Progress of the Olympic Torch


Lorna Price the first torch bearer on day 11 on Anglesey (BBC News) 

Progress of the Olympic Torch

8,000 people will carry the flame on its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey around the UK to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on 27 July.

In its 10 week relay the Olympic torch will travel around 8,000 miles pass through 1,018 places and be carried by 8,000 torch bearers;  flying by zip wire from the Tyne Bridge, ascending Snowdon by rail and crossing Loch Ness on its journey around the UK.

On the last day of the 70-day relay it will travel down the River Thames to Olympic Park for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

The first Olympic Games occurred around 776 BC in ancient Greece. The Apostle Paul knew about them and to what lengths athletes would go to win. Four cities in Greece held games and so there was a possibility to see one almost every year. People came not only from Greece but from distant countries to enjoy the Games and the accompanying festivities. Although Paul is probably referring to the Isthmian Games celebrated near Corinth, they were all very similar with more or less the same events; that is leaping, running, throwing the discus, boxing, and wrestling,

Running was one of the most popular events and the competitors first put themselves through tough training sessions. In those days soldiers needed to be swift and agile in attack and retreat, which was why running was considered to be a valuable skill. Pre race training and discipline was intense as victory in the Games was a great honour.

Paul appears to use the Games analogy several times in his letters. He speaks of treating life as a long distance race which all must complete to gain the prize (1Co 9:26 ; Php 2:16; Php 3:14 ), he writes of running with a purpose and boxing with skill (1Co 9:26),  ‘fighting the good fight’of faith (2Ti 4:7). He also appears to present an image of the disciples before a cheering home crowd (who have all triumphed in their races), stripping down to remove all that would slow them down- just as the Christians must remove anything which might hold them back as they strive for a place in the Kingdom of God on earth.  Heb 12:1 ¶  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

Finally, as he contemplates the end of his long life of faith, when he has undoubtedly run the race set before him with patience, he can say with confidence.

2Ti 4:7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

2Ti 4:8  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.

 Here is another reference to the Games, for the winners did receive a crown , and although it was only a laurel wreath or similar it was greatly coveted. However, the crown which Paul had striven for would be one which would never fade away. In 1Co 9:25, speaking of the runners in a race, he writes ’And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible, in other words the reward of everlasting life which the Lord Jesus Christ will give to the faithful at his return.

Of course, Paul is only using the analogy of a race to encourage his readers to train their characters to achieve their ‘personal best’. They were to ‘take up the cross’ and faithfully try with all their heart to serve and be like The Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul is saying, keep your eye on the finishing post, the goal, because all who complete the course will be granted an incorruptible crown, not a wreath of leaves which will soon disintegrate. As we have already seen, when writing to Timothy, Paul at the end of his life Paul speaks of this  when writing to Timothy. He says that a crown of life has been laid up for him, but not only him ‘but unto all them also that love his appearing.’ (2Ti 4:8)

A new winner is crowned

Black and white headshot of Benjamin Netanyahu


On the subject of winning a crown, in the news this week, there is one such champion , who has won the race for control of Israel and been granted a ‘crown’ and that is the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

This week's Time Magazine cover crowns Binyamin Netanyahu, "King Bibi", and declares, "He's conquered Israel. " By "conquering Israel", the cover is referring to the recent move Netanyahu has made, bringing the Kadima party into the coalition, making his government much more stable.

The Time article states, "Netanyahu is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel, He has no national rival. His approval rating, roughly 50%, is at an all-time high. At a moment when incumbents around the world are being shunted aside, he is triumphant."

Netanyahu's response to the current Time cover, "I can tell you one thing,” he quipped, “Israel will remain a democracy, not become a monarchy."

The Throne of Israel to be restored

Netanyahu is correct in asserting that he is not a king and that Israel today is not a monarchy. But he is wrong in implying that this will always be the case. When Israel was still a young nation, they demanded a King and God first gave them Saul, who was the people’s choice and let them down and then David, who was described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). To King David, God made an agreement or Covenant which can be found in 2 Samuel 7. It spoke of David’s son but although his son Solomon inherited David’s throne; the covenant was reserved for David’s greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Samuel 7 12 – 14 states, "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son..." Even though this would take place after the death of King David, verse 16 goes on to say: "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." This therefore requires the resurrection of David from the grave.

Solomon ruled well over David’s Kingdom but complete fulfilment of these promises must wait for the return of Christ who is the ultimate ‘son of David and also Son of God’. The writer to the Hebrews quotes Psalm 2 and applies it to Christ, (Hebrews 1:5) "For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?"

This fits in with the words of the great angel Gabriel to Mary, recorded in Luke 1:31-33.
"And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
From these passages it is plain that the promises made to David have fulfilment in the Messiah, as confirmed by the letter to the Hebrews and that Jesus the Messiah will at some future will sit upon the throne of David and rule as King over the twelve tribes of Jacob, for ever.

Psalm 110 contains the Divine Oath, upon which the everlasting kingship and priesthood of the Messiah rests. In this Psalm it states that the Messiah would remain in heaven at the right hand of God, "until", he would return and reign in the midst of his enemies and subdue them.

"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." (Psalm 110:1,2)

The Lord Jesus Christ himself, spoke of the restoration or regeneration of the throne of Israel and enlarged this Covenant promising special places to the 12 apostles, who would judge the 12 tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28,

"And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

As Jesus himself has promised to return to earth and rule over the whole earth as King from Jerusalem, Netanyahu is right in saying that he is no King. That privilege must await the return of Christ. In the meantime, like the athletes preparing for the Olympics, those who believe in Christ must first qualify for the race by repenting, believing and being baptised. Then all their energies should be spent on running the race of life with eyes fixed on the prize of eternal life and the crown of righteousness which the Lord Jesus, at his return, will bestow to all who have run in faith.



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