Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The End of All Things

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3 NASB).

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the [unyieldingly] righteous do, or what has He [the Righteous One] wrought or accomplished?” (Psalm 11:3 AMPC).

Over thirty-five years ago, in the year 1980 (I believe), my then pastor, Garland Hines Sr., took his small flock to visit another local pastor, Wally Odom.  With Pastor Odom standing beside him, my pastor said, “God is doing something new!”  And with that, both pastors began to lay hands on us, and each of us (except one I think), as soon as they touched us, were “slain in the Spirit,” falling backward “under the power.”

As I recall, I was the last person in the last row, and as I waited my turn to have these two pastors lay hands on me, I heard a voice behind me (so real that I turned to see who spoke to me...but no one was there!) say, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  Then again, a second time, but with GREAT INTENSITY (in what I’d classify as a yelled whisper), “IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED, WHAT CAN THE RIGHTEOUS DO?!!”

“Now as for the repeating...twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about” (Genesis 41:32 NASB).

At the time this occurred I was very young, only nineteen or twenty years old, and even younger in Christ, having only been born-again for about a year.  I was perplexed.  I knew God has spoken to me, but what it meant, I had no idea.  I prayed for an answer, but none came.

Cut now to our day (2/24/2016).  God has answered me, and the answer is contained in this excerpt of Scripture: 

“The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: you said, “Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.’”  Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land.  And do you seek great things for yourself?  Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go”’” (Jeremiah 45:1-5 NKJV).

Now let’s unpack the names involved in order to understand exactly what God is saying.  In the order in which each name is mentioned in the above excerpt, we get: Jeremiah means “elevated of the Lord.”  Baruch means “to kneel down to be blessed.”  Neriah means “lamp of the Lord.”  Jehoiakim means “the Lord will set up.”  Josiah means “given of the Lord.”  Judah means “praised.”  Lord means “the Self-Existent” or “Eternal.”  Israel means “he will be prince with God,” or “contender of God”; derived from a root meaning “to be princely,” as regards power, or “to wage war.”

Breaking down these names to their meanings, and interspersed with what I see in regards to instructing us from those meanings, I get this: “The elevation of the Self-Existent or Eternal One in the human spirit, which is the lamp of the Lord (“The Lord's light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive”—Proverbs 20:27 NLT) is particularly accomplished as we humble ourselves (as we kneel down to be blessed).  There, in our proper lowly and humble position, God sets us up to receive high praise.  Like as man praises man’s best friend, the dog, so God likewise praises God’s best friend, man, and not so much for perfect performance as for perfect subservience and pitiable need.” 

This explains the narrative up to the point where God speaks to Baruch (representing all those who—IN HUMILITY—kneel down to be blessed).  First, God addresses Baruch’s inner thought (comforting him by letting him know that He hears him), restating exactly what he said in his heart, “Woe is me now!  For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.”  This is where many of us are today, becoming undone by what we see looming ominously over the immediate horizon.  But as God assured us, “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth [there will be] distress (trouble and anguish) of nations in bewilderment and perplexity [without resources, left wanting, embarrassed, in doubt, not knowing which way to turn] at the roaring (the echo) of the tossing of the sea, men swooning away or expiring with fear and  dread and apprehension and expectation of the things that are coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken and caused to totter.  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great (transcendent and overwhelming) power and [all His kingly] glory (majesty and splendor).  Now when these things begin to occur, LOOK UP AND LIFT UP YOUR HEADS [emphasis mine], because your redemption (deliverance) is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28 AMPC).

In response to Baruch’s fears, the Lord proclaims, “‘Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land.  And do you seek great things for yourself?  Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh.”  In the judgment of Edom/Esau (red man; unregenerate man) in Isaiah 34, and corresponding to the end of the old order (Adam; also red man) in Revelation 6, we see the end of the age (the end of the Adamic race).  Those born-again, however, those born of the second/final Adam, shall not only be spared, but will finally flourish in a new heavens and a new earth wherein righteousness reigns (because all the unrepentant unregenerate unbelieving people are removed).

It is clear!  “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish (pass away) with a thunderous crash, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.  Since all these things are thus in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought [each of] you to be [in the meanwhile] in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities, while you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire?  But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise, in which righteousness (uprightness, freedom from sin, and right standing with God) is to abide” (2 Peter 3:10-13 AMPC).

As Jeremiah told Baruch, so the Lord is telling us today, “DO NOT SEEK GREAT THINGS FOR YOURSELF!!”  We are at a turning-the-page moment in history, an ending of one age, and a starting of another age.  The great things for yourself, rooted in the past age, are gone forever.  At this pivot point, the only “booty” or treasure promised, is our eternal life.  As Baruch was told, so are we told, “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”  “So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him [at His coming] without spot or blemish and at peace [in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]” (2 Peter 3:14 AMPC).

The context in which I heard, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”—those many years ago—was I and my fellow brothers and sisters being “slain in the Spirit.”  I now believe the Lord was simply showing me not to invest in—or build myself upon—the sinking sand foundation of this world.  In the word “witness” (which is who we are) is the idea of a martyr, and the only great thing for self is realized by those dead to themselves as pertaining to their relationship to this world as it is presently constituted.  Being slain in the flesh, if having already been “slain in the Spirit,” is but an external realization of the internal reality of martyrdom (in Christ we are already dead).  Therefore, we must “Stop fearing those who kill the body but do not have the power to kill the soul.  But rather be fearing him who has power to bring both soul and body to the condition of utter ruin and everlasting misery in hell” (Matthew 10:28 WUEST).

“THE END OF ALL THINGS” (1 Peter 4:7) is no longer at hand or near; it is here!