The Text of the chapter sixteen is in process, and will be posted soon. Please check back!
Yesterday was the 91st birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. This great man of God was the prophet that America needed in order to reform this nation, so this nation did what all nations do to their prophets: they assassinated him. One day, the song that is sung in today's Text will be proclaimed over the United States of America: "...for they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink; it is what they deserve!" Doesn't this sound more like a Hip-Hop song than a church hymn?! The Scriptures can get quite gangsta at times! Recompense is the natural order of life. Some call it karma, others insist upon adding grace to that equation, but the principle stands: we all reap what we sow. Matters of justice need not be vindictive and vengeful, but can be a simple matter of cause and effect. In theological terms, it is the debate between retributive justice and restorative justice. While this line does hint at retribution, the ultimate aim of this Text is one of restorative justice.
It is easy to get this far in the Book and begin to conclude that God is blood-thirsty, but that is only one school of thought on this subject. As we begin to see the end coming with the new Heavens and new Earth arising, there seems to be more and more chaos occurring. Jesus warned of this while He was alive, and He was certainly correct, as Jerusalem and the temple was decimated by Roman invasion. One does not need clairvoyance to see the inevitable coming. Impending doom is a sign of great reformation, for restoration always follows behind any death and destruction. We must think communally in this context, as judgment is constantly seen as a national concept in the Bible. Let no nation deceive themselves into thinking that they are above the Laws of the Universe. If the great empire of Rome fell, then any nation is susceptible, and that is the meaning of the line "God remembered Babylon the great; to make her drain the cup of the wine of furious wrath!"
The question we are left with is this: does God exact vengeance in a tit-for-tat, retributive way? Not at all! May such foolishness never be said of the God and Father of Jesus, the Christ! However, that does not mean there is no reckoning for wrongdoing. Just as if one breaks the laws of their land, punishment will ensue, so also, any who violates what is good, right, and true will be met with some measure of retribution. This will not be heartless, devoid of grace, and without a restorative purpose. The Ultimate Goal of this Story is to bring all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations together into harmony and oneness. Any sort of condemnation was taken away at the cross of Christ when Jesus cried out "it is finished!" God did not punish Jesus in place of us, but demonstrated how that line of thinking is misguided and unnecessary in this instance. Instead of drinking the blood of condemnation, let us drink the wine of celebration, just as Jesus invited His disciples. Be drunk with happiness today, and put down your chalice of violence, my friends!