Monday, February 15, 2010

A Split Second Could Cost You Your Life, He Said, But Now...

But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:4

You know by now how much I admire the teaching ability of Glen. It is more than content, though he has wonderful knowledge, especially for a man who started late. But the man’s character show in everything he does and says. I was to learn more about the obstacles he had to overcome to develop this character , one evening when I again accompanied him to his Daniel class.

As in evenings before he nodded towards the people beginning to fill the seats in the auditorium.

“We’ve got another tonight.”

“You mean a spy?” I asked.

“Yeah, they’re coming out of the woodwork. These young guys try to trip you up, and discredit you in the eyes of the people who are studying. Man, they hate Daniel being taught, and Revelation too. I don’t mean these kids in person, but the people who put ‘em up to it.”

Glen was not far into tonight’s class, which stressed the actual times in history pictured in the great image of Daniel 2, when the young man held up his hand. Glen pointed to him and he began.

“You teach that the prophecies in Daniel are all future...”

“”Not so”, interrupted Glen. “I never ever said that Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon was future. I never said the fall of the Davidic kingdom was future. The destruction of the temple was in 586 B.C.. Look at the handout for tonight’s class. What I am saying, what the Bible is saying, is that events over six hundred years before the advent of Jesus are represented in the Great Image prophecy and other prophecies, but they also extend into the present and into the future, our future.

There is a foolish consistency, to quote Emerson, in the amillennial boys you probably study with, that prophecy is in the past, a mere recording of history. Or, if they admit any of it is future, they say it will be fulfilled spiritually! However, let me hasten to add, that when the collection plate is passed, they want you to put in literal money and not a note that says you already gave in the past."

A few people laughed in spite of themselves, at this remark. Glen continued “I mean some of these people are time-blind! The Bible deals in ideas, sure, but most of the Bible is about real people, real cities and real history. Including ones in the future. The prophecy we are studying tonight is a continuum, from 586 B.C. to the return of Jesus to the earth. You can look at the chart and figure about where we are on it. But if you ignore the time element, when things happen, then the prophecy is worse that useless.”

The young man had been listening to Glen earnestly, as though he wanted to believe him, but was still haunted by what he had been taught and was unwilling to believe his professors could be wrong.

“Can I give you an example, I mean of what we have been taught?” Glen nodded his assent. “Well you know about how Jesus talked to the disciples about the abomination of desolation, and the Book of Daniel? (Matt. 24:15) You probably teach that that refers to some future event...“ Glen nodded yes, emphatically, “My professor says that was a reference to the desecration of the temple by Antiochus, and the tribulation was during the Maccabean revolt. He says it is all past, not future.”

The people in the room had stopped taking notes. They may have started taking sides, some had contributed to this young man’s seminary education. They knew him and his family, and they knew Glen was entirely self-taught, how could he know more than this seminary student?

Glen began his answer,”To begin with, Jesus did not say he was quoting from a book called Daniel, but that he was quoting “Daniel, the prophet”. Your professor refers to an historical even. Did he happen to mention when this event occurred?” The young man shook his head “no”. “Well”, continued Glen. The desecration of the temple and the revolt of the Maccabees he was referring to, took place in 167 B.C. If you figure Jesus warned the disciples around 30 A.D., the claim is that Jesus was warning them of an event that had taken place almost exactly two hundred years previously! It would be like someone, today, in Concord shouting “The British are coming”. Son, listen to me, do you believe your professor knows the date of the Maccabean revolt?” The young man was very quiet now,”Yes” he said. “Then, son, your professor is a liar. He knows Jesus was not issuing a warning concerning an event two centuries in the past.” Glen returned to his class, the chart and his blackboard. There were no more questions from anyone until it was time to close this class. As people filed out, Glen walked to the chastened young man. He put his hand on his shoulder and looked into his eyes. “I hope you don’t think I was attacking you, do you?”

The young man shook his head as Glen continued, “I have no doubt you have good intentions, which is more than I can say about your teacher. You may want to follow what you are told and become ordained. Then, as the years go by, you will climb the denominational ladder. Your parents and this church will be proud of you and tell you how wonderful you are. But the day will come, when you and I and everyone else will stand before the judgement seat of Christ and have to give an account for the deeds we have done. Your professor and these church members will have to do the same. The Board of Sessions can’t help you then, they will have to stand there too. Your career won’t matter then. You, and all of us will be facing eternity and loss or gain of our rewards. Do you want to have the lies they tell you in the seminary as part of your record? Would it be worth it to make some fame and money by lying and going along with that racket, and then have to hang your head before Jesus?

Here is a book you can take with you, it is a reminder of when these things took place. He handed him a copy of Israel and the Nations by F.F. Bruce."

"Maybe he’ll listen to him," he said, "Bruce is an amillennialst too.”

We walked towards the parking lot. I had Glen’s book box, empty now. He was carrying his chart of the Great Image. “Want to eat with me? going to try a place called the Blue Bird”. “Sure” “Just follow me then. “

He drove down side streets until he was in front of the little sandwich shop. We walked in and sat in a booth. The seats were light blue. A young waitress came over and we ordered. Glen put his menu down and said, “I don’t see grilled cheese, don’t you have them?” “Well actually, no," she replied, "but I’m sure we can make one for you.” “And a hot chocolate too.” he added. As we waited for our orders I felt I had to say something to Glen. “You handled the questions of that young guy very well, Glen. I thought you were very patient with him, and the seminarian from the other week also. I’ve known you to be a little rough at times, but not with these guys.”

He began to explain the change that was coming over him as he worked to become more thoughtful. Our waitress brought our orders. “Onion rings” he said, looking at my plate. “Maybe I’ll try those some time." He bit into his grilled cheese. “They made it with Swiss”, he said. "Just like my Mom used to make them. When I was a little boy I would play out in the rain. We had a gutter that ran along our sidewalk. I would float sticks in it and run along with them as the water carried them. I’d stay out ‘til I was soaking wet, I didn’t care. Then I’d come in and have to put dry clothes on. Mom would make us toast or grilled cheeses. She liked cinnamon toast. We’d drink cocoa and we would look out the kitchen window at all the rain."

“Well, anyway, you were saying, I am becoming patient, and I sure hope so. I wish people had been more patient with me when I was growing up. Anyway, I wasn’t always like this. I hate to tell you how many times in my life, if you hesitated one second, heck, half a second, that was it, buddy. You didn’t have time to think. I was like my landlady’s tom cat. After he has been out in the woods, prowling around, he’s real nervous, tense. Every sound scares him. You touch him and he’ll reach back and bite you. After he calms down he is as nice as anything. Well, I was like him, before he calms down. But now, as a teacher, it is exactly the opposite. I mean exactly the opposite. Now if I lose my cool it is a disaster. In learning, as in teaching, you have to subdue your old instincts. How can you slap somebody around and then think they will listen to what you tell ‘em? With these kids, I am not trying to whip them, embarrass them in front of a lot of people. It’s just that this is so important, what we are studying. We have got to get it right. We’ve got to get it right, not just repeat what somebody tells us.”

The young lady returned to our booth. She touched Glen’s cup and placed her other hand on his shoulder. She looked into his eyes as she spoke.

“Can I get you another hot chocolate?”
”Yes, please, keep ‘em coming.”
“She likes you, Glen” .
“Oh yeah? “ he replied, "I must remind her of her grandfather”

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