This Dark Night and the Overflowing Scourge

I have a tendency to sometimes want to believe that just about any conflict in which two sides who ostensibly care for one another, is always rooted in misunderstanding, or could at least be more easily rectified by better communication.  And that is probably true if there is genuine care and consideration between two conflicted parties.  The problem sometimes lies, however, in a misguided presumption, or intentional false portrayal of love that doesn’t actually exist in the relationship to begin with.  Take that into the larger construct of what is going on in the world today. There are those who think enough kindness and tolerance and “understanding” will put a stop to the evil in this world.  But that is not actually how things work.  Because both in terms of close personal relationships and in terms of the conflicts of humanity, some people really are just selfish and unloving. We don’t like to believe it of certain people who hold significant positions in our lives, like a negligent parent, or an abusive spouse.  But sometimes that is actually the root of the problem.  I developed a saying that sort of summarizes what I learned the hard way through my own encounters with messed up people in my life, and here it is:  “You can’t make sense of crazy, and in trying to make crazy make some kind of sense, all you will do is wind up crazy along with them.”.  In other words, sometimes there really is something fundamentally wrong about the other party’s filters and perceptions of reality.  And trying to place yourself within their paradigm in the name of peace and reconciliation, means entering into “crazy” yourself.  In fact that is precisely what happens when the militant sodomites insist that we pretend along with them that what they do is normal.  And have taken it so far as to legislate it, make it a matter of law, that we must enter into this madness with them.  It is what results when half of the world pretends Islam is a religion of peace, and insists everyone else pretend with them. Madness!  Lunacy!

As Bible believers who have been redeemed from our own sin nature by salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, we look around at the present world and we may have tended at times to do the same.  So immersed have we become in the cesspool of modern “post-Christian” society, that we may have found ourselves at times struggling with the “condemnation” of  “people who are just loving one another” (Homosexuality)  If that is a struggle we have, it is because we have in essence, drank some of the proverbial “Kool-aid” ourselves.  But at the same time, when you are treading in contaminated water, you are going to eventually get tired, and start to sink a little, and the swallowing of the contents of the cesspool may not always be entirely avoidable.  But certainly one accidental sampling ought to be enough to convince us.  In other words, there really is no excuse.  And anyone who descends into the madness, can only blame themselves, because God has made provision for every one of us to avoid it.

God warns about floods in the Bible, and He also gives a warning in the form of floods sometimes, and gives punishment for evil.  The literal flood of Noah’s day was a result of a flood of evil that had covered the whole world, just precisely as the one in the process of encompassing the whole world right now.  God gives man over to the depravity he embraces, and gives it until it is coming out of his ears, so to speak.  Like the plagues of Egypt.  Each of those curses were just God giving the Egyptians their fill of what they loved and worshipped*. However,  many of the Israelites had picked up their dirty habits themselves. Their wilderness wanderings were prolonged time and again for continuing in disobedient practices they learned in Egypt.  Time and again they returned to their sin like a dog to his own vomit.

They deified the Nile as the embodiment of several gods , God turned it to blood. Frogs represented their goddess Heqt, the “wife of the creator of the world”, God inundated Egypt with frogs.  Frogs in the food, frogs in their beds, frogs until they would be happy if they never saw another frog as long as they lived.  So, you get the idea. The Israelites were still there while those things happened, they experienced the plagues too, other than the death of firstborn, which was prevented by the blood on the doorposts.

So this stuff we are experiencing now, we should liken that to what the Israelites witnessed and shared misery in, before they were delivered.

Where does that leave us Christians? I know your thoughts when you hear the “Black Lives Matter” bunch whining about how the whole Paris thing stole their thunder and diverted world attention to their cause.  I know because I feel the same way.  It is beyond ridiculous!  Yes, the world has gone nuts, it’s not us.  We are the sane ones, standing back and trying to make sense of crazy.  Take my word for it, that is not going to happen.  I mean, not in the sense that we will ever be able to commiserate with all the “causes” out there.  See, this not calling a thing what it is, is how all of that got started.

Man didn’t like the implications of Creation, so he came up with evolution.  It is not scientific, can’t be observed, because by their own “theory” the evolutionists believe the big bang happened millions of years ago.  For a couple of centuries now, however, a huge proportion of mankind overly enamored with their own thoughts, has perpetuated a false paradigm, or false version of reality, and insisted those in academia embrace it.

The insistence that rational people suspend logic and accept something they can’t see or prove on blind faith, is the very “crime” we Christians get accused of by those evolutionary “scientists” even when the theory itself was birthed in a time when the specialization of various sciences had not even truly developed yet, and should have been relegated to the dustbin along with the flat-Earth theory now that they have, but the madness has already taken hold.  Now that the fields of physics and statistics and other areas of science have progressed, it is an established fact that evolution defies laws in several fields of science, but the diehards are beyond help.  They have been given over to their madness.

Here’s madness for you.  Last night, France bombed Isis.  Talk about a paradigm turned on its ear!  While Obama sits blatantly naked, admiring his imaginary fine robes and revels in a mind he believes to be so utterly superior to anyone else’s, that we are all merely confused and incapable of understanding his genius, and those of us who are sounding the alarm are simply over-reacting in our ignorance.  This is madness.

My husband wrote a guest post on the blog back when he was going through his cancer.  He made the observation that when it becomes undeniably clear that our circumstances are truly beyond our control, as blood-bought Christians, relief comes in the cessation of the constant question in our minds of “what do I do now, what is the right thing, what is required of me in this given situation?”  When things are truly out of our hands and we really know it, all of the clutter of “me and my decisions and options” just gets wiped plumb off the table and suddenly we are able to see what we missed before: God’s sovereignty and power, as well as His concern and provision.

Like being on a raft with no paddle or means of steering, floating down a powerful rushing stream, is how my husband described that dawning comprehension, and could literally almost laugh at the previous notion that prevailed and does prevail in all our lives until the Lord brings something like cancer, that any of what goes on in our lives was ever really in our own hands to begin with.  Yes we have a lot of latitude to make decisions, good or bad, and to debase our existence with sin, or prevail over sin by the Holy Spirit.  But if we belong to Him, He has had the boundaries and bumpers up all along, and we never even realized it. When we sweated what certainly felt like close calls and near-misses that God allowed , the truth was that those calamities were never as close as they seemed, because God’s control and command of all that touches us is just that precise. He can and does take us right up to the razor’s edge of “certain death” just to give us a horrifying glimpse from time to time of what He redeemed us out of.  It is kind of like when you were little and learning water safety.  Your mom or dad or the swim instructor stands in the deep water and implores you to jump and trust them.  Eventually he or she will also have you stand up on the diving board and jump into the water with no one there to catch you.  But only after you have learned certain things.

My brothers and my sisters out there, what we have to keep in mind is that the chaos we see happening all around us, is not about us, if we are saved, and obedient, we can trust Him for our care in the midst of even the most chaotic and dangerous circumstances.  Obedient in self-examination and repentance, because un-confessed sin separates believers from God, puts distance between us and Him.  There is a certain “umbrella” of safety that comes along with obedience and repentance. Not that we won’t suffer, but He will literally walk with us through the fire, and yes, sometimes carry or drag us through it.  (Depending on our willing ness to submit).

The rest of the world, the ones still lost and refusing to accede to Truth, require an even more harrowing brush with death and destruction, because they refuse to see reason as God has administered in their conscience, in the witness of creation, and in His given Word, conditions of ease and prosperity.

You see, it is the same scenario that has played out over the ages in all of mankind’s history.  God is merely continuing to do what He has always done to show man his plight of depravity and unquestionable need of a Savior.

For those who already know this, the chaos is not aimed at us, it is not “for” or “about us”, so rest in the safety of your raft of Salvation as we go over these “rapids” for a while and don’t tense up or you could get thrown from the boat.  Anyone who has ridden a horse, or a bull, or whitewater, or done a parachute jump, understands that principle.  (I’ve only done one of those three things, myself), but look, even if the raft feels like it’s ready to splinter into a million pieces, let me ask you this; what is that to a God who walks on water?

Be still.  Know that He is God!  Peace that transcends understanding means peace that is “illogical” by definition, in light of the circumstances.  If you don’t have it when you need it, it is because you haven’t entered into it.  There are a few different ways this might be the case.  As already mentioned, unrepentant sin separates us from Him.  Lack of submission will set up a conflict within your spirit against the Lord.  Lack of submission not only in the command to confess our sins, but to God’s right to bring about whatever He sees as fit to bring, and lack of taking Him at His promise to see us through it, as it often looks completely impossible from where we sit. (A little hint, it IS impossible from where we sit, that’s why it’s best to just let Him be in charge).  We can miss the mark and find peace elusive, when we are trying to go about getting it via our own devices and ways that make sense to human thinking.  We have been told that our His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  Sometimes all that frantic running around amounts to the same thing we watch our toddlers do when they were fighting the inevitable sleep.

Stop scrambling to do.  There is going to come a point for you, even if you are one of the Christians whom God did call to “prepping”, that your efforts and powers are at their end.  I do realize there are some Christians who understand that their “prepping” is not for them, but part of the means God will use to provide for those who will become believers during the tribulation.

What does the Ephesians 6 (a.k.a the “Armor of God”) passage say at the end, of the imperative in verse 13? (That little part that so few people seem to ever stop and linger on?  It says, “having done all, to stand”.  The whole purpose of the Armor is that we will be able to withstand (against principalities and powers) in “the evil day”.

God is not pouring out wrath right now.  We are still in the age of Grace.  But what He is doing, is allowing those who deny Him, to reap some fruit of their doings.  The rain will fall on both the just and the unjust, but the carrying out of sin and evil does not come from God, it is merely allowed by God, to certain degrees, for specific reasons and purposes sometimes known only to God, mainly for the sake of the lost.

When Stephen was stoned, God gave him the presence of mind to cry out for mercy, not for himself, but for his executioners.  It was eight years after the crucifixion of Christ, and Stephen was giving the gospel to the very men who carried out the crucifixion.  He was recounting the entire scope of God’s plan for Israel, the Jews, in the choosing and calling of Abraham and Joseph and Moses, and the Acts 6 account tells us that the religious leaders of the Synagogue “were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit” by which (Stephen) spoke, so they bribed men to bear false witness against him.  (Does that sound just like the progressive minds of our own day, or what?)  They had no comeback, they couldn’t refute what Stephen said, so they changed the subject, created a diversion, trumped up phony charges! The devil is not stupid, but his repertoire is definitely limited.

Why did the religious leaders take this desperate and fairly transparent tact?  Because they still believed they could escape and continue to deny the truth, and more significantly, they still wanted to. At any cost!  That is madness! It is delusion.  Nothing new under the sun, we just haven’t seen madness on this scale in our lifetime before.  What is happening is just what the Bible told us would happen. Rather than these things distressing us, let the accuracy of them be an encouragement.

Here sat Stephen before that Godless Council, whom the scriptures say were looking steadfastly on him, and verse 15 says they “saw his face as it had been the face of an angel”.  The truth was shining in his face with the righteousness of Christ and I believe God put that passage there to make it clear that they knew they were guilty, and everyone in that room knew it,  and new that Stephen was right. They feigned indignation, but no one was fooled.

Stephen recounted instance after instance of God’s provision and deliverance, as well as the stiff-necked stubborn rebellion of God’s people, and didn’t mince words that what that very council of men were doing was one and the same.

All Stephen did was speak the truth.  Like the cake-bakers and wedding photographers and the town clerk.

Don’t let the rapture-deniers sway you. Don’t give up your peace and hope.

Yes there has been persecution all through the history of the church age. But never everywhere at once.  That global persecution is reserved for the time of Jacob’s trouble. Jacob as in his other name: Israel. Stephen was the first of many martyrs, and with few exceptions, such as the so-called “age of reason and science” that erupted in the 1700’s and brought a bit of a reprieve for a short time, while man ceased from the continual effort  there have been Christians killed for their faith in every century.  And yet, there are more dying for their faith in the present century than in all others combined.

Israel is specifically promised in the book of Isaiah, chapter 28, an “overflowing scourge”.  That sounds pretty comprehensive, does it not? A flood, a tide of evil.  Because Israel will have signed a covenant with death (vs 15).

From Barnes Commentary:

We have made a covenant with death – We are not to suppose that they had formally said this, but that their conduct was as if they had said it; they lived as securely as if they had entered into a compact with death not to destroy them, and with hell not to devour them. The figure is a very bold one, and is designed to express the extraordinary stupidity of the nation. It is most strikingly descriptive of the great mass of people. They are as little anxious about death and hell as if they had made a compact with the king of terrors and the prince of darkness not to destroy them. They are as little moved by the appeals of the gospel, by the alarms of Gods providence, by the preaching of his word, and by all the demonstrations that they are exposed to eternal death, as though they had proved that there was no hell, or had entered into a solemn covenant that they should be unmolested.

Then ye shall be trodden down by it – There is in this verse a great intermingling of metaphor, not less than three figures being employed to denote the calamity. There is first the scourge, an instrument of punishment; there is then the idea of inundating waters or floods; then there is also the idea of a warrior or an invading army that treads down an enemy. All the images are designed to denote essentially the same thing, that the judgments of God would come upon the land, and that nothing in which they had trusted would constitute a refuge.  (In reference to vs. 19)

To say that the chaos and terror and mayhem are not about us, does not in any way negate the fact that we are effected by it, and will continue to be until the Lord takes us out of here. It is not so much fear as profound sadness many of us feel, because we know the truth and it didn’t have to be this way.  How does one keep from getting depressed by all of this? Well, there’s the armor and the keeping “‘fessed up” before the Lord that we have already talked about, and then there are the past examples of triumph in the very midst of extreme persecution and death that are documented in the Bible, and also in non-Biblical historic accounts like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  But our greatest example is Christ Himself.

Psalm 22:14 says “My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” The 22nd Psalm is also known as “The Psalm of the Cross”.  It is written by David, but the words could be those of Christ Himself.  Well, actually, they are, as all of the words of scripture are, but it is clearly prophetic of what Christ would go through on the cross at Calvary. In other words, you think the world looks dark from where we are standing? Christ was on the cross in all his innocence when the sin of the world was placed on him to bear, he who had never sinned, experienced darkness for the first time!  He experienced utter isolation. He certainly experienced being misunderstood, unjustly treated, and seemingly unbearable heaviness and affliction of spirit.

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? Proverbs 18:14

Depression or despair of the spirit of a man, is the worst suffering there is.  If you’ve ever been there, you surely will agree with that statement. I’ve had my share of physical pain, and I’d choose that over depression any day because I’ve had that too.  We do not have to despair, no matter what things look like around us in this world.

From Spurgeon:

Well might the suffering Savior cry to HIs God, “Be not far from me” for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness.  Believer, come near the cross this morning, and humbly adore the King of glory as having been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark His fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities.  Especially let those whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of the Father’s love,  enter near and intimate communion with Jesus.  Let us not give way to despair,  since through this dark room the Master has passed before us.  Our souls may sometimes long or faint, and thirst even to anguish, to behold the light of the Lord’s countenance: at such times let us stay ourselves with the sweet fact of the sympathy of our High Priest.  Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten in the ocean of His griefs; but how high ought our love to rise! Come in,  O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord’s feet.

(I underlined the word powers because at times like that, we find out just how useless and insufficient our own “powers” really are!)

When I don’t know what to do, I sometimes just get out my Bible and copy scripture straight out of it into my prayer journal.  I believe in the power of the Word.  Like taking an aspirin for pain, I don’t have to tell the aspirin where I hurt, and I don’t necessarily have to articulate my concerns, struggles, and burdens into words for the Bible to deliver me comfort.  Just taking it in, can sometimes result in an adjustment of my perspective which gives me the ability to carry on a while longer.   There have been times of distress in my life, when I couldn’t rest or sleep, that I would literally hold my Bible like one would a Teddy bear.  I am not implying that there is some mystical transfer of peace of mind that is going to be absorbed as if by osmosis out of mere close proximity to a Bible.  Because only if that Bible is central in your life, will it represent comfort to you.  It was given to us so that we might have hope in this fallen world.  It is the map that will get us out of the slough of despond. It is our means to know about our origins, and our Creator, and the two paths, one narrow and  leading to eternal life, and one wide and leading to destruction. Narrow-minded Christian? You bet I am!!! Thank God for the narrow minded Christians who shared the narrow Way with me! May He prepare you and me to withstand whatever the enemy slings this way between now and our big family reunion at The Wedding!  You don’t even need Prophecy Updates anymore to know we are toe to toe with the moment of truth.


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*For an interesting essay on the plagues and Egypt’s false gods click HERE.