Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing (Matthew 23:37, NIV).
ON GOD’S IMPENDING JUDGMENT
Of late, there are many preachers and teachers talking about the need for believers to “…humble themselves and pray and seek (God’s) face and turn from their wicked ways, then (He) will hear from heaven, and…forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
And the times seem over-ripe for such a mandate.
Wherever a believer stands on the specifics of “end times” prophecy, one thing is clear to all, just now, and to the world at large: “things ain’t what they used to be” in many spheres of human activity.
If there is to be much time left, and if the land is to be yet “healed” before the prophecies of the Tribulation period ensue, the mandate to humble ourselves, repent, and pray is of some urgency.
The world, by all accounts, is vastly “darker” in terms of morals, politics, and social stability.
Articles on how to minimize stress and boost the immune system proliferate by the day as people try to maneuver emotionally, mentally, and spiritually amid wars, chaos, and the deterioration of civility.
Few doubt, any more, that we are living in a hot mess that doesn’t seem to let up.
Thus, the Chronicles passage surfaces frequently as believers are urged to do our due diligence to salvage what may be salvaged, emphasis on “may”.
Prophecy indicates, of course, there will come a time when even God says, “Enough is enough” and commences with His judgments on earth (many facilitated, no doubt, by the unintended consequences of mankind’s war machines) to be cut short only by God, Himself, lest “no flesh survive.”
Although the scoffers will continue to say, “things have always been the same…” there are enough instructive metaphors as well as historical events in the Biblical text to inform us that there is an end* as well as a beginning to all things terra firma. Prophecy scholars teach us what those are in the spiritual arena.
Jesus’ analogy of the birth pangs of childbirth comes especially to mind. A woman is pregnant nine months, give or take a few weeks, and the birth pangs begin.
So we have a Creator with a plan–in the natural and in the spiritual–that starts and ends.
And many believe we might be closer than we think to the latter, at least to the end of this dispensational “age’.
ON GOD’S EXTRAORDINARY LOVE
But what is on my heart just now is the other aspect of God that is always here, too, epitomized in the epigraph above.
God judges, yes, for our sake and the sake of creation, but He also loves–both, in equal parts.
And it is this love that Jesus illustrated when He stretched out His arms and His heart over the city of the ancients, the city of promise, the city of redemption, and mourned over what He knew was coming–not just for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but for all mankind. And He mourned for those who would not receive that love…….
But Jesus still gathers those who will receive Him today, who will accept his other summons, the one given on that cross, His arms, this time, affixed to the altar of his sacrificial love for us, His blood pooling beneath.
For Jesus came not only to reveal God’s justice in human form He also then became that justice, once and for all time to compensate for sins–our sins–and restore us to that place of rest and protection, by faith in Him, “under the shadow of His wings.”**
For “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, KJV).
By so doing, He left no doubt as to the extraordinary, perfect, and complete love of God.
In the words of the old hymn, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay.”
I encourage you to shelter in Christ today before God’s judgement begins, whenever that may occur.
*For a compelling view on the time factor of “signs of the times” at the end of this dispensation, I encourage you to take a look at a timeline chart based on the Metonic Cycle that researcher Claire Gumbs has developed. See what you think. It’s here.
**For more on Psalm 91–another popular, go-to Scripture passage these days, one of comfort and hope in dark times, here is a short, verse by verse, free, downloadable devotional booklet as my gift to you. Read, in there, real-time illustrations of God’s love, provision, and in some cases miraculous intervention, that you might find both encouraging and faith-building.