Friday, July 2, 2010

City Of Evil (2005) "The Wicked End" (Part 2)

Continued from July 1, 2010
[reprinted as written by Avenged Sevenfold]
As performed by A7X

Man's becoming more corrupt now, godless, wicked, and cruel
The soulless man stood silenced, Mary's "word" rang so true
Chastisement worse than the flood, spread the word, its all through
Don't kill the messenger girl
As if we haven't swam enough in this life of misery

Voice your prophecy, shed us some light
Feel sorrow for mankind's chance to survive
Swallowed lies and swam in our own tears
A stab in the dark but it wounded our will
We won't be here tomorrow, hold on to me for one last time

We've grown into the numbers six hundred sixty six
War breaks, a sign of the end, eternally expelled
Look to the sky for knowledge, the stars align tonight
Eclipse and heaven shall fall
Now I know I've seen it all in my life of misery

Voice your prophecy, shed us some light
Feel sorrow for mankind's chance to survive
Swallowed lies and swam in our own tears
A stab in the dark but it wounded our will
Dust the apple off, savor each bite
And deep inside you know Adam was right
lust and power, indulgence, no fear
Left with his sins, how does this end?
We won't be here tomorrow, hold on to me for one last time

As the prophets shed the light on what's to come the crowds did gather
Your time is precious, they explained, no time to worry, messiah's coming
Don't go to sleep tonight, darling, hold me in your arms
These will be our final days and I can't let go

Walls are falling, churches burning, women ravaged, children crying
Flesh is tearing, some still fighting
In this world of misery

Voice your prophecy, shed us some light
Feel sorrow for mankind's chance to survive
Swallowed lies and swam in our own tears
A stab in the dark but it wounded our will
Dust the apple off, savor each bite
And deep inside you know Adam was right
lust and power, indulgence, no fear
Left with his sins, how does this end?
We won't be here tomorrow, hold on to me for one last time

Once wickedness and evil reach their full measure, "We've grown into the numbers six hundred and sixty six," the beginning of the end transpires,

War breaks, a sign of the end, eternally expelled
Look to the sky for knowledge, the stars align tonight
Eclipse and heaven shall fall

Predictions of these signs are scattered throughout the Bible, with the most famous prophet being Jesus Himself, as recorded by His disciple Matthew,

Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other's throat, everyone hating each other.

In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.

Staying with it—that's what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry, and you'll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.

But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the Temple sanctuary. The prophet Daniel described this. If you've read Daniel, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you're living in Judea at the time, run for the hills; if you're working in the yard, don't return to the house to get anything; if you're out in the field, don't go back and get your coat. Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. Hope and pray this won't happen during the winter or on a Sabbath.

This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God's chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.

Following those hard times,

Sun will fade out,
moon cloud over,
Stars fall out of the sky,
cosmic powers tremble.

Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he'll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God's chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole...

But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.

The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away

In fact Jesus' disciple Peter went on to describe what would happen to the entire fabric of the universe, every molecule torn apart so that only atoms are scattered randomly across the vast expanse of space,

But when the Day of God's Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment...

The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.

What will bring this on, this wholescale devastation of our entire galaxy and the universe beyond it?

The poet brings us back to the very beginning of humankind,

Dust the apple off, savor each bite
And deep inside you know Adam was right
lust and power, indulgence, no fear
Left with his sins, how does this end?

The apple is a long story and it will take me a while to tell it. It's a story that began before time, when there was heaven, and heavenly beings, but no earth. What happened before time spilled like a tipped ink bottle onto the beautiful landscape of God's garden in Eden, Paradise.

The Bible opens with "In the beginning God..." God's Spirit hovered over nothingness and then God spoke, an explosion of power that burst forth with all the energy and matter that the universe contains. In an infinitesimal fragment of a moment all that exists came into being, matter coalesced into stars and planets, mysterious forces gathered these heavenly bodies into galaxies, and time began.

In Genesis 1, God made man and woman in His own image:
God has made people in His likeness in spirituality: We are aware of God and His presence. We can commune with God through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can be made one with God through the regeneration by His Holy Spirit.

God has made people in His likeness in personality: Having intelligence: an ability to think and to know. Having emotions: to love, grieve, be angry, rejoice; having the capability of appreciating beauty. Having a will: the ability to make choices, and the ability to speak.

God has made people in His likeness in morality: God has given every person a conscience upon which is written an innate knowledge of right and wrong

Then God commanded the man and the woman to be fruitful, to increase in number, to fill the earth, and to subdue the earth, to rule over the creatures of the sea, the creatures of the air and all creatures that move on the ground.

Genesis 2 unfolded to reveal that God intended the fulfillment of these instructions be a process. Man and woman would learn how to work and take care of the earth by first learning to work and take care of the garden. Mankind would learn how to wisely rule all creatures by first studying and naming them. Man and woman would become one through a process of vulnerability and unselfconscious enjoyment of each other, and communion with God.

Part of the process of growing and learning included a test of their love and commitment to God. The man and the woman were perfect and had the ability to stay that way. Through this test, choosing obedience to God would bring personal growth and increasing joy.

The man and the woman’s faith would be proven and would strengthen, preparing them for greater work, requiring greater faith – after all, the garden did have its boundaries, and there was a whole wild, unsubdued globe out there, waiting for mankind to come into its destiny.

To fail the test would be sin. Sin is the failure to be perfect. In Greek, an archery term meaning “missing the mark” or “missing the bull’s eye.” Even being really, really close doesn’t count.

Genesis 2 ends with the profound statement that the man and the woman were free of shame.

God declared at regular intervals that all this was good, even very good. But there was one dark blot lurking like an oily shadow, peering from it's dark place into the soft, new light of earth.

Before God created the heavens and the earth, God created angelic beings. Chief among them was Lucifer, meaning “the bringer or bearer of light.” In the Bible God said Lucifer was the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Lucifer walked right at God’s side, in the highest and most important position of all created beings. He was blameless in all his ways from the day God created him until, as scripture says, wickedness was found in him.

Lucifer wanted to usurp God’s throne: God’s possession of the heavens and the earth, and His position which brought the adoration and worship of all creation. Lucifer became Satan, a name which means “adversary.”

Satan is also called the devil, a name which means “disrupter.” The devil is the one who, from the very beginning, has been trying to disrupt the harmony and beauty of God’s creation.

He was God’s adversary, convincing a full third of all angels to come over to his side, to worship him and oppose God. Jesus Himself saw Satan cast out of heaven, the morning star becoming a black blot of evil, brought down to the lowest depths of the pit.

Having failed to take heaven, Satan determined to get his hold on earth through the man and the woman, who had been given sovereignty over the earth. The author of Genesis tells the tale,

The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: "Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?"

Drawing her attention away from God’s generosity, freedom to eat of every tree but one, Satan made God seem stingy to the woman, suggesting God didn’t really love her all that much if He would place something so obviously luscious and good right there in front of her and then deny her of it.

Satan was suggesting that God is all about the “do nots” and not about liberty and enjoyment. Is that how you think of God and His word? Does it seem like it’s all about the boundaries, all about the cool stuff you don’t get to do, but everybody else does? God’s one prohibition was designed to strengthen the man and the woman, and to protect them from death. God had warned them that the judgement for sin was the penalty of death, which includes hell

The Woman said to the serpent, "Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It's only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, 'Don't eat from it; don't even touch it or you'll die.'"

The woman either didn’t know God’s word very well, or she had added that little bit - about not touching - herself. Maybe she wanted to make extra sure she wouldn’t step over the line, or maybe the man had told her that part. Satan pursued his advantage, seeing the woman did not have a good handle on what God had really said.

The serpent told the Woman, "You won't die."

He suggested she could disobey God and get away with it, there would not be any terrible consequences. Satan encouraged the woman to let go of her healthy unwillingness to disobey God. He encouraged her to doubt God's word concerning the penalty for sin.

"God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you'll see what's really going on. You'll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil."

As the woman’s high view of God got lower and lower, doubting His goodness, doubting His truthfulness and His power, the devil was able to get her all excited about her own personal ambitions. She discovered that she liked the idea of being all-knowing, and wise and powerful like God. She liked the idea of exerting her independent will!

The woman was a perfect human being, living in Paradise, she enjoyed deep, intimate communion with her husband, and together with her husband she enjoyed joyful communion with God. Yet her own desires made her vulnerable to Satan’s suggestions. She no longer joyfully embraced God's position and authority in her life. It was this appeal to her pride that pushed her over the edge. I know better than God what's good for me, what I need, what's right and what isn't.

When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she'd know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.

Immediately the two of them did "see what's really going on"—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.

Because of shame, none of us today really knows what perfect peace and harmony feels like, looks like, or sounds like.

We live in a sinful world. Our world is still laboring under the curse of sin. You and I, from the beginning of our lives, have experienced the effects of evil – let’s not downplay it – our own badness and the badness of others. You and I still struggle and sometimes fail to resist temptation. Our thoughts and motives are tainted. In Eden the man and the woman had so far never felt embarrassed, never felt bad, never felt condemned or judged or disapproved of.

Now they experienced the shock, terror and nausea of shame.

At each step the woman made poor decisions. She gave weight to what Satan was telling her, she considered his words as if they were worth listening to. She didn’t go to God at all. She didn’t even ask her husband.

Would the man and the woman have come to know good and evil if they had never eaten of the forbidden tree? The man and the woman already had the basic components for knowing good – good is Who God is, what He makes and what He provides, "It is good, it is very good." Evil, on the other hand, is anything contrary to God and His word. Growing in the knowledge of good and evil from the perspective of goodness would have come from obedience to and alignment with all that is good, God and His word.

Instead, the man and the woman chose to come into their knowledge from the perspective of evil, choosing to align themselves with the serpent, who opposed God. They disobeyed God’s good word thereby separating themselves from the source of goodness. Knowledge came through disobedience, discovering evil because they chose to do it, rather than coming to know evil by choosing to be distanced from it. In a terrible irony, at the moment of their sin, instead of becoming like God (as the serpent had promised), the man and woman became less like God.

1) When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.

For the first time they were terrified of God, so they ran and hid from Him when He came to them in the Garden, giving evidence that God’s warning of death was taking effect – they were experiencing spiritual death, their deep communion with God, the source of life, was now broken.

In what ways might you be trying to hide from God right now? Trying to avoid talking with God about the guilt and shame inside, about the things you know are wrong, a sin that you don’t name, or admit to – keeping busy so you don’t have to think. Or keep drinking so you don’t have to think. Or keep reading so you don’t have to think your thoughts, keep listening to the radio, keep playing video games, keep watching the t.v. ...

Instead of gaining God's knowledge, their minds became clouded, and humankind lost the knowledge of the mystery of God's will and purpose for the universe, and for themselves. Instead of the heavenly realms, the home of God, their ultimate destination would now be eternity in hell, originally designed to hold Satan and the angels who had followed him, reserved for those who reject God.

2) God called to the Man: "Where are you?"
He said, "I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid."

God said, "Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?"
The Man said, "The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it."

God said to the Woman, "What is this that you've done?"
"The serpent seduced me," she said, "and I ate."

Even more deeply, in the presence of God, instead of no shame they felt for the first time feelings of exposure, guilt and deep shame; instead of intimacy, they set about covering themselves from each other; instead living in the truth they laid the blame for their own sin on someone else; all gave evidence of another aspect of God’s warning about death – their innocent natures had died

As God asked them questions to draw them into confession and repentance, the man and the woman admitted they had eaten of the forbidden tree but they fell short of true confession. Neither one admitted they were wrong, guilty...there was no remorse.

If they had only been honest with God, there would have been hope for restoration, even then.

In what ways do you try to cover over your sin and imperfection, minimize it – everybody does this; it’s not as bad as it looks; I’m not nearly as bad as that other person... In what ways do you try to justify your sin and avoid responsibility? Is it always the other person’s fault, they should have known better, or listened to you, or been more mature, loved you better and so on?

When the man blamed God, His mind had already become so clouded by sin that he could dare to throw blame in God’s face for his own sin. What do you throw, what do I throw in God’s face as blame for my sin? My childhood? The difficult situations God has allowed in my life? The undesirable people He makes me be with, or even serve? Hey, you made me this way God, I don’t see why I should have to bear the blame for this, I have to deal with these morons at work, I didn’t get enough sleep last night, you know how I get when I skip a meal, I can only handle so much pressure in this life You gave me, Lord...!

The woman was deceived and sinned first, but it is the man that God holds most accountable. The man was not deceived, he knowingly took the fruit from his wife’s hands, desiring her, and the fruit, more than he desired communion with God. Sin and the penalty of death, separation from God, was an acceptable price to pay, in his mind, and so scripture records, it is through Adam all die.

But the truth is, God holds each person accountable for their sin

The poet asks, "Left with his sins, how does this end?"

How do you get right with God again? Don’t be afraid of Him! God is so ready to forgive you and give you renewed life. Tell Him what you did wrong.

1) Name it. Be specific.

2) Turn away from whatever it is, agree with God that it’s wrong, bad, sin.

3) Ask God to forgive you. Jesus' disciple John later wrote “If we tell Him our sins, He is faithful and we can depend on Him to forgive us of our sins. He will make our lives clean from all sin.

4) For the sake of your relationship with God, to stay close with Him, to be holy because He is holy, commit to doing whatever is necessary to avoid this sin in the future.

When you and I receive Jesus' forgiveness for every wrong thing we’ve done and said and thought, you and I begin, at least, to experience the kind of love and acceptance and inward transformation that helps to erase that sense of shame.

I will finish this writing about this poem tomorrow

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