Sunday, October 19, 2014

Our Confidence

We are like a plane preparing for landing. But this plane is not a Boeing or Airbus. The landing is not on a runway. We are approaching the Day of Rapture. The Day the Messiah calls up his precious ones to go home. The Day He gathers up His remnants for the wedding supper of the Lamb of God.

The Festivals of the LORD

We start this story in the book of Nehemia, the governor of Jerusalem and Judah who returned from Susa in Persian with the permission of the king. He returned to Jerusalem after receiving the report of the terrible condition of the city of Jerusalem and the temple of the LORD. Having obtained the kings favour and release to return to Jerusalem, he set about repairing the walls of Jerusalem, a city that had been burned down and plundered by Nebuchadnezzar.

Ezra was the chief priest in those days. When the walls of Jerusalem were repaired and its gates set in place and when all the people had settled in their towns, they found time to assemble before the LORD and read the Book of the Law of Moses. After this reading Ezra, Nehemia and the other teachers, scribes and Levites declared: Do not mourn! Later, they celebrated the feast of tabernacles also called the Feast of Booths that in Hebrew is called Sukkot. I call it the Feast of Joy.

This feast followed the Day of Atonement in the sequence of appointed festivals listed in Leviticus23. Christ is called the Word of God. He is called the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is all things. Therefore we must ask: what is the significance of this Feast of Joy in the plans of God?

I find my answer in the prophetic timeline of scripture. As the last feast and festival; as a festival of joy, it points to a day of great rejoicing, the day all mourning will end for the people of God. It points to the successful transit through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalms 23:4). Is it not a foretelling of the celebration of the wedding supper of the Lamb of God (Revelation 19: 6-7)? Is it not about the time when mourning and crying will be banished (Revelation 21:4)? Will it not be that Day when a joyful procession will enter Zion, the city of God (Isaiah 35:10, 51:11)?

This is what the word of God says in Isaiah 61:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord 's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

For those who grieve. For those in despair. For those enveloped by the heavy and dark spirit of depression. For those swept by waves of loneliness. For those in chains and snares set by satan. For those who mourn for loss of loved ones. For those whose souls are downcast when they look back at their lives. For those whose lives have lost meaning. They live on the edge of the precipice, the edge of hell almost ready to end their miserable lives. It was for you that He came. It is your victory that the Feast of Joy celebrates. He came to bind up the broken hearted. He sent his shepherds to do exactly that (Ezekiel 34:4) though they have failed. Christ is the chief Shepherd. He is the Repairer of broken hearts. He is the Comforter of lonely souls. He is the whisper of encouragement amongst the fires and the earthquakes and the great storms of life.

He came to proclaim freedom to the captives: those caught up in bondage to sexual immorality, bondage to alcohol, bondage to worship of the devil, bondage to murder and violent robbery. Those who are married to satan and sacrifice human lives to their god. Those whose tongues cannot rebuke sin. Those who speak lies and practice deception. Those who practice magic and bewitch their neighbours. He came for you to release you and set you free. If you accept Him, He comes to comfort you and make His enemies His footstool (Psalm 110:1).

Therefore, we shall celebrate. We shall drink water from the deep well of His salvation (Isaiah 12: 2 - 3 & 5 - 6). There shall be tremendous rejoicing. All creation will jubilate - even the hills and the trees sing and clap their hands! Surely it must be a great day!

But why is this? What makes the day great? At the beginning Adam disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The LORD had promised: "for when you eat from it you will certainly die." (Genesis 2: 17). The formular was simple: The wages of sin is death. You sin, you die. It is an immutable law of God. 

Because we are all sinners, we are condemned to die. It was this realization that caused Josiah to tear his clothes and weep and mourn before the LORD. The truth of the human condition was revealed to him when they read the Book of the Law (2 Kings 22: 3-20). What then must we do? What is the way out of this cul-de-sac. It seems like a hopeless situation. But wait a moment - did Isaiah not point the way out in Isaiah 9:6? A child will be born who will restore the kingdom of God. The kingdom of righteousness. The kingdom of holiness. The eternal kingdom.

The devil deceived Adam and Eve but the LORD would not allow the enemy to gain victory. Victory belongs to the LORD. Therefore, He says: I will take away your punishment! (Zephaniah 3: 14-15). I will justify, forgive, pardon, acquit, absolve, liberate, discharge, vindicate, defend, exonerate, exculpate, release, exempt and pass over you. It is written that the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Confidence from Faith

He sent His only begotten son to die in our place. He sacrificed His own son for us. The blood of Christ became the blood of atonement. Because of love - an inscrutable love. An infinitely deep love. A mysterious love. After all, He is love. Can we ever grasp the depth of His commitment? Can we ever repay for that epic sacrifice? Who is like the LORD? Who can compare? Who can sacrifice his son for the sake of a friend?

Because of the holy and precious blood of the Lamb of God that was shed at Calvary, we can do every day what the high priests could do only once a year and even then with great care and preparation. We can enter into the Most Holy place. We can draw near to His seat of mercy. We can be sprinkled in the holy blood of the Lamb and cleansed for ever of sin. It is written that He will remember our sins no more (Hebrews 10: 14 - 23; Romans 3:25; Ephesians 3:12 & 2:11-13). We are forgiven through faith in Christ, therefore, we have assurance; we have complete confidence; we know it to be true what the LORD has promised.

He has never failed. He will never fail. Accordingly, He says, that righteous ones shall live by faith. And He is not pleased by those who shrink back; those who backslide; those who are complacent, casual, halfhearted, lukewarm, headless, mindless, perfunctory. He cannot be pleased by those who treat the blood of Christ with contempt.

Faith

Faith means to believe God. Abraham believed God and it is credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3; James 2:23). The promises of God are "Yes" in Christ. They are yes for those who are in Christ. Yes for those who submit to His will. Yes for those who, like Isaiah, say: I will go. Send me. For those who are ready to do exploits for Yehovah. For those who are hidden in Christ: They look like Him, act like Him, talk like Him. For these the promises are Yes. The promises hold true always for those who love Him. They will say "Amen". Because they are one with their God. There is complete agreement.
He has established His promises and prepared His plans. The Messiah is coming to snatch away those who are His. By faith we know that His promises are our reality. Abraham lived in a tent because he knew there was a better country, a brand new city that the LORD had made ready. He preferred to wait for that better place. He believed God and lived by that faith.

Now the LORD wants to know: Do you believe Him and do you live by that faith? Do you believe the Messiah is coming for His sheep and do you live by this belief? Have you prepared to receive Him? Will you hear the voice of the archangel? Will you discern the times and the seasons? Will you serve His people? Will you flee from idolatry and immorality and put on the garment of righteousness that is Christ?

Have you believed His blessings of Deuteronomy 28: 1 - 14 ? Then you must also believe His curses for those who rebel and reject Him. He has a plan for them too. It is not a pleasant plan.
To live by faith is to walk on the promises of God knowing them to be true even though we have not seem them fulfilled. Abraham did not live to see Christ born but he knew that the Messiah will be from his bloodline. It was his reality.

Assurance

But for those who hold on to faith, there is complete assurance because of the unquestionable faithfulness of our LORD. He will never leave you nor forsake you. That was the promise to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31: 6 - 8, Joshua 1:5). He is not pleased when we forsake Him (Judges 10: 13; 1 Chronicles28:9). He is not pleased at all.

It is that assurance that becomes the bedrock of our faith. He never changes. Even Balaam, despite his wickedness knew this about the LORD: He is not a man that He should lie; he is not a son of man that he should change His mind (Numbers 23: 19).  He never forsakes those who seek Him (Psalms 9:10).

Christ did His part to prepare a holy church. Blameless. Without wrinkle. Without stain. Without blemish. Washed in that most holy blood. There is nothing pending. He left for heaven having completed the work. The rest is up to us. The rest is easy. The rest is accepting His promises, His salvation, His redemption, His washing, His release, His forgiveness, His pardon, His acquittal. Fully discharged, fully absolved. Ready for eternity but only if we accept His will. We accept Him as LORD. We submit to the King of kings, the LORD of lords and the Overseer and the Captain of our souls. The great Shepherd. The Ancient of Days. The great Amen. The Rock and the chief Cornerstone of the temple of God.

He never changes. His promises remain "Yes" and "Amen". Therefore we have full assurance. Therefore, we have complete confidence. Walk tall. You are a servant of the most holy God. Stand firm against the enemies of God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Reclaim your inheritance of peace and joy and faith.

Amen. May the LORD bless you.

Mesharet ELOHIM

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