October 19, 2015

Depend on God, not my guesses and admit it when I don’t know

Ezekiel 38:1–39:24, Revelation 19:1–10, Job 38:12–24

Yesterday the Lord warned me about thinking that I know something when I do not. I was tested on that issue when a friend asked me a question about another friend. I nearly began speculating, but remembered what He said and admitted that I didn’t know anything concerning her inquiry.

Today, these warnings about my tendency to ‘guess’ continue. This time they involve a passage that speaks of the “latter days” – which theologians sometimes say refers to the time of Jesus’ return. Ezekiel writes about Gog and Magog, and how these unknown nations will descend on Israel. When that happens, God will come to their defense. He will give their attackers to birds of prey and beasts of the field to be devoured where they will fall. He will also send fire on Magog and others who assume they are secure, doing this so “they shall know that I am the Lord.”

He will also make His “holy name known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is coming and it will be brought about, declares the Lord God. That is the day of which I have spoken.” (Ezekiel 39:1–8)

The rest of the world will “see His glory and the judgment He has executed. The house of Israel shall know that He is the Lord their God, from that day forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with Him that He hid His face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword.” God says, “I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them.” (Ezekiel 39:21–24)

All of these things will happen. While theologians speculate what they mean, when they will occur, and try to figure out all the details, for me faith means simply trusting God. He knows what He is doing. Besides, what do I know about the mysteries of the future?

Much earlier, God challenged Job about what he knew. The Lord said, “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great! Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?” (Job 38:16–24)

Even though Job was a righteous man and blameless before God, he could not answer these questions. All the more do I tread on thin ice whenever I try to figure out things God has not revealed to me.

Yet some of His revelations are freely given, such as exciting prophecies about the future. I don’t know the day or the hour, but I do know the certainty that Jesus will return (God says so) and that I will be with Him forever.

John writes about seeing a vision from God about that grand future finale: “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.’ For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:6–10)

How do I know John didn’t make this up, or was having a dream? Because if he was lying or delusional, it is highly unlikely he would include the bit about the angel correcting his attempt to worship him. John’s honesty is verified by his humility.

For me, God re-emphasizes that I stop speculating and thinking I know things when I do not. His ways are far beyond mine. Besides, I’ve never been able to second-guess Him.

He also sets before me the value of honesty — and emphasizes what I already know; truth that might embarrass me is easier for people to believe that a lie that attempts to lift me above what I really am.

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