Friday, September 2, 2016

"Things are not always what they seem!"

Day #247

Scripture Reading:  Obadiah …

Jerusalem has fallen (vs. 11) and the peoples of Edom and the other nations surrounding what was once the proud nation of Judah (and Israel) boast of their power.  It appears that the God of Israel has failed to deliver His people and that the purposes of God through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have come to an end in their defeat and their exile to Babylon.  To those whose families had been killed, whose houses had been destroyed and whose property had been taken it must have appeared that evil had won … but things are not always what they seem!

This was reality, wasn't it?  Death and destruction had come to Israel and then to Judah.  God had used the evil Assyrian empire to bring judgment on Israel for their idolatry, and then He had brought Babylon to carry the best and brightest from Judah into captivity.  Still, God told the prophet Jeremiah to tell the remnant in Judah that their captivity would be temporary.  He would bring them back in seventy years and the temple would be rebuilt and in due time … in the fullness of time … in GOD's time, the Savior would come from Judah.  

So now Obadiah brings a message to his contemporaries, to those who were so deeply affected by the judgment God Himself had brought upon Judah. This was NOT the end for those who trusted in the LORD, the great "I AM," who had brought His people out of Egypt and into the promised land.  "This is what the Sovereign LORD says about Edom (one of the enemies of God's people - perhaps representative of all those who sought to destroy Israel) - We have heard a message from the LORD; an envoy was sent to the nations to say, 'Rise, and let us go against her for battle' - 'See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised'" (verses 1-2).

Pride goes before a fall!  I look around at the nations who boast in their own wisdom and power and strength today (including, sadly, our own at times) and I am reminded of what God says here to Edom: "Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down" (verse 4).  "All your allies will force you to the border; your friends will deceive and overpower you …"  (verse 7).  So it will be for all those who oppose the LORD and His chosen people, Israel.  While Obadiah speaks at a particular moment in history, his words apply to every generation of those who have opposed God and His purposes through the descendants of Abraham, the descendants of Judah, the son of Jacob, through whom God said His anointed Ruler would come … and He DID!!

Today the nations stand opposed to Israel and many even in the church become more and more vocal about the plight of those who are avowed enemies of Israel.  "Israel has no more place in God's plans," they say.  "The church has replaced Israel," they proclaim.  But the sovereign LORD says otherwise:  "Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done," declares the LORD (Jeremiah 31:37).  Things are not always what they seem.

"The day of the LORD is near for all nations.  As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.  Just as you drank on my holy hill, so all the nations will drink continually …" (verses15-16).  The "day of the LORD" is, without any question, the day of God's judgment upon the earth that comes after Jesus raptures His Church.  Every nation, every person who has opposed God, who has rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God's offer of forgiveness and life, will face His just and holy wrath once and for all.  "BUT … on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance" (verse 17).  "Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau.  And the kingdom will be the LORD's!" (verse 21).

Those who say otherwise fail to acknowledge the sovereign God whom Obadiah knew and whom every true believer knows today.  He is sovereign over the nations and HE WILL REIGN over all the earth.  When it seems that evil is winning, whether in the world all around you or in your own personal life, remember … "things are not always what they seem!"  Our God reigns!!  

History is filled with periods of time, short and long, when it appeared that evil would win the day.  There have been dark ages, in the church and in the world, and it seems with every passing day that our world grows darker and that life for those who know and love Jesus becomes more difficult. Opposition to God and the things of God increases day by day, and yet through the proclaiming of the Gospel the lost are still being found and the harvest of souls for God's kingdom continues.  In our weakness, HE is strong!!

Do not grow weary!  Victory is ours!!  "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body … Therefore, we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" (II Corinthians 4:7-10, 16-18).

Things are not always what they seem!  The darkness is greatest just before the LIGHT appears!!  Jesus is coming again … blessed are those who endure, who persevere, who continue to live by faith until that glorious day when our faith shall be turned to sight!!  

"My Father in heaven, YOU are God and there is no other.  As Obadiah and others who believed so long ago knew You as the Sovereign God who ruled over the nations, so I draw near to You today in hope, believing, knowing that You will accomplish all that You have said You will do.  Jesus will stand on Mount Zion in Jerusalem and will rule over the nations of the earth.  Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that HE is Lord, and there is no other!  I praise You and thank You, Father, for Your grace to me and to all who now find our hope in YOU, our God, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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