06 April 2022
A critical element in tribulation is the heightened activity of demons and angels. Tribulation, like all things coming from the Father's hands, is redemptive to those who are open to Him. However, it polarizes by driving farther from Him those already too hardened against Him. Only He can distinguish.
Tribulation is clarifying. Sorrows help us to filter out things that really don't matter. The New Testament in particular is very open in teaching us that trials should serve to drive us into the arms of the Father. We learn better what He has placed in our hands, and what we should do with it, but we also discover what is not in our hands.
How many times was obedience, and not outcomes, the issue in Scripture? Abraham took his son up on Mount Moriah (where the Temple was built a millennium later), not because the sacrifice was the point, but the obedience. Elijah discovered on Mount Sinai that the mighty miracles -- horrific storms, fires and earthquakes -- were not that important, but that he obey the Lord, even if it killed him. Several times Israel went to battle at God's behest and lost, because the only true victory is faith to act when we don't understand what God is doing.
We understand that the Covenant of Moses had a law code; that much was obvious. What we don't seem to understand is that the whole thing was born in faith. The law code was for those who didn't yet understand faith. God had great things to accomplish through that Covenant, and it required both the heroes of faith and the mass of fools who never rose to faith. We can be sure the faith leaders of Israel often despaired of understanding why they were burdened with caring for a mass of hard-hearted idiots.
Go on and take another lap around Mt. Sinai
Til you learn your lesson
Till you stop your whining and you quit your rebellin'
Till you learn to stand in your day of testin'
By trustin' and obeyin' in the Lord ("Walkin' Sinai" by Alfred Poirier)
The biggest flaw we face as believers is assuming that we can and should understand everything God is doing. It's not the desire to understand that's wrong; it's the assumption that we can grasp it with intellectual clarity. We tend to act as if our talents and our human experience is sufficient to decide things. We turn ministry into a profession, and expect things to go well enough because we have this cultural background that makes so much of human assessments. We become convinced that a pastor lacking a masters degree is incompetent to lead a certain sized church body, never bothering to actually ask the Lord. We presume upon His plans.
Who would have chosen the younger cousin of Jesus to write the final Revelation in Scripture? He didn't have much education, and his Greek writing was schoolboy level, at best.
We must learn to tolerate in our flesh things that challenge our faith. One of the greatest challenges is dealing with people who seem to our flesh a drag on the business of communion and fellowship. And just what do you suppose you were when you first got involved in church? How many saints of God had to tow you along to keep the whole thing from coming apart?
The mission of the church can scarcely be put into words. It is not that nifty mission statement you can draft for publication. The mission is to be an incubator for something that cannot possibly be scheduled. There is nothing to accomplish, in that sense. There is no objective. What God requires is that we live and tolerate the tension, and that while individuals here and there graduate to their next level of faith, there will never be a graduation for the body as a whole until Christ comes back.
If you do not understand the continuity between the Covenants of Moses and Messiah, then you'll never properly understand why there must be a law code attached to the latter. It's not expressed in the same fashion as with the former, but if you don't see that there are behavioral boundaries in Christ, then you encourage lawlessness. The purpose of that law code is to awaken a sense of holiness, a recognition of duty to Christ as King. Whether the individual soul then crosses over into grace is not in our hands. What is in our hands is that we tolerate patiently the incubation time unique to each soul.
The greatest burdens, and those truly worthy of our struggle, are the people God puts in our lives who keep interfering in our human plans. Some are demons, but some are children waiting to be born. We are seldom allowed to know which, and without the boundaries of a law code, we cannot know how to handle them. It is they who need the law; it's for them that we maintain an awareness of law. Don't build it on the social customs of the world; it's already there in Scripture.
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