Winds of Strife


(Spectrumbot) #1

I remember the wintery night forty-five years ago like it was yesterday. I was a young person who had been seeking for the truth for several years and had been invited to study the book of Revelation once a week with a life-long Bible Worker named Carrie Tichenor, who had retired near Pacific Union College in Angwin, California.

As our small group entered her home, the rather smallish Carrie, with a twinkle in her eye and earnest hello, would welcome us and then we would sit in her living room with a warm fire spitting its embers from the hearth. Carrie always sat in her rocking chair next to the fire while we all with expectant breath waited for the Divine lesson and influence to settle upon us.

Since I had been raised a devout Catholic, I had never read the Bible before and the pictures from the pages of Revelation were entirely new, at times strange and always utterly exciting and fascinating to me. In one of our early lessons together, Miss Tichenor cast before us all the breath-taking prophetic picture brought to view in the impressive words of Revelation 7:1. “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.”

Yes, yes the reality of that mighty, cosmic tug of war between the angels and the winds of strife immediately grasped my mind. The four angels in symbol are even now seen holding back the Category 10 storms that are soon to engulf the earth in the time of trouble. In Sunday’s Sabbath School lesson, we are reminded just what these winds are: “As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passions, all the elements of strife will be let loose.” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 614.)

These winds will not cease until Jesus comes and quiets the storm and leads His children to their heavenly home as envisioned in the last verse of the chapter . . . which draws from the distinctly pastoral imagery of Psalms 23: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 17:7).

The angels are holding back these very real winds of strife, which at times begin to blow upon our little world, so that another angel may go forth to put the seal of the Living God on the hearts and minds of the 144,000 (Rev. 7:2-4). In Sunday’s lesson we are reminded of the clearest statement Ellen White made on just what the sealing is: “It is not a visible mark put on one’s forehead but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they [God’s people] cannot be moved.” Last Day Events, 220.

In her statement here, Ellen White clearly defines the sealing as a “settling” into the truth, over a period of time, so that the people of God will not “be moved” when the hurricane force winds of strife blow. These sealed people have sunk their roots deeply into the foundation of the Way, the Truth and the Life. This settling takes place “both intellectually and spiritually.” A mere assent to the truth will not be enough to endure the vicious trials of the time of trouble and the choice is left to each one of us to daily seek the Lord in prayer and the devotional life.

In Friday’s lesson we are reminded that “the identity of the 144,000 is a hotly debated issue.” Although this number has been “hotly debated” in the past, it has somewhat receded in recent times by other issues up for debate within the Adventist church. I think there is a good historical-theological lesson here.

What prompts much writing and debate in one era eventually settles into its proper place over time. The flurry of academic writing and polemic which surrounded the Des Ford controversy in the early 1980s is barely a memory now. Just as the people of God are settled into the truth over time, perhaps the truth itself needs to be settled as well. And for me, the vivid picture of the truth of Revelation 7 was forever settled in my own impressionable mind that evening as we listened with awe around the fire in the warm home of Miss Carrie Tichenor. May her tribe increase.

Pastor Jim Park is currently living in Southern California as a retired Pastor and Seminary Professor. He teaches online for Loma Linda University and consults on Mission Projects and Research for the world-wide Church.

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9388

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

I think this is the wrong forum to put down Des Ford. It was at Glacier View that the last hope of the Gospel was lost by official Adventism. Given the Postmodern mind set, traditional Adventism has as much chance as an ice cube in hell.

I think the short cut definition of Postmodern thought is —Thr Truth starts with us.


#3

Although this may be true for some, Des’s preaching of the Gospel of Jesus and righteousness through Christ settled deeply into thousands whose lives he touched.

Sadly, at 90, his life is closing. But thank God for his faithfulness to preaching the Gospel.


(Eric Webster) #4

For me the writer of this article did not downgrade Des Ford and his contribution. I think he merely illustrated that amidst all the controversy that comes and goes God’s children, including Des Ford, continue to settle into the truths of Revelation 7 which center in Jesus Christ.


#5

Dear Eric,

I did not express this in my comment. I took the comment as providing an example of an issue in the church that comes and goes. My point was specifically that Des was not a flash in the pan. His teaching at two Adventist universities and his radio and publication and his podcasts continue to focus on Christ.

As he lies in a hospital today, his life continues to impact thousands through his focus on Christ’s Gospel. Wouldn’t it be magnanimous if the official Church thanked him for his service and made peace with him instead of war? That would show Christlikeness.


#6

That’s very postmodern of you :wink:

I dond’t think postmodernism insists on subjective truth as a concept or that there can’t be a consensual agreements on what is true. Postmodernism merely recognizes that any meaning is embedded in a structure that’s housing and maintaining that meaning. But when such meaning is detached from that particular structure and placed somewhere else it may change as it’s contextualized by the new different structure.

Hence, postmodernism rightly points out that meaning is contingent on structures as a pre-requisite.

For example, there are plentiful post-modern elements in the church that chooses to repurposed and re-interpret certain past function as it decides necessary to work in the present-day world. Structural arrangement of the church as 501c3 would be one of these concepts. How tithes are collected and managed is another. Liturgy is yet another. The idea that 19th century hymns are “de-facto Christian music” is another, even though many of these were written against repurposed bar tunes.

Hence, the paradox of so-called modernity is that whatever it got as “standard” was actually arrived via “post-modern” approach to preferential choices. Hence I do see this distinction as somewhat meaningless. The major difference is that in present day culture we are given and are taking advantage of freedom to choose our preferences, when in previous cultures such choice was severely limited.

Another misconception is that the truth of postmodernism is arbitrary. It’s not. It follows the same logical constraints as modern truth. The difference is that appeal to orthodoxy is not one of these constraints. In post-modern form of thought is something is true, then it’s intuitively and obviously true. It can’t be true because uncle Jack promises it to be so, because that’s uncle Jack’s promise of truth. And so long as the choice exists to chose something else… the way of the new generation rest with value and not loyalty. And that’s something that a lot of members of the previous generations don’t understand, because they were drilled loyalty from the day they could understand what it is.


(Phil van der Klift) #7

In affirmation and amplification of the topic The Winds of Strife, I would propose that Rev 7:1-3 illustrates one of the most overlooked and under-considered concepts of reality - with substantial implications.

What is it that enables (abundant) life to function as it should? Order or chaos?

And what is it that creates order in the natural world? Natural laws (as opposed to man-made rules) are the principles of consistency that underpin and therefore enable the order which is necessary for true (abundant) life.

As in the natural, so too in the realm of all living creatures, life is contingent upon order which is contingent upon the underpinning laws that alone give rise to that order. And it is critical to remember that self-renouncing love is the most foundational of all life-promoting laws and that all life-promoting laws reflect the nature of self-renouncing giving. It is this self-renouncing giving that contributes to the perpetual nature of abundant, eternal life (eg: the water cycle, the respiration cycle).

So, life requires two key, inseparably interconnected things. Firstly, It requires a Source (Jn 1:3,4) and maintenance of connection with that Source (Jn 15:5, Acts 17;28). And secondly it involves willingly living in harmony with the laws of life that foster order as opposed to chaos. This is what Adam and Eve did up until Gen 3.

In Gen 3 something changed. Adam and Eve were seduced by Satan into exchanging willing adherence to living in harmony with the necessary self-renouncing nature of life. Instead they, like Satan, embraced the principle of self-exaltation (Gen 3:5). This exchange resulted in an immediate disconnection from the two above mentioned necessities for life. They (inadvertently) disconnected themselves from the Source of life and they no longer lived in harmony with the (natural) laws that promoted and maintained order. What did this mean? Exactly what God had warned them would be the natural cascade of results (Gen 2:16,17).

Interesting that God had said that “on the day you eat… you will surely die”. Yet Adam and Eve didn’t. And people have explained this apparent discrepancy by suggesting that God had only meant they would die ‘spiritually’. But, on the basis of what I have outlined above, Adam and Eve would have died that very day (and I believe instantaneously too) except that God, consistent with His nature and character, intervened instantaneously in order to enable an opportunity for redemption and salvation (2 Pet 3:9).

But this is the overlooked point: death and chaos had become the new default state in both all living creatures and nature itself. Prior to that ‘fateful’ day in Gen 3, humanity’s default trajectory was abundant life. But as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s departure from - or transgression of (1 Jn 3:4) - the two necessary conditions for abundant life, humanity’s new trajectory was “perish” (as per Jn 3:16, etc) under chaos/‘lawlessness’ as opposed to order.

Another description for death and chaos is destruction. But the nature of that destruction is from forces from within - that is, self-destruction as a consequence of disconnection from that which would do the opposite. It is interesting that the 2 root words for the Greek word for perish in Jn 3:16 and 2 Pet 3:9 support an interpretation of to “die utterly” and “away from” - or to completely self-destruct/annihilate as a direct consequence of disconnection from life. The English also supports this interpretation as there is a difference between something that dies from perishing as opposed to dying from having been destroyed. So, since Gen 3 and as a direct natural consequence of Adam and Eve’s choice in Gen 3, self-destruction of nature and life for all living creatures is actually the default state here on planet earth (eg Rom 5:14) and, by extension, throughout our universe.

These winds of strife are natural consequences of reality - via the processes I have outlined above. Destruction (death and total chaos) are already embedded within the reality of this universe. It is not God who destroys - He doesn’t need to. Reality under sin is already doing that. Rather, God is instead restraining that destruction via holding back the 4 winds of strife. This is consistent with Jn 3:16: it is not God who is going to destroy us, it is the reality of sin. God is the one who is trying to save us. Jesus was telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth in Jn 10:10 - destruction is exclusively the activity of the thief and abundant life is the only thing that God is about.

I would propose that it is our lack of awareness of the above-mentioned aspect of reality that has made us vulnerable to Satan’s misportrayal of God as the source of death and/or destruction - especially at the end of the world. I would submit that Revelation 7:1 is but one further verse that challenges this misportrayal.


(Eric Webster) #8

I am indeed sorry to hear that Des Ford is in hospital. I had the privilege of visiting Des and his wife in their Australian home about a year ago. I wish him every blessing from above and in Christ. I agree with you that it would be an act of grace and kindness for the official church to reach out to him in love. Glacier View will continue to leave its paradoxical mark of pain and blessing.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #9

Thank you for a clear example of postmodern construct. The story is told of the Jewish father who placed his little son on the fireplace mantel and said Abbie jump to papa. the little boy cried papa, I am afraid you will drop me. the Father said You can Trust your papa. This was repeated several times. finally the boy jumped and the father stepped away and the boy fell on the floor. As the boy stopped crying, the father said, see Abbie don’t trust anybody.


#10

As the writer of the commentary on our Sabbath School lesson above, I can say that the polemics which surrounded Dr. Ford never really affected my life or ministry. I was going to Pacific Union College at the time he was there and in fact he lived above my sister-in-law.

Since I as at the end of my studies, I never took a class from him or heard him preach but knew he was a blessing to many. I did hear him speak once at the Berrien Springs Fairgrounds around 1983. It was not my intention to disparage him in any way and so sorry to hear he is not well and Sabbath blessings to him and his family.


#11

Winds of Strife-----…considering the SDA/SOP teachings of future events: SUNday law, mark of the beast, death decree, time of trouble, I think SDA pastors & evangelists who often mention that “JESUS is coming soon” are clueless about how veteran SDA members react to that supposed glimmer of hope attached to their phrase.
Those who have terminal illnesses or soon to pass away might think that their suffering is soon over yet how many who understand the high calling of sanctification and what it means to be fit for eternal life even think positively about the phrase?


#12

Anyone care to post a succinct version of the allegedly ,erroneous SDA gospel and then Des’ version to juxtapose, so a reader can clearly see how the standard NON-Des version is misleading and biblically false?


(Phil van der Klift) #13

With respect, it would not be an act of grace - it would be nothing more than an act of decency. Des was not the one who did anything wrong in terms of either the issues he raised or the spirit and manner in which he raised them. It would simply be decency for the church to admit it did not treat Des in a Christlike manner. Glacier View had an agenda that was motivated by something other than true Christlike love and a desire for truth.


(Thomas Schwartz) #14

I think what you are describing is the Kuhnian paradigm. Postmodernism adds that each structures interpretation or meaning is equally valid, even if they are mutually exclusive.

The church has been repurposing and reinterpreting past functions since the ministry of Jesus. That does not make it post-modern. Where the church is post-modern is where it is rejecting the concept of a singular source of authority. A church deciding to update how tithe is gathered is not post-modern. A church deciding that tithe is optional would be.

Not arbitrary, just personalised. Your truth is fully true for you, but its truthfulness does not necessarily extend even an inch beyond you. My truth may be the exact opposite to yours, but is non the less to be regarded as equally true.


#15

In Jesus Christ are all horizons merged.

We are complete in Him.

That’s why what Phil Brantley has to say about Gadamer and hermeneutics, in general, is important, I believe. @phil

Merging horizons is what the Seven Seals of Revelation 5 is about, I believe, and there is only One who is worthy to open them, and has opened them.

The tragic Adventist experience with David Koresh should forever burn in our consciousness the necessity of understanding the Seven Seals, and treading reverently on this topic.

I think Ellen White’s understanding of this topic went far beyond what can be discerned by rigorous exegesis, and what appears to the rational eye:

In the words of Ellen G. White, the sealed scroll contains “the history of God’s providences, the prophetic history of nations and the church. Herein was contained the divine utterances, His authority, His commandments, His laws, the whole symbolic counsel of the Eternal, and the history of all ruling powers in the nations. In symbolic language was contained in that roll the influence of every nation, tongue, and people from the beginning of earth’s history to its close”.

https://ssnet.org/lessons/19a/less04.html