Sept 1, 2007 The Beginning of Sorrows Kathleen Maples Mat 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. Jesus has just finished blasting the hypocrisy of the church leadership, preaching against their selfishness, arrogance and pride. He pointed out how they occupy the place of teacher of the law, as Moses did, but unlike Moses, they do not live what they teach, instead, yet they expect others to. The disciples had listened, probably astonished at His anger against the Pharisees and all the woes the Lord had pronounced would come their way. Woe means suffering. It's an expression of grief and indignation by someone who is greatly suffering. He saw what they had done with His precious Word which He magnified above His name even, (Psa 138:2). He saw how they treated the people. Imagine the surprise of the disciples as they look at one another in amazement at what the Lord is saying as He rebukes the Pharisees in Matthew 23, and they look at each other, wondering, and questions fill their minds. Surely, they admired His courage, for they themselves were intimidated by the Pharisees, as were other men. Two things I see in the Scriptures that rile Jesus up and I surely want to avoid: religious hypocrisy, and misusing the House of God for things other than what He said it was to be. Mar 13:1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! Luk 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, The disciples were still impressed with the visible. They were impressed with the elegant and beauty and apparent strength of the temple. They had just listened to Him castigate the present religious system and they were trying to find something good to point out to the Lord. After all the criticism he pronounced on the Jewish religious teachers, the disciples were mentally reeling. Master, look at this temple, isn't it right? Isn't it good? They were still trying to find something good out of a system that was fast fading and would be done away with in the eyes of God. They thought, look at the magnificence of this building, how many years it took men to build it, how carefully they constructed this temple, according to what once stood there. According to the pattern given Solomon by David. Mat 24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. It's going to be destroyed, this old system, and everything that represents it will be torn down, dissolved, and overthrown. All man's efforts, all man's ideas and traditions, all the religious striving and self effort, the animal sacrifices, all of this is going to be done away with. Exiting out most likely from the Beautiful Gate of the temple, on the east side, the distance to the Mount of Olives was about two tenths of a mile. During this short walk, I imagine the disciples' heads were spinning. He had just verbally torn down everything they had been taught their whole lives by these Pharisees. I don't think their hearts always agreed with the Pharisees, but remember when you came to Christ, having been taught your whole life to depend on self, self effort, self improvement, self esteem, all these things are important. And then He begins to teach you self must die. Self must be crucified because it gets in His way, it hinders us from His best. Can you relate to what He was telling them? The location He chose to go to was elevated above the temple, above the city, and they could look down from their vantage point and observe the area. The disciples can't contain their questions anymore when He sits down. They are alone, and they must know what He means. Mat 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Luk 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. They will say I am Christ. Christ means "the anointed One". When you hear someone lightly, frequently, and proudly proclaiming they have the anointing of God, be careful!!! What they are really saying is they are speaking for Him, so you must listen to them. Be careful, saints, don't follow them! If they have to bear witness of themselves, it means the Holy Spirit isn't! The word "Christ" means anointed. Period. We know He was the Messiah, the Son of God. He was, He is and He will always be. But the word "Christ" itself means anointed. His name together means The Anointed Salvation and Deliverance of Jehovah. "How many preachers, male and female, do you hear preaching, saying they are anointed and telling you that you can be saved but you don't have to live above sin? In religious circles the word "anointed, anointing" is used and abused much like the word "love" is in the world. The true anointing of God will only be put on someone intimately, yielded, subdued to, and acquainted with the Father. They will be humble, have a servant's heart, and the honor of God, the holiness of God, the sacrifice of the cross, and the purity and necessity of the blood will be their primary concern, and personal example. They will not be seeking a reputation for themselves or 'their ministry'. The only ministry anybody has is of Christ, to Christ and for Christ. We are to reach out to the lost and hurting, those who have nothing to give us. We should not expect from others, but go to God for our needs. The lost still have a soul desperately needing the Savior and we need to be more concerned! You hear the TV preachers spouting they feel the anointing, all they time, but are you seeing any yokes destroyed? Are you seeing the poor fed, and the sick healed, and the lame walking? Are you seeing the broken restored and ministered to? Are you seeing the captives set free? Folks, if the true anointing of God is on you, the Holy Spirit will bear witness of it, you don't have to say a word. Fear will keep your lip shut because you will know that if your flesh dares to try to touch the glory He will lift it. Your heart will be set on seeing people ministered to by HIM, and you will know you are greatly honored that He chose to do it through your vessel. God had set rules about the anointing oil, which was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. HE said it won't be poured on flesh, and it won't be put on a stranger, someone who isn't mine. (Exo_30:32-33) If these ministers that claim the anointing are walking in the flesh, and are materialistic, be sure they do not have the real thing. Even as I write, His fear reminds me I will answer for what I say. We have to be so careful, folks. There will be many misrepresentations of Christ in the last days where we are living. There are many who claim His Name, claim to represent Him that do not even know Him. He said by their fruit ye shall know them. Some live lavish lifestyles, catering to their own desires and bragging they are rich because God wants us to be rich. How does that kind of gospel stand up in places like Kenya, Sudan, and Darfur? It can't. The Bible says we are to follow the example of Christ-and He came into this world, not to own a piece of it (even though He owns it all), He came and did not make of Himself any reputation or start trying to accumulate wealth and power, He began to try to accumulate souls for the kingdom. He did not promote Himself. He lived as the people He was trying to reach lived. He did not place Himself above them or out of their reach. He was approachable, humble, and friendly. He also did not believe the lie of hell that His suffering was because He had displeased God. There was a reason behind everything He suffered. He warned His disciples not to be fooled by men who would claim to represent Him and don't. Are there people God can trust with wealth that will still love and serve Him? Yes, and we might be surprised to know how many God has. But they do not advertise, and they do not make merchandise out of God's people and market His Holy Name to make a buck. How can we ourselves represent Him if we do not take time alone with Him, getting to know Him and allowing Him free course to change us and conform us by the power of the Holy Spirit into His image? Reading about Him is one thing. Communing with Him and learning Him (Matt 11:28-30) is another entirely different thing. Take heed that no man deceive you. There is only ONE way to accurately represent Him. To allow Him complete control of your life and accept that you must decrease so He can increase and be seen in you. For many, that is too hard a word to swallow. Mat 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Mat 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. Mat 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. Today in our world, there is wars going on, there is strife among nations, contention among the races and religious groups. The politicians can't agree or get along. A spirit of lawlessness has invaded the land and lays thickly over the world. We hear rumors of wars. The Gospel is being preached to warn us that trouble is coming if there is a watchman over the people but also to give the people of God, and all who will hear the only hope there is, Christ Jesus. The media preaches gloom and doom, with their daily dose of negative death and destruction stories. They speculate on what North Korea and Iran are going to do with the bomb. They fret because the rest of the world doesn't like us, which is childish. I would prefer to have the respect of the world, not their favor. There is only One whose favor we need and if we have HIS favor on this nation, the rest will fall in line. The Bible plainly says when a man's ways (and that applies to women, even to the whole nation) please the LORD, He can make their enemies be at peace with them. Did not God stir up Israel's enemies to come against them when they turned away from God and began performing ritualistic child sacrifices, and worshiping idols? Could it be that God is stirring up America's enemies to show her she needs to get back to the God she's forsaken? In my heart, I believe it is. There has never been such a time of division between nations, and cultures and people and families. I find it astonishing lately, that the Palestinians who hate Israel, have stopped fighting Israel so much because the two warring groups in Gaza and the West Bank have begun to fight each other. You have Hamas fighting Fatah. Both are Palestinian. In Iraq, you have Shiite Muslims against Sunni Muslims and our soldiers are caught in the middle. The immigration issue in our country is dividing races, and peoples and politicians. Folks, Jesus warned a house divided will not stand. It will fall. People are so selfish, they form groups, and openly label them "self-interest" groups, to lobby (or intimidate, and bribe) politicians into supporting their cause, even over the objections of the folks at home who elected them. It's insane! Jesus gave some signs of His imminent arrival. One sign He gave is an increase in earthquakes in various places. Below is a picture from the USGS website about recent earthquakes. This surely does look like a LOT of earthquakes for the past month. You can find this information here: http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/qed/ Recent Earthquakes - Last 8-30 Days These stats were taken on Aug. 4, 2007. On the same website, I counted 519 earthquakes in the past 30 days., listed by time, place and magnitude. Now, the list was long and I might have miscounted, give or take one or two. But 519 quakes 2.5 or greater on the Richter scale? What is the danger of seeing websites like this, and watching documentaries about earthquakes, and listening to all the talking heads on TV talk about it? Complacency. They make it seem normal, like this is just part of nature. They call these signs 'mother nature'. But JESUS said this was a sign of His coming. What about pestilences? He mentioned that, too. You have West Nile Virus, TB, E.coli, meningitis, aids, hepatitis C, Mad Cow disease, the avian or "bird" flu that people were so panicked about in the CDC and world health organizations. Jesus said all these things will happen. They were the beginning of sorrows. The resulting famines, and sickness and suffering caused by the plagues and earthquakes, and wars will be and are great. People are going to look for someone to blame for their problems, and they will look anywhere but at themselves. They will turn on each other in their misery and hate each other. But remember, the Word of God says this: Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Jas 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Jesus said you must understand this because I've told you before hand these things would happen, recognize it when you see it, discern the signs of the times, and know they must be, but do not be frightened. This is a result of man trying to be their own god and do things their own way, in total rebellion against God. We are warned ahead of time so we can be prepared to stand and face these things in the strength of the Lord, because that is the only way we can. We are foolish if we don't make the best of this time by fortifying ourselves in the Word of God, and getting often as possible in His presence and drawing strength from Him, learning Him. This will build our faith on the Rock. It will build up our most holy faith. There will be all these terrible things happen, but just like when the judgment of God fell on Egypt in the form of plagues and pestilences, God's people were untouched. They were spared. God did not let the destruction that fell on Egypt come nigh His children's doors. This was to be a sign to the world that God put a difference between His children and those who rebelled against Him and worshiped idols. This showed the people their idols were useless but I wonder how many in Egypt turned to God after this? I believe any that did left with Israel. Those who didn't were angry, bitter and wanted retribution. (See Rev 9:20, 16:9, 11) God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and I believe a bitter desire for revenge was what was in his heart and his army's heart if they could have gotten their hands on Israel. They were so mad with grief and anger they were not put off by seeing a pillar of fire descend from the sky and separate the two nations, they were not put off or turned back by seeing the sea open up. They went right in after them, to their death. What rage and lust for vengeance must have been driving these people. The hand of God is mighty and we have no hope if we try to resist Him-rather than trust Him and love Him. He is our Shelter, our Hiding place, our Defender. Mat 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Mat 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Mat 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. We as people see these things, and if we feed our spirits on frequent doses of media coverage, TV and talk radio, it is not good. The side effects are a dangerous dulling of our spiritual ears and eyes, while opening ourselves up to a flood of despair and depression, discouragement, a sense of hopelessness. People who feed on this stuff will become desensitized to it. They begin to accept it as inevitable and a feeling of helplessness will hinder them. The TV shows you atrocity after atrocity. There are dangerous spirits that will war against your mind from feeding on that stuff and try to grip you with fear, and powerlessness, just like spirits of lust will try to grip you if you indulge in pornography. And you won't even realize what has taken hold of you. These are perilous times, and the flood of iniquity that the devil is spewing out of his mouth is carrying so many away, and they are losing their first love for Jesus, and for others. They are turning from Him to themselves, seeking to satisfy their own self. They are growing cold, and hard, because there are so many bad things happening and the devil is right there to blow cold air on the fire of love for Christ that burns in the heart of believers because he wants to put it out. The Bible warns you he is the prince of the power of the air. He shoots his darts into the minds of people, like a cold breeze, to try to numb, disillusion, discourage and cause people to quit. Many are. But those who refuse to surrender their faith to the powers of darkness and despair, and hold on to God, trusting not in the sight of their eyes and the lies of the enemy, they will be saved. Many preachers today will tell you, if you confess His name and believe then you are saved. Really? James warns us in chapter 2:19 that the devils believe and they tremble. If you really believe then you won't continue living like you have been. If Jesus Christ comes to live in you and you are truly born again, you begin to hunger and thirst for the things of God, to know Him, and be like Him. Your life and your behavior will change. If this doesn't happen you aren't saved, no matter what the preacher says. And as these things continue to unfold before our eyes, we must grab hold tighter on the Lord and His promises. We must take His promises to Him and bind Him to them, remind Him what He said and ask Him to perform His Word in us and through us as it pertains to us. The most needful I can think of now is Eph 5:18-Be filled with the Spirit. That means "be ALWAYS, regularly, continually filled". Jesus warns we will face affliction, we will be hated, betrayed by some around us because there will be a rise in hatred for the name and testimony of Jesus Christ. Whenever the light is turned on, the roaches run and hide, don't they? They don't like light. The Bible warns men love darkness rather than light and won't come to the light that they can be saved. (Joh_3:19-20) Without the power of the Holy Spirit we won't be able to endure very much and we have to hold on until He comes for us.
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