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Prophetic Endurance

Like Lapis Lazuli


How the gold has lost its luster,

the fine gold become dull!

The sacred gems are scattered

at every street corner.

 

How the precious children of Zion,

once worth their weight in gold,

are now considered as pots of clay,

the work of a potter’s hands!

 

Even jackals offer their breasts

to nurse their young,

but my people have become heartless

like ostriches in the desert.

 

Because of thirst the infant’s tongue

sticks to the roof of its mouth;

the children beg for bread,

but no one gives it to them.

 

Those who once ate delicacies

are destitute in the streets.

Those brought up in royal purple

now lie on ash heaps.

 

The punishment of my people

is greater than that of Sodom,

which was overthrown in a moment

without a hand turned to help her.

 

Their princes were brighter than snow

and whiter than milk,

their bodies more ruddy than rubies,

their appearance like lapis lazuli.

Lamentations 4:1-7 (NIV)


There is another reference to Sodom in the New Testament. this time: Revelation 11:1-10 (NIV)

I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.

Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts . . .


Note the underlined text. This reference by a prophet John on the Isle of Patmos (actually the Apostle John, Jesus's closest friend) in response to a vision he had is a reference to a figurative Sodom. Jesus was not literally crucified in Sodom in person, but he was crucified in our hearts, in our evil domain (Sodom), or in "the world" referred to as Egypt. The actual Sodom was a city in the Old Testament in the time of Abraham in Genesis 19. Read on . . .


Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

Genesis 19:1-28 (NIV)


In the New Testament's book Revelation (written down by John), the next Jesus (or Christ figure) also known in the Gospel of John as "The Prophet" (who is really the two prophets dressed in sackcloth, probably both male and female) are crucified in a figurative Sodom and Egypt too (he might as well have said in Canada and the United States). Wherever they were crucified is as Golgotha. It would be an accursed place without the redemptive power of the cross, or the symbol of their torture and execution (a fleur-de-lis).


John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

John 1:19-23 (NIV)


The idea of figurative places and figurative persons is no more aptly demonstrated in the Bible than in the book of Revelation. Everyone may have a second identity: everyone is not who they seem. This is partly due to the "internet age" as I would call it, giving everyone the chance to adopt another alter as an email address or invisible side, that they might commit lawless behaviour, or take part with the Lawless Man, who I believe is the internet. There is no law online. It is completely defined by your own choices, own level of personal censorship of your material and your family's, and own personal morality structure.

The internet is subtle, but also covert, luring people with false identities into porn sites, because they can hide their true selves. People are spamming, fishing and hacking--and then making other innocent users their victims with horrendous words, words that kill. If it is possible to heal with a word, it is also possible to kill with a word. If the earth was created by the words of the creator, do not think he can also fold up the world's map in an instant with as many words as he used to create. He knows how to undo the world as much as he knows how to put it together. Life is not just a mixed up Rubik's cube that someone took the stickers off once. We shake our heads at the grown children brought up in the seventies and think, "Hopeless!" How put out we can seem when this does not fit in to our schedule. What if we even laugh like Lot's future son-in-laws, and do not escape with our spiritual lives.

This end seems punitive, and the story of Sodom seems like an unjust punishment: but looking at the times we live in. . . are they not as forward and provocative spiritually as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah? Would a prophet not have to rival the times, and be as famous as a rock star not to mention equate in the spiritual at the level of every earthly religion and every ideology. They could literally compete with all, and outdo them. Now that's an expensive request, and a tall order!


Author's Note: The Rubik's Cube is a 3-D combination puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik. Originally called the Magic Cube, the puzzle was licensed by Rubik to be sold by Ideal Toy Corp. Rubik's Cube won the 1980 German Game of the Year special award for Best Puzzle. As of January 2009, 350 million cubes had been sold worldwide, making it the world's bestselling puzzle game and bestselling toy.

On the original classic Rubik's Cube, each of the six faces was covered by nine stickers, each of one of six solid colours: white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. Some later versions of the cube have been updated to use coloured plastic panels instead, which prevents peeling and fading.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Author's Note: A lapis lazuli is my birthstone (December). Read more . . .

What do birthstones have to do with Old Israel, and where did the categorization come from? Read more . . .

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