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"Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men" (Rom. 5:18).
Probably Lenny and I are not the only ones who will be thankful when the election is over. The nation is polarized by negative rhetoric, as each party exaggerates and distorts every current event to suit themselves. They spin the facts so often, that most listeners would get vertigo if they seriously tried to follow the logic. Each candidate asks us to believe that he has the higher set of values, and therefore, God would be pleased if he won. In the war against terror, many Christians blame all Muslims for the violence perpetrated by a rabid few, while the lunatic fringe of Islam is waging Jihad (holy war) against the "Great Satan" (The U.S., whom they consider terminally decadent). The Israelis know with certainty that God wants them to win the dispute over the Promised Land, and the Palestinians think Allah will ultimately give them what they believe is rightfully theirs. Each faction appeals to God for support, victory, and validation. Thus the question in every conflict today is, "Whose side IS God on?"
Thanks to Kenneth Greatorex for sharing this story: "Many years ago in a meeting held in England just before World War II was about to sweep across the world, Watchman Nee expressed in prayer the meaning of having Christ as our 'first love.' Japan had invaded China, and his country was in the beginnings of a devastating war, but this is the way he prayed as he sat with a Japanese speaker on the platform (Mr. Nee was Chinese); the war havoc in China was fresh in everyone's mind, and when his turn came he led the meeting in intercession for the Far East in terms that to many of us back there in the thirties were a revelation. It was a prayer that few who were privileged to be present forgot.
Nee's prayer: "The Lord reigns: we affirm it boldly. Our Lord Jesus Christ is reigning and He is Lord of all; nothing can touch His authority. It is spiritual forces that are out to destroy His interests in China and Japan. Therefore, we do not pray for China, and we do not pray for Japan, but we pray for the interests of Thy Son in China and Japan. We do not blame any men, for they are only tools in the hand of Thine enemy. We stand for thy will. Shatter, O Lord, the kingdom of darkness, for the persecutions of Thy Church are wounding Thee. Amen." End Quote.
Watchman Nee was a devout Christian whose writings enriched and sparked me spiritually from the time I first read his works, over 30 years ago now. He understood that no one stands guiltless before God on his own strength, but because of the blood of the Lamb, we are declared to be, "Not guilty, redeemed, and the righteousness of God in Christ." It is not important whose side God is on, but rather to know that in the kingdom, we all are on His side!
There's a story found in the book of Joshua which illustrates this point very well. Under Joshua's leadership, Israel had crossed the Jordan at flood stage and had pitched camp on the western border of the river, at Gilgal. There, Joshua obeyed commandments which had been ignored for 40 years: "All the people that came out (of Egypt), had been circumcised, but all the people born in the desert during the journey from Egypt had not. The Israelites had moved about in the desert forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the LORD. For the LORD had sworn to them that they would not see the land that he had solemnly promised their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So he raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed" (Joshua 5:5-8).
Because these men had not been circumcised, it follows that they could not have kept the Passover Feast during the 40 years in the desert, because only circumcised Israelite males could partake. On the western side of the Jordan, after they were circumcised, two important events happened: 1) they celebrated the Passover; 2) "And on the morrow after the passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate of the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year" (Josh. 5:10-12). It was a rite of passage. God had kept them safe, fed them, and sustained them, declaring through Moses, "During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God" (Deut. 29:5-6).
Before they crossed the Jordan, God had given first to Moses, and then to Joshua a clear mandate: "Drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess" (Num. 33:52-53). They were to put the inhabitants to the sword and take their land. This sounds barbaric to us, for we would never invade a sovereign nation and destroy their citizens in the name of the Lord, would we?
Joshua had specific instructions about the destruction of Jericho, a walled city not far from Gilgal. Most of you will remember this thrilling account of what God did for Israel from your Sunday School class days, but in case you haven't read it since then, here it is: "Then the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in" (Josh 6:2-5).
Before they got to the city, however, there's an event which I consider prophetic for us today: "Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?" The commander of the LORD's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so" (Josh 5:13-15). Some believe that the man with the drawn sword was an angel; others believe he was the Lord Himself. Either way, his answer seems puzzling, given the situation and their specific orders from the Lord.
God had told Joshua to drive out the inhabitants of the land, the "ites," as I sometimes call them: "When my angel goes before you, and brings you in to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces" (Ex. 23:23-24). That certainly does not sound like the Lord was on their side, does it? And yet, the Commander of the Lord's army stated that He was not for either side. What does this mean?
Consider with me the principle of election. God has always worked through a remnant, the elect, to serve His purposes. Abraham was the first of the elect (Gen. 12:1-3), God's chosen servant in that hour. His descendants were God's chosen people, out of whom came the Messiah, the Manchild (Rev. 12:5), individual and corporate through whom God will restore all creation to Himself. In Christ, God's election includes everyone: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall ALL the nations be blessed" (Gal. 3:8).
Notice that Paul's interpretation of the gospel is quite a bit different than what you hear from most pulpits in the land today. I used to tremble at so called "gospel meetings" in my youth, because they consisted of the laying on of guilt, fear of eternal hell fire and damnation, and what I must do to avoid such a calamitous end. The Gospel is GOOD NEWS, but I never heard any of that until I met Harry Robert Fox, who was the first one who shared with me God's love for all mankind and His will that none should perish! (II Pet. 3:9). This Good News is still not accepted by many Christians.
But back to the plains of Jericho, and God's statement that He was on neither side, it seems to me that all confusion about that melts away as quickly as a frost in June when we consider that He knows the end from the beginning. He always knew that man would sin and that He Himself would pay the price for it (Rev. 13:8). He knew also that death is NOT, nor ever has been, the end of the story. While I'm on that topic, the Spirit revealed another fascinating proof of this truth in an unlikely place, the story of Saul consulting the Witch of Endor.
At this point in Israel's history, King Saul was in disfavor with God because He did not utterly destroy the Amalekites as Samuel had instructed him to do. Taking Abiathar the priest and the ephod with him, David had fled from Saul's court because of his murderous rages against him (I Sam. 23:6). [The ephod worn by the high priest held the Urim and Thummim, by which the priest could ascertain God's will. It was like a toss of the dice. According to my NIV Bible study note on Ex. 28:30, "If Urim, ("curses") dominated when the lots were cast the answer was "no,", but if Thummim ("perfections") dominated it was "yes." In any event, their "every decision" was "from the Lord."] This left Saul out in the cold, since the ephod was with David. When the king of Israel sought divine assistance against the Philistines, "the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets" (I Sam. 28:6).
Desperate, Saul went to Plan "B," asking the medium (witch) at Endor for spiritual counsel. Like everyone who seeks advice from the occult, he got more than he bargained for. Witchcraft was punishable by death under the Law, and Saul had ordered that mediums and spiritists be cut off (killed), so the witch was not thrilled to see him. Nevertheless, because he promised her safety, she called up the spirit of Samuel, who was not thrilled about seeing him either. As I was rereading this last week, the prophet's words jumped out at me. After chastising Saul for disturbing him, and repeating what he had said before about God's displeasure with him, Samuel prophesied once more to Israel's beleaguered king: "The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me" (I Sam. 28:19). Within that really bad news for Saul is some very good news. The bad news is he would surely die the next day, which he did, but the really good news was that he would be with Samuel.
This is yet another proof that the punishments and judgments of God were for this earth and did NOT last beyond this life. Samuel was most surely not roasting on an eternal spit in hell, when he assured Saul that "tomorrow you and your sons will be with me." This confirms my experience, that the gospel is written everywhere in scripture, unexpectedly even in the Old Testament, but it takes the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see it. As always, God opens the eyes of the elect first, to comfort and sustain us, as we are empowered to preach the gospel to every creature.
In his time of meditation, Lenny got a glorious word of explanation about how this is done. God told him that just as an isotope of cobalt placed in the body of a cancer patient emanates enough radioactivity to eradicate cancer cells, so the Holy Spirit He has placed within us has nullified our carnal nature and now emanates His righteousness, pulsating through us to all men. There is no side but God's in this battle! To me, this is a living translation of what Paul wrote to Titus: "For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of ALL men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:11-14). Though some use this verse to admonish us to try harder to live sober, upright and godly lives, the verse is very clear that it is the GRACE OF GOD which trains us to renounce religion, (equated with worldly passion). How do we do that? Not by religion, but by the indwelling glory of God in Christ emanating from us which brings freedom to the anxiety ridden masses, to Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Muslims, and even terrorists, so that "ALL men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created ALL things" (Eph. 3:9).
Father, we thank You that we are saved BY His Life, hidden IN His Life, and called TO PROCLAIM His life to the creation. Clothed in Your glory, we are no longer servants but sons of the living God. Make us emissaries of Your peace and unconditional love to the hungry world. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail in MO)
"The Urim and the What?"
The Glory Road
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This page was uploaded to the web on 10/27/04
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/19/08.