How should we respond to end-time events? With optimism, commitment and by aligning ourselves with God’s purposes! Derek speaks prophetically of and to young people giving their all to serving God in His end time army.
It’s good to be with you again as we continue to study together our exciting theme, “Facing the Future.”
This is the third week now that we’ve been looking together at the picture which the Bible paints of this world of ours as we draw near to the close of the present age.
Yesterday I painted in the backdrop to the stage on which the closing drama of the age will be acted out. In this backdrop there were two contrasting color schemes: on the one hand, dark and somber; on the other hand, brilliant and luminous. This world and its people in darkness but the people of God in brilliant light.
I pointed out five ways in which we see events building to a climax:
First, darkness and light are both intensifying;
Second, the regathering and restoration of God’s people;
Third, the nations turning to God’s people for answers to their problems;
Fourth, the resources of the nations made available to God’s people to carry out their committed task; and
Fifth, an ever-increasing separation between the righteous and the unrighteous, leaving no room for neutrality or compromise.
Today I’ll be speaking about our response to this crisis situation: How should we respond? I want to suggest to you three ways in which I believe it is appropriate for us to respond to this situation that confronts us in the world: to the pressures, to the crises, to everything that we see around us and coming against us. I believe it’s urgently necessary for God’s people to know what is the appropriate response, what does God’s Word reveal. And I’m going to suggest to you three ways in which it’s appropriate to respond.
The first is optimism. I believe we’re obligated to be optimists in the face of everything that we see. In Luke 21, Jesus sketched out a very clear picture of events and the trends that would lead to the close of this age and He mentioned many of the things we’ve been speaking about and then, at the end of that discourse, in Luke 21:28, He said this:
“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
He didn’t say, “Get frightened.” He didn’t say, “Look for a hiding place.” He didn’t say to just plan some method of escape and concentrate on survival. His attitude was, “Look up, things are going to get better. Your redemption is drawing nigh.” It’s very important that we who are God’s people present to the world the picture of confident assurance because that’s going to impress them. That’s going to make them want to know what it is we have that they don’t have; that we can face these pressures and crises with such calmness and such confidence.
Some time earlier in these talks I gave the example of the optimist and the pessimist, the definition. They both walk into the same room; they see a glass on the table with a certain amount of water in it but their reaction is totally different. The optimist says, “The glass is half full.” The pessimist says, “The glass is half empty.” Well, we’re obligated to be optimists. When we look on the situation in the world and compare it with biblical prophesy, our attitude is: “The glass is half full.” In other words, so much of what God has predicted in the Bible has already come to pass, it gives us a firm assurance that the rest is going to come to pass. The glass is going to be filled up, it’s not going to be emptied. You see, all these events and trends confirm the reliability of the Bible. If they didn’t happen, we would have to say the Bible is an unreliable book. But because they are happening, though there’s much that’s evil and there are many pressures and forces against us, above all else they confirm that the Bible is a true, reliable, up-to-date book that has a message that’s relevant today. That’s vitally important.
All right. Our second response, I believe, can be summed up in one word: commitment, total, unreserved commitment to God. There’s one verse in Psalm 110:3, which I believe expresses this. The psalmist is speaking prophetically to the Lord and he’s speaking about events that will bring the age to its close and he says, addressing the words to the Lord:
“Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth.”
First of all, the Bible is realistic. It says it’s a day of battle. It’s not a day of peace, it’s a day of battle. And God has troops; God’s people are His army. This is revealed many places in Scripture, particularly in Ephesians 6. So, the psalmist says to the Lord, “Your troops will be willing on your day of battle.” Now, that translation doesn’t carry the full force of the Hebrew. What it actually says is, “Your troops will be free-will offerings.” You see, the picture is God’s people offer themselves to God without reservation; they put themselves totally at God’s disposal; nothing held back.
It isn’t really true that God wants your time or your talents or your money. If you give those to God and you think you’re doing God a favor, you’re deceiving yourself. God says, really, “What I want is you! And when I have you I have everything that you have.” In these closing days, God is not going to settle for a lesser commitment than YOU. Have you ever totally given yourself to God, without reservation, placed yourself at His disposal, that’s commitment. That’s the appropriate reaction.
And then I would just like to read an alternative translation for the latter part of Psalm 110:3:
“Arrayed in holy majesty from the womb of the dawn your young men will come to you like the dew.”
I have the firmest conviction that at the close of this age there’s going to be a great army of young men totally committed to Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, detached from the cares and the ambitions and the pride and the covetousness of this world, set apart to God, arrayed in holy majesty. They’ll break forth out of the darkness of the past ages like something out of the womb of the dawn and they will come to Jesus like the dew. You know, one of the most beautiful sights in nature is the dew in early dawn on the grass as the slanting rays of the sun first catch those little drops of moisture on the grass and every one of them sparkles and is radiant. That’s the picture of the youth that Jesus is calling to His side and to His service for this battle, the closing day of the age.
I’m no longer a young man but I want to challenge any young people that are listening to me and remember in God’s army there’s room for both men and women. Whatever they may say in the Army of the United States, they may have reservations about the enlistment of women but I want to tell you, in God’s army there’s room for men and women on the front line of battle. And you young people, if you’re listening, you make that commitment to God, you enroll in that army because you’re going to be on the winning side.
You see, I want to tell you, if you’re on the devil’s side, you’re backing a loser. And if I were you I’d change just as quickly as I could and enlist in the army of the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who’s going to win every battle that He ever fights.
I’ve spoken of two ways in which it’s appropriate to respond to the situation in the world for God’s people: the first is optimism, the second is commitment, total unreserved commitment. The third, which I believe goes along with those and follows from them, is to align yourself with God’s purposes. God has certain purposes He’s working out in the earth. If you align yourself with God’s purposes, you are as unshakable and as unsinkable as the purposes of God. 1 John 2:17 says this:
“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”
How true that is, the world is so temporary. Everything in it is passing away. It is impermanent, unstable, insecure. But the one who aligns himself with God’s purposes, the one who’s set to do the will of God, abides forever. He’s unshakable, nothing can overthrow him, nothing can overcome him.
Let me go back to a verse that’s become very precious to me, I’ve quoted it more than once in this series, Isaiah 46:10, where God says this:
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
So when you align yourself with God’s purpose, you’re aligning yourself with something that’s irresistible.
In closing, let me read a passage from Hebrews 12, about two kinds of kingdoms, the shakable and the unshakable. Hebrews 12, beginning at verse 25:
“See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken; that is, created things, so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
There are the two kinds of kingdoms: the kingdoms of this world that are shakable and being shaken and are going to go on being shaken more and more. And there will be no stability, no ultimate security in any kingdom or system of this world. Then there’s the unshakable kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the kingdom that cannot be shaken and we are urged by the psalmist to “be thankful...[to] worship God acceptably with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.” It would be very foolish to give yourself to a kingdom that’s going to be ultimately overthrown when you have the option to give yourself to an unshakable kingdom that ultimately will triumph over all opposing forces. Accept my counsel and enlist in the unshakable kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing with you how God’s purposes center in His people.