A Benediction

Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 30:23-31:11: (Select vv. ESV).

A Whirling Tempest (30:23-24)

Behold the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intentions of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this.

We are living in those latter days now. And, there are many storms and tempests blowing all around us. Some of them are literal storms, while others are outbursts and eruptions of a different kind (nature). Some are impacting the atmosphere associated with the physical earth, while others are influencing our surroundings on a more social, economic, religious and/or political sphere. And, both kinds of tempests can result in violence and destruction of property, and can cause loss of life and health and well-being. Some are literally storms of the Lord, which he generates, even though he may use human beings to carry them out. Others are allowed by God, because he allows evil to exist in this world, but he sets limits on them.

In context, what we learn here is that God first judged his wayward and rebellious people. He used wicked people, who were bent on the destruction of Israel, as his divine instruments of judgment on his adulterous and idolatrous children. And, then, when he had accomplished his purposes in the hearts of his people, he turned on their enemies, and he did to his people’s enemies what they did to Israel.

And, so it is again in these last days. God is judging and will judge his adulterous and rebellious children, i.e. his wayward church (See: Rev. 2-3), and he is using and will use the US government, their allies, the beast and the false prophet, as his divine instruments of judgment, but then he will turn on them, and it will be payback, and they will receive back in spades what they did, are doing, and yet will do to others. And, this storm is not far off, I believe. Although God uses evil and wicked people to accomplish his purposes in the hearts and minds of his followers, yet he still judges them for their evil deeds.

They Found Grace (31:1-6)

“At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”
Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”

Throughout history, the primary purpose for God judging his people, and for discipling them and scourging them, was to revive and to restore them, and to turn their hearts away from their idols back to God, to follow him in all their ways from that day forward. He also uses divine discipline as a means to holiness and sanctification, that we might bear much fruit for his eternal kingdom, and that we might yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness. And, this, too, is his grace to us, because he loves us so much, so he will do what is needed (necessary) in order to bring us back to him, because what we need is to be in fellowship with him and to be walking in his ways. God always wants what is best for us, and this is what is best for us.

When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just to free us from the penalty of sin (spiritual death/eternal damnation), and not just to give us the hope of eternal life with God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace is NOT a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars.

So, for those who have wandered off from the purpose for which we were saved, or for those who make a profession of faith in Jesus, but who never have truly believed in Jesus Christ, because they never did turn from their sins or follow the Lord in obedience, the call is to repent of your sins, leave your life of sin behind you, and turn to God to follow him in all his ways. He will revive and restore you, or he will save you from your sins for the first time. Concerning the adulterous, idolatrous and worldly church now, when he disciplines them in judgment, and he revives them, they will once again have the joy and peace of the Lord, and of their salvation, and they will walk in his holiness, and they will be his witnesses so that others can be saved.

A Straight Path (31:9-11)

With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.

When we sin against our Lord, and the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts, it should bring us to tears. Yet, we should not be sorrowful with a worldly sorrow, just because we got caught, or just because we got disciplined, but we should have a godly sorrow which leads to genuine repentance, i.e. to a change of heart and mind which results in change of words and actions. We should be humbled that God spared our lives, and that he cared enough about us to move us to repentance, and that he did not leave us floundering in our sins. We should be so grateful for his grace to us in bringing pain and suffering into our lives so as to motivate us toward his holiness and righteousness; and away from sin and rebellion, to walks of faith and obedience to our Lord.

Yet, when this time comes, and the church is scattered because of God’s judgments, and because of the severity of the persecution of the saints of God who are following the ways of the Lord, which may already be what is taking place in other parts of the world; and many are martyred for their faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ, many of us will be separated from each other, and we will not be rejoined until we are all with our Lord forever. So, for those who survive this storm, let this benediction be for you (for us).

God Be with You till We Meet Again
Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

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