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!               


Monday, February 22, 2016

Which Rock Do You Flee To?

“Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house.  It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock.  But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed” (Matthew 7:24-27 CEB).

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THAN I [emphasis mine].  For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy” (Psalm 61:1-3 KJV).

There can hardly be anyone that is oblivious to the fact that dark brooding skies of ominous import and swelling floods of ungodliness, along with hurricane force winds of change, are gathering strength on the immediate horizon of our end time.  Soon, everyone’s foundation will be revealed.  Either our life is built on bedrock (Christ) or on sand (everything or anyone not Christ).  Sadly, even many who claim the Word of God as their foundation, have rather built their lives on the delusional sands of familial loyalties and other men’s words and revelations.  Rather than being more noble-minded, like Bereans, who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11 NASB), many blindly build their lives on the sinking sand of man’s breath that exhales vain imaginings and futile speculations as though they were sound doctrine derived from Scripture. 

David is a clear example of someone who repeatedly fled to the true Rock, but an example of fleeing to the wrong rock—the rock of Rimmon (in this case)—is the tribe of Benjamin in the time of the Judges (when everyone—ironically like our time—did what was right in their own eyes).  After some wicked men of the tribe of Benjamin raped and killed a woman, rather than giving them up to the nation of Israel for punishment, Benjamin instead remained stubbornly loyal to their own familial tribal/clan above the loyalty they should have given to their nation.  Doubtless, apostasy instead of faith and condemnation rather than salvation happens in a vacuum.  “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25 NASB).

Inevitably, war broke out between Israel and Benjamin, not over this egregious crime, but over Benjamin’s refusal to repent of it.  In short, after a terrible war among brethren, many on both sides died, and Benjamin was nearly eliminated from being a tribe in Israel.  In the end, six hundred of the Benjamites fled to the rock of Rimmon.  “But six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon and stayed at the rock of Rimmon for four months” (Judges 20:47 AMP).  Now because there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes, it is inevitable that something akin to the rock of Rimmon (rather than the Rock of Ages), will be the comfort and protection of some in the dire circumstances of warfare.

But what does the rock of Rimmon represent?  What is it that some cling to above the true Rock?  In a word, it is “humanism”—a belief in man above God.  Rimmon means “pomegranate” and “very high.”  Rimmon, according to Alfred Jones, was “An idol which the Syrians esteemed their most high god.”  Simply put, a pomegranate represents the human heart; clinging to our own hearts (inclusive of our own thoughts and private interpretations) is to make ourselves the most high god above the real Most High God.  We may, like the Benjamites, endure four months that way, but eventually the warfare that is coming is going to be too severe to endure clinging to our own stubbornly held convictions. 
As horrific as this near decimation of Benjamin was, a more troubling scenario is brewing around the idea of being taken down to the valley of Meggido and having one’s heart burst asunder there in judgment.  “In that day [the very soon coming Day of the Lord] there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo” (Zechariah 12:11).  Hadadrimmon (note the word “Rimmon” in it) means “fierce/harshness of the pomegranate” or “bursting of the pomegranate.”  To subsist off the Syrian deity of our own heart and near familial ties is to be set up for a thundering and shattering rebuke; it is to have one’s heart burst asunder in harsh judgment.  And if we think those who do mighty things in the Lord are exempt, look at King Josiah, who met an untimely death in the valley of Megiddo even after a tremendous revival and reformation was actualized by his efforts. 
The rock of Rimmon is a poor rock of defense; too many, even after suffering great loss, are still clinging to “their tribe” and their own familial thinking rather than submitting to the higher counsel of Israel (the one true church universal).  A rally cry is being issued today (and VERY loudly), but not backwards into the wilderness and to the delusional stronghold of our own way of thinking, but forward into the Promised Land and to the genuine Bedrock Stronghold of our salvation (based only on Rhemas projected forth from Logos, not merely legalistic Logos, nor Rhemas issued forth from the false premise of the human heart ungoverned by the Holy Spirit).  Many hearts are failing in this hour (as Christ predicted), being ruptured by the now accelerated process of purging; too much flesh for too long has been consumed, and the heart has calcified with plaque.  Many lose their natural lives too soon by poor diets; so it is spiritually.  Some may get a bypass, some a new heart by an intercessor, but many are dying without intervention, without miracle.

Scripture boldly declares, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 NASB).  But just as boldly, Scripture declares that whether we are ready or not, pure or impure, “‘The Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of hosts.  ‘But who can endure the day of His coming?  And who can stand when He appears?’” (Malachi 3:1-2 NASB).

It ought to be a joyous occasion, our Father coming to meet us in the temple of our hearts, but alas, if we have not bought gold refined in the fire or traded off enough of our carnality to be ready for His coming, it will be a day of wailing and irredeemable loss instead.  This Day of the Lord destroys anything flammable (our God is a consuming fire) and the very brightness of His coming, the sheer magnitude of His brilliance, will so inflame our fragile hearts as to purge away all natural affections to such an extreme degree that every natural heart will burst asunder and every thought of every heart will then be open and laid bare before God and everyone.  The amount of pain or loss we suffer depends entirely upon how much we value the thoughts of our own heart and mind above God’s heart and mind and how much selfishness we are still embracing and hiding from others when He comes.  Beautiful in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints; horrific and shameful in His eyes are the life of His saints (still stubbornly clinging to the fleeting breath of self and familial ties).  “There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (2 Samuel 2:2 KJV); in light of this, again I ask, WHICH ROCK DO WE FLEE TO?