Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 13 2013 - 2 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Lives put back together

Paul uses an interesting verb in his closing exhortations to the Corinthians. The single word is translated in the NIV as “aim for perfection” (2 Corinthians 13:11). Paul has used the cognate noun just two verses earlier when he writes, “our prayer for you is for your perfection” (13:9 NIV).

I say that this is an interesting verb, for we first meet it in the New Testament in Matthew 4:21 where we read of Jesus coming upon James and John while they were in their father’s boat “mending their nets”. This same verb is used there of their “mending” activity. They were removing all of the weeds and other items that had become entangled in the nets, mending any tears and generally restoring them to all that they were designed to be and making them fit for purpose. It is this verb and cognate noun that is used by Paul in his prayers for, and instruction of, the Christians at Corinth. This sense is reflected in the 2011 revision of the NIV which renders these verses, “our prayer is that you may be fully restored” (v.9) and “Strive for full restoration” (v.11).

God is at work in us, his people, mending broken lives. He has done this first by sending us his Son who was broken for us. Through his resurrection from the dead he has not only been restored but also glorified; “he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power” (13:4). So he has become a perfect Saviour; completely fitted to our need. Now by his Spirit he is mending our broken lives. He is removing all the rubbish that has become so entangled in the fabric of our lives that it has shaped who are and who we have become. He is mending the tears in our lives, tears caused by ourselves and by others; damage caused by the situations we have faced and disappointments we have suffered. He is putting our lives back together and making us again to be all that he intended us to be – making us like Christ. In all of this, he makes us fit for service – like mended fishing nets ready for the hands of the fisherman.

This is God’s purpose not for our lives only, but also for the world that he has made. God is in the restoration business. His purpose is to take this world that has been damaged and spoilt through human rebellion and to restore it in and through Christ that it may again reflect the purpose and glory of its creator; that it might be made new.

Let this be our prayer for ourselves – for our perfection; for us to be made whole again; made all that we were meant to be; made like Christ. Let this be the passion of our lives; the thing we aim for above all else. Let this also be our prayer for one another, prayer that shapes our attitudes towards others and our interactions with them; “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (13:11). Let this be our prayer for our broken world and the vision that shapes our work in the world that we might be menders rather than destroyers; co-workers with God in bringing about his Shalom.

Lord, mend my life: remove the rubbish; repair the damaged areas; heal the hurts. Make me like Jesus. Make me fit for your use. Use me in the work of your kingdom; enable me to touch the lives of others and to bring healing and restoration to the glory of your name.

Sep 13 2019 - Daniel 2:24-49 – Daniel interprets the King's dream

In response to the prayers of Daniel and his friends, the Lord revealed to Daniel both the king's dream and its meaning. Daniel immediately went to Arioch whom the king had commanded to oversee the execution of the wise men of Babylon and informed him that he would interpret the dream. The executions were postponed and Daniel was brought before the king.

King Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel, "Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?" (v. 26). Daniel is quick to respond that no human power could do what the king was demanding, "but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries" (v. 28). The living and almighty God gave the dream to Nebuchadnezzar, and this same God has revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel, not because he has any greater wisdom than anyone else (v. 30), but that the king might understand what will happen in the days to come. Daniel then recounts the dream.

In his dream, the king saw an enormous statue with a head made of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. A rock, cut out and shot from a mountain without any human agency, struck the statue on its feet and smashed them causing the whole statue to crumble into dust that was then swept away in the wind. The rock, however, grew into a mountain that filled the whole earth.

Daniel tells the king that he is currently king of kings – the one who reigns over the many kingdoms and peoples he has conquered. He is the head of gold (vv. 37-38). He will be succeeded by three more kingdoms, each inferior to the one before it but nevertheless increasing in the violence of its oppression. Daniel then explains the significance of the rock in Nebuchadnezzar's dream:

The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure for ever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands – a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. (vv. 44-45)

The king knows that Daniel has not made all of this up for this was indeed his dream. So, in an amazing turn-around, this "king of kings" falls prostrate before Daniel, the Hebrew captive and acknowledges, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries" (v. 47). Daniel is then appointed as a ruler "over the entire province of Babylon" (echoes of Joseph), and is placed in charge of all its wise men.

What does this dream mean? The exact identity of the kingdoms referred to in this dream can be debated – Babylon perhaps succeeded by the Persian, Greek and Roman? empires – but what is clear is that all human empires will crumble into dust (see Shelly's poem, Ozymandias). The honours system alone remains as vain witness to the British Empire on which the sun never set.

But there is a kingdom that will endure for all eternity; that is the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is truly King of kings and Lord of Lords. To quote John Ellerton's famous hymn:

So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never
Like earth's proud empires, pass away;
Thy Kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
Till all thy creatures own thy sway.

Father God, we thank you that, in the Lord Jesus, we are heirs to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We want this kingdom to come and to fill the whole earth. Help us to tell others the good news of the kingdom of our gracious Saviour that they too may share in the blessings of his kingdom now and for all eternity.

Peter Misselbrook