Yesterday, I discussed how we need to be “Berean’s” in our desire to search out the Truth in the Scriptures. Whenever you hear a teaching from some preacher in your church, on the radio or TV, (even via email), don’t just smile and say, “Wow! That was cool!” No, you need to verify the accuracy of what they taught you. Study it, or as Paul admonished Timothy,
Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman who is tested by trial and has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15)
That is your job. Yes, the preacher has to do his part by studying and preparing the teaching, but then you must verify what you have been taught! He will be judged according to the teaching, you will be judged for the obeying. So, make sure you are following the Truth and not something that preacher dreamed up.
If you look into the ninth chapter of Revelation, it may appear obvious, at first, but you can see a very graphic warning about this very thing:
“When the fifth angel blew his trumpet, I saw a star that had fallen to earth from the sky. The star was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. It opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and smoke came out of the shaft like the smoke from a large furnace. The smoke darkened the sun and the air. Locusts came out of the smoke onto the earth, and they were given power like the power of earthly scorpions. They were told not to harm any grass, green plant, or tree on the earth. They could harm only the people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:1-4).
Now first, understand that am not saying that we have entered the time that may be represented here. Frankly, we can’t say what time is being represented here. But we do see it is clearly a time of judgment. But in the fourth verse, it seems odd that when the “earthly scorpions” or in other translations, “Locusts,” are released, they were told they could attack the people, but could not attack whatever was green! What is that all about?
Well, whenever you begin a quest to understand the rich heritage of biblical images, such a “green things,” you will notice that the Bible is truly a dictionary defining and interpreting itself. In his book, Paradise Restored, David Chilton wrote,
“The Bible is not structured in a flat, this-means-that style. Instead, it is meant to be read visually. We are to see the images rise before us in succession, layer upon layer, allowing them to evoke a response in our minds and hearts.
The prophets, for example, did not write in order to create stimulating intellectual exercise. They wrote to teach. They wrote in visual, dramatic symbols; and if we would fully understand their message, we must appreciate their vocabulary. We must read the Bible visually.
The visual symbols themselves, and what the Bible says about them, are important aspects of what God wants us to learn; otherwise he wouldn’t have spoken that way.”
When we read the Bible and find a symbolic or figurative expressions, we should think of the biblical associations for that symbol. They are what Chilton calls a buzzword and are supposed to cause all of the biblical examples to come rushing into our mind. Chilton explains,
“The Bible uses many of these “buzz-words,” and increases the number of them as it goes on; until, by the time we get to Revelation (the capstone of biblical prophecy), they all come rushing toward us at once, in a blizzard of associative references, some of which are obvious, some obscure.”
Simply put, when you search for “green” within the Scriptures they represent those who place their trust in God. And in that fourth verse of Revelation, it is speaking of the “earthly scorpions” inability to hurt anyone who is walking in faith.
So, even at the height of their attacks, those who place their trust in God will continue to stand tall, like solid, green trees. They won’t be harmed by locusts of any kind, including terrorists. The best defense against every kind of hellish attack, every scorpion-like sting, is spiritual health. And this kind of health only comes as we turn to the Lord and trust in his promises!
Okay, so if this is true, do you fully trust in God’s forgiveness? Do you depend on his blood to cleanse you of every sin? If you feel condemned, and constantly striving to please God, then you are not “green” and healthy. God’s greatest desire is for you to accept his gift of forgiveness and rest in it.
My friend, Jesus loved you; Jesus loves you today; and Jesus will always love you — period! Jesus loves you in spite of you! There’s no iffy-ness about his love. It isn’t based on your performance; it is based on His Grace.
I think this one truth is the greatest obstacle for many believers. We have such a works mentality. Jim Elliot, who has been one of my great heroes for many years, wrote this in his journal:
“I note that my jotting of a year ago seeks a time when I shall forget all my failure. Psalm 107 has wrought much peace of heart in this regard.
Just today, I was thinking of how God loves in spite of all my sin and has promised to bring us to the ‘desired haven.’ He will perform until the day. What matters then the resident Adam? What care for my bloating pride? What concern for attacking lust whose inner fifth-column betrays me to that enemy so often?
Perfect love casts out fear, and this blessed rest — in knowing He loves through all these things — makes them seem too worthless even to be thought upon. I know them. God knows them. I confess them. He forgives them. Oh that I might praise Him worthily!”
Isn’t that great? I know them . . . He knows them . . . I confess them . . . and He forgives them. It is just that simple! Go ahead a give a shout of “Hallelujah!”
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.