My son Tyler started our conversation one Sunday morning in our house church (7-8-12) by asking a question on his heart regarding the nursing babies Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:19. Scott, a young man in our home fellowship, had been given a revelation about this passage that he began to share with all of us.
As the conversation went further in our midst, Michelle, a local Christian sister who just happened to join us for the first time on that particular morning, excitedly shared an amazing insight from the Spirit concerning the destruction of those in the church who never move on into maturity, but continue in immaturity with a false sense of security. Foolish shepherds bound by false teachings allow them to remain in this state, oblivious to the judgment of the Lord about to be poured out upon them. Their blood will be on these hirelings’ hands.
Michelle’s Facebook post concerning the insight read as follows;
“I was at the pond yesterday and it happened again. God spoke to me. I didn’t want to hurt the tadpoles in my pond, but I wanted to clean out the leaves and get the pond ready to swim in. If I used the chlorine to sanitize the water I might harm those tadpoles who could not escape the water yet. It made me think of how God might feel about us. That He might want to clean up this filthy and corrupt world, but that He doesn’t want to hurt us. He is patient. It must be hard for Him to care about us, having to look at the mess we are in and knowing He could clean it all up, but He has mercy on us and wants to save us. So, He waits and works in our hearts if we will listen.”
Without the growing of legs, the immature tadpoles could not get out of the pond. Michelle’s desire was to see them escape so she wouldn’t kill them with the chlorine. Out of mercy she patiently waited, hoping they would mature enough to escape before the inevitable cleansing was poured out. The Lord allowed her, and us, to know and understand His loving and just heart toward His creation in this midnight hour.
Scott proceeded to share an insight from the Scriptures that should put the fear of the Lord in every single Christian. We must guard out hearts so as not to become stagnant in spirit, continuing instead in willful submission to His maturing process within us. Resisting the Holy Spirit’s conforming fire in our lives designed specifically to transform us at the end of this age into the image of Christ will cause many in the church to curse God and die in the days that lie ahead. Instead, we must submit and grow up in Christ in order to be spared from the coming judgment. Surrendering to His will gives us the “legs” we need to mature and escape the inevitable place of destruction.
This is the hour of grace and mercy. The door of opportunity to enter God’s ark of protection will soon shut, making it too late for those who find themselves on the outside without protection. The pressure of God at the end of this age during an extremely difficult time period most Christians refer to as “the tribulation” will be used to mercifully move those who either simply don’t know because of the false teaching they have sat under, or are too stubborn and rebellious to move otherwise. In either case, some will still reject God’s final plea and perish.
In his autobiography, “An Asian Harvest,” Paul Hattaway gives a phenomenal insight gained as a young Christian while at Bible College. In chapter 12, which just happens to be called “Tadpoles,” he refers to his maturing in the Lord. He says;
“…I had a surface knowledge of the Scriptures and had learned certain verses and passages that encouraged me, but I was becoming a spiritually malnourished Christian. I needed to feast on the meat of God’s Word, for the Bible says, “Solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
Unfortunately, as the homework mounted, most of the students struggled with their spiritual lives. The amount of information going into our heads was far greater than our ability to process it. The British theologian John Stott once warned of the dangers of Christian tadpoles in the church. Tadpoles, he explained, have huge heads but little else. I learned that while multitudes of Christians attend Bible Colleges and seminaries to better understand the Word of God, many forget that they must also cultivate an experiential relationship with the God of the Word. If we focus solely on gathering knowledge, our heads will expand while our hearts shrink.” (p.93-94)
The Seven Bowls Of God’s Wrath
Revelation 15 and 16 describe seven angels who are commanded by God to “Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.” As with Michelle’s pouring of the chlorine in the water to sanitize it, this is the final cleansing of the Lord poured out upon His creation to cleanse it from the contamination of all wickedness. Chapter 15 ends with verse 8 telling us that during this time “no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” The temple door, the entrance into God’s dwelling, will be shut during this wrath with you and I on the side of the door our hearts have chosen (see the Bible study The Door).
The first angel poured out his bowl into the earth and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image (see the section The Mark Of The Beast in the Bible study Living Creatures And Wicked Beasts). Revelation 16:3 says the second angel poured out his bowl into the sea and it became blood like that of a dead man. Every “living creature” in it died, just like the tadpoles.
The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters and they too became blood. John then says in verses 5-6 that he heard the angel of the waters say, “Righteous art Thou, who art and who wast, O Holy One, because Thou didst judge these things; for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” The evil poured out by evil men upon God’s righteous servants has rightfully come back on their own heads.
The fourth angel’s bowl was poured out upon the sun, scorching men with fierce heat. Instead of repenting after all of these terrible judgments, they blasphemed the name of God, refusing to repent so as to give Him the glory. The stubbornness of our fallen natures amazes me. Instead of turning to the One who can save us, we push His outstretched hand away. Incredibly, three more bowls of wrath remain.
The fifth angel poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast and his kingdom became “darkened.” The Bible says all those in this place, under the domain of Satan, will gnaw their tongues in agony. Again, “they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.”
The Greek for “darkened” is skotoo which means “to darken, to cover with darkness.” Metaphorically speaking it means “to darken or blind the mind.” It comes from the word skotos which is used for “persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway.” This appears to be a preview of what they will encounter in hell.
One of the plagues poured out upon Egypt when God’s people were in bondage to slavery was a plague of darkness. Exodus 10:21 says that it was a darkness that could be felt. The Bible says that for three days no one could see anyone else or leave his “place.” This is the same scenario described in Revelation 15:8 when no one will be able to enter the temple because of the smoke from God’s glory and power until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
Exodus 10:23 gives those who have drawn near to the Lord great encouragement, saying, “but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.” This took place in the land of Goshen, where God’s children dwelt. The Hebrew for Goshen means “drawing near.” Because of their moving to the place of God’s choosing (Deuteronomy 12:5), all who have drawn close to Him at the end of this age through obedience will have the same “Light of life” (John 8:12). While the disobedient writhe in the agony of darkness, the obedient followers of Christ will be kept safe in the light of His glorious presence. Now is the time to draw near to Him so that He may draw near to you and I.
The Day Of The Lord’s Wrath
Joel 2 describes for us the Day of the Lord’s great and mighty judgments on earth. It is the cleansing we have been discussing. Verses 1-2 say, “Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, so there is a great and mighty people; there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations.”
This appears to be the darkness the fifth angel will pour out upon the kingdom of the beast. It is a place you and I do not want to find ourselves in. The word darkness is used twice in these verses. The first is taken from the Hebrew word choshek. Figuratively, it speaks of misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, and wickedness. To be in a place where God’s light is withheld, or obscured, is to be in a very wicked, agonizing place of misery and death. The smoke of God’s glory and power (Revelation 15:8) keeps mankind from finding the “Way” of entry into His dwelling. Like the roving mob of homosexuals in Sodom that the angels struck with blindness, they will be unable to find the door, which is Christ (John 10:7-9), entering into His place of salvation. On the outside, where Satan’s evil kingdom of darkness rules, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth without deliverance.
The second, for “thick darkness,” is araphel. It means “gloom (as of a lowering sky), a heavy or dark cloud, gross darkness, thick darkness.” It will truly be a day of doom and gloom for all who reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They will not be able to find Him in this day. He will be hidden from their sight. It will be too late.
In 2 Peter 1, Peter tells us that if we possess certain qualities in increasing measure that he lists for us in verses 5-7, they will keep us from being “ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He goes on in verse 9 to say, “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”
The Greek for “blind” is tuphlos. It means “opaque, as if smoky; by analogy to be blind physically or mentally.” It is taken from tuphoo which means “to envelop with smoke, i.e. (figuratively) to inflate with self-conceit, to blind with pride or conceit, to render foolish or stupid.” This is the blinding we have been discussing that occurs to all those who dwell in Satan’s kingdom of darkness, including the “foolish” virgins of God who will not listen and prepare (Matthew 25:1-13).
It is critical that you and I notice that Peter did not write this to unbelievers, but to “those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” in verse 1, and to the person who “has been cleansed from his past sins” in verse 9. Many in the church have been taught that this could never happen to them. This warning is clearly written to Christians.
He continues in verses 10-11, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice [“do”- a doer of the word] these things, you will never stumble [which also means “fall,” as in the great falling away from the faith]; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
Removing all doubt in regards to his subject, Peter exhorts the “brethren” to be doers of the word, not just forgetful hearers that do not put into practice God’s commands (see Saul’s Failure To Keep The Lord’s Charge in the Bible study Living Creatures And Wicked Beasts), so that the “entrance” into God’s kingdom will be abundantly supplied to them. With extraordinarily clear vision, our Shepherd, the Way, will joyfully lead us by the hand into the glorious light of His presence forever... (continued in part 2)