Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A New Year's Message


  Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD. 

I hope in taking this text that its application to this congregation is somewhat muted and its full meaning will have lost its sharpest edge!
It struck me as I read these words recently (in a daily reading book) that these words were spoken by the prophet to an ungodly man

Hananiah might have been a prophet, but he was a false prophet
He was a reprobate and his claim on God's patience had run done
Jeremiah (true prophet) was the man chosen by God to tell him that the incoming year would witness his death (text)
This effectively declared Hananiah to be a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18: 20)

Note the AUTHORITY with which Jeremiah spoke: "Thus saith/LORD"
Note the SPECIFIC JUDGEMENT: "Thou shalt die…"
Note the EXECUTIONER: God says, "I will…"  (Reminds us of Daniel 5:23: "The God in whose hand thy breath is…")
Note the JUDICIAL NATURE OF THE DEATH: "I will cast thee from off the face of the earth"  The death of a reject
Hananiah was so foul that his bodily presence contaminated the earth
Note the SPECIFIC CHARGES LAID AGAINST THE ACCUSED: "Because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord."
It is one thing to rebel yourself against the Lord…another: teach it to others and so lead them into such folly and sin
Note the EXECUTION ITSELF: (v17)

We mentioned that the recipient/these words was an ungodly man
This sparked the thought: There are no words like these ever spoken to any of the Lord's people in the Bible
Here's our main theme in this message: Why not to a Christian?
I can think of 4 good reasons:


A/ Suppose that we were to get a message (even if not in judgement) that this year would be the one of our decease, then we would be focused on this great and final act of departure from this world

B/ Although death to a Christian is viewed as the entrance door into heaven and glory, yet the subject/death itself leads to morbid feelings
It must have its place in our thoughts but it is a limited place
The ungodly who have everything to fear from death refuse to think about it - that is total folly for a  man unprepared to meet God
But the Christian is not to wrapped up in morbid thoughts either

C/ When a person becomes a Christian - he receives life in Jesus Christ
[i]  He receives eternal life (John 3:15)
[ii]  He receives abundant life (John 10:10)
[iii] He receives a changed life: 2 Corinthians 5:17 

D/ This life that we receive, replacing the old life/sin and which is to be lived by the power of God working in and through us, is to be lived on this earth free from any distracting or discouraging thoughts

Every Christian ought to be a walking billboard for the power/gospel
The Lord said: "Ye shall be witnesses unto me" (Acts 1:8)
We witness for our Lord by living for Him
We speak for Him - even those things which a wicked sin loving world does not want to hear  (cp. Jeremiah's ministry) - but we are required to back up our words (which reflect our faith) by our lives

E/ The Apostle Paul recognised this truth when he said:
For me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)
He did not hide his head/sand about death, but he concentrated on having Christ as Lord of his remaining days on this earth

Another reason why we are not told the day of our death:


A/ By withholding from us all information concerning our deaths, the Lord creates a spirit of dependence upon Him

Before we develop this, it is worth noting that God is not under any obligation to relate to us any of His proposed dealings with us: He is Lord both of the Dead and the Living (Romans 14:9)
He is also our loving Heavenly Father, concerned to do what is ever best for us according to His wisdom and power, and He wisely withholds such information from us - a decision which should not be queried

B/ By withholding this specific information (but by relaying to us the general fact that we could be candidates for death this year or any year) this creates in us a spirit of dependence upon the Lord
Again, without being morbid, yet we should take each new day as an opportunity to live for Jesus Christ
We are to be aware that the shadows are fast lengthening - that (to quote the Lord Jesus) the night is coming when no man can work
Therefore, we must say (like the Lord Jesus)
"I must work the works of Him who sent me"

C/ Pack what you can into each day for the Lord Jesus
You cannot guarantee yourself tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1)
You may (of course) lay plans for the future (wise) but remember that some future plans will not have you there to witness them

D/ Such a spirit of expectancy and dependence upon God is part of what the Bible calls: Living/walking by faith 
No child/God should give the impression that he is living for this world
He should give the impression which Paul clearly stated when he said:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Another reason why we are not told the day of our death:


A/ Hymn writer: The sky not the grave is our goal
This is a reference to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (Read)

B/ This truth of the Lord's return is a suffering truth!
What do  I mean by that?

[i] On one hand: It is over emphasised in some circles - and I fear that many of the things said/believed in relation to it are fanciful and unscriptural! Best selling "Christian" books are those which relate to prophesy and the Middle East etc.

Christ gets lost in the midst of the details that prophetic guru's introduce for His coming

[ii] On the other hand: it must be said that it is under emphasised in some circles and is hardly mentioned from one's week end to another
(Maybe we are guilty of this here?)

Either way, we fail to display the spirit of expectancy that our Lord Jesus, whom we profess to love, will come back again
It is possible that this will be in our life time

C/ This thought animated the early NT church
It is thought that they maybe overdid it a bit  - hence the corrections to some misunderstandings we get in the 1/2 Thessalonians epistles
But nevertheless - they were a people who were watching/waiting
I would rather be a little wrong in my prophetic views but have a heart full of love/longing for Christ than to be 100% correct and sit unmoved

D/ An evidence/grace that we look for Christ's return:
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1Thessalonians 1:9-10)

E/ God gives a crown to those who love the thought of His appearing:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

F/ The last prayer in the whole Bible is the sighing of the Apostle John that the Lord Jesus would come again (Revelation 22:20)
This prayer should be often upon the hearts of all God's people
Whatever our disagreements on the details  - the event itself is a solid fundamental Christian doctrine that will cause the hearts of God's people to positively glow with excitement and wonder/praise

G/ This would be lost, though, if we busy anticipating a date in the incoming year for our death
We are not looking to be laid down in a grave but raised up in the air
The sky, not the grave is our goal


A/ The Bible makes it clear that such will happen:
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. (Zechariah 8:23)

Such a desire is based on more than mere rumour
Desire to go with the people/God is often based on critical observation 
People hear/see and feel (being convicted by the power of the Holy Ghost) that the Lord is among His people - that salvation is real - and that this is the place to be if they would secure their eternal future

B/ Of course, we can greatly aid this perception among men
Did Moses not invite his own father-in-law with these words?
Come thou with us and we will do thee good? (Numbers 10:29)
And we ought to do so with a zeal that shows how much we love Christ

C/ This message is based on the thought how that these words giving notice of pending death were given in judgement to an unsaved man and why they are generally withheld from the people of God
We even have a wonderful example of a man who was promised that death would not knock at his door until a definitive point in his life:
And it was revealed unto [Simeon]  by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26)
What I like about this is that when Simeon witnessed the new born Saviour, he simply offered prayer to God and said:
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, (Luke 2:29-30)
He is bearing testimony to the fact that once a man sees the Lord Jesus in that act/saving faith, then the world has nothing else to offer
It's all we can hope to gain to be brought into saving union/Christ
Certainly, there is nothing more precious than this
Even to gain the whole world only to lose the soul is an unmitigated loss

D/ If we can, first recognise this great truth for ourselves in a practical way and then live it out in front of others  - God will bless that witness to the salvation of many precious souls and that will glorify Him

In closing: This year thou shalt die
Whether literally true of any here is beyond my power to say
I make a better historian than I do a prophet
One thing is sure: This year I can live for Jesus Christ
No better way to live each day as it comes




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