Days of Distress and Disasters
Zephaniah 1:16, 17 -
A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
Today's message is one of the hardest topics for me. It is not only hard for me to explain to other people but also not easy for me to digest it myself.
Day before yesterday I shared my testimony of how as a Catholic I saw deceit in the Church and came out of her. What surprised me more was that things were not different with most Believers. Though they did not do the things of the Catholics but then many followed their own agenda contrary to the Word of God.
Let me explain you this in a very simpler way through the Gospels.
The 2 lot of people whom Jesus rebuked were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were people of traditions they were the most rebuked since they were the most hard hearted. They represent the Catholic. Like the Pharisee the Catholics too are people founded on traditions. Like them they also gave high importance to the people in power (authority) in the Church and did what so ever they said even if that was contrary to what God said. This we see in the Pharisees by them abiding to the command of the High Priest to put Jesus to death even though He was found innocent. They were so blind by the command of the head of their Church that nothing else made any sense to them. They also had an idol like the Catholics have Mary through whom only they can come to God. Even though they call Jesus their saviour yet to get to their saviour they need Mary. Their saviour fails to save them without Mary. Similarly was Moses to the Pharisees, they had lifted him up so much that they used terms like blasphemy against Moses and stoning for those who did so.
The other group whom Jesus rebuked were the Sadducees. It may surprise you to know the Sadducees were people of scriptures. They did not give much importance to traditions but purely went by scriptures and you can see the difference by the questions they put to Jesus and the questions the Pharisees put to Jesus. One may wonder why they were also rebuked by Jesus even though they depended on the Word of God.
If we understand what the Sadducees followed then we would understand Jesus' attitude towards them. The Sadducees did not consider the whole OT as Word of God. They primarily followed only the books of Moses and the books of Psalms (during that time the book of Psalms was in 5 parts according to the book of Moses). They did not consider the books of Prophets as canon (official / legitimate Word of God). They did read them but did not abide by them or take them serious as the books of Moses and Psalms.
If we read Jesus rebuked those who did not listen / understand Him by repeating the words of Isaiah. He said their ears will hear and their eyes will see yet they will not understand and their hearts were hardened so that they do not be healed. The Hebrew word translated as healed means to be like God. One may wonder why God would do such a thing when He desires all be saved and we also are saved only by the grace of God.
If we read Isaiah it says make their hearts fat, their ears heavy (the word used here also means glorious/honourable) and shut their eyes. This is what happens amongst most Believers.
They come to God mainly for the blessing that come through God. Their hearts are full of desires of the things that come as blessings and most of these things are things connected to this world and not the things of the Spirit world. Even the things that they desire of the Spirit world are also directly or indirectly for the purpose of things of this world, i.e. they desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that they can receive the honour and praise of the people of this world.
Only those who desire God for Who He is, His nature are the ones who are his true Children. Repentance is not about being sorry for one's sins, but is being sorry for one's sinful nature. Repentance is when we reject the sinful nature and desire the nature of God then only do we come before Him and are forgiven of our sins, are strengthened in Him and become more like Him (are healed).
Today's message talks of what the world states as persecution of Christians. Understand the Hand of God is not short, nor is our God dead, nor is He asleep that He cannot protect His people. If we see the Apostles became martyrs because they were on a mission, they were aware of it's end. They knew like Paul that they had to die and we see one among them John the Apostle was saved even after being put in a pot of boiling oil for God had no purpose for him to die as a martyr and when we understand that we will understand the reason of the deaths of the others.
Understand not a hair of our head can be harmed when we are in God; being in God means being in His nature, people who reject the nature of sin and desire God's nature.
It is time we reflect on our lives and check are our hearts fattened? Are our ears always itching to hear good things and messages which do not cause us to change? Are or eyes blind to see the Truth, have we made our own version of the Kingdom of God?
[ Prayer Starter ]
Lord, we pray your people wake up, that they come to You with a contrite and sober heart, that they not only desire to hear nice things but also rebukes and chastising for You are our good Father who truly loves His children. Lord, let our hearts desire You more than anything else. Let your Name be above all in our lives...
This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.
[ Reference ]
Matthew 13:15 - For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
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