Where to (or) what shapes?

I enjoyed the first Zoom on eschatology – and if I enjoyed it that surely is all that counts? I think though those who came also enjoyed it. It will be repeated in just over two weeks’ time: Oct. 10th, 7:30pm UK time – I will post details here nearer the time. I think the next two will cover the context for Jesus’ prophetic words (Matt. 24; Luke 21; Mark 13) and some of Paul’s material in Thessalonians being that of the intense time of 66-70AD (I use ‘AD’ as opposed to ‘CE’ though in other contexts I would be more comfortable using that abbreviation). And so much more to cover but to give some idea of where I plan to go after that is into a ‘so what?’ set of notes / videos.

Eschatology is intensely practical. It calls for a ‘how then do we live?’ I do not have time for the ‘this is what is going to happen – and it is really bad… so distance yourself now and bunker down’. I do not deny things could get really bad, extremely tough, I simply do not see how we can let the Bible speak for itself and say ‘all this was prophesied’. That will all wait for videos down the road – the ‘yes there could be a one-world ruler’ but this is not what is prophesied. There could also be some very different and wonderful futures – not prophesied also.

But… a much more practical ‘so what?’ relates to how we live. I understand the pull towards holding fast to Judeo-Christian values – but how do we arrive at those so-called values. Old Testament laws can be clearly used to lead us to hold that maximising profits is NOT a Judeo-Christian value (and I suggest also where the ‘bottom-line’ as profit not being a Judeo-Christian value either)… such laws can help us establish a good and healthy shape. We can add to that New Testament material and end with a ‘biblical’ view on…

However, eschatology calls to a deeper level. If there is ‘new creation’ that is our context (now) we have to be shaped by that, in other words we have to be shaped by what is to come, and that includes what is not to come!

Here comes the wonderful tension of the overlapping of two ‘creations’ (I think it is better to use the ‘creation’ word rather than the ‘world’ word at this point). We do not deny this current fallen creation as a context where we live while embracing that it alone cannot shape us. Indeed it does not shape us, new creation shapes us; this creation modifies the shape. I don’t fully know where this takes us, but I consider that we might arrive at a ‘Judeo-Christian’ view of marriage from wrestling with Scriptures, but the new creation does not have marriage within it. Judeo-Christian values takes us so far, or perhaps better stated set us on a trajectory, but where is the trajectory headed?

New creation: no money (and I presume no trade nor trade agreements); no gender, class and other category divisions; no ‘temple’ in the city… healing for the nations, no untameable source for disruption (no sea). New creation. Many areas to explore.

Over-realized eschatology can lead to many problems and beyond problems to ‘sin’. But sight of ‘new creation’ takes us beyond legislation that calls for abolition of slavery, but whole new working environments, distribution of resources, Jubilee-esque responses.

‘How then should we live?’ becomes the question. I might not believe what ‘popularised’ eschatology gives us on the tribulation, the antiChrist, the one-world government. I might be wrong – though if I am wrong there are degrees of ‘wrongness’!!! Right or wrong I suspect the final exam paper I will sit will be something along the lines of one important question:

Given your context, Martin, how then did you live; how did sight of new creation manifest in and through your life and how did it affect those around you? (Sub question – how do you think it affected your neighbours, J & E, and their two sons? Answer carefully as I also have an exam paper for them with one question on it – how did Martin’s life affect you and your values and approach to living within creation?)

Very practical – always eschatology is practical. I will wait in vain (maybe for 1000 years?) for the exam question of ‘outline what you believed, Mr. Scott?’

Not the last word!!

Not that I have the last word on anything – nor do I suspect does anyone else… There are words that won’t pass away but as for the rest of what we say and write???

Anyway I am still working on boundaries / borders, so this will not be my last word on this, and once it is my last word there will be much more to say!

My entry to this is stimulated by Paul’s hugely optimistic and ‘wideness in the mercy of God’ approach where he positively quotes a poet that we (all) are God’s offspring and that in God we all move, live and have our being, and he relates this back to God setting for the people the boundaries and times (kairos) where they live with the purpose / hope that God might be found. A very positive view of ‘God-set boundaries’… So the converse – we are in a war zone (spiritual) – would be that if boundaries are brought in that are not ‘God boundaries’ the ‘stumbling so that they might find God’ would be resisted. Then loads of stuff in Scripture about boundaries…

War – Ukraine currently – re-drawing boundaries… colonialism likewise.

In a forthcoming biography on Mitt Romney the author describes how:

Romney has become obsessed with a large map, printed in 1931 by Rand McNally, charting the rise and fall of the world’s most powerful civilizations. “But what struck Romney most about the map was how thoroughly it was dominated by tyrants of some kind—pharaohs, emperors, kaisers, kings. ‘A man gets some people around him and begins to oppress and dominate others,'” Romney told his interviewer. “It’s a testosterone-related phenomenon, perhaps. I don’t know. But in the history of the world, that’s what happens.”

Surprisingly I do not have a downer on the male gender (I wonder why?) but I do believe there is an underlying critique of patriarchy / so called male ‘headship’ throughout Scripture that culminates in God in male form submitting the Incarnation to the cross – to bring about a new humanity that does not have the Genesis narrative to categorise it as ‘male and female’. As Romney puts above the grab and take (moving ancient boundary stones in biblical language) lies at the door of the male gender (a generalisation that is all-but an absolute).

So in this season – and this is an indication of where my thoughts are headed:

  • I expect boundaries to be challenged. In a few days time I will with family – 3 generations – visit Orkney. Might seem far fetched that there could be a push for Orkney to align with Norway, but it is a sign. The earth yields signs. I expect conflictual pressure with respect to national / regional boundaries. Alongside boundary challenges, new alignments that indicate partnership and travelling together – so watch trade agreements, and (as indicated at the beginning of the year) currency alignments. Not all of these will establish new ‘God boundaries’ but some of us need to be alert enough to help with the new distribution.
  • Old categories that simply circumscribe ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’ will be increasingly challenged. There will be a pushing to escape! The Spanish football team (the women) recently won the world cup on the field and beyond the final they are engaged in exposing male abuse of power… Spain has a long way to go; the world has a long way to go, but Paul said if we are in Christ the old categories no longer should be drawn on, for there is ‘new creation’. This is more than a new world, it is more than re-ordering the kosmos, it is about seeing that there is a new creation (ktisis) that can be seen. That new creation will appear to be ‘feminine’ not because it is, but because it will be in contrast to the kosmos we have created from the first ktsis (creation).
  • I suspect there is a close relationship between gender and land… for land to be free there has to be something to follow (land follows people), so that then land releases its gift for the freedom of people. People and land are like two legs – one moves, the other follows, then the other moves. Hence I see a people / land relationship that Paul draws on in Romans 8 as being parallel to the Israel / Egypt relationship (or maybe we put it in more up to date terms church / world). Shelter and protection became oppression and bondage so that there might be liberation with a resultant shelter and protection – I know that is a bit obscure, but it is a work in progress – so we see it in the life of Jesus: down to Egypt, release from Egypt so that there might be salvation for ‘Egypt’.
  • A time to see boundaries expand… and shrink.

And I guess when I do write about boundaries I might need to put something in there about our internal boundaries… if they are in good shape that will help us find God. And part of finding God will be that with healthier internal boundaries we might cease to see others in the artificial categories we create – and maybe if we see them… we might just see God (a little clearer)?

The East rising

Before I start this post I recommend reading the comment by Anne to my last post… I was deeply struck by her statement that we are living on a new planet NOW. I am working on updating my material on eschatology so that by the end of next year I hope to complete a set of videos and notes and wonder, at one level, how informed perspectives such as she brings fits with it all – for the hope of Scripture is not that we escape from here and all eschatology (if it is at any level resonating with Scripture) calls out with a question – how then in the light of that understanding will you now live?

At so many levels our world is changing, and this is indeed a challenge to eschatology. Biblical language that seems to speak of an end marked by cosmic catastrophe (sun darkened, moon to blood, stars falling) was never understood to speak of the end of the world, but of the end of the world as it was known, of marking a shift from one world (order) to another.

I have a friend who was on his way to a gathering and pulled in to the service station to fill up the gas tank on his car. As he stood there he was sure he heard the voice of God – ‘today the world changes for ever’. He did not understand what that could mean; he reflected what he heard to those at the gathering. The question was – so what does that mean? what will take place? No answers, but later that day…

The date – September 11, 2001 – better known as 9-11.

I have for some 20+ years been saying there is a move from west to east and north to south… Who would have believed that North Korea could become a player in world events? Yet there he (Kim Jong Un) came to meet with Putin to work on a deal of supplying weapons. There is a shift taking place. On the global order of things the world is changing.

Hope is real, it is tangible… it does not come through burying our head in the sand and then speaking niceties. It is ‘the Babylonians are coming; the temple will not save us; we will be relocated; but if we can learn to live in the relocation God will be present where s/he has been formerly absent’. We can bring the message up to date, but the element of relocation (and the pre-relocation word ‘dislocation’) remains constant.

I sang back in the day ‘These are the days of Elijah…’ And we need that old Elijah approach, but I remember singing that some 25 years ago and hearing ‘These are the days of Amos…’ I suspect we now need to ‘sing’, ‘These are the days of Jeremiah…’ Not the most popular prophet but with a vision beyond his immediate horizon, and with a vision that called people to see Babylon as the land of fruitfulness. Now that is a vision of some scale.

The world is changing; old power centres are fading; new powers will come and go. As I still contemplate what I will write about borders / boundaries maybe I should at least drop the seed here that if we draw the boundary around ‘Jerusalem’ we might just see ‘armies surrounding the city’. Maybe we could abandon that city (whatever ‘that city’ means for you and me) and learn how to live in a new planet, with all the hostility that is there, but live there with the Prince of peace – I think it will be hard to pray for the peace of Babylon if we are not at peace.

Jeremiah: out of the pit

We are approaching some very unstable years in numerous Western nations. Always an interesting time for those with prophetic ministry. A time to prophesy hope – hope is certainly spoken in the Scriptures in the context of oppression. Yet hope is not spoken without an acknowledgement of the threats, indeed hope was spoken because the threats were obvious. The hope went well beyond an ‘all will be well’ message, and not all will be well in these coming days. There is always a path through, but the path through is seldom ever the path around – it is a path through. If we genuinely embrace the land then we will also experience the pain of the land (Israel’s experience of bondage in Egypt is the bondage of the land due to our corporate sin), and the pain of the land has to be embraced.

I recently had a dream where I was taken to a specific nation and in a main arena a well-known attested prophet was holding forth. The space was filled with no room for any other perspective or word to come forth, although there was a seemingly verbal acknowledgement of others; eventually this person moved from simply speaking to shadow boxing. It became very evident that this was denigrating into a show, nothing of substance taking place but plenty of entertainment. I left with Gayle and we went into a side-room where it was apparent that a person who was committed to bring through a next generation prophetically was totally engrossed in themselves and how powerful they were. We could only spend a short while observing that, as again we knew this was going nowhere productive.

When a nation (city / region) is under threat and those threats are more or less obvious to all who have sight and ears and also the prophetic becomes locked inside the fortress then the words that come will almost invariably be regarding breakthrough. I think of the warnings Jesus gave that were into that very scenario. Jerusalem surrounded, but in that context ‘false prophets’ arising (false does not necessarily mean inaccurate). In the Jerusalem context a process unfolded of words released of deliverance and calling for trust in God, and then miraculously the deliverance came – Rome had to withdraw as back in Rome it was plunged into Civil War (68AD – the year of the four emperors). Deliverance; believe the prophets and you will prosper! However, we know that what followed was not a deliverance but quick destruction.

The voice that is silenced in that time is the Jeremiah voice. These past days I am calling for the Jeremiahs who have been silenced, who have been put in the pit, to come forth. Your voice is not a negative voice but one of sight and faith and who will enable people to live the other side of trauma, to live in a new context, to live not calling for the shalom of ‘Jerusalem’ but learning to prosper in ‘Babylon’, praying for the shalom of that city. It is not a prospering from Babylon but prospering in the city. Yours is the voice of hope, hope through the valley that we enter where our paradigms get pulled apart never to come together again in the same way.

There is a shift coming of enormous proportions. Borders being redefined, greater movement of the tectonic plates, and even Civil War within an established nation, with what could almost be some form of enactment of Civil War taking place on the governmental floor.

In coming days I want to write about borders and boundaries. They are ever so important as wrong boundaries is one of the simplest of strategies to obscure God. For now, Jeremiahs arise. You will be raised out of the pit and for a season and have an unusual freedom to speak.

The Power of ‘I’

A short post by Gaz: ‘enjoy’… and / or think!

‘I’ Love You’

I meet marrieds and others who say ‘love you’ to friends or partners or in comedy when you can’t say the L word ‘luff luff luff’.

There is an innate power, a deeply personal work and energy in adding the ‘I’.

How comfortable are we with I Love You !

Where might we bring back the weighty ‘I’ to those we more comfortably risk ‘love you’ or manage discomfort by reducing our regard for someone to other phrases.

Oddly though, and perhaps a different strand, it is often not the loss of love which breaks apart a relationship but something less explored, the loss of like.

Not liking is corrosive but we cannot create like, it is the responsibility of the self or other to be likeable. We can love, convey love, but where do you tell those you love that you like them. When was the last time someone articulated they like you. We can love without like, love can remain long after like has flown. Are we left to read between the lines as to how likeable we might be, guessing that love also means like.

I told a new friend recently, ‘I like you, thank you for your friendship’, they stood up and hugged me.

Zoom discussion: Eschatology an Introduction

Tuesday 12th September, 19:30 UK time (will be repeated on 10th October, 19:30 UK time) I will host a Zoom meeting which will focus on An Introduction to Eschatology. I will present for 15 minutes, then with questions, feedback (oh and pushback!!) I think we will have a very positive time. This session will certainly not answer all the questions but will give us some foundations that might discourage us from simply trying to find all the answers to the future (not the nature of prophecy nor the centre of eschatology). You are not required to agree with my stance to attend and neither is it required that you agree with me at the end of the session!! I expect we will be together for 90 minutes.

The Zoom link is:


Prior to the evening it will help if you either watch the four videos that I have posted (see previous posts) or read the pdf notes:

Eschatology: An Introduction

Eschatology: introduction Video 4

The final video setting foundations to how we will approach the subject of ‘eschatology’. This will explore the shift from the one horizon of the Jewish view (Messiah will come) to the multiple horizons of the New Testament: the first being the easter narrative.