Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Prophet of Doom

I'm not a prophet nor the son of a prophet in regards to new or futuristic revelation. But, as every Christian is to seek the gift of prophecy, of understanding and speaking God's word, I see a very scary trend in regards to how God deals with nations.

As far as nations are concerned, the United States of America is an elder, a relic, an exception to longevity. Most nations can't hope to achieve a century, some of the more impressive reigns have been two centuries, but to exceed the bicentennial mark is a rare accomplishment indeed.

The Prophet Isaiah was in the temple when an especially prosperous king, Uzziah, died, a man who was far from perfect, but as kings and presidents go, had been better to the people than most. Isaiah was a prophet who saw new and futuristic revelation, and at this moment he received a vision. He notes three things from that vision. First, that God still lives and is reigning globally. Second, that Isaiah himself had not escaped the gross sin of the people and was in desperate need of atonement. And third, that God was furious with the people for their sin (Isaiah 6:1-13).

A few years later, another Prophet, Hosea by name, had this terrifying fact revealed to him about those that replaced the dead king Uzziah of Isaiah's day (Hosea 1:1),

Set the trumpet to your lips!
___One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord,
because they have transgressed my covenant
___and rebelled against my law.
To me they cry,
___“My God, we—Israel—know you.”
Israel has spurned the good;
___the enemy shall pursue him.
They made kings, but not through me.
___They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
___for their own destruction.
For they sow the wind,

___and they shall reap the whirlwind. - Hosea 8:1-4,7
God's fury towards this nation where sin ran rampant and the people chose their own kings and princes was not light, he told Isaiah to publish the timeframe of his wrath on the nation Israel, "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste (Isaiah 6:11)." The prophet Jeremiah lived through this judgment and he would receive this prophecy, "behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten (Jeremiah 29:17)."

This was not the first democratic event in the Bible to be punished, at Babel the people said, "let us make a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4)," and God punished them with confusion and dispersion. During the time of the Judges, Israel constantly refused to listen to its leaders, and the Bible records of this dark and murderous time, "There was no king in Israel in those days. Everyone did what was write in his own eyes (Judges 17:6)."

And later, to the city of Laodicea, which derives its name from Laos (people) and Dikea (judge), or the people-choose, or democracy, Christ writes, "I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17)."

Beloved, do you see America in all of these historical accounts? The founders set the law up as the king, knowing that men were desperately wicked and deceitful beyond all things (Genesis 6:5). The living, breathing, Constitution stood as supreme, it declared its will with unflinching steadfastness, it sought to keep governors, judges, and lawmakers honest and accountable. But the 17th Amendment snuck in a deadly cancer, allowing the people to vote directly for their Federal Senators, effectively destroying the check-and-balance placed in the Legislative Branch to ensure the House of Representatives and Senate were chosen differently and hence could not be easily manipulated by a corrupt and uninformed populace. Other treasonous acts were committed, coming to a head in 2011, when the Chief Executive declared, "When Congress won't act, I will," further denouncing the authority of the Constitution which requires the executive and legislative branches to keep one another in check, and fight one another's evil intentions.

More to the point, God is dead set against idolaters in power, this includes Secularists, Communists, Mohammadians, Humanists, Mormons, women who have rejected the natural order, and money worshippers. You decide which of these have been chosen by the populace of the nation. God did not choose them as valid leaders (Hosea 8:4), punishment yes (Isaiah 3:4,12) but not as qualified or approved leaders.

Beloved, in the age when the king Constitution died, I see that the Lord is still seated in his temple, and the whole earth is still full of his glory. But the prophet writes,

"You (God) have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God." - Psalm 9:5-8,17

Beloved, the terrifying thing concerning these prophecies is that they give no hope for the nations under judgment. But beloved, there is a hope for the individual. Psalm 9:9-10 says, "The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."

Concerning Laodicea, Christ promises, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:19-20)." God is in the business of snatching brands from the fire, allegorized as sinners from damnation.

Beloved, only one nation will survive eternity, the nation of kings and priests which Christ has redeemed from every nation, tribe, and tongue, a people for his own possession who will declare his excellencies, how he was and is and is to come, how he died but yet lives, and how he gave his life a ransom to make peace with his greatest enemies, and now makes them a holy nation, if they will place their faith in him, humble themselves, and turn from sin.

I promise you three things. First, God still lives and is reigning globally. Second, you yourself have not escaped the gross sin of the people and are in desperate need of atonement. And third, God is furious with the nation for their sin, for we have sown the wind, and shall reap the whirlwind. Seek the Saviour while he may be found.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Man Under Authority

I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. - Matthew 8:9
One of the most amazing conversations in scripture occurs between an Army Captain and Jesus of Nazareth, concerning authority. This Army Captain, also called a Centurion, recognized that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, had all authority in Heaven and Earth, and that Jesus did not need to accomplish his will by doing all work personally and in proximity, but that his authority was more than capable of ruling the Universe from any distance. Reading the whole story (Matthew 8:5-13), we see that Jesus laud’s the man’s faith for recognizing that Jesus was the Lord of Armies, the Captain of captains, the King of Earth, and that all of Creation was directly under his authority.

The Centurion knew that just by ordering his men to accomplish a task that it would be brought to completion simply by his authority, and based on this, he recognized that Jesus Christ could order his subordinates to do exactly as he said as well, in this case to, “be well.

This is an amazing point in scripture, and one which I am especially blessed to be able to understand, being a Non-Commissioned Officer myself. In the civilian world, we often ask others to do things, but in the military world, asking is not efficient and is detrimental to rank structure; orders are given and followed out. Disobedience is unacceptable and punished swiftly and accordingly. Paul Washer makes this point well concerning God’s authority:
He looks at stars and He says “all you stars move yourself to this place and start in this order and move in a circle and move exactly as I tell you, until I give you another word. Planets-pick yourself up and whirl, make this formation at my command, until I give you another word.” He looks at mountains and says “be lifted up” and they obey him. He tells valleys “be cast down” and they obey him. He looks at the sea and says “you will come this far and no farther”, and the sea obeys. Then, he looks at you and says “come” and you say “NO!
If such rebellion were found in the military, instant action would be taken, at best this person would no longer be in the military, at worst, court-martial. God’s punishment is swift and commensurate with the rebellion.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
__the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
__and terrify them in his fury.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
__be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
__and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son,
__lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
__for his wrath is quickly kindled. - Psalm 2:4-5,10-12
The wrath of God is slow in coming, he is patient and kind, he has much forbearance, but his justice is advancing for all rebels against his authority. He commands us to love one another, and yet to a man, each one of his has disobeyed this order by lying to each other, stealing from one another, speaking in anger towards one another, causing much strife, division, rebellion, and death in God’s Creation. He commands our absolute loyalty to his kingdom, yet we use his name in vain, and by so doing, we declare war on the King of Heaven (Psalm 73:9), and many even go so far as to deny the Despot (absolute authority and power) who created them (2 Peter 2:1).

This gross insubordination will not go unpunished; even while many scoff that Christ’s authority has failed or never existed, because his patience is interpreted as inaction. Do not be deceived, one day is to the Creator of Time as a thousand years are to us, and vice-versa, his authority fails not.

And this punishment will not be carried out by some lowly Staff-Sergeant, or a mere General Officer, or some piddly ArchAngel, the wrath of God will be delivered upon men by the King himself,
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. - Revelation 19:11-16
And
I trod them in my anger
__and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
__and stained all my apparel.
For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
__and my year of redemption had come. - Isaiah 63:3-4
The authority of the Lord of Armies is inescapable, he is prepared to make a total war upon his enemies. His enemies therefore should be without hope, for this God does not lose wars, but this King is also a God of Love, and full of grace. Dear reader, I cannot forgive your sins any more than I could pardon a traitor sentenced to die by courts-martial. I do not have that authority, for your sin is against the Kingdom of Heaven, a higher court than any man can ascend to, of purer eyes than any of us can look upon.

But, the King himself, though rich and with absolute peace and honor and dominion in Heaven, stepped down to subject himself to the taunts, ridicule, insubordination, and rebellion of this fallen and wicked world. Himself, the Son of God, became the Son of Man, submitting himself perfectly to the authority and will of his Father. The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

And he says something astonishing, “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6).” Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, went to a cross to face the condemnation befitting his enemies, where he faced the full wrath of his Father, found guilty in-spite of his perfect innocence, his guilt not his own, but that of rebels, paying a unimaginable price for the pardon of those same people who constantly despised and raged against his authority.

Because of his perfect obedience, his Father has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, raised him from the dead, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

His authority is absolute, it is complete, and every knee will bow by his authority. Dear reader, today bow the knee in submission to the Lord of Armies, recognizing his absolute authority, do it willingly, for one day your knee will bow to him, and if not willingly, then forcibly.

He has authority to end life and to give it, to punish sins and to forgive them; place your faith in him today and repent of your rebellion, and be assured that by his perfect authority: there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. - Psalm 2:12

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Workman Approved

"See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship..." - Exodus 31:2-3

These are two of my favorite verses in all of scripture. I have been thinking about them and similar passages a lot recently as I've been seeing three terrifying verses taking place in America, practically the exact antithesis of Exodus 31:2-3,

For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts
__is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah
support and supply,
__all support of bread,
__and all support of water;
the mighty man and the soldier,
__the judge and the prophet,
__the diviner and the elder,
the captain of fifty
__and the man of rank,
the counselor and the skillful magician
__and the expert in charms. - Isaiah 3:1-3
Based on these two verses, we must arrive at the conclusion that the Bible teaches that God gives to each according to his good pleasure; to some he gives much and to others he takes away.

Bezalel was one of those who much was given, for the express purpose of building the finery in God's tabernacle. His list of talents is impressive. Notice that the opposite in Isaiah 3 is a lack of experts, people who have no virtues, no glory, and who instead oppress one another and work for food and gold that perishes, trinkets and ornaments, chains and bracelets and bonnets... Solomon put it this way,

"To the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting...this is also vanity and a striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 2:26)."

We as Christians, those who find refuge in Christ, will all agree that we would rather be like Bezalel (literally, in the shade of God), than those who strive after wind. Just in case you don't, look at Paul's admonition to the lazy, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10)." The Christian life is one of workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), of great accomplishment, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12)."

The works that Jesus did were magnificent. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, and the mute sing, he turned many from sin to righteousness, he raised the dead, and in one sacrifice he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. In Mark 7:37 it says, "He did all things well." Yet in his brief three year ministry, his works were limited to a small swathe of geographical land, and a limited number of people. Greater things were yet to be done.

This brings me back to Exodus 31:2-3, and Bezalel's infilling of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:12, Jesus concludes that the purpose of his egress from the world was so that that Spirit would come to believers. First and foremost, like Bezalel, you are now filled with the Holy Spirit. This was a unique privilege under the Obsolete Covenant, but under the New Covenant, every son of God is filled and led by the Spirit.

Now, is that where our similarity with Bezalel ends? He was given ability, intelligence, and knowledge. The Apostle Paul expressly states that Christians are called from all rankings in life, not many are wise, not many noble, not many powerful, but beloved, just because we were not wise when we were called, does not mean we must or ought stay in such a state. In fact, James exhorts us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5)." and jump back with me to Ecclesiastes 2:26, "to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy..." Dear Christian, do you please God? Beloved, you do, but it is because of Christ who lives in you that you please your Heavenly Father (Galatians 2:20).

If we venture into the Sinaitic Desert, or into Israel, or Transjordan, you will not find the handwork of Bezalel. It has perished, time and vandals have worn this tabernacle out. It was then replaced by a temple, built similarly by men of God, but today on Mount Moriah it stands not, torn down by the greed of men and the constant changing shadows of the world.

But beloved, the building which you are building stands today and is everlasting, for Christ says, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)." Peter elaborates, "As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5)." Your part in this is as follows, "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12)..." and "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them (Romans 12:6)..." and "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)."

Therefore, beloved, like Bezalel, God has known you by name, he numbered your days as when there were yet none, he calls you his son, the adopted brother of his Son, and he has filled you with his Spirit. He gives gifts according to his grace, not measured on our ability, but on the matchless worth of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-8). If you lack wisdom, then ask, if you lack motivation, then look to Christ and walk in the steps he prepared for you, if you lack ability, grow in stature before men and God like your Saviour. Emulate Christ by "doing all things well."

For to this you have been called, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3)..." Therefore do not succumb to the laziness and oppression, but live as one called and appointed by God to build up a spiritual house which will never perish.

In the New Covenant, God says this of you, as he says of all Christians,

"See, I have called you by name, by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled you with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship...that you shall be building the church of God, a work that will never perish...According to all that I have commanded you, you shall do."

See also: Laboring in Vain