“Fundamental discoveries like this change everybody’s lives. The electric lightbulb wasn’t invented by incremental research and development on the candle,” Ken Peach, director of the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science (Higgs Bosun) Jan 2009.
“The mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles (all peoples) are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, sharing together in the promises in Christ Jesus, ” Ephesians 3:6.
“I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline,” 2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV).
So what do the Hadron Collider, Archimedes, the legacy of Abraham, Jesus’ fishes and loaves miracles and the life of Maori prophet T.W Ratana have to do with passing on the spark of inter-generational blessings?
Knowing where we have come from and having a clear idea of how history has unfolded in our country, city or neighbourhood, can give us a better understanding of the times we’re in and how to help shape the future.
The ancient Greek philosopher, inventor and engineer Archimedes who researched levers, including the block and tackle system later used by sailors to move heavy objects, said “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth.”
We all need a turangawaewae (a place on which to stand), a sense of belonging, good people around us and a sense of purpose and destiny to help us fulfil our potential. Part of that is knowing what you believe and being confident that worldview or belief system has sure foundations.
The Christian faith is no different, it needs a cornerstone (Is 28:16; Ps 118:22; 1 Peter 2:6-7; Eph 19-20), to ensure its structure is true, and solid foundations (Ephesians 2:20) to build on. That Cornerstone is Christ and the foundations are the founding apostles and prophets.
Both Christianity in all its variant denominations and most of the Maori prophetic movements, Kingitanga, Pai Marire, Ringatu and Ratana have the Abrahamic Covenant as their core foundation and often associated themselves with the 12 Hebrew tribes which had similar rites and rituals along with their affinity with the land of their forefathers.
Don Richardson in his powerful book Eternity in their Hearts, spent years researching key stories in indigenous belief systems that pointed back to belief in One God and his redemptive acts in their historical narratives. He was critical of missionaries who imposed their western views without delving deeper into ancient belief origins.
Richardson said spiritual motivation requires historical motivation and the Abrahamic Covenant is like a backbone of the Bible with its deep truths which are known in part to all people groups.
He says we need to be infused with the right historical perspective to give us the kind of zeal that motivated the apostle Paul, and he likened this viral motivating spark to physicists looking to accelerate an atomic particle to high energy.
For a start that particle needs to be charged then caught in the grip of a powerful magnetic field in relation to a long tunnel or ‘accelerator’.
By analogy, suggests Richardson, we first have to become ‘charged particles’ through conversion to Jesus Christ, caught in the surrounding magnetic field; the power of the Holy Spirit, which permeates the Body of Christ. Then we need to align with a very long tunnel: God’s 4000-year old purpose in history as defined by the Abrahamic Covenant.
Christian believers of all descriptions owe their heritage to Abraham who came out of the pantheistic world of Ur of the Chaldees drawn by a divine promise from the God of nations that through him and his descendants all nations would be blessed.
From Abraham and his wife Sarah spring Isaac, Ishmael (father of the Arabian nations), Jacob (Israel) and the 12 tribes. From that earliest patriarch and his descendants comes King David and his son Solomon and ultimately through Mary (seeded by the Holy Spirit), Jesus the Messiah (Yashuah ha-Mašīaḥ), the Christ (anointed one).
To bless all nations
There are 300 Old Testament passages that amplify God’s promise to “bless all nations” (Ps 67, Isa 49:6). The New Testament continues to state that we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to that promise (Gal 3:29).
The Apostle Paul, a scholarly Jew and a Roman citizen who persecuted the early believers, had to rethink everything after a powerful and transformational encounter with Christ.
He knew the ancient scriptures and all the promises of a coming Messiah but gave away his preconceptions of a conquering King in the military sense when he recognised the upside down, revelation of the suffering servant showing a new way.
He saw the continuity of history from Abraham’s time and ultimately got the revelation that Christ was the promised ‘seed’ (Gal 3:16, 19) and through him that “every nation, tribe, people and language” will be blessed (Acts 3:25).
Paul and the Apostles saw the Abrahamic Covenant as central to everything Christ came to accomplish.
As Christians we have been blessed (Gr: Makarios) and are called to be a blessing; to leverage a deep and wide heritage stretching back to Abraham, that should inspire us to be agents of change and favour and to extend the benefits of grace whenever and wherever the divine spark of the Holy Spirit prompts.
Profit or prophets
Here in Aotearoa-New Zealand we have had our share of visiting prophets and healers and often treated them as if they were entertainers, waited to book our tickets for the next conference, guest speaker or peddler of spiritual blessings.
In reality though these gatherings can only deliver a short-lived buzz, a spark that so often fails to ignite the kind of inner flame that continually connects us into God’s divine circuit so we can energise others.
It’s too easy to look to church leaders and visiting prophets, teachers and healers as if they’re specially gifted or better candidates to engage in the miraculous.
We are asked to trust and believe that Jesus meant it when he told his disciples there would come a time when they would do greater things that he did.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 12:12-14).
I marvel at the gifts of healing, prophecy and words of knowledge exhibited Aotearoa’s own prophet, healer and visionary Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, who between the two world wars helped restore confidence to broken and dispossessed Maori people.
Many hundreds of people were physically healed, others spiritually restored and given hope, when he called them to unity under Ihoa o nga Mano (Jehovah of the Thousands) asking them to give up their fears and superstitions in the ‘old gods’.
Ratana was also practical, creating work and a vision for the future of Maori, and even helping restore the largely forgotten Treaty of Waitangi to its rightful place.
Ratana as a religious movement is very much aligned with the Hebrew foundations, with Bible-based teachings and the buildings themselves telling of the Abrahamic heritage, even the star or whetu marama symbol (tohu) on the roof of the temple at Ratana Pa points to Jerusalem.
On 28 Jan 1928, Ratana, in confirming new apostles into his church, said in his early days he’d been given the same power and authority Christ gave his disciples to cast out demons, heal the sick and do the will of his Father in Heaven. He passed on this gift (which he called voltage) to the next generation and said more was coming.
Jesus viral message
The faith, hope, love and forgiveness message of Jesus was so compelling that in the three short years of his ministry he had a huge impact. His memorable words and parables and his actions in speaking truth to power, healing the sick, the blind and broken and unpacking the old scriptures in a fresh and liberating way, went viral.
The miracles of feeding the 5000 and the 4000 (twice he supernaturally provided bread/ sustenance/ symbolic of his body) served as a faith accelerator and perhaps he was indeed accelerating the literal elements of this known world into a world of possibilities most of us can’t even dream of.
On learning of the beheading of John the Baptist (his cousin); the one who cried in the wilderness, after prophesying the arrival of the Messiah and baptizing him in the river Jordan, Jesus withdrew to a solitary distant hillside.
The multitudes followed him and when the disciples suggested they go home in the evening because they were hungry, Jesus singled out a young boy with two fish and five loaves.
He got the disciples to arrange the people into smaller groups, prayed .... and as the food was handed out there was a supernatural increase, providing enough for all those who gathered to hear the words of this God-man, this fisher of men.
It was an echo of something many of them would have been familiar with; Moses and the provision of manna in the desert on the journey to the promised land or Elisha taking 20 loaves from his first harvest to feed 100 men ... and when they’d eaten it all there were leftovers (2 Kings 4:42).
And here there’s enough left over for the disciples to take 12 baskets with them when they headed out on the lake to meet Jesus on the other side.
And even after that, not entirely convinced of this logic and nature defying feat of feeding the 5000 (Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 1:6-14) they were astonished when Jesus comes slip, slap, slopping, walking on water in the early hours of the morning.
Just for a moment Peter steps into that realm and finds he too had transcended the denseness of this world and entered into the ‘heavenly’ faith realm where he was able to join his Saviour until the doubt factor crept in and he got that sinking feeling.
That’s the stuff of science fiction and its part of the heritage of our faith.
We’re still doubters though with many scientists and academics dismissing Creator and Son as our ‘invisible friends’ while so many other science fiction scenarios are becoming science reality.
The world we live in is circled by instant communications, we’re reaching into distant galaxies with our cameras, have plumbed the depths of the oceans and yet still discovering we know so little.
Between 1998 – 2008 an enormous particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva.
It took 10,000 scientists from universities and laboratories in 100 countries to create this 27 km ring 175 metres below the Swiss-French border where particles were boosted by superconducting magnets and accelerators.
It used 170 distributed computing facilities across 36 countries for a grand experiment which in 2012 succeeded in discovering what most scientists hate to have called ‘the God particle’ the Higgs Bosun which broke the laws of symmetry.
It confirmed the bizarre properties of quantum mechanics which had largely been theoretical until this point, confirming that electrons could be in two places at once.
It was thought this could be the key to the next science and technology breakthrough, revealing new knowledge about earth’s origins and deeper mysteries of the universe and physics.
The total 30-year cost of finding Higgs bosun by the time it was shut down for data analysis after the last run between 2015-2018 was an estimated $US13.2billion
Data has been processed and evaluated since that time and CERN is preparing for another operational period having just received another round of funding in January 2020.
Meanwhile, physicists at the University of Sheffield; as part of the global the Muon Ionization Cooling Experiment (MICE), are working on an even more powerful particle accelerator to advance our understanding of the fundamentals of matter.
So far, protons, electrons, and ions have all been accelerated into beams but muons; subatomic particles that arrive on the Earth’s surface after forming as a by-product of cosmic rays colliding with molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere, are the next target.
As it is in heaven
Isn’t it ironic that so much has been invested in trying to determine the origins of the earth and the universe, the nature of matter and whether one thing can be in two places at once when according to the Bible and Jesus we already have the answers.
Those answers are not always able to be observed under a microscope or a telescope they relate to our participation in the spiritual realm as part of a much more holistic Kingdom of God worldview
Jesus, when being tested and challenged by the Pharisees in the temple responded, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad.” The Jews were puzzled and annoyed at this. “What do you mean you’re not even 50-years old (actually 30) and you claim to have seen Abraham?
Jesus replied “truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am” which could have meant, ‘hey, I was there and revealed my name (I am that I am) and my presence to Moses the lawgiver at the burning bush’ (Exodus 3). They didn’t like that either.
So often he defied the dense, dark, faithless order by performing miracles of healing, foreknowledge and impeccable understanding of the scriptures. When the religious priests and Pharisees in the crowds got annoyed with him for making claims of divinity they sought to stone him or capture him but they couldn’t. It seemed he passed right through their midst or simply disappeared (John 8:59; 10:39).
In science; as Don Richardson, who passed away on 23 Dec 2018 aged 83, alluded, we continue to push the boundaries of what we consider to be reality and are discovering there’s more...much more. Indeed, as science has now proven, one thing can be in two places at once.
For the Christian, knowing we stand on the Abrahamic Covenant; that through Christ ‘the seed’ we are also seeded to be sons and daughters of the living God, is foundational to our heritage.
The purpose? To “jettison all feelings of insignificance, indecision and purposelessness” to be accelerated toward to the great destiny of imparting blessing to all people, said Richardson.
Simple blessings grow
We are blessed by our engagement with the divine in order that we might share that blessing, that gift of favour, protection, gratefulness, thankfulness and support. It may be a stretch but the Hebrew word for blessing or blessed (barak or baraq) is very similar to the word for lightning.
The ultimate blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant is that we are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone” in whom the whole building is fitted together and grows into a holy temple built for the dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Christ, through his action on the cross has broken down the walls of hostility, separation and division (Ephesians 2:14) that keep us apart. Once we’re ‘born again’ the divine spark gives us a sense of unity and purpose that crosses all racial, denominational, tribal and relational boundaries.
If the ‘seed’ of Abraham has been activated in us, then the spirit and character of Christ is formed in us (Col 1:27) and we should be exploring that miraculous capacity to live and love supernaturally.
Our Christian heritage is as much physical as it is spiritual. Our daily walk is ideally one part faith and the other works, with the supernatural as the new normal.
Faith activates the spiritual giftings which we are given to exercise or rehearse so we get better at using them as an agent of blessing (1 Cor 12; Romans 12: 4-6). Our works should be expressions of God’s love including justice and mercy, humility and generosity; the opposite of what the ‘world’ seems to value.
Being generous is one way to bless others and set in motion a pattern of cause and effect, sow and reap. Even the little inexplicable things that occur because we remain faithful and keep pressing on should be encouragement that we’re on the right track.
Having found our “lever and a place to stand”, like Archimedes who discovered how to use simple tools to move large objects, Christ-believers are leveraging a 4000-year old heritage of powerfully pregnant possibilities and promises.
What are we going to do with this ‘seed’ that has been propelled down this long tunnel of generations to spark generational change?
Are we ready to be revitalised and restored as charged particles with increased spiritual ‘voltage’ as part of a growing and vibrant body of diverse believers in Christ’s history accelerator?
Don Richardson, Eternity in their Hearts, Regal, 1984 Pp. 146-147