Week 43 – Ezekiel, a prophet in exile, speaks for the God he knows…

Can these bones live again? And what do you do when the music is gone?

DAY ONE – Ezekiel 29-32

There is an underworld, lower even than the grave, sometimes described as a pit. It is a place of living souls who once populated earth but died here in the midst of humankind’s struggle for life. The bodies of those who die lie on the ground or are laid away by their loved ones; but their souls go down into the pit. Depending on which version of the Bible one is reading, they may be referred to as ‘uncircumcised’ or ‘outcasts.’ It means simply that they lived apart from any connection to Almighty God, the Lord. How, where and when people disconnect from God and go their own way is another careful study, but the outcome is always the same–they descend into the pit to live with the life they have chosen. Notice, I say, to LIVE with the life they have chosen, for the soul of humans is immortal. This is a great mystery and should be considered with grave attention by the living. In choosing the life we live, we are likely choosing the eternity we will experience.

The main subject of today’s readings is Egypt, and Ezekiel received several messages in Babylon describing the fate of Egypt, already determined by Almighty God. As did Assyria and other nations further northward, Egypt flourished greatly and was described as a mighty, towering tree with branches that spread over other peoples around her. Until she chose other gods and began to cherish the illusion that she owned the Nile River, that her greatness was self-gotten, she was blessed by God. But her pride and arrogance, as it always does, brought her low in Yahweh God’s view, resulting in ominous predictions of unparalleled destruction. Egypt was to fall, disappear among the nations for forty years, then be regathered to her land; but never again to be significant among the nations. We remember that King David lamented over Saul and Jonathan, “How the mighty have fallen!” Is that not true of the nations in Ezekiel’s messages? Is it not true of Samaria and Jerusalem? Is it not true of former world leaders in our generations? Every soul is destined to die like mortals. Do we die as ‘uncircumcised,’ as outcasts; or do we die in the arms of our loving, Heavenly Father? Do we sink down to live in the pit, or are we gathered into God’s great family, to live in comfort and company with the saved of all the ages? The life we choose holds the answer to that question. Get connected… live connected… with God!

DAY TWO – Ezekiel 33-36

“Ha Shem” — The Name. Over and over God has been saying through Ezekiel, “Then they will know that I AM the Lord.” So who is the Lord? Remember now that all the nations worshiped their gods by their names and made appropriate sacrifices to them. Creator God is the Lord, but what is His Name? ‘Lord’ was a title applied to any master of those times, and the nations around Israel were no doubt surprised to see the Israelis adopt their gods by name and then sacrifice to them. The prophets vociferously challenged Israel repeatedly about adopting foreign gods while forsaking Yahweh, their God. There was and is only ONE Yahweh. He was revealed to the patriarchs as the ONE and ONLY true God of creation. All the other national gods were imposters–demoniacally inspired beings who sought to betray and destroy the human race as an affront to the True God. Every man-made religion today has its ‘divine being’ or beings–its gods. But they are not GOD. His Name is Yahweh, and He is Creator God, Israel’s God, and the Sovereign of the universe! No wonder He continued to message the nations, “Then they will know that I am Yahweh.” This Yahweh God is “the Lord of hosts”–that is, “Yahweh of heaven’s armies.” God has armies, unseen beings without number who serve His interests in the heavenly regions. So when God said, Ezekiel 33:2 (NLT)   “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country…'”  Yes, when God brings an army against a country, they cannot be beaten, for the Lord has untold hosts of heavens at His disposal to enforce His will over the nations. In this manner, God’s will is accomplished on earth, until the day He is ready to remove all evil and judge the nations. One more note about “Ha Shem,” The Name–God has a Son whose name is Yeshua, a compounded form of Yahweh which means, “God saves.” Yeshua is Jesus, the One we know as Savior and Lord, as King of all kings and Lord of all lords. To Him, to this Son of God and God the Son, Yahweh has given ”all authority in heaven and earth” lasting into the ages. Israel blew it. They missed multiple opportunities to “love the Lord your God” with “all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength.” They failed to believe His word, therefore they were given over to the worship of imposter gods, leading to dismal failure. May we welcome Yahweh God and His Son, Yeshua. May we believe His Word, and may we find the path to life by following Him daily.

DAY THREE – Ezekiel 37-40

“Can these bones live again?” After all of this it appeared that Israel was finished. The exiles thought so, for they said among themselves, “All hope is gone; we’re finished.” Israel had been scattered throughout all the nations northward, and Judah was in captivity in Babylon. The homeland lay deserted and in ruins, its life and livelihood destroyed. Then God took hold of Ezekiel and transported him to a valley full of bones, in which he witnessed a creative miracle, the divine work of Almighty God, and prophetic of what would happen when the exile was over. Israel would live again; they would come home to their own land; they would flourish and become a source of wonder to all the nations around them. But that was only the beginning. The Lord spoke to Ezekiel about things in the far-off distant future, extending beyond the days in which we are living–things too wonderful and terrible to describe. The time is coming when God will summon His enemies to the mountains around Israel and visit unheard of judgment upon them, while delivering Israel from annihilation and establishing a secure kingdom with ‘David’ as its king. This declaration was made by the Lord over 2,500 years ago. We are watching some of those scenes pass before our very eyes as God guides history toward His eternal plans for the ages. And though we don’t see all the details clearly yet, the outline is in view. Once again Yahweh God repeated, “And then they will know that I am the Lord.”

My question is this: At what point do we go all in for God? At what point do we understand that He is Sovereign in His universe and that our current world is only temporary? And at what point do we take hope in our own life, giving thanks and praise to the Lord, KNOWING that it’s never over until He says it’s over? Nothing is finished until the Lord has finished His work, whether it’s Israel, or the United States, or my own life and family! Just because I don’t understand and cannot see into the future as God sees, doesn’t mean that I have nothing to look forward to. God gets the last word, and His word to us is this: Hebrews 13:5-6  (NLT) ...For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”  History is on our side–Israel is still here! It’s a living lesson for us to believe our God and trust Him with our whole life.

DAY FOUR – Ezekiel 41-44

With nothing left for Israel to look forward to, Ezekiel received another revelation from Sovereign God: the rebirth and revival of Israel’s religion. The covenant offered by God to Israel at Sinai over eight hundred years before seemed but a memory, so devastating was the punishment the Lord levied out to Samaria and Jerusalem. Now Ezekiel was taken by the Spirit back to Jerusalem to witness the measurements for a new temple to be built for the worship of Yahweh God when the exile was ended. Everything about this new center was specified by God Himself, to be carried out in time. As Ezekiel watched the spectacle unfolding, he witnessed for the third time the ‘glory’ of the Lord which he had described in minute detail early in the book. There were mysterious beings, and wheels within wheels, and eyes all about, and the ability to go every direction without turning. There was PRESENCE in the vision, and God Himself was in the ‘glory.’ Returning from the east–for that was where the glory had gone–His Presence in the vision entered and filled the temple once again. Then the Lord explained that prior to this, Israel was so defiled that only a single wall separated God’s space from that which was devoted to the worship of idols and images. But no more. God would plant His feet firmly in His temple and from there would create a place of holiness, set apart for Him alone.  God would fill the place which is His alone to fill. God would rule over all.

We speak of God’s dwelling place as heaven… but also human hearts. He no longer lives in temples made with human hands, yet He fills every life which is opened and set apart for His worship. Idols have no place among us. We are created for fellowship with the living God. Things we make and use can never fill the space in us created for God alone. Other relationships and acquired blessings cannot hold a candle to the fullness we experience when the Lord occupies first place in our life. If living in this world ever seems like a kind of exile, know that God has a plan for restoring relationship–a revival of worship and Presence–reserved for us. Ezekiel was instructed to show the plan for the new temple, to describe its details to the exiles, so that they would be ashamed of their former sins and wait for the Lord’s glory to return. They would once again live with expectation and desire. The day would come when, home again in Judah, their faithful priests would stand before the Lord and perform all the rituals they had been given in the days of Moses. Has your day come–the day for you to return to the Lord, to seek Him with all your heart, to experience His ‘glory,’ His wonderful Presence in your life? You alone can answer that.

DAY FIVE – Ezekiel 45-48

Were you ever in a crisis so deep that life ahead was just bleak? You couldn’t imagine any kind of future worth considering? This was Judah’s testimony: Psalm 137:1-4 (NLT)  Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. 2 We put away our harps, hanging them on the branches of poplar trees. 3 For our captors demanded a song from us. Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn: “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!” 4 But how can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a pagan land? The worst had come upon them; there was no way back. They were finished as a nation, as God’s people. Yet Ezekiel was already prophesying a return, a restoration, planned for them. As with Jeremiah and others of the prophets, the Lord’s messages were revealing a striking future that had not only near implications, but far as well. Ezekiel saw a rebuilt temple, restored lands and worship, and a thriving society. Looking out further into the future, beyond even our time–though he didn’t know that–he saw in his visions a river from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. There were trees, crops, healing leaves, and regeneration of fish in the Dead Sea! Where is all of this coming from? Can any of this really happen? We all know the old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” And that brings us all to the real crisis that humankind faces…

Does the God of the Bible really exist? If He does, then He is the Creator of all there is; and He is Lord of all there is; and He is a Savior, Deliverer, and Sovereign of the universe. Then, if that is true, He has a loving interest in every person living or having lived on this planet. And if He loves us, we have to decide whether to return His love, whether to worship Him, whether to give our lives into His care. That’s the crisis! It can be ignored, we can “kick the can down the road” until another time, but eventually we will all run our course here, and then meet Him on other terms, no longer of our choosing. So many biblical predictions have already been fulfilled as stated, that we do well to discover for ourselves the wonderful future that our Father in heaven plans for us. As always, no one else can choose for us, and no one else can change the outcome except God Himself. The Lord Yahweh, God of Israel and our God, can get us through our crises to live in peace with Him.

Week 42 – God has no grandchildren! Read His word with us this week…

“…then they will know that I am the Lord.” Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as He wants to be known?

DAY ONE – Ezekiel 9-12

Public executions have become few and far between. Those we may have witnessed in the media are very solemn and sobering events–quiet meditation, soft movements, last visits and personal wishes, and always the hope of a last-minute legal stay granting a bit more time. But the end does come, and the records are closed. In Ezekiel’s vision, as it unfolded in Jerusalem, and thereafter, when he was back in Babylon, two major shifts were  taking place. In the first, as Ezekiel watched, God’s ‘glory,’ that is His demonstrable Presence in the temple, lifted from His resting place and hovered over the court of the Lord while judgment commenced in the city. Some throughout the city were given a mark of immunity, saving them. The rest faced various death threats. Once the judgment was carried out, the glory of the Lord removed from the temple, hovered over the mountain to the east, and then was gone. Judah was now desolate. Then, back in Babylon, the early captives were scoffing at Ezekiel’s pronouncements, believing that his prophecies need only a bit of ‘cooling’ time, after which they would be meaningless. Everything would return to some order, and things would work out. They even had a proverb for that. But then God said that He was giving a new proverb: “The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled!” Mercy had been shown; patience had worn thin; the Glory was gone, and the siege was at hand. To a people who had believed Jerusalem to be impregnable a new light dawned–their protection was removed, and they were now at the mercies of their tormentors.

Is there any good news? There is always good news, because Yahweh God is the Creator of Good News. Amid the prophecies of justice and judgment comes this news:  Ezekiel 11:16-21 (NLT) 16 “Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. 17 I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.’ 18 “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. 19 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. This very pronouncement has in it the miraculous character of God’s hand. Only the Lord can take the worst situations and turn them into something with positive outcomes. Romans 8:28 (NLT)  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

DAY TWO – Ezekiel 13-16

When our first daughter was born, it was at a time when not even the husband was allowed in delivery, so I had to wait for the announcement and first viewing through the glass. That was Friday. After doing Sunday services I arrived Monday morning to bring my wife and baby home. As we got out of the car I picked up this beautiful little girl and laid her on my arm with her head in my hand. This was the first time I held her! Some months later I was out late at night reminiscing and ruminating on fatherhood. Joyfully I accepted my responsibility to bring her up, educate her, provide for her and be her father. All I asked of this infant girl was that she be my daughter; she would have to worry about nothing else. I would see that she made it to adulthood. I LOVED her. I still do. This is the Father heart of God. He loves His people. He loves the world. He said to Israel, “I will be your God, you will be my people–my sons and daughters.” And through Ezekiel the Lord told the story of finding baby Israel still unwashed, thrown out like a piece of trash by the mother, lying in a field. He picked her up, washed her, cared for her and watched her grow to adulthood. Then He took her as a bride, offering His covenant to only her. But the story goes downhill from there until Israel has completed cycles of prostitution with everyone passing by, offering herself to the gods of the nations while forgetting her ‘husband’–the Lord God. As a husband and father I can understand the Lord’s passion if a wife or daughter forsakes love and home to try to find something to satisfy her desires, family ties broken and ruined. In those circumstances would I want supposed friends to come along and whisper lies to me that this is all going to stop, that everything is going to be okay? And would I want supposed friends, claiming prophetic gifts, to visit my wife or daughter with lies that they are okay, that they are immune to rejection and destruction? Should I stand by and make no sound, no protest, no claim to that which at one time was exclusive to me? Should I be inclined to congratulate my wife’s lovers and wish them well and tell them I love them? And should I finally say that we are all just one big, happy family and the world is well? NOT!

As a father and lover, I value the relationships of family enough to humble myself and do all in my power to make whole those who are the objects of my love. Not being God, my humanity will leave room for the unknown and the unexpected outcome, whether good or bad. But even I, created in the image of God, am capable of continuing to love and give myself in favor of those whose love I crave. And in that sense, I understand the messages Ezekiel is giving to the nation of Judah, now divided between their homeland and Babylon. GOD CARES, GOD RESTORES.

DAY THREE – Ezekiel 17-20

God has no grandchildren! Yahweh God, whom we love and serve, is timeless. He lives in eternity, a dimension unknown to us except in theory. When I turned ten, my beloved grandmother passed to the Lord, and hers was the last funeral I attended until I was an adult. That was over sixty-five years ago. I still hold blessed memories of her. Nine years ago I laid my father to rest. Two generations of living beings have preceded me into the eternity in which I believe; and one day I will follow. So generations come and go–grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, and on and on. Memories are made and lost. Now we talk about DNA to reveal to us where our ancestors came from. However, I am much more interested in where we are going! Repeatedly the Lord sent His prophets with His messages to Abraham’s descendants–the children of Israel (Jacob)–to reveal His unique relationship and covenant with them. Sometimes using stories, sometimes speaking plainly, God recounted their history from the days of Egypt and before, all the way down the centuries to the present exile in Babylon. The Jews from Judah could trace their ancestry by genealogy back over one thousand years to their patriarch Abraham! And yet God has no grandchildren, since He has no genealogy. Every human since creation has opportunity to be in direct relationship with the Everlasting, Mighty God the Creator! And for every one of us who enter His covenant by faith and obedience, we are first generation sons and daughters! In every generation through all time, God has continually revealed Himself as ‘I AM,’ meaning He is universal and eternal. As we read these ancient messages through the prophet of the exile, as Ezekiel was, we are reading as if it is today and we are the ones to whom the message is coming. God’s words still ring true, and His messages are still relevant, because as King Solomon, the wise man, once said, “There is nothing new under the sun!”

From today’s chapters then, we remind ourselves that God always sees, always cares, and always acts in a just and righteous manner. Every benevolence He can bestow, He bestows. Every measure He can take, He takes. And every person He can receive under His covenant, He receives. He spelled it out clearly. He looks for humility and repentance, not perfection. He looks for response and obedience, not rebellion. And He looks for a good and willing heart in His people. Why would we want to pervert the truth of God into a lie which misrepresents Him and turns people away? Why would we ever want to ignore Him or refuse Him His proper place in our life? From a thankful heart of gratitude then, I turn my face to my God and seek His guidance for my life today.

DAY FOUR – Ezekiel 21-24

“You will know that I am the Lord.”  “…then they will know that I am the Lord.” Over and over again Ezekiel’s prophecy ends with these words. As his messages take on more somber and savage tones, the predictions of terrible destruction and atrocities increase with intensity. As I read through these chapters my mind flashed back upon God the Creator, the Sovereign Lord over all that is made. Can we imagine that the heavens and earth were created in pristine glory… so much so that when God saw it He declared it good, and the “morning stars sang together for joy”? It was into this glorious Eden that our Lord placed earth’s first couple, created in His own image. For months we have been reading the history of humankind from God’s point of view, the Bible, which is His revealed Word to us. And now we have finally witnessed the total corruption of His image in redeemed humans, for the First Nation of Israel utterly failed God in their elevated status as the people of God. The Lord’s Name and Honor were shamed and insulted by their rampant idolatry and perversion, the shedding of innocent blood in sacrificing their children to the fire gods, and filling the land with corruption of all that is good. It was so beyond the pale that Ezekiel emphasized his messages with a slashing sword! The unthinkable happened, and Jerusalem, destitute Jerusalem, was about to lose its pride and joy, its last vestige of God’s glorious Presence, the Temple. First the Assyrians, and now the Babylonians, were unleashed against the holy people, and the handwriting was on the wall. Soon all came crashing down, and the corrupted people, having lost their last hopes of respect, finally humbled themselves and rejected their sins of idolatry. “Then they will know that I AM the Lord.”

From Moses, the man of God, come these words — Psalm 90:10-12 (WEB)  The days of our years are seventy, Or even by reason of strength eighty years; Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, For it passes quickly, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of your anger, Your wrath according to the fear that is due to you? 12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. What is a heart of wisdom? It is the heart that has been disciplined to the revelation of Almighty God and His sovereign grace and mercy. It is the heart that is trained to humble itself before God and seek His glory in life. And it is the heart that has learned how temporary everything is. In the final analysis, life must begin and end with the Lord. Then we can know true wisdom and have understanding of all that is important. What does it take for us to welcome the Lord in every aspect of life and seek His divine will in everything we do? Each of us has to answer that question. “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

DAY FIVE – Ezekiel 25-28

We are observing a divine phenomenon in the 20th and 21st centuries that was predicted by the ancient prophets, including Ezekiel. Carrying forward the theme “Then they will know that I am the Lord,” Yahweh God predicted judgment on all the nations who either afflicted Israel and Judah or rejoiced over their downfall. And in each case, as He described what would happen to those nations and how some of them would never be rebuilt or rise again, He reaffirmed “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” Tyre, the island city built on a rock off the north coast of Israel, was especially singled out by the Lord, and her king was described in cosmic-like terms. Take time to reread the passage in Ezekiel 28:11-19. Who is this king of Tyre? From what we know of cosmic origins in early biblical history, this ‘person’ sounds very much like other descriptions of Lucifer, known to us as the devil. Ezekiel 28:16-17 (NLT)  Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. 7 Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. Consider the following choice words–rich commerce, violence, pride, wisdom, corrupted, love of splendor. We witness these things every day in the affairs of nations, of all humankind! Is it possible that this king of Tyre is a human example of those things in temporal life that God hates, that He exposes for all to see, that He eventually throws to the ground? Is it conceivable that this king of Tyre is a type of devil who embodied such evil motives and actions that God’s judgment on him is a warning to all? And can we believe that there actually is a cosmic war ongoing in another dimension that affects life here on earth? If the original creation was pristine, what happened? Where does all the violence and disruption come from? Why is there so much fighting going on all the time around the world? When will it all end? If we don’t know the answer to all these questions, here is what we DO KNOW– 1) Yahweh God is the Sovereign of the universe, and His word and will govern affairs among humankind. 2) Predictions made in history by the biblical prophets have been fulfilled with uncanny accuracy. 3) Israel was regathered from the nations and is now the world’s focal point for all international relations. 4) What was once the domain of Almighty God is STILL the domain of Almighty God, so we must remember these words: “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Week 41 – Making good progress as we read thru God’s Word, the Bible..

Prophets spoke for God in their times, but their messages from God are timeless and relevant today.

DAY ONE – Jeremiah 51, Psalm 137

We have now reached the end of Jeremiah’s prophecies. This last message was written while Jerusalem and the temple were still standing. Yet God warned His people that soon (within 70 years) Babylon would be overrun and destroyed. He encouraged them to remember Jerusalem and yearn for their homeland, and by all means, to escape when Babylon’s judgment began. It reminds me of the growing specter in Europe as the Second World War was amassing. The madman Hitler was determined to conquer the world and create a master race of Aryan peoples. Large congregations of Jews had migrated and settled all over Europe, in Russia and even the United States. Palestine (Israel) had been the protectorate of England in those days but eventually the British  withdrew from the middle east. While the political situation was developing, Lord Balfour persuaded the British Parliament in 1917 to pass a resolution encouraging Jews in all British protectorates to escape Europe and return to their homeland of Israel (Palestine). Thousands of Jews did, and Zionism–the repatriation of Israel–which had been born in the late 1800’s, gained momentum throughout the world. Those Jews who felt the calling of their homeland and left Europe, fled with only the basic necessities, having to carve out a life of survival when they arrived in Israel. Meanwhile, millions of their own people who chose to remain in Europe where they had lived for generations, perished in the greatest catastrophe of ethnic cleansing the world had seen to date–the Holocaust.

It is always wise to study the Bible and try to learn what is coming upon the world as history unfolds. While we may see only shadows of some events we know are prophesied, we know enough to take deliberate action to find our home, our protection and our provision in the Lord Himself. Given the unstable conditions we face in our own culture and political arenas, it is possible to become comfortable or even complacent and careless in our lifestyle, in respect to God’s calling, so that judgment and calamity seem to belong in some other place and time. We all pray something will happen to turn our nation back to God and provoke another revival of faith in the Lord. Whether it happens or not, the world as we know it, according to Scripture, is temporary, is passing away in favor of a world of God’s creation in which evil no longer exists. We all want that, but we may find that road difficult to walk without Divine help. Remember, heaven is our real home, and God’s will is our real desire. He has prepared the Way for us, but we must choose that Way, then live it.

DAY TWO – Lamentations 1:1-3:36

Imagine walking through your home town. It’s quiet, the streets deserted, no one moving about. Houses are burned out, bodies still lie about, silent in death. Horror stalks your mind as you remember the gaunt, starving people whose faces bespoke their fear in the last days of the siege, before the town was overrun by their enemies intent on destroying everything in their path. You mutely shake your head, looking for words that won’t come, waiting even for tears, but you can’t cry anymore. Your home town no longer exists. The devastation is overwhelming and complete. You would ask God one more time, “Why?” but you already know the answer. You were the person who labored year after year, for over two decades, pleading with your neighbors and friends to listen to the Lord’s Words and messages, to turn from the wickedness that was destroying them, the idolatry that had rendered them senseless before God. You rose each morning hoping that today would be the day they would turn back in humility; but instead they laughed at you and at God, spurning the warnings and continuing their life of self-indulgence. They even tried to kill you, more than once. But you are still here, and you must now consider the possibility that future generations, should humankind continue, will have to face the same sad outcomes that you are now witnessing. It sounds so hopeless, but is it? These are the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the prophet who stayed faithful to the Lord all the days of his life.

If we speak of hope, shall we link hope to a better future brought about by our best efforts to improve our way of life or create a stronger, more powerful government? Do we have historical evidence of any nation or people who ever preserved their life more than a few hundred years? Let’s be clear about this: our hope does NOT lie with humankind. Lamentations 3:21-29 (NLT)  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: 22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope IN HIM!” 25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. 26 So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. 27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: 28 Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord’s demands. 29 Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last.

DAY THREE – Lamentations 3:37-5:22

A sad story with a sadder ending–these are the lamentations of a faithful prophet. In the aftermath of the siege slaves have become masters by their own shrewdness, selling water and firewood needed for survival. Seizing the opportunity amid the ruins, foreigners have rushed in and mingled with the rabble, so that no place is safe and people can’t openly walk the streets. This is not a movie made for TV, and the plot will not be resolved within the hour. We cannot get up from our viewing and go back to our relatively comfortable activities–time for bed because tomorrow we start over. There is no starting over for Judah. Their nightmare is ongoing; their captivity is scheduled to last seventy years. Only then will there be a returning and rebuilding; and only then will the nations enter another season as Yahweh prepares the next scene for the Advent of His Anointed One, who will be a World-changer. Lamentations 3:31-33 (NLT)  For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. 32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. 33 For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.

No amount of theory or philosophy prepares us for, or explains, the depth of evil and horror we see in humankind. The VOID created when God no longer fills the thoughts and actions of a people and their leaders cannot be filled with anything other THAN faith in our Creator and our Savior. Freeing us from our folly is a job for ‘Super-God,’ after we have exhausted every human solution we can contrive. The more we resist the Lord and insist on our own way, the more we hurt ourselves and the deeper into ruin our society descends. Jeremiah the prophet survived only because he called out in severe distress to his God. Yahweh God helped him and sustained him through his fatal circumstances. This prophet, whose hands were clean and whose heart was wasted under human sorrow, lived to see the results and to proclaim a time of healing and restoration. No matter what we experience or see with our eyes; no matter how difficult it is to watch the devastation slowly taking over our culture, let us be strengthened and warned concerning our faith: Hebrews 12:25-29 (NLT) Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.  28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.

DAY FOUR – Ezekiel 1-4

How did Old Testament prophets become prophets? Ezekiel tells us his story in his own words. He was from Judah and had been taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in the first captivity around 597 BC. At age 30, he saw visions of God’s glory one day which can be described only as exceptional, maybe even perplexing. The physical descriptions of four beings encountered in his visions bring everything we know about physics into question. They were obviously from another sphere of existence, something outside of our purview. Four beings, each with four faces and four wings, wheels under each of them, a wheel within a wheel, so that they could travel in four directions without turning, captured Ezekiel’s attention. Is there significance to these strange and unexplainable creatures? Our emerging prophet referred to them as the ‘glory’ of God. They moved by the Spirit of God. This vision was all about God appearing to the prophet in physical form. Then God spoke to Ezekiel out of the ‘glory.’ The Spirit of God took hold of the young man to complete the revelation and seal the call that would be his life occupation. He was being sent to a hard-hearted, rebellious people who had been rebelling against God’s instructions since the days of Moses, several hundreds of years. Now in captivity in Babylon, they were still in a state of rebellion. Ezekiel was to bring them messages from God, and now a new dimension was added–living, dramatic demonstrations of those messages that could not be misunderstood. The first of them indicated the coming siege against Jerusalem and its total destruction. If these exiles thought they were going soon back to their homeland, they would have to think again–there would be nothing left to return to. That was the beginning.

How much does Yahweh God, our Creator and Savior, love us? Are we to believe lies and slander that describe Him as either non-existent or non-caring? Are we to question His integrity and character only because He doesn’t do everything we ask Him? Are we to blame Him for the evil that is rampant in our world because He hasn’t stopped it yet? Or are we to let Him speak for Himself; and let Him, in His own words, explain who He is and what He is like? Are we to believe what He has done to save us, to create relationship with us, to bring us to share His eternal glory? Or are we, like ancient Israel and Judah, to go our own way into oblivion and then wonder where God is? He certainly does not live in oblivion, and He certainly has not abandoned us. The Spirit of God took hold of Ezekiel and certified his call as a prophet/spokesman for the Lord. Open your heart to the Spirit of God and welcome Him to take hold of you, too. Let God’s ‘glory’ come into your spirit and bring light and life. He will reveal to you personally how much He loves you. You will KNOW who He is, and that there is NO OTHER like Him.

DAY FIVE – Ezekiel 5-8

As I began my reading this morning I thought, “Lord, Ezekiel’s messages sound so much like those of Jeremiah and some of the other prophets–message after message denouncing the idolatry, wickedness and rebellion of the holy people Israel and Judah. Warning after warning of the calamity and destruction descending upon them without remedy. So few will be left after your anger is spent and your punishment is meted out. What shall I write?” Because I shudder when I realize the downward spiral of godlessness that is so much a part of our daily life in the western hemisphere. Just in my lifetime our culture has been turned on its head and filled with insolence and arrogance toward God. Then it hit me: 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 (NLT)  I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. 2 In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, 7 or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” 8 And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. 9 Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. 11 These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.

Do we live at the end of the age? Are these the ‘last days’? Who can say for sure? Once again I remind you to keep your eyes on the middle east and Israel. God’s dealings with the nations began there, and they will culminate there. The covenant the Lord made with our Father of Faith, Abraham is not yet finally fulfilled. But God is faithful and will keep ALL His words to His people. So let’s make sure we are the people of God, full of faith and the Holy Spirit; and living in the Book of Books–the Bible. Let’s face these days with courage and perseverance, determined to follow our Lord at all costs. Let’s do so with praise and thanksgiving by letting this world go and embracing the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then we will have confidence at His coming. “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Week 40 – Getting better acquainted with our Heavenly Father thru His Word

The Sinai Covenant is the predecessor to the Better Covenant of our Lord Yahshua (Jesus) Messiah…

DAY ONE – 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36, Jeremiah 52

At Sinai, some eight hundred years before this captivity, Yahweh God met Moses on the mountain and issued to him the Ten Commandments. At that time the Lord offered a covenant to Israel, who had just been brought out of slavery in Egypt and were chosen by God to take on His identity as a nation and bear that identity before all the other nations. As ‘God’s people’ they would enjoy special blessings and privileges that would ‘witness’ to the other nations how great their God was. Two of today’s readings show how miserably Israel failed of this generous and merciful covenant.  2 Kings 24:3-4 (NLT) 3 These disasters happened to Judah because of the Lord’s command. He had decided to banish Judah from his presence because of the many sins of Manasseh, 4 who had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. The Lord would not forgive this.  2 Chronicles 36:15-16 (NLT) 15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his Temple. 16 But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the Lord’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done. Innocent blood and rebellious impertinence toward God–these two habitual behaviors of Israel’s kings, priests and people finally wore the Lord’s patience beyond the stretching point. Then came calamity. Though it came in stages and not all at once, there was still no repenting, no humbling of themselves, no returning from their wicked ways. The northern tribes went first and their land was empty. Then Judah was led away to Babylon, and the Lord’s land finally had rest. The enmity against God had lost its voice and would be under the discipline of slavery once again–this time to a Babylonian king.

Two statements–“The Lord would not forgive this..” and “nothing could be done..”–should punch our ALERT button! How much innocent blood is too much? And at what point is it decided that nothing can be done; that all that can be done has been done? We should at least be cognizant of present conditions in our world and culture. We should recognize danger signals and warnings that are piercing the atmosphere around us. And we should be asking better questions! Not “why, Lord?” but “what would you have us do now?” May I suggest that, among whatever other things you have to say to God today, you might preface it with this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10 (NLT)

DAY TWO – Jeremiah 41-44

Don’t ask the Lord what His will is if you don’t plan to follow His counsel. After several severe and treacherous situations among those who were still in Judah following the captivity, the leaders sent Jeremiah to seek Yahweh God to know what to do. They were talking of going down to Egypt to escape famine and the sword. They sought to protect their lives from the unstable conditions prevailing in Judah. Ten days later Jeremiah brought the Lord’s message of hope and comfort to the people with the proviso that they remain in their land. God’s only prohibition was, “Don’t go down to Egypt!” Egypt was the last place the Lord wanted for His people. That was the land of their slavery and oppression following their ancestor Joseph’s death. They were to never again look to Egypt… for anything. However, Jeremiah rightly discerned that they had already determined that is exactly what they would do, no matter what answer he brought back to them. Their decision was disastrous. It sealed not only their  fate but that of the Egyptians as well. They couldn’t hide from God in Egypt.

Where can we go when no place seems safe anymore? What can we do when we think no one can be trusted, when everyone seeks his own interests?  Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.  For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.  He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.  Psalm 91:1-4 (NLT) Their father King David gave them the answer centuries before, out of the overflow of His close, personal relationship with Yahweh God. As a young shepherd boy, David found refuge from the wild beasts. As a teenager he found victory over Goliath. And as a young warrior he safely walked with God through countless moments of danger and terror, emerging with a solid faith and trusting heart. The world may not be a safe place. 1 John 2:17  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (NLT)  Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; Do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

DAY THREE – Obadiah, Psalms 82, 83

Esau (Edom) was Jacob’s twin brother. Jacob was Israel, chosen by God to inherit the eternal covenant, as his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham had been chosen. So envy, jealousy and bad blood remained between the twins in the centuries that followed. Obadiah’s prophecy reveals that Edom stood gleefully by during Israel’s captivity, blocked the roads when Israelites tried to escape, and plundered Israel when nobody was looking. Today you won’t likely find a single descendant of Esau, but millions of Jews have survived impossible circumstances and unceasing attempts to wipe them out. Abraham’s descendants keep coming home to Israel, and Israel is the focal point of international relationships today. Who is discussed most in the United Nations? Israel. Who is most accused of bad behavior in that questionable body? Israel. And yet who in modern history has produced an effluence of artists, scientists and world leaders? Israel. The Israel of God is at the center of His dealings with the nations; and the nations have to answer to God for how they treat Israel! Remember that.

The shifting of world powers, the rise and fall of kingdoms, and the burgeoning economic crisis overtaking the whole world is symptomatic, perhaps even prophetic, of Yahweh God’s plan to save the world AND Israel, while severely judging the nations that wish to inordinately appropriate to themselves what belongs to the Lord Himself. By right of creation and by right of redemption, Almighty God is the owner and proprietor of this planet shared by humankind. And yet we often treat Him as if He is an interloper, interfering with the plans we have for our life. Do we wish God to go away and leave us alone? Do we wish Him to just give us what we need and help us when we are in trouble? Or do we wish Him to be God Almighty; to save us and redeem us; to help us find our way as we struggle with the necessities of modern living? He is Who He is; we cannot change that; but we can humble ourselves before Him, turn from our own stubbornness, and welcome Him into our lives. From the days of Adam and Eve every human in every generation has had to face the reality of God the Creator and decide whether he is to be worshipped or resisted; whether to believe Him or turn Him into a lie; whether to choose the life He offers or the death that is otherwise inevitable. Is He the Father God, the Lover, the Savior, our Friend? May you find Him to be all that and more.

DAY FOUR – Jeremiah 45-48

This is a rather long book of the Bible and filled with much denouncement against Judah’s people and the nations. Considering that we have covered twenty-five or so years of real time in Judah through Jeremiah’s preaching, I find myself a bit worn out. There hasn’t been much good news in these messages. It makes me stop and think: what if we really were at war… on this continent and in our cities? How quickly would calamity wear us out? What would we do? This brief chapter in our reading reveals how Baruch held up–or not–as Nehemiah’s secretary and recorder.  The prophet Jeremiah gave a message to Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, after Baruch had written down everything Jeremiah had dictated to him. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You have said, ‘I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the Lord has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.’ “Baruch, this is what the Lord says: ‘I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken!'”  Jeremiah 45 (NLT)  Baruch loved God. As Jeremiah’s assistant he was frequently involved with the weeping prophet and could only write what he was told. It had to be very difficult. So God gave him a personal message of hope in the midst of disaster. God loved Baruch and remembered him.

Our Lord is a personal God. He loves you and me, individually. He takes note of us and our situations. If we seek Him out and find Him; if we give Him the worship He deserves–with praise and thanksgiving, He really does work good in our behalf. He so cares about us. Don’t ever think you are going unnoticed by Yahweh God. Talk to Him; explain yourself. Be honest. Let Him know how you feel. But DON’T ACCUSE HIM OF LETTING YOU DOWN. He cannot do that. You may let Him down, but He will love you still. Humankind is highly capable of perpetrating sin and transgression against each other. But the Lord wants to save us all. Can you trust Him for that?

DAY FIVE – Jeremiah 49-50

We have already read nearly two-thirds of the Bible, mostly history and prophecy. We have met the ancients such as Adam and Noah, Abraham and his descendants–Joseph, Moses, Joshua; and a host of judges, kings and priests. But there is only ONE Creator, Supreme and Sovereign God, who called Himself Yahweh, the name variously rendered as Adonai (LORD). He has taken credit for the contents of the Bible books we have read, claiming to have spoken to the various authors in what we refer to as ‘divine inspiration,’ or ‘God-breathed.’ We have witnessed His activity and influence among all the nations, but mostly we are discovering His true CHARACTER and learning to know and trust Him with ALL of our life and circumstances. We are learning the high value of thanksgiving and praise as components of a worshipful life, as well as His ongoing plans to save the world from evil desolation and destruction. Those who reject God and fight against Him are LOST and devastated. And always history responds to the Divine Initiative in spite of humankind’s efforts to create and rule their own destiny. So by now it is reasonable to say that God IS in control; and it is highly reasonable to decide that I want His control over my life. For that reason I choose a life of humble repentance, prayerful trusting and seeking after the Lord, and willingness to discover His guidance in everything.

The STANDOUT in biblical history is the nation of ISRAEL, the nation founded by Yahweh God Himself when Moses brought them out of Egypt to Sinai. From then until now we recognize them as the pivot point or fulcrum that God uses to measure and judge all the nations. Israel has been blessed and judged, but Israel has not been forsaken or left without a future. God has led them, plead with them, forgiven them and put up with them. At times we are tempted to ask why He continued to do so? Let’s remember then, that Isaac, the miracle son of Abraham and Sarah, was the seed sown into that race of people known as Israel, from whom the anticipated Messiah would come to bless and refresh the nations with eternal salvation. This explains why the Lord saves us, puts up with us and uses us to go forward with His plans on earth: from Adam until now He has relentlessly pursued the human race to find those who will welcome His covenant and surrender to the blessed future He is planning. If you are still reading His Word–the Bible–then you are likely among the Covenant People who are waiting for our eternal salvation from heaven, believing that God’s Word is true, faithful and trustworthy. So let’s keep moving!

WEEK 39 – Have you read thru the whole Bible? Getting the Big Picture…

The exile has begun. Judah is under siege. It’s time for some tough questions. Are you ready?

DAY ONE – Jeremiah 21-24

Are leaders held accountable? Does it make any difference how they live and what they believe? In fact, the chapters of today’s reading are directed specifically to kings, priests and prophets. They held privileged positions within the life and government of Judah, so they were accountable to God for their privileges and perks which attended their positions. In any society, rules are given and applied by those who lead, hopefully for the common good. What happens then, when the rules of law uphold evil and punish righteousness? What happens when leaders use their advantaged status to enrich themselves and guarantee a comfortable future, while oppressing and taxing the ordinary folks without providing protection and relief? What happens when leaders lead away from God instead of toward Him? What happens when we ‘separate’ our religion from everyday life and use that as an excuse to forget God and drive Him from our conscious existence? What happens when finally, we have isolated an entire generation who now know next to nothing about Creator God, and who rather believe that every person’s rights and privacy are inviolate? Read history. The answers are in plain view! The siege has already begun. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is already at the door. Leading citizens have already been put in chains and led away, and people with advanced skills will never see Judah again. The ravaging of their homeland is underway, and neither king, priest nor prophet can do anything about it. Is this a time to call out to God? By all means! Even those going into captivity have a choice. The two baskets of figs in Jeremiah’s vision reveal a distinction between the good and evil that God sees, no matter where we are. God is God in Babylon as much as in Judah. When He sees goodness and justice and heart response, that person is marked for protection and future blessing. But to those who will be as bad in the Lord’s eyes in Babylon as they were in Judah, there is simply no hope. It’s essentially over. When God’s protection is removed, all bets are off.

We have choice. We can blame others for our conditions all we want, but we still get to choose righteousness and justice; goodness and faith; life over death. God offers life. We can still choose life, even when Damocles’ sword hangs directly overhead. Creator God is Savior God. His love, mercy and grace are unchanging, and the messages He is sending to us are filled with invitation and pleading. How about we make today count for good?

DAY TWO – Jeremiah 25-28

Twenty-three years. That is a good chunk of anyone’s life. And it is the length of time that Jeremiah had been bringing God’s messages to Judah and Jerusalem. And that’s how long the people had hardened their hearts, closed their ears and refused to hear God’s messages. Twenty-three years. And now the hammer is about to fall. So Yahweh sends a kind of final warning with strong pleas for the people to stop their wickedness and turn from their evil ways. Now the prophecy is very specific–the king of Babylon is being raised up to conquer the entire region of nations, to bring the Lord’s judgment against evil. Nebuchadnezzar, his son, and his son’s son will reign until God’s judgment is complete–a period of seventy years. Only then will the nations find relief from Babylonian repression; and only then will Judah be restored to her land. This is now history. It happened exactly the way Yahweh said it would. And in the process the heart of every man was judged righteously by the Lord. You see, when calamity and disaster strike, we all reflexively look inward to our ways. We ask the ‘what if…’ What if this is directed at me? What if the disaster had reached me personally? Where would I be right now? What if I’m not paying attention? What if the Lord is trying to get my attention? That’s if we are smart; that’s if we are listening. The process had already begun in Judah. The yoke of servitude was already prepared and being put into place. Even though God’s final challenges were being given, it was evident that, for the people, it was too little and too late. Seventy years is a long time, and it was just beginning.

What are we to make from all this? First, conditions surrounding us are similar to those in that time in Judah. In spite of our auspicious beginnings–the flight from Europe and Britain, the new colonies, God’s apparent blessings on the founding of our nation, the periods of spiritual awakening that have followed, and the current partisan persuasions that divide our country–we may indeed stand at a crossroad between blessing and judgment. Which way will the pendulum swing? And then there is Israel to consider as well. Today, as I write these words, the United States is opening the new US Embassy in Jerusalem–the first time we have officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital! It’s HUGE! We are literally confessing that Yahweh is God, that Israel is His special envoy in this world, and that He, God, is in charge of the nations. If ever there was a time for every one of us to acknowledge our need of relationship with the Lord, it is now. The world is changing dramatically, and our God is calling… calling us all.

DAY THREE – Jeremiah 29-32

One of the most oft-quoted ‘Christian’ verses is from this chapter: “I know the thoughts that I have toward you, says the Lord…” Interestingly, that promise was made to a group of Jews sent to Babylon to live in captivity. Everything that Jeremiah had prophesied for over two decades was now coming to pass, and the captives were trying to figure out how to live in their new ‘home.’ The prophets and priests with them in Babylon were lying to them, saying that Yahweh would bring them back to Judah within two years and fully restore them. But in a letter from Jeremiah to the captives God revealed the details of His plans and purposes for the captivity: settle down, build houses, keep your society, marry off your children. In other words, live in the place of your captivity as you would if you were back in Judah. It’s going to be seventy years before this reverses. And stuck in the middle of these instructions was the verse we like to quote: “I know the plans I have for you…” And there’s more…  This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”  Jeremiah 29:10-14 (NLT)

Later, in the eighteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah was a political prisoner in the palace in Judah. He was still receiving messages from God and passing them to the people. And now Judah was under siege, a process that often took months or years before a city would fall. Inside the city, famine, death and disease were consuming increasing numbers. Outside, Nebuchadnezzar’s army was about to take their prize and capture Jerusalem. The consuming fire was near, and the end of Judah was imminent. Yet God talked unceasingly of future hope, future blessings and future glory. And as always, the Lord was encouraging the Jews to turn away from their idolatrous ways to serve Him and give Him the opportunity to bless them. Our Lord’s plans stretch far into the future, having come from the distant past and His dealings with nations from then until now. In all of this, He doesn’t change; His character and attributes are impeccable. Yahweh God is reaching and touching us… He receives us into the fellowship of worshipers as we turn to Him.

DAY FOUR – Jeremiah 33-37

Can anyone fathom or describe the limits of Yahweh God’s patience? Do we actually understand that ‘patience’ is…

  1. tolerant and even-tempered perseverance…
  2. the capacity for calmly enduring pain, trying situations, etc… (Dictionary Pro)

If that is true, do we ascribe even-tempered perseverance and the capacity for calmly enduring pain, trying situations and so forth, to God? Is that how you would describe our Lord to someone? Is that how you even see God? How many paint the human race as victims of the Lord’s anger, or caprice, or even deliberate negligence when it comes to things that happen to all of us in life? How often do we hear “Why did the Lord allow…” followed by whatever it is we think He allowed? Did He allow a terrible situation to happen? Did He allow a loved one to die? How about this one? “If He is a loving God, why is there war, evil and so suffering in life? Why doesn’t this loving God DO SOMETHING about it?” Stop. Just stop and pay attention. The messages we are reading from Yahweh God through Jeremiah clearly demonstrate the Lord’s ‘tolerant and even-tempered perseverance,’ His ‘capacity for calmly enduring pain, trying situations, etc.’ We make our gracious and patient God OUR VICTIM when we go our own way and close our ears to His pleas to love and serve Him; when we harden our hearts against His plans, to serve our own interests. Our Lord has plans to help us, not hurt us; to save us, not destroy us. Jeremiah’s messages persisted over several decades to multiple kings who determinedly lived idolatrous and rebellious lives against the Lord’s words. How is that different from today? Is our world turning to God, listening to His Word, seeking to follow Him, to love Him, serve Him? Many of us are. You may be one of us. If you are, then let’s band together as a fellowship of believers who SEEK FIRST God’s rule and righteousness, no matter what it costs us. Let us agree to trust Him and believe in His eternal plans to fulfill every promise He made until He has finished what He started. Let us encourage each other and pray for each other and our world until there is no breath left in us! Only then, when we have glimpsed the eternity in which our God lives, will we fully understand the great cosmic conflict which has engulfed all of humankind. This is not a time for the faint-hearted and weak-willed. Jeremiah was tortured and imprisoned in a dungeon, but he remained faithful to the message. He is one of heaven’s heroes, along with his brothers the prophets of every age who stand against popular opinion or political correctness. Who are your company? With whom will you stand?

DAY FIVE – Jeremiah 38-40, Psalms 74, 79

One day King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and had him brought to the third entrance of the Lord’s Temple. “I want to ask you something,” the king said. “And don’t try to hide the truth.” Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.” So King Zedekiah secretly promised him, “As surely as the Lord our Creator lives, I will not kill you or hand you over to the men who want you dead.”  Jeremiah 38:14-16 (NLT)  This is what it finally comes to. No matter what we say, it won’t change anyone’s mind. Incredible as that may sound, it is too often true. And that is exactly what resulted when Jeremiah once again explained what would happen to Jerusalem and to the king and his family. Sure enough, when the city fell to the Babylonians, Zedekiah and his family tried to escape by night but were overtaken. And when brought to King Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah had to stand and watch his sons killed in front of his eyes, which were then gouged out, leaving him in darkness for the trip to Babylon, where he would live out his days with only his memories. What’s done is done. The tragedy is that options remained right up to the end. Mercy was ever at hand, though it went unclaimed. So Asaph the musician asks the inevitable question: “Why? Where are you, and why have you deserted us for so long?” He then points to the ruined city, the ashes left from the burning of the temple. He recounts the cries of the warriors with their battleaxes destroying the beauty of God’s house of worship, the frenzy that took hold of them to then go out and tear down everything. It is no more. No city, no prophets, no future, apparently. Is this it? Is that all there is?

Humankind in every period of history have viewed the rubble of destruction and wondered if there is a future. Will the world survive and, if so, for how long? If it ends, how will it end? So we get up again, and we start each new day with a basic belief in the future, unpredictable as it appears to be. Where is the sense in any of this? There is NO SENSE, unless we have a solid point of BEGINNING. “In the beginning God…” If that is your beginning point then it must also be your ending point. If God IS God, if He IS Creator, and if He IS true to His words, then that is our trajectory–from beginning to end, our reference point, our place of origins, our track to follow through this life. Can the Lord be believed? Can He be trusted? If you believe so, then DO IT! If you believe not, then your options have just been essentially eliminated. Live your life, do what you can do, for without God there is NO HOPE of a future. So we look up today with a worshipful and thankful heart, willing to be a child of God and live with the hope of His mercy and grace.

Week 38 – Does our Father in heaven really want ‘heaven on earth’ for us?

Intimacy is enjoyed only when we surrender our self to the One loving us.

DAY ONE – Jeremiah 1-4

If intimacy suggests something very warm, close or personal, then Yahweh God’s expressions toward Israel and Judah are very intimate. The Lord’s yearning and desire for a close relationship with these people He chose, Abraham’s descendants, cannot be missed in the messages of the prophets. There is an underlying sadness in God’s voice, a clear disappointment in His tone, over the rejection He received from His own people. As I contemplated again yesterday’s reading in Joel, God kept saying to His people and the other nations, “Then you will know that I am Yahweh (the Lord).” How is it that we can know so little when our Lord has revealed so much? Why does He have to keep proving Himself over and over, when He is Creator of heaven and earth; when He has revealed Himself from heaven by loving and caring for His chosen ones; when He has destroyed the destroyer time and again? What is it in people that makes us want to search high and low for God–in life, in religion, in human experience, in relationships–when He has come near to us to embrace us with salvation and deliverance? Why do we accept lesser gods into our life who can’t do a single godlike thing? Can any object of our own creation ever save us, or help us, or respond to our cries in the night? Can the security we attempt to put around ourselves help us when everything goes south? Why then does our Father God have to continually call out for us to return to Him, to seek Him, to serve Him? If the voice of the prophet sounds stern and foreboding; if his words seem condemning and judgmental; if he appears to be pronouncing doom over the nation, why do we say, “I can’t serve a god like that?” The nations proved over and again that the gods they served were only the ones they themselves had made!

Intimacy has been lost to many, for we are too self-seeking to surrender our self to another in a complete giving of love and devotion. Yet that is exactly the KEY to intimacy–self-giving, self-disclosure, service, respect, admiration, love, and even duty. If our human relationships beg for that level of intimacy, especially in marriage, how much more does our relationship to God ask for as much, or even more? God wants to KNOW us, and BE KNOWN by us, in an intimate manner that is close, personal and warm. Does that describe your relationship with Him? If not, consecrate yourself to the sacred quest of getting to really know Him. Whatever is needed in your task, He will provide, as He did for Israel and Judah, back in the day.

DAY TWO – Jeremiah 5-8

Religion has been criticized for its rules. We mostly don’t care for rules but understand that some are necessary to preserve order, especially as when we drive in opposite directions in our streets and highways. When God gave Moses The Ten Commandments, they came out as rules. Actually, the entire Jewish religion given by Yahweh God at the time of Moses sounds like books full of rules to be kept, and so many of them! The only rule Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden was to leave alone the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which was in the center of the garden. And they couldn’t do that! So we humans don’t do too well when it comes to rules. The Lord God knows that breaking the rules is destructive, and every one of us has this rule-breaking penchant. If you are God and you desire to save humankind from destruction of self and others, you give the kind of rules that will preserve and save life. God did that. But He didn’t stop there. He offered salvation, deliverance, healing, life and blessings in exchange for keeping the rules. Even that didn’t save us. We still break the rules. He appealed to our heart, our inner sense of what is right and just. That didn’t work either. He forgave our sins and gave us a religious imperative that would extend mercy and grace to us. He offered to be our God and make us His people. And right up through the days of the kings, priests and prophets, the Lord was still laboring over Israel and Judah to make them a nation which would display the glory of God’s truth and righteousness. But they couldn’t make the grade. When humankind demonstrates that they have eyes which don’t see, ears that don’t hear and hearts that can no longer be reached, what is left? Judgment… at least the promise of judgment. That is Jeremiah’s message. It sounds harsh, but it isn’t. It sounds condemning, but it is laced through and through with offers to relent if the people will only turn from their wickedness and idolatry. Though they have broken every rule over and over again, the Lord stands ready to forgive and turn aside judgment if they will love the Lord with their heart and soul. Breaking the rules is a kind of sin–transgression of the goodness and glory of God. It defames Him and destroys His creation. Yet our God has a plan to save the world, and He continues to offer everyone a way of salvation. Israel declined and lost out when the Assyrians removed them from their land. Judah is under threat but is not responding much better. Why can’t God simply do away with the rules of right and truth? Because they are the very protection we need to keep from destroying His creation. King David, a man after God’s own heart, discovered the right way. Though he committed an egregious and heinous sin, he humbled himself before the Lord and repented of his transgressions. He pled for mercy and was heard by the Lord, who forgave and saved him. The next time you are proceeding through a green light at an intersection, thank God that the people on your right and left are waiting at the red light! That little rule is saving your bacon!

DAY THREE – Jeremiah 9-12

Was Jeremiah weeping because the people were breaking all the rules? No, the prophet was a fountain of tears because God’s people had continually broken His covenant; because their hearts had deserted Yahweh God to do all the evil that was in their hearts. Covenant-breaking is much more serious than breaking a rule, for it violates the intentions of the Lord’s relationship with His people. What God intended included salvation, deliverance and blessing. What he asked was obedience and love as a response. When love is answered with wickedness and idolatry, the broken covenant is a cause for great weeping, for it means that the cause is lost unless there is a turning to the Lord with humility and repentance. We’ve heard the saying, “Don’t kill the messenger.” Well, the people actually did kill some of the Lord’s prophets, despising and rejecting others with persecution. Jeremiah cried; he wanted to get away from the terrible calamity he saw approaching like a juggernaut. But he was constrained by the call and love of God to remain on assignment, standing as if against an entire nation. So he persisted with his messages. And sometimes he turned aside to private conversations with his Lord. This is how we really get to KNOW God, by answering His call to do life together, then turning to Him again and again to make sense of the senseless violence and destruction against which we struggle every day. It seems to never end, yet we know it will. It seems we will be swallowed whole by the tide of culture in which we live, but with God’s help we persist from day to day. God even causes us to OVERCOME evil with the good we do.

“In the beginning, God…” When this all started, the Creator God looked over His handiwork and pronounced it all good. So it will be in the end. In the end, God… our Lord will make the FINAL MOVE; He will defend His own honor and covenant; and He will bring a complete and final restoration and recreation! For He sees what we cannot; He moves with purpose and direction; and He declares what is yet to come. We are safe INSIDE His love, His covenant. Keeping His rules with our heart is no problem at all, for His Only Son, the Great Rules-keeper, ended one of His messages with this invitation:  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

DAY FOUR – Jeremiah 13-16

The meteorologist, otherwise known as a ‘weatherman,’ is a storm tracker. We pay attention to him on a rather regular basis, for it is he who is charting and predicting the extreme conditions that could have a negative effect on us. We all seem to want to know what the weather will be, although we cannot do anything about it! In a sense, Jeremiah was Judah’s ‘weatherman,’ receiving from the Lord what could and should be expected in coming days. The prophet was tracking a terrible storm, having visions of extreme conditions which would destroy Judah and change their future in an unforgettable way. This great storm had mingled within it death, the sword, famine and captivity. It was so fierce that Jeremiah wept whenever he thought about it. He kept coming back to Yahweh and questioning Him about it. He brought those same messages to the people and wondered that they made no preparations for this coming storm, this ‘great day of the Lord.’ Why wouldn’t they listen? Why wouldn’t they prepare for this storm soon to hit the land? God said the storm was because of the terrible leadership Manasseh had given the people, during which time they totally forsook Him. Had they become so unresponsive to the Lord they could no longer respond? Were they believing their false prophets who were telling them the storm wouldn’t make landfall but would blow out to sea and move on? Did they think the ‘weatherman,’ the prophet, had totally blown the prediction, that they needn’t be concerned about it? Whatever the reason, they refused to alter their course or change their ways. Even when their food and water gave out; even when the donkeys and deer sniffed the air for a hint of moisture, then birthed their young and walked away without caring for their offspring, the hard-heartedness of Judah failed to crack. Imagine the storm is so close that the prophet says, in effect, “Cancel your wedding; forget marriage; don’t have children. Why bring little ones into this terrible, ravaging storm?”  So Jeremiah continued to preach, and he continued to cry.

It would take decades to ‘clean up’ after Yahweh’s storm of judgment. Yet there was mercy and there was grace in God’s heart. His Word would continue to go forth. His prophets would emerge with deep intercession and understanding to help the people who were seeking their God. And the Lord Himself would continue to ply the nations with His sovereign plans to yet save the world from destruction. And  future blessings would extend to all the nations that would house the remnants of God’s people scattered in every direction of the compass. God is the God of the storm. May we prepare for the ‘great and terrible day of the Lord’ with repentance and blessing.

DAY FIVE – Jeremiah 17-20

I’ve known a few people in my day who seemed to want to be a prophet; but their chief characteristic, it seemed to me, was their anger toward others. Their ‘prophecy’ was to denounce, to condemn and to express the Lord’s displeasure–if indeed it was God’s displeasure rather than their own. Jeremiah, on the other hand, did not really want to be a prophet. God CALLED him to his service and had to continually reassure him that he was where he belonged. The visions and messages the Lord gave him for the king, priests and people were so distasteful and terrifying that the prophet cried a lot. He would dissolve into tears of sadness and yes, even fear, when he realized the proportions of the destruction that was coming. A preacher once said it in this manner: “If you are going to preach to me about hell, at least have the decency to weep while you do so.” Nobody wants to hear messages of doom and destruction; messages of rebuke and condemnation; or messages that tell you everything is wrong. People want encouragement, uplift and a reason to live. They want hope. But what if hope is cancelled? What if our way of life is so destructive to ours and others’ future, that God is resorting to extreme measures to call us back? And what if He is doing everything He knows to recapture our attention and our worship? Is that what brings Him pleasure? No, His pleasure is in our salvation and future hope. So God sent Jeremiah and others to turn a nation back to their created purpose, so that He could bless them again!

Jeremiah despaired of life and cursed the day he was born–reminiscent of Job, whose suffering appalled even his friends. The prophet cried to God to save him, to turn his enemies back, to frustrate their schemes to destroy him. At one point he even decided not to prophesy anymore. But the Lord’s words became like fire in his bones which could not be contained! He had to speak out, to fulfill the assignment given him by Yahweh God. Dear friends, the Lord’s work is going to get done; His plans are going to succeed; the world is going to be saved and returned to its Eden-like state. God will have a ginormous family of trusted friends and worshippers. They will live in an eternity of blessing and creativity. But right now hell yawns with hunger to receive any and all who resent or reject God’s Lordship over us. A tremendous cosmic battle is raging, and we are at the center. Will the Lord’s word prevail within us, or will OUR will to be autonomous prevail? Shall Yahweh God be Lord, as He is; or shall I have my own way and choose my own destiny? Study history; the right answer is in plain view.

Week 37 – Our Lord’s reputation rests fully on His Word…

“…for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.” Psalm 138:2 (NLT)

DAY ONE – Nahum 1-3

Isaiah gave us a full accounting of Assyria’s siege against Jerusalem. After what God did to the Assyrians, ending their rampage against the Lord’s people, Nahum also takes up this ‘burden’ against Nineveh (Assyria), having been a contemporary of Isaiah. In clear, cryptic language, in no uncertain terms, the prophet accurately predicts what will happen to the Assyrians in the future. Remember, ‘future’ exists in our reality, not God’s! Divine justice requires all nations and people to give account to God for the way we have treated others. The Assyrians were merciless in war, tearing and ravaging as they conquered nations. Now when Yahweh God turns against them, they will be ravaged without mercy. As they did, so it will be done to them. These messages bring comfort and encouragement to the people of Judah, because they remember what Assyria did to the ten northern tribes (Israel). Will that happen to Jerusalem as well? No, says Nahum; no, says Isaiah. God will keep them from destruction for this time. God controls the destiny of nations, which obviously causes us to wonder what will yet happen in our immediate future. Where are we in time? We see what the Lord did in history, but what about as we go forward from here? Let’s take a leap and read some of Jesus’ words, spoken over 700 years after these prophets spoke for God.

Matthew 24:1-14 – Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way. His disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “Don’t you see all of these things? Most assuredly I tell you, there will not be left here one stone on another, that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren’t troubled, for all this must happen, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. 8 But all these things are the beginning of birth pains. 9 Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name’s sake. 10 Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. 12 Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end, the same will be saved. 14 This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. This was given to the Jews (Israel), but it is for ALL OF US. Let us take heart and serve God well.

DAY TWO – Zephaniah 1-3

We are still in the period of the kings of Judah and Israel; however, Israel had already fallen to the Assyrian king and had been deported and scattered in Assyria. The young king Josiah of Judah was beginning a purge throughout the land, of every remnant of Baal worship, leading  the people back to Yahweh their God. Imagine two classes of priests holding services in the land: 1) the descendants of Aaron established under Moses, robed and directed according to the pure religion of Yahweh; and 2) the Chenarims, a class of black-robed, ascetic priests leading the dark worship of Baal wherever they could get a following of the people. Zephaniah stepped into the milieu and sounded the strong words of God, announcing the overthrow of all that was dark and rebellious toward the Lord. So the prophet helped the king. The prophet spoke only for God. If we jump ahead momentarily to the words of the Lord Jesus given in the seven letters to the seven churches as reported in Revelation 2 and 3, each letter ends with this challenge: “Let everyone who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” Is God still speaking? Do we receive the words of our ministers as coming from the Lord? Do we recognize prophetic voices issuing a clarion call to our generations? Is. God. Still. Speaking? We must answer that question. If He is, then are we listening? If we are listening, what are we hearing Him say? If we acknowledge that He is speaking, and we affirm that we are listening, what is the message we are receiving? Yes I am being repetitive. Yes there is redundancy in the Gospel. The Good News MUST BE SPOKEN again and again in every kind of setting and in every relevant way. But it must also BE HEARD and then RESPONDED TO by every person wishing to know the Lord. If we fail of the word of God; and if we fail of discerning His voice; and if we fail to respond to His loving and clarion calls, THEN WE HAVE FAILED! Hope for our generations lies in THE LORD HIMSELF! He doesn’t need us in order to be God; but we need Him to find our identity, our hope and our future. Thank God for our prophets willing to risk everything for God’s message. Are we willing to risk everything to hear… and follow? Forsake the gods of this world and run from all that is false! PRAY TO GOD for our families and friends, and for God’s people. PRAY that we will stand, that we will hear, that we will follow Christ Jesus decisively in this world. PRAY that God’s bold message will penetrate the confusion and black arts of our culture. PRAY for His kingdom to come with power, authority and salvation. The worship of praise and thanksgiving to God ends with PRAYERS for His will to be done on earth.

DAY THREE – 2 Kings 22-23, 2 Chronicles 34-35

He becomes king of Judah at age eight. When he is sixteen he begins to seek Yahweh God of Israel. Four years later he commences a purge of the land by chopping down and/or pulverizing all the altars, poles, images and whatever other symbols were used to sacrifice to and worship the false demon gods of the people. King Josiah has inherited the spiritual DNA of his distant grandfather King David. Of him the testimony is that he served Yahweh God like no other king before or after him. And while all this was going on, a book was found in the temple during a time of repair and cleaning. It was identified as the Book of the Law, given by God to Moses. It was brought to Josiah and read in his presence. And when he heard THE WORDS OF THE LAW OF GOD, he immediately tore his clothes and began a period of humbling before God. The fear of the Lord seized him, so he sent his chiefs to inquire of God in his behalf. THIS, dear friends, is a description of revival. It lasted only during Josiah’s short life. His sons after him did evil in God’s sight. The wrath and calamity determined during Manasseh’s evil reign was about to explode on Judah and Jerusalem. History maintains a clear record of those nations that have either preserved or desecrated God’s testimony among the people. Desecration is always followed by violence which ends in destruction.

Fortunately, from somewhere in the shadows of history God’s Word always emerges, and periods of revival of religion follow. The United States was, in a sense, born in a revival of religion, as faithful worshippers looked for a place to serve God in peace without harassment from their own governments. The history of this land is replete with revivals, both regional and national. But godless and secular forces impelled by men whose pride is lifted against God eventually quash and quell the fires of revival until the hearts of the people are once again complacent toward the Lord and his eternal kingdom. And somewhere along the way, blatant evil pervades and permeates the social edifice until it is compromised and ineffective. This desecration is always followed by violence which ends in destruction. Reading through the Bible reveals the PATTERN of the world system. Religious revivals do occur; and they persist for a season before succumbing to the pull of the cosmos away from God. Good and righteous people do seek and serve God, hoping their children will do so as well. And although the future is held in God’s loving and saving hands, THE EVIL that has manifested in every generation will, eventually, bring FINAL wrath and judgment upon the world system, from which there will be no recovery. “BUT SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS…”

DAY FOUR – Habakkuk 1-3

We have all, at one time or another, had a conversation with our child in which we attempted to explain why we took a particular course of action or maintained a particular opinion; only to discover that the child did not have enough life experience to understand the explanation we are trying to give. In a sense, Habakkuk’s conversation with Yahweh God is like that. His opening question is “How long, O Lord?” In other words, God, you gave me a vision of an invading army that is so destructive I can’t wrap my wits around it. How can you do this? Why would you do this? Yes, I know Judah has become rotten and violent to the core, but the Babylonians, the people you intend to use for correction, are worse! What’s up? Why would you help the Babylonians? And God replies, Yes, this is what I am going to do; and it will be worse than you think. But in the process the Babylonians will go a step too far and think their own gods have given this success, when I actually helped them for my purposes. And then the tables will be turned on them! It’s like this, Habakkuk: People who live by violence and greed perish in the violence and greed. Whether it’s a man or a nation, turning a greedy look outward to swallow others, invites the Lord to return the evil upon their own head. Yes, Judah will be punished and corrected; but when it is over, the Babylonians’ fate will be worse yet. So God maintains His Sovereignty over men and nations, working His own plans to save the world… in His own time and way.

How should we respond? Habakkuk decided to stop talking and stand there… and wait. And when the conversation had reached an end, he prayed–not just any prayer mind you. It is one of the most heartfelt and powerful prayers of consecration ever uttered. Why? Because the prophet admits that the matter is over his head; there are some parts he won’t understand. Will he go on complaining, asking, badgering the Lord for further explanations? No. No, he has decided he will TRUST GOD to handle God’s business! And then he gives us this:  “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”  Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NLT) 

DAY FIVE – Joel 1-3

Picture a swarm of locusts that rises like a cloud on the horizon, covering both heaven and earth as it comes. The sky is darkened, the sun covered, by the thickness of the swarm advancing over the land. Locusts, zillions of them! Flying, swarming, crawling, covering, moving forward until they have swallowed up every green thing in front of them–they continue to come, no end in sight. After devouring the fields, the trees and plants, they invade the cities, swarming on the walls, creeping through the windows, entering houses until their fearful presence has everyone–men, women, children–paralyzed and poverty-stricken. Priests wail for the Lord’s house; everyone else cries out and mourns over their deep loss. There is nothing left behind the locust armies. This is the video Joel has seen and described. Yahweh God has led his army into Judah and Jerusalem to once again call the nation to attention, to divert them from their idolatrous and violent ways, to get them to return to their true religion and worship. When nature itself is destroyed by the violence and corruption of humankind, shouldn’t that be understood as a call to return to God? Shouldn’t we be alerted by the sheer numbers of tornadoes, earthquakes, massive fires, floods, droughts and other physical phenomena that occur annually across our land these days? Isn’t there a correlation to the violence and corruption that have pervaded and permeated every level of our social structures? And shouldn’t the high incidence of people leaving behind their faith in God and adopting the secular ideas of popular culture be a warning sign to us all?

Thankfully God tempers justice and judgment with mercy, else we would have ceased long ago. And thankfully the Lord’s vision is filled with thoughts of restoration, to bring to a conclusion that which is destroying His creation so that Jerusalem and Israel may finally realize God’s redemptive purposes, and so that all of humankind may rejoice in His plans to save the world. Our Creator sees far beyond the evil that stalks in the shadows of humanity, threatening the order and peace He intended us to have. And He has declared a time of regathering, rebuilding and restoring all to its original meaning and purpose. He has sent His Holy Spirit to administrate everything pertaining to His heaven-sent Kingdom on earth. And He WILL FINISH all He has started. It’s time for us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength… to WORK with Him and to BELIEVE His Word.