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I Live in the Prophetic Present
"Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen."
Yet at the time this utterance was made, Babylon had not yet fallen. An error? An untrustworthy Bible? Throughout the Bible the prophetic Word is deemed so certain that future events are stated as present realities.
This fact is the basis for the form of our meditations. God's promises are stated as present realities; I affirm of myself obedience to His Commands.
True enough, these meditations resemble flakey New Age "positive affirmations" found in get-rich quick schemes and other hoaky humanist nonsense. But Christians can't stop serving their children nutritious meals just because some wacko New Agers do that. We must follow the Bible even if certain cults or schemers have picked up some of the Bible's recommendations.
Consider the meditations of the Psalmists. Psalm 119 contains many model meditations. How about verse 148:
|1. I medititate on this
verse whenever I have trouble staying awake just a few minutes longer for evening
This is a "positive affirmation" of a fact desired, namely staying awake. But it is also a "positive affirmation" of the act of meditating on God's Word.
Taken literally, or in a technical sense, this verse is "untrue." If taken as a literal universal assertion of historical fact about the life of David, it is false. We know for a fact that on at least one evening (II Sam 11:2) David was awake, sure, but he wasn't meditating on no Scripture verse! So are these verses contradictory? Are our Bibles untrustworthy? Not at all. If our interepretation of the Bible leads to a contradition, it is our understanding, not the Bible, which must be wrong. This verse, therefore, must have some other rhetorical function than that of communicating universal historical truth about King David.
I would like to suggest that rhetorically it functions not as history but as oath or vow; it is something of a promise; a promise to God and a promise to self. It is a statement of recognition of God's requirements; the application of the requirement to the self as fulfilled is kind of a goad or incentive. If we were to recall the insights of Meredith Kline and the concept of the "self-maledictory oath," we might see this kind of statement as an oath-promise to God that this is what I will be if You give the grace, and if I'm not like this it is due to my own rebellion and I deserve what I get.
Perhaps we can only speculate as to why the Lord speaks so immediately as to phrase future events as present realities.
But the "Why" is not nearly so important as the "That." That it is legitimate to speak of God's future in the present tense, or of His Law as fulfilled, is clearly seen in the example of the Bible. And the Bible is our example.
New-Agers claim to have great success with "positive self-affirmation," wherein they repeatedly assert (or chant) that they are (present tense) successful, they are rich, they are spiritual masters, they are reincarnated frogs, etc., etc. While there are obviously some aspects of New-Age thinking which we can trash, there are other aspects which we can see were taken from neglected aspects fo the Bible, which we can salvage. "Positive self-affirmation" is obviously a Humanized "Prophetic Trinitarian-affirmation," that is, a positive statement in the present tense of a future reality (where the future for New-Agers is humanistic, whereas for us it is Theo-centric).
Read the rest of the 119th Psalm. Read the rest of the Psalms. These "positive affirmation" simply were not always true of the Psalmist. There were unquestionably times when David loved the world more than the Word. But the Psalms contain more than historical truths. They contain personal vows in the prophetic present tense. If we follow the Psalmist's example, we will meditate on God's Word by affirming it of ourselves. Promises fulfilled, commandments kept. Not vague generalities, but specific and concrete fulfillments in our unique lives. This is how God speaks to us through the prophets, and this is how the Godly seem to meditate (assuming here that David was at this point a man after God's own heart).
Look at it this way: Just try repeating these personal affirmations twice a day (minimum) for 3 weeks straight and not feel convicted -- not feel like a complete hypocrite and reprobate liar -- if you don't start doing those things during the day, given an opportunity. It forces you toward "epistemological self-consciousness." And every opportunity to do is an opportunity for further growth through discipline.
I find this kind of "meditative affirmation" to be a powerful goad. I'm not entirely persuaded of this yet, but just reading them has an effect. When I actually say these things to myself before the LORD I feel like a total bogus believer if I don't follow through. I have a heightened sense of the Presence of God's Law. It helps me envision God's will. It makes me examine myself and face faults. It forces me to seek God's grace
And we have had have occasion to examine the tremendous effects it has on the unconscious mind as well!
= God's Law.
Theonomist = someone committed to obeying God's Law (Matthew 5:17-20)
|I don't think it's wrong to begin acting
like a consistent Theonomist.
Given what the Bible teaches about sanctification, wholistic salvation, and the Edenification of the Earth, I believe a robust approach to personal ethics is needed. The Theonomic vows of the Psalmist have been humanistically deconstructed. I believe "positive self-affirmation" can be Theonomically reconstructed.
We take as our starting point, Philippians 4:13,
we have an idea of being "thus minded" -- continually dwelling -- meditating -- on the salvation which God is working out in us (2:12-13). Our meditation takes the form of the prophetic present tense.