THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: NINETEEN

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THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: NINETEENCopyright Š 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

("The Old Testament House of the Lord: Nineteen" is taken from The Tabernacle of the Congregation, copyright Š 2011 Trumpet Ministries, found in the Kindle Library)

Water of Life

The Burden of Prophecy

The End-time Army

The Day of the Lord

The Return of Christ

Applies to All Israel

Rest in the Day of Trouble

"Fireproofing"

The Christian and Judgment

Water of Life

Ezekiel, Chapter 47 is an example of prophetic allegory. The passage may refer to the restoration of Solomon's Temple. But mixed with the immediate Jewish application is the futuristic application to the Christian Church. The first verse speaks of the Holy Spirit who flows from the Christian heart:

Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house [Jesus is the Door of the House of God—John 10:9]; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. (Ezekiel 47:1)

This is the water of Life that comes from Jesus (John 4:14), who is seated at God's right hand.

It also flows from the Christian.

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)

Compare:

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Revelation 22:1)

There is but one source of the water of Life, and that is the Throne of God.

The first few verses of Ezekiel, Chapter 47 describe the progressive capturing of the Christian by the Holy Spirit. When we first are saved we have a little amount of the Spirit (waters to the ankles). As we yield to the Lord this first portion of the Spirit increases until it becomes "waters to swim in." Waters to swim in is a vivid picture of the attainment of the fullness of resurrection Life.

And then the fruit of the Spirit-filled personality:

And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. (Ezekiel 47:9)

The futuristic interpretation of the preceding verse is the outpouring of Glory that will proceed from the Church in association with the second coming of Christ. The "multitude of fish" portrays the great number of people who will be brought to Christ when the Glory comes upon the Church (Isaiah 60:5—"the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee").

And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine. (Ezekiel 47:12)

Compare:

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)

Perhaps the most important concept of Ezekiel's Temple is the idea suggested by the following words:

. . . and the name of the city from that day shall be, the Lord is there. (Ezekiel 48:35)

The purpose of building the Body of Christ is that the Lord God may have a permanent dwelling place in the earth. As soon as the Temple of God, the Christian Church, has been set up on the earth, it never shall be taken down. God shall reign through the Church throughout the ages of ages.

". . . and the name of the city from that day shall be, THE LORD IS THERE"!

Where else will God dwell forever than in the Body of Christ? In an earthly building (Acts 7:48,49)? The Christian Church is the eternal dwelling place of God in Christ (Ephesians 2:21,22). The Church will take on the attributes of God because of continued close contact with Him. One of these attributes is the incorruptible, uninterrupted eternal state of Divine rest and joy. This is the meaning of the New Testament expression "eternal life."

The triumphant reign of God is depicted as follows:

Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. (Isaiah 24:23)

The following are additional Old Testament passages describing the setting up of Christ's Kingdom on the earth:

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44)

But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)

And saviours [deliverers] shall come up on mount Zion [the Church of Christ] to judge the mount of Esau [the world, Satan, and the works of the flesh]; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's. (Obadiah 1:21)

Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. (Micah 4:13)

The preceding passage from the Prophet Micah is interesting. Think about the brass (bronze) hoofs. Bronze typifies judgment, in the symbolism of the Tabernacle. The bronze hoofs mentioned by Micah are the "feet" of the Christian saints who will bring the judgment of God through Christ against all sin and sinners.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy:... (Luke 10:19)

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.... (Romans 16:20)

And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; . . . (Revelation 1:15)

Watch for the "feet" ministry as you study the Scriptures.

The Burden of Prophecy

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. (Habakkuk 3:3)

The third chapter of Habakkuk describes the unveiling of the sons of God, which is mentioned also in Romans 8:19. The reason the Old Testament Prophets kept moving from local problems to the end-time events of the Day of the Lord is this: when God sent forth from His Mouth the Divine promise concerning Abraham's Seed (Genesis 22:11-18) a burden was established in the spirit realm.

Whenever a prophet took up his oracle, the burden concerning the creation of the Seed of Abraham, and the resulting renewal of earth's governments in Christ, was included in the set of burdens that gave substance and direction to the prophet's utterances.

Because the Seed of Abraham (Christ) has not as yet come into His inheritance, a prophet of the Christian Church of today, when he is stirring up his gift, will speak, among other things, of the setting up of Christ's Kingdom. This is the burden concerning the Seed of Abraham, and it will continue thus to move the prophets until the promise made to Abraham and to his Seed has been fulfilled in detail. Every aspect of God's promises always is fulfilled completely.

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

Balaam, a true seer, had a problem when he attempted to stir up his gift against Israel. Balaam summed up his problem in these words: "How shall I curse, whom God has not cursed? or how shall I defy whom the Lord has not defied?"

After Balaam had done all in his power to curse Israel in order to earn his money, here is what the distinguished seer had to say:

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. (Numbers 24:17-19)

How marvelous are the workings of God that a mystic of ancient times could describe so accurately the establishing of the Kingdom of Christ in the earth. The greatest part of the establishing of the Kingdom of God is still in the future; yet, the prophetic statement of Balaam came forth more than three thousand years ago. God is God!

The End-time Army

The second chapter of Joel, verses 1-11, describes an invading army. We believe this passage is another example of multiple application of prophetic symbolism. The most direct application may be to the crop-consuming pests of Joel 1:4. Also, the locusts may be a figure of speech referring to the Assyrian invaders led by Sennacherib.

However it is our opinion that the primary application is to the army of saints who will appear with Christ and who together with Christ will judge and rule the world. The words of the second chapter appear at times to go beyond a description of locusts.

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: (Joel 2:10)

One could think of these words as being a romanticized description of the destructive onslaught of a supremely powerful human army, such as the Assyrians. But we have not found that the Holy Spirit uses words in such a careless fashion. When God says "the stars shall withdraw their shining" He means just that! Although sometimes in a statement such as this there is a deeper spiritual meaning as well, often referring to conditions in the spiritual heavens.

Compare Joel 2:10 (above) with the following:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Matthew 24:29)

God's Word carries a wealth of meaning. Although the Word of God often is symbolic, it does not consist of flowery words and phrases of the type used by human orators—poetic words that are intended to convey the emotion the orator is experiencing as he is delivering some stirring concept but that cannot be applied literally.

The orator may say, "Democracy is the very air we breathe." This is not true literally. We do not breathe democracy, it is a philosophy and a form of government. There is a very great difference between the symbolism of Scripture and the romantic, metaphoric expressions of human poetry.

And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)

The above words stress that the army belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. The expression "his army" does not in itself signify that the army is composed of saints belonging to Christ, for in verse 25 of the same chapter, the cankerworm, caterpillar, and the palmerworm are termed "my great army."

But when the passage is considered as a whole it is similar to other passages that refer to the manifestation of the sons of God. The purpose of the unveiling of the sons of God is the judgment of sin and the establishing of the government of Christ on the earth.

There are many passages that portray the manifestation of the sons of God, the coming of God's army to establish the reign of Christ on the earth:

They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. (Isaiah 13:5)

When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. (Habakkuk 3:16)

And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3)

For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (I Corinthians 6:2)

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14,15)

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in Heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Revelation 19:11-15)

The Day of the Lord

Joel 2:11 refers to the coming of the army as "the day of the Lord," an expression reserved for the coming of Christ. The Day of the Lord is the period of time when God cuts off the reign of man and the reign of Satan, and God Himself takes over the direct supervision of the earth.

God never has surrendered the earth or its inhabitants to anyone other than the beloved Son. Satan and the flesh have had their day in the earth. In the Day of the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ shall overthrow all earthly governments and shall rule for eternity.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 1:7,8)

So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain [the Body of Christ]: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day [the Day of Christ], that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk [the Word of God for growth and for understanding of the ways of God], and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters [this symbolism refers to the Holy Spirit coming from the personalities of the saints] and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord [the Christian Church], and shall water the valley of Shittim. (Joel 3:17,18)

Compare:

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22)

The above passage from John has not as yet been fulfilled in the Christian Church. Perhaps there were inklings of such unity and glory for a brief period during the first century A.D. The Body of Christ currently is a long way from the fulfillment of Jesus's prayer recorded in John, Chapter 17. But we know that the day shall come, in answer to the prayer of the Lord Jesus, when the Church is one and is filled manifestly with the Presence of God Almighty in Christ. The era is coming and it is known as the Day of the Lord.

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:17,18)

The Return of Christ

When Christ returns, the Church, which is the Kingdom of God, will be established as the ruling power in the Earth. The Presence of God and Christ will glorify and exalt the Church in the eyes of the nations of the world. The glorification of the Church is one of the main themes of the Old Testament Prophets.

The return of Christ is the Day of the Lord. This is the fulfillment of the pattern of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. This is the purpose of God, as set forth in the New Testament Epistles.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestine to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Moreover whom he did predestine, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20)

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brothers, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (I Thessalonians 5:2-4)

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:10)

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)

Applies to All Israel

Amos also has something to say concerning the Kingdom of God and Christ:

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: (Amos 9:11)

James applied the preceding verse to the Gospel of Christ, as described in Acts 15:13-18. The first apostles were Jewish and were well versed in the writings of the Prophets. They applied the Prophets to the experiences they were having in Christ. Peter's response to the outpouring of the Spirit was: "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16). Of course, it was the Holy Spirit who gave Peter the understanding.

The early apostles were correct, we believe, in applying the Hebrew Prophets to the Church of Christ. It is we who are incorrect when we assume the Prophets were speaking only to those of Jewish birth and that the Christian Church is a special set of people who are separate from the Israel of God.

The burden of prophecy always has been directed toward the people of the promise made to Abraham—toward those who belong to Christ. Any people of Jewish blood who would be in the Israel of God must be born into the Kingdom of Christ and God the same as we, and be built on the foundation laid by the Apostles and Prophets. This does not mean Jews are to leave their unequaled heritage as a race, for Christ is the fulfillment of the Hebrew Law and the Prophets, not the head of a new Gentile religion.

Obadiah saw the vision of the Kingdom of God, and the revealing of the sons of God:

But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it. (Obadiah 1:17,18)

Micah portrayed the revealing of the sons of God:

Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. (Micah 4:13)

We have mentioned previously that Habakkuk, Chapter Three is a description of the sons of God and the fiery judgment that will accompany the establishing of the Kingdom of Christ on the earth.

When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. (Habakkuk 3:16)

Consider the expression (above) "that I might rest in the day of trouble."

Compare:

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (II Thessalonians 1:7)

Rest in the Day of Trouble

We will find rest in the day of trouble (the next coming of the Lord Jesus) provided we have been faithful in overcoming the world during our Christian experience. If we have been diligent in serving Christ, have done the things that Christ has required of us, have sought the will of God each day, have presented our body a living sacrifice, have held fast the confidence and rejoicing of our hope firmly to the end, we will find rest in the Day of the Lord. But that Day shall dawn in fire!

The Day of the Lord is not, as some have supposed, a gala time, a joyous holiday. The Day of the Lord is the worst time of judgment and trouble ever to come on our sin-cursed earth. It will be "the day of trouble"!

Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20)

We Christians must be careful that the coming of Christ, as far as we personally are concerned, is not "out of the frying pan into the fire." When we run from the lion (the world) we are confronted with a bear (Christ). When we flee for safety to the coming of Christ, as though entering a house for protection, we are bitten by a serpent in the house (the fiery judgment of God in Christ).

It appears that our traditional doctrines concerning the end-time may have confused our thinking regarding the actual, scriptural nature of the second coming of Christ.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is good news for the oppressed of the earth, but it is not good news for the adamic nature of the royal priesthood; neither is it good news for those who wish to continue in sin.

We may have imagined, for example, that after a period of frightful punishment on the wicked, during which all Christians are hidden away in Heaven where trouble cannot touch them, the Lord Jesus will appear in a mood of high revelry. Have we forgotten, perhaps, that the fifth chapter of Amos is directed toward the "house of Israel"?

It is true that spiritual children are given the opportunity to rejoice and play in the Presence of our wonderful Lord Jesus; and for those who love the Lord in sincerity there will be joy at His appearing in His Kingdom.

Let us remember also the Prophet Habakkuk "trembled" in himself that he might "rest in the day of trouble."

Think carefully about the following:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

Sometimes Christians become overconfident, too familiar with God. We are commanded to fear and tremble. When we catch a glimpse of the Day of the Lord we shall understand the "terror" of the Lord as well as the graciousness of His saving love. In fact, His grace and redeeming love are brought into clearer view when we understand how terrible is His wrath against the sin in the world.

The Day of the Lord will be a period of frightful judgment, trouble, fiery burning, war, agony of spirit. Satan will drop all pretenses and emerge from every point at which he is entrenched. Death will be sought after but will flee away.

The burning eyes of Christ will search out every hidden corner of the hearts of men. All motives will be brought into the open for everyone to see. Every spirit—Christian and non-Christian—will stand naked before the piercing gaze of God Almighty. The righteous will "scarcely be saved [saved with difficulty]" (I Peter 4:18)!

Christians will be bathed in fire the same as everyone else. If we have put our faith in the Lord Jesus and have been baptized in water, we will be saved in the Day of Wrath. But all our works will be tested by fire. No true Christian will be destroyed by God's wrath. We shall be preserved in that Day. Nevertheless, the part of our personality that has not been re-created in Christ will be burned away. Only that which has been born of Christ is of the Kingdom of God.

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. (I Corinthians 3:13)

Each saint should be anticipating with joy the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should be hastening His glorious appearing by our godly behavior. But let us remember that His coming means every word, every deed, every motive, will be brought into His heavenly Light.

God is more interested in the motives behind "Christian" work than He is in the "success" of the work itself. All motives will be revealed in the Day of the Lord.

"Fireproofing"

The Lord Jesus is bringing Christians into judgment now. If we follow Him faithfully He will baptize us with fire in this life in order to make us "fireproof."

When the Day of the Lord arises in fire, Christians will be in the midst of it the same as every other person. If we have followed the Lord we will be "fireproof." We will be able to "dwell with the devouring fire" (Isaiah 33:14). True Christians will suffer all kinds of tribulation and persecution but they never shall be destroyed by the wrath of God.

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God. (Hebrews 10:30,31)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (II Corinthians 5:10,11)

For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)

The Lord will fireproof us now if we will allow Him to baptize us with the fire of judgment in the present world.

We are not saying believers in the Lord Jesus will be destroyed by the wrath of God. We are stating, rather, that believers will be "tested and tried" the same as everyone else. There is a difference between a courtroom trial and the carrying out of the sentence imposed by the judge.

All persons, Christian and non-Christian, will be tried equally. For those who refuse the love of God coming to them through Christ, the sentence is eternal death. For those who rest their faith on Christ but who erect a building of wood, hay, and stubble, the outcome will be destruction of their works by fire—fire for their salvation (I Corinthians 3:15).

The victorious saints, those who are willing to be brought under the discipline of the Spirit in this present life, receive a "fireproofing" that will enable them to rule and work with Christ during the period that He judges and cleanses the earth—at the onset of the Kingdom Age. The victorious saints will attain the first resurrection and will rule with Christ over the nations of the earth.

The Christian and Judgment

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.

Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

And if the righteous scarcely be saved [is saved with difficulty], where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (I Peter 4:12-19)

We Christians must lay hold on the concept that our words, deeds, and imaginations are exposed to the fire of God's judgment just as is true of the unsaved. Accepting Christ does not cause God to overlook our sins. God never overlooks sin.

The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ covers our sins while we are walking in the will of God. When the Spirit of God reveals our sins to us, then, if we confess and repent of our sins, the blood and the Spirit purge them from us. But sin is sin, and God's judgment always is on sin whether practiced by Christian or non-Christian.

Christians will be exposed to judgment as is true of all people born on the earth. But if we are living in the secret place of the Most High (in Christ, who is in the Bosom of the Father) we will walk in the midst of judgment without harm to us (Daniel 3:19-27). Psalms 91 expresses the correct relationship of the Christian to judgment—not kept far from it but saved in the midst of it. Daniel was not kept from the lions' den but in the lions' den.

The history of Noah's Ark teaches us that the waters of judgment become the force that lifts the saved to safety. The saved can ride on the destructive power that destroys the ungodly provided their "boat is watertight," this is to say, provided they are in the will of God and protected by the blood of Christ. But the saved are exposed to the destroying flood the same as everyone else.

The same pillar of the cloud that was a darkness to the Egyptians was a light in the night to Israel (Exodus 14:19,20).

The following passage from the Old Testament gives us insight concerning the relationship of the saint to judgment, and the condition of the disciple during the Day of the Lord:

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. (Psalms 91:5-8)

The promises of Psalms 91 hold true for us now as well as during the Day of the Lord. If we make the Most High our habitation (if we abide in Christ) we can claim perfect safety during God's judgments no matter how they fall on the earth. God's policy is to protect His people during the time of judgment. In order to protect them He does not always remove them. God can remove us, or He can protect us in the midst of disaster.

No matter what comes to pass on this earth, God shall protect us and feed us provided we maintain steadfast trust in Him (Psalms 37).

There is a teaching among Christians that God, in the near future, will take the saints to Heaven so they will not be exposed to the time of trouble that is ahead.

The Scriptures state that "God has not appointed us to wrath" (I Thessalonians 5:9). It is the belief of the author that the true saints will suffer no harm from the pouring out of the bowls of Divine wrath. God is able to protect us on the earth, in Heaven, or anywhere else under any circumstances.

God will never pour out His wrath on His Church. In fact it is the saints who will execute the wrath of God (Psalms 149:9).

But tribulation is another matter. "We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God." "In the world ye shall have tribulation." "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, . . . ." (Revelation 1:9).

We Christians must always be prepared to serve our Lord Jesus in times of tribulation. If we are not armed mentally to suffer in Christ we will not be able to stand victoriously in the hour of trial.

There have been numerous periods of tribulation during earth's history since the time of Christ. Many Christians know of the way the Roman Empire treated the disciples of Jesus. Yet the Church was not removed from the earth. Rather, God gave the Christian families faith and strength to go through the trouble.

During the centuries following the fall of Rome the believers in Christ have been denied civil rights, they have been imprisoned, tortured, burned at the stake, buried alive, shot to death. But the promises of Psalms 91 hold true "yesterday, today, and for ever."

If we have made the Most High our habitation we can abide safely in Christ while the judgments of God fall on the earth in the closing days of the Church Age. God's way is to save us in the midst of trouble. He can do that easily.

We can walk securely in God now and at any time in the future, just as Psalms 91 instructs us. This holds true for the earth, Heaven, or wherever else we may be. But if we cannot overcome through Christ now we will not be able to overcome through Christ during the Day of the Lord that is just ahead.

If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5)

Each Christian must be considering his own spiritual state in these days, as well as helping spiritually those whom he can. The Day of the Lord is coming and it will be a period of fiery judgment. The saints not only will be in the middle of judgment but also involved in the administration of it (I Corinthians 6:2,3; Jude 14,15).

Everything that cannot stand the fire of God's holy Presence will be burned—Christian and non-Christian alike. God is equitable. There are no pets, no favorites.

Sin is sin and it is judged impartially. If we can maintain our trust in Christ until the Day of the Lord we will be saved. If we can allow Christ to work in us now, in the present moment, our works will stand in that hour for they will have been wrought in God and therefore cannot be consumed by the fire of God.

It is not true that God judges the words, motives, and deeds of the Christian by a lesser standard than that which He applies to the words, motives, and deeds of the non-Christian. In fact, the Christian is judged more strictly. Judgment begins with the household of God (I Peter 4:17).

We have said God will never pour out His wrath on His beloved saints. Nevertheless, the sins of all people, Christians and non-Christians alike, are brought to judgment by the Lord.

All persons suffer tribulation—especially Christ's disciples. However, God has promised preservation and blessing, no matter what happens around us, to those who abide in Him (Psalms 23). Christ does not have to remove us from a dangerous area in order to protect us.

Remember Israel in Goshen during the plagues that fell on the Egyptians!