Friday, August 28, 2020

Be Not Defeated

Good morning, afternoon, or evening friends – whenever you are reading this. It certainly is beautiful here today in West Central Florida. Welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministry, I’m Leonard V. Johnson.

Friends, have you ever felt defeated by sin!? Does sin get the better of you – sometimes!? And you feel betrayed by your own failure!? It’s an occurrence that happens to us all and can indeed weigh heavily on the mind of someone who is trying to live a godly life.

When you become a Christian and are converted – and God’s Way of righteousness is revealed to you, you begin a new life trying to live a righteous life. It’s a moving experience when you’re baptized for the first time and you become very aware that all of your sins have been washed away. I myself will never forget standing in the cold gulf water at Fort De Soto Park, North Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida at the tail end of winter shivering and realizing that Almighty God had forgiven me of all of my sins. Truly a time in one's life when you know that you are absolutely clean before God. You stood there in the water before God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the holy angels, clean. The day before my baptism was also a very moving experience – as I was praying and meditating God allowed me to feel just a small portion of the love that He has for me, and in my mind whispered, ‘I cannot let you feel all the love I have for you because your physical body wouldn’t be able to handle it.’ And the very next day being baptized and hands laid upon me. And so we ride this high of spiritual enthusiasm. There’s a new goal now that you seek. The energy, the strength, and the courage you now possess. And it’s so evident that even your family and friends become annoyed at your new-found zeal – as your wife says to you, “Oh, you’re serious about this!”

But as time goes by some of the initial zeal wanes. Life moves ever forward after so many unsuccessful attempts at opening all the minds of your relatives and friends, business associates, and yes – even strangers – the desire to try becomes somewhat futile.

Friends, it is at this point that there is the temptation to slip back into the shadows – to recoil back into a comfortable place and to let your once strong defense fall away. All around you is every temptation. Like a child in a toy store, all these delightful things are available to catch the imagination, to satisfy the senses of taste, sight, hearing, touch, and smell. Things that may be contrary to what you once held to be holy and righteous, now seem to be somewhat acceptable again. And, they may seem small and insignificant, but they are still sin. You find yourself hanging there between righteousness and a life that could be full of sin – once again. It’s here we often find Christians struggling with enormous guilt and fear, with no way to reconcile or deal with this conflict.

I’d like to address this very issue today. Because not only is sin something which separates us from Almighty God as we read in the Book of Isaiah, the 59th chapter, where he wrote, “And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear you.” But also to deal with the guilt and fear as a result of sin that can paralyze a Christian. And, all of a sudden, a Christians spiritual growth comes to a halt.

How do we escape the clutches of this guilt and fear!? How do we recharge our batteries, to rekindle something that is more important than anything else on this planet!? We must first understand what happens – and why. How does sin re-enter our life after we’ve been converted and what can we do about it!?

This sermon comes from thoughts that I’ve had recently. You are like the person who was on death row, and now all of a sudden you find yourself walking down the road completely free. Certainly, you can look up just how many people currently are sitting on death row – maybe in the state of Florida which is 338 as of 8/27/20. Or, the executions of the past who were on death row. So, now you find yourself free – but what was it that put us there!?

Let us begin in the Book of Romans, chapter 6 – where Paul had just been explaining how sin came from and through Adam. And salvation came through the Second Adam – Jesus Christ. He tells us this in the previous chapters here.

Verse 1 – he explains how we were freed from the power of sin – or the power that sin had over us. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” And of course, he, in the previous chapters describes how sin actually generated God’s grace. And it was out of His grace and His love that He sent His Son to die – to save us.

God the Father and Jesus Christ knew “from the foundation of the world” that They would need a Savior for mankind – Revelation 13:8; Ephesians 1:4. GOD – before the foundation of the world – saw mankind as lost and in need of a Savior; and the details of the Work of redemption were planned out. Before all of this – God our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ – had our transformation into His holy Family in view – (See: 2 Timothy 1:9).

And Paul asks the question – “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” 2) Certainly not! …” Here Paul uses the statement, ‘God forbid’ (KJV). He uses this about sixty times throughout his writings. And, he uses the term like it's an unthinkable horror – here. “Don’t think that!” “Completely DO NOT think that!” “ … How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” The term here for sin is not specifically talking about one particular sin. He uses this term sin in this chapter here as more as the element of sin or the nature of sin that exists in human beings.

He says – Verse 3 – “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” – in other words – we died. We joined Jesus Christ in our belief of Him and in Him as a symbol of His death through our baptism. We understand that when we were baptized it was like going under the water or going down in the grave and we come back up again – as a symbol of the resurrection.

Verse 4 – “Therefore we were buried with Him …” – and he goes on to explain this here. “ … through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Let’s highlight that phrase there – “walk in newness of life.” We experience that initially. Especially after conversion – we’re so excited, we’re so elated that we’ve “discovered” this new discovery and have come to understand – God’s brilliant light has finally come to shine in our life! And we really want to share that with somebody else!

My question in regard to this Scripture here is – do we still hold to this feeling, this passion, for righteousness!? We should recall the words of Jesus Christ to the Church – “’ Nevertheless I have this against you. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place ̶ unless you repent.’” – Revelation 2:4-5 NKJV. We should have that same zeal and that same enthusiasm for God’s word, and for God’s righteousness, and for our conversion.

Verse 5 – “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

This, he is telling us to REMEMBER the promises that were made. And here are a few of them here from John 6.
  • “…’ that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.’
  • “…’ that everyone who sees the Son and believes [on] Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’
  • ’ No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day.’
  • ’ Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’
And, we recall the Book of Revelation which says, “’ To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.’

These are great PROMISES that Jesus made to us. And I believe Paul here is reminding us of those promises – when he says we will be “in the likeness of His resurrection.”

We will also be resurrected as well.

So – verse 6 – “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” – that term being, like a servant. We are no more to be slaves or enslaved to sin. We’re not to be servants of sin. And, we don’t fall down and worship sin anymore.

Now, there was a point in our life when we did.

Verse 7 – “For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” – and he uses this term like, ‘we – just like Christ has died.’ We also died. And the symbol of that, of course, is our baptism.

Verse 9 – “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10) For the death that He died, He died to sin ONCE …” – and of course, His death was ONE TIME FOR ALL HUMAN BEINGS FOREVER! – no matter what planet human beings may come to colonize in the future.  “ … for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”

Verse 11 – “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So, we’re dead to sin, but we’re alive through Jesus Christ! We live unto Jesus Christ!

And then, he sums it up here in verse 12 – “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” – obviously, this was a problem in the churches there in Rome. So, here he says, ‘Don’t let sin have control over you anymore.’ You’re free! Like the man that was on death row – now you find yourself walking down the road and you say, “How in the world did I get off of death row and now walking along here a free man!?” You’re not in the dungeon anymore! You’re not in chains, you’re not waiting for execution anymore! You’re out of prison – you’re walking freely down the road! That is the analogy that he makes here.

In 2nd Corinthians 12 – there’s a little bit of information that helps us understand that Satan at times can indeed afflict your health because God doesn’t stop him. Verse 7 – “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations [he talked about that early in the chapter], a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8) Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9) And He said to me, [this is Jesus speaking directly to Paul], ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak [with Christ’s help], then I am strong.” – and Paul, he’s a stronger man than I am. But it points out – and we can read in other places – such as Galatians 4 & 6 – you can pretty well figure out that Paul had problems with his eyesight. Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong often theorized, maybe he had cataracts or something. He just couldn’t see well. There is no indication in the Bible that Paul hinted at or explained that he had a sexually immoral problem which caused him to commit sin.

Verse 13 – “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

What person wouldn’t do that – that was on death row!? They found themselves free now, would they not now give credit to the person that freed them. Would they want to go back and continue what took them to prison and took them to death row!? Is that what they want to do again!?

Well, there may be some stiff-necked, hard-hearted creatures out there that would – after the fact – go back and do the things they did once before. But here, Paul is saying, ‘we need to yield ourselves under the righteousness of God.’

Verse 14 – and he gives us here the beautiful example of his own life – and I am so grateful and thankful to the apostle Paul for being so transparent here about his own life. I mean – think about who Paul was. He was a man who was struck down on the road to Damascus. Here was a man who talked personally with Jesus Christ! Now, he had a lot of things to brag about – but look at what he says. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Here, a lot of people use this Scripture to do away with God’s Law (the Ten Commandments) – they say, “Ah! There it is, you’re not under the Law anymore but under grace!” Well, look again at what he says here – he doesn’t say that the law doesn’t have dominion over you, does he!? What does he say!? That “sin shall not have dominion over you.” There's a huge difference there! Sometimes when Paul uses the word “law,” he’s talking about the Old Covenant or the law of the Levites and the temple people – as he is here. He’s talking about that law or that collection of practices of which we would normally label under the umbrella as the Old Covenant. We’re under grace – we’re under the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, under the priesthood of forgiveness, and hope, and help, and love. And you know, that’s what we should do to people. I believe Paul is speaking of the law of the Old Covenant, or the law of the Levites and the temple elite - here.

Verse 15 – “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!”

Here again, he says, “Don’t even think it! It’s absolutely ridiculous to think such a thing!”

Verse 16 – “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

So here he makes this comparison. He’s asking you – which master are you going to serve!? Sin or righteousness!? One leads to death and the other leads to obedience unto God.

Verse 17 – “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, …” – and we all were in the past. “ … yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” – and of course, he’s talking about the Gospel that finally reached our ears! And we began to read and we began to understand and we became converted, and we repented and we were baptized and received God’s Holy Spirit. And so he’s talking to CHRISTIANS. People that were converted.

Verse 18 – “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” – that’s the difference there. You once were the servants of sin, now you’re servants of righteousness.

Verse 19 – “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

And, of course, he goes on down there in verse 23 to explain what sin is. And, as I said, we were sitting on death row and then we find ourselves walking down the road free – absolutely free!

Now, I feel we should be reminded here of this - some Protestant groups misinterpret, they misapply, they misrepresent the term ‘God’s grace,’ and they make it into the incorrect concept of ‘once saved always saved’ – of which they call “eternal security.” You know, “Give your heart to the Lord, and it’s all said and done!” Well, that’s not correct! Many ministers from the outreaches of the churches of God continue to avoid or detour completely around God's holy grace because they think the word "grace" sounds too Protestant. And yet, the term ‘God’s grace’ – my friends, we have no chance unless God is gracious to us! Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ forever be praised - Amen!

“For the wages of sin is death, but …” – and we always quote this first part here – ‘THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH!’ That is certainly true. But look at the second part of this – I want to focus on that part here. “ … the gift of God is eternal life [through] Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is the grace that God gave! That is the glory of God being expressed through His love – through Jesus Christ – by giving us His Son! ‘ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!’

Without Jesus Christ God’s righteous Law, which He put in place – of which He will never compromise – it demanded our death. Because of our sins. So, He fulfilled the Laws demand which required death by giving us His own beloved Son. What a marvelous act of love, grace, and mercy that was!

What was it that put us on death row!?

Was it the Laws fault that we got the death penalty!? That’s the question. Paul addressed this with Christians because a lot of people would say, “If there weren’t all these stupid Laws, then we’d be a lot better off!” “If God didn’t have so many Laws then we’d all be righteous people!”

The apostle Paul addresses this in Chapter 7 of Romans.

Verse 7 – he addresses this problem of thinking that the Law (summed up with the Ten Commandments) is the problem. People still think that the Law is the problem – and it has to be done away. “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? …” – was there something wrong with the Law!? “ … Certainly not! …” – ‘Don’t think that!’ “ … On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the Law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the Law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” – you wouldn’t know not to covet except that in the Ten Commandments it says, ‘You shall not covet …’

Verse 8 – “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the Law sin was dead.”

And that – I like to describe it as – before conversion you’re out on the town having a good ol’ time, drinking and partying, and you think – boy life is so fun. And then all of a sudden along comes God's Law, and it reveals in you what sin is – what lawbreaking is. What things are against God’s will. And it is a striking comparison. And Paul describes it here. He says, “Without the Law I was alive! I was having a great time, and then all of a sudden here comes the Law!” And what happened!?

Did the Law bring life!?

Did the Law bring salvation!?

Look what Paul says – verse 9 – “I was alive once without the Law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” – all of a sudden he realized he had been breaking God’s Law his whole life and the penalty – as we read earlier – is death. He found himself all of a sudden on DEATH ROW!

And, later on, we know that Paul wrote that the purpose of the Law was to lead us to Jesus Christ (cf. Galatians 3:21-25). Because He’s the only way out of the condition we find ourselves when we’ve broken God’s Law.

Verse 10 – “And the commandment, which was to bring life, …” – he thought. “By keeping God’s Law, I’m going to have salvation” That’s what the Jews believed during his day.  And, of course, the Orthodox Jews of today have 613 commandments added, plus the original Ten Commandments. On, how to keep the Sabbath day, and how to keep the holy days, and how to walk, talk, eat, drink, dress, wash your hands up to the elbow – whatever it is – they think that perfectly keeping the Law is going to bring life. Paul thought that at one point, and he said, “And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” It brought about the death penalty.

And, a short sideline here - Just recently a very good Jewish friend said to me (when he heard that I don't eat pig meat (cf. Leviticus 11) - “What, your prayers are not powerful enough to turn pork into chicken!?” Do you think he had 1 Corinthians 10:31 in mind when he said it!?

Verse 11 – “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.” – he thought that the Law was going to bring salvation, and instead, it brought the death penalty.

So, as he goes on here in verse 12 – it’s not the Laws fault. “Therefore the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” The Law actually magnified sin. It made sin look in all of its ugliness and brought it to bear and showed it what it really is. You can’t see sin until the standard of God’s holy Law is brought into view. And the comparison is made between these extreme opposites. That is why the Law is holy. And Paul explains that – it’s not the Law.

So, these two things here: How we got off of death row, and what it was that brought us to death row, doesn’t explain the third item.

How is a Christian who is struggling with guilt, with fear, and frustration, and indwelling sin, deal with these issues?

Romans 7:13 – Paul begins to explain this. “Has then what is good [the Law] become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.” – as I said, the Law magnifies sin and shows just what sin is.

Verse 14 – “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

Here is the apostle Paul who spoke personally with Jesus Christ and spent a great deal of time with Him – who wrote the fourteen books of the Bible – and he is saying, “I am carnal, sold under sin.” That is the problem!

This is the reason we find ourselves in the predicament often times as Christians. WE ARE CARNAL.

Look at Paul’s own experiences here in verse 15. As I mentioned earlier. He could have bragged about all of his accomplishments, but look at what he says here. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate that I do.” Look at the conflict that is within him – the problem with what he has going on inside of his own mind and body.

Verse 16 – “If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the Law that it is good.” – he recognizes again that the Law is good.

Verse 17 – “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” – this is the apostle Paul talking here.

Verse 18 – “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” – ‘I want to do what is right, but I often find myself doing what is wrong!’

Verse 19 – “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.”

How many of you experience that!? You want to do what is right, but you find yourself doing exactly the opposite. Is it just me, or does everyone share in this experience!? I know the apostle Paul did. He’s owning it up to himself – here. He’s saying – ‘this happens to me.’

Verse 20 – “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” This is the heart of the matter – today.

Christians may have sin in their life that can cause them to be paralyzed spiritually out of guilt and fear. What I want to bring to bear today is that even the apostle Paul had sins that he was dealing with in his own life. But he did not shelter down in a state of fear.

Look what he says – verse 21. “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, …” – there is that struggle there.

Verse 22 – “For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man.” – talking about the Spirit of God that dwells within him – in his mind.

Verse 23 – “But I see another law in my members, warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

I think it’s IMPORTANT to realize that. Remember he said a few verses earlier – ‘I am carnal.’ And yet, he was a converted man. So, he’s describing here a battle – a war – that is going on inside himself. Between the Spirit of God that is within his mind and the physical – fleshly – appetites of a carnal fleshly human being. That’s the war that is going on!

And he says, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

That – I believe – describes Paul’s own feelings and shortcomings, and failures, and maybe somewhat – a fear. Paul looks at his own experience, his own struggle with sin that exists in his flesh.

We too have the same nature within us - it strives to please itself, and to satisfy the fleshly appetite. That is why we have within us the proclivity for sin even after we have been converted. But there is no reason brethren to fear. And, no reason to give up and let guilt stagnate your spiritual growth because we come to the next chapter – which I call “the beautiful answer.”

Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now …” – as a result of this understanding of what is going on within each human being – “ … no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2) For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and [the inevitability of eventual] death.”

Note: In other words, Spirit is LIFE!

That’s the freedom that we have – the grace of God that was given to us. The freedom which we found ourselves released from death row. But, I remind you of Jesus Christ's living words - “ … ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.’” Indeed we are free - Christ came to free us from sin through His atoning sacrifice. Cf. Hebrews 2:14-15. And, free from the bondage of the Old Covenant.

Verse 3 – “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, …” 

Friends - I contend - the apostle Paul is talking about the law of the Old Covenant here. The law of the Old Covenant is an extremely physically oriented ritualistic grouping of ideas for people who were unconverted and very carnal, very physical – naturally human. But the Old Covenant, even though it had its place for a time, it ultimately could not solve man's problems, because there was never LIFE – there was never a promise of eternal life – contained in the tenants of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant, under which we now live with Jesus Christ being not only our Savior but now our living High Priest – who spiritualized the Ten Commandment. That’s an agreement that has the PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE!

 “ … on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4) that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” – our whole demeanor changes. We don’t live after fleshly things anymore, we begin to live according to spiritual standards.

Verse 5 – “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

Verse 6 – “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

And that is where we are trying to find. We’re trying to get away from this feeling of guilt, and fear, of failure. Here he’s telling us to live a life – to think of these spiritual things – and to grow spiritually. To dwell spiritually on the aspect of our spiritual conversion. To be spiritually minded – and we’ll have peace of mind.

Verse 7 – “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can be.”

I told the folks at the Feast last year – you know, God created the human body. He created us with this nature in us. So He knows that we have this struggle. But He gave us His Spirit – His Holy Spirit – upon conversion, that we might begin to overcome this human nature and begin to live a life with this new nature.

Verse 8 – “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9) But you [look at the comparison he says] are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10) And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” – and of course, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. And we’re living to follow His example.

Verse 11 – “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

And, of course, he’s reminding us here again of the promises that He made – which I mentioned in the Book of John – that God gave us His Spirit, and that He is going to raise us up – He’s not going to fail us. He’s going to stay with us all the way to the end.

Verse 12 – “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13) For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.”

And, of course, as I mentioned in the Book of Revelation – ‘he that overcomes shall I grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I overcame and sit down with My Father in His throne.’ That’s what Jesus said.

Verse 14 – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” – what a positive aspect of Scripture here.

Verse 15 – “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, …” – that was the question I posed in the beginning. “ … but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” – or Dad, Daddy – He’s that close to me!

However, once saved, if you continue marching down that progression of advancement – you have the Kingdom of God wrapped up, you’ve got your ticket. But if you just openly reject everything God says, and go, “Well, I have grace now, He’ll just forgive me.” And you do it with this disrespect of what He went through, His crucifixion, His torture. No, you can lose out on salvation!

Down in verse 35 – you can go ahead and read the rest of this.

I want to ask the question here: What could separate us from the spiritual life that we have in Jesus Christ!?

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” – of course, Paul experienced all of those.

Verse 36 – “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ 37) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I encourage you – brethren – to never give up. An enormous price was paid for our freedom. From the demands of the Law which required our life. Like being set free from death row – a beautiful reconciliation was made between man and God – between you and God. Don’t let sin – which is of the flesh – paralyze your spiritual growth. May we all fall down and confess our sins before our High Priest and ask for forgiveness from God.

Remember, we are carnal. But we are striving to live according to spiritual standards. We think on spiritual things, we pray for spiritual strength, we walk in newness of life – and don’t let sin reign over you or have dominion over you any longer. But let the Spirit of God, which is in your mind lead you as you overcome day by day the carnal nature which exists in each and every one of us. Don’t be in bondage of fear, but know that you have freedom as a begotten child of God and the life of Jesus Christ our Savior – to someday become a member of the family of God. You should never be defeated by sin. But we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us and rescued us by His divine grace, and through it, we shall never fail. □

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Monday, August 24, 2020

'Wake Up, Sleeper, Rise From the Dead'

Good morning, afternoon, or evening – whenever you are reading this. I welcome you, dear friends – including our friends in Pennsylvania, California, France, Argentina, and even Kuwait. I’m your host and welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries. I began work on this sermon the other day and was half-way finished, but there was a glitch in my computer, and because I hadn’t yet saved the document – I lost it. So, here’s the second draft.

His name is Jo-El. And his name means YHWH is God.

I’m not speaking of Superman’s father – Jor-El from Krypton.

I’m speaking of a prophet to the Southern tribe of Judah. He was one of the earlier prophets of God. We know that the Southern tribes of Judah was the kingdom that remained after the Northern tribes were carried away captive. It was the nation whose capital was Jerusalem. And, even though his book is not dated by one of the kings – as many of the other prophets’ books were – many believe he was very early in his message because he never mentions Assyria, Babylon, or Syria, some of the antagonists that were against the kingdom of Judah. He was contemporaneous with the prophets Hosea and Amos – two of the other “minor” prophets. They call them “minor” prophets only because they had short books compared with the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel. But I believe these prophets weren’t minor in their message by no means.

He lived and wrote approximately during – at least some believe – the reign of King Jehoash of Judah (c. 836-796 B.C.). He was very familiar with the Scriptures – and one of the Scriptures which I’d like to bring to the forefront before we get into the Book of Joel, is Deuteronomy, the 28th chapter.

Verse 42 – This was God’s Warning which He gave through His servant Moses to all Israel (long before they were divided into two separate kingdoms) – giving grave consequences for disobedience. All the blessings and curses. “Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land. 43) The [stranger] who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, …” – and, of course, He goes on there. But I want to draw your attention to where it says the ‘locusts shall consume your land.’

Now, later when the temple was built during King Solomon’s day he had a lengthy public prayer in which he said, “’ Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David, and with His hand has fulfilled it, … 23) LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, … 37) When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; 38) whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: 39) then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men)’” – 1 Kings 8:15, 23, 37-39 NKJV.

So, turn with me to the Book of Joel, chapter 1.

Verse 1 – “The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. 2) Hear this, you elders, And give ear, all you inhabitants of the land!”

Now, he uses the term ‘you elders’ which were the leaders, the higher-educated, the wise, the kings and princes – today you might say, presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, senators, governors.

“ … Has anything like this happened in your days, Or even in the days of your fathers?”

Now, what happened here in the kingdom of Judah was a monumental event that occurred during the prophet Jo-El’s day. There was a plague of locusts that inundated the land – imagine the sky turning black by a biblical proportion. And as a result of witnessing this plague, he was inspired to write this book. Now, he had read those same Scriptures we just read in Deuteronomy the 28th chapter and 1st Kings. And he knew that this great plague was being brought upon the kingdom of Judah because they had turned away from the LORD God – but also he uses this opportunity to write this message. It was perfect for his day, but it still stands TODAY for a testimony against the modern-day nations of Israel – including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and even including South Africa.

They had never suffered a plague like this since they had come out of the land of Egypt when the LORD God had set all those plagues upon the Egyptians.

Verse 3 – “Tell your children about it, Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation.”

Let’s hold our place here, and turn with me to the Book of Psalm, the 78th chapter – something which King David wrote.

Verse 1 – “Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2) I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3) Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. 4) We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.”

Verse 6 – “That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children.”

Remember when the children of Israel were brought out of the land of Egypt, God gave them all His Sabbaths, His commandments, His statutes, the holy days, saying, “’ Speak to the children of Israel [including, of course, the New Covenant Church of God], … the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. … forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings’” – Leviticus 23:2, 14 NKJV. And, of course, as we’ve said many times – these are not just the feasts of the Jews, these are the ‘feasts of the LORD’! But, because the LORD God brought us out of the land of Egypt we do this also as a reminder of God’s great and mighty power which saved us from slavery and eventual death. So, the prophet Jo-El is telling them to tell their children and their grandchildren.

Verse 4 – “What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten.” – the four stages of the locust which are mentioned here. And, this is exactly what happened to the kingdom of Judah and what is happening to millions of people in 2020 with swarms of desert locusts blanketing East Africa – ravaging crops and threatening the livelihood of 10% of the world’s population! The massive swarm of locusts came in and ate all the crops, the fruit trees, all the grass – think about the impact! What if this was to happen in the United States of America – across the plains where we grow wheat, oat, rye!? Or, the Corn Belt - a region of the Midwestern United States!? Or, the vineyards of California!? What impact would it have today if the nation of the eagle had a nationwide plague!? 1 Some of the bible commentaries – like the Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary of the Whole Bible – has associated these four stages of the locusts here with what would eventually happen to the kingdom of Judah, saying, “The Hebrews make the first species refer to Assyria and Babylon; the second species, to Medo-Persia; the third, to Greco-Macedonia and Antiochus Epiphanes; the fourth, to the Romans.” 2 Now, perhaps that could be prophetically a type which could be associated with that, but I don’t believe that is the purpose for the prophet Jo-El’s writings here.

Now, while this plague was taking place – while the kingdom is being devoured – what were the people doing!? What was their attitude – their focus!?

Verse 5 – “Awake, you drunkards, and weep; And wail, all you drinkers of wine.” – so they were having a party! They weren’t too worried about what was happening. 

“ … Because of the new wine [spiritually speaking the New Covenant of Jesus Christ – Luke 22:20], for it has been cut off from your mouth [spiritually speaking see Psalm 95:7-11; Hebrews 3:7-11].”

Verse 6 – “For a nation has come up against My land, Strong and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, And he has fangs of a fierce lion.”

So, the prophet Jo-El used this opportunity of this plague of locusts to describe to the kingdom of Judah of something which was coming later in their future.

Now, Jesus Christ said on one occasion, ’ But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38) For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39) and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be’” – Matthew 24:37-39 NKJV.

The prophet Jo-El here is WARNING of the end of this age!

Friends – thousands upon thousands of people in this world just want to party and ignore what is happening around the world – being distracted by this virtually worldwide pandemic COVID-19. Millions pay no mind of the ever-growing assertiveness of China and Russia, the increase in tensions in the Middle East, North Africa, and Northern Asia. 3

Here, the prophet Jo-El sees the need to try and WARN the kingdom of Judah.

Let’s turn over to the Book of Isaiah, the 10th chapter – a couple of references I’d like to go over.

Verse 5 – “’ Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hand is My indignation. 6) I will send him against an ungodly nation, And against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, To seize the spoil, to take the prey, And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.’”

Here, the LORD God was WARNING Israel through the prophet Isaiah, telling them that because of their rebellion He was going to bring Assyria – who was going to be like a staff within His hand and punish them. But out of that – later on in that same chapter –

Verse 12 – “Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, ‘I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.’”

In other words, God is going to use Assyria to punish the nation of Israel because of their rebellion, and then He’s going to turn around and punish Assyria for their prideful ways in which they attacked and brought down the kingdom of Israel.

Over in the 14th chapter of the Book of Isaiah, picking it up –

Verse 24 – “The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: 25) That I will break the Assyrian in My land, And on My mountains tread him underfoot. Then his yoke shall be removed from them, And his burden removed from their shoulders.’” – of course, speaking about the kingdom of Israel.

Now, as so many people have said to me over the years – “that happened in Israel’s history.” One can open up virtually any history book – like the one in my library World Civilizations Fifth Edition Vol. 1 which says of the Assyrians – “These people came to be called the Assyrians; and their ultimate rise to power marked the beginning of the third stage in the development of the Mesopotamian civilization. They began to expand about 1300 B.C. and soon afterward made themselves masters of the whole northern valley. In the tenth century, they overturned what was left of Kassite power in Babylonia. Their empire reached its height in the eighth and seventh centuries under Sargon II (722-705 B.C.), Sennacherib (705-681), and Assurbanipal (668-626). It had now come to include nearly all of the civilized world of that time. One after another, Syria, Phoenicia, the Kingdom of Israel, and Egypt had fallen victims to Assyrian military prowess. Only the little Kingdom of Judah was able to withstand the hosts of Nineveh, … in 722 B.C. the Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians. Its inhabitants were scattered throughout the vast empire of their conquerors and were eventually absorbed by the more numerous population around them.” 4

If you would turn over to the 27th chapter of the Book of Isaiah – for another quick reference here.

Verse 13 – ask yourself, what is the timing of this passage here!? This is an assurance to the descendants of the kingdom of Israel – “’ So it shall be in that day …’” – now, the majority of the time when you read this in God’s living word it’s speaking of the Day of the LORD. The end of the age, the second coming of Jesus Christ – what Mr. Garrett refers to as the end-time trauma. “ … ‘The great trumpet will be blown; …’” – now, when is that!?

We read in Ezekiel chapter 34:11 – the idea of GATHERING in the physical people of Israel from the far-flung corners of the earth. And I believe that it’s very possible, we, the resurrected saints, will be a part of that ‘hunting party.’ Verse 12 – “’…so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.’” Often a reference to the idea of the Day of the LORD – the end-time trauma. Verse 13 – keep in mind He keeps mentioning a ‘shepherd.’ What was King David’s training as a young man!? He was a shepherd. King David will be the one overlooking the people of God. He will be resurrected. And he will be king over all Israel, and he will be to Israel as a ‘shepherd’ over his flock. He once again will regain his title as the shepherd of the sheep. This INGATHERING happens very close to the blowing of the Seventh Trump. Isaiah 27:12 – “And it shall come to pass in that day,” that’s the Day of the LORD. The Day of the LORD in part is the Seven Last Plagues. It occurs AFTER the blowing of the Seventh Trump. “...And you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel.”

“ … ‘They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.’”

Now, obviously, this is not talking about something which happened anciently, but it’s talking about the captivity (and as I’ve said before, captivity indeed can be the loss of the sovereignty of a nation) of the nations of Israel in (or because of) the nation of Assyria at the coming of Jesus Christ when He is going to begin to establish His kingdom there in Jerusalem – New Jerusalem. And, there are a great many other references as well.

Let’s turn back to the Book of Joel, the 1st chapter.

Verse 7 – “He has laid waste My vine, And ruined My fig tree; He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white.” 

Now, I added this verse because I want you to turn to the Book of Revelation, the 9th chapter – I want to make a comparison with what he is describing here with the fifth trumpet plague. 

Verse 1 – “Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. …” – Satan and his demons being thrown down to the earth from the atmosphere. “ … To him was given the key to the bottomless pit, 2) And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.” – as I mentioned in “A ‘Secret Rapture’?” certainly an indication that the atmosphere will be thick with volcanic ash towers or even radioactive dust and ash! And, as I have witnessed there is grave trouble with America’s disaster response. 5

Verse 3 – “Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4) They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal [the glorious Spirit of God] on their foreheads.”

Now, I do believe there’s a very good chance – and I can’t prove it – that there may be used a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Here is the apostle John in a great vision – under the inspiration of God’s Spirit – writing and describing a series of events that are to take place at the time of the end of this age – the end-time trauma. This great army of Islamic soldiers 200 million strong ( cf. Revelation 9:16) will go forth swarming like locusts and as ferocious as lions. But they don’t ‘harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree’ like we see here in the Book of Joel – they destroy men with different types of weapons which destroy not the buildings, trees, or grass. It’s interesting in knowing that many nations have this technology and what damage these types of weapons can indeed do.

But, I’d like us to go back to the Book of Joel, the 1st chapter

Verse 8 – “Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth For the husband of her youth.” – God, on several occasions, like in the Book of Jeremiah, speaks of His espousal to Israel when they were just coming out of the land of Egypt. He speaks about that love that they once had – even describing one time that Israel was like a helpless newborn baby lying beside the road (Ezekiel 16:1-16). And, lo and behold, this newborn baby happened to be a girl. God says, “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine.” And God washed off thoroughly her blood, and anointed her with oil, clothed her in embroidered cloth and gave her sandals to wear, clothed her in fine linen, adorned her with ornaments, bracelets on her wrists, and chains around her neck, put jewelry in her nose, earrings on her ears, and a beautiful crown upon her head. And she was exceedingly beautiful and succeeded in royalty. Almighty God cared for this young lady even unto the time when she was able to be married and then God says – when it came time for you to be married I came to propose to you but found out that you had been unfaithful – one of the greatest harlots the world had ever seen! This is the way that God described ISRAEL! ‘I wanted to be a husband to you – and I gave you everything!’ Just like the vow you make when you’re married – “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” He made this covenant with Israel and then found out that she was not faithful at all to Him. And this is why He brought His wrath upon them and allowed them to be carried away captive.

Verse 9 – “The grain offering and the drink offering Have been cut off from the house of the LORD; The priests mourn, who minister to the LORD.” – imagine the priest within the temple waiting for the offerings and the sacrifices and the people weren’t bringing anything to the temple. Imagine what the priest must have felt like.

Verse 11 – “Be ashamed, you farmers, Wail, you vinedressers, For the wheat and the barley; Because the harvest of the field has perished. 12) The vine has dried up, And the fig tree has withered; The pomegranate tree, The palm tree also, And the apple tree – All the trees of the field are withered; Surely joy has withered away from the sons of men. 13) Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; Wail; you who minister before the altar; Come, lie all night in sackcloth, You who minister to my God; …” – he’s asking the ministers and the priests to set the example of repenting and turning themselves to God.

Verse 14 – “Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land Into the house of the LORD your God, And cry out to the LORD.”

Verse 15 – “Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand! It shall come as destruction from the Almighty.”

This is the whole message of Jo-El here in the Book of Joel!! Friends, it’s not about the locusts which are eating up the land in such places as East Africa, but the message here is – THE DAY OF THE LORD IS AT HAND!! WAKE UP, SLEEPER, RISE FROM THE DEAD! ‘Awake, you drunkards, and weep; turn to Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ!’ He is crying out with this little short prophecy here to the nations of Israel – like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and even South Africa.

Verse 19 – “O LORD, to You I cry out; …” – possibly looking back at some of King David’s writings in which he said, ‘O LORD, unto You will I cry and make my supplication.’ “ … For fire has devoured the open pastures, And a flame has burned all the trees of the field.”

Verse 20 – “The beasts of the field also cry out to You, For the water brooks are dried up, And fire has devoured the open pastures.”

Friends here is drought, famine, pestilences, wildfires – and the people are still going each year to their Pride parades, and their Mardi Gras’! Our nations are going down the toilet and the greater majority of our peoples are rejecting Almighty God!

Chapter 2 – God says ‘Blow the trumpet!’ Now, anciently the trumpet was only to be blown by the priest. It was a time when they would blow the trumpet for the gathering of a solemn assembly, a festival meeting, or at the New Moon, but also a WARNING to go out to war. And this is the case here!

Verse 1 – “Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, For it is at hand.”

Now, there are times when the Day of the LORD feels like some faraway future event – doesn’t it!? Friends, how much closer is it from the time when the prophet Jo-El wrote this – in approximately 835-800 B.C. – to our witnessing the coming dreadful Day of the LORD!? When you look today at the population of the earth – some 7.8 Billion people. When you look today at the massive murder rate alone around the world – with El Salvador having the highest homicide rate in the world at 61.8 murders per 100,000! 6 When you look at the projected population growth rate of 9.7 Billion by the year 2050 – how are we as a civilization going to sustain that!? When you look at the U.S. economy at $26.6 Trillion in debt and rising! How long can we continue going down this road!? What happens when our economy has completely crumbled!? Does not all this give you an indication as to where we are in the history of the world – that we’re so very close to the end of this age!?

Indeed, Jesus Christ gave us some things to look for in Matthew, the 24th chapter, when He said, ’ nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.’ Because then the end-time prophets will arise and shall be persecuted, hated by all nations for His name’s sake – and will ultimately be martyred!

Verse 2 – “A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations.” – our LORD God said, ’ For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved.’ There are nations today like the United States of America, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran with nuclear weapons – with many more nations doing everything they can to obtain them! But they also have in their possession biological and chemical weapons, including many with the ability to annihilate nations using a cyber-attack, or an EMP strike which would literally place civilization back to the early 1800s. We are living in a very dangerous world – wouldn’t you say!? The prophet Jo-El never saw the time in which we live, with the ability to utterly destroy ourselves!

Verse 3 – “A fire devours before them, And behind them a flame burns; The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, And behind them a desolate wilderness; Surely nothing shall escape them.” – this reminds me of Russia’s scorched earth policy during World War II. The Soviets burned crops, destroyed bridges, and evacuated factories in the face of the advancing German war machine, depriving the Germans of anything that might be useful. Even in our modern history – with ISIS’s scorched earth policy in Iraq. The ISIS terrorists and murderers ignited oil wells and storage tanks and even refineries. Also deliberately spilling oil and opening pipelines, as well as flooding residential areas with heavy crude oil. 7 And in 1991 the Kuwaiti oil fires caused by Iraqi military forces under Saddam Hussein – setting fire to a reported 605 to 732 oil wells! We watched as clouds of black smoke plumes rose from dozens and dozens of blazing oil wells in an almost end-time vision there on our television screen – taking them months to finally cap them.

Verse 4 – “Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like swift steeds, so they run. 5) With a noise like chariots Over mountaintops they leap, Like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, Like a strong people set in battle array.”

Verse 6 – “Before them the people writhe in pain; All faces are drained of color.” – people see this massive army advancing upon the land and their faces turn pale.

Let’s turn over to the Book of Jeremiah, the 30th chapter, and let’s read a quick reference.

Verse 6 – “’ Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? …’” – God looks around and sees men walking around doubled over as if they are in labor pains. “ … ‘So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale?’”

Verse 7 – “’ Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.’” – recall, Jacob was Abraham’s grandson – and his name was changed to Israel. And he passed that name onto his two grandson’s – Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob had crossed his arms and said, “let my name be named on them.” Now, the apostle Paul made it abundantly clear that those who had the faith of Abraham are Abraham’s seed and are recipients of the promises which were made by God – becoming spiritual Israel. But, friends – this is speaking to the nations of Israel today, like the two main tribes Ephraim and Manasseh – the United States of America, the United Kingdom and her Commonwealth nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. And, not just physical Israel, but also spiritual - ALL THAT BELIEVE AND FOLLOW ALMIGHTY GOD and become a part of the spiritual nation of Israel.

Turning again to the Book of Joel, chapter 2

Verse 7 – “They run like mighty men, They climb the wall like men of war; Every one marches in formation, And they do not break ranks. 8) They do not push one another; Every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, They are not cut down.” – it’s like they have impregnable armor.

Verse 9 – “They run to and fro in the city, They run on the wall; They climb into the houses, They enter at the windows like a thief. 10) The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble; The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars diminish their brightness.” – talking about a massive horde of armies, most likely Arab and Islamic armies! Now, will there be any doubt in anyone’s mind that we are but living in the very last moments of the end of this age!?

Verse 11 – “The LORD gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?

Now in the Book of Malachi, it says, “’ Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, … But who can endure the day of His coming?’” And, in the Book of Zephaniah – “The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. … A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness.”

Now, the prophet Jo-El here – even after giving us a summation to the kingdom of Judah through this devastating plague of locusts – he uses this analogy of the coming great and terrible Day of the LORD.

Then, he changes tenses here, talking about AFTER the Day of the LORD –

Friends, I’m not writing this to scare you half to death or be what I’ve been called before – a warmonger. And neither was the prophet Jo-El. He was there to try and wake people up out of their sleep and out of their drunken stupor and WARNING them of what is just over the horizon.

Verse 12 – “’ Now, therefore,’ says the LORD, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ 13) So rend your heart, and not your garments; …” – the great majority of the people of this world do many things while they pray to show how pious they are – like wrenching their clothes, or reciting prayers while wearing a tallit prayer shawl, or flogging themselves, or thumbing through rosary beads and giving the sign of the beast. Almighty God wants us to rend our hearts – get down to the very inside of your spirit, that’s where God wants you!

“ … ‘Return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.’”

Friends, Almighty God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ are not sitting upon Their thrones throwing lightning bolts at people – like the imaginative Zeus! What They desire is for us to repent – “’ But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles [in reverence] at My word’” – Isaiah 66:2 NKJV.

Verse 14 – “’ Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him – A grain offering and a drink offering For the LORD your God?’” – how do you know what is going to happen if you repent!?

Verse 15 – “’ Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; 16) Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, …’” – national sin requires national repentance!

“ … ‘Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room.’” – let’s gather the children and cancel the weddings – THIS IS A DIRE TIME!

Verse 17 – “’ Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, ‘Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, …’” – ‘PLEASE, O LORD, LET NOT THIS HAPPEN TO US!’

We beseech You Father God that You will save us, even though we’re rotten sinners and we deserve every bit of it – we need Your mercy and we need You to be slow to anger. Help us to turn to You and to rend our hearts.

In chapter 3 – the LORD our God says that He will eventually bring judgment upon this world – upon all the evil and vile people and nations. But, not until He has punished the nations of Israel – His own people. In the Book of Isaiah, the 11th chapter He says, “the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria” and other nations of the earth. It speaks of the nations of Israel being taken captive again – a great message of regathering Israel. Having Israel in one hand and Judah in the other, joining them together.

Again in the Book of Isaiah, the 66th chapter says, “And with His chariots, like a whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. …”

Verse 1 – “’ For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, 2) I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.’” – now, this was something which happened anciently in 2nd Chronicles, the 20th chapter, where the nations of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan – who even today are modern-day combatants of Israel. Now, when the Israelites came across the Jordan River and entered into the Promised Land they annihilated all the Perizzites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, and the Hivites – and drove them out of the land. But, God wouldn’t let Israel invade the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir that came up against king Jehoshaphat – against Judah. These nations turned on each other. The LORD God had told His people, “’ Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” And He says this here again –

“ … ‘ And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage ISRAEL, …’” – notice this. “ … ‘ Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.’” – here again, evidence that the LORD God is going to allow these nations to carry away the modern-day descendants of the kingdom of Israel wherever they are.

Now, friends, this next verse is most horrible to read – it speaks of using Israelites or Jews to pay harlots as payment. Or, if he wants a bottle of wine, he gives an Israelite as payment.

Down in verse 9 – “Proclaim this among the nations [the Gentile nations]: ‘Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up. 10) Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”

There’s coming a time when the nations of Israel – like the United States of America, the United Kingdom and her Commonwealth nations, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and even South Africa will be so weak that even the weakest nations upon the earth will be able to go against them militarily.

Verse 11 – “’ Assemble and come, all you nations [Gentile nations], And gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD. 12) Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.’”

This, friends is spoken of in the Book of Revelation as the ‘Battle at Armageddon’ (cf. Revelation 16:16) – where all these Gentile nations are going to come together trying to fight Jesus Christ at His coming – and, of course, God will annihilate them.

Verse 13 – “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. …” – and in my margin, I have written: “see Revelation, chapter 14.”

So, let’s hold our place here, and turn to the Book of Revelation, chapter 14.

Verse 14 – “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.” – like an agricultural implement, a reaper, a mower, harvesting grain crops, or cutting foliage.

Verse 15 – “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ 16) So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. 17) Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18) And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, …” – almost as if there are two different harvests here – wouldn’t you say!? Now, one of them Jesus said, “’ Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” There is a harvest of the righteous people, but there’s also a harvest of the wicked.

“ … saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ 19) So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God [the seven last plagues].”

Verse 20 – “And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.” – talking about a blood-letting unlike anything seen upon this earth!

A great majority of people think that Jesus Christ is going to return as a very humble carpenter, with a humble pious soft-spoken voice – like Laverne Hooks in the 1984 Police Academy movie in which Lieutenant Harris asks her –
“What are you doing here?”
“I want to be a police officer,” she whispers.
“I want to be a police officer,” she whispers again, nearly inaudible.
“I can’t hear you!”
“I want to be a police officer,” she mouthed the words, silently.
“Don’t unpack.”
But, it talks about in the living word of God that Jesus Christ is going to slay the wicked! He is coming back to possibly kill millions if not hundreds of millions of people that are absolutely evil and vile.

God’s living word is plain describing the second coming of our LORD God Jesus Christ – ‘the wrath of Almighty God, the winepress trampled outside the city, blood coming out of the winepress up to the horses’ bridle’! Now, this, of course, is symbolic language of what Almighty God is going to do with millions upon millions of people who want to kill Him and His hosts of heaven - along with His saints.


Let’s quickly turn back to the Book of Joel

“ … ‘Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow – For their wickedness is great.’” – this is the reason why.

Verse 14 – “’ Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15) The sun and moon will diminish their brightness.’” – speaking of the time frame. Recall, Jesus saying, ’ Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars [Satan and his demons being thrown out of the atmosphere] will fall from heaven, … Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, …’ – I covered this in the article “A ‘Secret Rapture’?”

Verse 16 – “’ The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel.’”

What a glorious promise! What knowledge to possess to know that Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ are going to protect Their elect [the physical descendants of the children of Israel, cf. Matthew 24:22]!

Verse 17 – “’ So you shall know that I AM the LORD your God, …’”

Friends, God can and will protect His people, but that does not nullify the seriousness of this grave WARNING that lies within one of the smallest books of the entire Holy Bible. It carries one of the greatest warnings to all who will hear. I pray to God that our beloved nation will hear this warning, heed it, repent and rend their hearts – for Almighty God will surely hear. □


1 Oliver, L., “It could take three years for the US economy to recover from COVID-19” World Economic Forum, 30 March 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
2 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A.R., Brown, D., Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary of the Whole Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982, pp. 782.
3 Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Paradox Of Progress - “The Near Future: Tensions Are Rising” Global Trends. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
4 Burns, E.M., Ralph, P.L., World Civilizations Fifth Edition Vol. 1, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., The Mesopotamian and Persian Civilizations Chapter 3, © 1974, pp. 55, 82.
5 Atkin, E., “The Troubling Failure of America’s Disaster Response” 17 July 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
6 Pariona, A., “Murder Rate By Country” World Atlas, 9 January 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
7 Conflict and Environmental Observatory. “ISIL’s scorched earth policy in Iraq: options for its victims to be recognized under international law” 11 October 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2020.