Another way of asking this question is to ask if I can lose my salvation. Or maybe we can phrase it as follows: What will the LORD do to ensure that I will not lose that which He promised me I will receive if I follow His commandments? It might be surprising to you that you are suffering while everyone tells you that you should be living as an overcomer in victory. I am aware of the fact that it might be difficult to provide a correct answer to this question, as correct might be influenced by your own doctrine, but I will try and give a biblically correct answer.
Earlier this morning, Hettie and myself were chatting about a case where we had to give direction to someone who was looking for answers. The one thing that stood out to both of us was the fact that people can cling to a time where they knew that they served the LORD, and does not like to be told to change their lives to fit in with what the Bible wants from them.
What do I mean? In the next article I wrote about what it is like to be an overcomer. Those are the only people that will inherit what the Bible declares. But what happens when I find myself short of those requirements? What happens to me now?
The history of Israel.
Let us look at Israel’s history again, and what messages and pointers we can gleam from their lives. Remember that the LORD chose only Israel and that we must choose to become part of His nation. This will then guide us as to how we must act, and how the LORD will respond to our actions. When Israel entered into Canaan, they were under the leadership of Joshua. Under his leadership Israel served the LORD, and did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. Joshua however warned Israel that they should not turn away from the LORD, and they even built an altar to confirm their words before Joshua’s death.
After his death Israel entered into the Judges period where the LORD would raise people on an as required basis. These judges would rule over Israel for short periods while they were attacked by outside nations. This was the time of Gideon, Deborah and Samson. But why did the LORD allow Israel to be attacked by foreign nations?
We read in the second chapter of Judges that the LORD sent an angel to speak a curse over Israel, as they did not kill the local people of Canaan, as instructed by the LORD. Israel decided that the Canaanites and Azurites and other nations were not so bad and that they could be used as slaves, so why kill them. What does the Bible say? Judges 2:1 “And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. 4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.”
Many years later the elders asks Samuel, who was Judge, high priest and prophet at that time, that they wanted a king like all the neighbouring nations. The LORD warns them against getting a king, and informs Samuel that Israel did not reject Samuel, but they rejected the LORD. The LORD then declares that the kings will be hard on them and that he will take their children fro himself, their tithes he will lay claim to and that they will have to work for him. Israel still prefers this lifestyle as they do not want to be personally responsible to the LORD.
The Bible informs us that during the times of the kings, life was both good and bad for them. If the king did what the LORD wanted, like David, they were prosperous, but when the king did his own thing like Ahab, it was bad news for them. But the LORD never gave up. He sent prophets to Israel and called on them to repent from their wicked ways and turn back to Him. If they did not head to these calls, He would reject them. Some of the prophets like Isaiah and other like Jeremiah were killed, while others were jailed. During this time in history we find that only Judah still served the LORD and all the other tribes were serving their own gods. The people in Jerusalem wanted to go back to Egypt as they found that more acceptable that serving under the Babylonians. Some decided to do that and they captured Jeremiah and took him with. The one thing we read about this time is that none of those people who went to Egypt, returned to Jerusalem. What does the Bible tells us about this event? Jeremiah 44 verses 26 to 27: “Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The LORD GOD liveth. 27 Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.” Nobody that caused Israel to go back to Egypt ever returned to Jerusalem.
Once the people that went to Babylonia returned, Judah never had their own king again, and were they ruled over by foreign kings. That is why the Jews were expecting a real earthly king when Jesus came, as they expected Him to free them from their earthly problems. They expected Him to rise up and free them from Roman rule; they expected Him to be crowned king and not to die on a cross.
An interesting snippet of information is that during the time of the kings in Israel, David was the last person anointed as king by the LORD. All the kings after him were either self appointed or appointed by their fathers.
How do we interpret this history for today?
How does this passage in history affect what is happening today, and what should we learn from it?
Once we decide to take possession of Canaan, we must also of necessity do what the LORD stipulates. If I still have areas in my life that I need to bring under His jurisdiction, I must do it. I cannot declare that it will not have any effect on me. No, I must break with it completely or face being tormented by it. Remember Israel also thought that they did not have to kill all the other nations, but the LORD cursed them for this. Originally He would have destroyed it for you, but now you will be free from it for periods of time, but it will torment you.
These circumstances were also found in the early church. Everyone did what the apostles taught him or her. No wonder Peter had 3000 people join them on the day of Pentecost. These people lived together every day, eating together, praying together and worshipping together. This church lived the life the Israelites lived under Joshua and the early Judges. Paul and the disciples also had to warn the early church against becoming timid, and falling away. The same thing happened when Abimelech rose up and appointed himself as head of Israel. We know that in the time period 300 – 400 AD people rose up and appointed themselves as head of the Church.
Some of these, like Constantine, even paid people to get baptized, and changed pagan cathedrals and priests into “Christian” places of worship. This pointed to the introduction of the period of the kings in Israel. This will also happen in my own life if I do not break with sin completely.
This is the time when you decide that it is good to have someone as your cover, because you cannot be responsible to the LORD yourself. No, you want someone else to decide for you what is wrong and what is right. This will then allow the LORD to deal with you dependant on what your “king” will do. If he is like David, you will be blessed, but if he is sinful like Ahab, you can expect hard times. Sometimes we are born into this situation as we were born in a household where the parents were already subjected to an earthly “king”. But what did the LORD proclaim a king will be entitled to? 1 Samuel 8 verses 9 – 18: “Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. 10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. 11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. 13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. 14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. 15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. 16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. 18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”
These were not good words, but Israel accepted it. The same applies to us today. The king took that which originally was meant for the Levites, and he decided how to spend it. Even David decided that he will build a temple for the LORD, which Solomon did, but David decided how the Levites would serve in the temple, what instruments people would play etc. This is not accusing David of anything bad, but showing that David did as the LORD proclaimed through Samuel. That is why when the king served the LORD, Israel did great, but also if the king served other gods, Israel suffered.
The same applies to us today. The leadership at church will decide how and where your offer or tithe will be used. The largest part will be used to pay for the salaries of the full time staff. (See verse 15 above) You are not allowed to decide for yourself anymore, no you will have to accept what your leaders decide. You will have to subject yourself to their teachings and rules, even if it clashes with what you believe in, as you have decided to subject yourself. You gave up your freedom, and chose to subject yourself. Now the leaders will decide who they will appoint into leadership positions. They will however be from your sons and daughters, but will not be appointed by the LORD. They will work for the leader and do what he wants them to do. I am not saying that your congregation is from Satan or something. No, they are only doing as was prophesied by Samuel. I am also not saying that you won’t go to heaven if you stay there, as even in David’s time and thereafter, the LORD still maintained that each one of us has a personal responsibility, and that is what we will be judged on.
In church history we find various prophets trying to bring the church back to the LORD. These people points to people like David, Isaiah, Joel and Amos, who tried to bring Israel to follow the LORD again. Eventually in church history nobody was safe anymore and people had to flee for what they believed. Think about the French who fled to places like South Africa for what they believed.
The same applies to us today. How many people have been “killed” by the church in our day and age? People who question what the church preaches, or does not agree with the local pastor. It happened to Isaiah, so why do we expect it to be different in our day and age? You now have to make a choice. Either you go back to Egypt, or you go to Babylonia. How do I know the difference? If I decide that it does not help at all to be a Christian, or if I decide to serve the LORD according to my own preferences, then I have decided to return to Egypt. You see the LORD has to fit in with the way I believe, with my lifestyle, as I know the difference between right and wrong. Remember one thing, and that is that those people who decided to return to Egypt never saw Jerusalem again.
People like a Charles Finney or a Wesley who called on the Church to repent and follow Jesus again portray this time to us. This is one reason why a denomination cannot make a difference in peoples lives, because if Christianity was a movement, the LORD would have used politicians or terrorist groups to do the work of the Church. But He wants like in the days of Israel, to come and make His home amongst us. So if you break with everything that is not from the LORD, He will come and live with you.
How did it happen that Israel was captured by the Babylonians and exiled? We read the following in Jeremiah 21 verse 8 and 9: “And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith Jehovah: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out, and passeth over to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.” The LORD asks Israel to turn their backs on their king and follow Him. They have to join forces with the Chaldeans in order to keep their lives. Why? Because membership of a denomination will not get me to heaven. No, I have to make a choice to follow the LORD in every way even if He tells you to break with the doctrines and confessions of your church. For everyone else it looks as if you are joining forces with the devil, but if you don’t do it, you will lose your eternal life. This passage is also a confirmation of a similar passage in Revelation 18 verse 4: “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
The call for today.
I believe that we are living in this timeline today. A time when people have to make a choice again to serve the LORD. If you choose not to put yourself under His jurisdiction, you will end up like the rest of Judah who never saw Jerusalem again. How do I know that for sure? There comes a day when you realise that the message you receive at church is not the message of the Bible. If you don’t agree with them, then you have to leave. One of the messages we hear today is that of mainstream clergy not believing in the virgin birth of Jesus. Those professors cannot believe that God would send His only Son to die for us. They tell us that homosexual behaviour is acceptable as even pastors are homosexual. That Mohammed was sent to save the Muslims, that we are in need of a new bible that proclaims only what we believe. We live in an era where a pastor I know declared that he saw straight through someone in church who had some uncommon business practices, but that the LORD protected him from such a person. He forgot about the passage in Ezekiel 34 where the Bible declares that the LORD holds him responsible for all the members of his flock. So the LORD has to do the calling once more, and that is for you to leave the kingdom of man, and follow Him.
The biggest sacrifice you will have to make is to leave everything behind. Like Israel had to do when they went with the Chaldeans, we have to leave everything behind, and put our trust in the LORD to provide for our every need. You cannot keep a backdoor open just in case the LORD does not come through for you, no you have to abandon everything. You have to hand over everything to Him, and trust Him to do the right thing for you. He will do it.
The time Babylonia is not an easy time. You have to hold on to the LORD only as everyone will tell you that this is not from the LORD and will confront you. You will be lonely. I know of a large number of people who are currently finding themselves in Babylonia. Like a Daniel people call on you to declare their dreams, you get glimpses of what heaven is like, but it is a lonely road. But we know from history that there will come a day when you will be called on to rebuild the temple of the LORD. A day when Jesus will call on you to build His temple following His instructions. I believe the time is coming when we will move into the era described for us in Ezra and Nehemiah where people are being raised up as leaders for His church to take possession of Israel as described in Jeremiah 30.
If you feel that you cannot make this move out from under an earthly king in Jerusalem to Babylonia, remember this was the word that the LORD gave to Israel before they had to make that choice. Isaiah 41 verse 10 to 20: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13 For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 “See, I will make you into a threshing-sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. 16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel. 17 “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. 18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. 19 I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, 20 so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it”.
We all expect revival, but revival did not come through a king of Israel. No, the Bible teaches us different. The book of Ezra puts it into perspective for us: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”
I believe that we are living in this time where Jesus is standing with open arms, pronouncing that the time has come for us to rebuild Jerusalem. He is calling on us to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem before He can descend with the New Jerusalem. This is my wish, and I am convinced that this is what the LORD is waiting for.
After Israel returned from captivity, they were ruled over by other nations. But this was the time the LORD used to teach them to wait for Jesus to come. This was a time when they expected the Messiah. To us it is a time of preparing ourselves for the second coming of Christ. A time when we have to build up our defences, our Jerusalem walls. I know that this is what the LORD desires.
What a time to look out for. Remember just one thing, and that is to realise that you must expect a Saviour, not an earthly king as Israel expected.
I want to end of this article with Isaiah 59 and a portion of Isaiah 49.
“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. 4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper. 6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. 8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. 9 ¶ Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. 11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. 15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. 16 ¶ And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence. 19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.”
Isaiah 49: “8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. 10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. 11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. 12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. 13 ¶ Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.”