Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Coming Wrath: As Usual, Being Ignored

This is a common theme throughout biblical prophecy - what would happen when God would give the prophets His message to spread throughout the nation of Israel. This scenario is a repeating pattern that occurred throughout the bible - and a pattern that we see to this day. 

We can see this pattern in Jeremiah's writings, followed by the response by the people and the leaders of the day - where we can see the "issue" as defined by God and given to the people through the prophet (in this case Jeremiah) - warning about the imminent threat of the Babylonians destroying Jerusalem and taking the people captive -  and then we see the response by the leaders and people of that day. 

Notice the parallels to the world today, where prophecy is basically ignored, particularly by the Church. 

The bottom line?  People have ignored the messages from God's prophets throughout history at their own peril. Today is no different, as we face scoffers, the ignorant, the uncaring, those with pathological "normalcy bias" and those who simply refuse to listen to the prophets.

Issue:  "In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 'Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations...Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them will turn from his wicked way; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin'" (Jeremiah 36:1-3)

Response: "It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment with a fire burning...When Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe's knife and threw them into the fireboat until the entire scroll was burned in the fire"
(Jeremiah 36:22-23)

Message: Ignore prophecy, burn it and ignore God's warning.

Issue: "So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim had burned" (Jeremiah 36:32)

Response: "Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachin. Neither he nor his attendants nor the people paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet. "
(Jeremiah 37:1)

Message: Ignore prophecy.

Issue: "This is what the Lord says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking 'The Babylonians will surely leave us', They will not! Even if you were to defeat the entire Babylonian army that is attacking you and only wounded men were left in their tents they would come out and burn this city down"
(Jeremiah 37:9-10)

Response: "Jeremiah was put into a dungeon, where he remained a long time."
(Jeremiah 37:16)

Message: Ignore prophecy, punish Jeremiah who was delivering God's word.

Issue: "This is what the Lord says:Whoever stays in the city will die by the sword, famine or plague but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live. He will escape with his life; he will live. And this is what the Lord says: 'This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon who will capture it. '"
(Jeremiah 38:2-3)

Response: "Then the officials said to the king, 'This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them... So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king's son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it has no water in it, only mud and Jeremiah sank down into the mud"
(Jeremiah 38:4-6)

Message: If God's word is unpopular, or a message that is "inconvenient" - kill the messenger, even if sent directly from God to deliver His message.

Bottom Line: "This is how Jerusalem was taken...Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it...The city wall was broken through...The babylonians set fire to the royal palace and the houses of the people and broke down the walls of Jerusalem..."
(Jeremiah 39)

In other words, everything happened exactly as informed in advance by God, through the prophet Jeremiah. The message was ignored for a variety of reasons and Jeremiah was punished. However, everything he said, as dictated by God - happened exactly as foretold. Attempting to kill the prophet or ignore the message did not change the prophecy - as it unfolded exactly as predicted. 

See the parallels in today's society? 

With that, we see some messages that should not be ignored:

Ignorance is bliss….or so they say. The problem with ignorance is that issues we are unfamiliar with and would rather ignore don’t just go away. Poor grades, health issues, economic crisis, and personal relationships often deteriorate because of lack of knowledge, inattention, or ignoring altogether. People will often claim ignorance when some problem comes to a head and sometimes it is a valid excuse. 

Regardless, the problem still exists and needs to be dealt with. There is one issue in which the world cannot claim ignorance and that’s the coming judgement. Some people will explain it away, drink it away, medicate it, rationalize it away, and scoff it away because the world ignores God’s coming wrath.

Romans 1:18-20   For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
God in His divine mercy has been warning the world throughout the centuries that his judgement and wrath is coming. Why does God’s wrath and judgement fall? It falls on individuals and nations as a result of sin. God is holy and sin is an affront to His perfect nature. Therefore judgement often comes after repeated warnings. This pattern of long periods of mercy, patience, and holding back judgement by the Lord is evidence of His love throughout the Bible and that pattern remains right up to our day.
In centuries past…many people have lived by faith and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus because of a realization that wrath and judgement were coming. Those centuries were also marked by paganism, hedonism, and rebellious people. Although many found salvation in the Lord, many chose to ignore Him.
Now we live in an enlightened age of incredible advances in medicine, technology, and travel. We are far removed from the humanistic pride and selfishness of those days and surely a majority of people will repent and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus because we are smarter people now…….right?

Wrong, because it seems that even with all of our accumulated knowledge….many are still ignoring the clear warning of the wrath to come. If anything, it seems as though our dependance on technology, abundance of luxury goods, and the plentiful trappings of leisure have blinded many to the fact that: the wrath and judgement of God will soon fall on this world.

Matthew 24:37  For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

In the centuries past, some people have laughed, mocked, and scoffed at the notion of coming wrath and God’s judgement, but our day seems marked by a prideful arrogance against God’s wrath to a degree never witnessed before. God’s word attests to the fact that judgement does come. There comes a time after repeated warnings that judgement and wrath falls. Here are just a few examples the Bible gives:

  • Decade after decade had past when righteous Noah built the ark. God and repentance was what people needed to embrace, instead they laughed at Noah and perished in the flood.
  • God’s servant Abraham intercedes and pleads for the city of Sodom and the Lord temporarily holds back judgement. Shortly thereafter, evil reaches it’s peak and the Lord sends angels to warn Lot. Just before the city is destroyed, Lot warns his Son’s in law who laugh at him and ultimately perish in the fiery judgement to follow. Lot and his daughters heeded god’s warning and escaped Sodom in time.
  • After the death of David and Solomon, the nation of Israel went through a series of Kings. Some of the rulers followed the Lord but others didn’t and the nation fell further into spiritual darkness and idolatry. God sent prophets to plead with the people and warn them that judgement and wrath was coming if they didn’t turn from their ways and repent. The Northern Kingdom fell and ultimately the whole nation fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC. The Lord used the armies of Nebuchadnezzar to bring His wrath and judgement to an unrepentant people.
Here is my question to the proud, arrogant, haughty people of our day:
Do you think you are exempt from God’s judgement and wrath to come?

Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, believes the world is at the end of the end times.
"If I live out my natural lifetime, I believe I will live to see the return of Jesus Christ to this earth," she said.
Lotz told CBN News she bases this belief on what Jesus said in Scripture and other biblical signs.
"Matthew 24 just listed the signs, categorized them. I watch for them, and so we're seeing signs that He said are like birth pains which means I think they increase in intensity and frequency," she explained.
"So when something is record-breaking, which the earthquakes, the snowstorms, the floods — they are record-breaking — that's increasing in intensity. When they increase in frequency — so it's not just one historic flood this year, but now it's like this month, and now it's this week, and it's just — they're ratcheting up in frequency and in intensity," she said.
Lotz says the other global sign of Jesus' return was when the nation of Israel was reborn.
"Isaiah said, 'Who could believe a nation could be born in a day?' But Israel was born in a day, May 14, 1948," she said.
"Jesus said the generation that sees that take place is the generation that will be the last. And for me it's meaningful. I was born May 21, 1948 so I believe it's my generation," she explained.

"God warns a nation that judgment is coming," Lotz wrote. "He doesn't want any to perish. But if a nation does not heed His warnings, He unleashes His anger and there is nothing — no one — who can prevent it."
"If God would judge His own beloved nation of Judah, why would we think America could escape?" she asked.

Lotz's brother, Rev. Franklin Graham, has also been speaking out that America is "at a moral tipping point." He said it is crucial for people to turn to God.

There is a war being waged against a major symbol of Christianity – the cross.

In 1925, a large cross was erected in Bladensburg, Maryland to honor fallen soldiers of World War I. But now that cross is being challenged by a lawsuit from the American Humanist Association. They lost their 2014 lawsuit against it, but they are appealing the case.

Last week, there was a bipartisan effort among members of Congress to save the Bladensburg cross. They filed a friend of the court brief to support this memorial.

First Liberty Institute is instrumental in the fight to save the cross from being demolished. They have been leading the charge in fighting these kinds of cases.

Their founder and president is Kelly Shackelford, who said, "In a time when America is divided over many issues, there is one thing members of the House and Senate, both Democratic and Republican, have agreed on, along with 90% of the American public – our veterans memorials should be protected. We must always strive to honor the selfless sacrifice of our fallen heroes."

Jeremy Dys is an attorney with First Liberty, and I spoke with him about the case on my radio show recently.

Jeremy told me, "There seems to be a general allergy to religion any time any religious symbol appears in public." He noted this applies to Christian symbols in particular and stars of David.

Dys said, "What we're attempting to do in all these cases is to allow these veterans who erect these monuments to honor their comrades who have fallen in arms."

He noted, "In the case of the Bladensburg Veterans Memorial outside of Washington, DC, that was actually even erected by the mothers of these fallen soldiers from World War I."

Dys added, "When you have these moms who scraped together dimes and nickels in order to be able to erect this memorial, and you still have children and grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren now that gather around that memorial on Armistice Day, it's remarkable that someone would have the gall to try to knock down what one mother called 'the tombstone of her son that she could actually visit,' instead of the one that's listed in Flanders Field."

The American Humanist Association sued to have this cross removed because they believe it violates the separation of church and state, because the cross supposedly establishes religion.

Of course, ultimately the cross is controversial because it points to Jesus' voluntary sacrifice to forgive sinners who believe.

Meanwhile, if we don't defend the memorial crosses now, we could go the way of China where it is reported that the Communist government is now undertaking a systematic removal of thousands of crosses in that country, including those atop churches.

This war on the cross by anti-Christian legal groups reminds me of the movie portrayal of Count Dracula who flinches and becomes powerless at even the sight of a cross. I pray they will not succeed in their efforts to tear down these memorial crosses to honor the fallen.


WVBORN56 said...

I actually know Jeremy Dys from the article, the war on the cross. He received his law degree from WVU and attended our church while in school here. Good guy doing great work!

Scott said...

Wow - well, he is certainly doing some great work for the Kingdom