Posted in holy, judgment, prophecy, tongue

"The Tape Recorder Judgment"

Every human will be judged. There are two kinds of judgment. One is for the lost, judgment for their sin. God will judge them and then cast them into hell for all eternity to endure the punishment of His wrath. (Revelation 20:11-15). This is known as the Great White Throne Judgment.

The other judgment is not really a judgment, more of an evaluation. All believers will stand before Christ after the rapture, and He will evaluate their lives based on what they did for Him, and what their motivation was. Christ will judge our works. We aren’t under wrath because as believers we entered heaven through the Door of Jesus, and He already exhausted God’s wrath for us by absorbing our punishment for sins when He was on the cross. So, God is not angry with us like He is with the unbelievers, but we can lose rewards that we would have otherwise earned. This is known as the Bema Seat. (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Hebrews 10:31 says “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Though we have nothing to fear, just thinking about standing before Jesus and having all my works and secrets of the heart exposed is cringe-worthy. To add fuel to the fire, so to speak, our pastor said the following last Sunday. I’ll paraphrase.

He was in a court situation observing a woman who was about to be sentenced for her DUI charge. As the court came together and the judge was preparing to speak the verdict, our pastor said that he could see the defendant begin to shake. Her arm quivered visibly, then her leg. She soon was shaking uncontrollably. A human judge was about the render a verdict in her crime, and she knew she was guilty. Her shaking increased. It is a fearful thing to be publicly judged for our crimes.

Now imagine this.

Imagine that God put a tape recorder around your neck. For the next year, He recorded everything you said. At the end of the year, He took off the tape recorder and played it back. Imagine then, He uses the same level of judgment that you used when talking to other people or about other people…on you.

It makes us cringe, doesn’t it? And if we think that our own words used against us as the benchmark of judgment is harsh, a human standard, what then of God’s holy and perfect standard? One cannot even conceive of being able to stand before Him.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3)

And yet those who are in Christ, will be able to stand.

The Psalm verse goes on to show the glorious reason why,

But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (Psalm 130:4)

If in thinking of the tape recorded judgments you utter make you shrink back in fear of having those same levels of judgment thrown back at you… if thinking of that human standard makes you fear of their exposure before Jesus’ much higher Godly standard, that is the fear of the Lord. It is a good fear. It is a Godly fear. It is the kind of fear that keeps our behavior and our sins in perspective. God’s holy standard of judgment are perfect and unimaginable, and thinking of them rendered upon the lost makes me feel more compassion for them, instead of irritation. Thinking of my own words used against me to judge me, keeps me more honest about my conversations.
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:6).
Posted in encouragement, holy, Lamb

Be ye reconciled to God

And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:7-8)

The Sacrifice of Isaac is a familiar chapter to most Christians. We study it in Sunday School, it’s taught in VBS, we read it familiarly as mature Christians, our eyes having passed over the verses many times.

But sometimes the gravity of the moment just grabs you and won’t let go. The Father DID provide the Lamb for the sacrifice. The grandest, most beautiful, most terrible moment in all of history or ever shall be, was the death of Jesus on the Cross at Calvary.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

Ambassadors have all the authority of the sending nation behind them. As Christ’s ambassadors, we have all the authority of heaven behind us!

Sometimes just thinking about how Jesus died for us and absorbed the wrath that was rightfully due me, is overwhelming. Sometimes thinking of how despite my craven sinful nature, God cleaned me and forgave me. Sometimes thinking of the fact that God uses me, a poor clay vessel, for His glory, is just too immense for my mind to absorb.

The Christian journey is sometimes not easy, and it is always demanding, but it is also the most joyous and entrancing life a person could ever imagine. If you have not turned to Jesus for forgiveness of your sins, sins that incur the wrath of a Holy God against you every minute of every day, please do it. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth split history. The event divided the world into two paths. One is narrow and leads to everlasting life. The other path is broad and many find it, and will descend to hell for everlasting wrath.

The Father did provide the Lamb. And He is exalted.

The Lamb Exalted
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:11-13)

Posted in God, hell, holy, judgment, torment

Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead

The Glorious Return

29“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31“And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (2 Timothy 4:1)

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27)

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:5)

The Judgment of Babylon

God will judge all people for their lives. No one these days likes to think about the LORD as judge, not even some Christians. Of course, the difference between Christians and non-believers is that though our lives will be examined and assessed, we will not be judged in wrath. Jesus exhausted God’s wrath for our sins while He was on the cross. There is no condemnation for us now. (Romans 8:1). Even at that, it is still excruciating to think of Jesus staring at our heart and soul with His piercing eyes (Revelation 1:14) and know all our words, deeds, and even motives as He sends our works through the fire to either become silver and gold, or burn away as hay and stubble. (1 Corinthians 3:12)

For those who are not in Christ, the judgment will be terrible. Who can stand?

The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; (Psalm 5:5)
The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. (Psalm 9:7)
He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. (Psalm 9:8)

God is holy and He judges. He knows each and every word the unsaved say. He sees all their deeds. He knows motives in the heart. Nothing is hidden from Him.

Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD, How much more the hearts of men! (Proverbs 15:11)

Make no mistake. Jesus is a loving God, but He is a holy God who judges all men.

As a part of his sovereignty and authority, God is executor of his righteousness within the created order. Jesus Christ shares in this ongoing work.

(Source: Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes)

He judges individuals, nations, rulers, families, cities, and His own people. The eternal punishment of the ungodly is sure. (certain Ro 1:18 See also Pr 10:24; Isa 13:11; 26:21; 66:16; Jn 5:28-29; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; 1Th 5:3; Heb 2:2-3. Source: Manser). It will be everlasting,(2Th 1:8-9, Isaiah 33:14), and the wicked will be forever separated from God’s presence.

God is serious business. He means what He says, that all rebellion will be judged and punishments meted out accordingly. I am firm on this today because as I said earlier, man does not like to think of God’s judgments. But we must.

They diminish His holiness by vain talk and babblings about visions, as Beth Moore does when she says God calls her “Honey” and “Babe” in her alleged visions. They besmirch His majesty and His wrath by writing books about erotic encounters, as Anne Voskamp did in her book One Thousand Gifts (“I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God.” etc.) They blaspheme Him like in The Shack by William P. Young, by portraying God as a female pancake making Aunt Jemimah who says “Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

Oh, but God does both.

God is a MAJESTIC JUDGE, potent in holiness and coming in wrath to judge all the living and the dead.

The following verses speak to judgment

JUDGMENT.
The General: 1 Chr. 16:33; Job 14:17; Job 21:30; Job 31:13–15; Psa. 9:7; Psa. 50:3–6; Psa. 96:13 Psa. 98:9. Eccl. 3:17; Eccl. 11:9; Eccl. 12:14; Ezek. 18:20–28; Dan. 7:9, 10; Amos 4:12; Matt. 3:12 Luke 3:17. Matt. 7:22, 23; Matt. 8:29 With 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6. Matt. 11:22 Matt. 10:15. Matt. 12:36, 37, 41, 42 Luke 11:31, 32. Matt. 13:30, 40–43, 49, 50; Matt. 16:27 Mark 8:38. Matt. 22:13 vs. 11–13.; Matt. 23:14; Matt. 25:1–14 [Luke 19:12–26.] Matt. 25:15–46; Mark 4:22; Mark 13:32; Luke 10:10–14; Luke 12:2–5; Luke 13:24–29; Luke 20:45–47; John 5:22; John 12:48; Acts 2:19–21; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31; Acts 24:25; Rom. 2:5–10, 12–16; Rom. 14:10–12; 1 Cor. 3:13; 1 Cor. 4:5; 1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Thess. 1:7, 8; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; Heb. 6:2; Heb. 9:27; Heb. 10:27; 1 Pet. 4:5, 7; 2 Pet. 2:4, 9; 2 Pet. 3:7, 10–12; 1 John 4:17; Jude 6, 14, 15, 24; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 6:15–17; Rev. 11:18; Rev. 20:11–15; Rev. 22:12.

According to Opportunity and Works: Gen. 4:7; Job 34:11; Prov. 11:31; Prov. 12:14; Prov. 24:11, 12 Psa. 62:12; 2 Tim. 4:14. Isa. 3:10, 11; Isa. 5:15, 16; Isa. 24:2; Isa. 59:18; Jer. 17:10, 11; Jer. 32:19; Ezek. 7:3, 4, 27; Ezek. 9:4–6; Ezek. 16:59; Ezek. 18:4 [vs. 5–9.] Ezek. 18:19–32; Ezek. 33:18–20; Ezek. 39:24; Hos. 4:9 Hos. 12:2. Amos 3:2; Zech. 1:6; Matt. 10:14, 15 Matt. 11:24; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; 10:12–15. Matt. 12:37; Matt. 23:14 Luke 20:47. Mark 14:21; Luke 11:49, 50 v. 51.; Luke 12:47, 48 [See parable of the vineyard, Isa. 5:1–6. Of the farmer, Isa. 28:24–28. Of the wicked tenant farmers, Matt. 21:33–36. Of the talents, Matt. 25:14–30.]Luke 13:6–9; Luke 19:12–27; Luke 21:1–4; John 3:19, 20; John 5:45; John 9:41; John 12:48; John 15:22, 24; Rom. 2:5–12, 27; 1 Cor. 3:8, 13–15 v. 12.; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 2:15, 16; 2 Cor. 11:15; Gal. 6:5–10; Eph. 6:7, 8; Col. 3:25; 1 Tim. 1:13; Heb. 2:2, 3; Heb. 10:26–30; Heb. 12:25; Jas. 2:12, 13; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2 Pet. 2:20, 21; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 20:12, 13.

(Source: Swanson, J., & Nave, O. (1994). New Nave’s Topical Bible. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.)

Why am I writing about judgment? Because it is infrequently discussed these days. It is an unpalatable topic for too many people. But our God is holy and He is glorified in judging the wicked. Judgment in Holiness is one of His sovereign attributes and as such is is profitable for men to ponder His great and mighty decisions.

Anyone not in Christ has not been forgiven of their deeds, which are hostile to God and against Him as enemy. He will judge them and they will then endure eternal torment in hell forever to pay the penalty for those sins. DId you know that…

And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)

Matthew Henry Commntary speaks of that verse from Isaiah-

But our Saviour applies it to the everlasting misery and torment of impenitent sinners in the future state, where their worm dies not, and their fire is not quenched (Mk. 9:44); for the soul, whose conscience is its constant tormentor, is immortal, and God, whose wrath is its constant terror, is eternal. (3.) What notice shall be taken of it. Those that worship God shall go forth and look upon them, to affect their own hearts with the love of their Redeemer, when they see what misery they are redeemed from. As it will aggravate the miseries of the damned to see others in the kingdom of heaven and themselves thrust out (Lu. 13:28), so it will illustrate the joys and glories of the blessed to see what becomes of those that died in their transgression, and it will elevate their praises to think that they were themselves as brands plucked out of that burning. To the honour of that free grace which thus distinguished them let the redeemed of the Lord with all humility, and not without a holy trembling, sing their triumphant songs.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1218). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Oh, yes, the gratitude that we are spared! The humble thankfulness with which we sing His praises. Our Redeemer! We are a blessed group, never forget His lovingkindness to those whom He chose for Himself. We are His trophy of grace, and looking upon the wicked in torment, how much more will be fall to our own knees in crushed and broken contriteness and relief to worship such a God!

Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28)

Posted in christian life, eli, holy, prophet, samuel

Samuel’s retirement as Judge of Israel and the lessons for us today

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621–1674)
Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Samuel had been a faithful man of God since his mother Hannah had presented him to Eli in the temple when Samuel was three years old. You might remember Hannah’s prayer. The LORD had closed her womb, and desperately Hannah wanted a child. She prayed in the temple, promising to deliver a child that the LORD gives her, back to Him for His glorious service. The LORD was pleased with this. He opened Hannah’s womb, and the child born was Samuel.

Samuel served for many years as Priest, Prophet and Judge.

The day came when Samuel was going to retire as their Judge. The People had clamored for a King instead, and God acceded to this. So Samuel gathered the People, and spoke to them in farewell.

And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” And he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.” (1 Samuel 12:1-5)

I find this profoundly beautiful.

When the LORD called little Samuel into service, you’ll remember the scene. Sadly, old Priest Eli was dim of eyesight, and as we’ll see, dim of hearing also. The visions to Israel were rare in those days. The LORD called to Samuel.

Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. (1 Samuel 3:4-5)

Three times the LORD called and three times Samuel answered “Hear I am!” It took three times for Eli to figure out that it was God who was calling Samuel. Samuel opened his service to the LORD with those powerful three words, ‘Here I am’. As a parallel, when the LORD called Isaiah, Isaiah also responded with, “Here I am!” (Isaiah 6:8).

Samuel ended his service as their Judge with the same phrase he began service, “Here I am.” We know that when we are before the people of the Lord, we are before the Lord. (Acts 5:4, Acts 9:4).

Before Samuel spoke last words to prompt them to remember the LORD and all He had done for them, Samuel did something first. He checked his relationship with the People. He asked them if there was any blight in his behavior to cause a stumbling, to cause an offense, to have come between them and him. He would make amends. The People answered, “No”. Samuel had not defrauded, had not oppressed, had not cheated, had not bribed.

Samuel went on with his message, bringing all the Lord had done to the Israelites’ mind. Samuel closed with this-

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:24-25).

It is such a parallel to us today. Now, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant distinguishes us from the OT Israelites and the NT Christians. Further, there are not Priests, Kings, Judges, or Prophets of Israel anymore. However, the principles are the same. For example,

1. Samuel was a faithful servant of the LORD all his days. He was attuned to God’s will, he was diligent to follow His voice, and he was faithful to God’s people. Eli’s spiritual hearing had grown so dim, he failed to hear God calling to Samuel. Yet Samuel was attuned all his days. Are we attuned to the Lord? Are we available to perform service to Him? Do we diligently and actively comply when we do hear His voice (through the scriptures)?

2. Samuel lived a holy life before His people. We are called to do the same.

Source: Elegant Finishes by Gina

Living holy and blameless before the Lord means living holy and blameless lives before His people, too. I’d said a moment ago, ‘We know that when we are before the people of the Lord, we are before the Lord.’ (Acts 5:4, Acts 9:4). I’d used those two verses from Acts to show the truth of my axiom. When Ananias and Sapphira lied about the portion of money they had pledged to the church, they were not lying to Peter. They were lying to the Holy Spirit (who is IN Peter). When Saul was persecuting Christians, he was not just persecuting some people who happened to be living in the Middle East, he was persecuting the Spirit IN the people. That’s why Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

When we are before God’s people, we are before God.

3. Samuel’s call to charge him so he could make amends, before he got to the business of reminding them of what God had done, is similar to today’s New Testament charge to cleanse ourselves before we approach the Lord’s Table for communion. We are not only charged to cleanse ourselves before the Lord but to clear things with any of the brethren. If there are any outstanding sins, we must rectify them first.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 27-29)

It is a call to be reverent, holy, and mindful of all Who God is and what He has done. Attempting to be reverent about what Jesus has done for us though a filter of unconfessed sin or through the muck of grudges and bitterness against one in the Body, is not behaving in worthy manner. Samuel cleared the decks first. We must do the same.

Old Testament or New Testament, we are called to live holy lives.

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16, cf Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 19:2)

Samuel’s call to the people to charge him with any wrong he had performed so as to make amends was not only holy but humble. In that way, it was a beautiful moment. God, grant me the humility and ability to live a holy life as Samuel did and as You call us to do.

Posted in christian living, daily bread, holy, lord's prayer

Be a Daily Christian

Christianity is not a one time moment when we are justified. That is simply the beginning. Our sanctification means we are being continually transformed into the image of Christ.

To that end, we submit to the transformative efforts of the Spirit and speed His work along with deliberate actions of our own. We should be a daily Christian. The bible is replete with admonitions about how to live a holy life. It means doing certain things, consciously and purposefully. These things are not and should not become a prescription for rote legalism, but guides for holy living.

Because the devil is so powerful, so destructive, we need Jesus every day. As the hymn says, every hour. But as we go along in life we often forget that. We begin to believe our own press, that we can handle things…that we’re all right.

No.

We need Him daily. If we are to live according God’s word it means doing certain activities every day. See a few of the biblical admonitions for what to do to be a Daily Christian.

CC, by Rachel Titiriga

The first priority in life is this: Salvation.

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Once we have been saved from His wrath and forgiven of sins, declared righteous (justified), now begins the life of sanctification, living holy.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile… (1 Peter 1:13-25).

‘Prepare your mind for action’… the verse doesn’t say lay around and wait for inspiration. We must prepare ourselves, ready our minds, and be willing to engage in action. What actions? Some follow below.

hardened clay pebbles, Wikipedia CC

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)

Sin hardens the conscience. We must exhort and encourage each other constantly, so sin does not deceive us or that the church falls into apostasy. The very fact that we must do this daily is the clear indicator of how short a time it takes for us to harden. We humans are fast-setting clay!

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

Pulpit Commentary explains, This readiness to give up ease, this willingness to bear suffering, will be a matter, they must remember, of everyday experience. The terrible simile with which the Lord pressed his stern lesson home was, of course, suggested to him by the clear view he had of the fearful end of his own earthly life

The Lord’s Prayer reminds us to ask for bread, daily. And not only that, but there are other daily admonitions in the prayer as well. To praise Him daily, to ask for help daily, to seek the Kingdom daily, and ask for forgiveness daily.

“The Lord’s Prayer” Creative Commons, art by navalatanjjnn

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:9-13)

We are noble if we search the scriptures daily.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

It goes without saying that if we are to pray ceaselessly and rejoice always, we are doing these things every day.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; & see also Romans 12:12)

Creative Commons, by Eva, flickr

Far from being a burdensome or legalistic rote activity, do these things with gladness. We serve a holy and mighty Jesus, who loves us deeply. What are some things we do daily without even thinking about it, easily and habitually? Give the kids a bath? Cook supper for our husband or wife? Have a drink of water? Yet Jesus is the Living water, how much more refreshing would our lives be if we actually did these things daily as the scriptures and the Father’s will command?

Christianity is not something to trot out once a week in the pew. It isn’t something to fall back on when the dreaded diagnosis comes in. Living a vibrant life submitted to the Holy One is a daily activity. Sin wants to deceive us into thinking we can go a few days, or a few weeks, or a few years without ‘our daily bread’, but we can’t. And we shouldn’t. What joy there is in Him! We abound in His hope! We are filled with peace!

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

Posted in beer, holy, nadia pastrix, profane, prophecy

Tattooed pastrix and beer church: When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith upon the earth?

The title to this piece is from a verse in Luke 18:7-8,

And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

Jesus is saying that we should pray for His return, and that He will render justice to evildoers, and He is also warning us that faith in general will wane as the ages go on.

And we do see that faith today is so corrupt that it doesn’t even look like faith. Prophet Jeremiah knew something of corrupt worship. So did Jesus when confronting the Pharisees and called them whitewashed tombs. But the lack of faith in view here in Jesus’s statement is a faith that exists in a few. Gill’s Exposition says,

in the world at the last day: there will then be little of the doctrine of faith, and less of the grace of faith, and still less of the exercise of faith, particularly in prayer, and especially about the coming of Christ; it will be little thought of, and expected, or faith little exercised about it.

We see this today. Here are two examples of the incredible, corrupt faith upon the earth, which is no faith.

Bolz-Weber’s liberal, foulmouthed articulation of Christianity speaks to fed-up believers
Nadia Bolz-Weber bounds into the University United Methodist Church sanctuary like a superhero from Planet Alternative Christian. Her 6-foot-1 frame is plastered with tattoos, her arms are sculpted by competitive weightlifting and, to show it all off, this pastor is wearing a tight tank top and jeans.

The lack of discernment among people who claim to be Christian is astounding. The biblical record is clear, woman cannot be pastors. (1 Timothy 2:11-12).

Profanity for any Christian, but especially for leaders, is  something that impugns the spotless name of Christ. Leaders are supposed to be above reproach. This is a must. (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7).

Further, cursing is a sin. (Ephesians 4:29,  1 Peter 3:10, James 3:9-12).

Women are supposed to adorn themselves modestly, not deliberately show off buff arms and flat tummies. (1 Timothy 2:9-10, Isaiah 3:16-17)

And tattoos? Leviticus 19:28 has spiritual significance for Christians living under the New Covenant today.

In forbidding tattoos, God was telling Israel He did not want them to personally possess any physical marks or characteristics that externally resembled the pagan nations. Such a thing would link them visibly to the false religious practices and immoral behaviors of those nations, which ran contrary to God’s standards.” (source)

And in the New Testament we are told that we are not to conform to the world.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2)

This pastrix has said,

I never experience God in camping or trees or nature. I hate nature,” she told the Austin crowd as she paced the stage. “God invented takeout and duvets for a reason.”

Yet the creation is one of the ways He has revealed Himself. I’m not a fan of camping either, but when I am outside I see God reflected in the beauty and complexity of His creation, and I give Him glory for it. If I was a leader I’d never say that I hate one of the main ways He has revealed Himself to us. Romans 1:19-20 says

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.

Why, why do so many follow an obviously false pastor like this one? Why is her church overflowing and her speeches standing room only? Because they like to elevate themselves and/or reduce God’s stature. And with the case of Nadia Bolz-Weber, she is preaching a different Jesus, one that is reduced down to our level.

She said, ““God isn’t feeling smug about the whole thing,” she writes about Jesus’s resurrection and the idea that the story is used as fodder for judgment. “God is not distant at the cross. . . . God is there in the messy mascara-streaked middle of it, feeling as [bad] as the rest of us.””

God is feeling as bad as the rest of us? You mean, the God whose ways are so high above our ways? Whose thoughts are not our thoughts? (Isaiah 55:8). God is in the thick of our petty emotional woes? Not hardly.

I used to dismiss articles like this one which describes a pastrix such as this woman, believing that an apostate as profound as this woman would be obvious to one and all, but it is not so. Hordes flock to hear her, and why not? She is part of the promise of a coming apostasy.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” (2 Timothy 4:3)

If a profane, tattooed, lusty and buff female pastor is not your style, then maybe the church beer bar is.

To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer

Todd Fadel, at piano, leads singers at a recent gathering of Beer & Hymns at First Christian Church Portland, OR

With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around craft beer.  Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others are bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom. The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it’s an exploratory approach to do church differently.

Do church differently? Ask Nadab and Abihu how different church went for them. Ask Solomon, who experimented with everything under the sun and found it all vanity. The LORD who sent His Son to tell us what to do and how to do it, laid down how to worship in His word. There is nothing that has changed, that He wants us to now do differently. There is nothing in the bible that says “when looking for a good church, go to a bar.”

These church-in-a-bar folks are giving the gospel with a microphone in one hand and a beer in another. Their churches are literally named “Church-in-a-Pub”. They take communion among the barstools. They advertise “Beer & Hymns”. I am not making this up. And denominations are taking this seriously. The article states, “Last month, the regional council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America named Church-in-a-pub a Synodically Authorized Community.

At one church in a pub, “Between hymns, people can stand up and say anything they want.

Paul expressly wrote to the Corinthians to stop such carousing, communion-insulting, prophesying chaos. He demanded orderly worship. Because God demands orderly worship.

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:29-33)

He demands orderly communion!!

When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.” (1 Corinthians 11:20-22)

This is exactly what the hedonistic, pagan-saturated Corinthians church was doing. Paul got on to them, and came down hard. Yet here we are, repeating the exact things the bible says not to do. How can this be?

“When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith upon the earth?”

These people disregard holiness. Be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). The Lord hates profane worship. Read Malachi 1.

Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.” (Malachi 1:10)

Stay in the word so you will not be deceived and lured off the path. Stay prayed up like the persistent widow demanding justice. Plead for the lost and straying, and remain grateful that His grace has found us, and that we will be with Him forever, and from what the state of the church looks like today, that time is nearing each day. Soon, my friends.

I hope to be in heaven soon, where I can worship in pure church, in perfect accord with His will, and not a blot or stain in me, but only holy desires to see Him exalted. O what a day that will be!

Posted in God, holy

Holy, holy, holy is God! Evangelism part 1/3

I’m writing two more parts in a series regarding how to evangelize and what to say and not to say, and reactions to true evangelism efforts. To begin, we always remember that God is holy!

“There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

Holy is God!
Holy is Jesus!
Holy is the Spirit!

We serve a thrice-holy God!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evangelism Part 2
Evangelism Part 3

Posted in God, holy, name, prophet

The power and comfort of the name of Jesus

This is about what the Lord does in times of apostasy and it is about why He does it.

There are false teachers out there, and they are not coming in singly anymore, but brazenly, in packs.

They are corrupting the precious faith, and with curling lips and sharp teeth, they are dragging off many an unwary person. For those of us who warn and cry out, seeing these captured ones fail to heed and become devoured prey is heartbreaking- and that word doesn’t even cover the spiritual sadness at knowing there are so many who fell, are falling and will fall to satan’s wiles.

However, despite there being so many false teachers we praise the Lord because He does not leave us without good teachers! He is always raising up someone to teach, preach, and exhort! God continues to call preachers and teachers and the Holy Spirit still empowers preachers and teachers to speak the Word to the sheep.

Look at the time of Isaiah. In 739 BC, King Uzziah died after having been King for 52 years. Isaiah was called to preach that same year. The LORD gave him a unique opportunity at the time of his call- a vision of Himself in the Holy Temple! Isaiah was devastated at this, seeing the glory of the LORD and his own sinfulness. But it’s an astoundingly tender moment, the angel cleansed Isaiah’s lips and he was pronounced clean, his sins atoned for. (Isaiah 6:6-7).

Tiepolo: The Prophet Isaiah

The LORD then gave Isaiah his commission; preach doom to the people. Preach their abandonment. Preach their judgment. Preach ruin.

Isaiah asked how long he was to do this. The LORD answered, “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste.” (Isaiah 6:11) In other words, until the end, until you die, for all your long life. Not so seeker friendly, is it?

However, the LORD left Isaiah with some hope, despite the difficulty of what He was called to do. God said a tenth would still remain in the Land.

God showed Isaiah what He was going to do amongst these people:

“Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)

Matthew Henry’s commentary says of verse 9, “Many hear the sound of God’s word, but do not feel the power of it. God sometimes, in righteous judgment, gives men up to blindness of mind, because they will not receive the truth in the love of it.”

This is called the wrath of abandonment. John MacArthur preached on this same notion, (here, here, and most recently, here) as seen not only in Isaiah 6 but in the NT book of Romans 1. At a certain point, God gives a nation or a vast populace over to their blindness and stubbornness.

Art by Borislav Sajtinac

Though seasons come and go where it seems the great amount of people believe and live according to His Word, there are also seasons of time that come where it seems that the great amount of the people do not believe in Jesus nor live His word. Those times are now. It is my opinion, that it is the last cycle of apostasy directly before the time leading to the Great Apostasy. (2Thessalonians 2:3). It’s hard.

Matthew Henry’s commentary reassures us over the wrath of abandonment, “Christians need not fear this awful doom, which is a spiritual judgment on those who will still hold fast their sins.”

But it’s no harder for us than it was for the first century Christians who lived in a time where everyone was apostate, being the only Christians on earth!

During this time of apostasy it stands to reason that some apostates will be teachers. Yes, there are many bad teachers. But God has raised up good teachers, as shown in the example of Isaiah himself. Even in a time of wrath and abandonment, He sent an anointed one to preach to the people, and in today’s time He has done the same. He raises up good teachers to edify us or in some cases, remind us of the wrath of God. Either way, God is faithful.

There are many reasons for this, but here is one reason God raises up good teachers even in a time of abandonment.

I find it in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 2-3 God is raising up Ezekiel and calling him top prophesy. However the task would be hard, as it was for Isaiah. God told Ezekiel in Ezekiel 3:7,

“But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.”

So why does God go through all that if He knows they will not listen, or even as in Isaiah, He has already turned them over to blindness and dullness?

“And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:5)

On the Day, no one will be able to say ‘But, but, You didn’t tell us!’ They will know that He sent a prophet to be among them.

Even more glorious,

HE DOES THIS FOR THE SAKE OF HIS NAME!

As God said in Ezekiel 2, whether they hear or refuse to hear, they will know a prophet has been among them. You see, He not only sends prophets and teachers for our edification, but He does so on account of His OWN Holy name- so that they will be without excuse. He magnifies His holy name by being the living embodiment of faithfulness, holiness, and justice.

Read Acts and be stunned and overwhelmed by the number of times they mention THE NAME. Why? Because the overwhelming theme running through the entire book becomes clear when reading, it is all about THE NAME. Thirty times I read a verse where it was all about His name- the name, in His name, for the name; in verse 19:13 they even tried to co-opt His name. The acts of the apostles were to spread the good news that salvation is now here under the name of Jesus. Everything they said, did, and accomplished was for that purpose and empowered by that name.

In Acts 4:17 the aggravated Sanhedrin asked Peter and John about a man they’d healed. They asked, “By what power or what name did you do this?” 

No matter that we are in apostate times and growing worse each day. Take heart! He raises up men to preach His word! Even in the Tribulation when He has removed the Holy Spirit from His restraining ministry, He will send 144,000 to preach the word, (Revelation 7:1-4, Revelation 14:1-5) and He will send His angels to preach the Gospel to the whole world (Revelation 14:6). This is for the sake of His name.

What a comfort to know that He magnifies His own name. He is faithful to Himself and therefore will never falter. He will never fail.

Look at the fruit He bears for His name:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

The LORD is mighty and He raises up men to speak His truths, He sends His spirit to regenerate new believers, He magnifies His holy name from heaven and throughout the earth. And we are a part of that. (Ephesians 1:4). We have His name, being adopted into the family of God.

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (1 Peter 4:16)

Did you know that on the television show on cable channel A&E called Duck Dynasty, the family prays at the end of each episode over the family supper table. They also mention God in some in the middle of some of the shows, too. When it comes time for the prayer at the end, they begin the prayer to Heavenly Father of Good Father or just Father. They pray in Jesus name at the end, or they mention Jesus. Father and God are rarely edited out. Jesus is always edited out. Only two times did you hear the name of Jesus on the show. God is a powerful name and so is Father but it is the name of JESUS that sends the non-believer into a frenzy. Friends, mention the name of Jesus whenever you can.

So never fear. He raises up good men to preach, This magnifies His name. If we are in His name, we can magnify Him. “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”

He will not abandon us because He will not abandon His name. Magnify Him, trust Him, honor Him. His name, Jesus. THE NAME. There is no other.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12)

Source

Posted in evil, God, holy, minnesota, nazi

The Stranger: Nazi officer discovered in Minnesota

A few days ago, I read an interesting article about a man who had been living in Minnesota for decades was really a WWII SS Nazi Commander. For him to have been a commander in WWII, he’d have to be really old by now, and the story says he is 94 years of age.

I thought that was an interesting coincidence because I’d just watched a movie called “The Stranger”. This is a fictional 1946 movie about a Nazi who had masterminded the genocide of the Jews and when the war was over managed to flee Germany to the United States. He settled in a small village in New Hampshire, obtained a teaching position at an academy, and married the town scion’s daughter. It starred Orson Welles as the Nazi, Edward G. Robinson as the FBI man chasing him, and Loretta Young as the wife who married the Nazi.

The movie built its suspense, making the conclusion a sneak attack of horror. Its chosen location was a burb so guileless that patrons of the General Store helped themselves to pouring the ever-percolating pot of coffee behind the counter while the genial proprietor sat playing checkers near the woodstove with anyone who’d take him on for a quarter. There were happy teens running track, a well-attended church, and a luminous bride chirping about her white wedding.

Harper, NH is a kind of town every person could admire, life there is what we hope for, and wants life to be like. A town that’s safe, pretty, innocent, and upright.

Its stomach-turning, gasping horror was due to the juxtaposition of the clean-cut innocence of the town being gradually overcome with the stain of the evil heart of the Nazi. It was like watching a baby just out of the bath being approached by a rabid, drooling, mangy dog ready to devour it.

The movie gradually descended you into the mind of the Nazi, but the resistance of our mind to recognizing such horror is strong, especially by the young wife who had just married the evil man masked as a thoughtful teacher. In response to her father’s question about walking home after dark, she had said, “In Harper, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The fictional town of Harper, NH where the Nazi had come to live

The wife resisted the clear implications of her husband being a murderous Nazi, even after he confessed to two killings. He had (made up) a good reason, after all. She resisted facing the truth to the point where Robinson had to show her film of a recently liberated Concentration Camp, complete with wasted skeletons of people weakly and pitifully thanking their liberators, right down to close-ups of the skeletons in the ovens. The Stranger is said to be be the first to show actual footage of the German camps.

Loretta Young’s character had a problem facing such evil, because one would surely be able to spot it? Something about the person would set him apart from all the other people who are not so evil, surely? We as rational, innocent, good people, would be able to distinguish ourselves from the Nazis who harbored such hellish minds and dark hearts? Surely we would not … marry a person like this?

Loretta Young’s character finally broke down and faced the truth. The movie is called The Stranger and the title is apt. The stranger is not the man who came to town with all his WWII evil hidden away, the stranger is the evil that is in all of us, a potential that waits coiled up like a snake at the base of our hearts, waiting to be fed.

So having just seen the movie the night prior and then reading the article about the Minnesota man, was interesting to say the least.

Report: Former Nazi SS Officer Living In Minnesota
A 94-year-old man who allegedly was a top commander of a Nazi SS unit responsible for the massacre of civilians during World War II is reportedly living quietly in Minnesota, according to an exclusive report by The Associated Press. The news agency says it obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act that show Michael Karkoc

“A June 3, 1944, photo provided by the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
shows SS chief Heinrich Himmler (center) as he reviews troops
of the Galician SS-Volunteer Infantry Division.” Source

lied to officials in 1949 about his past in order to immigrate to the United States. According to the AP, Karkoc concealed his military service during World War II as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukraine Self Defense Legion and later as an officer of the SS Galician Division. “The Galician Division and a Ukrainian nationalist organization he served in were both on a secret American government blacklist of organizations whose members were forbidden from entering the United States at the time,” the AP reports.”

Michael Karkoc Revelations: Nazi Unit Leader’s Minneapolis Life Prompts Shock
“The revelation Friday that a former commander of a Nazi SS-led military unit has lived quietly in Minneapolis for the past six decades came as a shock to people who knew him, prompted harsh condemnations from World War II survivors in the U.S. and Europe, and led prosecutors in Poland to say they would investigate. … “I know him personally. We talk, laugh. He takes care of his yard and walks with his wife,” his next-door neighbor, Gordon Gnasdoskey, said Friday. Gnasdoskey, the grandson of a Ukrainian immigrant himself, said he was disturbed by the revelations about his longtime neighbor.”

St. Michael’s and St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Karkoc is a member of the St. Michael’s and St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, seen at right, and is a member in good standing, said his pastor. The implication being, how could such a quiet man, who the day before had been seen doing normal suburban things such as cleaning his gutters, have participated in brutal and evil crimes against humanity?

Paul Washer has the answer.

“Hitler was not an anomaly. Hitler was not a phenomenon. Hitler was what everyone in this room has the potential of being. Not only that, you need to understand that even in all the wickedness of Hitler, he was still restrained by the common grace of God. And you need to know this, that if it were not for the common grace of God, restraining you in your unconverted state, you would make Hitler look like a choirboy.” Paul Washer.

The “shock” is not that there is a Nazi living among us. The shock is, that any one of us could be a Nazi.

When we come to grips with our own terrible evil, evil we use and wield against God every day, we come to better grips with His love for us. His holiness is so pure, so strong and majestic, so piercing, that even a glimpse of it terrifies the common man.

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34:29-30).

His perfection and holiness puts fear into us. That is because we recognize how depraved and evil we are.

Isaiah saw immediately how depraved he was, when confronted by the holiness of God. “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5).

The delusion satan brings is that we are good, we are innocent, we are pure. Or, at least to the slightly more honest among us, we’re not so bad.  “We’re not like HIM” our minds cry out when we discover that our neighbor is a Nazi. We use each other as a benchmark of progress in the goodness department, when the true standard is God. Our minds want to shrink from using Him as a benchmark because deep down we know what we are:

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5).

Do you see how complete that statement is, “so great”, “every intention”, “continually”? We are saturated with sin, permeated down to the last molecule. Washer is right, “All men are born evil.”

Washer is right to say that Hitler was restrained from worse. The restrainer is holding back the full potential of sin in the human heart, and so we enjoy His common grace. But once the restrainer is out of the way,

“Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, … The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders…” (2 Thessalonians 2:7b, 8a, 9).

In other words, watch out! ‘Satan with all power’. Everyone on earth except those who believe in Jesus after the rapture will make Hitler look like a choirboy. God’s common grace will have been removed- which will reveal the undeniable fact that everyone is not just a Hitler, but is an antichrist.

Once we understand this, the shock shifts. We are no longer shocked by the Nazi man puttering in his garden, because we see ourselves as having the same potential. The shock is, GOD LOVES US ANYWAY.

We can have a higher and deeper awe and love for Holy God because he loved each and every little Hitler on earth. Our precious Jesus died and shed His blood to save us!

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

If the Nazi in the camp had turned from the ovens and bent down and asked the Lord to forgive his sins, Jesus would have, and the Nazi would go to heaven and the Jewish man on the slab about to be put into the oven would go to hell. His infinite love forgives any sin- except the sin of rejecting Him. His love is eternal, infinite, unstoppable, and would blanket you in glory in an instant,

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9).

The Lord will unhesitatingly save you, and change your evil heart to a holy heart.

Posted in bible, God, holy, salvation

We are to be holy because He is holy

Last night at Wednesday night bible study, we were approaching 1 Peter 1:10 toward the end of the lesson: (“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully”)

and the next section in 1 Peter 1 is titled “Called to be holy.” In vv. 10, & 13-21, it reminded me of the study I’m personally doing in Zechariah. This blog entry is about sharing my thoughts of the parallels between 1 Peter 1:1-21 and Zechariah 3. Chapter 3 in Zechariah is a tremendous passage in a tremendous book that really stopped me in my tracks this week.

Perhaps the reference Peter makes to the prophets of old prophesying about the grace of God can be seen in view here in Zech 3:1-5. Let’s see.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” 3Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” 5Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.”

My understanding is that Joshua the High Priest here is a picture of all Israel, called to be a holy (priestly) people before God and a light to the Gentiles. Now, I don’t want to spiritualize this passage or make it be about the Church. In this vision, God was giving direct comfort and an explicit message to Israel, but there is a wider view that I think I as a NT believer after the cross can safely take in seeing the character of satan in this scenes and the character of God, because those things don’t change.

In looking at the nature of the uncleanliness of Israel in their sin … the words used here refer to their uncleanness as human waste of the filthiest kind. That is what “Joshua”/Israel was covered in. That is how God looks at sin. This is always instructive to see. Sin is not just ugly, but it is the worst sort of pollution.

The thought of standing before God in my own waste is a jarring enough picture. Satan is right to accuse Israel, they were filthy. They were idolatrous, blasphemous, and sinning upon sin. How does that old adage go? “when satan talks to us he lies but when he talks to God he tells the truth”. He is truthfully pointing out the sin staining Israel.

Satan accuses us New Testament believers also, including me. (Rev 12:10). I can imagine him standing next to Jesus saying, “Did you see that? She is filthy with sin!” Ow!

But the wondrous part is when I read in Zechariah that the LORD rebuked satan for pointing it out and making the accusation!! He reminds satan that He has pulled Israel out of the fire (and us too, after the cross, 1 John 2:1). How great is His mercy that despite our filth, He loves His chosen people (and by extension, us)! It is a tremendous, tremendous scene.

And then His mercy deepens by His decision to place clean garments on Israel. They truly are a people close to His heart aren’t they! And His Holy, Merciful nature is that He also put clean garments on us when we become justified. Perhaps I can say that as Peter says in verse 7, the faith that is “more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire” is this garment of salvation! The clean garments he places on us, and it is an amazing thing. Faith in His word He’ll cleanse us of our sin and have it remain so, forever, despite satan’s accusations.

As Zechariah closes out the section saying that the LORD ordered that a clean turban be put on the High Priest’s head, we read in Exodus 28:36 that the turban had an engraving on it that said “HOLY TO THE LORD”.

Replacing Israel’s filth stained garments, and after the cross, replacing the Church age believer’s filth stained garments, is to me the most incredible act in the entire universe. Is this what the angels think also, and is why they long to look into such things? (1 Peter 1:12). I dare to speculate perhaps so.

As we read further in the 1 Peter 1 chapter, the upcoming verses 13-15, the call of Peter for us to be holy is contrasted by this scene in Zechariah of the grace and mercy of God, who cleans His children of our own excrement, calls us holy, and gives us the garments to prove it so. Though the scene in Zechariah is discrete to Israel, I can use that picture to extend it through the cross to understand that He rebukes my accuser, cleans me of my filth, places on my head His name, and ordains over me the call to be Holy. We are to be holy because He is holy (Lev 11:44).

Understanding where I came from and what God has done for me through Jesus, and seeing the scene described so graphically in Zechariah helps me want to adhere fervently to the call of Peter to be holy for His sake- and not mine.

God is so great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!