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AT THE CROSSROADS: WILL AMERICA REPENT? (5)

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         Repentance is the action of individuals. People are saved one person at a time. It is a highly personal decision. It has always been this way.

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         Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!’” [Matthew 3:1-3]

DOWN TO THE CROSSROADS

         When a person hears the real Gospel and becomes convicted in heart, standing guilty as charged before the Lord and knowing without any doubt that he is guilty, he must act. He has no choice. At this early stage, personal faith arises from within that had never arisen before. He sees himself as God sees him, as a sinner in need of salvation. But also, though shattered by the knowledge of his personal sin, he senses a concern and a brief glimpse or feeling of mercy directed toward him from some unidentifiable spiritual place beyond himself, and from that place a small hope arises. From this initial entry point one stands at a spiritual junction.

 

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees

Down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees

Asked the Lord above for mercy, “Save me if you please”

 

I went down to the crossroads, tried to flag a ride

Down to the crossroads, tried to flag a ride

Nobody seemed to know me, everybody passed me by

 

          Many years ago I had a friend who gave his heart to the Lord a couple of months before I met him. I had never known him before his salvation experience, one which had been quite dramatic. I remember him telling me that the night he decided on the Lord, it almost never happened in that he felt too weak to make the decision the way it must be made. He told me people had been earnestly praying for him, though seemingly unsuccessfully. He had received a very powerful witness. He wanted to get right. Spiritual war was going on for his soul but he knew little of that at the time. He did know, though, that he was in a new place he had never been in before and seemed to lack control to do anything about it. He had been prayed out of darkness temporarily and found himself down at the crossroads.

        Essentially, he was in the process of being yanked out of his hell-bound status, with which there was otherwise no remedy, even by his own efforts. He had certainly made an effort, but had been so far away from God and so deep in sin it was all he could do to gain his present circumstance, powerfully aided by the prayers of others. Yet at that new and unidentifiable place, in which he could very easily fall right back in the pit from which he arose, he would have to be the final arbiter and make a choice. He told others afterward that he pictured the proverbial angel on one side and the devil on the other. He referred to the devil as a hell’s angel. They were both fighting for him. He felt himself slipping away. He saw the good angel fading out and growing farther into the blurry distance, far up above as he was sinking fast. Then, all of a sudden, the good angel reached way down and somehow grabbed him, all in an instant, and pulled him into life…

THE UNACKNOWLEDGED EFFECT OF REAL CHRISTIANITY

         In reality, nations do not repent. Great Awakenings are not a “nation” awakening but a comparatively large group of individuals within and across that nation that is awakening. In this sense such occurrences are defined as national. They happen when a much larger percentage of the populace than usual turns to the Lord together in a relatively short period of time. They are not repenting and getting right with God to save their nation, however, but for God to save them, one another, and whosoever will.

         All countries, nations, states, empires, etc, are temporary, as this world itself is temporary. It is only the Community of the Lord Jesus, or His kingdom, that lasts forever, and His kingdom is not and never has been an earthly kingdom.

         When it happens that the majority of a country is composed of real Christians or if a minority of real Christians is very effective spiritually, that particular country becomes a comparatively better place because it means the Lord has more authority and control. It means a greater number of people show real love and obey the Golden Rule. It means there are fewer sinners. It means sin has less overall effect. It means there is greater conviction of sin. It means there is less demonic activity. When such countries begin backsliding away, it is because the real Christians are backsliding away.

          But real Christians as large groups usually never devolve into blatant sin but merely get co-opted. They give in to watered-down gospels, false narratives, and throw their weight behind teachings the Lord never taught. It usually happens on the sly, over a gradual period of time. There is a sinister author but such Christians lose sight of the author. They make peace with the world. They compromise. Their lights grow dim and unless they make corrections their lights eventually go out.           

         Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 4:12-17]

         Of course, John had been preaching way out in the wilderness, unconnected to the ultra-legalistic religious entities that controlled the synagogues and temple complex. He preached until the Lord was baptized and began His forty day fast. According to the Gospel accounts, it was during those forty days or shortly thereafter when John was arrested and thrown in prison. When the Lord returned from the wilderness, He also was unconnected to the religious establishment, though He began preaching in the synagogues of Galilee “and was praised by all.”

THE GREAT DIVIDE

         Then He went to His hometown. The people of Nazareth initially accepted Him warmly. He spoke in the local synagogue.

       What happened next is what always happens when two distinct and very different kingdoms with different agendas abruptly share the same territory, as warm moist air from the south runs into cold dry air from the north. They will clash. Thunderstorms happen. Lightning flashes. Thunder rolls. One would think the people of Nazareth would embrace Him. They did at first, until He began preaching a message contrary to their message. This created a message tornado, a spiritual cognitive dissonance whirlwind which at first confused the synagogue members and stunned them into silence. They sat there with open mouths and unblinking eyes. Then they got it. Then they went absolutely nuts.

         The following passage is an eye-opening illustration of what happens when the anointed Word of God goes to war against false teaching masquerading as truth:

        And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. [Luke 4:28-29]

        For real Christians, this is all quite familiar. It is what happens when light shines on darkness. It’s what is supposed to happen. If it is not happening, it means truth is not being revealed. It means the real Gospel is not being preached. The devil continues to hide successfully, operate behind the scenes, and dumb-down the people he controls into dead, ineffectual religious compliance. In that darkness all manner of false doctrines germinate. The next thing you know, “Christians” act the same way those people did in that Nazareth synagogue.   

         This is why Great Awakenings are most often completely unconnected to compromised, establishment Christianity—that which has accepted spiritual chains in the guise of any number of replacements and the false doctrine foundations upon which they rest, most of which involve cultural conformity, coerced donations, and religious pride.

CONTENDERS AND PRETENDERS

         Religious pride and personal repentance don’t get along. In fact, these two hate each other. Only one can win. The other gets destroyed. Most people choose pride. A comparative few find life, though it will cost them. The unrepentant religious pride people always attempt to throw the repentant life people off a cliff. Their pride, conviction of sin, and refusal to repent demands it. Thus, those who find life have a harder row to hoe and constitute the fewer. Not only must they dodge the cliff-throwers, they also take the time to pray for them. That’s rare. Also, staying on the path of life, due to the demands of real discipleship, sometimes causes their numbers to be reduced over time.

         The Lord preached to tens of thousands during His ministry. Several thousand were following Him from place to place. He often had a hard time escaping the crowds. This even happened when He went to Jerusalem the week of His death. Many were praising Him and shouting Hosannas. Then, once the crowds found out what supporting Him would cost, they all abandoned Him. Many turned on Him. The signal was given, “Release the hounds!” You know the rest of the story. Except for one man and several women close by the place of execution, all of His friends vanished by the time they killed Him, including His own disciples.

         Even after His resurrection the same dynamic played out. There were as many as five hundred who saw Him at one time. Yet, the majority of these drifted off. By the time it came to the full end which also signified a brand new beginning, only a hundred and twenty people made it to Pentecost. The tens of thousands had vanished. They all left Him except for a few. The majority could never bring itself to go all the way and put everything on the line. Heaven will thus be sparsely populated.

DOWNTOWN DOGFIGHT

         We are at yet another crossroads and things are taking a giant turn toward societal civil war. Those paying attention knew this would happen, could see it emerging quite a while ago, and are somewhat surprised that it took this long. I say that because the evil agenda has been in place for so long. The Great Awakening will subdue it somewhat. This emerging civil war is indeed a spiritual reaction to what the Lord is bringing forth. A great many will join up with the Lord. But until the people who have control, authority, and wealth start becoming real Christians, nothing substantial can possibly change long term because those guys have a completely different agenda and will never relinquish it.

         They are helped in their pursuit by Christians who have aligned themselves with the aforesaid false gospels and cultural Christianity in which they mix two competing entities to make one powerless, low wattage entity. Christians such as this want nothing to do with the only thing that will ultimately save them and reject it because they have no frame of reference yet to how bad things may get. They therefore see real Christianity as something completely unnecessary and exaggerated, not worth the discipleship, not worth the upsetting of their lifestyles, and even overbearing within a construct of relatively good times. Their karma chickens will eventually come home to roost. They will then get a better frame of reference. Some will attempt to apply what they know that seemed to work in the past. It will have little effect. It will be too late.

         Yet, for all the real Christians out there, the strong and the faithful, they know the Lord Jesus ALWAYS takes care of His own. But they also know there is a job to be done. The real Gospel must be heard. His light must shine. Darkness must be exposed. People must be set free.

         But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

         See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. [Hebrews 12:22-25] [1]

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]  


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PART 1: ECONOMIC CRASH AND BURN

PART 2: THE THIRD SIGN: IT’S DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN 

PART 3: REVEALING THE HIDDEN ECONOMIC JUDGMENT PATTERN

PART 4: SOLAR ECLIPSE ACROSS AMERICA SIGNALS ONSET OF REPENTANCE

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SOLAR ECLIPSE ACROSS AMERICA SIGNALS ONSET OF REPENTANCE (4)

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   Today’s rare celestial event is strangely coinciding with emerging economic and social turbulence that will likely grow worse in the coming weeks.

 

On August 7, I wrote and finished editing Part 1 of this series.

On August 8, the Dow Jones reached its highest peak in history after climbing all year.

On August 9, before dawn, I posted Part 1, Economic Crash and Burn. On that very day the market immediately began dropping, losing 335 points over the next two days.

On August 11, before dawn, I posted Part 2, The Third Sign: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again.

On August 12, Charlottesville happened.

Over the next few days, in a series of fits and starts, the Dow made up what it lost.

On August 17, before dawn, I posted Part 3 of this series, Revealing the Hidden Economic Judgment Pattern. On that very day the Dow plummeted precipitously, losing 335 points once again from its high the day before.

On August 18, it lost another 76 points. Those two days saw the biggest drop in three months. From its all time high on August 8 until Friday August 18 the Dow Jones has lost a total 504 points. This is an obvious signal of economic turmoil at the top.

THE SUN BLOCKED OUT COAST TO COAST

      Coinciding exactly with this economic phenomenon is an extremely rare celestial phenomenon: Today we have the big solar eclipse.

          As most of you know by now, an eclipse of this kind has never happened before on the American mainland at any time, going back as far as the early colonial period which began in 1607. In fact, the last time a coast to coast solar eclipse occurred across what is now America that touched no other landmass was in 1257. The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 will only occur on the Pacific Ocean, the continental United States, and the Atlantic Ocean. It will touch no other country. It will make landfall in Oregon, move across the country, and exit at South Carolina. It is absolutely exclusive to the United States.

       As far as celestial signs go, this eclipse could not be more clear. The new moon, beginning a new month, takes place at the same time as the eclipse, as solar eclipses can only take place during new moons. But this particular new moon begins not just any month. It begins the last month of the Hebrew civil calendar. It signals the beginning of a forty day period of spiritual reflection, repentance, fasting, and prayer, and culminates on September 30, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This was in all likelihood the exact time period when the Lord went on His forty day fast before beginning His ministry. Just after those forty days He became thirty years old, coinciding perfectly with the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, five days after Yom Kippur. All of these anniversaries are in our immediate future.

THE NEW MOON

         The total eclipse begins on the Oregon coast at 10:16am Pacific time. The total eclipse ends in South Carolina at 2:50pm Eastern time. The new moon occurs officially at 11:30am Pacific time in Oregon and at 2:30pm Eastern time in South Carolina. Incidentally, the new moon and the eclipse occur simultaneously at 1:30pm Central time on the east side of Nashville, Tennessee, the largest city in the path of totality. Not sure what that means…

THE JOB ECLIPSE

         This celestial event can be characterized in part as “The Job Eclipse,” named after the Biblical Character and OT book of the same name. All real Christians know what that means. Christian scholar E.W. Bullinger (1837-1913) wrote an extremely detailed book on Biblical numbers and their meanings and said the Biblical number 19 refers to a combination of 10 (Ordinal Perfection) and 9 (Judgment):

         “Nineteen is a number not without significance. It is a combination of 10 and 9, and would denote the perfection of Divine order connected with judgment. It is the gematria of Eve and Job.” [1]

         I know this may sound like a real stretch, but hear me out. From 1257 until 2017 is 760 years. This is 19 times 40. Both of these are very significant Biblical numbers. 40 refers to periods of probation, trial, and chastisement, specifically in connection with a covenant people (whereas 9 indicates the punishment of enemies). This upcoming 40 day period thus refers to both, because I am seeing indications that the next scheduled economic recession will be primarily an economic judgment on the financial elite. I will have more on that in a future post.

         For more 9’s (judgment), the last American transcontinental total solar eclipse took place in 1918. That was 99 years ago. That one was unlike today’s eclipse because other lands were involved. The last solar eclipse that crossed any part of America before now was in Hawaii in 1991. The one before that was in the Pacific Northwest in 1979. After one in 1970 there was yet another long string of 9’s: 1963, 1959, 1954, and 1945.

         Another indication of 19 is associated with the number 335 which has popped up twice in a period of ten days referring to specific point losses on the Dow Jones. The first drop (335.17) occurred from August 8 to August 10. The second (335.39) was from August 16 to August 17. Maybe it’s just coincidence. Maybe this is way too much minutia on my part. However, when looking closer at the number 335 which twice occurred with regard to big losses in a very short period of time, it breaks down as thus: 335 = 5 x 67. Five is a prime number and the Biblical number of grace. 67 is the 19th prime.

         So here again we have God’s grace and Job, which denotes a time of probation, trial, and chastisement for the Lord’s people in concert with His divine favor, while at the same time, a period of judgment on those who refuse the Lord.

         Keep all of this in mind when following the eclipse today. It is time to prepare our hearts for the immediate future. If you’re right with God all is well. Time periods such as these are designed to get everyone on track, especially concerning the Great Awakening. 

THE JOEL ECLIPSE

         The following is just one proof that the Lord uses signs in the sky:

         “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.

        ‘I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’” [Acts 2:16-21 NKJV] [2]

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]  


[1] Number In Scripture ©1921 E.W. Bullinger

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PART 1: ECONOMIC CRASH AND BURN

PART 2: THE THIRD SIGN: IT’S DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN 

PART 3: REVEALING THE HIDDEN ECONOMIC JUDGMENT PATTERN

PART 5: AT THE CROSSROADS: WILL AMERICA REPENT?

When Sinners Die: Rejecting the Sacrifice Lamb (1)

         If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;

         Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. [1Peter 1:17-19]

         “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” [1John 1:29]

THE SIN DISEASE

         The Lord always warns us. He warns us repeatedly. He has warned us all from the very beginning. His is a heart of mercy.

         He tries to explain to us the nature of sin. He attempts to explain how and why sin works, and why every human being is stricken with the disease from birth, though one must reach an age of accountability before personal responsibility for sin kicks in.

         Most sinners do not necessarily have an agenda against God, I don’t think, but are rebels against Him nonetheless. Yet, there are people on this planet who certainly have an agenda against Him and His pure teachings, who hate Him, and who fight against Him every day.

         Their focus, like the focus of all sinners in general, is SELF. Hence, the reason for sin is nothing more than pure selfishness and what can be gained for self through any means, including the violation of any and all moral restraints. Moral restraints, however, are not simply the result of what many people see as arbitrary rules created out of thin air.

THE CONSCIENCE

         Regardless of the various forms of moral restraints and statutes in this world, and chosen or accepted guidelines by which to live, there is one very personal, genuine, legitimate warning mechanism given to each and every human being designed to alert us and govern personal conduct.

         We call it the Conscience.

         For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

         For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. [Romans 2:12-16]

         Therefore, we have no excuse, and will never have any excuse, and all those who die as sinners in an unrepentant state will have a record of sin when they go before the Lord at the judgment.

         Each individual record of sin could have been expunged prior to physical death.

         Everyone is given that opportunity. Even those who have never heard of the Lord Jesus or heard the Gospel have an opportunity to repent due to their convicting conscience that warns of sin and reveals good and evil.

         Therefore, when sinners die they will be judged appropriately. There will be a clear, exhaustive record of everything ever done in one’s life including the committing of every single sin—a multitude of sins, and the record will show that they liked it—they enjoyed their sin or at least certainly made compromises toward it instead of standing against it.

         Would that it could be that all unrepentant sinners sinned only against themselves and never harmed another. But it is obvious that sin affects other people, and some sins greatly affect other people, and some sins affect great numbers of people.

         None of this had to be. None of it was written in stone. All sin is due to wrong choices. We learn, then, if we are to advance in life and grow morally, to cease from wrong choices. This is what childhood and pre-adulthood is for.

         Whoever goes down the path toward moral righteousness, however, eventually figures out that human strength and human will alone will not get the job done. We need a higher power. Temptation is too strong. The power of sin has too great a hold on us. There must also be a way to clear our existing sin record and give us our release. This is why the search for truth always ends successfully when one chooses the Lord Jesus. The human conscience helps us in this process. Those who never grow up, however, who never seek to overcome sin and temptation, never cease from sinning.

         They have decided to bypass their conscience.

REJECTING THE SACRIFICE LAMB

         Human beings do have an amazing capacity for sin and keeping stone-faced about it, and refusing to do something about it, even though their individual consciences are warning them loudly and continuously. But the reason they refuse to address it is because they have rejected the only cure—they refuse to surrender to the Lord Jesus so He can help them. They have thus learned that their chosen cures don’t work so they quit trying and give in to being what they are.

         What a conundrum this is, that a perfect cure is always available but for most it is always rejected. Why? —Selfishness—which returns us once again to the reason for sin:

         Their focus, like the focus of all sinners in general, is SELF. Hence, the reason for sin is nothing more than pure selfishness and what can be gained for self through any means, including the violation of any and all moral restraints.

         If one builds one’s life on sin and constructs a framework of sin that keeps one’s life together, it is only a matter of time before such a weak and ridiculous foundation and structure is revealed.

         What to do?

ATTACKING SIN AS ONE’S MORTAL ENEMY

         The best thing to do about sin is deal with it… NOW. The Lord told us how. If one’s conscience is doing its convicting work, it is a great sign. It means one’s conscience is alive and well.

         Sinning is bad, but refusing to repent for sin is worse. Again, the best thing to do is simply surrender to the Lord Jesus, admit that one is a sinner, that one is stricken with the sin disease (the worst of all diseases), that one is tired of fighting against conviction, that one is tired of feeling spiritually dirty, that one wants to be whole again, and healthy, and happy, and FREE, and begin attacking sin as one’s mortal enemy.

         It is obviously better to do it now than attempt it after death, when it will be absolutely impossible. One cannot repent after death. Those who say one can are not telling the truth. The Lord Jesus never taught such a lie. The time to repent is NOW.

         So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. [Philippians 2:12-13]

         At this very moment there are uncounted millions of souls in the unknown geographic location of dead unrepentant sinners who are waiting for trial, tormented each second by what could have been.

         Though they had the incredible opportunity of a wonderful and loving defense attorney while alive, they rejected His counsel.

         They died in sin. They know it. They knew it then. They have no chance. They will be found guilty. Each of them, and all those who are added to them as time goes on, wasted their life. They traded eternal life with the Lord Jesus in heaven for this temporary world and for very temporary self-rule.

         “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

         For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:36-38]

         They are as much alive and conscious at this moment, though in a different state, as they always were. However, their fates are sealed. Repentance and getting right with God is no longer an option.

         You know what else? Even if the option existed, because they had repeatedly rejected the Sacrifice Lamb during their earthly sojourn, it appears readily apparent that NOT A SINGLE ONE WOULD EVER REPENT IF GIVEN ONE FINAL CHANCE.

         Their desire is not to get right with God.

         It is only to escape the restriction of their incarceration.

         Focusing on SELF promotes sin and destruction.

      Focusing on the Lord Jesus and others promotes love, salvation, and spiritual freedom.  

         For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

         For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” [Galatians 5:13-14] [1]

            © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

He Steadfastly Set His Face To Go To Jerusalem

Mount Everest from Kalapatthar.

Mount Everest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         There are times in our lives when we have to make tough decisions.

         We must decide to obey God.

         I remember hearing a relatively well known preacher several years ago make a statement regarding such tough decisions. In all honesty he said, “I’ve rebuked the Holy Ghost so many times…”

         What he meant, of course, is that there was no way what he was hearing was from God. It was too hard. Too difficult. Impossible, even. No way could it be God. He would never ask (command) me to do such a thing.

         But, of course,  it actually WAS the voice of God…

         Not only does the Lord have “hard sayings,” He also has very hard things for us to do at times. And this portends the theme of this article, that God, in all His grace and love, commands us to do impossible things that put our lives in peril and sometimes destroy our comfort zones.

         A lazy, lolling river suddenly becomes fast and filled with white water and giant boulders. But instead of simply getting over to the bank ASAP, the Lord directs us to enter headlong into the churning, violent rapids and commands us to ride the wave of the future.

         Right.

         These are some of the stepping off points in one’s walk with God. How many Christians are there in this world who are no longer real Christians because they refused such commands? How many are merely playing games, fooling themselves and almost everyone else in an attempt to live for God in disobedience?

         It can’t happen, you know. Would that you were hot or cold…

         You get the picture. Refusing God’s commands while claiming to be right makes one a veritable dab of spit at best and pool of vomit at worst.

         Yes, the Word of God actually says that. As Yogi Berra would say, “You could look it up.”

         The title of this post illustrates such tough obedient choices. The Lord knew all along He would make that fateful trip to Jerusalem one day and enter into the mouth of the dragon. He would drop His defenses, lose all protection, and become the object of not only the wrath of mankind, but the wrath of God.

         But how is that possible? Jesus IS God.

         And again, that’s the point. The strong must support the weak. The strong must do very difficult things on behalf of the weak. The strong must carry the day.

         Now, in English, the phrase Set His Face To Go makes no sense. We think it makes sense but only because we have discovered what it means. This phrase is an obvious example of a Hebrew idiom that found its way into the literal translation. It comes to us from the KJV translators and is over 400 years old. However, it is based on the earlier English translation of William Tyndale which is going on 500 years old. I do not think those people had any clear understanding of Hebrew idioms. Later translations give a clearer understanding in English. The following is from the NASV:

         He was determined to go to Jerusalem… [1] 

         Young’s Literal Translation states, that he fixed his face to go on to Jerusalem.

         The Hebrew idiom, from an original Hebrew Gospel, means that the Lord Jesus could not possibly be swayed from facing His fate. He was resolutely determined to complete His mission. He set His face like a flinty rock to enter the belly of the beast. This was not only sheer determination and willpower to do the job He was called to do; it was also the determination to face the greatest physical, emotional, and mental torture ever suffered by anyone in taking on the massive burden of our sins, and actually become sin on our behalf.

         He had every reason, in the natural, to reject such a trip. How could it be God’s will for me to face such a horrible fate? Anyone else would have found a way out, and would have justified his disobedient behavior.

         But not the Lord Jesus.

         He wasn’t thinking of Himself.

         He was thinking of you.

         So, we must set our minds at ease in that whatever difficult circumstances He is commanding us to undertake, He will never ask us to go to the cross the way He went to the cross.

         But we must go to the cross. We must be crucified. We must destroy our sinful and selfish human nature through real repentance and allow His life to course through our born again veins and arteries, and allow our hearts of stone to be transformed into living hearts of spiritual love and mercy.

         He made it relatively easy for us, you know. There is a place in each of us reserved for His Holy Living Spirit. The key to being like Christ, therefore, is not to engage in some ascetic attempt to be “holy” and Christlike through our own power and religious methods, but to unlock the door of our hearts, open the door wide, greet the Lord who waits patiently on our doorstep with a gracious smile and a loving hug, invite Him in, and give Him the best room in the house.

         Whatever price we must pay to get us to the point of accepting such a visitation is worth it, don’t you think? And so is anything else He asks us to do, no matter how scary or difficult.

         We must all Set Our Face to do the will of God. We must go to our own version of Jerusalem. We must swim across the ocean and ford every stream and climb every mountain (including Everest) and dream the impossible dream.

         We must sacrifice our lives in the greatest act of giving for the sake of His abundant life.

         It’s what people do when they’re in love.

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Lighter Side of Darkness

        

         When human beings are subjected to the full authority of the Lord Jesus, they treat other human beings with equal respect. They have long since gotten down off their high horse. They see by the light of the Gospel that they were formerly sinners destined to hell and realize they were saved from that hell by the sacrificial death of their Lord and Master. They consequently can no longer be critical of others as “sinners” since they themselves are former sinners saved only by the grace of God.

         Real Christians still commit sins, however. What changes is the lifestyle of sin. Those not subjected to the Lord have no true awareness of their sin and no true desire to cease from it. They exist in a fairy tale land of no recompense for their evil deeds. Indeed, the idea that they do “evil deeds” is ridiculous to them. In their reasoning, only vile criminals, murderers, etc, engage in “evil deeds.” But God has a different opinion. And when people come into contact with God for the first time through the hearing of the powerful Gospel message, which includes the cutting truth that one is a sinner in opposition to God, it causes them to bow before their Creator and seek His pardon.

         Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.

         And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

         Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” [Luke 7:36-50]

         Real repentance is often done with much emotion. For those who refuse to repent, they consider the Gospel message as inapplicable to themselves, in that they see themselves as righteous apart from God.

         These reject the Gospel message and continue on their journey toward hell.

         Those who repent, on the other hand, cease being sinners in that their previous sins are removed by the cleansing blood of the Lamb of God. They do an about face. They start walking in the opposite direction. They get off the train to hell and hop on board the train to heaven.

         They still sin from time to time, partly from ignorance, partly from not yet fully overcoming the dictates of their sinful nature, and partly from not continuing in their spiritual disciplines. An altar of repentance always awaits them for personal use when needed, and the blood of the Lord is once again invoked to cleanse them. In time, they grow more spiritually mature and their faults grow fewer.

         They learn to take it on the chin. They learn to not fight back against others who treat them with contempt. They see other people as those in need of salvation the same way they were. They become more accommodating and graceful. They learn the art of spiritual tact. They attempt to help others see the light that was shown to them. They do not consider themselves better, or holier, or a greater specimen of humanity, but someone who was saved from a life of sin and eventual hell by a loving Savior through no effort whatsoever of their own.

         They understand that their righteousness is a gift.

         They see clearly that the death of the Lord Jesus paid for all sins for all time.

         They see there is nothing to crow about, that though they are cleansed, they personally had nothing to do with it except merely saying yes to God and accepting His generous offer of salvation.

         Humility becomes their standard.

         Obedience to the Lord becomes their modus operandi.

         Loving the Lord and others becomes their purpose.

         Telling others about the Good News becomes their principle occupation.

         They want to see others saved from sin and set free the way they were.

         They want others to meet the Lord.

         “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30] [1]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THANKS TO ALL FOR READING AND SPREADING THE WORD