You Shall Know

“’Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the Lord” Ezekiel 37:14

This statement and some like it, such as “Then you shall know that I am the Lord” (v 13), are repeated some seventy times in the book of Ezekiel. The Lord is making the point that the foretelling aspect of prophecy includes when the prophesied events come to pass people will know that it is God who has spoken it and done it. The test of a true prophet is that what he foretells comes to pass exactly as he said (Deuteronomy 18:22). The majority of times this statement is used in Ezekiel relate to Israel but there are quite a few that relate to Egypt and other Gentile nations so that they also may know.

Three times Jesus told His disciples that He would be crucified and rise again (Matthew 29:19). He also predicted the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the Tribulation and His return (Matthew 24 & 25). The purpose in telling His disciples these and other things in advance was that they would not be discouraged when they occurred but rather encouraged.

In Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica he wrote concerning the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once more we see that the purpose in informing Jesus’ followers ahead of time was that they might “comfort one another with these words” (4:18; 5:11). If these words are not to be understood in the normal literary sense then no one would be comforted.

By neglecting the foretelling aspect of prophetic revelation we rob Christians of the comfort that comes from knowing that current and future events must come to pass and that they will not prevent, hinder or delay Jesus returning, establishing His earthly kingdom and creating a new heavens and a new earth. We are in fact encouraged and comforted as we see the day approaching.

This may be one of the compelling aspects of the ministry of the 144,000 witnesses spoken of in Revelation seven and fourteen and the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11. They would be able to point people to Scripture, and what will at that time be current events, to show that the God of the Bible is the One true God and that Jesus is the Christ. This will provoke many to believe and receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus did this Himself with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27). He confirmed it as a legitimate way to share the Gospel to all the disciples. He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).

We do a great disservice to God’s people if we fail to expound and teach the foretelling aspect of the prophetic Scriptures and we rob ourselves of joy, peace and comfort if we do not study and believe them.

Vultures and Darkness

“It came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram” (Genesis 15:17, 18).

It is not difficult for us to put ourselves in Abram’s place and to share his experience in this great event in the history of God’s redemptive program. However, there was much that was needed to pave the way for this day. This chapter begins with the words, “After these things …”

There was the first step of obedience by Abram to leave his homeland without knowing his destination. Chapter twelve records his arrival in Canaan. He also had to be separated from his family. Chapter thirteen records his eventual separation from his remaining family member – the worldly Lot.

Abram showed that he wholly trusted the Lord to fulfil His covenant when he rejected the world’s offer of a reward (Genesis 14) and by offering a tithe to Melchizedek, king of Salem. There was still an important experience for Abram to endure, one that we would not desire ourselves but one that we can expect.

In Genesis 15:6 we read that Abram already had God’s righteousness accounted to him so what follows is subsequent to his believing – what we would refer to as subsequent to salvation.

God asked Abram to offer animal blood sacrifices. When they were placed as God commanded, instead of heavenly visions as we might expect, there came vultures. Instead of showers of blessings came the vultures of doubt (v 11). Instead of God’s peace came the thief to steal away that which Abram was offering to the Lord. There was also the great darkness of depression (v 12) that seemed as though it would consume him. We offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) but somehow it doesn’t go to plan and we feel doubt and depression.

The vultures, the deep sleep, the horror of the darkness all made Abram feel absolutely helpless. Doubt and depression may visit us and make us feel helpless. If we did not experience doubt we would not experience having the truth confirmed. If we did not experience the darkness of depression we would not be able to experience the joy of assurance. Out of Abrams’s experience the Lord confirmed all that He had said to him and gave him assurance. God alone passed through the sacrificed animals and Abram knew that the fulfilment of the covenant was based solely on God’s faithfulness and ability.

Our ultimate deliverance from sin and from this fallen world is dependent solely on Jesus Christ. Neither doubts nor fears will prevent Him from delivering us into the presence of the Father. Doubt and depression may at times infiltrate our lives, but they cannot steal away the Gift of God (cf. Romans 8:38-39). Peter writes that we “are kept by the power of God through faith” (1 Peter 1:5).

Ask Anything

“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” John 14:13-14

These verses have been abused by some with the result that they have been led to believe that Christianity doesn’t work. When we read them it is important to read them in their context but also to read every word. There is a qualifier and the desired outcome given so that we might not misunderstand the limitations that apply to the invitation to come to the Father with our requests that carry a guaranteed positive response.

We are invited to pray always and in all situations and for everything but we are not given blanket assurance of a positive response.

The qualifier is “in my name.” After all, I am a child of God. No father who loves his child would give his child everything that they ask because some of their requests might result in harm.

Some years ago I was employed by a company that gave me the right to sign cheques up to a certain value without a second signature. However, there were limitations given not only in value but also the need to comply with procedures and instructions. It was not my money and it was not my name on the cheque. I was under delegated authority and I was required to act within the authority given.

In a similar way, when Jesus says “ask anything in My name”, He is saying that we must have authority from Him for the specific request, and we must abide by the limitations He has imposed if we are to have assurance of a positive outcome. When we fulfil the requirements He will do it. The outcome will be that “the Father [is] glorified in the Son.

We see an example of this kind of delegated authority in 1 Samuel 25 when David sent men to the foolish Nabal. “David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, ‘Go up to Carmel, go to Nabal, and greet him in my name’ (v 5). “So when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in the name of David, and waited” (v 9).

The young men only had authority to speak the words that David had given them. They were acting in his name under his authority.

While we readily see that there are limitations, we can also see that there is a huge scope for prayer. The scope is revealed in the Bible – we need to read and soak it up in order to know the multitude of things for which we may ask that are according to the will of God and therefore have an assurance of a positive response.

We could pray in accord with 2 Peter 3:9 or with the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 1:15-23 and many other prayers and invitations to pray. If it is in the revealed will of God we may ask with confidence of receiving that for which we ask (1 John 5:16).

By all means, pray with regard to everything – and in everything give thanks – because God wants to commune with us and He does answer prayer. In God’s grace he has revealed some matters for which we may pray and have an assurance of His positive response. That will encourage us to pray such prayers.

A Faithful Witness

“He who does not believe God has made Him a liar” 1 John 5:10

In Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18 we read that God cannot lie yet in this letter of John to Christians he twice writes that it is possible that people can make God appear to be a liar. In both cases it is when people contradict or disbelieve God’s word.

From the beginning Satan accused God of being a liar. He spoke through a serpent to cast doubt on God’s testimony. Since then he has had plenty of people who are willing to go out of their way to discredit the word of God. What is particularly sad is when people who go by the name of Christian also discredit God’s word by not believing it. This disbelief may be expressed in misrepresentation, distortion or outright rejection.

Any time we question the correctness of God’s word; anytime we interpret God’s word contrary to what it actually says; anytime we distort or misrepresent God’s word we are claiming that we are a higher and more reliable authority than God. This is the pinnacle of pride and calls God a liar. No one who truly loves Jesus Christ would knowingly do this work of the devil.

In almost a summary of all that he has written in his Gospel and in this letter John writes out in a nutshell the essence of what God has said that he wants us to be sure to believe, “and this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (vv 11-12). The key words in this passage are:

  • Given – Eternal life/Christ is God’s Gift
  • Christ and eternal life are one (cf. John 14:6). No Christ = no eternal life
  • Christ must be received not merely observed
  • Christ is equal with the Father

Anyone who does not believe this testimony of God is calling Him a liar. The evidence that a person does believe this will be seen in their life and word as John has described earlier in this letter.

John has written this letter so that those who have taken God at His word will have the assurance that they are truly born of God and have received Christ who is eternal life (v 13). Then, and only then, will that person know the “full joy” that John desires that all God’s people have (1:4).