As in the Day

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5)

This was the assessment of the Lord concerning mankind prior to the world wide flood in the days of Noah. By the grace of God Noah and his family were saved to accomplish God’s plan and purpose. The people of Noah’s day were warned by Noah’s testimony as he built the ark. Those who ignored his testimony went on as before and were drowned in the flood.

Jesus warned that His second coming will be in similar circumstances (Matthew 24:37f; Luke 17:26f). In these days God’s warning of impending judgment and the outpouring of His wrath against sin is through the faithful preaching of the Gospel of Christ as revealed in the Bible. Those who do not heed His words will carry on as before and be unprepared for His judgment. Those who receive it will be saved from wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Romans 5:9).

In the days of the Tribulation the Lord’s witnesses will be 144,000 Jews who will preach the Gospel to all nations and ethnic groups in all languages. Those who carry on as before and ignore the warning are destined to endure God’s wrath. Those who receive it will be delivered through it or from it by bodily death.

Jesus also gave the illustration of the city of Sodom (Luke 17:28f). Lot had been less than faithful in warning the people that their wickedness would bring an outpouring of God’s wrath. The judgment of God fell upon those people also.

Denying either of these historical events is to call Jesus a liar and renders one carrying on as before and unprepared for the wrath to come. His words are clear; when every intention of the thoughts of the heart of mankind is evil, then we can expect God to again judge the earth.

God is presently allowing Satan to test the hearts of nations and of individuals to reveal openly whether they are truly His or not. He is giving us an opportunity to see the world as it would be without His righteousness and without Him. Perhaps some will turn to Him and call for mercy.

Of that great city, Nineveh, the Lord said, “Their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2). Jonah was sent to warn them. With reluctance he went saying, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). Unlike in the days of Noah and the days of Lot the Ninevites had a change of heart and pleaded for God’s mercy. They believed the warning and acted upon it through prayer and fasting believing that God might show them mercy. God will always respond to genuine calls for mercy.

It is not difficult to see that our world is at the threshold. Those who know the truth have the privilege and responsibility of warning others. We don’t know whether the world, our nation or our neighbour will respond in the way the people in Noah’s and Lot’s days did or in the way that Nineveh did so let us persevere in sharing the Gospel of grace and see what the Lord does in the hearts of people and nations.

Surrendered to God’s Grace

“The eyes of both of them were opened” Genesis 3:7

This is the first time any person ever felt guilt. Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their guilt was futile. Covering for guilt and the ultimate removal of guilt would require the death of a substitute. Guilt caused them to flee God’s presence instead of coming to Him. Guilt still does this to those who are yet to be forgiven. Those who most vehemently oppose God are the one’s sensing guilt the strongest. Their sin is against God and only He can forgive their sin. To remain just, a satisfactory substitute would have to die. Adam had brought about a fundamental change in his being which must die. Only a new creation could allow him into God’s presence again.

With the guilt came conviction of sin for which Adam and Eve had no remedy but to flee God’s presence. This did nothing to diminish the conviction or remove guilt. Instead of desiring God’s presence they wanted to hide from Him. People who have believed Satan’s lie still prefer to hide from God.

We observe here that God pursued Adam and Eve until He caught up with them. He then gave them opportunity to have a change of heart which they eventually accepted. First they played the blame game. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent but in reality they were both blaming God. This characteristic of fallen people can be readily observed in all spheres of society throughout history and is still very evident today. It is, we accuse, always someone else’s fault!

When they eventually surrendered to the grace of God, God clothed them in animal skins thus picturing the means by which they and all who choose to believe what God has said will be saved. God is still in pursuit of people but sadly most will not heed His words of love, grace and forgiveness. Don’t be among them but be among those who humbly acknowledge their sin against God, turn to face Him and receive His gift of forgiveness. Paul wrote, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

One who has received the gift of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ will not run away from God when they sin. Having experienced His forgiveness before, they will return to Him whenever they are aware of sin (1 John 1:9). This is a mark of one who has truly chosen to reject Satan’s lie and believe what God has said.

In His Image

“Adam called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all living” Genesis 3:20

In the first chapter of Genesis we learn that God created man in His image, “Let Us make man in Our image” (v 26). Since God is a plurality of Persons yet one God He created mankind in that image, a plurality of persons yet one flesh (Genesis 2:23-24). Lest we fail to grasp this it is repeated in 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” To be in the “image” of God means to be a physical expression of God. We read this of Jesus in Hebrews 1:3, “who being in the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person …”

As the Persons of the Godhead are equal in every respect except role, so are the man and the woman equal in every respect except role. As the Persons of the Godhead are complementary, so are the man and the woman (Genesis 2:18). Marriage and parenthood are God’s means of revealing this and other aspects of His glory in the world. It should not surprise us that Satan is doing his utmost to mar or destroy this revelation of God.

How sad it is that people who are the objects of God’s love serve Satan’s interests and hatred of God. No matter what people may try to do, they cannot change that part of the role that God has given them by His determining their sex. Eve had the unique position of being the first mother; she is the only mother without any precedent to follow. She had no mentor or role model, no mother or mother-in-law to comfort and help her – or to tell her she was doing it wrong!

Adam honoured her position and role by the name he gave her. She is the mother of all persons who live or have ever lived on earth (except for Adam and herself, of course). She is the ultimate mother of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. On Mothers’ Day we reflect on the special place and role that mothers have within the family and society. Mothers are God’s gift, and they share with fathers the joy and privilege of revealing the glory of God into the world. Since we are corrupted by sin that revelation is marred; but as we allow Christ to live in us God’s glory is revealed, even if a little dimly. Many men and women, who have achieved much, credit their mothers as being the primary earthly reason for their achievements.

Let us give glory to God for this wonderful expression of Himself in His creation revealed in our mothers.

The Greatest Miracle

“For we have made lies our refuge and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves” Isaiah 28:15

Isaiah had been observing his own nation, Israel, and was writing concerning their situation in his day. As we consider this verse we can’t help but believe that he is observing and writing concerning our own nation as it is today. He is not describing every individual in Israel because we know that God always maintains a believing remnant. We would not apply these words to every individual in our nation either because there are those who are faithful to the Lord and His word. But nationally they suit all too well.

Jesus called Satan a liar (John 8:44) and Peter discerned that Satan had moved Ananias to lie (Acts 5:3). Paul recognised that people had “exchanged the truth of God for the lie” (Romans 1:25). He also wrote that because people choose to turn away from God, God will allow them to be deceived (2 Thessalonians 2:11).

Isaiah is saying what we know to be true. People believe the lie about Jesus Christ because it comforts them in their sin. Hence, lies become our refuge, our place of safety and comfort – but only in the short-term. It is easier for a sinner to believe the lie that God does not exist and that they will not have to give account for their lives than to deal with the truth. So they take “refuge” in the lie.

Secondly we hide from the truth by peddling things that are obviously lies. This is why people believe in evolution. It gives them, in their minds, a place to resist the truth and hide from it. Anyone who does some research desiring to know the truth will discover the great falsehood of the Theory of Evolution but it is a convenient hiding place for people who do not want to face the truth.

Psalm ten reveals the three presumptuous thoughts of the person who wants to conceal in their minds the truth by embracing a lie.

  1. I am okay, I am invincible (v 6)
  2. God is not interested or is dead (v 11)
  3. I will not be held accountable to anyone for my life (v 13)

These are all lies of Satan that people all too readily embrace because they love sin and do not want to face reality. Considering the long-term consequences it is staggering that anyone would choose to take refuge in lies and present falsehoods to their own mind and soul to escape thinking about the truth but such is that nature of sin.

Those who do want to face reality will face the Lord Jesus Christ and discover that He has borne their sin on the cross and is able, therefore, to forgive all their sin and, much more, cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The greatest miracle of all is that God is able to bring any sinner to repentance, most of all me, but He does and still is. Hallelujah!

A Glimpse into the Future

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb … The lion shall eat straw like the ox … The weaned child shall put his hand in the vipers den” Isaiah 11:6-9

Isaiah is giving us a glimpse of how the world will be when Jesus returns and establishes His earthly kingdom. The world Isaiah is describing is not the same as the one we observe and experience today. There has been an account of a vegetarian lion that refused to eat meat but that is considered an extraordinary circumstance. When Jesus reigns there will only be vegetarian lions. The passage tells us that leopards, bears and wolves will also be vegetarian. Cobras and vipers will not bite young children even if a child is unintentionally rough when playing.

In many respects this will be a return to the world as it was before the curse. There will be harmony among all the animals in Christ’s kingdom and people will be able to interact with them without fear of harm. This also means that animals can interact with people without fear of harm. Neither of these scenarios is possible at present.

Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin is the only reason that the curse can be removed. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! Because we have only lived in a world where the curse exists it is impossible for us to imagine exactly how a world where the effect of the curse has been significantly reduced will be. In this chapter Isaiah gives us a glimpse. Revelation twenty tells us that Satan will be bound and that resurrected Christians will reign with Jesus during that time. There are other passages in the Bible that add to the glimpse that Isaiah gives.

The most notable aspect of this period is not the restored earthly order among animals and people or even Satan being bound and unable to deceive people. The most notable aspect is that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” and “The Gentiles shall seek Him” (Isaiah 11:9, 10). We can only begin to imagine living in an environment where the most common topic of discussion is not the weather but Jesus Christ! All the inhibitions and distractions that plague us now will be wiped away.

Caution Advisable

“They are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” Revelation 16:14

People usually follow those who perform miracles whether real or illusionary. The reason is that they want the benefit of the miracle. They have no other interest in the person who performs such miracles. Sometime after feeding the five thousand Jesus said, “You seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). Jesus knew their heart and saw that they wanted what He gave but they didn’t want Him. Neither did they see any purpose in the miracle apart from their need.

Though Jesus did many signs, wonders and miracles, and multitudes followed Him at first, when they realised that following Him would cost everything they deserted Him. They left Him because they wanted the miracle and not Jesus himself. The miracles drew followers because they sought their own pleasure not because they had any interest in spiritual truth or in Jesus.

Signs, wonders and miracles will attract a large following. What the followers may fail to realise is that Satan and demons are also able to perform miracles. They counterfeit Jesus and the prophets in order to deceive and bring people into bondage. The sorcerers of Egypt, leading up to Israel’s exodus, were able to deceive Pharaoh and the Egyptians by duplicating the miracles of Moses (Exodus 7:11-13, 22; 8:7). False prophets could perform signs (Deuteronomy 13) and God’s people needed to be able to discern the origin of the signs.

In the New Testament there are several references to the satanic or demonic origin of miracles. Jesus affirmed it in Matthew 7:22; 24:24 and Mark 13:22. Paul also affirmed that Satan could and would perform signs and wonders in 2 Thessalonians 2:9. Apparently Judas who betrayed Jesus was able to perform miracles (Matthew 10:1-4) and the Pharisees believed that Satan could perform miracles (Matthew 12:24). In Revelation 13:13 we read that the demonic power behind the second beast is able to perform signs including bringing down fire from heaven.

The majority will follow the miracle worker seeking their own benefit. They will not give attention to the nature or purpose of the one performing the sign and will be deceived and brought into bondage. People who demand God perform signs or miracles are already in bondage. In the verse above (Revelation 16:14) we have one of the last expressions of this. Demons will perform signs with the result that people will follow them in a battle against God. The outcome is certain. Only the few who choose Jesus Christ and are discerning will not be deceived.

We must be able to discern the origin of miracles – or risk being deceived. Miracles do happen, but we should be careful in attributing origin; and we must be careful as to whether it is the miracle or Jesus Christ that we really want. In the tribulation those who attribute the signs of the demons to God will find themselves fighting against God. If we attribute miracles of satanic or demonic origin to God we will also find ourselves fighting Jesus Christ. Do not automatically attribute every miracle to God, be discerning!

Lying Wonders

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9)

Paul wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica that in the last days before Jesus Christ returns that great deceiver, Satan, will be as busy as ever trying to deceive people. Part of his repertoire will be “signs and wonders” or miracles. There is sufficient warning in the Bible to make us aware that not all miracles have their origin in God. In Deuteronomy 13 Israel is warned against assuming that all miracles are of heavenly origin; they may have another source. By what measure were they were told to test the author of the miracle? The measure given is the Word of God, the Bible.

On a number of occasions this writer has either heard of or observed events that were miraculous. Many of these carry the mark of God and are not contrary to the Word of God. However, there have been some in which the context reveals that they were not of heavenly origin.

Can Satan originate miracles? The Bible attests that he can. He was able to copy the first three miracles that Moses performed in Egypt (Exodus 7:12 – rods became serpents; v 22 – water to blood; 8:7 – increased the number of frogs). We should not assume that these were the only miracles he originated. Satan performed miraculous feats in the temptations of Christ (Matthew 4) and he will do so in the tribulation period in order to deceive people (Revelation 13:13).

There is every reason in Scripture for us to test miracles against God’s Word just as Israel was commanded to do and not just accept all miracles as being of heavenly origin.

Satan’s purpose in performing miracles is always to deceive gullible unlearned people, including saints, who are not well grounded in the Word of God. We ought not to be surprised when those in religions (even those nominally Christian) with a high degree of superstition in their make up are easily seduced but it is sad when true believers are seduced by a miracle that does not have its origin in God.

How can we discern the origin of a miracle? We may by careful study and comparison with God’s word. The alternative is to be deceived.