Will We Learn From History?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

This Saturday night, Jewish people around the world will mourn Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar year. Some of you may know that a lot of bad things have happened to the Jewish people on this date, the first of which was when the spies returned with an evil report of Canaan, the Promised Land, recounted in Numbers 13 and 14. Both the first and the second Temple were destroyed on this exact date, hundreds of years apart. The Crusades began on this day in 1095. The Jews were expelled out of England on this day in 1290, and again were expelled from Spain and Portugal on Tisha B'Av in 1492. And there are many more examples of this infamous day in Jewish history!

The number "nine" is sometimes associated with "judgment" or "fruit" in scripture. Not taking this too far, yet we may still see repeated expressions of the Lord's judgment through this recurring historical pattern. Moses warned, especially in Deuteronomy, of the terrible things which would happen to the Jewish people throughout history were they to abandon the Lord, worship false gods, and forsake His covenants. And He often used idolatrous nations who hated or were jealous of Israel, to bring judgment upon their disobedience, though they often went way too far and angered the Lord bringing His judgment against them as well.

But God's judgments are almost always tempered with His mercy and grace, for one constant purpose — and that is to bring people back to Himself! We see this in our own lives and in the history of nations throughout the world. But as the saying goes, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". And we have a powerful example of this in Tisha B'Av. Israel's idolatry brought God's judgment upon her. And as the Jewish people around the world are fasting in preparation for the observance of this "day of judgment", we may remind ourselves of our own past failures which we don't want to repeat!

Will we remember and learn from these past failures? We are not doomed to a fate of failure. If repentance is sincere and deep, we can avoid the judgments and consequences of past sins, and learn from history. If we seek the Lord to expose the roots of failure in our lives, and pray with faith for healing and deep repentance, trusting Him for the power to overcome the sinful nature…we really can avoid a pattern of judgment. Let's spend the time with Him now… so we don't need to return to Him through the terrible shame and sorrow of "Tisha B'Av."

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

He's coming as Judge, Are You Ready?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth, and My arm [z’roah in Hebrew] shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on My arm [z’roah] they will trust.

John 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,

Revelation 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.

On December 25, 1908, a newspaper in Messina, Silicy dared God to make Himself known by sending an earthquake. Three days later, the city was destroyed by an earthquake that killed over 84,000 people.

Do we really believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is returning soon? He is – He's coming back to judge this world and no one will escape His wrath except those whose sins are forgiven through living faith in His atoning sacrifice. The world in its increasing sinfulness, rejecting His Son, seems to be daring God to bring judgment. This historical event in Messina speaks with shocking clarity that the God of Creation is real, that He listens carefully to the statements we make about Him and the communications we express toward Him, (as individuals, cities, and nations), and that He is a powerful Sovereign King whose judgments are imminent and totally righteous.

Because of sin, we are all born destined to die. Every one of those 84,000+ people were corrupt from the womb and fated for death, so that when this dare came before the Lord in Heaven, He chose the moment to take them and reveal this serious and dramatic testimony of His judgment to all the world. By revealing His judgment as a warning, God shows His mercy to those who remain alive, that we all may seek the eternal safety He offers. Yeshua's sacrificial death provides eternal life for all who are destined to die from sin…that is, all that come to Him in faith.

God is the true, righteous, and final Judge of us all. Will you be found in Him when He judges? If clothed in His righteousness, the Lord Yeshua, we will escape His judgment for sin. Trust in Him completely and know He is not only a just judge, but a "merciful, gracious, longsuffering" God who "abounds in goodness and truth". [Exodus 34:6] With judgment looming — let's also be about His business today!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

We're in the midst of Awesome Days!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur are ten days. These days are known as "Yamim Noraim", "the Days of Awe" — or also translated, the "Awesome days". In Judaism it has been long believed that these days seal your fate for the upcoming year — and also allude to your final destiny, concerning whether your name continues to be written in the Book of Life. Throughout the ages, Jewish people spend the Days of Awe in great reverence — aware of the holiness and judgment of YHVH; so repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness and a general heightening of moral conduct are emphasized. After the holiday, for many, it's back to life as usual.

But we ought to realize…there are nine verses in the Bible, Old and New Testament, which clearly state that we will be judged and rewarded for our works. (The final one is Revelation 22:12). Salvation is by grace through faith; and all who believe have their names written in the Book of Life.[Eph 2:5], but our rewards will be determined solely by what we have done. One day, when this life is over, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Messiah (Christ). Once we breathe our last breath we will never again be able to prepare for eternity! These are our days of awe; not just once a year, but every single day of our life. Our everyday deeds on earth will determine our destinies in eternity.

Each of our days — these Awesome days –should be held in awe and used to the fullest. Use them wisely! Get right with God, every morning; tie up the loose ends, forgive others their offenses, be filled with His Spirit, and walk in love. You won't need to fear the Days of Awe, but instead look forward to a rich reward in God's Eternity– yes, in fact we are… truly we're living in the Days of Awe!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

Have Mercy on Me!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jonah 4:1-5 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the LORD, and said, "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You [are] a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. "Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for [it is] better for me to die than to live!" Then the LORD said, "[Is it] right for you to be angry?" So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.

We continue looking at Jonah, and find him in Chapter 4 displeased with God's mercy toward Nineveh. The Assyrians were arch-enemies of Israel and among the cruelest nations in history. Instead of being elated that God spared 120,000 Ninevites Jonah preferred to see his own pronouncement of judgment executed by the Lord. "Let those Assyrians get what's coming to them – they deserve to go to hell without any mercy for how they've treated Israel!" The Hebrew word "charah", " to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be kindled" is a very strong expression for Jonah's feelings as he leaves the city of Nineveh and sets up a shelter to watch what will happen – he seems to be hoping that God might change His mind and destroy Nineveh anyway.

Have you ever felt this way? Someone has really hurt you; really done evil to you more than once – you knew from God's point of view he was "begging for a bolt" (of lightening), and you wished judgment would rain upon him. The last thing you want to do is warn him to stop; you want justice, not mercy; maybe even … revenge! Would you have the courage to admit that? To be really honest with God? Tell Him how disappointed you are that your tormentor hasn't been hit by a truck or developed a brain malignancy?

Jonah's honesty is commendable. How many of us would try to hide feelings like that, even from ourselves? "Please take my life." Jonah says. But the Lord understands. Instead of condemning Jonah for his merciless attitude He tries to reason with His prophet. "`Is doing good displeasing to thee?' He asks Jonah. Then Jonah's misery is compounded when the plant God gives him for shade withers and dies. Depressed and angry, Jonah reveals the depth of depravity in human nature. "“It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” he pines. He cannot find joy in the mercy of God.

I shudder to think of what would happen to me if I received God's justice for my sins. I would not want to wish His punishment even on my worst enemies. Perhaps Jonah didn't realize that his own attitude was displeasing to God and also deserved His judgment. I'm so thankful for God's mercy to us. We should bless our enemies and pray for those who despitefully use us; we should overcome evil with good. Mercy triumphs over judgment. The Lord gives us the power to be like Him. He did it by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, after three days. Jonah was a sign of this, remember?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

Be God's Messenger!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jonah 3:5-9 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.9Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

Jonah preached his 8 word sermon and the Ninevites were struck with the fear of the Lord and moved to complete repentance.

The king stood up (a sign of his serious intent), removed his royal robes (a sign of humility), covered himself with sackcloth (a sign of mourning), and sat in the dust (a sign of repentance). Then, according to the King's edict, every soul in Nineveh responded with desperate fasting. It's hard to imagine that level of conviction coming upon an entire metropolis of over 120,000 people. But what followed was the greatest revival in history. Every one in the city got saved! This seems so impossible at every level. The whole story of Jonah is utterly fantastic from beginning to end…almost like a fairytale.

But we know it isn't a fairytale.The Lord Himself clearly refers to Jonah's ministry as a historical fact; [Luke 11:29-30].

Through it, God is inspiring us for the days we live in. Look around, isn't the whole world going the way of ancient Nineveh? Isn't the wickedness and moral erosion around us just as horrifying as the evil deeds of the Assyrians? Can God’s judgment be far away?

And what were the chances of Nineveh's revival taking place? If Jonah, who knew God's mercy and grace as a prophet, was against it, who would give the Ninevites a ghost of a chance for salvation? Many of us undoubtedly feel the same way about most of our modern cities. We've stopped believing that God can reach the unreachable or do the impossible. Instead, we say, "It's Nineveh. It's hopeless?" What can we honestly expect in these "Days of Noah and Lot"?

The prophet Daniel, I believe, has an answer for us in these End Times: "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever; [Daniel 12:3]. It took Jonah a while to get there, but he finally did shine the righteousness of God into a wicked city; and he led many to righteousness.

Our God still has some plans with "fairytale" dimensions. If we can get over our cynicism, apathy, judgmental attitude, and unbelief, there are still a few Nineveh's in our future, I believe. I have no illusions about the strength of those negative qualities in us, or the desperate evil in our modern cities. But there are some whose identification with the Lord in His death, just like Jonah, who will lead many to righteousness, just as he did.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Judgment