Thursday, September 13, 2007

In An Acceptable Time

"You have given me the necks of my enemies that I might destroy them.
They cried, but there was none to save them, even to the Lord,
but He answered them not
Psalms 18:40-41

In spite of what one might have heard to the contrary, God is not always willing to hear people’s cries and to forgive. There are some evils that men and women commit that are so ungodly, that so provoke the wrath of God, He will not forgive.

Of the many biblical examples, the arrogance of the people in Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day provide us with a most fearful example of provoking God too much. When God sent prophets to plead with the people to repent and escape the coming disaster, they mocked those humble servants of God, and, instead of repenting, sent out invitations for an end-of-the-world party. "Let us eat and drink," they said to each other, "for tomorrow we shall die!" To this, God furiously replied, "Surely, this iniquity shall not be purged from you until you die!" Every one of those witty, unbelieving people are suffering in hell today.

Then there was Esau, who lightly esteemed the holy, singular inheritance from his great-grandfather Abraham and traded it for a bowl of soup one day when he was hungry. We are told that later, when Esau "wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it diligently, with tears." It was too late to repent, too late to realize the value of the blessing of God that had been freely bestowed on him at birth. God would not forgive and restore to him that eternal "pearl of great price" which he had foolishly traded for a temporary earthly benefit.

God’s wrath may also be provoked by a long-standing refusal to heed His voice and repent. It is unwise to wait too long to obey the voice of God. In Proverbs, Solomon said, "He who, being often reproved, hardens his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that, without remedy."

This is the truth that serves as the foundation for Isaiah’s earnest cry to Israel: "Seek the Lord while He may be found! Call upon Him while He is near!" This verse is meaningless if God can always be found, or if He is always near. If there will never be a time when God will not respond to man’s cries for help, then what was Isaiah’s point in that verse? Isaiah was telling his fellow Israelites that there was coming a day when God would not be found by them, no matter how much they wept and begged for Him to help them.

There is a time, appointed by the Father, when we are to call on Him, and there is also a time when it is too late to call on Him, when calling on God is useless because He will not hear us. Did you notice that in the verse quoted at the beginning, those who had become enemies of Jesus called on God for help when trouble came, but they received none? "They cried, but there was none to save them, even to the Lord, but He answered them not."

May God give us wisdom to ask in a time when the answer is being offered, to seek while He may be found, and to knock before the door to God’s mercy is forever closed. If God calls, please do not hesitate to answer. To have Him speak to you is a very great blessing, and a very great opportunity for life and peace which you do not want to miss.

The Hatred Is Still There

"Show your marvelous loving kindness, you who by your right hand saves
those who put their trust in you from those who rise up against them."
Psalm 17:7

God is keeping us so safe and full in this culture that we often forget what a terrible, vicious warfare is being waged against our spirits every moment. National and international news organizations spend untold millions and risk the lives of their reporters to bring to the nations pictures and stories of earth’s military conflicts, but the real battle, the battle for souls, is ignored by them altogether.

Multiplied thousands of wonderful brothers and sisters from centuries past were cruelly butchered because they loved what we love, and yet, what an easy life we have! They saw the truth that we now see, and they loved it more than they loved their own lives. They were good, humble men and women, and boys and girls, but they were abused, plundered, tortured, and executed because they knew what God has shown us and were faithful. But God is keeping us, at this time in history, from that kind of persecution.

Why is it different for us? I don’t know that I can answer that question fully. We know that God has not changed. And the Devil has not changed. The world has become prouder and more sophisticated, but at heart, it has not changed either. Perhaps things are different for us now because Christianity does not hold political power in its grasp as it has in centuries past. Christians played the major role in the cruel abuse of many thousands if not millions of God’s humble saints in the past millennium and a half, and that fierce hatred of God’s truth can still be felt wherever the spirit of Christianity is present. But God is keeping us from suffering what that spirit would like to do to us who know and love the truth.
Daniel prophesied that a very cunning enemy of righteousness would come who would destroy many of God’s people with peace. And I remember that in Jesus’ parable of the four kinds of soil, some believers who had overcame hot persecution by men were later themselves overcome by "the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this life, and the desire for other things". In other words, pleasant things proved more effective in destroying some souls than difficult times did. In consideration of this, maybe our trial of living in this land of peace and plenty is a hotter trial of faith than that endured by previous generations who were abused and slain for the sake of Christ Jesus. Maybe the ease of life and the constant abundance of all things in our culture makes humility before God more difficult for believers than when they are persecuted.

Pray not to be deceived. If you love Jesus, this world still hates you, even at this seemingly easy time. God is saving you from the world’s vicious hatred because it is still there. God is keeping many from doing to us what they would truly love to do. The same hatred is there, though in a subdued form, that was there in years past, when godly men and women were being burned alive for nothing more than loving the truth of God more than life.