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Monday, May 27, 2013
Dennis Writes: "On Eagle's Wings"
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle,
so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness,
where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time,
out of the serpent's reach.
Revelation 12 : 14
Even as young pastor in the WCG and with a young family, I had no plans to ever "flee" to the Petra, Jordan when the end of the age became official. "Hide me in the grave," was going to have to suffice . I did not give sermons on Petra that I recall and doubt I would. It would have been short.
It didn't take long for "probably" to change over to for sure and of course "for sure" quickly moved on to topics of how shall we live? , what will we do for that time and how can this or that be? It was fertile ground , as we know, for Evangelist Gerald Waterhouse who made things even worse. After every pass through any church I pastored he caused a stir. Of course there were the groupies around whom even I had be careful to just smile when they speculated even more about Petra after he left the area and say "uh huh." But also there were those brave souls who probably represent the silent majority for whom this topic caused fear and anxiety. What about my kids? Can I take the dog? How will we eat? Why would we go there where it is very dangerous especially with Armageddon and all going on just up the street when we can stay here? Waterhouse had evolving answers for all these and I referred their questions on to him since he started it. All the OT stories were used to encourage us about food and protection. Proof-texting at it's best! A small number of people thought it malarkey from the start and I got along best with them.
This teaching, though I did not buy into it much at all, was always troubling to me. The message in Revelation seemed for those of that time in that place under those conditions but maybe it was just me. I think the picture at the top of this article will stir memories for most of just how we were to get there. Once it was established that Petra was not speculation but where God would protect his church, we had to get there and since the symbol of the United States was the Eagle, it was probably, no for sure, going to be the USA packing us all up and sending us there one American Airlines. HWA had grace and favor, and bribed, world leaders who love us so they would be sure we got there safely. Just shoot me I recall thinking.
Southerners would have to take a different flight. :)
At any rate, I worried consciously or subconsciously about the topic for years. HWA was getting old now and you know how crazy some old people can be when they have never considered the fact that they too would die like everyone else . I had visions of HWA dying and drooling out , "Tell the Brethren it is time to flee..." Gerald Waterhouse would be in charge of the details. Money stashed by HWA would be used to have us flown from every corner of the planet to Petra. I was concerned most when HWA had to leave California for Arizona and he might get used to the heat and Waterhouse would tell us God was acclimatizing HWA for the change. I have a vivid imagination. Did Jordan have good airports? How many buses would it take to get to the site. Please don't tell me we have to walk from the airport! Is it hot? Will I be able to bring my Nintendo? What do I tell my family? What if my husband won't let me go? Do I need a passport? And so it went and while it seemed absolute rubbish to me as time went on , people actually believed this stuff. How much more insane it seems to me now knowing more about the actual story behind the Book of Revelation, but at the time, it seemed something in the Bible for the church today to have to figure out. Of course it has NOTHING to do with us today but we'll let that go for now.
Sadly and of course...there are many today who are Clingons. They still cling to some one man show's vision of what this still means for their personal church today. Everyone wants to be protected in bad times right? Times are bad, right? So, the game is still on. Plainly however, this is really bad teaching and a totally speculative and bogus use of scripture. Again, and if this phrase gets burned into you head my purpose will be done. A scripture can never mean what it never meant. However, many religiously ignorant and unstable types seem to make every effort to make this not so. With proof-texting and speculation , usually designed to keep people in line and in an appreciative mood for the safe feeling the dance through scriptures was supposed to give, the ignorance went on and still does. If it causes fear and anxiety in some then we can make that the sermon for next week. You can be sure that sermon will have something to do with your lack of faith and insight, not to mention the problem you might have with following God's chosen Apostle.
Will it be safe? Will God squish the passage in the rocks together like the closing of the Red Sea? ("Yes" Gerald Waterhouse) Can't helicopters and bombs get dropped from above? ("Hmmmm...God will put clear bulletproof dome over us maybe..no for sure!") Where will we go potty since we can't do it in the camp? Who will take out the garbage? Will there even be garbage because what will we eat??? Can I open the first "Petra Hut" and make money of the brethren? Can I have the toilet paper franchise?
And on and on and on. Had I known the pun back then I would have "kidded" Gerald about his long sermons on Petra or "Mr. Urmstrong," qualifying him for "On and On Anonymous"! My humor is passive aggressive , or sooooooooooooo I am told...excuse me for livin' :)
This is not an article on fleeing or not fleeing to Petra today. If you can't settle that historical context and theological foolishness for yourself, I can't help you. This is a short reminder of the kind of foolishness the self appointed can get themselves into and the anxiety you can feel when you are stuck between wanting to believe and voting with your feet. It's why I say "when your head tells you one thing, especially on this topic, and your stomach tells you something else, your head is lying and your stomach is telling you the truth.
Proceed with such speculative and ultimately false and foolish teachings and those that teach them at your own risk....
Proverbs 11:14 - "in a multitude of counselors there is safety"
Unfortunately and in my experience, those who stand up to stupid and offer advice or caution are shown the door. Those that kiss up to stupid get ordained.
contact Dennis at: denniscdiehl@AOL.com