What does the Lord God say ?
This is a difficult one, but we assume the Lord does have a view, and in this article we shall attempt to sketch out some parameters.
Firstly it is necessary to state that the Lord is the eternal God. What do we mean by that ? It is an extraordinary difficult concept for the human mind to grasp - the "eternal" God. We take eternal to mean 'a long, long time.' But the real meaning of eternal is that God was always there, that as part of his Being as the Creator God, he has always existed.
Before the universe was created in what is accepted generally by the Big Bang theory, the Creator God was there, sailing, if you like, through the void of nothingness. In full command of his faculties, three persons in one God, he has always been existent.
That is where the human mind struggles. We are used to a beginning and an end. As this editor was thinking on this concept, of the eternal God always there, even in the voids of nothingness beyond time, the Lord spoke to me simply. "Think of it as a long day."
Secondly, the Bible paints a picture of God in complete control. I shall expand on this at a later date, but the concept can be simply stated : from the major events (think the Exodus from Egypt), or some of the miracles in the New Testament, God is in control. This comes down to the individual, for He speaks to Jeremiah thus : "Before you were formed in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you ; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1 v5.
This is not some vague statement such as "I had an idea, a concept of who you might be, a sort of picture in my mind." Put it this way, now that we have computers, and can trace generations of people, we can have an idea of the immensity and vastness of the thought processes of God. What God is saying here, runs something like this : " I have run every relationship that was, and ever will be, through my computer. I know who your parents are, for I knew before time who they would be, and who in turn produced you, Jeremiah (or read, David, or Tom or Angela etc). I also knew that I would call you to serve me." So here God the Father is saying : " Not only have I run all relationships in time through my computer, but I have commanded a job, that of Prophet, for you."
You may say, "This is ridiculous, you mean to say all these generations, all the twists and turns, all the chance meeting in the market place, that led to a relationship, were known to God beforehand ?" Yes, I do say that. Think of it this way, we now have banks of computers and servers and data centres, that keep records from passports to bank statements, to business transactions, of millions of people worldwide. Now think if the Lord God had a bank of computers a mile wide, and stretching 250,000 miles, the distance of the moon from the earth. Some computing power. Personally, and this is only a guess, I think he uses photons as his computer. Put bluntly, it means that all knowledge of every living creature, all intersecting plant life, all the planets, and star systems throughout the universe, are instantly available to Him. Put another way, in healing a person's body, the Lord God can delve down into molecular matter as easily as you and I draw a breath.
Having stated all this, we can now see that the Grenfell tower inferno and disaster was not unnoticed by God. If you postulate that God has all power, and all knowledge, then you arrive quite logically, at this conclusion : God allowed it to happen, and if He allowed it to happen, then for what purpose ?
Now in this case we are not talking of someone falling off a bicycle, and breaking a leg. The Bible makes it quite clear that this is a sinful world, not the world that God intended, and that bad things, accidents and so on, will happen. No, this is a major disaster, and few of us will forget the accounts of men, women, and children screaming at the windows of the tower block.
So we are left with the disturbing question : God allowed this to happen. Now either God is some sort of random, vengeful God - and the Bible refutes that view by painting a picture of God that is actively concerned with, and in control of, His own creation, a God who loves those that will follow Him, and enter into relationship with Him. A God who produced miracles of healing in both the old and new Testaments. It is important to state that for God the Father, the end result is that we enter into relationship with the Father, the Creator. Unfortunately many throughout the ages have assumed that God requires a parade of almost mindless religious ritual, and they have thus missed the whole point : to be filled with the Holy Spirit, in order to know and relate to the living God. And if you relate to the living God, then He can also speak to you, and guide you along the way as your life proceeds.
It is worth exploring what I call mindless religious ritual a bit further, because, as we shall see, it has a bearing on the Grenfell tower tragedy. Mankind is in rebellion against God the Father, that is until they accept Christ, and one of the ways this expresses itself, rebellion that is, is to say to God : "well, stuff you, we'll do religion our way."
It is very often hidden to the participants themselves, that their very act of religious worship is at best meaningless to God, and at worst flagrant rebellion. A religious ceremony with censers and icons, chanting and high flown music, veneration of so called Saints, or in another church tradition, worship and veneration of the Virgin Mary. It is a difficult one to pin down, but is it really to glorify God, through his Son Jesus ? And are the participants in relationship with God Himself, through the infilling of the Holy Spirit ? In blunt terms, can the participants of such ceremonies express themselves to God, and in return hear His voice, guiding, correcting, admonishing if need be, encouraging, and assuring them of His enduring love that leads to eternal life ?
So now we come to the nitty gritty, and for that we need to turn to the Old Testament book of Amos. Amos spoke powerfully to a society that in his eyes was corrupt, self satisfied, engaging in religious ritual that in God's eyes was meaningless, since it led to no real change of heart. Indolent rich women called "bring us more drinks", while the poor were neglected or ground into the dust.
"Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor, and crush the needy, and say to your husbands, " Bring us some drinks ! " Amos 4 : 1
Ring a bell ? Profit, profit, profit, easy living, the yacht on the South coast, or the Mediterranean : who cares about a bunch of lower class, mainly Muslim, tenants in a tower block whingeing about fire safety and power surges ? It turns out God does.
And what does God say to these self satisfied "cows of Bashan", these women who run the marriage as they lounge about ? Note this, the Lord is so appalled at this that He swears a violent oath: "The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness." And what does the Sovereign Lord swear to do ?
"The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fish hooks, you will each go straight out through breaks in the wall . . ." Amos 4 : 2-3.
J.A. Motyer in his book "The Message of Amos" puts it thus :
"In his great oath the Lord, specified as the 'sovereign Yahweh', commits the whole unique resource of his (holy) nature to the complete reversal and destruction of this order of things. It seems that there is no room in his world for life organised on a self pleasing basis. Status will be lost in subjugation, for they shall take you away (4:2), bodily comfort lost in the excruciating hooks and cords of the captive, security lost in the capture and downfall of the city, where it is no longer necessary to go out by the gate, for the invaders have breached the walls that were meant to protect. Downfall and destruction is complete. "
Let us put it this way, when Theresa May goes to church with her husband Philip, is she in a relationship with God the Father, communing with Him, being heard and hearing from Him, or is she engaging in a meaningless religious ritual ? She is often photographed leaving church, and the comment is that she is the daughter of a vicar.
As Prime Minister, and leader of the nation, God expects from her, leadership, at the very least, that is somewhat in line with His divine nature. And that includes respect and caring for, the poor and needy. God is interested in actions, for words without actions He characterises as hypocrisy.
Leaving aside the Prime Minister, what do we make of a society that is based on the accumulation of wealth, on self pleasing, and self centredness ? Let us remember the latest statistics that have come to light, and now we begin to glimpse the purpose of God in allowing such an appalling tragedy. The spotlight is being played on a wall, as cinema, for all to see. Let us take heed.
Here are the stats :
It appears there are 1,857 properties lying empty in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and dozens of these homes have been empty for about 11 to 15 years, as the absent owners regard them as investments, rather than houses to be lived in.
The poor are being consigned to other boroughs, like cattle, breaking their ties to friends, neighbours, schools for their children, and other support. The funding for Law Centres has been cut, thus depriving the poor and needy of any kind of Justice. The funding for Councils has been deliberately cut by central government, so that 'social housing' estates have been run down with no maintainance. Some of these estates are then pulled down, and the Council gives or sells the land to a developer, whose prime concern is to build high quality homes for profit. Promises that the tenants would be rehoused for reasonable rents, that they can afford, are broken, because of 'market forces' - read profit. A few units in the new estate are tucked away out of sight, for a token social housing element. The majority are now cast onto the whims of private landlords, so that with many working long shifts for pay that does not increase in the NHS, or working in the 'gig' economy with few safeguards, they are now supporting the ease of life of private landlords. The figures speak for themselves, it used to be 42% in social housing, it is now 8%.
A society organised along these lines is headed for destruction, at the hand of God himself. Let us take heed.
(to be continued)