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Timely Reminder

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The Lord says: “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.  Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men.  Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”

This was the Lord’s promise to Israel after His summation of the state of their hearts towards Him, and the wonders upon wonders that He astounded the people with were things they never expected, from the fall of Jerusalem to the exile to the return and then to the life and times of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, who can understand the way of the miraculous to be able to understand the power of a word spoken in truth and faith such that the blind see and the lame walk?  What wise men of whatever calibre of intelligence, even to this day, can explain the virgin birth or the resurrection of the dead?  No one.

Now, what are the present conditions of the people who come near to God with their mouths and honour Him with their lips… those of this time who use His Name upon their lips and eat His flesh and drink His blood so that indeed their mouths are near God?  Can we honestly say our hearts are near to Him or are they far from Him?  Even a blind man can see and hear just how near our hearts are to Jesus.  Consider the blind men of Jericho… the one who called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” as Jesus approached Jericho, and Bartimaeus and his friends who also shouted “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” and, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” when they heard that it was Jesus who was passing by.  See what those who were walking with Jesus did to them as time and again they told them to be quiet and rebuked them, and it was Jesus who stopped each time and healed them all as He was going into Jericho and coming out of Jericho.  Those people who walked with Jesus around Jericho were certainly near to Jesus, but how close were their hearts to Jesus?  How close are the hearts of men and women when you know you are walking with the One who can open the eyes of the blind, but yet tell the blind not to call out to Him?  How close are the hearts of those who use the Name of Jesus, base their existence on His Name, bearing it to define what their faith is when they will not listen to Him or practise His word so that they can do what He has been doing?

The rules of worship made up by men are the rules of silence, silence from those who need a real miracle less they disrupt the procession of the religious by their shouts to God.  Those who were walking with Jesus, as they walked past those shouting blind men, what were they thinking?  Powerless to heal the blind, they demanded their silence so that their pious walk with the Holy Man of God was not disturbed.  Do you see it, elect?

Were the disciples among those who rebuked the blind and told them to be quiet as well?  The gospels do not say, merely that those who were with Jesus rebuked them in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  However, in not one of the gospels could the Holy Spirit inspire the writer to say that the disciples went and healed the blind men so that they would stop shouting, but it was Jesus Himself who did it each and every time.

What happened to those who were sent out with power and authority in the earlier months by the Lord, who healed the sick and raised the dead?  For by the time Jesus was going into Jericho, even the 72 had been sent out, not just the 12, and had returned saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your Name.”

It begs the question, elect, why?  Why didn’t Peter, John, James, Andrew, Matthew, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Judas Iscariot, James, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and all the others… why didn’t one of them walk up to those blind men and heal them for Jesus so that the Lord could continue without disruption?  Why?  That is a question that only they can answer and one I would put to them when they arrive with the Lord.

However, our concern now is to see the condition of our times, the condition of the hearts of those who praise the Lord and draw near to Him with their mouths.  The absolute impotence of those who call themselves the church when it comes to matters miraculous is obvious even to the blind of our generation, for they remain blind as they sit in silence in the vaunted halls of our cathedrals and listen to those who can see lift their voices to praise God and to the sound of coins jingling in the collection bag… whilst the Lord Jesus whom everyone is praising around them appears deaf to their plight and plea.

Consider how Jesus caused the people to praise God.  It was not by the silencing of the blind or the ignoring of their plight… but rather, by the opening of their eyes as Jesus opened the eyes of the first blind man as He approached Jericho.  Luke’s gospel recorded:  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God.  When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

If indeed, elect, we desire to walk with the Lord and draw close to Him and seek to honour Him, let it not be just with lip service with powerless words and homilies that can stir the spirit and convict the mind but yet leave the blind blind and the lame legless.  But let the evidence of your closeness to Him be manifested with the signs and wonders that accompany your words.  Stir the spirit and soul, yes!  Convict the mind and heart, yes!  But let’s not forget the flesh, for that is what Jesus did, and if indeed we are to fulfil John 14.12 to do the things He has been doing, then that is what we are to do.

They, the 12 and the 72, walked with Jesus in the flesh, and we, the elect, walk with the Holy Spirit in our flesh, for He lives in us.  Learn from them, both in the commendable and the rebukable, so that indeed we are shown to be taught by them through their lives by what they did and did not do – that is the way of honour, for as the Lord said, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.”

How great would Jesus’ reputation as a Teacher have become in Jericho if at that time it was one of the 12 who healed the blind man as they approached Jericho and Bartimaeus and his two friends as they left Jericho?  Imagine the news that would have reached Jerusalem – the Teacher and His disciples are coming, the One who raised up disciples to not only preach, but to do miracles as He does.  Now that would have been a worthwhile insult and a slap in the face for those pharisees, sadducees and teachers of the law who could only raise up students who could only talk, question and murmur like they did with murder in their hearts.

You see, elect, when you cannot heal the blind, you would want to silence and even kill them so that your impotence is not revealed.  Likewise now, the greatest honour we can give our Lord and Master is to raise up a student so capable that he is so like the Master in capability that he could pass for a counterfeit.  A student so excellent in his ability to be like his Teacher that he surpasses even the capabilities of the enemies of our Teacher and Lord.  The greatest insult, the slap in the face, that we can give Satan and his kingdom is to raise up the one whom he would have to be dependent on to do the counterfeit signs and wonders that could deceive the elect if that were possible.

So let those who are blind show you the way to Jesus and let those who can see show you what is not Jesus, elect.  Hear their cry for mercy and show mercy to those who are in need of a miracle.  And see the hardness of heart of those who have sight and strength to follow Jesus, who would silence the cry of the blind just so they could continue to worship God their way.

Watch and observe, elect… and perhaps we can convince the Lord that it is time, Lord, to “Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder…” and let the wisdom of the wise perish, the intelligence of the intelligent vanish, and so, let cry the blind… for once more Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem.

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