Often I just trust the Lord and open the Bible at random to listen. Yesterday morning I did that and it opened to 2 Kings 25, the final chapter, recounting the reign of Jehoachin (renamed Zedekiah) and the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. This morning I did the same thing and opened my Bible at random to Jeremiah 52, the final chapter, and the two chapters are almost word for word in telling the same story. The fact that it was repeated yesterday and today indicates that it is most assuredly from the Lord.My question yesterday and more so today is, “What does this mean? and Why is the Lord telling me this at this time?”
We are in the midst of the corona virus pandemic.
We are in the midst of a military buildup of China, Russia and the USA.
We are in the midst of a global economic disaster due to the pandemic.
We are in the midst of an escalating climate change with the temperature in Siberia averaging 11 degrees F higher than average and temperature reading 80 F above the arctic circle.
In the midst of all this….. what does this attention by the Lord to Jerusalem’s last days mean?
In Revelation, which in the second vision chapter 4-16 describes the effects of climate change Babylon is the word used to describe the culture of godlessness we see reigning across much of the world and particularly in the West. What makes these words mean even more is that, like Jerusalem before the destruction of 586 BC they had abandoned the God who had brought them from Egypt and time and again embraced idolatry. The words throughout Kings, Chronicles, the prophets and particularly Jeremiah make it plain that the judgement of God on Israel and Judah are because of leaving God to embrace idolatry.So, the times today are like those of Judah and Jerusalem before the siege began in 894 BC. And the analogy of Babylon and of the 2nd vision of Revelation linked to climate change make it seem plain that the events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of Solomon are at hand today across the world.
Therefore, I believe the Lord is telling me, warning me that the same kind of judgement recorded in these two chapters is closer than I imagine, perhaps right at the door and I am being told this as a warning and a time to prepare.With this knowledge at hand, what should my response be?Jeremiah’s response was to remain close to the Lord and to speak boldly to warn the people. There are very specific things that God asked Jeremiah to do. God would ask him to lay on one side for months and then turn over to the other side, to eat food cooked over burning dung, to buy a piece of land, I cant remember all those things but they are recorded in the book by his name.So, again, in light of these things, what am I to do?
- I think for me it must be to keep these words in mind every day.
- To expect God to speak and direct me in specific ways as to what to do or say.
- To be prepared that what God asks may not come with an explanation but that they are designed to be illustrations of what is to happen and what may be done to avert disaster if the people would hear.
- Expect resistance to any of this because people want to hear good news not bad. People want to continue in their own darkness and sin.
- The whole world is wanting to get past this pandemic so they can go back to the godless lives they led before.
- BUT, it is clear with all those things I have listed which characterize our day that the whole earth is at the brink of cataclysmic disasters. What happened in Jerusalem is going to happen world wide and within my life time.
- For now, it must be a time, as never before to watch and wait.
As I came to the second church to preach Sunday this dog was waiting. I preached from Exodus chapters 1-40 emphasizing the fact that only a few of the thousands who were freed from slavery in Egypt actually entered the land they had been promised, “flowing with milk and honey.
Having preached on this subject at two services I was discouraged because it seemed that no one really understood or accepted the idea that Christianity is a journey and that eternal rest is the result of a faith that chooses to follow Jesus Christ over a lifetime.
Leaving this second church the dog was still there. As I approached her I noticed her right front leg seemed to be injured or broken and that she was skinny as a rail. I tried to go to her but she just ran and hid from me. I made the 10 mile trip into town twice to get food, water, a collar, lead and even rope to capture her. After several hours I finally and with sorrow and concern for her well-being abandoned my efforts. I left messages with animal control and sadly drove away.
This morning, during a time in prayer I understood. I was disheartened after the first service and even more after the second. In that dog God was showing me that the problem was not my preaching or the Word of God. The problem was their running away and hiding from the Truth which had the power to set them free!
Today I am still saddened and grieve because of their rejection. But I am amazed at how God, understanding my need, was showing me in a way I would never forget that how He feels WITH ME the sorrow of rejected grace.
This afternoon I paused to consider the things of God along this Journey of Faith. I asked God to speak to me what He wanted me to hear. I opened to Isaiah 35. Wonderful words! But it was vs. 8-10 were His word for me.
“And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorry and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.”
Today, this day those who belong to God are travelling down that road with all the promises God has made here for those who travel The Way. We are not headed to an earthly city but a heavenly city whose founder and Creator are God Himself. As we travel that road day by day we do not need to fear all the things that those around us fear. We need not fear the terror by night nor the war by day, the crimes around us. No for along this Way we are watched over by the Holy One. That is why in Isaiah 35:8 it is called the “Highway of Holiness.” God Himself is there. He is the very one who said, “I will Never leave you nor forsake you.” and “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
“I am going to prepare a place for you. And when it is ready, I will come again…” These words from John 14 spoken by our Lord Jesus on the night before He was crucified are shrouded in mystery. Where did He go? What is He doing to prepare that place? Why is it taking so long?
I discovered part of the answer this morning while reading from the Song of Solomon. In this love story between a woman and her lover, the Church has understood from ages past that it is an allegory of Christ Jesus and His Bride, the Church. In this story the bridegroom is gone for lengths of time and while He is gone the bride awaits. There is more in this story than I can write here but here is where John 14, Song of Solomon and the book of Revelation come together to shed light.
In Revelation the “new Jerusalem” is described as a place where the streets are made of pure gold that you can see through. Obviously this is allegorical language and gold usually represents the product of fiery trials that refine the gold. Revelation and the gospel accounts make it clear that to be a follower of Christ will mean just that. Paul says to Timothy, “All who live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution.”
So where is Jesus and what is He doing to prepare those streets of pure gold? He is orchestrating the circumstances of our lives to work to purify us through all sorts of circumstances. How this works can be seen in more detail by examining the lives of the saints and the patriarchs.
SO, in light of all this, when the way is dark and your beloved bridegroom seems far away, lift up your head and look up for your redemption is at hand. He will not wait one moment longer than necessary so that the times you are now in will result in the perfection of your beauty for all eternity!