimately, unless we are the recipient of direct revelation, we take in our information and our knowledge by words, by language.   The foes of God attempt to create signs and symbols which sound like and look like the words they replace, but which lead away from a sovereign Lord and which therefore lead away from life.

There are many illustrations of this, but I will pick three and hopefully one or more you will find accurate.

The first is our description of God in our own translations of Scripture.   What I mean by that is the destruction of the word “he” or “him” when that pronoun refers to God.  In a sentence referring to both me (a man) and God in every major Bible translation today, any reference to either me or God will be either “he” or “him.”  Very, very, very subtly, by doing so the foes of God have equated man and God to the same level.  Do Christians today have a diminished view of God’s sovereignty, His power, and His majesty?  Perhaps it is because God is referred to in man-made translations as “him” or “he.”  Just like I don’t deserve the royal capital “H,” neither in the opinion of these Bible translators does God.

The second is our corruption of the word “love.”  We “love” football, we “love” ice cream, we “love” our children, and we “love” our neighbor become all the same word.  What has great meaning in a covenantal relationship as between us and God or between us and our spouse is reduced in practical terms to “like a lot.”  When we can love our ice cream with the same meaning as we love our neighbor, why should there be any doubt about why we do not understand the concept of “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.”  We may preach about “sacrificial love,” but isn’t it interesting that the word has become so corrupted that we have to try to strengthen it with an adjective to get our point across.  And is there any reason to wonder why we don’t understand what “sacrificial love” is when the real practical translation is “sacrificial like a lot.”

My third example is actually a strange one because it still means something but the meaning is disappearing in front of our eyes.  That word is “privacy.”  When I was young, this was a core concept of life.  When I was in my room alone, I had privacy.  When I was on the telephone, I had privacy.  When I got a letter in the mail, I had privacy.  The notion is related to a strong Christian view that each man is in the image of God and is therefore worthy of respect.  Part of respect is giving each man then the freedom to be alone, to be private.    Some people today believe that the notion of “privacy” is gone in our electronic culture.  E-mails are monitored, we are moving to a cashless society where everything is run through monitored computer, we have “smart meters” which can monitor our internal home usage, we have smart boxes which are constantly listening to “Hey ______,” we communicate through devices which track our buying habits, and we even have laws in place specifying which information is private and which is not.  Of course, the laws that “give” us privacy can take it away.  Finally, our privacy rights (if any we have) in bathrooms are being taken away in the name of social reform.

So, the foes of God set up their own signs (symbols, meanings) for God’s signs (symbols, meanings).

What are we to do?  Well, obviously first we pray for God’s intervention in our worldly affairs.  But the truth is that we can take back the language.  We can substitute our signs for their signs, our symbols for their symbols, our meanings for their meanings.  How do we do that?  I think we do it by becoming a lot more sensitive to the language we use.  For example, let’s reserve the word “love” for where it really matters.  Let’s honor people’s privacy the way we demand they honor ours.

And let’s refer to God as “He” with the royal capital, as He deserves.

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

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Bread – Signs

December 18, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, December 18, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 9:8-17; 2 Pet. 2:1-10a; Mark 1:1-8; Psalms 49,53,119:49-72

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Signs are an important part of life. They tell us about danger and warn us away, to slow down, to stop, to look around, to change lanes carefully, to be careful of radioactive waste, to avoid rocks crashing down off of a mountain. Some signs are serious and some not so. I one time saw a road sign warning us to watch out for a spaceship lifting cows into space. The real sign of course was to be careful of animals crossing the road, but a creative sign modifier had worked their magic to make the sign appear to be about something else.

Signs also tell us where to go, which exit to take, whether to turn right or left or go north or south.

Sometimes signs even tell others who we are. A business card is a type of sign.

Signs are important.

So, if we know this, how come we like to ignore the signs which God sends us. In Isaiah today, God warns us that he sends signs to us and gets upset when we ignore them and Him. In 2 Peter today, the apostle talks about false prophets, preachers, teachers, and leaders, but points to Bible signs showing God “knows how to rescue the godly from trials…” 2 Pet. 2:9. In Mark today, the appearance of John the Baptist, a voice of one speaking in the wilderness, is a sign of Jesus, Messiah, to come.

What signs are we paying attention to now? Is the signs of the season pointing to the birth of our Savior, or is it the signs of the season pointing to the largest sales of stuff?

In the clutter of noise and visual stimulation which surround us, which signs we are paying attention to is often a measure of where we are going. If we are going to a mall to go shopping, we pay attention to the traffic signs telling us what exit to take. If we are already in the store, we are watching for signs telling us what department we are in and where the sales are.

Are you tired of these signs? Then change where you are going. If you want more time to see the signs pointing to Jesus and to His birth, then change your direction toward Him and His birth and away from the world’s version of it.

Merry Christmas.

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© 2013 GBF

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