Remember God’s Plan of the Ages
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you remember the plan of the ages!
FRIDAY: God Stakes His Name on Israel
“At the same time,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” Thus says the Lord: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness—Israel, when I went to give him rest.”
God has staked His name on one nation—Israel. No city on planet Earth has the history of God’s city—Jerusalem! For over 4,000 years Jerusalem has been the city of God. Look with me at this timeline of God’s association with Jerusalem.
Well over 4,000 years ago, Jerusalem was the city of Melchizadek (a type of Christ [see Genesis 14]) and Abraham’s offering of Isaac; over 3,000 years ago Jerusalem was the city of David, the city of Solomon, and of God’s personally designed temple. God calls it “My city” (Hosea 5:15). Two thousand years ago Jerusalem was the place of Christ’s Crucifixion—now a place sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. In A.D. 70 the temple (built by Herod) was destroyed. The first temple (Solomon’s) was destroyed in 586 B.C. The second temple was built by Zerubbubel, and then greatly enlarged and embellished for over 40 years by Herod. In A.D. 685-691 the Dome of the Rock was built over the same area, and in A.D. 1520-1566 Suleman the Magnificent added the present walls. Today this city of less than a square mile is the focus of most of the nations of the world for one reason: God has chosen Jerusalem to be the focal point for His plan for the end of the world!
God keeps His Word. Now look at Revelation 11:1-2 again where God says that there will be another temple: “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.”
Daniel also said that there would be another temple (9:27 and 12:11), as did Christ in Matthew 24:15-16 and Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Thus, no matter how bleak Israel’s situation may become in our fast-darkening world, or how impossible it may seem that they can even survive as a nation, God is in control working out His plan. He has a building project, and all that He has written and promised will come to pass.
God protects His own—to the finish: “ And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner” (Revelation 11:3-5).
God has always had His witnesses: Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Job, Moses, Samuel, and so on. But who are the two witnesses in verse 3? There are several possibilities. Perhaps they are Joshua and Zerubbabel, as mentioned in Zechariah 3-4. Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-11) are possibilities because neither saw death, and both were fearless prophets during times of apostasy (Jude 14-15).
Moses and Elijah are the most likely choice, however, because of their presence on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17); position in God’s plan (head of the Law and head of the Prophets); and their God-given power in ministry (Moses’ plagues in Egypt and Elijah’s fire and drought). Note verse 6: These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy [Elijah]; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues [Moses], as often as they desire (Revelation 11:6).
It is intriguing to read that the two at the tomb of Jesus (Luke 24:4, 7) and the two at the ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:9-11) were called “men,” and not angels. Malachi 3:3 and 4:5-6 is a very strong prophecy of Elijah’s coming. It is very possible that Elijah and Moses witnessed for Christ at the Transfiguration, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. The timing of the ministries of the two witnesses and the 144,000 evangelists is not entirely clear. But if the two witnesses are in the first half of the Tribulation, then the 144,000 could very well be saved and called into duty by the ministry of these particular witnesses.
Now, the first reference to “the beast” (which appears thirty-six times in the book) is in Revelation 11:7: When they [the two witnesses] finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.
While it is true that God protects His own, the two witnesses will be destroyed by the Antichrist. How can that be explained? God’s protection does not preclude disease, death, and martyrdom. However, He protects us from doing anything less than serving Him and fulfilling His will—and His will just might happen to be disease, death, and martyrdom. We don’t know what His plan is. We are simply to serve Him by life or death, and trust that He will grant protection for as long as is needed for us to finish His plan.
Jacob followed his Shepherd: And he blessed Joseph, and said: “… The God who has fed me … to this day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:15-16).
David finished God’s purposes for his life: “When David had served God’s purpose …, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed” (Acts 13:36, NIV).
Paul finished the race course God laid out for him: I have fought the good fight, … finished the race, … kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord … will give to me on that Day, and … to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Jesus confidently cried out in victory: So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit (John 19:30).
God gives endless life: And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then [all] … will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. [All] … will rejoice over them … because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, … and great fear fell on those who saw them. … And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and … seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly (Revelation 11:8-14).
Imagine the world’s immense shock when they see the two witnesses alive again! Raising the dead is certainly nothing new for our omnipotent God—the One … who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did … (Romans 4:17). He gives this same wonderful promise to us: … He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:11). Hallelujah!
There will be a quake at the end of each of the series of judgments: the sixth seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl. This huge earthquake will kill thousands of people and thereby bring terror to those yet alive. Some will become so afraid that they give “glory to the God of heaven,” which may be an indication of the salvation of a Jewish remnant.
We can glean three practical lessons from today’s devotional: (1) God keeps His Word; (2) God protects His own; and (3) God gives endless life. Do you trust Him? Do you rest in the confident hope that He will be with you to the finish of the race He’s laid out for you? Do you communicate that hope to those around you?
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