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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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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The gospel of comfort

“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isa. 40:1,2).
 
This wonderful, precious promise was initially given to Israel in 722 BC. It immediately follows the capture and disappearance of the northern tribes of Israel. They had lived in the land God gave them for the relationship He had with their father, Abraham. And they were given the choicest lands because Joseph’s character had perfectly honored Christ. Living closer to the Fertile Crescent, they were given the best of the Promised Land.
 
“Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel:)
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.” (Gen. 49:22-26).
 
“[Jacob] blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.” (Gen. 48:20).
 
The northern tribes knew the greatest abundance from heaven, as their lands plentifully prospered with constant fruitful harvests. However, the Canaanites also enjoyed the abundance, and Canaanite influence infected the northern Hebrews’ obedience to the true God. Thus, the house of Israel eventually became as evil as the rest of the world that Satan controlled. The northern Israelites did this while keeping God’s name of blessing to Jacob, Israel “He who wrestles with God and overcomes rules with God.” Doing all their perversity in the sacred name of God’s salvation was the greatest insult to Him. So, they couldn’t remain in God’s land. If they had read Moses’ and the prophets’ writings they would have known that the Lord was not pleased with them. They had no excuse or alibi. Therefore, after generations of warnings God raised up Assyria, which came down and removed the blasphemous nation from God’s home.
 
The beautiful promise of Isaiah 40 was for Jerusalem, as verse 2 shows. But, it was also for the northern tribes, by its context with the two preceding chapters. It would be for Jerusalem also because Jerusalem had always been accepted as the original capital of the two brother nations that King David established. They had been brethren for 700 years already prior to King David, a millennium of brotherhood. But, the Lord’s punishing warfare was against Jerusalem also because they were following the evil practices of their northern brethren. Read the first 10 chapters of Isaiah and some of the minor prophets, and this becomes apparent.
 
“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.” (Jer. 3:6-8).
 
“I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled. Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.” (Hos. 6:10,11).
 
The wonderful promise of Isaiah 40 is about comfort. The comfort was needed for the discomfort they had under the yoke of captivity. They had received of the Lord’s hand a double punishment. But, now the Lord declared that His wrath was past; their warfare was finalized.
 
“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight…. O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.” (Hos. 6:1,2,4).
 
“Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which Thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?
And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words.
So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.
And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease….
Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.
Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” (Zech. 1:12-15,16,17).
“For I was but a little displeased, and [the heathen] helped forward the affliction.” (Zech. 1:15).
 
The Lord had given the Gentiles providential opportunity to conquer Israel and Judah. But, they had gone farther than He had wanted. Satan was in control of them and he lusted for the total annihilation of the people who might have the possibility of a tiny remaining root of loyalty to Jehovah. Do we go too far when presenting the truth to others? Do we help forward the affliction that they suffer for their disobedience to God’s laws, or do we look for their tiny root of loyalty to God? Do we “preach Christ...of envy and strife” (Phil. 1:15)? We need more sweetness of the original gospel. Added to their sorrow for sin during the 70 year captivity, the gentleness of the gospel presented by the teaching pastor, Ezra, led to a great repentance and reformation among the returned Jews.
 
“Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” (Neh. 8:9). The people wept because the scriptures that Ezra so aptly and lovingly taught them was so much more beautiful than they or their forefathers had ever realized. During the long, pagan captivity they had longed for the comfort of the precious words from their God. Repentance to God made that day holy and beautiful in His sight. Through a tragic captivity, He had done for them, in the way of genuine repentance, what they couldn’t accomplish for themselves.
 
“Then [Ezra] said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10). There is an end of genuine repenting. It’s not healthy to spend our whole lives repenting for our past sins and mistakes. Overmuch sorrow saps the bones and nerves, and robs our brains of vitality and a long, healthy lifespan. Our Creator knows this and sends word for it to cease; there must also be joy in Him and calm hope for the future.
 
But, before He speaks the word of pardon He will make sure He has removed all of our self-made, empty, faked repentance. He will make us genuinely sorry for our sins, and we will be very sorry. Through Jeremiah, the Lord had informed them of the coming harsh conditions under foreign captivity due to their deeply rooted, almost incurable rebellion. Whoever would not fight the punishment, would be captured and become slaves. Their enslavement under taskmasters would make them constantly preyed upon. But, at least they would live.

“And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey. For I have set My face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.” (Jer. 21:8-10).
 
The pangs of guilt and shame may seem like they will never subside. But, like Jesus taking upon Himself all of our chastisement of peace in Gethsemane carrying them to death on Golgotha, our scourging will pass. But, our harrassing “evil conscience” (Heb. 10:22) can pass only because He took our damnation ten billion times more. He knows what harrassment of mind and soul is. Every time we are forgiven by God, Jesus assumes our burden of sin. Then, as He had healed the repenting people, He will “bind us up” (Hos. 6:1) and send us His Spirit of comfort. He “forgiveth all thine iniquities” and “healeth all thy diseases.” (Ps. 103:3).

Finally, 700 years after the promise was given, it was time to comfort Israel, having received their due punishment for serving Satan. The Lord doesn’t punish forever. He isn’t like Satan, “who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger.” (Isa. 14:6). No, the Lord is very different. His mercy endureth forever. He says,
 
“Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of My people. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.” (Isa. 57:14-16).
 
Now, the Isaiah 40 promise spoke of the wrath of God being past. His blessing was near to come. No more pain, no more dying, no more captivity, no more tears. Those comforting words to Zechariah by the angel, and to the people by Ezra, were what God had commanded Isaiah to say, “Comfort My people!”
 
Full of hope came the promises of God. It was a refreshing from the presence of the Lord. But, the revival and reformation by Ezra and Nehemiah, so much a blessing to the people, faded. They lost their first love. The people hadn’t remained vigilant to Satan’s wily machinations, and his agents dissolved their spirit of revival. Then, the captivity resumed. The 70 years of captivity turned into a 600 year captivity, as Israel never regained its sovereignty.
 
Really, the 70 year captivity was originally spelled out to be a 600 year captivity, as the next verses of Isaiah 40 describe. The Lord knows His people, He knoweth that they are dust. He knows their proclivity to forgetfulness of eternal things. But, at the end of the next 450 years, then He would send someone greater than the earlier prophets; He would send His forerunner;  and then He, the Sent of God, would come Himself.
 
Some of the Jews were waiting for the fulfillment of that famous Isaiah 40 promise. Ichabod, the glory of Isreal had departed. How much more forgetful of the holy past could God’s holy nation get? How much worse could heathenism and idolatry take up residence within Israel? Few were waiting for the manifestation of God’s grace to His people. “There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel.” (Luke 2:25). He found that that “consolation” would come in the form of a newborn. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” (Isa. 9:6). The “consolation of Israel” was the “comfort for Jerusalem” from Isaiah 40. The redemption that the Messiah would accomplish for His Jewish people would give them the greatest and fullest ever pardon and comfort. But, Israel was the theater for the whole world. Therefore, the word from heaven to them was also for all of the human race, for God so loved the whole world.
 
Three more decades passed after Simeon discovered the birth of the Consolation of Israel. All hope was gone. Then, John the Baptist stood up and suddenly created a stirring revival in Israel. He bore the message of Isaiah 40.
 
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isa. 40:3-5).
 
“And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Luke 3:3). “Saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2). “As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:4-6).
 
And this message of comfort and consolation was the good news that Jesus preached. “Saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). Combined with the 70 week prophecy of Daniel, the Isaiah message of comfort was the good news gospel that Jesus brought to the multitudes.
 
Isaiah 40 is the foundation for the New Testament. “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isa. 40:1,2). They had received of God’s hand double for all their sins; now it was time for reconciliation with God and their justification. Atonement was the theme of the day; Jehovah authorized it. It was the year of acceptance from the Almighty. “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” (Isa. 61:2).
 
And until today, that is still the message to the world. Nothing has changed. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).
 
At the very end of the age, we have again received of the Lord’s hand double for all of our sins. Almost. His stern warfare against us is almost accomplished. Over the past several decades we’ve been through an atheistic, loveless, Christless time. But, we have yet a more wicked period of terror coming our way. The “little time of trouble” will not be little or only a couple of years. Protestantism has signally failed in its protest and reforms against the devil’s corruptions of the gospel and Law of God. We haven’t remained vigilant against Satan’s wily machinations, and his agents have stolen away the revival that came from the apostles and later from the great Reformation. And, like the Jews of Nehemiah’s day, we just let the gospel of peace and comfort slip away, without hardly a protest or a sigh and cry for the abominations sweeping the land. History has repeated itself. The wrath of God against Protestantism around the globe, and especially against Protestant America, is soon to fall upon us. But, we are not left without hope. We “shall be saved out of it.” (Jer. 30:7).
 
The church in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6,13-17) has been through the papal Dark Ages, and has lost much of what Christ taught and showed His disciples while He was here. Yet, the same message of Isaiah 40’s pardon and hope is for us today, and, especially will it be for us tomorrow. As the Jews went through a 600 year punishing silence from the Lord God between the prophets to John the Baptist, so we’ve been through our 2,000 year punishing silence between the apostles to the final 144,000, a silence from Jesus in His Father’s heavenly sanctuary. We’ve had our 2 millennium New Covenant inter-Testamental period, and now it’s time to bring it to a close, as John the Baptist closed the Old Testament inter-Testamental period.
 
Soon Christ will raise His hand up to His Father Most High, and swear “by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.” (Rev. 10:6).
 
It’s time to close the gap and reconnect the bookends of this New Testament Covenant dispensation. It’s time to restore the Isaiah 40 precious promise. Those who will reconnect the gap will be called, “The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” (Isa. 58:12). Their work will involve rebuilding the apostolic church.
 
“Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times.” Great Controversy, p. 464.
 
“It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people. ‘Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.’ Jeremiah 6:16.” Great Controversy, p. 478.
 
“They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations.” “They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.” (Isa. 58:12; Isa. 61:4).
 
Everything from Christ and His apostles is yet to be fulfilled. “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Matt. 10:23). We have not yet gone over all the cities of the world with the good news of Isaiah 40. Satan succeeded in bringing the victory of the earthly kingdom of God almost to a halt for a couple of millennia. No doubt the Lord, who had gone forth conquering, will regain all His lost ground with a vengeance. Then He will return with both His own and His angels’ shouts of victory over Satan, and with the trump of God.
 
But, how can we get refreshed without first bowing to the authoritative Law of God? Will we go to the Spirit of Prophecy and get humbled? Really stumbled and fallen and broken? And then, as humbled and stumbled children, will we accept Christ’s grace and get refreshed, as the people received under Ezra and Nehemiah? The refreshing comfort will start with the commandment of God to stop laboring for our salvation and enter into His rest. “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isa. 58:13,14).
 
In the faith and love of Jesus, we will feel like we’re riding upon the high places of the earth. “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4-6).

This sealing of God’s Law in our hearts and our escalation to heavenly places with Christ are our only preparation for the difficult times ahead. Our lives will be for a prey, but we will be saved through the deeper faith and stronger dependence on Jesus, which only that time of terror can bring us. Knowing that, and having that for a purpose, will make it all doable.
 
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1Pet. 1:3-9).
 
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16).
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matt. 24:21).
 
“But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Matt. 10:17-23).
 
“Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” (2Tim. 3:13,14).
 
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt. 24:29-31).
 
We need to trim our lamps now, while the tumult has not yet arrived. It will come with a vengeance, and relentless in its fury. This cannot be overemphasized. But, the joy of the Lord will be our strength. Because our eyes and hope will be on Jesus, His words will make sense: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
 
“Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him My salvation.” (Ps. 91:14-16).

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Conviction Catcher

“Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of My people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
And will ye pollute Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to My people that hear your lies?
Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” (Eze. 13:17-21).
 
The pagans had some elaborate gimmicks—all to catch the eye and imagination, but also to pass over the conscience and avoid conviction from the God of love who is trying to get through to them. Their promises from Baal to the Jews were more than heart could wish. They were a dream come true. Just pay the soothsayer some barley and bread, and they would send the spirits after your enemies. They would hunt them down and never grow tired until those hated, evil people were destroyed!
 
Then there are the “good” witches, who give you what you want and make all your dreams come true. Just pay them the barley and bread, and they will give you a dream catcher, to pray to the wind and have those dream catchers strain out all the bad, nightmarish things from the winds of fate, and keep only the good, day-dreamy things of fate.
 
But, all this superstition has always been the counterfeit for the truth. It’s for people who want to wear on their sleeve what needs to be in their heart, in a heart made new. The truth is that righteousness exalts a nation, a society, a church, a family, an individual. Yes, old-fashioned righteousness. And love is what righteousness is all about. Self-sacrifice, self-sacrificing love. Self-denial, self-abnegation, self-forgetfulness.
 
Jesus said it right, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25).
“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt 16:24). Self-sacrifice, the renunciation of pride, is the first step in having all your dreams come true. And the clearest presentation of self-sacrificing humility is the Bible.
 
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the Law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:1-3).
 
If anyone wants to prosper, follow the high standard of the Bible.
1) Let’s fortify our minds with the Bible. And let us find or stay with others who have wonderful faith; let us admire and copy the lives of God’s soldiers of the good fight of faith. “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2Tim. 3:14,15). “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (2Tim. 1:5). The Bible is special in that by simply putting its words in our minds, it begins to change our thinking and make a way for Jesus to stay with us. “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21). That’s exciting!
 
2) Repent and be converted. Now that is a standard that no witch would want, no matter how “good” she is. The priests and vestal virgins of Baal, anciently or presently, fled/flee from the new birth. But, to have something good to offer people means to walk with Jesus. And the more in step we are with Him, the more open we are to His Spirit. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Mic. 3:3). To have a new heart toward humility and self-denial and abstinence is something essential to have Jesus in close confines with us, though not desired by the fallen human nature. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jer. 17:9). We desperately need a new heart. I need one each day. And Jesus promises to give it to me as I seek Him in His word. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Eze. 36:26). A heart of flesh, just what I want!
 
3) Let’s follow after godliness, and see the salvation of the Lord. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14). “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Rom. 14:19). Let us build each other up. Let us be servants to each other, and not think we need to be the master over others.
 
4) Let us get all the fruits and gifts of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22,23).
“And beside this, 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.” (2Pet. 1:5-7).
 
“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers… till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Eph. 4:11,13-15). 
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1Cor. 12:28-13:2).
 
Just as all the fruits of the spirit from Peter and Paul begin and end in charity or άγἀπη, so do the gifts. Love is the fulfilling of not only the Law, but also of the fruits and the gifts. Love to God and to man is the only way to all three, obedience, fruit, and gifts. All three hang on agapē.
 
The interconnecting elements of love are the only true dream catcher. That’s because they are the true conviction catcher. No stick bent in a circle with strings tied together can ever amount to anything except decoration. If decorations or being in vogue is all a person cares about, then so be it. But, if we could catch the convictions of the very Spirit of God, we could be effective ministers in civilian clothes. We could see the beginning of the Latter Rain. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to preach the perfect message? Wouldn’t it be great to teach the perfect Bible study to a person or group that gives people promises from God above to anyone who will hear? Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?! But, to depend on tangible objects for hope dismisses the issues of the heart, and end in disappointment.
 
“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.” Desire of Ages, p. 668.
 
When sin is hateful to us, and Jesus is altogether lovely, then everything we do will prosper.
 
Do we want to speak like angels? Do we want to preach like Paul? Do we want to have something good to say that helps people? Do we want to see depressed, distressing, hopeless people perk up with hope and faith? If so, then what we need is a conviction catcher.
 
We need the Bible and we need a conscience. We need the Bible to get into our conscience. That’s how the sealing happens. Then the Spirit of God through the principles of the Bible will untangle all of our misconceptions and distrust. It will strengthen the connections between our correct conceptions of God’s love that have taken root and are spreading out to meet each other. The Spirit from Christ will create a network of interconnecting fruits of the Spirit, lessons learned from the Bible stories, Old Testament statutes, and New Testament principles.
 
That way, as the wind of the Holy Spirit blows through our soul, it can quicken all of the spiritual nodes and anodes, nerves and memory cores in our conscience, so that our conscience’s web will be 1,000 times stronger than steel. The more intricate the web grows, the more constant our communion will be with Jesus, the more our web will pick up the swishing of the Spirit’s passage through the conscience. (I use physical terms to represent the conscience because I don’t know how the conscience works, and I don’t think anyone else does either. For our sake, I believe Jesus would do the same.)
 
 But, the Spirit won’t blow so hard as to destroy our growing web. He has already promised, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.” (Isa. 57:15,16). But, He will strengthen the interconnections so to be able to take greater and greater force of blasts. He will use the hosts of wickedness also to strengthen our conscience. In small crises today and the fiercest blasts of the great times of trouble in the up-coming future, our patience in difficulty will keep testing our development.
 
“For the great day of [Jesus’] wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 6:17-7:3). By accepting the mercy of Jesus, His followers will be sealed in their forehead. They will have the fortitude to stand when Jesus returns, and not flee with the faithless, tormented wicked. In the end, we will be perfectly sealed in our foreheads; our spiderweb of spiritual things will be able to stand before God as His 144,000 elite.
 
Today, the Spirit of Christ will make our conviction catcher strings glow with heavenly light and vibrate to the frequency of God’s glory. He will attend our thoughts and He will attend the minds of people we talk to. More than stocks and stones can bring us to the gate of God. The Law and the gospel together will spiritually raise us up to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6) and make us vessels worthy of the Spirit’s use here.
 

But, if we don’t make it our full time goal and purpose to have a conviction catcher, then what spirituality we might gain by the grace of God will be knotted up, choked, and fade away. What we had was only remade by divine software, anyway. It won’t be permanently hardwired until we are literally translated and glorified. So until then, we must treat our convictions and faith, our fruits and gifts, as borrowed; they are on loan from the Lord. We must be faithful stewards of His vaporous blessings.
 
Ellen White had a dream to this effect:
“My guide now opened the door, and we both passed out. He bade me take up again all the things I had left without. This done, he handed me a green cord coiled up closely. This he directed me to place next my heart, and when I wished to see Jesus, take from my bosom and stretch it to the utmost. He cautioned me not to let it remain coiled for any length of time, lest it should become knotted and difficult to straighten. I placed the cord near my heart and joyfully descended the narrow stairs, praising the Lord and joyfully telling all whom I met where they could find Jesus. This dream gave me hope. The green cord represented faith to my mind, and the beauty and simplicity of trusting in God began to dawn upon my benighted soul.” Early Writings, p. 81.
 
Not only is it best for us to keep our heart unknotted and in tune, but it is utterly essential. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). It’s possible to lose our fear of God and our convictions. “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” (Heb. 2:1). Our faith needs maintenance, daily, moment by moment. Keeping everlasting life is not a hobby. Its not an avocation. Eternal life is a full-time vocation. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” (Eph. 4:1). It’s a job and an adventure; it’s a reward all day long. It’s like one of those rare jobs that people can’t believe they’re getting paid to do.
 
One last note. Everything Jesus has to offer will come in exchange for something the devil offered us. We can’t have both. We can’t serve God and mammon; our choice is God or mammon. So there must be a necessary breaking off of the earthly curse for receiving the heavenly blessing. This means self-sacrifice, self-denial, abstinence. It’s the strait gate and narrow path that hardly anybody travels. In fact, its traffic is so minimal because people almost never noticed the gate. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14). But, it is evident that giving up idols is not a popular practice. Out of the whole antediluvian world, only eight went through the narrow gate, and one of the eight became a devil. Ham lost his conviction catcher, and he became the perpetuator of the pre-flood apostasy. By keeping his seal until the danger was past, and letting his guard down to sin, Satan wooed Ham to become the father of idolatry, paganism, the occult, despotic empires and enslavement, corruption of the human race to the same condition it had before the flood.
 
Let’s keep our eye single to the goal— getting and keeping a conviction catcher in our forehead so that we can hear Jesus reveal the blessed lessons of the Bible. Then we will find real purpose in life. Our thoughts will be filled with promises from Jesus. Our mouths will be filled with His words. Others’ ears will be filled with the promises and good counsel from our mouths. And their hearts will also become filled with the promises of Jesus.
 
“The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:5-11).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Self-pitiful Millennium Edition (ME) and the 144,000

When Jesus’ cloud sits on our mercy seat, He heals His people of unbelief and they don’t need to feel sorry for themselves or pity themselves anymore. God, by the gift of His Spirit, has touched them and shown them that He pities them and knows their sorrows. They know that He is touched with the feelings of their infirmities. Through His emboldening “power of the Highest” He creates His boys and girls to be sons of thunder. They have confidence and might because their confidence is in Him who has “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” (Isa. 11:2).
 
Power and energy and self-esteem are the reward for humbling their will to the will of God as expressed in His holy Law. He brings them forth from the cauldron of the battle of the wills between their flesh and His Spirit, brands plucked from the fire. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17).
 
His Law had worked wrath in them; for where there had been no law, there had been no guilt and shame for their instinctual fraying away conviction at the sight of righteousness. They were alive until the Law came along. They were smooth sailing; life was good. But, by His longsuffering grace, Christ brought them to a knowledge of God’s Law and then through His firmness and patient gentleness He brought them to brokenness and surrender to God’s will, and then to repentance. Then they saw themselves as self-pitiful and rotten to the core. Poor me! Poor, poor me!! Neighbor, how could you do that to poor, poor me?! Sibling, why do you treat poor me like that?! Supervisor, policeman, tax-collector, why should you be like that to poor me?! Poor me!

Upon throwing away that grotesque condition of the mind and heart, they received the great reward—a new heart and mind, one with strength and power against self, but mercy toward others, through the power of the comforting Spirit of truth. This “blessing of Abraham …through Jesus Christ”, the “promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14) was the work of God to seal them “with that holy Spirit of promise.” (Eph. 1:13).
 
Now, they have freedom—free from self-pity. The “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9)  has put His abhorrence of self-pity into them; His Law of dependence He has written on their hearts. The shackles of licking their wounds have disappeared. And oh, how they are glad for that! Free! No more baggage! No more eating themselves into oblivion to mollify their complaints. No more appeasing self by damaging their temple made for the dwelling place of God. They have a new propensity to accept hard things and discomfort. They have the Spirit that the holy prophets and Reformers had which enabled them to face the rigors and dangers of speaking the truth, who were often politically incorrect, though their hearts were fully for the souls of the national leaders.

These holy men of old only wanted the best for the leaders and the people; but that meant reproving the idolatrous self-pleasures that Satan had placed in the social customs and church traditions. But, these who had received power to become sons of God did their duty and spoke the words that His Spirit gave them, leaving the consequences with God. Nothing could derail them from the new life of faith and freedom in Christ, who was the Prince of self-denial and strength. Nothing was too hard for their Lord, and so nothing was too hard for them. They were for signs and wonders from their Lord of hosts who dwelled in Mt. Zion, their source of His Spirit of truth and grace.
 
Peter’s “Pity Thyself, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.” (Matt. 16:22, margin) was anathema to Jesus. Get thee behind Me, Satan! Christ’s kingdom has ever been built upon self-forgetfulness, self-sacrificing love. But, Lucifer is full of self-pity and complaints. He and his miserable hosts are all on a binge of self-appeasement and blaming others in order to defray reproach, rebuke, and discomfort of conscience. Satan’s kingdom has ever been built upon self-pity, and this principle the devil sought to insert into the church before the church was even born. He used Peter, Christ’s favorite and most hoped for disciple as the medium for insinuating his kingdom into Christ’s. Simultaneously, he sought to undermine Christ’s firm resolution to go through with the sacrifice of Himself, the ultimate expression of His Father’s government and the constitution of Their kingdom. “Pity thyself!” will never be heard on the throne and can never enter the kingdom of heaven.
 
Often Jesus, the burden heavy upon His own heart, sought to open to the disciples the scenes of His trial and suffering. But their eyes were holden. The knowledge was unwelcome, and they did not see. Self-pity, that shrank from fellowship with Christ in suffering, prompted Peter’s remonstrance… His words expressed the thought and feeling of the Twelve. Education, p. 88.
 
“Self-pity...shrank from fellowship with Christ in suffering.” If we want to be a part of the 144,000 warriors for God, we will need to be strong and of good courage. We will need the character of Christ perfectly replicated in us. There will be no room for self-pity in that army. Is there room for self-pity in any earthly army? If you have ever been in the military, you know the answer is a big N-O! Feeling sorry for self will not exist in the children of God. There will be zero tolerance of sorrow for self. No licking our wounds; no spats with others for some imagined mistreatment. Grace will change the nature, the chemistry in the whole being. Toughness will be the new goal; patience, tolerance, forbearance and forgiveness will be the order of the day, every day. Physical exercise, a manna diet, waiting upon the Lord and being renewed in strength every day, will be desirable and doable. The spirit of Satan will be harried out of the hosts of the Lord.
 
The small group retained in Gideon’s army were men determined to be self-denying. Everyone else was sent home. How quickly the unnumbered adversarial hosts fled before them! Some men of Ephraim could have helped, but self-indulgent fears kept them in hiding until the Lord had collected His chosen men. Then they accused Gideon of going alone without help from the nation; their pride and arrogance daring to stand before the faithful servant of God and accuse him of not sharing the glory but hording it all for himself. That man of valor put all the accusation back on them and summarily humbled them with a strong response. They backed down and accepted the humbling. Others refused to give food to sustain the fighting men until it could be evident that they were on the winning side. And as he forewarned them for their selfishness, after the war was won he tore down their shameful tower and taught them a lesson about their characters of briars and thorns—by using briars and thorns on their characters!
 
This boldness gives us an inside look at the 144,000 hosts of the Latter Rain. Sanctified and empowered by divine power, upon which they will trust, no one will be able to stand before their powerful testimony from heaven. They will tear down Babylon’s falsehoods and corruptions, and burn them with fire. The Beast and its hosts of locusts will fly away back into the bottomless pit, with their scorpion tails between their legs.
 
This is why the 144,000 will be God’s special vanguard that stand before His throne day and night, protecting His government. Their glory will exceed the angels’, while progenitors of other worlds like Adam might come and say to Jesus concerning the 144,000 who live on the world where He has established His city, “It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of Thy acts and of Thy wisdom. Happy are Thy men, happy are these Thy servants, which stand continually before Thee, and that hear Thy wisdom. Blessed be Thy God, which delighted in Thee, to set Thee on the throne of Earth: because the LORD loved Earth for ever, therefore made He Thee King, to do judgment and justice.” (Modified from 1Kings 10:6-9).

Wouldn’t you like to be one of the 144,000 and suffer shame for His name?

Friday, April 10, 2015

His cloud on our mercy seat

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God…. And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5:1,2,5).
 
Gold represents love. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.” (Rev. 3:18). Some biblical definitions of love are seen below in the context of gold and wealth.
 
Unprejudiced mercy, help, and salvation. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:12,13).
 
Mercy, great love. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us.” (Eph. 2:4).
 
Love for the righteousness of Christ, which is love. “I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me. Riches and honour are with Me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and My revenue than choice silver.” (Prov. 8:17-19).
 
To give away and be spent. “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” (Prov. 13:7).
 
Goodness, forbearance, longsuffering in such great supply that it causes repentance. “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).
 
Eternal longing to give glory and have mercy. “And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory.” (Rom. 9:23).
 
Joy, liberality. “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” (2Cor. 8:2).
 
Forgiveness, grace. “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Eph. 1:7).
 
Intense trove of grace and kindness. “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7).
 
Hearts knit together. “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” (Col. 2:2).
 
Reproach from serving the God of love. “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” (Heb 11:26).
 
Self-sacrificing love. “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Rev. 5:12).
 
A heart of meekness and quietness. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1Pet. 3:3,4).
 
Unfeigned love of the brethren, loving one another with drawing love, everlasting love. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3). “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (1Pet. 1:18,19,22).
 
Faith. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1Pet. 1:7).
 
The mind as a seat of the conscience and love. “And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.” (Dan. 2:38).
 
Loving favor—grace. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Prov. 22:1).
 
Love to meditate on the word of God. “Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” (Ps. 119:127).
“More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Ps. 19:10).
“O how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. 119:97).
 
There was a lot of gold in the sanctuary because God is love. But, the ark, the table of shewbread and altar of incense were only gold plaited.
“And they shall make an ark of shittim wood…. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it….” (Ex. 25:10,11).
Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood…. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold…” (Ex. 25:23,24).
“And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it…. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold….” (Ex. 30:1,3).
 
However, the top of the ark was not gold plaited. It was solid gold, 27 inches by 45 inches by, I’ll guess, 1 inch thick. And that’s where the Lord hovered in His small cloud of divinity and glory. That was a lot of gold; but, it needed that much to be worthy of the presence of the King of love and holiness.
 
“And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.…
And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat.” (Ex. 25:17,21,22).
“I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” (Lev. 16:2).
 
Love makes up His throne. He was the one to call His throne a mercy seat. Concrete Law undergirds His love because He must protect true love. And soft, malleable mercy covers the roughness of the concrete Law of love. His kingdom is founded on love, and from His throne of love He governs His kingdom of trust, righteousness, grace, meekness, long-suffering, quiet and easily entreated, gentle, selfless, unfeigned love.
 
“Christ was their instructor. As He had been with them in the wilderness, so He was still to be their teacher and guide. In the tabernacle and the temple His glory dwelt in the holy shekinah above the mercy seat. In their behalf He constantly manifested the riches of His love and patience.”  Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 288.
 
Another item of pure gold in the sanctuary was the breastplate for the high priest. It was of pure gold because the Lord wanted everyone in Israel to know that they were invaluable to Him, and that He carried them on His heart and mind. They dwelt in His heart, in His bosom; they were covered by His love.
 
“The breastplate of cunning work.… was foursquare; they made the breastplate double: a span was the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof, being doubled.” (Ex. 39:8,9).
“And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.” (Ex. 28:30).
“And they made upon the breastplate chains at the ends, of wreathen work of pure gold.” (Ex. 39:15).
 
Paul clarifies that the symbolism of gold equates to faith and love. “Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love.” (1Thess. 5:8).
 
The mercy seat of the earthly tabernacle represented the heart of the Lord God. He wanted them to know Him, and, like His later use of parables, He used things that they could see to represent spiritual things that they couldn’t see. And He wants to put His heart in us.
 
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.” (Eze. 36:26,27). He wants us to have His heart of mercy, faith, and love. Pure love. When we have that nature then He can dwell in us individually.
 
“If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever…. He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him…. If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him…. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” (John 14:15,16,21,23,27).
 
“As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a Man lay down His life for His friends.” (John 15:9-13).
 
He will dwell with us through His Spirit. He will be in a cloud of holy joy and sweet-smelling incense, dwelling in our heart. This is the condition where He ultimately wants His truth and grace to bring His people. Lack of faith and continual grumbling kept the children of Israel from receiving this unsurpassable blessing. But, let us seek it out and have what the apostles had.
 
“And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” (John 17:5). The glory of God is His love and communion. This is what Jesus had every day. Even if He wasn’t transfigured every day, His mind was transfigured through communion with His Father, His God. His heart moment by moment was filled with His Father’s infinite love and patience. How could He fast from the water of life when His Father was with Him? But, the days would come when He would fast from His Father’s life—involuntarily, in Gethsemane to Golgotha. There He would taste the death of hell for every man.
 
Our hell comes from lacking the Father’s Spirit. Our torment comes from little or no communion with God and His word. But, this Jesus had without measure every day. He lived by every word that proceeded from the mouth of His Father because His Father lived in Him by His measureless Spirit. They dwelled together. In the most beautiful union, They were one. Oh, how Jesus loved His Father’s Law! It was His meditation all day long! Jesus continually wore an invisible breastplate of purest, solid gold. Upon His heart’s mercy seat the presence of His Father dwelled day and night, adulthood and infancy. No spot of sin stained the heart of Christ; therefore, there was nothing preventing God from being enthroned in His Son.
 
Jesus is our example; He is our mentor, our standard, our continuous High Priest who lives to carry us upon His heart. God wants to dwell in everyone who “hath My commandments, and keepeth them.” Then, “he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him...and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:21,23).
 
“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5). If we have bowed in surrender to His Law, then we will receive the faith that brings us all the way to His mercy seat. He will justify us and legitimize our justification with a new heart—a mercy seat, the gift of God. We will have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the cloud surrounding His presence that dwells upon our mercy seat. He will have a sanctuary in which to abide.

“I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” (John 17:23).
 
“The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (Jas. 3:17).

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The least expected

 
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1Cor. 1:26-29).
 
Does God humble?  Our pride needs to be permanently disabled; we need to be perfectly humbled. No flesh should ever glorify itself in the presence of the great Creator, should it? No, never. The Holy, and Just, and Good One alone should be praised.
 
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor?
Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again?
For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:33-36).
 
“Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” (1Tim. 6:15, 16).
 
“To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 25).
 
To the tall, gallant, warrior type sons of Jesse the people had praise. And, surely they had demurred against the praise, but it had its effect. So, when teenager David began reviving trust in the Lord’s ability to defend His honor against Goliath, David’s brothers sought to put him in his place.
 
“Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.” (1Sam. 17:28). It’s true, battles don’t need any spectators. But, its also true that they didn’t believe David could really accomplish anything.
 
Even to the king, David was classed as a runt. “The king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is.” (1Sam. 17:56). Hebrew for “stripling” is “something to be kept out of sight”, “a lad”. In that culture, the adolescent was to stay silent in public. But, the Spirit of the Lord had filled David with inspiration, and he couldn’t keep quiet. God’s honor was at stake, and no one was doing anything about it.
 
Like Benjamin to Jacob, David had been the youngest and the dearest to his aging father, Jesse. With his rosy cheeks, David must have looked like a momma’s boy. A boy he was, in their society. And, even more so was he nothing but a kid to Goliath. But, in God’s estimation David was a man of valor because he had set his love on Jesus. And, God was right. David ran up to kill Goliath. (The perfect pre-play of the days of Christ when He would go undeterred to take out Satan. “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). “And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. (Mark 10:32).)
 
But, Goliath needed to be humbled into the dust. He had gone too far with his mouth. Like the little horn of Daniel 7, 8, and Revelation 13, Satan had inspired Goliath with “a mouth speaking great things.” (Dan. 7:8). “He [stood] up against the Prince of princes.” And he [spoke] great words against the most High” (Dan. 8:25; Dan. 7:25). “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” (Rev. 13:6).
 
If Goliath would be “willing and obedient [he could] eat the good of the land: but if [he would] refuse and rebel, [he would] be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isa. 1:19, 20). But, he chose to remain proud and arrogant, especially toward the name of the Lord. Like Pharoah, who had been brought up in prejudice, elitism, and wanton power, Goliath had never known humiliation. He had been “a man of war from his youth.” (1Sam. 17:33). As with Goliath, Pharaoh had received the good things of God without ever feeling the least obligation or reciprocation toward his Creator, or his Creator’s enslaved people. His presumption crossed the line that ended his probation. “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.” (Rom. 9:17). “What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction…” “Hath not the potter power over the clay, … to make one vessel…unto dishonour?” (Rom 9:22, 21).
 
Both the greatest of the great Goliath and Pharaoh went down by the meekest of the meek David and Moses. Neither should be heard in public. Moses could never speak well, and David was not old enough. Both felt his insufficiency.
 
“Moreover He said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Ex. 3:6).
“And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since Thou hast spoken unto Thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” (Ex. 4:10).
“Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” (Ex. 4:12).
 
Even if the Lord chooses His people from the unlearned and easily confounded, they are His best mouth pieces. They are the truest to what He wants spoken. The message might come out all muddled; but, at least it gets out free of the spirit of Satan. This is not to say that we should not improve our talents, or that the Lord doesn’t prefer to use a skilled speaker. The Son of God is the eloquent, articulate, perfectly dictioned, Word of God. But, the Son learned in infinite humility, and it is humility that God needs from the beginning to the end of our development. Yet, even as perfected in all respects as Jesus was, He retained the tenderness of His childhood  and there wasn’t any “beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isa. 53:2).

Gideon had the same answer. “And he said unto Him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Jdg. 6:15). He also felt insufficient for the work the Lord gave him. “And he said unto Him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2Cor. 2:16).
An end of pride does not justify a means of dependence on inherent talent. God would dispense with every inherent gift if pride is mixed into the end product. Thus, the Lord has usually called upon messengers who doubt their speaking ability.
 
Jeremiah was recruited young.
 
“Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth….
Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.” (Jer. 1:6-9, 17).
 
Paul seems to have stronger letters than lectures. But, this didn’t deter the apostle from raising up church after church. Jesus was with him and that made up the difference.
 
“Now I Paul … who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:… For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” (2Cor. 10:1, 10).
 
Paul agreed,
“I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1Cor. 2:1-5).
 
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake…. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2Cor. 4:5, 7).
 
Yet, it is with such imperfection that the Lord uses to hush the nay-saying rebels who expect the mouthpieces of God to meet their sophisticated expectations. It seems that the Korahs, Dathans, and Abirams aren’t pleased with a less than impeccable presentation of God’s will for them. And until they get that pleasing address, they put God’s will on hold until He can come up with someone suitable to pass their inspection. Nevertheless, God goes on with His program, with or without His enemies’ approval.
 
“Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts…. For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people.” (Isa. 28:9, 11). It’s men whose hearts are youthful who are the Lord’s picks, no matter their profficiency in speech.
 
Peter, before his conversion had a disability. Not that he wasn’t a bold, eloquent speaker. He had a natural knack for all of that. But, his disability was in not thinking before speaking, and not having a deeper spirituality. Yet, because he set his love on Jesus, sticking with Him through thick and thin, Peter obtained the gift of the Spirit, the token of God’s acceptance.
 
“And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matt. 14:28-30).
“And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him….” (Matt. 17:24, 25).
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32). “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.” (Matt. 26:74).
“But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee.” (Mark 16:7).
“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep.” (John 21:17).
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).
 
The Lord has had many excellent spokespersons. The prophets had to be determined, strong, to the point, courageous. They were perfected and sealed, anointed with the Holy Spirit and full of a holy boldness so that in the middle of their message they would not waver and become confounded.
 
But, no doubt, like Jeremiah, they were also in training and facing difficulties that only on-the-job training could provide. Jeremiah almost folded up shop and went home. Elijah did. These weren’t foibles; but, the men were human. The prophets were “subject to like passions as we are.” (Jas. 5:17). And God dealt with them patiently, firmly, and with the strength that those holy men appreciated. They had all experienced surrender to the Law of the Most High. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” (Jas. 4:10). Their Schoolmaster brought them to His Son to be justified by faith. Ever afterwards, their one common denominator was that they had all “set [their] love upon [Jesus].” “Therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.” (Psa. 91:14).