Sunday, November 28, 2010

UNIT 4: Man, sin, culture, chaos; need for redemption, reformation and restoration

FOCUS: Man, given Ac 17, Gen 1 - 3 and our common root in God as his creatures -- male and female -- made in his image. Family and marriage as key parts of the Creation order for man. The image of God, equality, the neighbour-love principle and moral government. Civil government under God. The covenantal view of our relationship with God, Gen 1 - 10 and the common familial origin of the nations.  Rom 1 – 3, Eph 4:17 - 24 & why we need the gospel: the nations have drifted from and often forgotten God, leading to confusion, sinful chaos and en-darkenment.  The gospel as God's loving, restorative good news for the nations, and the church's global commission. 



Man, male & female, made in God's image, in family and under moral government

Sin, rebellion, chaos, and the task of civil government

Nationhood, under God

The gospel, the church's mission and the kairos principle

Rebellion, en-darkenment, apostasy, discipleship, reformation and blessing


INTRODUCTION: We study theology and its primary subject, the Redemptive Creator God, as men and women: finite, fallible, morally fallen, too often ill-willed and closed-minded. Men and women who need to know, trust and respond appropriately to God through the redemption by the grace in the gospel, a gospel that in its chief summary, begins with the wonderful declaration, "God so loved the world, that he gave . . ." So, if we are to understand theology aright, we must also understand ourselves as God made us, and as our fallen-ness makes us.

Man, male & female, made in God's image, in family and under moral government

Man, first, is the creature of God, made in his image; which is the basis of all else we must understand about humanity. 

As Genesis 1 teaches as it gives the summary narrative of Creation:
 Gen. 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth . . . .

26 Then God said, “Let us make man  in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

      27 ​​​​​​​​So God created man in his own image,
        in the image of God he created him;
        male and female he created them.

 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good . . . [ESV]
Thus, we start with a world God made to be inhabited, and he created man in it to be his steward and viceroy on this planet. 

Man, who as an accountable steward of God, is therefore not simply governed by the brute force of the laws of physical nature nor psycho-social programming, nor is s/he the plaything of chance and caprice, but each of us is a self-moved, conscious, en-conscienced, ensouled person, responsible to God for his or her stewardship under God's moral government. 

Man, who is now morally fallen but redeemable.

So, we read in Psalm 32, a counsel to soften our hearts toward and so learn and heed the logic of moral principle:

       Ps 32:9 ​​​​​​​​Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
        which must be curbed with bit and bridle . . .

And similarly in James 2, we find a lament on our current fallen state:
  Jas 2:8 . . . no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,  these things ought not to be so.
This centrality of the image of God [imago dei in Latin] finds an echo in 1 John 4, which gives the central moral law on which all virtue and liberty rest:
1 Jn 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot  love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Nor is the imago dei limited to man as male, for Gen 1:26 - 27 makes plain, all of humanity was made in God's image, and that embraces man as male and female. Hence, we see in Gen 3:
 Gen 3:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for  him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed  every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam  there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made  into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,  
                    “This at last is bone of my bones
        and flesh of my flesh;
        she shall be called Woman,
        because she was taken out of Man.” 

 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Man was made in God's image, male and female, in family, and in family based on the covenantal heterosexual bond of marriage, the Creation-Order bridge over which the generations in succession should pass. 

So strong is this that when Jesus (as recorded in Matt. 19) was challenged concerning the law of divorce, he answered thusly:
Mt 19:4 . . .  “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” [ESV. Cf. Mal 2:16a: “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel . . . " NET, etc. (Cf. Rom 1:18 - 32 & 1 Cor 6:9 - 11 on today's increasingly popular acceptance of attempted homosexualisation of marriage; which also holds out redemptive hope for the penitent in 1 Cor 6:11: "such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."]
Much that has gone wrong and must now be curbed by force of law and state and magistrate, flows from that "[b]ecause of your hardness of heart." Indeed, the Apostle Paul was moved to counsel C1 Christians in Ephesus and environs thusly:
 Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!- 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,  which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness . . . [ESV]
So, we must now turn to the disorders triggered by sin, and God's basic measures taken to keep it in reasonable check in the community, lest it runs riot to utter chaos and mutual ruin.

Sin, rebellion, chaos, and the task of civil government

It is said of the Ante-diluvian world, that, apart from righteous and faithful Noah: 
Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. [ESV]
So, the narrative continues, God, judged the world by the Great Flood after 120 years of building the Ark and calling men to repentance, but alas, only one family was saved, that of Noah. As 2 Peter 3 records, the world that then was, being overwhelmed with water, perished. And, as the new post-diluvian world was established, we find a mandate for civil society and its governance:
Gen 9:1 . . . God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

       6 ​​​​​​​​“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
        by man shall his blood be shed,
        for God made man in his own image.

 7 And you,  be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.” [ESV]
So, society was to be regulated by law in defence of justice, and thus by leadership responsible to see to guarding the civil peace of justice. That is, governance and government are here established as the framework in which human community, families and individuals may flourish from generation to generation. 

Daniel provides a useful elaboration, emphasising the theme that God rules in the affairs of men. For instance, after his judgement of insanity for his arrogance, Nebuchadnezzar issued a letter in which he states:

 Dan 4:34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,  
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,      
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;     
35 ​​​​​​​​all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,       
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven       
and among the inhabitants of the earth;       
and none can stay his hand       
or say to him, “What have you done?”  

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me.

37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. [ESV]
Would that we would heed this counsel in our day!
The underlying thesis of Daniel chapters 1 - 6 is plain: the Most High God is a just God, and is sovereign over the Kingdoms of men, giving them to whom he will and holding people, officials and rulers alike accountable for justice, thus for protecting and balancing our basic rights under God. Further, God so controls the flow of history, that he will intervene in the interests of those who seek to serve him in purity, even in the teeth of arrogant and unjust rulers. Indeed, the very name Daniel prefigures this: it means, "God is my Judge."

This theme also runs through the Bible as a whole, from Moses’ "Let my people go!" of the Exodus, to the concern of the Hebrew Prophets over Justice, to John the Baptist’s call for repentance in the face of the Kingdom of God that was now at hand, to Jesus’ proclamation of that Kingdom, to the concluding visions of Apocalyptic Judgement and the New Jerusalem in the Revelations. So, the question of just government under God is one that we cannot properly duck, nor can we plead that God has not spoken with sufficient detail.

Romans  13:1 - 10 elaborates the theme:
Rom 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [NIV: harm] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
We may discuss this by noting several key observations, which also highlight implications of events and remarks in Daniel 1 - 6:

1: As Daniel did, we are to submit to Government (even when it is less than perfect – as is always the case), as an institution established by God to do us good, and armed with the sword to defend the community from evil-doers.

2: But also, the power of the sword is a great temptation to abuse power over those under one’s administration or in the wider community, or even to indulge in aggression against other countries. So, for instance, Nebuchadnezzar often seemed to fly into a rage with those who displeased him, demanding that they be put to death.

3: It is interesting to contrast the attitude of Daniel in Ch 4, even after the King had twice unjustly threatened his life and/or that of this friends: he was concerned for the King, and gently pleaded with him to turn from his arrogance and wickedness, so that perhaps God would relent in judgement. Sadly, neither the King nor his grandson Belshazzar heeded the wise prophetic counsel.

4: However, it is a common rhetorical resort to try to caricature and dismiss the biblical principle of respect for authority, through inferring that Rom 13 calls for an unlimited obedience. Sadly, some Christians also misunderstand the text in its own terms and the wider biblical context. But in fact, a quick glance at the examples in Daniel show that while human authority is to be respected, if a ruler cuts across the known will of God, we have no duty to follow his or her lead into sin and rebellion against God -- if necessary, we should surrender our lives rather than rebel against God [Cf Dan Chs 3, 6]. A closer look at Rom 13 will also show that from v. 1 EVERY soul is to be subject to "higher powers" [KJV] -- the highest of these being of course God [cf. Col 1:15 - 20], and so in v. 4 we see the limits set on human authority: to do the community good and to defend justice -- thus both our rights and the right -- from evildoers.

5: Plainly, we have no duty to follow an authority into destroying the community and imposing injustice in defiance of the will and word of God, starting with the core moral principle that neighbour-love does no harm. But also, this opens the door for lower magistrates to act with the people to interpose themselves to stop injustice and reform abuses, or if necessary -- due to oppressive use of force to sustain wrongdoing -- to replace tyrannical government. [Thank God, we now have freedom of the press and the ballot box for this.])

6: For, we must bear in mind always, that each -- and every -- civil authority is God’s servant; thus, s/he is directly accountable to him for the promotion of good and the defense of justice in the community, in light of the keystone principle of neighbour-love: "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." For, as Col 1:15 - 20 [cited at the head of this page] highlights, authorities were created by and for Christ, implying that when he said that we are to "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's," Caesar and those who report to him alike, hold their position as God's servants appointed to do us good, and to uphold and defend justice. [Mt 22:21, cf. Rom 13:4.]

7: Thus, for instance when Ashpenaz feared to lose his head, Daniel felt it proper to approach his guard instead, and request a ten-day test-period that would demonstrate that -- by God’s blessing -- Ashpenaz was in no danger of losing his head at the hands of an angry King. (So, there now appears in elementary form, the concept of the interposition by lower magistrates, to intervene in the interests of doing goodness and justice, when higher ones are materially failing in their duty under God, for whatever reason.

8: This concept is in fact the key to understanding the biblically based theology of the right of reformation -- and, if necessary, revolution [thankfully, the ballot box gives us a peaceful road to such corrective reformation or revolution] -- as an integral aspect of nationhood and government under God.

9: We also mark a distinction between "own-way" driven rebellion against legitimate authority, which is plainly wrong, and the orderly removal of and/or resistance to tyrants by such interpostion. Of this last, there are many OT and some NT instances [Ac 4:19, 5:29], starting with the very Moses whom Paul cites in Rom 13:8 - 10.)

10: So, like Daniel and his friends, we can therefore rely on God as our Supreme Judge: he holds both rulers and ruled to account for justice and good order in the community under the principle of neighbour-love. So, where a government official – who is God’s servant to do us good -- steps out of line under God and demands that we disobey God, we should respect the authority but continue to obey God [as in Acts 4:19, 5:29], trusting that God will vindicate his name.

11: And, where God has called forth a liberator such as Moses, or Jephthah, or David, these too should act in a restrained, lawful manner as emerging civil authorities under God; even when force has to be used to resist tyranny or invasion. (Note also, that I here distinguish FORCE -- moral, financial, verbal, even physical -- from violence, understood as the unjust, morally indefensible use of force.)

13: Thus, law and justice in the community are properly built, not on the self-centred agendas, whims and interests of the individual, the faction or the class, but on the principle that we are all to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, and so we should not harm them or block their fulfilling of their legitimate needs and interests.

14: So, as the Ten Commandments highlight, our neighbours’ families, lives, and property should be as precious to us as our own – and, wise rulers will also acknowledge and respect the Most High God who rules in the affairs of men and promotes (and -- in his own good time -- demotes or even sweeps away) rulers and kingdoms, based on justice and the coming Eternal Kingdom of God.

15: In support of such wise and good government in light of neighbour-love, authorities are granted the just power to exact reasonable – as opposed to confiscatory ["thou shalt not steal"] – taxes.

16: Here, too, Paul’s remark in Rom 13:8: "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another," is highly relevant.

17: For, through his apostle, God here forbids not only personal financial irresponsibility, but also fiscal and monetary policies that (often in the name of "compassion") pile up public deficits and resulting national debts year after year, until they reach such unsustainable levels that they force Governments to run the money printing presses to support the resulting runaway inflation.

18: Indeed, had this principle of frugality been heeded in Germany in the 1920’s, the 1923 hyperinflation and its consequence: angry impoverished middle classes that then supported the rise of Hitler to power, could have been averted. Similar events have also repeatedly played out in Latin America and the wider world.

19: As well, in modern democratic communities -- by God's gracious blessing -- we are not subject to the whims of arrogant absolute rulers such as Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar, but rather our rulers are accountable before laws enacted through our representatives who act as legislators under God; based on the supervisory law frameworks laid out in our written Constitutions. Constitutions that should be very carefully written and balanced in light of the principles of liberty and justice for all, and the sad, blood-bought lessons of history.

20: Also, unlike the foolish "unchangeable" laws of the Medes and Persians, we have established mechanisms for review, appeal, repeal and reformation of unjust or damaging laws. For, God has granted us the privilege of constitutional government, including the power to regularly choose or change our representatives and chief civil authorities through the ballot box.

 Therefore, as we vote and participate in the political life of the community, we have a duty under God to insist that those we vote for or support not only talk about but walk by the principles of just government under God, especially the principle of neighbour-love. (So also, where governments become tyrannical and destructive to the community and individuals in it, we have a right of reformation, and if necessary revolution. Indeed, the General Election is an institutionalised, regularly scheduled potential – but thankfully, peaceful -- revolution that holds rulers accountable before the people without a need to resort to bloodshed!)

Now, it is common to encounter those who -- very understandably -- will react to the above by rising up in indignation over the oppressions and injustices of Christendom [too often, though, they do so whilst refusing to acknowledge positive contributions, breakthroughs and reformations from universal horrors made by Christianity-influenced cultures, movements and eras; cf. here on the roots of modern liberty, and this article's remarks [p.35 ff] on the rise of modern science].

But plainly, had the above biblical principles been respected over the past century, the world would have been spared not only the internal mass-slaughters initiated by aggressive Monarchies, and by largely secular post-Christian political messianistic movements such as Nazism, Fascism and Marxism-Leninism [a.k.a. "Communism"], but also the associated horrors of World Wars I and II, and also the appalling waste of effort, lives and treasure caused by the forty-year long Cold War. Cumulative death toll: well in excess of 100 million;[cf. Rummel's basis here -- the American abortion holocaust, well in excess of 40 millions at the rate of more than a 9/11 a day, is NOT part of this total].

We would also have been spared the current rise of the global conflict over Islamist ideology-motivated terrorism in pursuit of global dominance by dar ul Islam. [Cf. also an introduction to Islam for Caribbean Christians here, a declaration on recognition, concerns and calls to action here, key references here, here, & here, and more details on Jihad and its implications here. Nor should we forget the consistent result of Jihad: imposition on Jews, Christians and others under sharia of apartheid-like discrimination, through dhimmitude. (Cf. here too.) Nor, should we simply ignore the involvement of muslims in that longstanding and as yet unfinished horror, slavery. (For the history-challenged:
many of "those pirates" who "robbed I" and "sold I" to the european and american "merchant ships" were muslim Arabs, Berbers and islamised african tribes who were carrying out a trans-Sahara and trans-Indian Ocean slave trade of comparable size and longer duration than the trans-Atlantic one. It is noteworthy, too, that the first highly successful antislavery effort was initiated and sustained by Evangelical Christians in C18 Britain who had been touched by the awakenings of that time.)]

These considerations, however, help lead us to a deeper reflection on:

Nationhood, under God

In AD 50, the Apostle Paul, having been harried out of Macedonia, paused in Athens, awaiting his companions. Disturbed by the blatant idolatry of that great city and centre of learning, he began to discuss issues in the Synagogue with the Jews and God-Fearers, then also -- as Socrates had done 500 years before him -- in the marketplace, the famous Agora.

Soon, he was accosted by a circle of Stoic and Epicurean philosophers, members of the Areopagus Council, the same that had condemned Socrates in 399 BC.

They were evidently in a mood to get a bit of intellectual entertainment at the expense of the visiting teacher, and so invited him to join them in the Council and explain his teachings. There, he began by setting the context of nationhood under God, the God who was unknown to these guardians of the Western Intellectual tradition; so much so that they had built an actual altar: TO THE (or, AN)  UNKNOWN GOD.

His summary teaching on the nations is particularly relevant to understanding nationhood (and, government) under God:
Acts 17:26 From one man [God] made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times [καιρούς -- kairous, from: καιρός, kairos: 2. a.  a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for . . . [Thayer] ] and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’

God is maker of all things, and in particular, he created the nations, from one man, so that, strictly, there is but one human race, indeed, one human family.  

In ruling as Lord and Judge of history, God -- our Creator thus controls peoplehood, place and the pivotal times that -- through the chaos caused by sins as they dominate communities in rebellion against God -- force the nations (in the sense of people-groups) to grope for him, however blindly. 

As a result, we are all cousins, descendants of one family and one father, and we are all equally made in the image of and provided for by one Creator. (How horrible, then, is unjustified, aggressive warfare: a family quarrel writ large, and turned into theft and murder on the grand scale. Racist denigration and oppression of our cousins, is equally wrong.)

In pagan Athens, Paul had to communicate with an audience that would not have known, nor would they have accepted the authority of the Scriptures that taught the background to this, Genesis 1 - 11.  So, he spoke in general terms. (NB: Today, many know of but on the strength of what they think are firmly grounded scientific "facts," -- some even go so far as to redefine "facts" to mean the prevalent scientific view on a matter -- they have a low view of these scriptures.  As Paul did, we too must build a communication bridge to our audience.) 

The Genesis account highlights that God is our creator and Lord, and that we are a race that is in sinful rebellion against God, and so struggle to overcome the steady downward drag of sin and corruption of our lives, families and cultures. In that context, we come to the post-flood situation, and the roots of the peoples we know in the world today:
Gen. 9: 18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Now Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the sons of Noah, and from them the whole earth was populated . . . .   
Gen 10:6 The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.

 8 Cush was the father of Nimrod; he began to be a valiant warrior on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. (That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.”) 10 The primary regions of his kingdom were Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, 12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and the great city Calah . . . .

Gen 11:1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary. 2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.”2 (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.” 

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building. 6 And the LORD said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them. 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”

 8 So the LORD scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why its name was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the entire world, and from there the LORD scattered them across the face of the entire earth.
Here, we see the first united world government, and the first strong-man: Nimrod. And, we see God's response to rebellious strongman-ism: he broke the unity of the families, state and religious institutions [the Tower of Babel was apparently in part meant to be an astrological temple], and scattered the nations across the earth. So, one major purpose of a diversity of nations and peoples under God is to prevent the emergence of any one dominant centre of power in rebellion against God. So also, while we should respect the common human family, and must not hate or oppress one another, we must also respect the diversity of peoples and states under God.

Indeed, it is significant to see that in the end of days, as envisioned by the prophets, the crisis-point of rebellion that brings God's final judgement is:
 Rev. 13:1 Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule. 3 One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; 4 they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?”

5 The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months. 6 So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God – to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, 8 and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed . . . .

11 Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed. 13 He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of people 14 and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. 15 The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

16 He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. 17 Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast – that is, his name or his number. 18 This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666. [NET]

666 [and, equally, the alternative, 616], of course, is a numerical equivalent to Nero Caesar; the C1 Roman strongman and first Caesar to seriously persecute the church.

That is, a key point of this scripture is that the latterday unified rebellion against God comes back to Nimrod-style militarily aggressive strongman-ism, backed by deceptive religious power, and expressed in an economic license system in a surveillance police-state that compels loyalty to civil and religious rulers in rebellion against God. How chilling, especially, are these words: "no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast."

In short: join the rebellion against God, or starve to death. 

Of course, such a totalitarian system will only succeed in creating a huge black market, unjustly criminalising and singling out for persecution those who for conscience dare to differ with the politically correct beast-system. Oh, that we would at long last learn the bloodily bought lessons in the peace of Westphalia of 1648, after yet another horrendous bloodletting in Europe.

Wikipedia aptly summarises:

The main tenets of the Peace of Westphalia were:
  • All parties would recognize the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, in which each prince would have the right to determine the religion of his own state [through the US First Amendment to its Constitution, this has been transmuted into the local community determines the dominant form of religious expression, while respecting the freedom -- not merely toleration -- of dissent], the options being Catholicism, Lutheranism, and now Calvinism (the principle of cuius regio, eius religio).[6][7]
  • Christians living in principalities where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in public during allotted hours and in private at their will [we note: again, in light of the US First Amendment, now, full freedom of conscience and religion].[6]
  • General recognition of the exclusive sovereignty of each party over its lands, people, and agents abroad, and each and several responsibility for the warlike acts of any of its citizens or agents. Issuance of unrestricted letters of marque and reprisal to privateers was forbidden.
It took over a hundred years of bloody and devastating war to accept this, which now seems like common sense; and which could have been had at no cost through heeding the counsels of Scripture. The Revelation, Ch 13, then, is a powerful prophetic rebuke to, corrective of and warning concerning all totalitarian systems, and especially all systems of government that would tyrannise on the conscience, or resort to centralised economic control. 

So also, the nations should keep a door open to refugees from such oppressive strongmen as will crop up from time to time, and will need to be vigilant to bind together in defence aginst aggressive strongmen.

But, it seems -- so bent are we on refusing or ignoring the lessons of history -- we will one day face Nimrod, Mark II. AKA, Antichrist.

As a revealing side-light, it is interesting to note that the Genesis 10 table of families and nations and account of a dispersal of clans from the general area of Mesopotamia finds genetic support in the spatial distribution of the Y Chromosome F haplogroup. Such genes pass down exclusively in the Male line: XY. The F haplogroup on the Y chromosome is a particular genetic variant that occurs in some 90% of human populations, save for in Sub-saharan Africa.

(NB: Here, we must recall that mutation and migration dates and branching are inferred, but by sharpest contrast, DNA types are observed in their locations on the ground. So, the one -- being a fact of observation in situ on the ground -- must take precedence over the other -- an inference and projection into the remote, unobserved past, on questionable assumptions --  in our interpretations.)

As Wikipedia summarises:
The groups descending from haplogroup F are found in some 90% of the world's population, but almost exclusively outside of sub-Saharan Africa. The mutation of IJ corresponds to a wave of migration out of the Middle East or South Asia some 45 ka that subsequently spread into Europe (Cro-Magnon). Haplogroup G originated in the Middle East or Caucasus, or perhaps further east as far as Pakistan some 30 ka, and spread to Europe with the Neolithic Revolution. Haplogroup H probably occurred in India some 30-40 ka, and remains prevalent there, spreading westwards in historical times with the Romani migration. Haplogroup K probably originated in southwestern Asia and spread widely to Africa, Eurasia, Australia and the South Pacific.
The mitochondrial [female lineage] DNA map -- mitochondria (which provide energy resources to the living cell) have DNA loops, and pass down in the egg-cell, thus: female, line -- generally fits the same pattern, and shows the African nodes that are usually viewed as the root of the tree:

Again, underlying assumptions about clock-like constant rates, patterns and roots of mutations in a theorised common ancestor between chimpanzees and humans affect the interpretation and assigned timelines.

An African root is usually inferred on the argument that the principal branches start in Africa and some never leave Africa. However, Robert Carter argues that, once such assumptions and model constraints are closely examined, they lack adequate empirical support. Once such assumptions are then relaxed, and we look again at the pattern of nodes and branches in the above diagram,

. . . [b]ecause it is not presented in a traditional tree format, it is easy to see how difficult it is to determine where the ancestral sequence should be placed. Carter39 [therefore] placed the root not in Africa, but at the ’R’located close to the centre of the tree.
In a second article, he observes:
there is abundant evidence that the entire human race came from two people just a few thousand years ago (Adam and Eve), that there was a serious population crash (bottleneck) in the recent past (at the time of the Flood), and that there was a single dispersal of people across the world after that (the Tower of Babel).1. . . .

For our purposes, the most important places to look are in the Y chromosome (which is only found in males and which is passed on directly from father to son) and in the mitochondrial DNA (a small loop of DNA that we nearly always inherit from our mothers only; males do not pass it on to their children). These two pieces of DNA record some startling facts about our past . . . .

[T]he genome is broken down into volumes, called chromosomes, but you have two copies of each volume (with the exception of the X and Y chromosomes; women have two Xs but men have one X and one Y). Imagine comparing two duplicate volumes side by side and finding that one word in a particular sentence is spelled differently in each volume (perhaps “color” vs “colour”). Can you see that if Eve was a clone of Adam, there would have been, at most, two possible variants at any point in the genome? If Eve was not a clone, however, there would have been, at most, four possible variants at any point in the genome (because each of the original chromosomes came in four copies). This still allows for a lot of diversity overall, but it restricts the variation at any one spot to 2, 3, or 4 original readings.

Does this fit the evidence? Absolutely! Most variable places in the genome come in two versions and these versions are spread out across the world. There are some highly variable places that seem to contradict this, but most of these are due to mutations that occurred in the different subpopulations after Babel . . . . essentially all of the genetic variation among people today could have been carried within two people, if you discount mutations that occurred after our dispersion across the globe . . . .

How many X chromosome lineages were on the Ark? That depends. If you count it all up, you get eight. If, by chance, Noah’s wife passed on the same X chromosome to each of her three sons (25% probability), then there were seven. If Noah had a daughter after the Flood (not expected, but possible), there could be as many as nine X chromosome lineages. Either way, this is a considerable amount of genetic material. And since X chromosomes recombine (in females), we are potentially looking at a huge amount of genetic diversity within the X chromosomes of the world.

Does this fit the evidence? Absolutely! It turns out that Y chromosomes are similar worldwide. According to the evolutionists, no “ancient” (i.e., highly mutated or highly divergent) Y chromosomes have been found.5 This serves as a bit of a puzzle to the evolutionist, and they have had to resort to calling for a higher “reproductive variance” among men than women, high rates of “gene conversion” in the Y chromosome, or perhaps a “selective sweep” that wiped out the other male lines.6 For the biblical model, it is a beautiful correlation and we can take it as is.
The evidence from mitochondrial DNA fits our model just as neatly as the Y chromosome data. As it turns out, there are three main mitochondrial DNA lineages found across the world. The evolutionists have labeled these lines “M”, “N”, and “R”, so we’ll refer to them by the same names. They would not say these came off the Ark. They claim they were derived from older lines found in Africa, but this is based on a suite of assumptions (I discussed these in detail in a recent article in the Journal of Creation7). It also turns out that M, N, and R differ by only a few mutations . . . . M and N are separated by about 8 mutations (a small fraction of the 16,500 letters in the mitochondrial genome). R is only 1 mutation away from N . . . . 
One more line of evidence crops up in the amount of genetic diversity that has been found within people worldwide. Essentially, much less has been found than most (i.e., evolutionists!) predicted. The general lack of diversity among people is the reason the Out of Africa model has humanity going through a disastrous, near-extinction bottleneck with only about 10,000 (and perhaps as few as 1,000)8 people surviving. However, the reason for this lack of diversity is twofold. First, the human race started out with only two people. Second, the human race is not that old and has not accumulated a lot of mutations, despite the high mutation rate. Third, there actually was a bottleneck event, Noah’s Flood! ["Adam, Eve and Noah vs Modern Genetics," CMI]

 Elsewhere, he adds:
. . . regarding the science, we must ask, “What would we expect the data to indicate if Adam and Eve actually existed?” . . .  the data fit very nicely into the biblical model of one founding couple for all of humanity who lived a few thousand years ago. There was one founding female (directly predicted by the creation model and allowed in the evolution model, so this not really evidence for either side). There was one founding male (also non-conclusive). There are three main mitochondrial lineages in the world, found (unequally) among the people groups scattered across the world, with only a few differences between the founder lineages of the three groups (a better fit to the creation model, why did only three sub-lineages of closely-related mtDNAs escape Africa?, etc.). There was a single dispersal of people in the recent past (a better fit to the creation model, but Out of Africa can also be used as an explanation). There was a population bottleneck (a direct prediction of the biblical model and an ad hoc addition to the Out of Africa theory). In short, there are a lot of things in genetics that support the biblical narrative. This would not be expected if Genesis was a random and made-up story (or collection of stories) . . . .

[M]ost genetic variation comes in two versions and these versions are found distributed throughout the world’s population. When we find more variation than that, the third, fourth, etc., versions of the gene in question are usually restricted to specific subpopulations. In other words, these are mutations that have occurred since the human population spread out after Babel . . . . There is a surprising lack of diversity among people worldwide. Most of the diversity is shared among all populations, however, and diversity is increasing over time due to mutation in each of the sub populations . . . . The three founding Ark couples could have carried a huge percentage of the pre-Flood genetic variation (Adam and Eve’s diversity + pre-Flood mutations), with the exception of the Y chromosome (total loss of all but one line) and mtDNA (restricted to three lines). Hence, the biblical model fits the available data nicely and the data do not serve as an easy refutation of Adam and Eve . . . .

 The HapMap Project3 was designed to catalog a significant fraction of human genetic diversity. They analyzed millions of variants in thousands of people from around the world and made the data freely available . . . What have we learned?
  1. The human genome is young: shared blocks of DNA are large and there has not been enough time to scramble them to randomness.
  2. The human population came from a single source: most blocks are shared among all world populations.
  3. The human genome is falling apart: deletions tend to NOT be shared among populations, but are unique to subpopulations (this is further evidence for the youth of the genome and that we came from a single source population in the recent past).

 [In, "Does Genetics Point to a Single Primal Couple? A response to claims to the contrary from BioLogos," CMI]
As the links to the Creation Ministries International site indicate, these are  of course remarks by a Young Earth Creationist, who is a PhD biologist (Marine). Whether you are sympathetic with such YEC views or not, we should be familiar with these observations.

Moreover, such a pattern is also corroborated by historical and archaeological findings, as can be seen in this presentation by Paul James-Griffiths of the Edinburgh Creation Group:

Similarly, he has a presentation on traces of the Genesis account in ancient cultures:

Along these general lines, Osterholm provides an interesting (though in parts necessarily speculative) reconstruction of the roots of the nations, in light of the Biblical data, linguistic derivations and supplementary evidence from other sources:
Genesis chapter 10 describes how the present world population was derived from Noah's three sons:  Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives (three family groups).  Verse 32 states, "From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood."  Additional references are given in 1 Chronicles chapter 1.  Genesis 10 exactly names 16 grandsons of Noah, and then we are provided further details of the Babel dispersion (Genesis 11) where their descendants fanned out over the earth and established the various nations of the ancient world.  The number of descendants of Noah (grandsons, great-grandsons, etc.) mentioned are 26 from Shem, 30 from Ham, and 14 from Japheth, totaling 70 "sons" or "nations."  These 70 nations are the descendants (generations, genealogies or family histories) of the sons of Noah, known from Hebrew antiquity (Talmudic tradition of seventy nations in the world), and other ancient sources.  Most, if not all, tribes and nations can be traced to these men through their descendants . . . . 
Noah's sons kept together at first, then broke up into small groups and eventually arrived from the east in the southern Mesopotamian Plain (Gen. 11:2).  The descendants of Elam, the first born son of Shem, were the first people to enter Mesopotamia.  Susa, the capital city of the Elamites (Shemitic Elamites), gave rise to other early cities, such as Al-Ubaid (which later gave rise to Hamitic settlements—including the Sumerian civilization) and Jemdet Nasr.  Recent excavations have provided very strong evidence of direct cultural links between some of the earliest cities in Babylonia and the lowest layers uncovered at Susa.  These people established themselves first in the south and gradually spread toward the north, but without losing the cultural links.  There are no known modern descendants of the Elamites.  Other excavations have shown that one of the first Hamitic groups, the Sumerians, gave rise to considerable cultural advance and power in that region.  Other people groups known very early included the Japhethites, noted especially for their fairness of skin, in the hill country east of the Tigris.  Soon the great tower of Babel arose . . . .
[T]he rulers of the City of Babel attempted to avert dispersal of the people by proposing the building of a monument as a visible rallying point on the flat plain of Mesopotamia.  Scripture and historical texts note that the tower of Babel, the building of which Nimrod (a Sumerian) supervised, was to have two great significances.  The city of Babel would become the metropolis of the world and unite its inhabitants under the dictatorial rule of Nimrod.  The tower was to be a monument to man to stand as a symbol of Babel.  Given the present knowledge of Babel history, Genesis 11 has a solid historical foundation in early Mesopotamia.  Nimrod hoped to prevent the people from scattering abroad into colonies as God intended, thus bringing upon themselves a judgment which led to confusion of the languages and rapid scattering throughout the earth.  Babel means confusion.  Urbanization, as attested by archaeological records, did not occur until after the dispersal of languages.  The history of linguistic development and settlement patterns in Mesopotamia support this.  There are dozens of unclassified and isolate languages throughout the world, such as Basque, Ainu and Ticuna, which testify to the widespread language distribution at Babel.  The name Babel would be preserved as Babylon, a future world empire.  We can safely conclude that all people in the world are descended from the inhabitants of Babel, the first civilization after Noah's flood.  From there the great empires of the past arose, including Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece, and all have strong historical links to the sons of Noah . . . .

[M]ost of the descendants of Shem stayed in the Middle East, and Shem's descendants are well documented.  These include the Hebrews, Persians and Assyrians.  Modern day Arabs and Jews trace their lineage to Shem.  Many Arabic nomad tribes still claim they descended from Shem.  The descendants of Shem (Shemites) are often called Semites, a term first used in the late 18th century for peoples listed in the Bible as descended from Shem.  Today the term Semite refers to peoples who speak any of the Semitic languages, including the ancient peoples who inhabited Babylonia (Mesopotamia).  Modern peoples speaking Semitic languages include the Arabs and Jews.  Several centuries before the Christian Era, many ancient Semitic populations were migrating in large numbers from Arabia to Mesopotamia, the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, and the Nile River delta.  Jews and other Semites settled in villages in Judea (southern Palestine).  Today, Semitic-speaking peoples are concentrated in the Middle East and northern Africa.The descendants of Ham include the Egyptians, Ethiopians, Canaanites, Phoenicians and Hittites.  His descendants appear to be the first to fill the earth, as they were the early settlers of Africa, Asia, Australia, the South Pacific and the Americas.  The descendants of Japheth migrated into Europe and parts of Central Asia.  The Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Celts, Scythians and Medes were Japheth's descendants.  Some people groups merged to form one nation, as did the Persians (Shem) and the Medes (Japheth), which later became the Medo-Persian empire.  We also find that many nations or peoples were named after an ancestor.  Romans, and their capital city, were named after Romulus.  Israelis and their country are named after their forefather, Israel.  The observable fact of attaching the name of a leader to his people and his empire appears often in Ancient Near Eastern history.  The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 illustrates this principle, whereby every land was named after its first successful settler:  Canaanites were named after Ham's son, Canaan, and so on.
While such details are inevitably in part speculative, the underlying pattern of the Biblical record is plainly well-supported.

We must now highlight another facet of Acts 17. For, in ruling as Lord and Judge of history, God so allows our times to develop that we face crises caused by our sinful rebellion that force us to grope for him, however blindly.
Then, into those times and places, and to those peoples --even as with Athens in 50 AD -- God sends his messenger with the gospel.

The gospel, the church's mission and the kairos principle

The gospel message comes to the nations with a call to repentance, renewal and reformation, and to healing of the deep wounds we inflict on one another. The great carol O Holy Night, puts this, ever so tellingly:

Europe once knew the gospel and its import so well, that even a wine seller like Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, could pen the words that we now sing in English paraphrase as the third stanza:

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

So, what went wrong, and yet goes wrong? Wherein, lieth our hope?

The answer is direct:

Rebellion, en-darkenment, apostasy, discipleship, reformation and blessing

Now, But of course, despite the fact that the above scriptural lessons from Rom 13:1 - 10 and other scriptures have been public knowledge for centuries, the principles and examples in fact were often ignored, dismissed and disobeyed, or neglected – at repeatedly and predictably horrific cost.

So we should now first consider: why?

Paul again provides the answer: "the time will come when men will not put up with sound [instruction]. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." [2 Ti 4:3 – 4] 

That is, there is always a temptation to reject the truth and instead listen to sweet-talk or slanders that substitute deceptive myths and false accusations for the truth.

Thus, we immediately see the importance of understanding and being open to the dynamics of reformation: repentance, renewal of minds and lives through truths learned and lived, revival as people are empowered by God to carry forward good works, and as a critical mass is achieved, community transformation and blessing. 

But instead, in too many democratic communities across the Caribbean and beyond, many politicians, power brokers, intellectuals, artists, journalists and other opinion leaders have become resistant to the truth and the right, whilst becoming masters of deceitful rhetoric, to the point where we now often expect or even assume that our politicians and other opinion leaders and decision makers are liars. 

Worse, many of us think that issues of character and integrity are irrelevant to qualifications for being elected or appointed to positions of civil authority.

So, over the past two centuries, Western Culture has increasingly turned away from the Most High God, His Son and his Word, and indeed many now defiantly -- and foolishly -- insist that the God of the Bible is nothing more than an outdated myth used by cynical, hypocritical religious leaders to block the progress and liberation of the community. For instance the Ten Commandments and reminders that they are a major part of the historical foundation of Western Law and liberties are so offensive to some that they argue that they should – literally in the case of Judge Roy Moore of Alabama -- be put in the closet!

Meanwhile, every species of licence and libertinist sinful suicidal folly, deception and perversion walks in broad daylight, and blasphemously and brazenly demands to be recognised before the law as a "right."

Indeed, in some countries hitherto noted for freedom of conscience and expression, people have been jailed or penalised by courts for daring to object, including at least one Pastor who has been sentenced to prison in Sweden for expounding Romans 1 from his pulpit, which highlights the biblical principle that widespread sexual immorality and homosexual perversion are strong marks of a nation’s rebellion against God and his judgement: God gives such people over to the control of depraved minds and perverted passions.
(For, having the freedom to go your own way in defiance of self-evident truth about our status as responsible creatures under God, and linked morality, has the implication that such rebellion is its own judgement. And so, let us plead earnestly with and pray for those who are so bold as to defy the Most High God of Heaven that they might repent now, or else to their eternal loss they shall be Anathema Maranatha!)
Here in the Caribbean, these trends are not so obvious or dominant as yet, but they are unmistakable, as many of our elites are apostate, secularistic or even neo-pagan just like their peers in the North. But, they are for the moment somewhat restrained by the lingering (but now waning) influence of the Scriptures and the fear of God in the population at large.

So, if we are to avoid being caught up in the tidal wave of moral disintegration from the North that is now already mounting up and lapping at our shores, we have to act vigorously now, for tomorrow will plainly be too late.

Also, we must reckon with the fast-approaching islamist tidal wave from the East, as the ideology of jihad is now being ever more wedded to our resentment over our history of slavery and colonialism, in the writings of certain revisionist historians (such as Dr Sultana Afroz of the UWI History Department), to energise Islamist revolution. For, we must not ever forget how, in 1990, we saw in Trinidad just how suddenly and bloodily such an outcome can be precipitated by a jihadism-maddened radical such as Abu Bakr and a tiny circle of heavily indoctrinated, armed -- even if poorly so -- followers.

In response to these, we must walk instead in the way of discipleship, rooted in repentance, working through the renewal of mind and heart, and empowered by Spirit-outpoured revival. And, as such spreads across communities, men's hearts are softened to the call of virtue, mercy and the right, so communities impacted by the gospel naturally undergo reformation. 

This can be summed up in The four R's of Revival and Reformation:
R1 Repentance: True revivals start here.  As we repent, we "put off [our] old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires . . . [and will] be made new in the attitude of [our] minds . . . put[ting] on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."  [Eph. 4:18, 20 - 24.]

R2 Renewal: this is the living out of repentance as we learn and live by the light of God’s word and the power of God’s Spirit. "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mould.  Instead, be transformed from within by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is." [Rom 12:1 - 2.]

R3 Revival, proper: the pouring out of God's Spirit in times of refreshing.  Thus, we receive anointed power from God to walk in good works in the face of a deceived, corrupt world. "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people," so we are called to "Repent . . . and turn to God, so that [our] sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." [Joel 2:28 ff. (cf. Acts 2:17 - 21 & 30 - 47), Acts 3:19 - 21.]

R4 Reformation: the transformation of a community, its institutions and culture under the impact of the Lordship of Jesus as those who surrender to him fill their lives and ways with his fulness.  Of course, this threatens those who draw pleasure and power from sin (or even make their living from it), so revivals will also face persecution.
 A deeper blessing lurks in that promise of the outpoured, transforming Spirit:
 Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”- 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit  through faith . . . . 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave7  nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. [ESV]
Thus, as people and communities respond to the gospel and the Spirit who empowers those who receive Christ, the blessings of God flow out in our lives, families and communities. So, in Christ, history itself is redeemed, and we may find a road to blessed nationhood under God. So, we may further read:
Eph 1:13 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) – when you believed in Christ – you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. 

17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, 18 – since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength.

20 This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms 21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. 

23 Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all [NIV: everything, in every way] . . . . 

4: 9 Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower regions, namely, the earth? 

10 He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things. 

11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature

14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. 15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 

16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love . . .  [NET]
In short, the Spirit is our deposit of guarantee of our inheritance in Christ, and through Christ resurrection power is manifested in us as Christ graciously works through the church to fill, bless and transform all things to the glory of God. 

In particular, at times of decision -- kairous, in Acts 17:26 -- he send his Missionaries and other servants as gifts to the peoples of the earth, to call us and help equip us to serve in the body of Christ, which then grows up into the fulness of Christ, and blessing floods out into all things around. As this happens, we will be stabilised in the truth and the right and love, in God's holy power, so that we will no longer be vulnerable to winds and waves of deceptive teachings, and the ensnaring, entangling schemes of those seeking to take advantage of us.

A people like that are indeed blessed!

All this, if -- and, oh, what an if! -- we will but listen, heed, trust and live under the blessed Lordship of the one who loved us, came, dwelt among us, showed the power of the Spirit as liberator, and then died and rose for us; forever breaking the power of death and hell.  

And so, very properly, our focus now is on the promised, prophesied and ever-present Messiah.