I don’t know if you have the problem of not being able to read your own handwriting after it gets cold. I do. I have terrible penmanship. Should have been a doctor. I’ll jot down a quick note that makes perfect sense at the time and then look at it later and have no idea what I wrote.
Last week I saw something in the Psalms I felt would speak to us today. I wrote down the chapter and a couple of other thoughts. Later I had someone come in and tell me about a mask that might help keep the Corona virus away. I wrote that down and added a couple of other thoughts.
When I was studying for today’s message, I spent nearly an hour reading Psalm 95 to find the section I saw earlier. I couldn’t find it. My note had said N 95. I thought that meant find Psalm 95 in the NIV translation. Then I saw the other note. I had written Psalm 97. N 95 was the type of mask. It’s easy to get confused.
My son Cory from Las Vegas called and asked, “Dad, in the end times, are things going to get confusing?” I shared insights from last week’s message about the deception Satan would bring in and how confusing that would be. He said this must be the End Times because his life has gotten seriously confusing.
When it comes to End Times studies, that in itself is confusing. There are too many opinions to settle on just one system into which everything the Bible says about the End fits. Those who say their system does, usually has had to bend Scripture to make it work. That’s why this study has been about what we know, not what we can speculate about. And even what we know is more than enough to keep us awake at night.
The End Times looks like rampant chaos. And, in many ways it is, but if we’re not careful, we’ll assume God loses control. He doesn’t. The Apostasy looks like He is losing Christians and Churches. He will but not true Believers. The man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) is going to ravage the world. He is, for a while. The Tribulation looks like it’s is going to destroy the earth. It pretty much will. And it looks like God is being defeated and Satan is winning the war. He isn’t.
That’s why God gave us The Revelation of John. Not to tell the people back then about things over two thousand years down the road that will not affect them in their lifetime, but to give them overall perspective. John wrote during the tribulation that began with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. He saw the end of the Jewish sacrificial system. He witnessed the spread of hatred for the Jews to include the hostility against Christians. He experienced the abuse and misery brought upon the Church. He felt the helplessness of the people and then God gave him a vision of the end so they could get through their current, personal struggles. That though it looks dark now, hang on. The Light is coming. They needed to know that in all things, God wins the day!
John’s message: that after the destruction is over, the Tribulation has ended, after the Antichrist is disposed of, the Beast, the False Prophet, Satan and his empire of evil are thrown into the Lake of Fire, all enemies of the goodness of God will be dismantled. And if He can do that then, just think what He can do for you now. John writes:
Rev 21:1-5 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."
John brought the entire story of the End back to one simple truth: God is faithful and true. At no point during the entire saga would He cease being faithful and true. Nowhere would He suddenly change His character to become unfaithful and false. God would remain God, sitting on the throne, fully in charge. That encouraged 1st Century Christians.
Some felt forgotten. Some doubted God’s goodness. Some struggled to continue in the faith. To know God would remain faithful at all times, encouraged them to trust Him.
It works the same for us. If we are going through our own tribulation now or tomorrow or next week, or when the time comes for the Great Tribulation, God will remain faithful. That’s what John wanted the people to hang onto. Because the people who know God is faithful will not lack the confidence with which to trust Him to get them through.
Moses first told us God is a faithful God: Deut 7:6-9 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
What generates confidence in God? What urges us to trust Him? What compels us to live what we believe? It’s God’s faithfulness, not our own determination.
We don’t generate faith. We don’t work up faith? We don’t force faith? We express faith. It’s never been about how strong we are to believe. It’s how strong is the One in whom we be believe. I’ve heard preachers say, “If you just had enough faith God would…” Or excuse a miracle not coming through with, “They just didn’t have enough faith.” We have enough faith. Faith isn’t a measured commodity. It is either yes or no, not a question of how much. All faith is, is the ability to trust in the One who can do all things.
God doesn’t expect the impossible from us. He wants us to expect the impossible from Him. – Dwight L. Moody
The lady of great faith was a lady with faith in a great God.
So, John knew that if the people would keep their eyes on Jesus, regardless of what’s going on around them, and continually entrust their lives into the hands of their faithful God, they not only could make it through, but would make it through. Even if their faith wavered, God would remain faithful to them.
What if I die? Is death some sort of failure on God’s part? What if I get hurt? Is pain some sort of failure on God’s part? What if I lose everything? Is loss some sort of failure on God’s part? God’s faithfulness, like His peace, is, at times, beyond our ability to comprehend. That’s where trust comes in. Stepping into the unknown and expecting something solid to stand on.
John had the rest of Scripture for backup. The whole Bible is the story of God’s faithfulness. Nowhere does it ever say, “Look how great God’s people are!” It always says, “Look how great God is!” or “Look how blessed God’s people are to belong to Him.”
Ps 100:5 For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
“God is not being faithful to me” based on what? Usually, whenever we accuse God of unfaithfulness, it’s because He isn’t doing what we want, the way we want it done, when we want to see it. Our wants have nothing to do with God’s intentions. Sometimes we’re wanting God to do something He never promised He would do. And then we blame Him for not coming through. We accuse Him of unfaithfulness. All we’re doing is demonstrating our unfaithfulness to Him by not trusting Him to do what’s best. We forget:
Ps 97:9 For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.
Most High by what distinction? One day Jesus had spoken hard words – the kind of words that force you to decide what you’ll do with what you’ve heard: John 6:66-69 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."
Peter was saying, “You are Most High. There are no words higher than Your words. There are no ways higher than Your ways. There are no thoughts higher than Your thoughts. Who else could we turn to?”
When God gave the 10 Commandments, the first one basically settled the rest of them. Get this one right and everything else falls into place: Ex 20:3 You shall have no other gods before Me.
What is a god? Anything we trust in that takes the place of God Most High.
Jer 10:3-6 For the customs of the peoples are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, for they can do no harm, nor can they do any good." There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might.
The prophets ridiculed the people for having images representing something they had given themselves to. Images that have no life nor ability, yet the people had elevated these images above God Most High. It was the ministry of the Prophet to point that out, show them what God is really like and then call them to: Deut 6:5 …love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. That leaves no room for any other god.
· Only He is worthy of our love.
· Only He is worthy of our devotion.
· Only He is worthy of our surrender.
· Only He is worthy of our praise.
· Only He is worthy of our worship.
· Only He will get us through to the End.
Though John’s Revelation is full of distressful images, the message he wants the people to come away with is: God is faithful no matter how things look.
Lam 3:21-25 This I recall to my mind, and I have hope. The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
We seek what we expect to find. “Hey, come in here and help me look. What are we looking for? It doesn’t matter, just help me look.” No, we look for what we expect to find.
Some, in doubt, will look and not find Him, because they don’t expect to find Him. But Jeremiah wrote: the goodness of God awaits those who look for Him.
Zephaniah gave us a word picture of what we’ll find: Zeph 3:16-17 In that day it will be said to Jerusalem [now a reference to all of God’s people]: "Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp. The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
The God Most High takes delight in me. He is present in my life. He will fight for me, exult over me, love me and rejoice with shouts of joy over me. Why would He do that? I’m His child. That’s what He does for His children. He is our warrior. John gives us that image of Jesus.
Rev 19:11, 16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war…And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." We won’t see Him that way unless we know to expect Him that way.
Elisha was surrounded by the forces of the King of Aram. His servant was freaking out. Elisha said: 2Kings 6:16-17 “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Why could Elisha see the faithfulness of God surrounding Him and his servant couldn’t? Elisha knew who His God was and expected Him as such in his life. He prayed so his servant could see what he saw.
John is praying the same thing throughout The Revelation: Rev 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Open their eyes, Lord. Let them see your salvation and deliverance. Let those who read this book understand how blessed they are to belong to God Most High, who is a victorious warrior fighting in their behalf, whose love is sufficient, who is faithful to His promises. Who has given them everything they need for whatever they face.
Does it matter what’s going on in our world? Of course. Does it matter how deceptive Satan and his forces are to steal, kill and destroy? Certainly. Does it matter how easy it is to believe the lie and doubt the goodness of God? Absolutely. Then, what are we to do?
Prov 3:5-7 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
“Okay, I will trust. But what am I to trust in?” Not what but who. The God who said: Jer 29:11-13 For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
God is saying: My job is to take care of you. Your job is to trust Me to do so, not see if you can work up enough faith to make me perform a certain way. Take Me at My word and trust that what I say is enough will be enough.
When John is wrapping up The Revelation: Rev 22:6-7 And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."
He’s not talking about heeding the words about the seals, the plagues, the trumpets, the lake of fire. We have nothing to do with that. He’s talking about the message. That in all of these things, or whatever goes on in our lives in the meantime, we can trust our faithful God.
We don’t have within ourselves what it takes to get through to the End. I don’t have what it takes to get through this coming week, but what I need, what we need, God supplies. We cannot prepare for the End Times. We can only trust in the God who has plans for us that will get us through whatever we face.
- To trust God, we have to know Him.
- To know Him, we have to belong to Him.
- To belong to Him, we have to give ourselves to Him.
- To give ourselves to Him, we have to receive Him into our lives.
- If we have received Him, we are Children of God.
- If we are Children of God, all Heaven works in our behalf now and forever.