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Maturity IV – Why?

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In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom- in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.  So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.  I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed:  “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love Him and obey His commands, we have sinned and done wrong.  We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from Your commands and laws.  We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your Name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.  Lord, You are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you.  O LORD, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against You.  The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him; we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws He gave us through His servants the prophets.  All Israel has transgressed Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You.  Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against You.  You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster.  Under the whole Heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem.  Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to Your truth.  The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in everything He does; yet we have not obeyed Him.  Now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for Yourself a Name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.  O Lord, in keeping with all Your righteous acts, turn away Your anger and Your wrath from Jerusalem, Your city, Your holy hill.  Our sins and the iniquities of our fathers have made Jerusalem and Your people an object of scorn to all those around us.  Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of Your servant.  For Your sake, O Lord, look with favor on Your desolate sanctuary.  Give ear, O God, and hear; open Your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears Your Name.  We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy.  O Lord, listen!  O Lord, forgive!  O Lord, hear and act!  For Your sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people bear Your Name.”[1]

“And when the people ask, ‘Why has the LORD our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’”[2]

One of the hardest questions I have found to answer in the past has been, “If God is so good, how could He allow such tragedies?” and, “What is God doing about this or that?”  Certainly, for many who are Christians, comes the question, “How can God let this happen to us?”

It is easier to stand on a high and lofty place when disasters befall others, that it was because of their sin that this happened.  But before we embark further up this razor’s edge, let me remind you what Jesus said, Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  I tell you, no!  But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”[3]  As such, we need to understand that before we examine this question, “Why?” we must judge ourselves and see that we have been and continue to be and will continue to be just as sinful.

One of the truths that has escaped the world and the church is this:  For the last 1900 years, neither the world nor the church has ever seen what God had really planned for the church.  What the church knows of itself and what the world knows of the church is a pallid-anaemic picture of what God wanted her to be.  Historically, the church, after the early persecutions, became the problem of the world rather than the answer to the world.  Instead of being the light of the world, more often, it has brought darkness, destruction and disbelief.  You and I see the world as it is because the world has grown up with a church devoid of miraculous powers except for brief flushes, but certainly not enough to sustain light to a dark world.  In its state of powerlessness, the church turned to the powers of men, of intellectual power, political power, financial power and worse of all, military power.  It became a place of great philosophical and scientific learning instead of learning about God Himself.  It became a great repository of wealth with its land holdings, architectures, artworks and hoarder of silver and gold, instead of a distributor of wealth.  It became an institution for political advancement instead of an institution of holy advancement.  Through the kings and merchants who grew wealthy through her, it became a dispenser of death through the swords and cannons of the colonial powers, instead of a source of life and life abundantly for believers and unbelievers alike.  If its different branches were prepared to torture and slaughter each other over doctrinal differences, what chance does the pagan world stand when the eyes of the ‘holy’ warriors of Christendom were inflamed with a lust for gold and glory?

With the loss of miraculous power to the general populace of the church, those who held to the compassion and love of God became the meek who were weak and endured patiently the truths and tribulations because that was all they could do.

How different from their Saviour who was meek not because He was weak, but because at one command He could have twelve legions of angels given to Him by the Father,[4] one of which alone could slay 185,000 men,[5] and who endured six hours on the cross not because He could not come off that cross or end His own life sooner, but because He chose to remain there.

It is one thing to be powerful and choose not to resist as compared to one who is too weak to resist.  When Jesus gave His commands in Matthew 5-7, it was given in the context that we would be receiving power from the Holy Spirit with which we would practise His word.  So that even when He commanded us, “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person,”[6] He was not telling us not to resist because we were powerless, but that in spite of having power to squash any evil person like an ant, not to do it.  Draw them out and give them the confidence to be as evil as they desire, then according to their actions, bless them.  Jesus could have stopped Stephen from dying for He showed Himself to Stephen just before Stephen fell asleep,[7] but did not in order to draw that which was murderous in Saul out so that Saul could have his own encounter.  Did Stephen receive justice?  Yes, Stephen was retired early to Heaven and watched from Heaven in comfort the ministry Paul had to perform in his place.  Was Paul blessed?  Yes, with Paul undoubtedly asking Stephen for the forgiveness of his ignorance.  Even when Paul was the great apostle, the Lord left him his thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment him and accuse him.  My theory is that the message of that messenger would have been one who reminded Paul of Stephen and the other Christians he martyred.  Is Stephen coming back to reign in the Millennium?  Yes.  Is Paul coming back to reign in the Millennium?  Yes.  But who had the shorter journey to their throne?  Stephen did, for he died at the first stoning compared to Paul, Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked…[8] just to mention a few trials.  Did Stephen prosper in a business?  Did he build a big church or write many bestselling books or was known within the church as an ‘apostolic ministry’?  Yet he is coming back for the Millennium after spending 2000 years in the comfort of Heaven.

Yet many who call Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” and have developed and built a great reputation on Earth by their prophetic ministries because they drive our demons and do miracles in His Name, may hear these dreadful words from the Lord, “I never knew you.  Away from Me, you evildoers!”[9]

So when the hard questions are asked, like, “Why does God allow the atrocities and tragedies of this world to take place?” the answer is not simple, but it is there.  Can anyone bear to hear it?

It is not because God failed, but because the church failed.  Just like Israel, she was decimated not because God allowed her to be decimated, but she failed to protect herself when she went and served other gods against the command of God.  God must be true to His word.  So when Israel forsook God, they received the fate of their decision.

In the same way, when the church council of Jerusalem chose to adopt the recommendations of James, three of which went against the teachings of Jesus directly, the church had to pay for the consequences of her choice, and the world has spent 1900 years with a powerless church.

People died of hunger because the church could not multiply the food.  People died of diseases because the church not only could not heal, but in the Name of Jesus, introduced smallpox, measles and the common cold to people who were never visited by such diseases.  Instead of being a reservoir of healing so that even James would recommend that the Jews seek the elders of the church for healing in his letter,[10] it became a reservoir of plagues.  People suffered poverty because instead of being a source of distribution of wealth, it became a hoarder of wealth.  Peasants rotted in such clothes while popish ministries rode by in their chariots encased in robes of gold and linen, etc.

It is not God’s fault that the world is the way it is now.  It is ours.  It is not God’s fault that the days of distress are coming.  It is ours, for we did not keep the power of God entrusted to us, but cast it aside as if it was worthless and sought after powers not of God.

In our powerlessness, we could offer no solution, no cure, only palliation.  We comforted people with tepid words of lukewarm excuses of why they were suffering, all the while bringing the word of truth into disrepute, for the people experienced no miracles, no healing, no provision, as empty hearts mouthed lengthy prayers devoid of sincerity in the faith they profess and certainly with no power.  The blind remained blind as they sipped on tea made from used tea leaves sent by some kind hearted soul from their home country as they listened to the missionaries’ message, the blind remained blind in the homeland of the missionaries and also in the mission fields of those gallant souls who were sent out, equipped with a message, sanitised of all miraculous powers.  If the Holy Spirit did display Himself through those early church fathers in power, the vessels themselves were quietly disenfranchised or worse still killed for heresy.

The lame remained lame, the deaf remained deaf, lepers remained lepers and the dead remained dead.  Now, do not get this wrong, they were comforted with kind gentle words and soothed with songs and even encouraged with some words of wisdom and were persuaded to hang on a little longer.  Some even received relief in the form of clothes, food, monies and even housing.  But very, very, very few were ever cured and delivered so that they needed no words of comfort or items of relief.  Words of comfort and items of relief are not instruments to replace miraculous power, but rather, they are companions of miraculous power to display the compassion and practicality of God.

The compassion of Jesus caused all who were sick amongst the 5000 to be healed even though Jesus Himself needed time to grief John’s death.[11]  The practicality of Jesus caused the five loaves and two fish to be multiplied so that 5000 men and their families were fed, but these were done because of the miraculous power He had.  He did not start a hospital for the sick of the 5000 or commenced a fast food chain to feed the 5000 eventually.

It is when you and I are able to come to the stark truth, that it is we, the church, because of our disobedience and unbelief with encouragement from false teachers and people like the Nicolaitans, Balaamites and Jezebelians, who are responsible for the mess the world is in, that we can truly repent.  And like Daniel, we can pray, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love Him and obey His commands, we have sinned and done wrong.  We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from Your commands and laws.  We have not listened to Your Son Jesus.  Lord, You are righteous, but this day we have covered Your Name with shame and we are covered with shame because we have sinned against You.  Now, disaster is about to come upon us with days of distress unequaled since the beginning of the world, as it has been decreed.  Now, our God, hear our prayers.  For Your sake and the sake of Your Son and Holy Spirit.  Bring justice to His Name, the Name You gave Him.  We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because You love Your Son and are jealous for the holiness of Your Spirit.  For Your sake, O my God, do not delay, because of Your Son and Your Spirit, and the people You gave them.  Amen.”

If we can confess the truth of our powerlessness as being the cause of all we see in the world, then God in His love for Jesus and His Spirit might entrust to us once more the power we lost.

Then, in these last days, the world and the church might see the difference between palliative Christianity and the true power of the word of truth, which came through Jesus Christ the Son.  Amen.

So when you are asked, “Why?” answer, “Because we sinned and did not listen to Jesus.”


 

[1] Daniel 9:1-19

[2] Jeremiah 5:19

[3] Luke 13:2-3

[4] Matthew 26:53

[5] Isaiah 37:36

[6] Matthew 5:39

[7] Acts 7:56

[8] 2 Corinthians 11:24-25

[9] Matthew 7:23

[10] James 5:14

[11] Matthew 14:13-14

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