that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, (Romans 9:2-3)
I had a strange awakening this morning – one of those rare moments in which the time from when consciousness stirred until my eyes actually opened seemed to last forever. It may only be have been a few minutes, but a kaleidescope of images and thoughts fused and melted in my mind, each one making less sense than the last, but with the certain conviction behind all of them that they contained a message I needed to find. For this reason, our devotional today may be a little late, but I believe it’s a sharing of something we all need to hear and take hold of. While I’m not one of those who arrogantly claim ‘thus saith the Lord,’ I yet feel convicted to share this and to trust that God will speak to each one of us through His message in a manner that will reach each of us according to His purposes. Given the diverse collection of ‘random’ perceptions that came together, I shall trace through them, beginning with the image of a single candle shining in the darkness. I believe that His grace reveals truths we all need if we are to live the priorities of God in end times.
Understanding the priorities of God in end times is the first step in learning to live them as we are called to do – in the image of Christ.
My perception of this image – that which I felt God was saying in this moment – was that the candle is each one of us. We live in a world of ever-increasing darkness, a world which sometimes attempts to snuff out the light, and a darkness which we often feel our tiny light is unable to penetrate. I was reminded as I pondered this of two things: first, the source of our light is God Himself. Our light is His glory reflected through our lives. Provided we stay connected to the ‘power source,’ our light can never go out – no matter how encroaching the darkness or how feeble we may feel we are. It’s not about us us and what we can do, it’s about Him. One of the priorities of God in end times is that we keep shining the light He has given us.
The second thing was the ancient tradition among various peoples of leaving a candle burning in a window to lead a traveller home. An untended candle, left to go out, means that a lost traveller never finds his way. This is still one of the priorities of God in end times – reaching out to save the lost, and perhaps more than ever before, because time is running out. When Jesus told His disciples to ‘go, and proclaim the Gospel,’ He never set a time limit. It was essentially a not-negotiable, ongoing, constant thing. Our proclaiming is our light. While we may not all be evangelists called to literally ‘go to the ends of the earth,’ we are called to live and speak the Gospel where we are. That’s our light – our witness is our living testimony to the glory of God shining through us, wherever we are. We may be one, we may be feeble, but if we allow Him to continue to shine in us, through His power, the lost will find their way home.
The second thing that struck me was Revelation 1:7: Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. As I looked beyond the obvious for the ‘real message,’ I had a rather unexpected awareness of the Internet – the world-wide web, the mechanism that connects people all across the globe in a matter of seconds. Through the internet, I can converse with people in my tomorrow or my yesterday while being firmly grounded in the past – the wonder and confusion of time zones. This led me to the realisation that our world is now largely run on satellites, and that this verse from Revelation is actually easily and completely possible. At this moment in time, it is an entirely plausible actuality that the whole world can witness the second coming of Christ. We may condemn the direction our world is taking, but this is another of the priorities of God in end times – the the whole world would see His coming.
This truth provided a moment of great rejoicing, a moment of relief and pleasure that the coming of our King is so much closer than we all realise. At the same time, it brought a weight of pain and heartbreak. Through the realisation came today’s verse – Paul’s lament for his countrymen, his heartbroken, surrendered willingness to give his own salvation for theirs. I saw then what the life, suffering, and death of Jesus meant in terms of our identification with Him. I realised, my heart aching, that we so easily identify with Him when it comes to receiving our own salvation and all the promises of God that go with it. But one of the priorities of God in end times is that we identify fully with Christ in being willing to lay aside all for the salvation of others. It’s a challenging, sobering, heart-wrenching truth we can no longer afford to ignore.
I saw, in that moment, the contradiction in the blessing of our advanced technology and how it so easily seduces us from God’s purposes. I, for one, love the Internet. It enables me to research things I might otherwise not have access to. It enables me to earn a living, as many of my treasured clients are internationally based. For this reason, it enables me to work from home, and to arrange my day to set aside time for God and the calling He has placed on my life. It also enables me to stay in contact with loved ones who are far away, and I have, in fact, made some dear friends in people I have yet to meet face to face – not many, but enough to make contact with them meaningful. In this respect, the Internet is a valuable tool, enabling me to fulfill two of the other priorities of God in end times – spreading the Gospel and fellowship with other believers.
At the same time, however, the Internet is the primary tool whereby the priorities of God in end times are challenged and undermined. It aids the proliferation of erroneous teaching. It provides access to ‘flaky’ ministries, ‘spiritual hype,’ and false prophets who promote the doctrines of demons. New Christians are often led astray, misinformed, or even belittled and attacked online by those promoting other religions and even total atheism. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen posts from atheists in Christian forums, vilifying our faith, mocking Christ, and denying the existence of God. Those who do not have a sound knowledge of the Word are easy prey. Those who may still be searching for truth are as easily disillusioned – often by the so-called ‘crazy Christians’ who twist and abuse the Word for their own self-gratification and power building.
As believers, we face a hard battle in living the priorities of God in end times. We are called to stand as God’s remnant in an ever-darkening world, to shine despite the tempest and the struggle. I emerged from my meditation with this single imperative: today’s verse, in which Paul so evidently and heartbrokenly manifests the nature of Christ as our reminder, exemplifies the attitude that will be required. The very nature of a remnant is that which remains after everything else is destroyed, that which is scattered, isolated, and seemingly purposeless. While we cannot adequately define, explain, or even understand all the purposes of God in end times, this we can do: shine our light as He shone His, no matter the cost.
I saw Jesus high on the hill above Jerusalem, weeping for His people. I saw Him prostrate in the garden, weeping with an anguish so deep that He sweated great drops of blood in His struggle to live the purpose of God. I saw Him silent before His accusers, crying out beneath the cruel lash, wounded, crowned with thorns, willingly giving His hands and feet to the nails that secured Him to His cursed cross, His humiliation. I saw Him endure the rejection, not only of His people but from His loving Father who was also Himself. I saw the utter abandonment, the crushing weight of guilt, despair, and aloneness. All the priorities of God in end times can be summed up in this single truth: His purposes in Christ have never changed. He gave His life so that all could be saved. While we rejoice in the coming of the King of Glory, this should be heart of His remnant.
We stand in one of the most dramatic and wonderful times in the entire history of mankind. It is no ‘accident’ or simple coincidence that you and I, and every believer, is here in this place and time. Each of us are called to a purpose greater than any we could have ever imagined. We are called to live the priorities of God in end times. We are called to shine the Light that is Christ in the gathering darkness, to reflect His light in our lives so that the lost might come home. Today, Jesus stands as our High Priest, our Advocate, our Intercessor before the throne of grace, and we are His representatives on earth. Our purpose is eternally bound up in Him. Just as He is our example in utter surrender to the purposes of God, so He is also our example in this – to seek and save the lost. To keep the candle of intercession burning. To pray for those we know are unsaved, and to witness as the Spirit leads us. To stand in the gap for those in our churches not fully saved – the multitude who will be swept away in the Great Apostasy that is already beginning.
I believe, absolutely and completely, that God is issuing a call to the remnant to rise up and begin to live the priorities of God in end times. We are all different. We have different strengths, different abilities, different giftings and different callings. But we have Christ in us, a divine unity that the darkness cannot overcome, a power that can penetrate even the blackest night or fiercest storm. Let us allow Him to kindle the flame that burns away our fear and resistence, that brings us to our knees at the foot of the cross, that willingly shoulders the agony and heartache manifested in Paul in our verse today – the heart of our Saviour Himself for a lost and perishing world.
If God has spoken to you today, I pray that He will continue to do so and am assured that He will give you direction for your way forward. I pray that you will share this message with others, that you will find fellowship with those of like hearts, that the Word of God will stir us all to begin to live the priorities of God in end times with the courage and certain faith that His purposes will be fulfilled in and through us all.
Father, thank You for Your grace and mercy, and for the timely reminders that time is short. We rejoice in the knowledge that our King is coming soon. Help us to ignite our lights in You, to remain steadfast in the darkness, to stay connected to the power source that is Christ in us. Bring us closer to You, Lord, and reveal Your will and purpose in and through us, for Your glory, always.