In a way, Resurrection's good news is also about the grace that enables us to stop drinking from the cup of God's wrath, and having the enemy drink from it instead. By Jesus' rising from death through God's supernatural power, true believers become children of God spared from his wrath and given supernatural power to live his life on earth and do his ministry. [Picture above by Damir Spanic, Unsplash].
“See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again. 23 I will put it into the hands of your tormentors, who said to you, ‘Fall prostrate that we may walk on you.’ And you made your back like the ground, like a street to be walked on.” [Isaiah 51.22-23]But it doesn't end there. To a lot of church people, though, it does--escaping the wrath is the end--and all they have to do now is be active in their church and in their ministries happily ever after. This is what they call church, and no wonder God allowed church to stop in this Covid crisis. It's what man wants church to be--the arm of man building his own empire, not God's.
Isaiah 51 gives us so much insight into God's present move in our times. Because God is consistent and does not change, we may safely assume that what he was in the past is what he also is today--his will, character, mindset, actions and propensities. If he behaved in a certain way about an issue in the past, he will behave the same way if the issue--or something of its nature--pops up again in our time. Like divorce. Then and now he hates divorce.
A Divorced Worshiper?
Yet, it's curious how God gave a "certificate of divorce" to Israel to send her away in chapter 50 of Isaiah. Well, Jeremiah 3 sheds some light. It was Israel who "has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there." Read the chapter. So in her stubborn unfaithfulness, God gave her a certificate of divorce, not because He wanted it, but because Israel's acts warranted it. God saw that in her heart, Israel wanted a divorce.
And Israel could not go on worshiping God as a divorcee, having sexual relations with other lovers and then going back to Him as a wife in pretension.
Jesus did say that Moses allowed the Israelites a certificate of divorce because of their stubborn hearts, "but it was not this way from the beginning," he said. Meaning, it's not really God's will. A lot of divorce aficionados refer to this passage to support their divorce, but it's not God's will but a concession to the stubborn--and as long as both parties do not remarry.
It's not God's will.
Anyway, it's crystal clear that God was not after divorce but merely unwilling to coerce Israel to love him back. He set her free, but not without constant plea for Israel to return to him.
12 “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever....14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband."God was not a divorce aficionado. He just gave Israel the freedom to choose. But he maintained that he was still her husband. He was not after divorce.
Because divorce or even separation from God makes you drink from his cup of wrath, God doesn't really want it. But it's how many Christians live and act. Even if you celebrate Jesus' Resurrection with all your might (and with the nicest programs and singing and sermons), it will be useless if you keep drinking from that cup. You cannot be His wife and go on mating other lovers. You cannot have life while drinking God's wrath--which a lot of Christians do today even as they become "active" in church.
"Mating with other lovers" is spiritual sexual immorality, unfaithfulness, and idolatry. Whatever takes so much from your quality time with God is your "other lover." Or renders you too busy to have your quiet time with him. That's spiritual adultery and promiscuity. And it's not just your career, job, business, car, hobbies, education, spouse or family. It can be your church and ministry, too. Your denomination.
It's queer how many Christians won't believe what the bible says if it does not agree with their denominational doctrine. Or don't have interest in a bible passage if it's not their church's emphasis. They think God's Word can be optional. I've seen a lot of them. Like stubborn refusal to believe in spiritual gifts (particularly speaking in tongues) or holiness or perfection or eternal security, or tolerance for the same. Okay, they may claim to believe them (especially the gift of tongues) but only in discussions or as Sunday school topics, but NOT in practice. And then they celebrate what they call Easter, referring to Jesus' resurrection.
By the way, Acts 12:4 really refers to Pascha or Passover, not Easter.
You are married to Jesus and yet distrust his words and go to bed, as it were, with your other lover, which is your church denomination. You believe in Jesus only if your denomination says so. Some folks fornicate with their local churches, church buildings or altars. It's ridiculous how people elaborately decorate their altars and treat them more sacred than God's Word. They spend a lot of money making them beautiful. Tell me, did God command anything like that?
What Jesus calls his temple is his body---the body of believers. All true believers should make themselves presentable to the Bridegroom, and only God's Word and the power of the Holy Spirit can make us attractive to God, not our beautiful church buildings, ministries, programs or activities. In short, only the life of Jesus seen in us.
For on him (Jesus) God the Father has placed his seal of approval." [John 6.27]The seal is not on our church buildings or denominations. This is why I say the true celebration of Jesus' resurrection is not through church worship programs or singing on what they call "Easter Sunday" but through the LIFE of Jesus seen in us everyday, and the power of his resurrection in us, doing his supernatural ministry. No need to observe a special Sunday for Jesus' resurrection or special days for his death and crucifixion. Or a special service for his "seven last words."
Just live His LIFE and celebrate it daily. This is our true spiritual worship--when our bodies (our lives) are presented as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God on a daily basis. This is true Resurrection worship celebration.
Arm of the Lord
Then we can pursue being the arm of the Lord mentioned in Isaiah 51. This is GENUINE CHURCH MINISTRY. This is true evangelism and discipleship, not the kind we see today everywhere where it's nothing but a numbers game, of who's got the largest members and income, or who's got the largest mission outreach abroad. That's somebody else's arm, not the Lord's.
My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. [v.5]There is coming a time soon when the nations will be so tired of religion and be so hungry for true faith, the one Jesus introduced, what he called Gospel of the Kingdom. They will get tired and reject all religions and so-called "Christianity." Instead they will "wait in hope for my arm," the bearers of the true Gospel of the Kingdom.
The arm is not what most missionary or church planting organizations are like today, but it will strongly resemble the awesome deeds of God in the bible, evangelism with supernatural miracles and signs and wonders. The Lord will "wake" them up (wake up his arm, a genuine church revival of remnant believers) in the last days and make them operate in the spirit of Moses and Elijah as Malachi 4 envisioned it.
Awake, awake, arm of the Lord, clothe yourself with strength! Awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? 10 Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over? 11 Those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. [Isaiah 51. 9-11]The fruit of this ministry (saved souls) will be devoted only to Jesus, not to any church denomination. They will not have any idol in their hearts. Their devotion is to Jesus' Word and the power of the Holy Spirit alone. "Those the Lord rescues (or saves) will return."
Where? "They will enter Zion (God's presence)" with the character and righteousness of Jesus Christ. The remnants of Israel scattered abroad will return to Jerusalem in the last days to worship Jesus as Messiah. But in the church, the remnant believers will have a great last church revival where everything God said in his Word will be restored. This follows the Kingdom protocol--"to the Jews first and then to the gentiles." But it has to start on the right path. Are you really devoted to Jesus alone? Or do you have idols in your heart?
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