When Heaven Opens

There are times when people wish that God would act in power and might to overcome the forces of evil and decay. We cry out in the words of the Prophet Isaiah:

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! as when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! for when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any god besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him (Isaiah 64: 1-4).

This is a natural human reaction to hard, difficult, decadent and evil times. The question is, “Is this a Christian reaction?” “Are we waiting for a power or for the Christ who died on the cross for our sins and for the sins of the world?” “What do we expect to happen when the Heavens open up?”

All the words of the prophets must be read, interpreted, and acted upon from the basis of God’s revelation in Christ, the “Final Word” God has spoken into history. As the writer of Hebrews put it: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2). If we want to know what God wants to do or more importantly what we ought to do, we look at Jesus, whom we believe to be the final word of God and his very radiance in human form (Hebrews 1:3).

A good deal of the time, we can rely upon our human wisdom, upon the customs of our culture and our communities. But, in extraordinary times and to live an extraordinary life in ordinary times we need a wisdom that comes from God in Christ, that word which the world often thinks is foolishness but which is, in fact, the very wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:18). This is a wisdom that transcends and transforms our human wisdoms and is infused with the love of God. It is a wisdom that allows Christians to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:44). This is that love that enabled Jesus to go to the cross praying a prayer of forgiveness for those who persecuted him (Luke 23:34).

I do not know about you, but none of this comes naturally to me. This Christmas season, let us pray not only for greater human wisdom or for the defeat of the dark forces that are destroying our culture, but also for the wisdom that comes from above and for the love that transcends human understanding to come upon us, our families, and communities. [1] This “final Word of God” spoken to us in Christ corrects all of our self-centered selfishness and self-seeking as it brings us into that love that is God.

Copyright 2022, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved

[1] Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man Vol. 2 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1986), 67.