Monday, April 24, 2017

WORD OF LIFE, PART 16: 'HOW MUCH LONGER?"

 When things go wrong, as they most certainly do on a regular basis, we are always tempted to ask "Where is (was) God?". The unsaved ask this question all the time. When a tidal wave hits and hundreds or thousands lose their lives? "Where was God". When a massive earthquake devastates Haiti and over 100,000 poor Haitians perish in this natural disaster, some ask "Where was God?"....and so on.

Even the most godly and observant and biblically sound Christians can ask that same question. Is it the right thing to do when we question God like this? It is. Christianity is the only thinking man's Faith system. We do know He controls everything as He is sovereign and we do not. In Luke 13:3-5, we see that the Tower of Siloam had collapsed and 18 people tragically dies in this accident. This is similar to a major construction accident today, anywhere in the world, of tragic proportions. This tragedy was reported to Jesus as reported in this Gospel passage.

The response of Jesus must have stunned a lot of people. Here is the brief account and Jesus' unexpected answer: "No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam collapsed on them: Do you think that they were more sinful than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:3-5)


There is a sobering and scary message from the Keeper of the Gates of Heaven here who said twice in three verses "unless you repent, YOU TOO WILL PERISH"! The key to understanding tragedy is this - we have to be ready to leave this life at a moment's notice. We must life a repentant lifestyle, always at peace with God. We must ask God to forgive ALL our sins (and He will, if we are really seeking forgiveness). We must have the peace and knowledge of His presence in our lives, which leads to salvation and being born again.
Psalm 119:121-128
Ayin.
121   I have done justice and righteousness;  do not leave me to my oppressors.
122   Be surety for Your servant for good; do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123   My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation and for Your righteous word.
124   Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness and teach me Your statutes.
125   I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies.
126   It is time for the Lord to act, for they have broken Your law.
127   Therefore I love Your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold.
128   Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:121 is about the believer who has followed Christ and Micah 6:8, which tells us to do justice and walk righteously before our God. This is a person who is ready to stand before God once he/she passes from this life. However, this believer also seeks natural (or earthly) justice from those who relentlessly persecute.

This is absolutely in order. To ask for angelic protection is sound as each believer does have a guardian angel. This is what the author is praying for in this portion of Psalm 119.  During the many Israeli/Arab wars of the late 1960's-early 1970's, some former Arab soldiers reported on the Trinity Broadcasting Network that they had several Israeli soldiers cornered and outnumbered about twenty to one, on the side of a mountain. There was no natural way for the Israeli soldiers to come out alive from this strategic box. EXCEPT THIS - the now Christian Arab former enemies reported that when they got closer to where they thought they would capture their Jewish enemies, they saw huge 12-20 foot tall beings dressed in white with swords drawn....causing them to turn and run in the other direction!

Watch this video clip from a message I gave where we know from Scripture that "the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and He delivers them (Psalm 34:7). God does answer our pleas for help. He is our "surety" in these times of oppression and persecution (Psalm 119:122). But the key is to stay grounded in His Holy Word and constantly stay at the Feet of the Master seeking knowledge and wisdom from Him (Verse 123).

There are times when the tribulation is drawn out. In the recent past, several western pastors and missionaries have been captured and tortured in several Middle Eastern countries and even North Korea.  These are righteous people who risked everything for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, yet their payment was prison, torture and even death. Is God dealing with them (Verse 124) in His Mercy? When you look at the bigger picture, He most certainly is! 

Is it easier for us in the comfortable west to speak like this? Yes it is, but we also have our challenges.  In the increasing number of persecuted lands – from atheist China to the major Islamic and Buddhist countries, what is being done to the people of God is obvious. In western Countries from Europe to the UK to North America, the persecution is more subtle but just as deadly to the spread of the Gospel. In order for the persecuted anywhere, to keep the fire and passion going, we do need to rely more on the Word of God and His Promises. In the Middle East and Asia, God has been showing Himself in increasingly tangible ways to encourage His people, and not just in His Word. Most Christians on the run have no copy of the Bible and no way to get one. When this is the case, cry out to Him as in Verse 125.

Revelation 6:9-10 shows what is coming down the pike with those who are killed during the Great Tribulation (after the Rapture of the Church, when those killed for converting to Christianity during the worldwide reign of anti-Christ are under the Altar of God, asking "how much longer"). Persecuted Christians from various times in the last 2000 years, from the Roman persecution have been asking the same question many ask today- "How Much Longer"?  The answer is this- when all the world has heard the Gospel. Each day is one day closer. Our responsibility is to hate, despise and stay far from every shack or mansion which contains heresy, apostasy and misdirection. Conversely, we hold on to the Truth found in ALL 66 books of Scripture and every word of every verse of every chapter on every page of the Good Book (verses 127-128). Amen. How much longer? It could be, until we first see Him Face to face! As for those in Verse 126- leave that up to The King!
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