78. Only the very best – always?

Jesus’ response is very simple. One of the Jewish Rabbis asked, “Is there a man who ever hates his son?” Jesus’ argument is that no father ever refused the request of his son; and God the great Father will never refuse the requests of his children.

Jesus’ examples are carefully chosen. He takes three examples; Luke adds a third to the two Matthew gives.

 If a son asks bread, will his father give him a stone? If a son asks a fish, will his father give him a serpent? If a son asks an egg, will his father give him a scorpion? (Luke 11:12)

The point is that in each case the two things cited bear a close resemblance.

The little, round, limestone stones on the seashore were exactly the shape and the colour of little loaves. If a son asks bread will his father mock him by offering him a stone, which looks like bread but which is impossible to eat?

If a son asks a fish, will his father give him a serpent? Almost certainly the serpent is an eel. According to the Jewish food laws an eel could not be eaten, because an eel was an unclean fish. “Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is an abomination to you” (Leviticus 11:12). That regulation ruled out the eel as an article of diet. If a son asks for a fish, will his father indeed give him a fish, but a fish, which it is forbidden to eat, and which is useless to eat? Would a father mock his son’s hunger like that?

If the son asks for an egg, will his father give him a scorpion? The scorpion is a dangerous little animal. The sting can be exceedingly painful, and sometimes even fatal. In Israel there is a pale kind of scorpion, which, when folded up, would look exactly like an egg. If a son asks for an egg, will his father mock him by handing him a biting scorpion?

God will never refuse our prayers; and God will never mock our prayers.

The Greeks had their stories about the gods who answered men’s prayers, but the answer was an answer with a twist, a double-edged gift. Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Tithonus a mortal youth, so the Greek story ran. Zeus, the king of the gods, offered her any gift that she might choose for her mortal lover. Aurora very naturally chose that Tithonus might live forever; but she had forgotten to ask that Tithonus might remain for ever young; and so Tithonus grew older and older and older, and could never die, and the gift became a curse.

Any man who prays is bound to want to know to what kind of God he is praying. He wants to know in what kind of atmosphere his prayers will be heard. Is he praying to a grudging God out of whom every gift has to be squeezed and coerced? Is he praying to a mocking God whose gifts may well be double-edged? Is he praying to an angry God who must be appeased and calmed?

Is he praying to a God whose heart is so kind that he is more ready to give than we are to ask?

In Revelation the reception of our prayers is described. This is the atmosphere in which prayer is heard. Let us note Revelation 5:8 and never forget this verse.

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

 Jesus said it. It is good and true. I believe it. Period. He said God is good and give good gifts. He said it is His Father’s joy to give to those who will receive.

Micah 7 says God delights in mercy.

The story of Jesus explaining the good gifts of the father to the son, explains en encourages why we should accept God’s way and timing as our answer. God will always answer our prayers; but he will answer them in his way.

Often if he answered our prayers as we at the moment desired it would be the worst thing possible for us, for in our ignorance we often ask for gifts which would be our ruin. This saying of Jesus tells us, not only that God will answer, but that God will answer in wisdom and in love.

Move in the Spirit. Move your thinking, move your resolve, move your attitude, to where you belong to receive the Father.

In Greek there are two kinds of imperative; there is one definite command, like “Close the door!” There is also the present imperative which commands a man to go on doing something or do it always. “Always close the door,” would be a present imperative. The words of Jesus here are present imperatives. Jesus is saying, “Go on asking; go on seeking; go on knocking.” He is telling us to persist in prayer; never to be discouraged in prayer. Is our desire such that we can bring it repeatedly into the presence of God?

This is the confirmation of praying without ceasing.

Jesus here lays down the twin facts that God will always answer our prayers His way, in wisdom and in love. We bring to God an undiscouraged life of prayer, which tests the rightness of the things we pray for, and which tests our own sincerity in asking for them.

A repeated desire, tests the depth of desire. Prayer will get rid of the baggage, the superficial worries and the fleeting cravings.

MOMENT OF PRAYER : Ask in the Name of Jesus. As if He is standing here and asking you – What would you like Me to do for you?

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:12-14.

PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: We might always feel unworthy. If sin is the barrier – confess.

Hear the words of Jesus:

 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask in prayer. Matthew 21:22

 

64. Where do you write a naught?

What is a lifetime these days? What is there in our lifetime that lasts throughout? Change comes so quickly. Looking back over just the last five years of any life, so many things have changed. It is hard to keep track of the transformation of many aspects of our circumstances, people in our life and the course of events.

What about a thousand years? Would anybody like to weary your thoughts with possible events over a time period of a thousand years? I think we are already struggling to figure out a hundred years, that only a few very strong humans reach.

So what is the mentioning of a millennium to us? A thousand years is well out of our reach as a life span, and really hard to imagine.

I remember so well, discussing figures and numbers with my mother. She was a businesswoman and worked in an era without computers and spreadsheets. She made her own spreadsheets, sometimes pasting sheets together to make bigger pages for an overview of the calculations. It was easy to put an extra naught in or leave one out. I think she realized a mistake in one of her many little sums, when she philosophized over naughts in general.

It matters where you put the naughts in your life, she said. Naughts before the one means nothing. Naughts after the one, multiplies quickly. Make sure to put your life’s naughts (own little efforts) after the One. When we “calculate” our life, it is only what comes after the One, written in the shape of the Cross of Jesus, that counts.

So we are again contemplating numbers in this 20th Chapter of Revelation. The whole idea of reigning for a thousand years finds its basis in Jewish beliefs. The “doctrine”, if one could call it that, was greatly varied and changed from scholar to scholar as they reached prominence in society and social status amongst the leaders.

The origin of this doctrine is not specifically Christian but is to be found in certain Jewish beliefs about the Messianic age, very common in the century before the birth of Christ.

Before Jesus was born, scholars felt that this world was so incurably evil that the Kingdom of God could never finally come in this realm. So there emerged the conception that the Messiah would have a limited reign and that after his reign the final consummation would come.

Some of the ancient scholars see history as a series of weeks. There are seven weeks of past history. The eighth is the week of the righteous, when a sword is given to the righteous, sinners are delivered into their hands, and the house of God is built. In the ninth week the evil is written down for destruction, and righteousness will flourish. In the tenth week comes judgment; and only then comes the eternal time of goodness and of God.

In Psalms 90:15: Make us glad as many days as You had afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil. It was, therefore, held that the period of bliss would correspond with the period of affliction.

Even more popular was the notion that the age of the world would correspond to the time taken for its creation and that the time of creation was 6,000 years.

A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday. (Psalms 90:4)

One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

The ancient Jewish scholars taught that each day of creation was a thousand years. It was, therefore, held that the Messiah would come in the sixth thousand of the years; and the seventh thousand, the equivalent of the Sabbath rest in the creation story, would be the reign of the Messiah.

On the basis of this passage of Revelation, Millenarianism was very widespread within the early Church, but never universal.

It was Augustine who dealt Millenarianism its deathblow. At one time he himself had been a Millenarian. He longed for spiritual blessings. A summary of Augustine’s position: “He had learned to see in the captivity of Satan nothing else than the binding of the strong man by the stronger than he which the Lord had foretold (Mark 3:27; Luke 11:22); in the thousand years, the whole interval between the first Advent (birth of Christ) and the last conflict; in the reign of the saints, the entire course of the kingdom of heaven; in the judgment given to them, the binding and loosing of sinners; in the first resurrection, the spiritual share in the Resurrection of Christ which belongs to the baptized” (Augustine: The City of God 20: 7). Augustine spiritualized the whole idea of the Millennium.

The everlasting dominion (great rock) that was prophesied in Daniel 2:44 and 7:14 and 27 is the kingdom that was confirmed by Jesus in His first words of ministry. Matthew 3:2 – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

One can safely accept the interpretation that we are living in the symbolic millennium, a time period ruled by Jesus, the expected Messiah, introduced by Him when He lived on earth. John wrote to include all the legends and teachings of the Jews that made them blind for what really happened. He collected all the beliefs and even superstitions about the Messiah, to submit them once and for all to the coming of Jesus.

Psalms 50:10 says that the cattle on a thousand hills belong to God; and Job 9:3 says that a man cannot answer God once in a thousand times. Thousand is simply used to describe a very large number.

The serpent is that ancient enemy of the human race, who, in the shape of a subtle snake, deceived the first parents of mankind, and brought sin and death into the world, with an incalculable train of evils attendant on them. The devil is the malicious and false accuser of God’s saints. Satan is the grand adversary both of God and man. All these names for demonic manifestations are mentioned in 20:2.

The abyss is a vast subterranean cavern beneath the earth, sometimes believed to be the place where all the dead went, sometimes seen as the place where special sinners were kept awaiting punishment. It was the abyss which the devils feared most of all. In the story of the Gerasene demoniac the request of the devils was that Jesus would not command them to leave the man and to go out into the deep, that is, the abyss (Luke 8:31).

A seal is set on the chasm to ensure the safekeeping of the prisoner, just as the seal was set on the tomb of Jesus to make sure that he would not escape (Matthew 27:66).

The loosing of the Devil meant a testing-time for Christians. There are times when a testing-time is essential, if the reality of the faith is to be preserved. Both he who dies for Christ and he who lives for Christ will receive his reward. Those who have been loyal to Christ are to receive the privilege of judgment.

 The thrones are those of the 24 elders, the church made up of the 12 tribes, our Jewish heritage and the 12 apostles. The elders are mentioned four times in Revelation. They are representative of the church in heaven and on earth. (Daniel 7:22,27, Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30, Hebrews 12:1,2)

 Beheaded is a symbol of the martyrs or anybody suffering for the Gospel.

Judgment from a throne is an idea, which occurs more than once in the New Testament. Jesus is represented as saying that, when he returns to sit on the throne of His glory, his twelve apostles will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). Paul reminds the litigious Corinthians that the destiny of the saints is to judge the world (1 Corinthians 6:2) Again we do not need to take this literally. The idea is that the world to come will redress the balance of this one. Even now, we know the truth, since we know Jesus, the Truth. We have to discern and judge daily in a world of deception and betrayal.

Death has no power over the saints. Physical death is the gateway to the everlasting. (20:6)

Priest means a bridge-builder according to the Latin, pontifex. The priest is the builder of a bridge between God and man. Those who have been loyal to Jesus Christ have the right of free entry into the presence of God and they have the privilege of introducing others to Jesus Christ.

The church will reign with Christ. In Christ the most ordinary man becomes a king and priest (1 Peter 2:9).

In the next verses a final rebellion is described (20:7-10). Satan wants to hasten the day of battle to limit the scope of salvation, but God controls the times. Four corners means worldwide.

A final attack on Jerusalem by hostile nations is one of the standard pictures of the last times in Jewish thought. We find it especially in Daniel 11:1-45 and in Zechariah 14:1-11.

The picture of Gog and Magog is found first in Ezekiel 38:1-23 and 39:1-29. The Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and of Tubal, is to launch the great attack upon Israel. The enemy is to be utterly destroyed in the end. In Jewish thought it came to stand for everything that is against God. The rabbis taught that Gog and Magog would assemble themselves and their forces against Jerusalem, and would fall by the hand of the Messiah.

 It is not a physical military battle. The battle is spiritual. We live in the spiritual dispensation after Jesus’ ascension. The physical Jerusalem has been replaced by the new Jerusalem, the church of Jesus.

In the last verses of the chapter (20:11-15), the final judgment is described.

We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:10)

We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

These scriptures confirm the unity of God and Christ. The concept of Trinity makes them one God. This notion is very important to the Jews. One of the core scriptures of old Hebrew teaching, central to Jewish religious principle, forever contrasting them to the many idols of the pagan nations around them, is Deuteronomy 6:4:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!

 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away (Revelation 20:11)

 Heaven and earth will pass away, was a phrase used by Jesus to illustrate the everlasting quality of His words in Mark 13:31. See also 2 Peter 3:10, Psalms 102:25-27.

There are two kinds of books that are mentioned in Revelation: the book that records and the Lamb’s Book of Life. In Daniel 7:10 the books were opened. Man writes his own destiny. Man’s choices itself are a judgment. We rejoice in the opening of the books. The names of the people who talk about the Lord are recorded to become the jewels, the precious possession of God. (Malachi 3:16-18)

 The books of God are mentioned often in Scripture. Moses is willing to be blotted out of the Book of Life, if it will save the people (Exodus 32:32). The prayer of the Psalmist is that the wicked will be blotted out of the Book of the Living and not written with the righteous (Psalms 69:28). Isaiah speaks of those who are written among the living (4:3). Paul speaks of his fellow-labourers whose names are in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3). It is the promise of the Risen Christ to the Church at Sardis that the name of him who overcomes will not be blotted out of the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5). Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life are given over to destruction (Revelation 13:8). The idea behind this is that every ruler had a roll-book of living citizens under his control; and, of course, when a man died, his name was removed from the roll. Those whose names are in the Book of Life are those who are (spiritually) living, active citizens of the kingdom of God. Nothing, not even death, can remove our names from the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Although a saint (born-again child of God) is physically dead, he is still living and active in the invisible kingdom of God.

The sea gives up the dead is to be understood in the light of the ancient world’s view on burial. A proper burial was of the utmost importance, otherwise the soul wanders. Anybody who died at sea was not deemed buried. John comforts the people and states that it doesn’t matter how you died or had a burial or not, you are covered under God’s jurisdiction. Satan can claim no one, even if they were not properly buried.

Death and Hades were seen as the temporary abode of the dead till the final judgment. When Jesus was resurrected it has been emptied. All the dead in Christ are with Him.

According to one commentator: “these voracious monsters who have themselves devoured so many are in the end themselves destroyed.”

Praise God!

 

 

58. Come to the mountain!

It is one of the most powerful metaphors in the whole Bible. God chose a mountain for the Israelites to meet with Him. Moses went up the mountain to receive the Law in the presence of the Most High. When the Israelites were slaves they worked in the pits of Egypt making bricks for the Pharaoh’s ambitious architectural projects. In the desert of their journey to the promised land was Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

Images of mountains on earth are mostly majestic and awe-inspiring. Mountains are measured and conquered with incredible passion and devotion. Two examples of mountain-scriptures have been spiritual pillars in my life for many years.

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12, NIV)

It is the words of the singing prophet, Isaiah, painting a picture of mountains that burst into song. Praise God in harmony with the mountains!

I learnt about the verse in Habakkuk 3, in my early twenties when I read the spiritual classic, Hind’s Feet on High Places (Hannah Hunnard) the first time. Since then, it was a pillar of strength throughout my life.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

    he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:19, NIV)

Many years ago, my brother had a freak accident while horse riding one Sunday afternoon. He died in hospital six days later. Looking back, it was certainly one of the darkest, most heartbreaking times of my life. In spite of all the tears and questions, God “prepared” my mother for his death by “giving” her a Word from the Bible the Saturday night of his passing, just before she received that terrible telephone call. She “heard” about the mountain of heaven.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

If ever there is an image planted firmly into my mind’s eye, it is the mountain of the new Jerusalem, the joyful assembly of the righteous made perfect. How can death ever have a sting, when this city of the living God is in your mind? John elaborated on this wonderful vision of heaven.

It is the image of the church in glory!

The number, 144 000, is the symbol for all faithful saints (7:1-17). They are sealed and numbered and form the perfect cube (10x10x10=1000 and 12×12=144). The perfect cube is like the Holy of Holies in the Temple and the representation of the Presence of the Most High, accessed through the Cross of Jesus for all who would call on His name. It is once again a symbolic number and not to be interpreted literally.

Mount Zion is the symbol for communion of the saints with the Father and feasting in His presence while receiving His word. The name of the Father on their foreheads will identify them in contrast to the name of the beast of the previous chapter (13:16,17).

In the ancient world a mark was important. It depicted:

  • Ownership: slaves and animals were branded. There was no dispute about ownership and no removal possible.
  • Loyalty: soldiers willingly branded themselves with the name of a respected general.
  • Security: a mark was stamped onto a person for safekeeping in time of death. We are marked in life and death.
  • Dependence: the Arab chieftains used branding to mark the people they were responsible for and who were dependent on them. We are dependent on the love and grace of the Lamb.
  • Safety: Syrians tattooed their god on their wrist or neck. The temple of Heracles possessed the right of asylum – any slave escaping in there received a sacred mark to secure him. None could touch him. In the Lamb we are safe and secure.

The voice of God with the sound of the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder, at the same time sounding like an orchestra of harps. Thunder and sweetness together, an exceptional and unique description of sound, bring peace and calm to the troubled heart.

The Lamb’s company can sing about experiences in life and redemption. No other creature like the angels and beings of heaven know what it is about. The redeemed can sing about suffering, strength while being attacked and spiritual growth with Jesus himself as teacher of the deeper things of life. They are virgins; free from spiritual adultery, made pure by the Blood and redeemed by the righteousness of Christ, the acceptable sacrifice.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 3:10)

The words of Jesus to His disciples when He called them were: “follow Me“. (John 1:43, Mark 2:14) He also requested that from the rich young man in Mark 10:21and to the unknown disciple in Luke 9:59.

We should not bother about the excuses mentioned in Luke 9. Our priority is to follow Jesus.

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22)

 These words are just as true today. We are His followers (Revelation 14:4); wherever He goes, sometimes into the wilderness. (Song of Solomon 3:6)

Jesus was the sacrifice of firstfruits, the first fruit of the church to be accepted by the Father after the crucifixion when He said to Mary not to touch Him. It is the best of the harvest, the symbol of that which is to come. It is the best for God. Jesus is God’s best for us.

There will be no falsehood in their mouth, no deceit (Psalm 32:2) to be found in the true church of Jesus. A deceitful tongue cannot be trusted; shocking betrayal hurts deeply. Deception twists the truth on all levels of life – family and friends, politics and business.

Jesus is without blemish and perfects His church. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:22). The church must be glorious and pure. (Ephesians 5:26,27).

Three angels are summoned to worship and proclaim the good news of the perfect Lamb. The second angel foretells the doom of Rome and the judgment and destruction for those who have denied their faith and worship the beast.

The gospel for everybody; no exclusion, all embracing.

 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

The everlasting, age old, unending and unchanging message is like God – no beginning and no end. According to Romans 16:25 it is the eternal purpose of God.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

The Gospel is always double-edged – it saves and judges and spells doom for those who reject it. It is the call to all from the God who created all. Paul’s preaching in Lystra (Acts 14:15) confirms this call through all the ages, through the prophets, all of nature and the earth itself.

H.B. Swete called this “an appeal to the conscience of untaught heathenism, incapable as yet of apprehending any other.”

During the time Revelation was written, Babylon was seen as Rome. Rome would fall and made the nations to drink from its immorality and failure. The Romans conquered and ruled with the feet of iron – cruel and unrelenting (14:8).

Babylon is also the symbol of the occult, idolatry and immorality. The city is already judged and therefore the inhabitants drink the wine of the wrath of God. Worship to the beast, Babylon, is a corrupting force luring the nations into insane immorality. It is the image of a prostitute who fills a man with wine so that he will not resist the seduction. On the other hand the fallen will drink from the wrath of God.

In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs. (Psalm 75:8)

Jeremiah (25:15,16) and Isaiah (51:17) talk about the cup of God’s wrath. God’s judgment is true and righteous. He is the perfect judge and His wrath is never to be feared. It will only come to pass when all the calls for repentance are rejected. Even the judgment and consequences of sin, are invoked to bring people to repentance. The core message of the Gospel never changes throughout all the ages. It is to save, redeem and restore.

The third angel announces that worship to the beast causes torture and no compromise in judgment. The consequences of sin in the presence of the angels and the Lamb present the opportunity for redemption. There is a choice to be made. There is no rest for beast-worshippers. The peace of God is absent in their lives. Only God can give peace. There is no peace and joy for the wicked. The source of life in its fullness is God and only God.

The doom of the apostate is the worst. The vengeance on betrayal of the Gospel, is described in Isaiah 34:8 – 10:

For the Lord has a day of vengeance,

    a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.

Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch,

    her dust into burning sulfur;

    her land will become blazing pitch!

It will not be quenched night or day;

    its smoke will rise forever.

From generation to generation it will lie desolate;

    no one will ever pass through it again.

 God’s blessing, promised over generations will be lifted. Our choices are important for our offspring. The wonderful promise of Isaiah 44, 65:23 rings true in our lives, because of our submission to the Gospel of Jesus.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,

    and streams on the dry ground;

I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,

    and my blessing on your descendants.

They will spring up like grass in a meadow,

    like poplar trees by flowing streams. (Isaiah 44:3,4,NIV)

 There is rest of the faithful soul in death (Revelation 14:13). The promise of rest in death is confirmed in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 15:18 and stands in dramatic contrast to Revelation 14:11: and the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever.

Let us sing with Paul that we have kept the faith. We run the race with all the problems in a world under the beast, BUT we keep the faith. Even in the face of church betrayal and disappointment in our limited vision of God’s work on earth, we take no offense with God. We trust our God, Who is abounding in goodness and truth.

The challenge is to accept His love as unconditionally as He gives it to us.

Our victory is guaranteed. (Jude 24) We are tried and tested like gold (Revelation 3:18) and purified like silver in fire (Psalm 66).

In the final vision of this chapter we see the Son of man as described in Daniel 7:13,14 and the angels come the temple and altar for the harvest.

“And I saw in the night visions, and, behold with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a son of man and he came to the ancient of days, and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him.”

More angels come with harvest instruments to the temple and altar for the harvest on the earth, written in the metaphor of wheat fields and vineyards (Isaiah 5).

It is two familiar metaphors: Joel 3 describes the harvest and many things Jesus said confirms this metaphor. (Mark 4:29, Matthew 13:24 – 30 and 13:37-43)

The winepress is often a symbol of God’s judgment. (Lamentations 1:15 and Isaiah 63:3)

The winepress was outside Jerusalem. It is symbolic of the gentiles to be brought to Jerusalem and judged there. Inside the city would be redemption in the Presence of God. Joel 3:2,12 talks about the nations gathered in the valley of Jehoshaphat to be judged.

On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zechariah 14:1-4)

The angels and the Son of man will reap the harvest – not the church. Jesus confirms this in the parable of the tares in Matthew 13. The church is not to judge – wonderful liberty to preach the Gospel with no condemnation. God will judge and do it in His righteous perfection.

The description of the blood that runs deep and wide is qualitative and not quantitative. It confirms that the judgment is complete. The measurement, 1600 stadia (about 300 kilometers) was seen as the length of the land of Palestine, in other words the whole country will be full of blood. The judgment of sin is horrible and utterly gruesome.

[A Stadia is a Greek measurement and is about 192 meters long. So this makes 1,600 Stadia about 300km (180 miles) long and horses’ bridle is about 1.5m (4 ft 6 in) high.]

Let the church rejoice in the perfection of the Plan of God on this earth.

 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)

 

 

 

 

2. Your name is written.

Living a full life is a varied, exciting and risky business. In many ways our experiences shape us and leave us with some set ideas, either positive or negative. CS Lewis calls experience the “most brutal of teachers”. Every person on the face of the earth is willingly or unwillingly “collecting” experience. What then distinguishes the child of God from the so-called “others”? May I gently remind you that to become a child of God you must be born again and that is a calm, rational decision to surrender your life to God and begin a journey in the invisible Kingdom.

Our distinction lies in this decision. It makes all the difference. Our experience-collection is under the covering of the Grace of a loving and good Father. Nothing surprises Him ever – He is all-knowing and outside the limitations of time. We are born into His kingdom and therefore His principles and law of love and grace apply. We can only rejoice in this and make it our core business to learn His ways. What a privilege to live under an almighty Hand that works and leads beyond the earthly limitations of economics, politics, rejection, bias and every other life-monster that devours our joy and peace. God has a plan for your life. Not a carved-out granite pathway, which rules out your brain function. You will always make decisions and choices under His guidance. His plan for your life is for the maturing of your character to live a victorious life in your unique circumstances. By surrendering your life to Him, you will learn to choose and react according to His word and that will change your life as a whole.

I am sure you have often heard that most well known phrase: God is love. Familiarity reduced its powerful meaning to the importance of a cliché written on a fridge magnet. God is the source of love and everything He does is born out of love. His pathway for you is carved in love, absolutely nothing else. It might not always feel that way in this life where we are living in the domain of His enemy, but faith convicts us of this truth.

Studying the Word of God will teach us His ways, so that we can recognize the Hand of God in our lives. Filling our minds with His statutes will renew our thinking to see truth and guidance, where it is hidden. Our problems and struggles impair our vision and only the Word of God touches the eyes of our mind to see clearly with insight and understanding. This is the wisdom promised by the Holy Spirit. Practical wisdom to conduct our lives according to the decisions made with the working of the Holy Spirit within us.

Why would He equip us for life and grant us this mighty wonder of the Holy Spirit? Isaiah 43:4

Because you are precious in My sight and honored, and because I love you, I will give men in return for you and peoples in exchange for your life.

Hear the Word of God and believe so that you can live by it. He looks at you through the robe of righteousness that you are covered with. This robe you have received when you were born again and accepted the work of Christ on the cross. His blood is your righteousness. It is not through you own goodness or deeds that you can pray and receive wisdom. God gives it to you by His grace. James 1:5,6:

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God Who gives to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering, no hesitating, and no doubting. For the one who wavers, hesitates, doubts is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind.

God grants you wisdom and insight without blaming you for past sins. He is not in the blaming business. His response to a prayer for forgiveness of sin is always immediate with the promise of a clean slate. Isaiah 1:18:

Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.

Never ever compromise your spiritual confidence to the sharp accusations of the enemy to rob you of your freedom in prayer. Approach the throne of God in you quiet time with a humble confession of sin. You will have instant release. Only the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. He will always do it in perfect love so that you are healed and restored, not judged and wounded by the onslaught of guilt.

Throughout our journey together some scripture references will be quoted often. These passages in the Word are like the steady stones in a raging river. Memorize scripture that touches your heart. These will be reliable anchors to hold onto in stormy weather. One of the most favourites among these, you will find in the last book of the Old Testament, one of the 12 small prophets, Malachi, the third chapter. Malachi 3: 16,17:

Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name.

And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.

This is a treasure! God is actively involved in people who set their minds on Him and get busy in His Word, who think on His Name. Their names are written in a book of remembrance before the Lord with the promise of being His special possession, His jewels – precious in His sight.

This scripture is written as if the day of deliverance and the announcement of God regarding His jewels is far away in the future somewhere. Joel 1:15 declares that the day of the Lord is at hand and so does Zephaniah 1:7. The future tense emphasizes the consequential order of the promise. When we fear the Lord and think on Him, then He will write our names in the book. The promises of Scripture as a whole have immediate application and effect. Raise the level of your expectation towards the Source of life itself.

This brings us to a point of decision – to read, study, meditate and learn. The promise is that He will draw near, when we draw near. [James 4:8]. The first step towards God is ours. He has paved the way on the cross and the Holy Spirit work in our hearts to convict of sin and righteousness, leading us to redemption in Christ. When we come, He will meet us and make His written Word, the spoken Wordrhema – alive in our hearts.

In John 6:63 Jesus says:

It is the Spirit Who gives life. The flesh conveys no benefit whatever [there is no profit in it]. The words that I have been speaking to you are spirit and life.

Life-words are life changing. Make time to be alone with your Bible and state your determination before God to really learn to know Him. Only then can you be resurrected from dead works and start a brand new life in Christ. How do we achieve this? By knowing God intimately.

Please pray with me Philippians 3:10,11 in the Amplified Bible:

For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power out flowing from His resurrection, which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death, in the hope that if possible, I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body.

This wonderful statement is our goal. This is why we study. This is what we expect and the success of this intention is guaranteed.

Yes – I mean it. Your success is guaranteed! Here is the proof:

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present you unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation, with unspeakable, ecstatic delight. [Jude 24.]

God’s word will change you and your situation. He works for you. He will act for you. [Isaiah 52:10]

The Lord has made bare His holy arm before the eyes of all the nations [revealing Himself as the One by Whose direction the redemption of Israel from captivity is accomplished], and all the ends of the earth shall witness the salvation of our God.

This image of God rolling up His sleeves to get to work fills me with wonder and excitement. Who am I to be so loved that our Father would work on my behalf?

When you read the promise, lift up your hands and pray it:  [Psalm 119:48]

My hands also will I lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes.

 

Until next time.