Jan's Journal, written 9/11/08.
"Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD" (Jer. 23:16).
This journal represents my personal search for peace in the midst of chaos. America is the greatest country in the world, and one reason for that is that each of us has the right to form and express our opinions without duress. What follows is where the Lord led me. Each of us has to seek Him for LIGHT to live by.
As the countdown to the election continues, I've been alternatively discouraged, amazed, perplexed, outraged, and now hoping it will be over before I tear out my hair and run screaming into the night. On top of the "true lies" spoken by the politicians themselves, there are the views of the political pundits, the incessant questions of the News Media, and predictably, the religious prophets who weigh in. All of that, especially the prophecies several have sent me, reminded me of Jeremiah's role in the affairs of ancient Israel, which like modern day America, had big problems to deal with. Then as now, there were those who prophesied out of their own minds and passed it off as wisdom from God.
Jeremiah prophesied during the end times for Judah, beginning with good King Josiah (640-609), and continuing throughout the reigns of his faithless sons, Jehoahaz (609), Jehoiakim (609-598), Jehoiachin (Grandson of Josiah, 598-597), and Zedekiah (son of Josiah, 597-586), Judah's last king. The ancient world was in chaos as Babylon, led by Nebuchadnezzar first besieged Jerusalem in 605 B.C., humiliating Jehoiakim and carrying off Daniel and his three companions to Babylon. God called Jeremiah to announce the impending destruction of Judah, which was the "covenant curse" chillingly spelled out in the agreement He had made with Israel at Sinai (See Lev. 26:31-33; Deut. 28:49-68).
The prophet said of his calling, "The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jer. 1:4-5). He protested the call from God, "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child" (Vs. 6). God replied, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth" (Jer. 1:7-9).
The thing I love about Jeremiah is his close relationship to God, and his willingness to tell his "sovereign Lord" how he felt about his assignments. So many Christians lie to God about their real feelings, under the guise of making positive confessions, or fear of reprisal, without realizing that if God is all knowing (omniscient), as we profess, He already knows how we feel. If God really is sovereign, then He is also in charge of this world and everyone in it. Jeremiah knew that at a deep level, but many Christians today, haven't "seen the light" about God's awesome power today.
For those of us who have had a revelation of God's reconciliation of all, there can be no question about the sovereignty of God. Shocking as it seems to those who believe there is something man can do to please God and comply with His requirements, Paul said quite the opposite: "For God consigned all men to disobedience THAT He might have mercy upon all" (Rom. 11:32). That flies in the face of every sermon most of us have ever heard during our lives. You know the ones I mean, those which spelled out our responsibility to whip ourselves into the kind of person who would be pleasing to God.
In Jeremiah's time, because they still lived under the Old Covenant, that kind of preaching was appropriate, and in fact, shows up in many of the writings of the major and minor prophets: "O Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?" (Jer. 4:14). And this, "A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?" (Jer. 5:30-31).
Emboldened by Moses' confrontations with God and Jeremiah's as well, I learned long ago to tell my Father exactly how I feel, for He alone, can do anything about it. Recently, I poured out my fears about the horrible situation our country faces, and the conflicting rhetoric we hear from the political parties. I'm tired of labels such as "conservative" and "liberal" being slapped on people, like some divine judgment. A friend I've been dialoguing with for several years now wrote recently about this and I want to include part of his e-mail here.
He said, "Jan, You were the first person in the flesh who, to my understanding, presented Jesus as a "bleeding heart liberal." I mean, OBVIOUSLY, Jesus is a bleeding heart liberal, but you sort of made me evaluate Jesus in the context of the political arena.
"We hate labels: Conservative, Liberal, Progressive, Moderate, Faith-based, Right, Left, Independent. They're all pejorative and counterproductive for people of reconciliation.
"When I proudly stand in the "conservative" label, I say, among other things, that I'm standing on the god who is the same yesterday, today and forever and that god is, OBVIOUSLY, the god you should be serving, AND, to the extent that you are not standing on and serving that god, you are of the devil (as carnal minded as the pagan of pagans).
"When I proudly stand in the "liberal" label, I say that I am standing on the god who is spirit, and spirit blows wherever it pleases; yes, you may hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going, AND, to the extent that you are not embracing this god, you are of the devil (as carnal minded as the pagan of pagans).
"When I proudly stand in the "faith-based" label, I imply that others aren't standing in it ("Faith") and they couldn't be as right as I am because their foundations are wrong as they inherently come from a place of "lack of Faith." They are heathenish, atheistic, non-knowing folks who don't know their way out of the world's paper bag of course, we deny our own moments of the same (which we've all had) in the assertion.
"Quite frankly, it makes us squirm to "label" anyone in such a way so as to preclude them having a morsel, however small it may be; however covered with dung; however nibbled-away-at and marginalized, of God; isn't there a scrap of the Good Stuff that flows from their being that we seek the Eyes of God to not only see, but to bring the Light upon, when Opportunity presents itself as an Agent of Salvation?
"No matter what label was stuck to us at the moment when we were at our worst: drunk, whore, loser, godless can't we relate to a label that didn't capture who we were or are. And, if we can, then, why, in the name of God, would we so label another?" End Quote.
Though I can't remember saying it to our friend, Jesus certainly was a liberal, who came to shake up the status quo, upset the religious apple cart, and to seek and save the lost: "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:7). The Pharisees, the by-the-book, law givers (though not law keepers), were the conservatives in Christ's day. They crucified Him because He threatened the traditions they held dear, as they preached for commandments the doctrines of men. I am very tired of the exaggerated religiosity of today's conservatives, whose statements imply, "A vote for us, is a vote for God. We're not like those slimy liberals."
This political propaganda reminds me of the Pharisee and the tax collector, found in Luke 18:10-14: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Lenny and I do not identify ourselves with either the liberal or conservative designation, or with either political party. We follow the Lord's leading in all arenas, including which candidate we vote for. That brings me to my conversation with the Lord this week. Some of it was verbal; some was intuitive; and some was scripture which floated across my mind. God is the ONLY One who could answer my heart's ache. Since He IS sovereign, and that has been burned into my soul at a cellular level, then why, I asked Him, has He allowed all the problems that have nearly brought this country to its knees financially, militarily, and politically? How did religion get such a strangle hold on politics?
Long ago, Isaiah understood how this could happen, why people followed after earthly rulers, rather than God. To address this abomination, he declared that the government is upon His (the Lord's) shoulders, and "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end" (Isa. 9:6-7).
Our Father invited me to remember that He IS sovereign, and that He operates by knowing the "end from the beginning." That means that what we see with our natural eyes is not always what it is, for the Spirit moves invisibly to bring about the Kingdom of heaven on earth.
I'd been thinking about Jeremiah for about a week, and though I didn't mention him, the Lord knew that I'd been thinking about the false prophets, and the difficulty of standing up against the status quo. He said to me, "My first Covenant was with the nation of Israel; the New covenant is written on the hearts of my children. Don't you know that there were some in Israel who followed me even then?" His answer reminded me of the one He gave Jeremiah: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD" For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Jer. 31:33-34).
The impression I had from this conversation with the Lord is that under the Law, God's dealings were with the nation of Israel as a whole. Sadly, when the king was evil, so were the people. Under grace, each man comes to God not depending upon his deeds for justification, as was true under Law, but by the blood of the Lamb and the indwelling Christ.
Many Christians hang on every word spoken by the self proclaimed prophets today, and when they delve into politics, these Christians take it to heart and e-mail the words to everyone they know. Paul had a lot of say about prophecy, which is one of the gifts of the spirit. He made a very misunderstood statement in I Cor. 13:9: "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." Some say this verse proves that there are no gifts of the Spirit today because, they believe, "the perfect" has come, by which they mean the Bible (King James Version, of course).
Clearly, the Bible with its many, many different translations is NOT perfect, but rather represents the letter of the law, about which the Apostle declared, "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (II Cor. 3:6). Bearing that in mind, I asked God WHAT is the "Perfect?" Since receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I had concluded that Jesus is the "Perfect" Paul referred to, and yet Jesus was very much present in Paul's ministry, as well as the gifts of prophecy, tongues, healing, etc. Paul also said about prophecy, that it was "for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort" (I Cor. 14:3). Too many times, prophets today seek to strike fear in the heart of the listener.
After 9/11/2001, the prophets dusted off their soap boxes and pontificated that this terrible tragedy happened to America because we sinned, forgot God, and this punishment was a call for us to repent. That was the kind of message God often sent via the prophets of old, but as Lenny would ask, "If Christ paid the price for the sins of the world, how can we be punished?" (John 1:29; I John 2:2). It is necessary to remember that the Old Covenant delivered at Sinai was a bilateral (two party) agreement between God and Israel. If they obeyed, He blessed them; if they sinned, He punished them (Deut. 28). The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the unilateral (one party) agreement God made with Abraham, when He promised on His name and by His oath that in Abraham's seed, all nations would be blessed: "When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself... Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged" (Heb. 6:13, 17-18).
We can take any promise made by God to the bank, but anything that depends on our faithfulness is doomed to failure from the get-go. God's unilateral promise to Abraham is the means by which He plans to save everyone, for He is not willing that any should perish (II Pet. 3:9). A bilateral covenant could never save anyone, as the Law clearly demonstrated, because part of it depended on man's faithfulness.
The Lord answered my question, "What IS the perfect?" with John's statement, "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world" (John 1:9). I began to think about Light, it's function and benefits. The graphic in this writing says it all: "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). His light is our perfect Guide.
Therefore, when someone gives me a "Thus sayeth the Lord" for my life, my immediate response is, "Fine, when He tells me, then we'll both know." A son of God does not need to run to a prophet, pastor, or priest to find out God's will, plan, or orders. He only has to ask our "Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17).
Whether it's the person to vote for, or the church to attend, or the ministry to pursue, only God knows what each of us should choose. When we run to men, we get doctrine, when what our souls crave is Light, not law. A much beloved Psalm declares, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps. 119:105). I believe this verse refers to the "WORD of God" who became flesh and dwells among us (John 1:14). Only He can soothe our fears, calm our confused minds, and pour the Balm of Gilead on our troubled souls. As the chorus goes, "Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right." That was certainly my experience when I took my troubles to Him, and I came away richer, more peaceful, and more certain, that we have a Father and an Elder Brother who will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter what we suffered in the past, the challenges of the present, nor what we fear about the future. We serve an awesome God. He reigns and His power is the same today as it ever was. "but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin" (I John 1:7). God's Light is the perfect antidote to true lies and false prophets.
Labels are instruments of division, but sons of God are called to inclusion of all in the Kingdom and in our fellowship with each other and our Father.
Father, thank You for Your Covenant Promise to restore us to fellowship with You. We rest in Your sovereignty, Your grace, and Your unconditional love. You are our ever present help in time of trouble. We love You! Show us the way to be Light bearers in a troubled, darkened world. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This writing was uploaded to the web 09/15/08,
By Jan Antonsson, webmeister,
and last updated 11/18/08.