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Posts Tagged ‘judgment’

Another article from the booklet, Nigeria-2012


Nigeria is a very different place. I’m not sure how different it is from the surrounding countries in West Africa, but it sure is a lot different than any of the other places in East Africa that I’ve been to.

Your first impression when you get off the plane feels slightly out of focus. On the surface, everything seems the same as other African countries, and yet there something that lies just beneath it that you can’t quite put your finger on.  It’s just different somehow.  A somber blanket lies in the air that lends a subdued feeling to everything. There isn’t that feeling of color and laughter in the air.  It’s as if Nigeria has stepped out of Technicolor into a world that is colored in shades of grey. Life is a serious undertaking here.

Is it the culture? Is it just the way it is?  Or is it something deeper than that makes everything seem so drab – something deeply spiritual in nature?

I have spent the last two weeks bringing a message of revival to several churches whose hearts are turned to God for something other than the same old stuff that they have been hearing.  Something different has to happen. Their desperation for a true move of God is rising and pushing past the ineffective platitudes of blessings and good things that have been promised to them free of charge. It’s not working and they know it.  I am embarrassed to say that these messages of false prosperity and unmerited blessings have poured forth from America, and so many innocent people have believed that, because America has been so blessed, this message must be true.

By now, however, they are beginning to realize that it’s not working.  Something is missing.  This is not the same gospel that our grandfathers preached and they are not getting the same results.  We have forgotten something along the way as we followed the Pied Pipers of Prosperity and Blessings off into a modern Gospel that is softer and more “loving” than that old message of repentance and the fear of God. Our Bible colleges churned out a new generation of pastors and taught them to discard the old God of Judgment for a new God of Love.  And in the process, we lost something so vital in the Church that we don’t know how to find our way back.

Satan has done such a complete job of turning our focus onto ourselves that we don’t even realize how far we have turned from the Cross.  The message that I bring is predicated upon the concept that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about you – it is about others – and revival will not come until we turn our focus to the lost that are dying in sin.   But no matter how hard I drive this message home, I will often hear another preacher get up right after me an promise the same people all kinds of new blessings, new deliverances, new miracles in their lives … all for free!  And the crowd that just bowed their heads in recognition of their own self-serving ways will jump to their feet and cheer as this new preacher promises them all kinds of blessings and negates everything that I just preached.  Just human nature, I guess.

Revival is not free — neither is it cheap — and breaking through this cloud that covers their Pollyanna Gospel mindset, not only in Nigeria but all across Africa, is essential before any move of God will come. Is this the spiritual cloud I feel here that sucks the life and joy out of the very air? Could it be that Satan has entrenched himself here in Nigeria as his last stand of resistance to stop revival at any cost? Is Nigeria the last bastion of darkness that must be conquered to allow the Great African Revival to break forth?

Many here believe that Nigeria is highly chosen for this great move of God and that is why Satan has concentrated his darkness to destroy this nation.  It is not the sinners he must control; it’s the Christians.  And what better way than to lull them into a false sense of security with a “love gospel” that has worked since he first used it in the Garden of Eden.  It’s all about you. Don’t worry.  Hakuna Matata. Thou shalt not surely die because God loves you. Here, take a bite.

There are heroes here in Nigeria. Men and women who are willing to take a stand that will invoke the ire of the Church in an attempt to wake them up.  Many will hear the call of the trumpet and rise to the challenge.  Many will not, but will resist and attack those who will. Battle lines are forming, choices are being made, and destinies are being decided.  It is a time for war, and Nigeria is the battleground.

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;”  (Joel 2:1)

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Manasseh

Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of this great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.”  2Kings 23:26

I am always struck by the bedrock determination of the judgments of God.  It is written that God is not a man that He should repent, but for some reason, that is a difficult concept for us to grasp because we have assimilated the idea that if we say we are sorry, all will be forgiven and everything will be OK.

Well, maybe it will be forgiven, but that doesn’t mean it will be OK.  I’ve heard it said before that the judgments of God are like a great stone wheel, rolling slow but sure, crushing all wickedness under it.  Simple apologies do little to stop great stone wheels.  Once judgment is set, it is set.

But ingrained into our culture are two things that are unique to the modern age:

  1. The lack of the fear of absolute rulers, and
  2. The lack of the fear of judgment.

We cannot grasp the fear that ancient peoples had for kings and emperors because democracy and the rise of the common people have eradicated their absolute power.  We can read about the chilling fear and trembling that was upon the people who stood before these great monarchs, but our minds have no reference point to be able to grasp what that must have been like.

The lack of the fear of God’s judgment is similar.  As successive generations water down the Word of God (just like it describes in the Book of Joel), we get farther away from the stark lines of the fear of God that our forefathers once possessed.  Either we are more enlightened than they were back then, or we are just plain stupid.

The judgment of God that was placed upon Judah because of Manasseh was proclaimed AFTER Manasseh repented before God and had come back to try and make things right with Him.  His efforts gained him a reprieve, but it did not stop judgment.

So it shall be with us.  America was established on the Old-Fashioned Gospel that was based on the fear of God, but it has morphed into a theologically scholastic plastic shadow of what it once was.

Where our services once thundered under the anointing and power of God, we now have animated social gatherings for Christians to listen to our pastor’s opinion of Scripture.  We call it church.

Where we once looked upon God with fear and trembling, we now talk about “awesome respect for our Daddy” as we sit in His big, comfy lap.

Where we once emphasized righteousness, we now languish in a warm, fuzzy concept of Love.

And where we once believed that judgment, once set, was sure, we now have convinced ourselves that because God loves us so much, surely He won’t do all those terrible things to us.

But the great wheel continues to turn.

After 50 million abortions, the rise of the predominance of homosexuality, the rampant saturation of lust, and the success of greed and corruption in our society, you have to ask yourself how it is that you really think God is just going to ignore everything and forget the mountains of sin that we have heaped upon ourselves. If the Lord were to halt judgment, would He not have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah?  And if He did, could we really rely upon Him to be righteous? I fear that He really is righteous, and that He means exactly what He says, and therefore great judgment is determined upon us as a fallen nation and world.

And, to me, the proof of that coming judgment is how few of us believe it.

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“Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.” Hosea 8:1

While there are those that use the judgments of the Lord as a proof of Replacement Theology, I believe that Israel is more of a thermometer to warn us all.

God’s Word is forever. The judgments that He has spoken are not for a particular point in time, which then fade into oblivion because we now have a new covenant. They still apply because human nature has never changed.

How foolish to think that we are only supposed to read the Old Testament only 10% of the time! The warnings of the prophets are more important and relevant now than ever. Christianity has become the Zion of today, and like the Zion of old, we have fallen into the same traps and snares that brought their downfall.

Like the children of Israel, we have the same tendency to choose a religion of convenience, a faith of comfort, and a message of unconditional love. But we have left off to fear the Lord.

Judah refused to believe that Babylon would breach the walls of Jerusalem because they rested in the belief that God loved them and would deliver them from the enemy. The intense warnings of the prophets did nothing to bring them to repentance because they really didn’t think that they applied to them. They were, after all, the people of God.

Today we trust in the same walls of religion and church to save us, and while modern-day Babylon amasses outside the gate, we cannot conceive of the destruction being able to breach our walls. But it will, because the judgments of God have not changed.

Our hearts have changed, and, as Hosea says, a spirit of whoredom has entered the church that has caused us to err in judgment. We heap to ourselves prophets of peace and stock our shelves with “Christian” books for positive thinking and prosperity; we flock to preachers of entertainment and allow an ecumenical move to accept all beliefs; we wag our finger in the air with a Howdy Dowdy grin and chant that Jesus loves us while we sway back and forth to repetitive songs of blessings … but we have left off to fear the Lord.

Just like Zion of old, we cannot see our apostasy and therefore can no longer repent. The warnings of the prophets that God has sent us are rejected because they are too critical and judgmental. (As one woman told me, “the Bible says we are not supposed to offend anybody”. How nice.)

And all the while, the wheel of judgment slowly turns.

There were those of us who warned that 9/11 was coming … and we knew why. Predictably, the Christian world turned for a while to seek the face of God, but once the specter of judgment faded, they quickly turned back to their old superficial ways, just like they did after Josiah’s death. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

There’s another judgment coming. This one will be far more severe than 9/11. It will breach the walls that we have trusted in, and destroy our city of Zion. But in that judgment there will be the seeds of a true revival, and God will raise up stones in our place that will fearlessly declare the glory of God and will march forth in the fear of God to victory.

Be careful that you do not miss it.

“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”

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Voltaire, one of the intellectual world’s heroes from the Age of Reason, once said that to know that you know what you know, and that you do not know what you do not know, is wisdom. Voltaire may have been a fool himself because he had dismissed the idea of God until his deathbed, but his reasoning here was sound.

God put it slightly differently.

“The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
but the folly of fools is deceit”. (Proverbs 14:8).

A prudent man is wise because he makes sure his way is on solid ground before he proceeds.  Proverbs also tells us that the prudent man walks circumspectly – in other words, he looks all around himself before he goes forward to make sure his way is right. Or as it says again, “he looks well to his going”.

The folly of the fool, on the other hand, is that he deceives himself to believe only what he wants to believe, and so rushes in where angels fear to tread.  He has no fear of God, neither does he want to fear Him, neither does he believe he should.

I recently had a fool attack a Facebook entry of mine because he did not believe in demonic activity or witchcraft.  It was all voodoo hoodoo to him. That would have been okay as his opinion, but he had to justify his point by mocking others who had witnessed the realities of demonic powers. He had no idea what he was talking about and had never seen the realities of spiritual warfare, but ranted about how stupid we were to believe in the devil.  As it is written, “Fools make a mock of sin”.

I have to wonder, is this all a test?  Do we, as individuals, all face our challenges in life to make a choice whether we will follow the Lord or choose our own ways? Why do some of us rush down a path that is so contrary to the Word of God while still proclaiming that it is the Truth? Some excuse sin as something inconsequential that God will excuse simply because we believe in Jesus; others dismiss the fear of God as being harsh and judgmental and do not tremble at His Word; still others fashion their own set of beliefs that veer dramatically from the Word of God and declare it as a “new revelation”, a “new truth” if you would, that is better than the “old truth”.

How foolish!  And yet they run on in the folly of their deceit, assuming an elevated status over those who have chosen to stay with the established foundation that God has set down for us. Is it by choice, or are they just a corrupt seed?

A friend of mine said it well, “People will follow their heart.” How true.

Perhaps that is why the Word tells us to guard our hearts for out of it are the issues of life. We choose our own paths, whether sin unto death or righteousness unto life.

Therefore choose life.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.” (Jeremiah 6:14-16)

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This may seem like a bit of a stretch at first, but the more I consider it, the more sense it makes to me.  I know that specific dates are very important to the Lord, and that most important events happen on feast days or the specified days of mourning.  For instance, the Lord appeared to Abraham and gave him the Covenant for the Promised Land on Nisan 14th. He told Abraham that his seed would be in Egypt for 430 years.  On exactly that same day, 430 years later, the Israelites were brought out of bondage.  When Israel fell into rebellion, God sent them into captivity in Babylon for 70 years (Jer. 25:11).  Judah was carried away in the month of Nisan, 606 BC. Seventy years later, on the first day of Nisan, 536 BC, Cyrus put forth the decree to restore Jerusalem.  There are many other instances of God’s sovereign power to do things with exact timing, like Daniel’s prophesy of the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem and the calculation of Jesus’s birth on the Feast of Tabernacles. 

In Ezekiel 4:3-6, God commands Ezekiel to lay on his left side for 390 days and then on his right side for another 40 days – one day for each year that judgment would be upon the children of Israel.  I always wondered what that was all about – pretty weird stuff … unless there was a prophetic secret in it.  Since the Children of Israel has already done 70 years of their time in Babylon, we can deduct that from the 430 and are left with 360 additional years of judgment to be fulfilled.

There was a problem though. 

Had Israel repented after the Babylonian captivity was over, history might have been different, but they did not.  Very few actually left Babylon to return to Jerusalem, and of those who did, fewer still came in repentance.  They just settled into life as usual and fell right back into their old ways.  The problem is that it is written in Leviticus 26 that if Israel, after being punished for her sins, did not repent, then the punishments would be multiplied 7 times.  It is written there four times just to make sure we got the point.

Oops.

If that is the case, then if we multiply 360 x 7 = 2,520 Biblical years of judgment left to be enforced.  Since prophetic (or Biblical) years are measured in lunar months that equal 360 days per year, we have to convert those days to Gregorian years to see where it comes out.

So …

2,520 x 360 = 907,200 days. 
907,200 ÷ 365.25 = 2,483.8 calendar years.

2,483.8 years from Nisan 536 BC, taking into account the absence of year 0) brings you to ……

1948, the year the Jews proclaimed the independence of the reborn State of Israel on May 15th.  I’m not sure about the exact day that everything fell on, but the fact that it lasted almost 2500 years and came out the same time that the Jews miraculously were reborn is just too much to attribute to chance. 

Does God exist? Absolutely.

 Is he the God of the Jews as well as the Gentiles? Yes. 

Will He do exactly what He says He will do?  Joel 2:11 says He is strong who executes His Word. 

Are we living in the last days?  Bet on it.

Repent or perish. Jesus Christ is coming back to Earth very soon. If you are not right with God now, you’d better start thinking about getting right with Him soon. 

Just saying …

 

 

 

 

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Everybody I know is going to Heaven. (Let me think for a minute … yep, everybody). From the Alpha+ personalities that charge ahead in their own self-righteousness to the casual believers who relax in their own languid reassurance that all is cool with the “Man Upstairs”. The only folks I know who say they’re not going to Heaven are the ones who don’t believe in Heaven anyway! Well, I guess that just makes everything convenient then. We can all relax and be raptured.
But somewhere there is a line.
If everybody is right, then nobody is wrong; and if everybody else is wrong, what makes you think you are right? Peter said that he knew and was sure that Jesus was the Christ. That’s all fine, but it’s not God who I am wondering about — I trust God. It’s me I don’t trust.
A guy named Howard Pitman had an experience years ago when he died in an ambulance and went up before God. God showed him the Day of Judgment where he saw billions of people going up before God to be judged. Multitudes were shot down into Hell like showers of sparks. Some souls went up to Heaven, but nowhere near as many as those who went to Hell. But every once in a while there would be one who would come up before God and there would be a pause … and then they would be shot down into Hell. He said that when he asked what that was, God replied that those were the self-righteous who thought they were supposed to go to Heaven and stood there justifying themselves to God.
It’s been years since I listened to that vision, but that one scene has never left me. It lines up with the admonition Jesus gave us of the broad and narrow paths. While we may all have our own perspective of what is required to get to Heaven, only one perspective matters – and that would His.
Let us be careful that we don’t walk so squeaky clean that we become Pharisees or so detached from righteousness that we think that going out and looking at the trees is a religious experience with God. Some will echo the old assertion of “I don’t smoke, and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with them that do”, all the while sitting completely stagnant in their lack of mercy for others. Others will float around in their spiritual effervescence, dispensing feel-good prophesies laced with love and sugar plums so that everyone will know they are loved but be clueless as to the holiness that God demands.
There is a walk in the Spirit that found in neither of these extremes nor anywhere between them. It is a completely different path, a different perspective, and an entirely different goal. It is a place of surrender before God where you no longer matter. It is being as porous as an open window so that the Spirit of God can pass through you to shower the true mercy of God on others. You will never gain that place in God through your own efforts or spirituality – only through surrender.

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Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.”
(Isaiah 8:7-8)

Hezekiah was one of Judah’s best kings. 2nd Kings says that there was none like him amongst all the kings of Judah. Then why did this happen to him? Sennacherib, the king of Assyria swallowed up the entire breadth of Judah, reaching all the way up to the neck, even the very gates of Jerusalem. That was good news for the folks shuttered up in Jerusalem, but it must have been hell for everyone out in the countryside and all the other cities. If Hezekiah was so righteous, then why did God allow this to happen to the rest of Judah?
The answer goes back to his father Ahaz, the wicked king who ruled before him. Ahaz was facing sure destruction from Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel, but instead of calling upon the Lord for help, he hired the king of Assyria to pull them off him. In gratitude, Ahaz took a trip to Damascus to meet him and, I guess, to thank him for his help.
While he was there, he saw a pagan altar that impressed him so much that he sent the design back to Uzziah the high priest to have one made just like it. It must have been real nice and shiny because he set aside the Brazen Altar that was before the House of the Lord and replaced it with this new modern version. He instructed the High Priest that all the offerings and sacrifices would now be done on this shiny, new modern altar, but had the audacity to say that when he wanted to inquire of the Lord, he would go over and use the old Brazen Altar that now sat on the north side of the Temple. He discarded the established way the Lord had set down to initiate a new, modern way that was based on pagan worship.
Sounds crazy, right? But have we not done the same thing in dismissing that old-fashioned Gospel of the fear of the Lord for a new and gentler modern Gospel of peace, love and prosperity? Did not Jeremiah cry out, “… ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.” (Jer 6:16)
I’m sure Ahaz had plenty of justifications. After all, it was Solomon’s design, wasn’t it? So what’s the harm in upgrading it a little bit? Besides, the Brazen Altar was getting old and burnt around the edges and probably needed some touch ups and a new paint job. This new one was bright and shiny. And yeah, it was patterned after a pagan altar, but it’s not like he was going to offer up his children on it as a burnt sacrifice. So what was the problem?
When we operate outside the fear of the Lord, we set the stage for our own judgment. Isaiah’s resulting pronouncement against Judah came to fruition, not in Ahaz’s generation, but in his son’s. Hezekiah felt the full impact of Ahaz’s foolishness and had it not been for his extraordinary righteousness before God, Jerusalem would have no doubt been overwhelmed.
Many times in the Bible when the great stone wheel of judgment would begin to roll because of their sins, God would raise up a solitary man to stand in the gap for His people — Noah, Joseph, Elijah, Gideon, and many of the judges. Hezekiah was just such a man to stop the full brunt of his father’s sins so that the seed would be preserved to bring humanity to the ultimate of saviors, God Himself in the form of His Son Jesus Christ.
Mercy is not free; neither is it cheap. And although God delights in mercy, He is first and foremost a righteous God and there is a price to pay for sin in the form of judgment. If we, as a people, ignore the warnings against a lighter version of the Gospel, all the while making excuses and justifications for our shiny new altar, we will face the same results our fathers have faced. Let us pray that God will raise up unto us a way for repentance to stave off the results of our lack of the fear of God.

“O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.”
(Ezekiel 13:4-6)

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