Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Field of Kingdom Hope

Today I was sitting at home reflecting on the nature of the Kingdom of God.  Most particularly on the passage of Daniel 1: 1-21.  For those of you unfamiliar, Daniel and his friends were taken away from their homeland and families.  The Jews of Judah were a conquered people and Jerusalem, the center of their faith, the city of David, and the location of the Temple were plundered and pillaged of their best and now they're an exiled people.

Most particularly, I noted that even then Daniel and his friends remained faithful to God in recognizing how faithful He was to them.  Daniel had refused to eat of their best food and drink because they did not wish to be "defiled".  But their defiling was not in the physical food or drink.  Their dietary restrictions had nothing to do with their laws.  Jewish people do eat and drink wine.

So what are we to gather from this?  Upon further investigation we understand that the word translated "defiled" is actually the negative form of the word we would translate as "redeem" from the Hebrew.  See, it was Daniel's denial of Nebuchadnezzar as their king.

To quote the eunuch, "I fear the lord my king..." (Dan. 1: 10).  Daniel on the other hand feared The LORD his king.  He held on to God's provision.  For instead of taking the daily bread of the Babylonians, Daniel sought the daily bread of God which was raised from the ground... from seeds.

And the word "seed" has a great connotation as an Old Testament concept.  It represents a redeeming hope in the coming of Christ.  It's a shadow of what was to come.  Daniel held on to that hope.

In any event, I pondered this as I got home and caught the movie "The Field of Dreams".  A movie in which the main character Ray Kinsella is dealing with the harsh realities of the world while wrestling with past regrets in his relationship with his father John.

As Ray deals with the seemingly immanent loss of his land and his past sins against his father there came the final scene in which they meet on that field of dreams.  Here is the scene...

Honestly, it hit me.  As John asks Ray, "Is this heaven?"  Ray sheepishly replies, "It's Iowa..."  and then Ray asks, "Is there a heaven?"  Of course, John emphatically replies, "Oh yeah, it's the place dreams come true."

And Ray replies, "Maybe this is heaven." Then they play catch, symbolically washing away the sins of his past and living in the moment of perfect harmony.

In many ways, that one scene reflects the hope of heaven which Christ secures.  It's a place where our sins don't matter any more and as we are reconciled to God we live there with Him in that perfect moment where the Kingdom of God intrudes into this world.

And in fact, the Kingdom of God is better.  There will be no looming mortgages or debts to be paid.  There will be no more suffering, pain, or self-loathing.  There will be only everlasting perfect moments of joy and peace away from the savagery of our pilgrim/exilic life.  And that's a powerful thing.  We need to yearn for it.  We need to chase after it, even in the face of being counter-cultural.

That convicts me and brings tears to my soul.  For in that, I find my faults and see them replaced by hope.  Just as we see Daniel's hope in Christ as everlasting.  Daniel went on to live and extol the virtues of that hope as a witness beyond Jerusalem, beyond Babylon, and beyond time as we read about it today.

Such is the lasting witness of Christ.

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