Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Revelation 14:6-7 (NIV)
One summer during my college years, my friend Spike and I were in need of money. It happened that a large institutional church was holding their national conference here in central Iowa and someone I knew told me they were in need of people to help with daycare for children and youth for a week. It paid well, so we signed up.
Being male college students, those in charge of the daycare program put us in charge of the older boys. I had the boys ages 11 and 12 in my group. If I remember correctly, Spike got the 9 and 10-year-old boys. Most of the boys were “Pastors’ Kids” (aka “PKs”), and PKs have a reputation for being particularly rebellious. Perhaps it’s because so many people expect the Pastor’s kid to be particularly virtuous that so many of them take normal unruly childishness to particularly rebellious extremes.
A few of my boys were the worst of the worse. The truth is that I really liked them, but whatever they were told to do they refused to do. Given the opportunity, they would go to great lengths to get into trouble. Their disruptions and antics made it virtually impossible for the others to enjoy themselves.
One episode happened on an old school bus that had taken all the kids to a museum. One of my worst offenders had purchased a kazoo in the museum gift shop. He was being particularly obnoxious with his kazoo as the bus was on the interstate heading back to the conference, making himself a pest to everyone around him. I calmly warned him twice to cease his kazoo playing. My warnings only stoked the fires of his defiance and he only intensified his obnoxious behavior. A third time I warned him, and this time I told him that if he didn’t stop I was throwing his kazoo out the bus window (the bus had no air conditioning and all the windows were open). He looked at me with insubordinate eyes and played the kazoo right in my face. I grabbed his kazoo and threw it out the window.
One of the reasons that Jesus told parables was because simple stories are often metaphors for deep spiritual truths. In one of His parables, Jesus told of a farmer who sowed his wheat in a field. His enemy came in the night and sowed weeds amidst the wheat. The farmer told his workers to leave the weeds, as pulling them might uproot the wheat, as well. “Wait for the harvest,” he said. “At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” Jesus then told His disciples the meaning of this metaphorical parable:
“The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Matthew 13:37-43 (NIV)
I thought of both Kazoo Boy and the parable of the weeds as I read today’s chapter. We are in the end times. This is the “harvest” in Jesus’ parable. Seven seal judgments and seven trumpet judgments have already occurred. The final set of judgments in the trinity, the bowl judgments, are about to be unleashed. God sends three angels to make proclamations “to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language, and people.” Wishing that none should perish, the first angel proclaims the good news of God’s love and salvation. The second angel warns of the kingdoms of the earth that are about to be taken down. The third angel warns the people of what will happen if they continue to defiantly worship the “beast and his image” and it’s not pleasant.
In the quiet this morning, I was struck by two things. Even at the very end of the Great Story, God is pleading with humanity to repent, believe, and be saved. It’s never too late to accept God’s gift of salvation. Second, those who remain through the judgment have chosen to be there just like my choice in yesterday’s post. I find myself in the tension between gratitude for God’s kindness and sadness for the oppositionally defiant.
Kazoo Boy would be in his late 40s at this point. I wonder about his story and his own journey. I said a little prayer for God’s goodness and blessing on him wherever he is. I’m so glad that we all have the opportunity to grow beyond the little twits we can be as children. As Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
God, grant me the grace to put childishness behind me while living this day with child-like faith. Give me the wisdom to know the difference.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.