The One Who Is, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loyalty and faithfulness, maintaining loyalty for a thousand generations, bearing iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will not leave them unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on their children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation. —Exodus 34:6–7
This spring and summer, many Americans have been made increasingly aware of the reality that, whether we like it or not, the iniquity of past generations does weigh on us. To be sure, there's much more we have yet to attend to—both in terms of disarming the spiritual and cultural forces that militate against true racial reconciliation, and in terms of the many other sins that have been allowed to fester for too long. And yet, we thank our God, who is, and was, and is to come, for His unfailing covenant loyalty and faithfulness.
I had the great joy this June and July of leading a group of students through the book of Revelation. While it seems all too common for Christians either to avoid Revelation (because “I don’t know what to make of all that crazy end-time prophecy”) or get lost in the weeds trying to decode symbols and unpack timelines, we kept our focus on the heart of the prophetic message. First off, Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ. The visions we get of Jesus, from his awesome splendor that makes even the beloved disciple fall flat on his face, to the slain Lamb who ascends to the throne of God and leads a multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation; the King of kings and Lord of lords who strikes down the wicked and gathers in the righteous, and the Lamp who fills the new Jerusalem with perpetual light—if we get a hold of these visions, we cannot help but respond in worship of the One who is worthy of blessing, honor, glory, and power forever. Second, Revelation is a call to Christians to remain uncompromisingly faithful to this glorious Jesus, to persevere through turbulent times and not slip into conformity with the ways of the world. Surely you can discern the relevance of such a call for this (and every) generation.
We have also been blessed to continue our one-on-one mentoring of students at an unprecedented level over the summer. Since conversations had already moved online in the middle of the spring semester, it was easy in many cases to switch from “See you back in the fall” to “Same time next week?”
Much uncertainty remains as we look forward to the fall. All Yale College classes (apart from labs) will be conducted online; residential colleges will be reduced to 60% capacity, with sophomores not allowed to return in the fall, and first-years required to be away in the spring; many students will remain home while continuing their studies online, while others will take a leave of absence and pursue other work for a term. We plan to continue teaching Bible courses online and to reimagine our weekly Rooted gathering as an online event—not only to accommodate public health restrictions on campus, but also to allow continued engagement with those off campus.
Please pray for all of our students, for patience and stamina to continue pursuing the Lord and His plans in the midst of a movement-restricted, mostly online world. Time at home has brought both challenges and blessings; in general, we do find students growing a lot, and we pray that the Lord’s good work continues.
Pray also that we’ll be able to welcome another strong cohort of incoming first-years. We had an initial “meet and greet” with about a dozen of them July 17 on Zoom, which went really well. Pray for open doors to more connections, even as our usual recruiting activities will have to be replaced with alternatives that fit within Connecticut and Yale public health requirements.
Finally, pray for the Church and the nation, that we would seize this opportune time for extended prayer, meditation on the Word, and deep repentance. As the Lord has said: “When I … send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13–14).
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