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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.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How long, Lord?

“And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when He held up His right hand and His left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” (Dan. 12:6,7).

Daniel was a righteous man of God, moved by the Holy Ghost. And he had a great depth of wisdom. 2Pet. 1:21;Ez. 28:3. He could comprehend the meaning of older prophets, from Jeremiah all the way back to Moses. He could even recognize their fulfillment in his lifetime. Dan. 9:2. Yet, future prophecies were beyond him. His faintest imagination couldn’t decipher them.

His inquisitive mind tried to grapple with his prophecies from the Lord, as have many Bible students, since. But the pattern seen by of all prophetic study is that prophecies are not understood until after they are fulfilled. God’s servants do not stand up and spout the distant future. His prophets can have an idea of what to expect, yet judging by their language compared to the actual events which fulfilled the prophecy, the prophets sound greatly challenged regarding the prophecy’s actual meaning when fulfilled. 1Pet. 1:10-12. Read Daniel’s 11th chapter language and Zechariah’s, and in fact all the Old Testament prophets, as well, and you will find them sounding strangely different from their actual fulfillment, according to the New Testament writers.

God doesn’t need fortune-tellers or heroes, He needs humble and submissive mouthpieces to say what He needs spoken, even if they have little concept of what they are saying all the time or their depictions apply better to their day than with the details of life that change with the times. Jehovah doesn’t normally explain His interpretations to the prophets when He inspires them to speak for Him. They are not spiritualists who claim to have the power to predict the future, nor does He want to tempt them with that. So, He often leaves them in the dark. “That no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1Cor. 1:29).

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1Cor. 1:19,20,29). God alone can withstand Satan’s prowess. His human messengers are holy, but still potential victims of His wily adversary, the devil. Therefore He protects them in ways that they are not aware of. They remain ignorant of the meaning of their powerful prophecies.

“No flesh should glory in His presence.” All the great and proud prognasticators and wizards He sets aside. But those who just want to wait on the Lord, who thrill to sit at His feet and learn of Him, eventually are chosen to receive more light, even new light into God’s hidden mysterious work of redemption. All the time they spent thriving in the grace and truth of Christ, trying to share what they learned and working to correct misunderstandings, meeting opposition and persecution, and weeping for the abominations done around them, was training and discipline in preparation to responsibly deliver the new light when prophecy is finally fulfilled.

“How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” the angel asked. “The angel here states the unexpressed question that must have been uppermost in Daniel’s mind.” SDA Bible Commentary, 4BC p. 880.

The totally incomprehensible answer came, “When He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” (Dan. 12:7). When He. He who? God? Satan? Who would want to scatter the power of the “mighty and the holy people.” (Dan. 8:24). It must be Satan, right?

200 years prior to this, concerning an identical judgment sentence, this same question Isaiah begged of the Lord. “And 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.” (Isa. 6:9-12).

Isaiah had the unpleasant task of informing Israel that what God had unequivocally warned them of centuries before was about to take place. Their disregard of His truth and their presumption upon His mercy had reached the limit of divine forbearance. Through Moses, seven hundred years before, the Lord had foretold of the nation’s eventual and certain demise.

“But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments;
And if ye shall despise My statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that ye will not do all My commandments, but that ye break My covenant:
I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
… And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: … And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.” (Lev. 26:14-17,19,33).

But Israel would not be faithful to their covenant, even after the Lord punished them in Babylon. A century after returning from captivity they were weaving the age-old paganism back into the Hebrew religion passed down from Abraham. From the last prophet God would ever send to the Jews: “Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.
The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts.” (Mal. 2:11,12).

The Messianic prophecy had stood as their final probationary period, and its outcome had a grim ending. “After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Dan. 9:26,27).

When the Messiah came He personally warned them Himself to awake out of their stupor; but they paid Him no heed: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets.
But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” (Lk. 13:24-28). A.D. 70 finally ended Israel’s long career of resistance to God’s covenant of love and Law. Now the new guardianship of truth and salvation would pass to the Gentiles, Christianity.

But, within 30 years, the Gentile church received a stern warning from Paul: “If some of the branches [of Israel] be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Rom. 11:17-22).

Has Christianity performed any more faithfully with the everlasting gospel than Israel did with the everlasting covenant? Look around and you see in our day a perfect duplicate of ancient Israel’s unfaithfulness. The 2000 years following Christ has been no less inglorious, and probably worse, than was Israel’s chance at it during their 2000 years leading up to the Messiah. The New Testament church as been just as weak and enfeebled as was the Old Testament church. So the prophecy of Isaiah applies especially to us. We need to fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is on the way.

Reread Isaiah’s prophecy. Put yourself into it and let the Holy Spirit help you interpret it as relevant to your case. “And 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.” (Isa. 6:9-12). Are we listening to this? Or are our ears dull and our eyes heavy because of modern idolatry and paganism which we have mingled with God’s standard of righteousness, in doctrine and in the life? Did God foresee us today and our miserable repeat of Israel’s failure? Yes He did, as attested to in Daniel 12:7, a Church-age application, that He would scatter the power of the holy people.

We may not want to hear the bad news, and may wholly reject the idea; but Israel historically did the same when they heard anything negative toward them. Regardless; God predicted that Christianity’s power would be scattered, just as He had threatened against Israel by Moses in Leviticus 26. He even used the same language in Daniel 12:7 to describe the church’s departure from their service to Him as He used for Israel in Isaiah 6 and Leviticus 26. “How long?” “Until I scatter their power and there shall be a great departure from the Lord throughout the land.” Will we hear this? Like Israel, the church has great difficulty in believing that its Lord would ever punish it and give it over to Satan’s hands.

And Revelation says that this scattering of the might and holiness of the people of the Lord would not be complete until the seventh trumpet sounds at the end of the Latter Rain. “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets.” “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” (Rev. 10:7;Rev. 11: 7-11).

“Isn’t the church holy?” think Christians. “Isn’t it called by Christ’s name? Isn’t it doing good works around the world and at home, and praising and worshiping Him like He wants? Isn’t He prospering us, especially in this great land of plenty, Christian America, the home of Bible religion?” The Jews were convinced that God was happy with them; so much so that even after Nebuchadnezzar conquered them, taking two massive groups into captivity, yet, they continued to think their Lord was with them. The words of Jeremiah were completely disregarded as falsehood.

“Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth.
And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.” (Jer. 15:1,2).

Neither could they accept Ezekiel’s message. “And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries.
And they that escape of you shall remember Me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from Me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.
And they shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.
Thus saith the Lord God; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.
He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish My fury upon them.
Then shall ye know that I am the Lord, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.
So will I stretch out My hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ez. 6:7-14). Until God would raze the temple to the ground and scatter its stones to the winds, could they finally accept the reality that God had left them.

They were expectant of the Lord’s battling in their behalf against the Babylonians. But, His answer to them was: “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.” (Amos 5:18). They were the cause of their punishment. They would only get death and pain from Him.

What about the Christian church waiting for the day of the Lord, which is to come as a thief in the night? We must take an honest assessment. Will that day be to us a day of darkness and fear? Will we run when we experience the crashing down of our atmosphere, the noise and sight of millions of meteors pummeling to the ground every house and every building and bridge and shopping mall? Will we run at the deafening scream, as of a falling bomb which every ear will hear as the Lord approaches Earth many times faster than the speed of sound, and comes to a halt as our planet rotates before Him shuddering at His presence?

Are we really His children, or of the multitudes, as in Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s day, who lived in opposition to God but still thought they were obeying Him, and that He would never abandon them? Are we really part of His “very small remnant” who keep commandments of God and the faith of Jesus? (Isa. 1:9;Rev. 14:12). Or will we be the person who will kill people for Jesus thinking “that he doeth God service,” joined with the whole world who have “wondered after the beast”? (Jn. 16:2;Rev. 13:3).

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