THE PROPHECY OF AMOS
by E. R. Bower
MESSAGES FROM MULLER
by George Muller
by A. D. Thropay
by William Blane
A PROPHETIC PERUSAL
by E. G. Parmenter
by D. E. West
by the Late W. Rodgers
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by R. Wilson
by E. R. BOWER, (Worcester)
Paper 8 (Chap. 8.4-14;) THE FIFTH DISCOURSE
"Hear the word of the Lord." As we have read this prophecy we may (or may not) have taken notice of the repetition of the words, "Thus saith the Lord God" or similar. Amos was determined to emphasize that it was God, and not Amos, who was speaking. God Himself speaks out against oppression and sharp practices, (v. 4-6;) Accumulation of wealth at any price shows up its darker side of cheap labour and a resultant poverty; the sabbath had become meaningless; commercial chicanery was the order of the day. God's indictment here follows that of chap. 2.6-7 See Num. 10.10; 28.11; 1 Sam. 20.5-6; 2 Kin. 4.23; Lev. 19.35-36; Deut. 25.13-16; Prov. 20.10; Are we, at the end of this 20th century any better? Let us remember, if it is not too late (as it was for Israel) that God says, "I will never forgive. . . ." and, "Be not deceived; for God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Gal. 6.7;)
THE JUDGMENT DAY. (v. 7-14) Judgment is "sure: for God says, "Surely I have sworn by the excellency of Jacob" — the pride of Jacob. Amos uses this phrase twice; here, and in 6, 8 where He abhorred the excellency of Jacob. See Ps. 47.4; Nah. 2.2; The years between had witnessed a sad deterioration in spiritual standards in addition to the fall in moral and other standards. The one leads to the other.
Amos had spoken on other occasions of "Earthquake," and here he paints a graphic picture of the land rising like a flood and then subsiding. See Zech. 13. 1-7. "And it shall come to pass in that day". Amos expresses again the certainty of the day of the Lord, and the word of the Lord. Cf. Jer. 2.1-3, "Sound an alarm" and Acts. 2.16-21, "BEFORE the day of the Lord comes. . . ." For Israel and the nations the alarm bells are sounding. Some writers believe that the eclipse of the sun on June 15th 763 B.C. or that of February 9th 874 B.C. is referred to by Amos here. It is not likely however that Amos refers to these, but rather the earthquake of 1.1, or even one yet to come "in that day."
The feasting is turned to mourning; their songs to lamentations; the whole land mourned as for the death of an only son. See John 1.34; 3.16; Matt. 17.5; 21.33-46; Here, Israel is the only son. Amos had spoken of famine and of water shortage, but now (w. 11-13;) there is warning of a more disastrous famine— one that would starve more than the body — a famine of hearing the word of the God. In the words of the Preacher, (Prov. 1.28;) "Then shall they call upon Me. . . . they would none of My counsel; they despised My reproof."
In that day shall a rising generation (young men and maidens) faint for thirst (of the word of the Lord). Then the older generation—"They that swear by the sin of Samaria (the golden calf at Dan), and say, 'Thy god, O Dan liveth; and the manner of Beer-sheba liveth (the way or manner of worship); even they shall fall, and NEVER RISE AGAIN." The signs of the grasshoppers, fire and plumbline are now applied spiritually for the word of God was as green grass or "pastures green, still waters and paths of righteousness" (Ps. 23). Truly Amos might have been a prophet for today. Tiresome Sundays and feast days; short weight and higher prices; still existent poverty and oppression and over all, a failing desire for the word of God. The latter is seen even among "Christians" and "Believers", as one has said, "This is the most disastrous thing to befall a nation." If true of "the world" how much more true of believers — those who belong to the Body of Christ? For Christians, individually and collectively, church-wise and nation-wise, the Word of God is the regulator that governs the moral and the spiritual. The backgound of Amos's fourth vision is the fulness of Israel's sin. The harvest they had brought forth was ripe for judgment. God expected a better fruit than that which they presented to Him. "A name that thou livest and art dead"—such was our Lord's word to the church at Sardis. (Rev. 3.1;) Cf. Amos 8.3. "Bring forth the fruits meet for repentance" so our Lord (Matt. 3.8.).
A famine of the Word, like a natural famine, comes from time to time both in the history of Israel and in the history of the Church. Think, for instance, of the days when every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21.25.) or "The word of the Lord was precious in those days." (1 Sam. 3.1). The Psalmist wrote, (74.9;) "We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet." Cf. (Matt. 16.4.) Without the Word there can be no defence or attack for "the sword of the Spirit. ... is the Word of God." (Eph. 6.17). And for today? Let us hear the word of the Lord from the lips of another minor prophet, Micah (4.2), "In the last days. . . many nations shall come, and say, 'Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob. . . for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord, from Jerusalem".
A FIFTH VISION THE ALTAR. Chap. 9.1-4;
In chapter 7 the Lord was seen standing by a wall and holding a plumbline; here, the Lord is standing at an altar. Whether this altar is at Bethel or at Jerusalem is not clear, but as the nation is now to be seen in its completeness it is probable that Jerusalem is in view. These verses are again a reminder of Deut. 28, especially v. 52 — chapter of solemn warning as Israel was upon the doorsteps of the Land that the Lord God had given them; (Ex. 20.12;) the land that had been promised to Abraham, to Isaac; and to Jacob; a land out of which they had been instructed to drive out the inhabitants. The task had never been completed and, indeed, it was a divided land occupied by a divided nation. Now the Land was on the brink of being divided among the nations about them, and this because of their continual disobedience to the laws of God, and because of their carelessness and flagrant sin. The days of retribution was nearer than they thought! In reading this solemn portion of the book of Amos, surely we must be reminded that there is an equally solemn warning for the Church in these days when dark clouds are overshadowing us. James, writing to "the twelve tribes scattered abroad" said, "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh (is coming soon) . . . the Judge standeth before the door."
In one version chap. 5.8., reads "The Judge is ready to be seen waiting at the gates". There is a very close connotation of the words of James with those of Amos. We may do well also to remember the words of our Lord in Rev. 3.14-22. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. . . ."
Deut. 28 is to be fulfilled — note v. 52 — Israel had received many "advance warnings" but now the day of judgment would be deferred no more. The loving patience of God was, to use a modern expression, exhausted, and the edict goes forth to an unknown watcher, "Smite. . . ." Cf. the words of Jeremiah (7.1-16;)
There was to be "no hiding place" for Israel had not learned the lessons of the years. Are we any better than they? Cf. Gen. 3.1; Job 1.6; 2.1; and remember the example of Jonah who sought to run away. We have forgotten those words which once hung on many walls of our houses. "Thou God seest me" (Gen. 16.13). Israel would, for a time, be set aside, and thus some, at the tail end of the twentieth century still speak of the "lost tribes".
BUT THERE IS HOPE FOR THE LOST! (Chap. 9.5-10.)
The words of our Lord in Revelation chapters, 7 and 21 assure us of this. The words of this portion do not come from men or from false gods, but from the Lord God of hosts the God whom Israel professed to worship. He who created the world and "all that therein is" is the One who will destroy. God would sift Israel among the nations (and the sifting remains) He would overwhelm the land with the waters of the sea (was this to purify the land?) and the sword would take its toll of sinners. And yet the sad note among these verses of coming judgment is in the words of the doomed—"The evil shall not overtake or prevent us." On what do men place their hopes? Even today there are many who anticipate in a vague kind of way the fact of a judgment to come, but "it cannot happen to me"!
Does God entreat in vain? No, for there will be a remnant who will not be destroyed. This is truly a message of hope, not only for the people of God as seen in Israel, but also for the Church that lives in anticipation of the coming of their Lord. Again Amos speaks of great seismic convulsion, does the so-called "greenhouse effect" give advance warning of things to come?
Israel as a Nation were the children of Jacob, but they were still a sinful kingdom, (v. 8), Israel still had something of the inherent weakness of Jacob but we may remember that just before he died he could say, "I have waited for Thy salvation" (Gen. 49.18.) V9 was fulfilled, but in this our day we see the turning of the tide, for Israel is in its own land. Israel the "Prince with God" will emerge out of 'Jacob' for the scattering of Deut. 28.64 would bring out the good, but the final sifting will bring out a righteous nation.
THE COMING DAY. ISRAEL AT REST (Chap. 9.11.15)
Israel restored at last! "In that day" is a phrase used often of the restoration of Israel. Long years have passed since it was first spoken but the seemingly never ending gap in the history of Israel is soon to close. "That day" is perhaps closer than we think! The events of A.D. 33 set a seal upon Israel's deferred hope until today. Acts 28.28 brings to our attention the fact that the "salvation of God" had turned from Israel to the Gentile. Thus V29 "and the Jews departed". A.D. 70 was perhaps the final sifting and its results are still to be seen.
Restoration will embrace all the nations "on whom my Name is called" In the words of Titus 2.11, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." It is of interest to note how James read these words from Amos (Acts 15.16-17). For "Edom" He reads "Adam" — "The residue of Adam." Israel restored as the days of old, would bring the nations into the blessings. A wonderful promise! As Jonah was a sign, so too, the calling of the Gentiles — the Church, v. 13-15 of this chapter are both promise and doxology. The days are coming. Words of certainty for the Lord has spoken, and HE WILL DO IT! A world at rest and at peace. Amen and Amen
These are notes of addresses given by the late George MuIIer
Walking by Faith, not by Sight.
"We walk by faith, not by sight."—2 Corinthians v. 7.
As long as the child of God is in the world, he has not in actual possession what he will have when with the Lord, and especially, what he will have after the return of the Lord Jesus; he is not yet what he then will be; he does not see what he then will see.
But while we are yet in weakness, whilst in the body, in comparative ignorance, and have still to contend against mighty enemies, God has been pleased to give to us a revelation of Himself in the Holy Scriptures, to be our rule of action, to comfort and encourage us, to make Himself known to us, to make the Lord Jesus known to us, to tell us of the blessedness of the world to come, to show us the way to the Father's house, and to reveal to us the vanity of all that this present world can give. This Word of God, the revelation He has made of Himself, is to be credited, to be received fully, in childlike simplicity; and, in doing so, heavenly realities become present things to us by faith. We have not to judge by feeling, by seeing, by reasoning, but by believing, viz., by exercising faith in what God says: and thus have our ways and our actions to be regulated; thus our joys and sorrows.
God is not seen by the natural eye: but we have to seek to see Him, and to set Him before us daily, hourly, momentarily, by faith; and to bring Him and keep Him nigh to us by faith. The presence of God, the habitual presence of God, because we believe that He sees us and hears us continually, has to regulate our life. We have to live in this world as those would who exercise faith in the truth that their heavenly Father is continually then-Provider, their Protector, their Helper, their Friend; that He is ever nigh to them, that He is a wall of fire round about them continually . If the child of God thus treated God, exercised faith in Him, looked upon Him practically as the living God ever near to him, how peacefully and happily would he walk through the world!
The Lord Jesus, the loving, sympathising Friend, is not seen by the natural eye; but faith says, I rest upon that word, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (age). (Matt. 28.20.) And thus the heart is made happy by the belief in a present living, loving, almighty Saviour.
The Lord Jesus has not yet taken His power to Himself manifestly. He does not yet manifestly reign: but faith looks for the fulfilment of all that which is said of the return of the Lord Jesus; and therefore, though we are not yet actually with Him on the throne, reigning with Him, we believe that He will come again, and we comfort ourselves, whilst yet in the conflict, in poverty, meanness, and suffering, by the precious statements made in the Holy Scriptures regarding the time of His appearing; and we walk thus on in peace and joy, though we do not yet see His glory with the natural eye.
We are now in a body of humiliation, which is often weak, yea, sometimes in pain and suffering.
The manifestation of the sons of God has not yet taken place; we are not yet in our glorious body, such a body as the Lord Jesus has had since His resurrection: but we have the promise of such a glorified body; this is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures, and therefore, though we do not yet actually possess it, we have to lay hold on God's promise regarding this, and to walk in the faith of this promise: thus our hearts will be sustained under present weakness, pain, and suffering.
We have the promise of an inheritance "incorruptible and undefiled and that faded not away;" but we have not yet entered upon the possession of this inheritance: we are poor, mean, without possession at all, it may be, so far as sight is concerned; we have, therefore, to exercise faith in this promise, to lay hold on it, to seek to enter into it, in order that we may be full of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Scriptures tell us of Satan being bound, yea, bruised under our feet; but this has not yet taken place; we are yet in the warfare, we constantly experience his power still: we have, therefore, for our comfort to lay hold on the blessing promised in this respect; and thus our hearts will be cheered and comforted.
And thus, regarding all the numberless promises which God has been pleased to make, in so far as at any time they are applicable to our position and circumstances, both with respect to temporal and spiritual things, we have to exercise faith concerning them; and the comfort, support, and blessing intended by them to our hearts, will be enjoyed by us. For instance, the promise in Matthew 7. 7-11: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seekelh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If he then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" If we believe that it will be even as the Lord Jesus said, with what earnestness, perseverance, expecting faith, shall we give ourselves to prayer! Though the answer be long delayed, though, as to sight, the answer to our prayers can never be received; yet, since we believe, walk by faith, we shall continue to expect an answer to our prayers, as assuredly as our petitions are according to the mind of God, are asked in the name of the Lord Jesus, and we exercise faith in the power and willingness of God to help us.
Again, the testimony of God the Holy Ghost, in Romans 8. 28, is: "And we know that all things work together for good to then that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Now, if we lay hold on it by faith, bring to it in faith our greatest trials, difficulties, afflictions, bereavements, etc., our hearts will be comforted, we shall obtain peace to our souls. I have been a believer in the Lord Jesus for forty-four years, but I have invariably found that my greatest trials have proved my greatest blessings; they have worked for my good. But suppose we did not see this to be so, while yet in the body, we have nevertheless to exercise faith concerning what God says; we have to walk by faith, regarding that word of His, "That all things work together for good to them that love God," and then will the heart be comforted and sustained.
Three years ago God allowed two most heavy trials to befall me. They continued month after month. I said to myself, "This too works for my good;" and I continued day by day, while the seek for themselves after that which makes the children of God so happy.
We have, then, to believe what God says. Nor must we look to our feelings, nor expect help from our natural fallen reason; nor must we be discouraged, though all appearance were against what God says; for faith begins when sight fails. As long as we can see with the natural eye, and our natural fallen reason will yet help us, faith is not needed. This is often lost sight of by the children of God; and hence they are so much discouraged, because they do not walk by sight, which was never intended for them while they are yet in the body. If there is then one thing that we need more than another, it is an increase of faith, in order that we may take right steps, surer steps, firmer steps; yea, run with alacrity in the ways of the Lord. To the end of our course we therefore should pray, "Lord, increase my faith!
by A. D. THROPAY (California)
Paper No. 7
I. REDEMPTION BY GOD — 2.1-10 (cont'd)
D. The Exceeding riches of His grace — verse 7
—That: (hina) "to the end that," giving the reason or purpose in view why He did what is stated in verses 4-6.
—in the ages to come: lit. "in the ages that are coming one upon another." (Wuest) This phrase refers to the successively arriving ages and generations that we call "eternity."
—He might shew: (endeikumi) "to shew forth." "To exhibit to others."
—the exceeding: (huperballo) (As 1.19) "To throw over and beyond." (WEV) "Surpassing", (Interlinear Newberry), "To excel something." (II Cor. 3.10).
—riches: (ploutos) "Wealth, fulness, mighty measure." (Expositors, Kittel).
—of His grace: (charts) as 1.2 The phrase "riches of His grace," is identical to the phrase in 1:7. There we received forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace. In this passage He is going to exhibit these riches of grace to others.
—in: (en) This word is used to denote the sphere in which the grace manifests itself in its surpassing riches.
—His kindness: (chrestotes) goodness of heart, goodness expressing itself in gentleness, tenderness, and compassion.
—toward us: Believers in the Lord Jesus are the objects of God's grace.
—through (en) in Christ Jesus: (Christ Jesus is sphere in which God's kindness is demonstrated. Christ Jesus is really the object of God's love, grace, and kindness. Believers who are "in Him" share in all that is given to Him.
The body of Christ will be on display for all the successive ages, one rolling on the other, of eternity. God's grace will be seen in its fulness through the church. His care, goodness, gentleness, compassion, and kindness towards us who are in Christ, will be the constant and eternal reminder to other beings of all types and in all generations, of God's infinite grace.
—For: (gar) "Truly therefore" (Thayer).
—by grace: (charis) as 1.2 — The unlimited (Romans 11.6), inherited (Ephesians 2.8), unselfish (II Corinthians 8.9), loving favour of God to the sinner which produces "leaping for joy" and "thankfulness." There is an article in front of the word "grace" in the Greek text. The article points us back to the grace already mentioned.
—are ye saved: This phrase has the same construction and meaning as it does in verse 5. The salvation includes all that is mentioned in verses 5-7.
—through: (dia) by means of.
—faith: (pistis) belief, a firm persuasion, placing ones total confidence in another, a solid conviction. Faith is a passive receptor, like the lobe of an ear. It is therefore not considered a work (Cp. v.9) — (Pistis, is in a feminine gender).
—and that: (touto) or "This." It is a demonstrative pronoun in a neuter gender, (a) Because it is in the neuter gender, grammarians say that it cannot be referring to the word "faith" which is in the feminine gender, but to the general context of salvation, (b) Some claim that the force of the argument demands that the word refer to faith. This way man has nothing to boast about, even his faith is a gift.
—not of: (ek) "out of," or "out from," as resulting from.
—yourselves, it is the gift: (dooron) a free gift, a present. The word is also used of a sacrifice or an offering. Matt. 5.23,24; 8.4.
—of God: The triune God is the giver of this sacrificial gift.
—not of: (ek) "out from, out of, as being the product of.
—works: (ergon) actions, deeds, anything accomplished by the hand or mind. (Thayer)
—lest: (hina me) "to the end that not," or "with the goal that not." —any man should boast: (kauchaomai) to glory, boast, exult in a thing. Only God is to receive glory and praise.
—For: (gar) giving the reason for the statement in verse 9, that salvation is not produced by works.
—we are His: (autou) This word has the emphatic position in the Gk. text. Lit. "His workmanship we are."
—workmanship: (poiema) English, "poem." Denotes that which is made. Some ones handiwork. A creative production. It is God that made us what we are. Romans 1.20. The idea of the potter might be included here as well. Instead of us working for God in order to gain salvation, God is working for us.
—created: (ktizoo) This word always signifies in scripture creation as an act of God. We are a new spiritual creation. II Corinthians 5.17.
—in: (en) The word signifies union with, because of being in.
—Christ Jesus: Apart from our union with Him, there could be no new creation.
—unto: (epi) "with the object of, or purpose of A. T. Robertson.
—good: (agathos) That which being good in its character is also beneficial in its effect.
—works: (ergon — as v.9) One purpose in God saving us, is that He might create us and fashion us to manifest Himself as He revealed Himself in Christ Jesus. As Christ-like-ones we will do things which are beneficial and helpful to others. The deeds will be good, whether you look at their character or their results. Like the deeds of Christ, the tree will be good as well as its fruit.
—which God before ordained: (proetoimazo) "to prepare beforehand;" "to place in readiness before." Romans 9.23. The word is only used in these two places.
—that (hina) we should talk: (peripateo) to walk around, hence, to order one's behaviour, to conduct oneself.
—in them: (en toutois) That is, in the sphere of good works. God has predetermined that those who are in Christ will order their behaviour in the realm of good works. Beneficial deeds that are intrinsically good, will characterize those that God has created in Christ Jesus. We are taught not to do good works as a means to an end; as an ulterior motive to gain something from God. We are taught that good works are the end result of God's grace.
—(to be continued D.V.)
by William Blane
Part I (continued)
- That Love's meridian height —The Cross—
- With all its wondrous gain and loss,
- Where Christ endured the grief and shame,
- Gives answer to each righteous claim.
- There, on the bleeding Sacrifice,
- The sinner looks with tear-dimmed eyes.
- That God should love a rebel so—
- That Christ for Him endured such woe—
- Is more than what his heart can bear;
- 'Tis melted, and made captive there;
- The work is done—his sins forgiven—
- He's born of God—an heir of heaven.
- Thus, o'er His sin-made suffering Son,
- God and the sinner are at one.
- O matchless love! O wondrous plan!
- Through which to rescue ruined man.
- The power of God Creation shows,
- His wisdom Nature doth disclose,
- But by th' Atonement He has shown
- His love , which else had been unknown.
- His power into existence brought
- The worlds. Incomprehensive thought!
- When chaos reigned in ceaseless night
- His voice was heard: "Let there be light!"
- And light, without sun, moon, or star,
- Burst forth and chased the darkness far!
- His hand with beauty decked the scene
- Which void and shapeless erst had been!
- He breathed on Adam's cold, clay frame,
- And he a living soul became!
- Was powered exhausted as He stood
- And, viewing all, pronounced it good?
- Or was His wisdom at an end
- When nature's law He made to blend,
- And caused the worlds through pathless space
- Harmoniously to run their race?
- No! Though in these in vast degree
- His wisdom and His power we see,
- They are but glimmers, faint and dim,
- Of what of these reside in Him.
- But more His Love could not have done
- Than yielded up His only Son.
- And why so much?—For nothing less
- Could meet His claims in righteousness.
- Angels could not for sin atone,
- Or Jesus ne'er had left the throne:
- For though they each a life had giv'n,
- Till empty were the realms of heav'n,
- E'en all could not have purged one sin,
- And brought the pardoned sinner in,
- Arrayed in garments pure and white,
- To dwell in heaven's unsullied light.
- Had man but one wrong action done,
- None but the great Eternal's Son,
- Could for that single sin atone;
- And then He must be left alone
- To sink beneath Heaven's angry wave,
- With none to pity, none to save,
- Till, overpowered by Death and Hell,
- He conquered, but, to conquer, fell;
- And in their own deep, dark domain
- Must over them the victory gain,
- And to His girdle bind their keys,
- Ere He their prisoner could release.
- Or were there worlds for every star
- That glimmers in the distance far,
- And myriad souls contained in each
- Whose number Thought could never reach,
- All burdened with a heavy load
- Of guilt, and 'neath the wrath of God,
- God's Lamb, upon the altar laid,
- For all atonement could have made.
- Yea, if for demons He had died,
- He would for them have satisfied
- God's utmost claim, and made them meet
- Around His throne to take their seat,
- Not as before, with wing-veiled face,
- But, through the riches of his grace,
- To rank among that blood-bought throng
- Who sing for aye Redemption's song.
- Let none the ransom under-rate,
- Or vainly try to estimate
- What Jesus on the cross endured
- Ere man's salvation was procured.
- 'Twas infinite! We might as well
- Attempt to reach the gates of hell,
- And see the lost in pain and woe,
- Who must for evermore be so;
- Then try to count th' eternal years,
- And sum the sighs, the groans, and tears
- Which shall befall but one lost soul
- While those eternal ages roll;
- Then, if the sum our mind could gain,
- A multiplier we'd obtain
- If we could count the myriad host
- Who through the fall of man were lost.
- But vain the task to try to sum
- The sufferings which would have come
- On all mankind lost through the Pall!
- Yet satisfaction for it all
- God has received; and hence He can
- Extend to every fallen man
- Salvation—pardon full and free—
- Which is his own the moment he,
- Lost, ruined, helpless and undone,
- Believes on Jesus, God's dear Son.
(to be continued D. V.)
by E. G. Parmenter (Barlon-on-Sea)
1. THE RETURN OF THE LORD
The Church formed at Pentecost which is called in Eph 1.22-23 'the body of Christ', of which every believer forms a part: which will be manifest as the bride of Christ in the future (Rev. 22.2), will be raptured from the earth according to the promise of the Lord Jesus (John 14.1-3), at His coming to the air (1 Thess 4.17).
When God has fulfilled His purpose in regard to the church, and the spiritual edifice which Christ is building is completed, it will be taken out of the world before the time of the great tribulation.
Throughout the church age, Christians have known in greater or less degree the truth of Acts 14.22 "Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God". However, the kind of trial which has lasted for more than 1900 years is totally different from "The Great Tribulation". This will commence with Satan's ejection from heaven at the middle of that 7 years (known as Daniel's 70th week) and the making of the image to the beast (Rev. 12,13). To this the Lord Jesus referred in Matt 24 "when ye see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place... then shall be great tribulation such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (v.15, 21). Its repercussions will be felt throughout the world, but in particular it will be the time of Jacob's trouble (Jer. 30.7), and will affect Daniel's people, i.e. the Jews (Dan. 12.1).
We are assured in the New Testament that "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5.9).
We are to wait for "God's Son from heaven. Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath" (1 Thess. 1.10). Wrath being those calamities with which God will visit men, upon the earth, after the church has been raptured to heaven. We have this promise that we shall be kept, not only from the trial which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell on the earth, but from "its very hour" (Rev. 3.10).
Before God resumes His dealings with His earthly people the Jews, all believers of this present church age, whether fallen asleep or living and remaining, are going to be raised, changed, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Consequent upon which, we shall be manifested at the Judgment Seat of Christ, which will be in preparation for the marriage of the Lamb, when Christ the Heavenly Bridegroom will present the church all glorious, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, as His bride upon whom He will lavish His love for all eternity.
While these things are taking place in heaven, prophecy will be fulfilled on earth. Those all important seven years which God has marked out of the mass of time, forming a "covenant with the Jews" (Dan. 9.27) confirmed by the beast, the last head of Gentile world power, by means of which, the Jews will be safe-guarded from their enemies, the land will be secured to them and authority given for them to build their temple and reinstate their religious worship.
At the middle of those 7 years, the covenant will be broken, the Jews sacrifices will be taken away, and the abomination of desolation will be set up, that is, the image of the beast will be placed in the holy place of the re-built temple at Jerusalem, and all will be commanded, on pain of death, to worship the image of the beast whose reign of terror will continue 42 months.
Rev. 8-9 reveals that during the tyrannical reign of the beast seven angels will sound their trumpets and judgments will fall from heaven upon the earth. . . a third part of trees, grass, sea creatures, and ships will be destroyed; a third part of rivers and fountain of waters will be affected and many men will die; demons will be released from the pit to torment men, but not kill and men will seek death but will not find it.
With the sounding of the sixth trumpet, an army of 200 million horsemen come into view; and by these a third part of men were killed, and the rest who were not killed, repented not of their murders, sorceries, fornication or thefts.
Following upon the trumpet judgments will be the pouring out of the seven golden vials, full of the wrath of God, upon the earth. After the pouring out of the sixth vial, John saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, beast, and the false prophet. They are said to be the "spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God almighty"... unto a place called Armageddon Rev. 16.13-14, 16.
Armageddon means the Mountain of Megiddo, situated in the valley of Jezreel. At this time, the waters of the great river Euphrates, God will dry up and in so doing, the natural barrier between east and west will be removed, and a highway prepared for the innumerable armies of the kings from the sun rising to march westward into Palestine.
If we had a map of the world, we would see that the roads of the whole world, from continent to continent; from the North, South, East and West converge at a certain cross roads, called the "Hill of Megiddo" and along these roads, the unnumbered millions of the military of the nations of the world will come, the meeting point will be Armageddon and from the plain of Esdraelon they will march on Jerusalem.
A description of the last stage of the invasion, is found in Isa. 10.28-32 "he shall remain at Nob (i.e. just outside Jerusalem) and shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem".
Zech 14.2 reveals that over and above all this Satanic activity God is controlling the events of this last drama. "I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle" that is, God will gather the nations for the punishment of Jerusalem which will have accepted the Man of Sin and worshipped his image.
Into one verse there is compressed the terrible destruction and dreadful suffering of Israel, as helplessly they see mile after mile of their land overcome, half the city devastated, two thirds of the people slain, houses rifled, women ravished, and in their extremity they will say "keep not silent O God, for they have said, come let us cut off from being a nation that the name of Israel may be no more remembered" (Psalm 83.4).
"Then shall the sun be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken and there shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matt 24.29-30). The sign being "the appearing of the Son of Man" i.e. Christ Himself, displayed in the heavens resplendent with power and great glory.
Rev. 19.11 pictures the Lord Jesus leaving heaven, riding a white charger, coming as the Faithful and True, in righteousness to judge and make war. . . and the armies in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen white and clean.
Col. 3.4 confirms "that when Christ who is our life shall appear we shall appear with Him in glory"
At this point the kings of the earth with their armies will join forces with the beast, to make war against Him that sat on the horse and against His army (Rev. 19.19). Anticipating this, Psalm 2 describes "When the nations rage and the people imagine a vain thing, the kings of the earth set themselves, the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and His Messiah. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh and the Lord shall have them in derision". The corporate might of puny man can never frustrate God's purpose. He has decreed "I will set My King upon holy hill of Zion" this is irrefutable and unchallengable.
With the appearing of Christ, an angel cries with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God that ye may eat the flesh of kings, captains, and mighty men, and the flesh of horses and beasts (Rev. 19.18). At this point the beast and the false prophet will be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire (v20). Then will be fulfilled the scriptures; Daniel 8.25 "the little horn will be broken without hand"; Isaiah 11.4 "With the breath of his mouth shall He slay the lawless one"; and "He will consume with the spirit of His mouth and shall destroy him with the brightness of His coming," (2 Thess. 2.8). The rest are slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Rev. 19.21).
When the punishment of Jerusalem is accomplished (Zech 14.2) and the Lord hath performed His whole work upon Mount Zion, He will go forth and fight with those nations who were the rod of his anger against the people of his wrath, He "will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria and the glory of his high looks" (Isa 10.12). This event is summarised in Zech 14:3-4 "Then will the Lord go forth and fight as when He fought in the day of battle." The One who fights is the same One who will stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, the mountain will cleave in the midst, making a valley for the safe escape of the remnant. With the appearing of the Son of Man in power and great glory and his subsequent standing on the Mount of Olives, the tide will have turned for Israel and the armies that have fought against Jerusalem, the Lord will smite with a plague, their flesh, eyes, tongues, all will consume away. Panic will break out among the soldiers, every one lifting his sword against his neighbour.
Such shall be the carnage, in the day when the Son of Man will tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God without the city, a river of blood will run for 200 miles, even unto the horses bridles (Rev. 14.20, 19.15). In relentless fury, divine wrath will be poured out upon the unregenerate, and vengeance will be satiated in their doom.
Christ having come, bearing the name of King of Kings and Lord of Lords, will be the absolute Sovereign and Supreme Ruler in the universe of God.
The scene closes with the picture of birds of prey swooping down upon the battlefield. Christ having judged His enemies, and filled the earth with dead bodies, stoops to drink of the brook in the way (Ps. 110.7) then with uplifted head, He rides up to the gates of Jerusalem barred and bolted against the enemy, and the cry rings out: "Lift up your heads O ye gates and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle, the Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory" (Ps. 45.7-10). He who won the victory in the wilderness, Who triumphed at Calvary and now has subdued all His enemies at Armageddon, enters the city of the Great King to establish His kingdom and, 'Jesus shall reign where-ere the sun doth her successive journeys run.'
Paul at the end of his life speaks of a "Crown of Righteousness" which the Lord the righteous judge will give to all them that love His Appearing ... Do we love His appearing? Or are we in danger of becoming like Demas who loved this present world and forsook Paul? (2 Tim. 4.6-10).
—(To be continued)
— Its Prospects and Its Perils
by D. E. West, (Leicester)
In the previous paper we considered the subjects of Parental Aspirations, Career Options, Subject Selection and University Location, we shall now think of:—
Paper 2 — Personal Conviction
Let us suppose that the time has come for you, as a young person, to leave home and to embark upon your further studies. It may be that you are accommodated in a Hall of Residence, alternatively you may find yourself in lodgings, but it is imperative that you make a stand right from the start—you must "nail your colours to the mast".
One phase of growing up is that of "peer pressure", i.e. conforming to the group, being one of the crowd. A saved young person has to face these conflicts as much as an unsaved one.
Much of Solomon's (or was it David's?) Fatherly advice in the earlier part of the Book of Proverbs is directed at such peer pressure:— "my son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not" (Prov. 1.10), "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men" (Prov. 4.14).
Parents must teach their children early the value of standing alone, Christianity is not cowardice, hiding its weakness from the world, but courage, standing against the tide. Older believers should help younger ones to form the right friendship. Solomon apparently realised the need to encourage the right type of companions, "He that walked with wise men shall be wise" (Prov. 13.20).
Young believer, moving away from home, do not be an isolationist (there is a great difference between isolation and separation)—seek to witness your fellow students, live the Christian life before them.
Solomon realised the need to teach children of the dangers
inherent in exposure to the world. Like Moses' parents, we can only shield our children for so long, we cannot always be looking over their shoulders or acting as spies—to attempt to do so is only futile. Thus again in the Book of Proverbs, Solomon gives advice anticipating this: "can a young man take fire in his bossom, and his clothes (i.e. his character) not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet (i.e. his walk) not be burned? (Prov 6.27-28").
Paraphrased, this is simply, "Do not play with fire!" In the world, all moral standard's are being thrown overboard and a young believer is confronted with this when he leaves home.
Young Christian pay heed to the exhortations of Paul in the N.T., "flee fornication" (1 Cor. 6.18), "flee far from idolatry" (1 Cor 10.14), "flee also youthful lusts" (2 Tim 2.22). Do not allow those emotions of yours to be left unguarded.
Nothing will mark you out from the young men and young women of this age more than your purity, "keep thyself pure" (1 Tim 5.22).
Beware of being enticed into social drinking. Take account of Daniel as a youth as recorded in Daniel Chap. 1. Daniel and his friends, having been carried away captive into Babylon at the behest of King Nebuchadnezzar, were to go through a form of college course with the object in view that the King could increase the number of men who would be able to give him supernatural wisdom and guidance.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the King's meat, nor with the wine which he drank" (Dan. 1.8). The dainties of this world are ever destructive to the spiritual life of the Christian.
The word given by the Lord to Aaron was "Do not drink wine nor strong drink" (Lev. 10.9). The effect of wine is to excite nature, the introduction of natural stimulants, whatever form they might take, clouds spiritual discernment and leads to a failure to distinguish between "holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean" (Rev. 10.10). That sensitive young man, Timothy, needed an apostolic recommendation to induce him even to touch wine for his health's sake, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine (note the quantity) for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (1 Tim. 5.23).
Not only should you, as a student, take the opportunity of witnessing to the lost, but also of seeking to help and encourage other students who are Christians. However, beware of Christian unions!—Many of them are greatly influenced by those who hold to "charismatic" beliefs and practices. Determine to stand for the whole truth of God, not just part of it — do not compromise! We believe that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable" (2 Tim 3.16). We believe in the deity of Christ and also His impeccability, in the value of His atoning sacrifice and in the reality of heaven and hell. It is necessary to oppose error, including specious the cries such as evolution, there can be no middle ground in such matters.
Be faithful to the local assembly; throw in your lot with the people of God. Deepen your convictions regarding assembly fellowship. Make sure that you put the Lord first. What profit is there if you come successfully through your course, but lose your spiritual health in the process?
A responsibility rests here upon those in fellowship in the host assembly to see to it that hospitality is shown to such students. They need every help and encouragement as they find themselves away from home and in a hostile environment.
Certain qualities will be expected of you as a young believer as you undertake your studies, e.g. diligence, conscientiousness, reliability, trustworthiness. It is easy to overlook the fact that the course that you follow is costly and is largely financed by others. The opportunity that you have been given must not be wasted: remember that you have a commitment to study. However, bear in mind that the Lord's Day is for the Lord; carefully plan your work so that this day is kept free from study, "but now the Lord saith ... . them that honour me I will honour" (1 Sam 2.30).
Do not forget that the rules of the institution must be obeyed. Submission to authority is a mark of a believer in the Lord Jesus; certainly do not get involved in demonstrations, sit-ins, etc.
And what of the final outcome? the award of a diploma or a degree, perhaps even a higher degree, with the right to use letters after your name or even a title.
However, the possession of a degree should carry no weight among the people of God. Academic qualifications do not equip persons for the Lord's service. Thus it does not follow that because a man is a teacher by profession that he is equipped to each the word of God in the assembly — it is all a matter of spiritual gift.
Nor does the possession of a degree qualify a person to take on responsibility for the administration of the affairs of the assembly. Those chosen by the assembly at Jerusalem to "serve tables" (Acts 6.2) were not necessarily accountants or bank managers by profession, nor did they possess a postgraduate qualification in social work, for in the context spiritual qualifications are stressed, "men of honest report; full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom" (Acts 6.3).
Finally it must not be overlooked that in our so called "classless" society, the learned, well-educated Christian is being substituted for the rich man of James 2.3. Too often flattery is accorded the man with letters—these things ought not so to be. Listen to the words of Elihu, "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles, in so doing my maker would soon take me away". (Job 32.21-2).
A Study in 2 Cor. 3.6.
The Late W. Rodgers, OMAGH.
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians is to a large extent occupied with Gospel ministry, and we find in it some beautiful illustrations of the preacher and his work. Thus, in chap. 2.14, R.V., there is a picture of triumphal march, in which the preacher himself is exhibited as a trophy—a conquered rebel, and a freed captive at the same time; and in connection therewith, a sweet savour of Christ ascends to God. In chap. 3.18, we have a mirror in which is displayed the glory of the Lord. In chap. 4.4-7, it is a light above the brightness of the sun, and the preacher an earthen vessel from which the light shines forth. In chap. 5.20, we have ambassage to enemies, the preacher being the ambassador. In chap. 6.1 God joins Himself with His servants as His fellow— workmen.
Running through all these passages, as well as throughout the rest of the Epistle,is the thought of the effect which this ministry has upon the character of the one who exercises it, and also upon those who came under its power. The latter are called in chap. 3.3, "The Epistle of Christ," in chap. 5.17, "A New Creation," while in chap. 8.3, some are set forth as impelled by the grace they had received to go even "beyond their power" in service to Christ, and the saints.
As to the preacher, it is made plain many times over, that if he is declaring the Gospel in sincerity at all, his own personal character will reflect the character of the message he bears, and will become more and more conformed to it. Thus, having asked in chap. 1.17, in connection with this unfulfilled purpose to visit them, "Did I use lightness?" the apostle's strange reply is, "There was no fickleness about the Gospel message I brought you at the first" (ver. 19); and he implies that he felt the weight of this message too much, to show fickleness himself. Again, in chap. 3.18, there is the statement, "We are changed into the same image;"and in chap. 4.1,2, "Seeing we have this ministry .. we faint not, but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by MANIFESTATION of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." Still more strongly does the apostle express himself in chap. 6.3, a verse which should be engraved on the heart of every servant of God, "Giving no occasion of stumbling in anything, THAT THE MINISTRY BE NOT BLAMED."
More particularly in the latter verses of chap. 2 there are some thoughts as to the characteristics of the Gospel preacher, that will well repay our study. He is, as hinted by the reference to the triumph in verse 14,R.V.:—(1) A subdued rebel, (2) a freed captive. As seen in verse 17, he is (3) a sincere and therefore an earnest man, (4) an authoritative messenger ("as of God"), (5) one who works under his Master's eye ("in the sight of God"). I wonder how far we who undertake from time to time speak the Gospel of God to sinners, will find these five characteristics reproduced in ourselves? Do we "go softly" as conquered ones should, and make up for our past rebellion by the willingness and exactness of our present obedience to the truth of the Lord? Do we stand fast in the freedom wherewith Christ has set us free, no longer servants of men (1 Cor. 7.23), nor slaves to sin (Rom. 6.16—22), nor even "brought under the power of things apparently lawful (1 Cor. 6.12)? Is our preaching done with the sincerity and earnestness which characterised that of Paul, not the occupation of an hour nightly or weekly, but a "stewardship" from which he was never for a moment free, with a passion that kept him praying and weeping for souls, day and night? Could it be said of us in our measure, as of the Lord Himself, "He taught them as one that had authority," because of our intense realisation that we are men "set under authority," and that, as the centurion of old had all the power of Rome at his back to enforce his legitimate commands, so behind us there is all the power of heaven with our message? And lastly, do we realise that the eye of our Lord is ever upon us, and carry out all the work which He entrusts to us, in ever present consciousness of this fact?
"LET YOUR MANNER OF LIFE BE WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST" (Phil.l.27,R.V.).
—(reprinted from the Believers' Magazine)
by R. Wilson (Republic of Ireland)
I was brought up in Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone in a Presbyterian background. Eventually, in the course of events, I became a church member (though not saved). Also for a short time I attended Sunday School in the local Gospel Hall, perhaps largely due to the influence of a saved Grandfather, who is now in the glory.
In my early youth I was greatly taken up with sport, especially soccer. During that period, I passed through a time of great spiritual darkness — doubting the reality of the Scriptures, also the reality of Heaven and Hell (my own wicked sinful heart and a cruel devil, deceiving me). Yet during this period, while attending an international soccer match at Windsor Park, Belfast, thoughts came to me like this — soon this match will be over and what does it really matter who wins — a hundred years from now what will it matter, about this game? Sadly I did not recognise then, that this was the voice of God speaking to me in light of Eternal realities. I thought that those thoughts originated within my own heart.
During the Summer of 1966, Mr. Harold Paisley and the late Mr. Willie Warke (U.S.A.) held Gospel meetings, in our town. My best friend was the first to profess to be saved at those meetings. He in turn persistently invited me to the meetings which were continuing. Eventually I did consent to go with him. The arrangement was made for the last Sunday night in the month of June 1966. About an hour before the meeting was due to commence, there was a violent thunder storm and I thought that I might not have to keep my promise. But my friend came along and
made sure that I was at the meeting. It was the first Gospel meeting that I had ever attended as such. I did go along to the meeting with an open mind, prepared to listen to what the preachers had to say — and as I listened to the faithful preaching of the Gospel, God spoke to my heart, I was made conscious of my sin and the great void in my life . On the following Friday the 1st July, 1966, I went along, the second time, with my friend and listened carefully to the message of the Gospel, clearly set forth. Later that evening desiring salvation, I went to my bedroom, having determined in my heart to get the matter settled. I got down at my bedside and acknowledged my sin before God (knowing that if I died as I was at that moment in time, that I would have been in Hell, and would have deserved to have been there). I then asked the Lord to save me — trusting Him to do it. Shortly afterwards (the same evening ) when reading John's Gospel chapter 3 — I knew that I was saved — the Holy Spirit had witnessed with my spirit, that I was born of God. That night - Friday 1st July, 1966 - I was saved by the grace of God — on the grounds of the Finished Work, of our Lord Jesus Christ— accomplished at the place called Calvary — even though I did not know the doctrine or teaching as such at the moment of salvation. On one occasion in those early days of conversion, when having doubts (due to the enemy taking advantage of my lack of knowledge of the Scriptures) I received assurance from the Word of God, from the verse "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved"— I knew that this was all that I had done.
In 1973, I shared a Gospel meeting with two other brethren, at Lugawarry, Sligo, also at Newtonwhite, Co. Mayo. Deep spiritual impressions were made at that time, which remained with me, as to the need in, and potential of that vast area.
In early 1975, God was bringing before me certain Scriptures — John ch. 4 v 35, and especially Luke ch. 10 v 2 which gave me much thought and exercise of heart concerning the work of the Lord, and particularly the West of Ireland. On seeking advice about this exercise, from a wise brother — he said — if you can stay at home — stay. However one thought which troubled me most, was the possibility of missing the call of God.
Eventually, I decided to contact Brother Jim Kells, trusting the Lord to guide and overrule as necessary, in accordance to His mind and will. From then — the way seemed to open up, step by step.
Finally in October 1975, I moved to the West of Ireland with my wife and three small children, in dependence upon God, who alone is Sufficient to meet every need.
Where has He gone, the Love of my heart, Since I so foolishly let Him depart? Tell Him, O tell Him, if helpful thou art-He means so much to me now.
What is thy Love, O fair of the fair? Is He so precious, beyond all compare? Why are you anxious, to seek here and there? He means so little to us.
Radiant with glory, and ruddy with health; Standing supreme above men of the earth; Brighter than gold, yea, of infinite worth Is my Beloved to me.
Bushy His locks, and black as a raven; Tender His eyes, like the dove in the heaven, By waters; milk washed—their place fitly given; I love Him more and more.
Cheeks like sweet spices, perfumed and rare; Lips like the lily, and dropping with myrrh; Hands like gold rings, with beryl set sure; Can any lovelier be?
Belly as ivory, with sapphire o'erlaid; Legs as pure marble, in gold firmly set; Aspect most noble, as Lebanon's height; Lovely beyond all compare.
Who can find any so excellent as He? Breathing such grace, yet glorious to see? He's my Beloved, He's precious to me. Is He not lovely to you?
—Roy Marshall (Falkirk)
—W. K. Goodson, Uruguay
"All thy garments smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia." Ps. 45.8
- Swaddling bands and linen sheet,
- Seamless robe and hem complete,
- Joiner's apron, boyish wear,
- All were laced with perfume rare.
- Purple robe and thorny crown,
- Towel with which He served His own,
- Clothing of the Carpenter,
- All display His character.
- His fragrant garments so replete
- With aloes, myrrh and cassia sweet
- Blending in God's lovely Son.
- This is my Beloved One!
—Matthew J. Cordiner