Thinking Out Loud!

On 17 April 2020, the 22nd day of the unprecedented lockdown in South Africa, (which was implemented by the government as an extreme and cautionary measure to hopefully slow down the infection rate of the coronavirus pandemic), I decided to place an open invitation on the Google Drive platform to participate in a collaborative day-by-day journal which I have called, “Thinking Out Loud”.

The reason for calling the document “Thinking Out Loud”, is because  with the present coronavirus pandemic, we have entered an unprecedented time in history, (particularly in our lifetime) and there is much uncertainty as to the global impact that this will have on humanity. I have extended an opportunity to combine our consideration and together “think out loud” as we share our thoughts. It began as a kind of day-to-day journal entry so as to formulate and record our response each day.

However, as Kevin Daly suggested, it is recommended that when reading these views for the first time, it is probably better to start at the beginning of the document, regardless of the actual date which you may get round to reading it, rather than jumping to the current actual date of entry of ideas into the journal.

As the editor of this collaboration of Christian insights, I have also reviewed what has already been written – and upon further discussion with others, I have added additional notes and have also tried to make some points a little clearer than when they were first expressed. May this work be for encouragement and edification of Christians in this particular time as we know that God is in perfect control and that our King is enthroned in heaven with all power and authority given to him in heaven and on earth.

Kevin was working on an article for Passover / Easter and he only got round to reading the “Thinking Out Loud” document when it was already several pages long and it took him about four hours to read through it all. Having done so, Kevin has also suggested to you the reader, that you rather approach it as a daily journal / devotional and not try absorbing it all in a single reading. Read short sections, reflect on it, read the Scriptures quoted – (don’t gloss over them), and most importantly pray as Paul set the example as follows, so that you may also be given wisdom and inspiration to perhaps also contribute to this collaborative work – of “Thinking Out Loud”. 

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:18-21).

People have asked, “Where is God in this plague” and many have speculated about something very sinister going on with many opinions and even conspiracy theories. What will be the final death toll? Will scientists find a vaccine? How will the economy recover? When will the lockdown be lifted? If and when will we return to normality? Will there  be a lasting impact on society having been subjected to social distancing? What should be the response of the Christian churches? Many questions will still be raised and many conflicting opinions will be expressed with a growing number of conspiracy theories.

False prophets will abound. The coronavirus has indeed gained global focus attention. People have wondered if the global lockdowns and virtual shutdown of the global economy may not have just as devastating consequences as the virus itself. The cautionary advice has been considered that the “solution” – through isolation and lockdown  – should not be allowed to cause greater harm than the coronavirus itself.

There is no time to quickly test and effectively isolate and quarantine the infected people only – and so even the healthy are isolated and their freedom of movement limited. There is even a ban on large church gatherings, but we know that where two or three gather in the Name of the Lord, he is there in our midst. We should also pray during this time of a global threat, that the worldwide church moves towards greater unity in the Spirit. 

 

In about the middle of March I set forth to write a Christian article which I had hoped to publish on the Internet to coincide with Passover, Easter and Resurrection Sunday. Of course, one of the main themes of the Passover are the various waves of plagues which God brought upon Egypt after Moses had told Pharaoh on behalf of the Lord to let the Hebrew people go so that they could be free to worship God. However, Pharaoh hardened his heart and accused the Hebrew slaves of being lazy – so God too, in turn hardened Pharaoh’s proud and stubborn heart.

I believe the Lord had given us further insights concerning the Passover account and how it applies to our human situation, particularly as Christians. I also intended, with the Passover article, to refer to the great irony, that as the Jewish people celebrate the Passover with the recent decisions of President Trump to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the book of Revelation figuratively refers to the earthly city of Jerusalem as being Sodom and Egypt which are both associated completely with slavery. In the Sodom narrative, it is slavery to sin and immorality – and with the Egypt narrative it is slavery in Pharaoh’s Egyptian economy.

 

In other words, [also including  Paul’s analogy of Jerusalem being like the slave woman, Hagar, and her son, Ishmael, in Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia], the earthly city of Jerusalem certainly does not represent peace and freedom, but rather a wilful return to the misery of slavery, sin and unfaithfulness to God – with the added sin of building barriers between Jew and Gentile, thereby provoking racial barriers and hostility which Jesus intended to break down through his death on the cross. 

Furthermore, there is yet another irony in that Jesus, who was crucified at the time of the Jewish Passover, is now referred to as our Passover Lamb under whose blood we find protection and he is also referred to as God’s firstborn son – and as we know, all the firstborn of Egypt died. 

 

The coronavirus struck me as being quite similar to the plagues which came upon Egypt but it was having a global impact on humanity. I suspended my work on the Passover article and began to share my thoughts with about six or seven other Christians in a collaborative, shared document on Google Drive which I called, “Thinking Out Loud”. I intended modifying my views through interaction and collaboration with the counsel of other Christians. 

  

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22).

This shared, collaborative document is not intended to be a static article expressing only my points of view, but as the editor and initial author of the article, I will assume responsibility for its content.

I invite people to view the article at the link below – which will enable the reader to insert his or her comments, points of view, questions and even, if they disagree, reasons why they disagree. 

It will not, however, be an appropriate platform to debate the three main views concerning the thousand year (millennial) reign of Jesus Christ, which I contend in this document, is not a future and literal thousand year period.

 

The thousand years is the figurative language used to describe the present reign of Jesus from heaven for the remainder of time as we know it – (just as the Psalmist referred to God owning the cattle upon a thousand hills as being all the cattle in the world and not only the cattle on a literal thousand hills).

That said, please visit the Google document and you are invited and encouraged to leave your comments if you have any.

Please also know that in the format of “Thinking Out Loud”, it was intended to be a kind of daily journal of Christians response during the lockdown period in South Africa which was extended for another two weeks. In other words, read a short portion per day – and do not try to absorb everything in one reading.

Reflect, read the full passages of Scripture quoted, pray for wisdom and insight, be humble – and may it be a source of encouragement for you to repent and live a holy life, – for you are exhorted to be holy in order to see God:

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:14-15).

Please read the document at this link:

Thinking Out Loud -(initiated and edited by Peter Cohen for The New Humanity Project) 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RwZHY4Ximme6yHQdP_fD454Qa_zLV0lag8OIZjehTS0/edit?usp=sharing

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