Tag Archives: resurrection

Creation and chaos

Yesterday morning, during our sermon, we talked about Creation and Chaos. The current spate of hurricanes and earthquakes and violence leave us wondering if God is really in control. It makes me think of the All Saints Day disaster in Lisbon in 1755, when several earthquakes provoked a tsunami that was followed by a fire. Thousands died as churches collapsed; the death total is estimated to be between 30 and 60 thousand. Voltaire expressed the thoughts of many:

“Are you then sure, the power which would create
The universe and fix the laws of fate,
Could not have found for man a proper place,
But earthquakes must destroy the human race?”
“Lisbon Earthquake Poem” (1755)

How can we believe in a God who will let disasters rock his creation and cause such suffering?

We looked at Genesis 1, as God brings order out of chaos. We then discussed the fall, how sin let chaos back into this ordered creation. Darkness fights against the light; death assaults life time and again. Romans 8 tells us:

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19–21)

Decay… chaos. The creation is frustrated from being what it was meant to be. It suffers decay because of the effects of sin. Climate change shouldn’t surprise us… it’s a natural expression of the decay of a fallen universe. But this will be reversed one day, and all of creation longs for that day. Even mankind longs for that day, though we don’t always recognize that longing. There is a great day coming:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:1–5)

Chaos will be vanquished, expelled once again. No decay, no decline, no corruption.

That’s my anchor when times get troubling. Rabbi Simcha Bunim once said that every person should have two pockets and keep a piece of paper in each of those pockets. On one paper should be the words: “For my sake was 
the world created.” On the other paper should be the words: “I am but 
dust and ashes.” We need that balance in our daily lives, that remembrance of our place in creation. When we feel overwhelmed, we should remember that God placed us in a place above the rest of creation. When we think too much of ourselves, we must remember that we are dust and ashes.

One day, the dust and ashes will give way to the full image of God. We will have incorruptible bodies, resurrection bodies. And we will live in a world where chaos will never be found again.


Joey (2nd from left) with his parents and little brother

I guess it’s one of the biggest fears that parents have: losing one of their children. One woman who had suffered this several times in her life said to me: “Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children.”

My friends Bob and Sally Tamez will have to do that this week. Joey passed away on Friday. I’ve written before about Joey’s struggle with cancer and his deep faith in God. The entire family has leaned on God throughout this whole episode. In Joey’s last moments here on earth, family and friends were gathered around his bed “singing him to heaven,” as they deemed it.

There are still hard times ahead for Bob and Sally, as well as their kids: Casey, Tina and Timmy. I’m glad that they have the support of loving Christians. I know that God will comfort them. And I know that it will still hurt very deeply.

Please raise them up in prayer today, tomorrow when they have visitation at the funeral home and Wednesday when they will have the funeral. Should you wish to send them a note of encouragement, I can send you their address privately.

We cling to the promise: “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:18)

Joey will live again.

The letter to Philadelphia: What key does Jesus have?

lettersIn this sixth of the seven letters to the seven churches, Jesus says that he is the holy one and the true one. He also mentions something that he is holding:

Jesus also identifies himself as the one who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. Again, those familiar with the Old Testament would recognize these words, this time a quote from the book of Isaiah: “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (Isaiah 22:20-22) In the case of Eliakim, the key to the house of David would have been a large wooden key which would have been worn like a sash. It denoted authority, like carrying the signet ring of the king. The key would have been used to bar and unbar the palace doors, controlling who had access to the king and who could enter or leave the palace grounds.6 In the case of Jesus, we need to remember that each of the letters refers to chapter 1 of Revelation. In the vision that John had of Jesus, Jesus had keys in his hand, the keys to death and Hades. It seems likely that Jesus is referring to the same keys here; the reference to the key of David is made to emphasize the permanence of Jesus’ actions regarding death and Hades. Now that he has opened that door, no one can shut it again, until Jesus himself decides to do so. Christians can face death without fear, for their Lord holds the key to let them out of the realm of death. Their stay in Hades will be but a temporary one, for they know the One who holds the key. When he opens the door, no one can shut it again. When Christ spoke with Peter about having the keys of the kingdom, he also spoke about the gates of Hades, saying that they would never be able to prevail against his church. Jesus opens the door to the place where the dead are, and once he has opened it, no one can shut it.

(Letters From The Lamb, pp. 135-36)

Jesus was calling his followers to be willing to be sacrificed. He reassures them that he has the key that will free them from death and grant them access to God. It’s a promise that was made to the whole church, that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. Jesus holds the key. Any door that he opens will remain open. And he has thrown open the door to the realm of death. It cannot hold those that Jesus sets free. (And that’s great news!)