Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fearing God and Trusting Christ in an Age of Terror

"As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:3-15 ESV)

These photos are from a 'Religion of Peace' Deomonstration that happened in London. They were left out of American newspapers but are being sent over over to the States from people overseas.

I felt the pull in my Spirit leading me to write on a text about trusting God that is in the book of Isaiah. I had not gotten a chance to finish this writing last night and recieved the pictures above today from a friend right before the rest of this writing was to be finished. I decided to put up these pictures because it is fitting to see the horror of evil that is active in the world and to realize that Christ said that the state of this world as it is today will get worse. What is even more astounding is that even after the world comes to the place of extreme chaos with famines, earthquakes, wars and rumors of war, "all these are but the beginning of the birth pains"(Matthew 24:8). It is very disturbing to think about all of this and then realize that even still it will get worse. Even the earth itself has been groaning and heaving like a woman in birth and will feel the sin and wrath that has been brought onto it. So much so that even "the stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light" (Isaiah 13:8 NIV).

Throughout history there have been many dark periods brought onto the earth as a judgement against sin. In the Bible a prophet named Isaiah underwent one of these times. While God has dealt with sin in Christ for The Body and nothing that befalls us as His child is a judgement from Him, there will be a time that the Most Patient One will have fulfilled the time given for repentance and will begin to pour out His anger upon all of creation and everyone alive at that time will have to under go it. The words God gives to Isaiah regarding the judgement about to come are words that are easily forgotten but serve as a reminder of what type of people we should be in an Age of Terror.

"The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said:
"Do not call conspiracy
everything that these people call conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.

The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread,

and he will be a sanctuary;
but for both houses of Israel he will be
a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.

Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured."

Bind up the testimony
and seal up the law among my disciples.

I will wait for the LORD,
who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.

(Isaiah 8:11-17 NIV)

This text follows up shortly after a somewhat disturbing encounter between Isaiah and God. Isaiah almost is no more because He sees God. God cleanses him and allows him to live. God then asks Isaiah to go be His representative and Isaiah gladly agrees. God commissions Isaiah to speak to this people and then tells him that He (God) has closed their eyes and ears so that they cannot recieve any of the Words of God. God nows goes on in this passage giving the warning to Isaiah that he is not to be like the rest of the people. He is not to fear what they fear or dread what they dread.

It is easy to turn on the news or read the paper and hear about the state of the world we are living in and become stricken with fear. It is easy to feel like God has some understanding of how desperate our world is and how we fear things in this life that man can do, but God calls us to fear no man. Who we should fear is God.

"The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread" (Isaiah 8:13 NIV)

Fearing God is not something that is easily understood by non-Jewish Christians. It is easy to think of the God of the Old Testament as different from the God we see in Christ. One is a God of wrath, the other a God of love. But it is still the same God; God has both wrath and love and is merciful but is also just. Jesus even teaches us to have the same attitude about Who we are to fear.

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28 NIV)

In Christ there is NO condemnation that can be brought upon us. As believers, the only weapon Satan has is the power to threaten us with unconfessed sin. He has nothing that he can damn us with. Satan can even kill us but He cannot do anything to seperate us from God. In Christ we even have peace not only with God but also with other believers though the blood of the Lamb. But this same peace that unites us as believers also divides us from the world.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'" (Matt. 10:34-36 NIV)

People will stumble over Christ even after they have experienced His goodness due to the hardness of their hearts.

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:19-20 NIV)

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)

In today's world, the state of Christianity has been so influenced by Enlightenment thinking that we don't really know or talk about that people who are not Christians HATE God.

"The LORD looks down from heaven
on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.

All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one." (Psalm 14:2-3 NIV)

"The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." (Romans 8:3 NIV)

One of the clearest examples of how badly man hates God when left to himself is in Christ and the Cross. Jesus is "the exact representation of God's being" and Man hated Jesus so much, that while He was on this earth as a human, they killed Him. Man in his natural state would kill God if they could get their hands on Him; they did and it is not hard to fathom that we would do it again.

It is not that they just hate God, they will hate all people who believe in Him also.

"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!" (Matthew 10:24,25 NIV)

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." ( 2 Timothy 3:12,13 NIV)

The Bible is clear as to the nature of what is coming in and to the world and what will happen to the followers of Christ on this earth. America may not always protect the Christian faith; America may not even be here. We cannot hope and trust that something as feeble as man or government to provide for us security. We have no security in anything but Christ. God's desire is not that we should avoid pain and all have democratic and religious freedoms but that no matter what happens to us, He will be known to the world through us to show that He is the most glorious thing ever! The most glorious thing ever no matter what befalls us in this life is Christ and the Cross and He will go to any length so that we and the world know that He is more valuable than anything. It is not only for His glory but also for our joy. We will never know what true joy is until we can consider all things as garbage compared to Christ.

Tragedy will behalf us both individually and corporately as the Body in this world but let us say with Isaiah:

"I will wait for the LORD,
who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him." (Isaiah 8:17 NIV)

One day the horror of sin will be over; we will no longer be subjected to the pain and suffering that are in the world and His patience will soon be no more with evil. The devastation that is to come in this time God has left for the fulfillment of His purpose will be terrible but we are not to fear it. God has loved us so much that even before we loved Him He died for us and saved us and will sustain ALL of His children through all that will come into their path on this earth. He has not left us alone and will come again.

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

(Rev. 12:12-17, 20 NIV)

No comments:

Post a Comment