“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, June 16, 2011

Accepting our chastening from the Lord

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (Prov. 26:2).

It’s words like these that have led many today to dispense with the Old Testament. God’s mercy apparently is not evident. “Therefore,” say they, “it must be that that old God must have changed from a
hate-monger into a God of love in the New Testament. Now everything is peace and love and joy in believing.” Nothing could be further from the truth or contradict the Lord’s plainest statements. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb. 13:8). “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Mal. 3:6). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (Jn. 8:58).

“Concerning Thy testimonies, I have known of old that Thou hast founded them for ever.” (Ps. 119:152). “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Tim. 2:19). “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Is. 8:20).

So the words of Solomon are reputable. The curse causeless shall not come. In other words, they won’t come without a cause; if anything terrible happens, I must search my heart for my part in the cause. I am culpable. I need to take the trouble to Jesus for His forgiveness and instruction.

If we cannot be humbled by the consequences of our sins, how else can God reach us? If we look the other way when we read Proverbs 26:2 and refuse to apply it to our desperate circumstances then God’s hands are tied and He cannot deliver us from the curses we bring upon ourselves.

Cancer? Diabetes? Horrendous troubles happening to our children, our marriage, our relations in the work place, a financial bottomless pit? A nation with a perilous national debt? Et cetera. If we will not allow these to persuade us of our faultiness and great need of renewed consecration and obedience to God and His Law, then the problems will continue and compound. And if we will still persist in our stubbornness, then we will die in our sins.

This may be hard hitting but it is purely biblical and real life. Job was attacked by Satan. Without a cause? Yes, that is what Jesus said to Satan (Job 2:3), but is that what He said to Job? No. Would the word of God contradict itself on this issue, or ever? There was a cause, and if the sin-loving multitude would read the last 10 chapters of Job and not just the first two, they would see that though God called Job righteous, Job had a real character flaw, in need of a serious character adjustment. God will call all His children righteous when He is speaking to His enemies. This is what His justification is all about. But, let’s not think He won’t find need to reprimand us once Satan leaves and He has us alone with Him.

The Holy Spirit chastens me, convicts me; I sorrow for my particular sin, turn away from it; God accepts my repentance and flat forgives me, as if I had never committed that transgression of His law. He has justified Me and I am a new man, in the power of His love and forgiveness. This process happened repeatedly to David and He wrote about it.

“Blessed is He whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
I acknowledge my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” (Ps. 32:1-5).

Did this make David infallible from that day forward? No, we have plenty of evidence to the contrary. Some of David’s big troubles manifested themselves following his anointing and after he had ruminated on sin. The longer he premeditated, the bigger those ideas blew up when he finally acted out the sin of his daydreams.

This happened to Job. He was a righteous man. He fed the poor, defended the oppressed, brought home the homeless, visited the sick, and preached the word. He did all these good things, but he knew it. He got stuck in the very common trap of looking at all His goodness, compared to everyone else. His eyes were only partially on his Lord. And this possibly went on for some time.

Thus began the competition over his soul between the spirit of evil and the Spirit of Christ. Satan made enough gains on Job that he could legally claim him. So he made good his advantage and boldly brought his case before the great Judge. Christ had to concede to Lucifer’s case over Job. There was no denying that Job had slowly departed from God by glorying in his good performance. This was being seen in the hearts and lives of his children and wife.

Job loved His Lord; this is what ranked him so high in God’s eyes. He was seeking God. He prayed for his beloved children and their salvation. But, apparently Job had become half-hearted, Laodicean. “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

And the Lord’s answer could have been, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 5:23). This is always a difficult thing for the God of love to tell His children and He always has tears in His voice. Nevertheless, the judgment must stand. It was time for Job to hear the truth.

Thus Satan is quieted; the Law of God stands, the sinner’s eyes are opened to his subconscious rebellion and need of a Saviour. But as we see from Job’s case, Satan becomes a pawn in the Lord’s hand to convict Job of his unknown offense and convert him. Other than trouble, nothing else in a nice way could the Holy Spirit use to get through to Job.

The Lord was wiser than Satan. The Lord could read the signals of love from Job’s heart to his Lord. Satan can’t detect these to their full extent. He judged Job wrongly which became evident after the torment Satan brought to Job. The Lord knew Job’s end from the beginning of his trial. In the end He had a humbled, healthy, happy, holy child of God. Without his tribulation, Job could not rear up a family correctly and lay their foundation in Christ.

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him:
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” (Heb. 12:5-13).

“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” (Is. 63:9).

“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” (Heb. 5:8,9).

“Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” (Nah. 1:15).

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The scapegoat and the sacrificial goat

We have historically seen Satan in Azazel. Just as the scapegoat was taken by a strong man into a land not inhabited after the atonement was made, so we see in Rev. 20, after Jesus comes on a white horse and destroys the beast and false prophet, that Satan is bound on a desolate Earth with no one alive to tempt.

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” (Rev. 20:1-3).

I believe the reason both goats are identical to start with is because both Lucifer and Christ were High Priests before the Great Controversy began. Just as Aaron was the recognized high priest for Israel—but faulty, and Moses was the real mediator between God and Israel—yet not recognized as the high priest, likewise, I believe that Christ was the great High Priest, and Lucifer was the under-high priest. This mightiest angel was clothed with all the colors of Aaron’s breastplate. “Every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” (Ez. 28:13).Like Aaron, whose garments were “for glory and for beauty” (Ex. 28:2) in order to appeal to the natural desires of the people, so was Lucifer given the special ability to shine out in glorious colors, represented by Aaron’s breastplate, to honor his office and to aid this privileged angel in his leadership of the angelic hosts.

But the Son of God, as the true mediator between the angelic hosts and His Father, was simple and unadorned in His glory. He was like the lowliest of angels. And as Moses wore plain common clothing, without even a nice looking staff, so was Christ in heaven. Yet, He had something very special in His character that Lucifer could never have, and it drew the angels to Him in a special bond of friendship and reverence, which eventually made Lucifer envious.

He was doing his job right; he was giving the Father’s commandments and pronouncements as they were given to him. He was ordering the worship convocations impeccably. “Why did the Prince always do everything better? Why was He able to win the hearts of the angels so infinitely more than I? How was the Creator’s will accomplished so gracefully by the Son?”

The more Lucifer thought about his inability, the less he could see himself as just another angel, and the less he could see Christ’s superiority by inheritance. Eventually, he thought the Prince was no different than he, just another angel whom God had treated with unfair, preferential favor. (Are you familiar with the same idea floating around that Christ’s nature was like Adam’s fallen nature, that is, just like ours? Satan has infused this into the minds of many who want a low standard of salvation. EGW continually and emphatically exalted Christ’s nature to the heavens.)

It was insanity for Lucifer to think like he did about the Prince, but that is what happens when we refuse to humble ourselves before reality as God makes it. We make our own reality and delude our eyes and brains into seeing and believing just what we want to see and believe.

Lucifer wouldn’t allow himself to die to self in view of the perfection of the divine Heir. Neither the angels nor even the Holy Spirit could deter him from his decision to spread his white lies and murmur against the Son. So he bent all his energies to destroy Christ and His holy influence over the hosts of heaven.

This is why the goat that escaped death and sacrifice could not atone for the defiled sanctuary, and the goat chosen to die was able to atone for it. God is a God of sacrifice. And His chosen representatives must always be sacrificial. Lucifer would not sacrifice self, therefore he was allowed to continue living, but in a dismal and dreary state of mind, as it were a dry and thirsty land, apart from the living God.

But, God’s Son intimately knew His Father’s sacrificial nature and work as Source of life and Judge of performance to His creation. Only the Son of God knew the burden that His Father carried for the existence and happiness of His angelic hosts and unfallen worlds, and how much pain His Father suffered because of their imperfections. “Behold, He putteth no trust in His saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight.” (Job 15:15).

The Son’s nature was like His Father’s—sacrificial. Lucifer’s, and the angelic force, were not. There role in the courts of heaven and unfallen worlds was for the protection and preservation of the Government. They were about obedience and law. They were the policemen of the empire, and they bare not their sword in vain. It took Satan’s attack on God and the cross of Christ to change that in them. In their innocent King and His Prince they saw humility and gentleness toward accusers and aggressors, mixed with righteous judgment. This added forgiveness to their minds and added balance to their role.

Therefore, Satan having acted as unreasonable belligerent to his unprotected King, has nothing to say when God justifies a sinner. God is just; He has proven Himself in that He willingly died under the unprovoked character assassination of Satan, abdicating His authority to His Son, and depending on His Heir for advocacy. When He justifies a sinner, it is because that sinner has died to self, and only due to death to self. The supplicant for God’s lovingkindness is a brand plucked from the firestorms of Satan’s kingdom of hate. That saint has followed in God’s footsteps in dying, and thus is qualified as a son of God to be in God’s family and Government. But, Satan never dies to self, and neither do his children. They are like their father, the devil. “He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.” (Job 41:34).

Cain couldn’t bring himself to die with a dying lamb. His sacrifice substitute is the first instance of avoiding death to self through a religious look-alike. The golden calf was another clean “path to God” that involved no bloody sacrifice. The unmessy Mass is another form of avoiding the death to self. Everyone who will not immerse himself in the Bible and see the gory, abhorrent death of Christ for what it was, subconsciously evades the death to self and never arrives at transformation of the fallen nature. Until they come to the cross, they will never be a candidate of heaven, despite their greatest display of religion or morality.

But God will make sure that everyone who wants to die to self will get to Jesus and see in His innocent death what Abel saw that broke him down. Self will be crucified as he sees Christ hang between heaven and earth, caught in a satanic hurricane of evil. That humbled, redeemed woman or man will be a firstfruit of Christ’s harvest, and heaven will be their home.

Will we die or not die? That is the question. If we die, then we will have eternity with the living God. If we don’t die, we will have only a few days on this messed up world, and then be dead without God for eternity. I hope I make the right choice in the end and all along the way.

America the beautiful

“Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not His word: but murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord.” (Ps. 106:24,25).

“Out of one of [the winds] came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” (Dan. 8:9).

Jehovah delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage. He waited until life was beyond unbearable for them. Then once He brought them out into freedom, He understandably expected them to be His rightful subjects and obedient children.

So He met them at Mt. Sinai, as we all know, and gave them His conditions of a covenant. Covenants were commonplace, as contracts are today. It was nothing out of the ordinary that God did with them. And they quickly agreed, without reading the fine print, to abide by His terms. It was all reasonable; His laws were best for everyone concerned—for Him, as One who infinitely desired to see righteousness in the Earth—and for them, since obedience to Him would bring them the greatest happiness between themselves and into peace with God.

“In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.
For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.
And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself.
Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine:
And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him.
And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.” (Ex. 19:1-8).

Then He boomed down His Ten Commandments to make sure they were confirmed in His expectations. After that, He called Moses up to the mountain to receive a general overview of the civil and social laws that would govern the people’s lifestyle. It was all very fair to expect neighbors to be civilized and considerate of each other. Then, “Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.” (Ex. 24:3).

The next day, before seventy of their elders dined in the very presence of the Creator, the God of infinite power, Moses “took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.”(Ex. 24:7).

They vowed an oath, three times, not just before God, but to God, that His covenant was righteous with them. Finally, He led them into the land flowing with milk and honey.

But were they faithful to their agreement?

“And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel.
And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.
And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim:
And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger.
And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.” (Judg. 2:6-13).

Through the centuries they had revivals and reformations against pagan idolatry, which only lasted a short time; but then the apostasies would return and go even deeper than the previous ones. The decline of obedience to the civil laws and the spirituality continued until the ten northern tribes were completely swept away, and the southern kingdom was given one last chance of 490 years after serving in Babylonian captivity.

Shortly before the Assyrian invasion that destroyed the northern Israelites, King Hezekiah had sent messengers to invite them to a Passover, but his men were derided and rejected. A few did respond and wept for having lived so long without the beauty of holiness demonstrated in the true worship. But the majority had totally lost all concept of spirituality.

One of many messages from the Lord to Judah through Jeremiah said it all. “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?
For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God.” (Jer. 2:21,22). Do you hear the sorrow and disappointment in God’s voice, and in Jeremiah’s? A wonderful, divine plan to exalt Israel through the Laws from God had gone completely awry. They had sabotaged it all through accepting the insinuation of Satan and his idolatrous substitutes into their hearts and lives.

“For among My people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.
As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.
They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.
Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?
A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jer. 5:26-31). There would surely be an end.

After seven long centuries of continual rebellion against God by the northern kingdom and their debauched social customs, “So it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:
For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.
Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.
And they rejected His statutes, and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.
And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.
Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.
Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight.” (2Ki. 17:7-20).

“I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.” (Zech. 7:14).

Such a sad ending of a beautiful beginning. But, has not America followed the same course? History has repeated.

For many long centuries in paganized Christian bondage under Roman Catholicism, suffered the prophetic woman who was clothed with the sun and crowned with twelve stars—God’s true church. But God gave her a hideaway in the Alpine mountains.

“To the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent [Satan and his earthly agency].” (Rev. 12:14).

The pitiful underground church was given a deliverer—the mighty Protestant Reformation. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Wesley and other reformers providentially rose up, and revived the flagging faith of Christ’s disciples, and used the Bible as a sword to slay the serpent.

Just as the Reformation had become established, the devil attempted a major extermination of God’s church, in a flood of persecution. Crusading armies sought to rout Bible religion from Europe. “The serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.” (vs. 15).

But, continents had been discovered over the high seas at the same time the Reformation had gotten started. God was providentially opening the place for His chosen people to run for refuge; and America became the home of thousands fleeing persecution. “The earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” (vs. 16).

But, once safely in God’s refuge, the Reformation resolve to lay down their life for the gospel almost immediately faded from the colonial Protestants. Some clung to the old covenant with Jehovah, to evangelize the indigenous peoples in the land and to keep the worship of God alive. But most began quickly to abandon it.

Slowly, temporal interests of the farm or local business or the republic’s politics, displaced the original intent of possessing the wonderful new continent so far away from Romish power—to safely worship the God who gave them life and who had saved them from corrupt religion, who had given them the Bible and opened its awesome truths to them. They forever lost their heavenly-mindedness.

Their God further brought them through two wars in 1775 and 1812 to resuscitate faith in them, and to completely break them off from papal Europe and give them a nation and a Constitution that guaranteed freedoms that none other nation on Earth were privileged to have. Only the Lord’s Protestant Reformation could make a Constitution so full of freedom.

But, the next generation backslid from their God even further. So He brought them to a decision that must end in their repentance and reconciliation to Him, or to full disconnection from Him with the opening of the door to Satan in a far-reaching way that would end in their complete destruction, for those who rejected His Bible.

He unveiled a truth yet unrecovered from the papal darkness. The message of Baptist farmer and Bible student William Miller, of Jesus returning soon literally, visibly, personally was shouted in the ears of the mainline churches professing Protestantism, so that they could not miss it. They rejected that message because it conflicted with their love of this world, their possessions, their lands, their pride and hypocrisy, their corrupting of the pure principles of God’s word.

They rejected God’s testing truth and He rejected them as His chosen vessel for mercy and truth. Simultaneously, He opened the door for Satan to pour upon them tidal waves of damning temptations.

“The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 9:1-4).

Protestant America’s probation would last 150 years. “And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.” (vs. 5).

Now, here we are, many generations later and after passing through 160 years of increasing distance from our Reformation roots. Today, we are filled with Americans who do not know what a Protestant is and having no purpose to existence except to make money and live for this world. Here we are, just like the ten tribes of Israel, oblivious to the original purpose for giving us our land that flows with milk and honey.

We think the land is ours to harness its resources and be a supreme power in the world. But that isn’t the reason the land was given to us. It was ours to fear God and to bring glory to Him.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1Pet. 2:9,10).

If Protestants had been earnestly and honestly studying their Bibles, as they professed to do, they would have applied the messages of Jeremiah to themselves. They would have remained repentant and malleable under the influence of the Holy Spirit. They would have taken seriously the conditions for being God’s chosen people.

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (vs. 11,12).

But, the requirement of self-denial went unheeded. Idolatry had dissolved their consecration, as it did to ancient Israel. Now Americans are full of self-indulgence of all types and methods. And now they must hear the very condemning message given to Israel of old, “Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God.” (Jer. 2:21,22). Christ’s eye is upon America, and He isn’t happy.

The Reformation is dead. Even the few who might be useable to God are slumbering and sleeping. America is soon to be captured as Judah was in the past. Babylon is already rising—Protestantism’s worst nightmare—papal Rome, dictatorial, intolerant, tyrannical. Soon, Protestants will feel the pangs of religio-political power forcing them to unite church and state and to participate in a mass slaughter of all dissenters to the new Christian America’s Constitution and government.

It’s too late to reform America. America is conquered already. Neo-Babylon is already piling up its besiegement walls around our society, at one time protected by Providence.

[Rome] is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever shall believe and obey the word of God will thereby incur reproach and persecution....

Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured.
Great Controversy p. 581.

“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south [America] push at him [Papal Rome]: and the king of the north [Papal Rome] shall come against him [America] like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
He shall enter also into the glorious land [Protestantism], and many countries shall be overthrown: …
He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt [America] shall not escape.
But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt [America].” (Dan. 11:40-43). And pure, Reformation Protestantism and the old Democratic-Republican America is not heard from again in this end-time prophecy.

America’s near future is all explained in the sacred history of ancient Judah.

“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to Me, saith the Lord.
Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.
Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
Wilt thou not from this time cry unto Me, My Father, Thou art the guide of my youth?
Will He reserve His anger for ever? will He keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.
The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto Me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto Me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 3:1-10).

Let the modern churches pay close heed to Jeremiah’s words, even Adventism. It’s for us all. The ten lost tribes of Israel represent the Protestant denominations, and Judah is the Adventist. For, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2Tim. 3:16).

“Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to Me, saith the Lord,” is His invitation to us today. Let us seek Him, and His love and power to overcome the self-indulgence that blocks our desire for Him. To ignore the Bible in the Old Testament will surely mean the soon capture of the church of God by Babylon.

Monday, June 06, 2011

God's covenant of sacrifice

“Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” (Ps. 50:5).

The watchword of Christ’s ministry was, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:24,25).

Total self-denial. Perfect self-abnegation. No room for self-service, self-indulgence, self-exaltation. Absolute self-sacrifice. Was this an Old Testament imperative also and not only a New Testament commandment? Judging from the sound of the 50th Psalm our Lord has always required the highest standard of righteousness from His holy people, His “kingdom of priests, and … holy nation.” (Ex. 19:6).

Israel was to love instruction and keep their Lord’s words close to the heart. When they saw a thief they were to stop and rebuke him, and the same for adulterers. They were to keep their mouth full of righteousness and to use it for honesty. They were to protect their brother rather than destroy him through gossip.

They were to fear God, to always to hold Him of greater authority than man. They were never to forget Him, but to fill their mouths full of His praise, to order their conversation aright and thus receive the salvation of God.

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2Pet. 1:6-11).

The Old and New Testaments correspond perfectly.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Ps. 24:3-5).

“Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” (Ps. 15:1-5).

How was this to be accomplished, in sinful people? How can the mystery of iniquity—self-centeredness—ever be cleansed from fallen man?

To accomplish obedience, we’ve been given an example since the beginning of the world. That example came through the sacrificial animal. For 4,000 years sinners had the opportunity to feel the pain of the wilting baby lamb or goat or cow or bull, and to know that it was dying because God required it in the place of the self-centered, guilty, and ashamed human. Both animal and repentant worshipper died together. Here was a cure for sin. Our Creator was willing to feel the pangs of death for millions of His beloved animals, in order to produce in man what he couldn’t do for himself, that is repent. The Lord would even sacrifice His best loved servants in order to save His rebellious children.

So, Abel shows the fruit of God’s successful sacrificial system—Abel’s life of sacrifice, his refusal to fight Cain, falling under his brother’s deadly blows. By faith he had beheld the humble and loving character of the Lord his God through the submission and trust seen in the dying lambs, the children of his own bosom. The death to self, witnessed in the humble lambs, was transferred to Abel and it transformed him. “[He] with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [was] changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18).

The covenant by sacrifice required more than just an upright life. It also demanded one void to selfishness, a slain heart that was dead to sin, a soul gutted of pride. Nothing short of complete and utter humility could the Eternal One accept. A total covenant by sacrifice alone would satisfy the Father, a covenant comprising both aspects for uplifting the total man. Justification—reconciliation of the heart and restoration to His kingdom in full favor and trust; and sanctification—the cleansing of hatefulness and rebellion from the life in order to appropriately represent the great King of heaven and earth who has clothed us in His royal inheritance.

Later, that sacrificial animal was substituted by the very Son of God. Those who know Him will die with Him on His cross, as Abel did, and be raised with Him to the life He lived while here. “Made under the law,” He perfectly exemplified the Law in the statutes of Moses, the psalms of David, and the declarations of the prophets. (Gal. 4:4). “The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” (Is. 42:21). Jesus was love and obedience and wisdom personified. He was a living soul, and a quickening spirit.

Our God, through His Son, had resurveyed the invisible boundaries of Satan’s turf and pushed him back into a territory not inhabited. For everyone who fully surrenders to their original Master from Eden, God will “[lay] hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and [bind] him … And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive … no more.” (Rev. 20:2,3).

“Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” (Is. 49:24,25).

Five selfish virgins

“Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out” “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you.” Who was selfish? See for yourself in the context below.

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:1-13).

To me, the wise virgins always sounded self-centered. The foolish virgins are crying out in desperation. But their cries receive no sympathetic ear from the wise virgins. Not one gives up even a drop of her precious oil. These five virgins were friends and acquaintances with one another, yet when it came down to being ready for the bridal party, they reverted to the serious business of every girl for herself.

Everyone was on her own. Yes, they had fellowship while they waited for the groom and bride; yes, they had enjoyable community together. But, outranking the priority of joy between friends was the risk of losing the joy of seeing the newly wedded couple and partaking of this special event to which they had all received special invitation.

Yet, we do hear regret in the words of the wise. “Lest there be not enough for us and you.” They could have been completely unfeeling and self-absorbed and said, “Lest there be not enough for me.” So there wasn’t a total detachment to their comrades’ destitute circumstances. They were dearly sympathetic with them. Nevertheless, they still could share no oil.

So the needy virgins rushed to find someone to sell them oil; but despite their nervous haste, they returned only to have missed the great event to which they had looked forward for months. They knocked and knocked at the groom’s, but all they got for their desperate pleas was complete and utter rejection.

In those days it wasn’t safe to open the door at night. Even today, I’ve heard of the ploy of a broken-down car and the hapless looking woman standing next to it, and several thugs hiding in the woods nearby. An unwary do-gooder stops to help the woman’s fictitious plight, and her accomplices run out and hurt the good Samaritan and steal his car.

In Christ’s day, thieves and murderers roved by night, and the streets were no safer than they had been in Lot’s Sodom. (Gen. 19:1-4). So it came as no surprise to Jesus’ listeners that the bridegroom in the story would not open the door, since their doors were without windows and voice recognition alone is no guarantee of identity. So, the virgins on the outside of the party heard the sad reply, “I know you not.” (vs. 12).

This parable, given on the heels of Jesus’ discourse in the previous chapter, concerning His second coming, also speaks of that great day. It is a parable of warning, ending with “Watch, therefore.” The church is warned against the lack of preparedness for His return.

Christ loved to share. His life was one of total unending compassion on the worthy poor, and even on the unworthy. He healed 9 unworthy lepers because they were friends of one leper who had a faith relationship with Jesus. In His estimation, the unworthy nine had a friendship with His worthy Samaritan leper, and their friendship with him made them worthy of healing, though they didn't necessarily want Jesus for their friend! So He lealed the nine, hoping His grace would turn their hearts to Him. His love went beyond the pale of human goodness and worthiness, yet He never went beyond His Father’s expectation of justice.

Jesus wanted to teach pity and sympathy to Israel, and to us today. His door of mercy stands wide open. His arms of love are still nailed back as open as they can be. He still welcomes the whole world to come to Him. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”(Rev. 22: 17).

And until the door of human probation closes, until the very last soul is saved that wants to be saved, the gleams of mercy will continue to shine out, drawing in His called and chosen and faithful.

But the time will come when that door will shut, which has remained a beacon of health and life to a world becoming increasingly entranced with selfishness and forgetfulness of its Creator and Redeemer. Its long-standing appeal becomes more and more the jest of the sin-loving multitudes outside of religion and inside of it. Carelessness grows out of control toward the offer of Christ to free the world of its idolatry and sin; insult toward God is piled up to heaven by a world daring Him to punish their insolence.

All who love the gospel of reconciliation with God and have received a love of the truth will become targets of false accusation and persecution. Everyone who have received the love of self-denial and have overcome their sins, reaping the sure benefits of this in health of body, mind, and soul, will be the objects of hatred and envy.

But not everyone in the great gospel movements in the future will receive the gift of God. Many will not have strived for the mastery of self. They will not have seen the need of Christ’s grace which enables weak sinners to overcome the attraction of sin.

Too late, after having spurned the invitation to know Jesus and His power over sin, they will have a flash of conviction to get ready for the great wedding of Christ and His people. They will rush to those who have received the victory over sin in a knowledge and trust in Jesus, but all of the most beautiful encouragement causes no response in their hearts ruined by years of unrestrained love for this world.

Digging for the evidences of Christ’s character and love in the Bible takes time; and trusting God and patiently waiting on Him doesn’t come overnight. They are at a loss for any assurance of salvation and run around in vain like profane Esau, wailing, “Hast Thou not reserved a blessing for me? … Hast Thou but one blessing, my Father? Bless me, even me also, O my Father.” Like Esau, they lift up their voice, and weep. (Gen. 27:36,38).

Those who strove to get with Jesus and to stay with Him can share what they’ve learned of Him to their brother and sister but they can’t give them their own personal conviction and consecration. It’s a gift of God. “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.”(Ps. 49:7). In this arena with God, it’s every man for himself, and always has been.

The unwise virgins didn’t take the time to be forgiven. The Prince of peace didn’t seem so important in the times of earthly peace. They squandered their probationary time. The goodness of God they left as a fountain untouched. If they had indulged generously in the grace of Christ, they would now be surely resting in Him. If they had heeded Christ’s offer of His redeeming blood, “Drink ye all of it,” they would be overcomers of the delusive temptation that came over the world.

But, they were contented with simply a profession of discipleship, and nothing more. They hoped a name would save them. They did the rounds of religion; they went to church and suffered through those agonizing hours. They pecked at the Bible here and there, without any real desire to know the Voice speaking to them in it all. They had their lamp lighted, with some faith in it graciously provided them by the Holy Spirit. But, they did not expend any effort to store any extra against an out of the ordinary test of faith. They had the bare minimum, which proved to be not enough.

Now, time has run out for these unwise virgins. They see the sudden rising of persecution, nature in disarray, wars on every hand, and the reality of the heavenly Bridegroom coming; but the laws of learning cannot be abrogated. They run in terror to the Bible to obtain the witness of the Holy Spirit, but all they hear is, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” (vs. 12). Then the fears of horrific persecutions sweep them away. They are driven to darkness, as they depart the Advent movement. They drown in the abyss, while they watch the wise virgins on the ark of faith they had built for themselves, riding safely above the storms raging against them.

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
I acknowledge my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
For this shall every one that is godly pray unto Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto Him.
Thou art my hiding place; Thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.” (Ps. 32:1-7).