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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A great forsaking

I believe God has given us a model of the method Satan has used, still uses, and will use as a major stand against Christ’s second coming just before He comes. That biblical model is so essential to understand that when it was first given to Daniel the prophet, it so astounded him that it left his head spinning and his soul distraught. All of his prophecies pointed to the same model, but chapter 8 and 9 give certain details I would like to point out.

The two chapters go together because Gabriel connected them when he came to give Daniel the Messianic 70 week prophecy. The prophet wrote, “Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.” (Dan. 9:21-23).

The vision referred to here was the previous one given by Gabriel not long before this visit. It had left Daniel in total confusion. “And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” (Dan. 8:27).

Here is what it said:

“And it [a little horn] waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.
And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.” (vs. 10-12).

This is very significant. It is a major apostasy inspired by Satan. Based on it’s model we have the truth of the great controversy in heaven. “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth…. And there was war in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:3,4,7-9).

The language used here came from Daniel’s vision, “it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground.” And then that little horn which “opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Rev. 13:6) gave great authority to the Roman papacy which he established. “The dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” (vs. 2).

What we see here is a conquering of Christianity by Satan. The prophecy used the previous experience of the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests of Israel as patterns of the future destruction of the gospel. These two desolations were still firmly set in the minds of the Jews, especially Daniel’s mind. And it grieved him sorely.

How did Israel's departure take place? Was the takeover accomplished internally or from an outside enemy army? According to Daniel’s vision, it began from the inside. “An host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression.” (Dan. 8:11,12).

Many people believe this to speak of Antiochus Epiphanes. But when you really look at all the catastrophe this little horn of the vision would accomplish, it could not have been the small-time king who couldn’t win a war except against the little country of Israel. He strode his little army around Palestine until he got a commanding notice from the Roman Senate. As soon as Rome threatened him, he ceased and desisted exactly as they required of him, and went home.

No, this little horn that grew up to heaven and cast stars to the ground was not Antiochus, but Satan, the great dragon. He was able to move into Israel and take away the knowledge of God that He gave through the daily sacrifices so that they saw those sacrifices as only ceremonial rituals that belonged to their culture. They no longer saw redeeming love and grace in the animal sacrifices. They became nationalistic and extreme because gracious love had disappeared, which when that happened, roots of bitterness sprang up and troubled the Jews, and thereby many hearts and minds were defiled; they were blinded to God’s love and could not be converted. (Heb. 12:15).

They had transgressed the covenant of God so deeply for so long that they were incapable of repenting. “Thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.” (Jer. 30:15). Like Esau, their rebellion left them unable to repent. “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” (Heb. 12:16,17).

After their gracious restoration from captivity and tremendous revival of light and truth under Ezra, they rebelled again against the Holy Spirit. Nehemiah came back to see the state of the revival he had been part of, and found it totally vanished. The people had completely abandoned it almost as soon as the two reformers departed.

The nation had been given a probationary period of 70 prophetic weeks and after that would be the end of them as God’s appointed means to teach the world of His character and His laws. The Lord knew them well and saw how deeply the roots of paganism had grown into their thinking. “All the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jer. 9:26). How could they be God’s chosen representatives? How could they fulfill His hopes that they become “a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation”? (Ex. 19:6). According to Daniel 9:24-27 it was not to be.

That which Isaiah said was determined against them (Is. 10:22,23), now the message from heaven was that that determined judgment had a definite date—490 years after the decree to rebuild of Jerusalem. And as the omniscient God “knew what was in man,” (Jn. 2:25) He foresaw that Israel, as a nation, would be completely beyond salvaging for His purposes. After the forewarned time they could repent and be saved, but only as individuals joining with the Gentiles who had become the new vessels to bring a knowledge of God to the world.

At that time, they finally heard the words straight from Christ’s lips, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 21:43;23:37).

They were clean on the outside but unclean on the inside, and wholly unsuited to bear the vessels of the Lord, or they would not have slain the Lord of glory.

Daniel 8 opens to view the inner erosion from obedience to God’s Law that took place long before. “An host was given him [Satan] against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.” (vs. 12).

Constant transgression and searing of the conscience led to almost complete infidelity throughout the priesthood and people. “He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” (Is. 6:9-12).

They thought they believed the truth. They sincerely believed they were serving God, so blinded were they to their apostasy. Their “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Only the Lord can search the heart and try the reins, “even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:9,10).

“Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: that this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord.” (Is. 30:8,9).

So, just as He brought in Nebuchadnezzar because there was no other way to get the idea through to the Jews that they had apostatized, so the Lord allowed three other pagan empires to reign over them because the Jews never learned their needed lesson, that they had forsaken and departed far away from what Moses and David had given them.

But they went on as if they had done no wrong. “Therefore He hath poured upon him the fury of His anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” (Is. 42:15).

This was Job’s condition. “Behold, He findeth occasions against me, He counteth me for His enemy, He putteth my feet in the stocks, He marketh all my paths.” “I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.” (Job 33:10,11, 8,9).

And it took another stern round of the hand of God to finally get through to Job what it was that was so secretly hidden deep within his heart—self-exaltation.

But at least Job did finally learn that difficult lesson. Israel wouldn’t. As a nation, their eyes became so blinded that they grew incapable of conversion and salvation. So, Daniel 8 and the gospels show how low they got by continuing in their façade of self-imagined righteousness before God. They could not be turned back to a warm relationship with Him. All their religiosity was from their own will and worked only to make them deaf to the comforting voice of the Holy Spirit. It took the destruction of the temple, which they had used as proof of Jehovah’s approbation, and their total desolation, to make them see that Yahweh had left them, and yet to this day they are unconvinced of any wrong-doing to God’s law. Judaism is a religion of their own devising and not the original Mosaic-Hebrew religion.

Satan had changed the times and the laws. He had craftily substituted man-made tradition for the true burning and convicting laws inspired by the Spirit of God. But their obstinacy to the obvious providences of God’s displeasure and of the exaltation of the followers of Christ, only the more deeply sent the Jews into darkness.

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” (Is. 8:20-22).

Why should we today, in the gospel dispensation, bother with ancient Israel’s failings? Because “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

“Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” (2Tim. 3:16;Rom. 15:4;1Cor. 10:11;2Pet. 1:12).

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.” (Ecc. 1:9-11).

As we saw, the architecture of the Daniel 8 vision, foretelling an apostasy by the Jews, was set squarely on a past apostasy earlier in the Old Testament, yet it foretold another departure from the truth of a much greater magnitude; so much so that it devastated Daniel.

That greater apostasy was forewarned by Paul. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2Thess 2:3,4).

The great gospel revival would also apostatize, and this is what the Lord was revealing to us in Revelation 12 and 13. The Reformers saw the first beast of Rev. 13 to be Rome, the Church of Rome.

As had Israel before the Messiah came, the church of the early centuries became deluded through transgression and departing from the laws and statutes of righteousness. Paganism displaced the true religion, as sophisticated philosophies moved into Christian doctrines by Origen, Jerome, and Augustine. Just like the Jews centuries before it, the church didn’t even know that it had fallen away. They didn’t know the day of their visitation.

After forcing practices inculcated from paganism into Christianity little by little, and the church populace was far removed from knowing the Bible, sweeping changes were rapidly and fearlessly introduced and accepted by the people, without resistance. As predicted in ancient language, “With the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the Prince of the covenant.” (Dan. 11:22).

Likewise has Protestant America repeated the apostasies of the past. She wants to call herself a Christian nation, but she doesn’t know her Lord. Of Protestant America, it can be said, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” (Hos. 4:17).

Being unclean, how can he be allowed to bear the vessels of the Lord? He is unhallowed and can offer nothing except strange fire; and God cannot permit this. Yet, true to the past with Israel and the Papacy, Protestant America will try. But it will be its undoing. Protestantism is perverted and its offering to God is cursed by heaven.

Let the Bible be taught in public schools and we will see the same imperious persecutions developed in our young as was demonstrated by obstinate Israel and the whore of Revelation toward those faithful men and women who dared to rebuke the church’s prevailing fall from grace. A time of trouble such as never was is forecasted. This tribulation will not come against Christianity, but by Christianity, and because of it. Once more, Satan will reveal his bitterest hatred against the truth of God by working against it from within its own walls. “Whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (Jn. 16:2).

Only those today who have wrestled with God and come out victorious in faith are His messengers to reach a perverted world. Certification in teaching the humanities and sciences recommends nobody to teach God’s character and His commandments. All which that can do is to quickly deteriorate the remaining spirituality still residing in this nation.

To make Bible study part of the states’ requirements for public educational curriculums is to begin the movement to unite church with the state. And uniting them always has caused the corruption of both and weakening of both. Idolatrous teachers can only teach idolatry. They are not educated in righteousness. Thus they could only pass on a flawed and perverted knowledge of the Bible if they had to teach it.

But what about the freefall of morality in America, if the public schools can’t teach the Bible? How will the collapsing of our society be arrested?

Again, I point you to the Lord’s methods of the past ages:
“Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” (Is. 6:9-12).

Yet, the Lord brought something beautiful out of Israel when their blindness and deafness were fixed through 500 years of prophetic silence after Malachi. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” (Eph. 2:13-17).

If He let an apostasy happen once before and used it to save those people whom He foreknew, He can and will do it again. Because of blinding delusion, there is no other way to reach His people.

Out of that first great apostasy He brought out the apostles and the gospel. Out of the next great apostasy by Rome He brought out the Protestant Reformation. Out of the last and final apostasy, the climax of which we are quickly moving toward, He will bring out the 144,000 and a great multitude which no man can number. He will bring glorification and the end of this sinful world.

He will receive us to Himself that where He is we may be also. And thus shall we ever be with the Lord.

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