By Samuel Clough
Recently I was spending some time with one of my daughters and at her request, we ended up watching one of her videos. When it stopped, the television defaulted to a Christian channel and they were showing a movie of Noah and the ark. She begged to watch it, so we watched some of it. It was a great example of what I would call “Biblical film making.” The dialogue was a little humorous in that the language was so archaic that it made King James English almost seem conversational. At the same time Noah seemed to always be looking off into the distance making profound statements with an air of wisdom about him. Regardless of Noah’s depiction, their depiction of the ark was actually interesting. They had an interesting view of how the ark was laid out and what life was like inside the ark both for people and animals. However, after the initial ark scene, I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen.
After the ark was loaded, Noah and his family were secured in the ark and soon the rain began to fall. As the rains fell the ark slowly began to be lifted and drift on top of the waters. At the same time the people outside the ark were panicking and frantically climbing to the highest places they could find to escape the water that was slowly overtaking them as a steady and unstoppable force. In the midst of this, there is a scene inside the ark where you can hear the muted sounds of screaming and shrieks from from all those that are lost outside the ark and frantically trying to escape the ever encroaching waters. As you hear these sounds, Noah’s wife has a look on her face of horror. Up until now the family hasn’t fully considered their predicament, and suddenly the full realization of what is going on strikes them. Noah’s wife looks to Noah and their eyes meet. Her expression is begging the question, “am I really hearing what I think I’m hearing?” Here Noah’s family is saved in the midst of cataclysmic destruction and yet the realization is finally hitting them that everything is real. Everything Noah had been preaching had been words up until this point, but now those words were reality and the terror of the reality was more than any of them anticipated.
I was so struck with that scene that I trembled on the inside. My mind raced to the Scriptures and I considered more and more how every time I pick up the Scriptures I am seeing such a clear declaration of the coming Day of the Lord. Whether it is the historical books, the prophets, the gospels, the acts of the early church, or the apocalypse of Revelation, there is a consistent and persistent declaration of the Day of the Lord in the Scriptures. It is almost as if there is a veil causing us to miss the preeminence the Day of the Lord has in the Scriptures and when that veil begins to lift, one is astounded as just how much of the Scriptures is given over to declaring that God is coming to the planet and that coming is something so dramatic that words fail in the description of it.
The prophets saw and declared this coming day. The Jews so anticipated that day that when John Baptist declared that Messiah was coming, they were baptized in repentance to prepare themselves for the day. In fact, the primary stumbling block for the first century Jews was that they were expecting the ultimate day of the Lord and not a coming that, in kindness, made available a redemption prior to that cataclysmic day. In Paul’s writings, we find that he motivated both himself and the saints he wrote to by exhorting them that they would be found in Christ on that day.
The coming of that day and the ensuing events were the cornerstone of the apostolic proclamation and the motivation to declare the gospel to the earth that as many as possible might be saved in the great day of God that was coming. Remember that salvation Biblically is mostly presented as a future thing and what we have failed to perceive is that future salvation is not just salvation from hell, but salvation in the great Day of the Lord. This doesn’t negate the present need of an encounter with God or of being born again, but rather our present experience of redemption and the indwelling presence of the Spirit, among other things, gives us assurance of full salvation on that day.
Every temporal judgment is a warning of an ultimate day of reckoning for the earth and those who have walked upon it. While we often focus on whether current events are judgments or not we miss the fact that any present judgment event is merely an illustration that is meant to point us to that ultimate day and warn us of a judgment that far surpasses anything we have presently experienced. Even the flood, as cataclysmic as it was, was not an event in itself, but rather meant to be an prophetic picture to shock and awaken us to the nature of what’s coming when God comes to the planet.
The issue of God’s coming is not an issue merely of an angry deity, but rather the issue of what happens when the One who is truly perfect and good comes into full contact with all the evil on the earth and in man. The drama of that day is actually part of the love and kindness of God because the present evil that we tolerate is having horrific effects on creation that we don’t even recognize because we are so numb to it. Since we are part of the environment and over it we can’t even see the full effects on our environment of the evil dwelling within us. God is not content to see this destruction continue forever and so His coming brings a massive judgment that is rooted, not in anger, but in perfect love.
I have to believe that, like Noah’s family, this event may be a part of our creeds and theology, but that our hearts have not truly anticipated just how devastating and traumatic this day is going to be. The Scriptures clearly describe an event that man cannot endure and that even the earth can barely endure. Regardless of how literal your hermeneutic is, and the further I go the more convinced I am that the Scriptures are far more literal than we have imagined, as you read the prophetic scriptures concerning this day, anyone who seriously considers these events will come to the conclusion that this day is going to be beyond anything any of us have imagined.
Jesus said that the end would be “as in the days of Noah.” He chose the days of Noah as the example of the end. Just as in the days of Noah, men live totally ignorant of the impending judgment. Men scoff at the idea that God is going to judge all wickedness and restore the earth in purity and goodness just as He has promised. As in the days of Noah, God has made an ark of escape in Jesus that we might endure that terrible day when God comes to earth in holiness and in zeal to cleanse and redeem the earth. And the real terror of that day is that, as in the days of Noah, the horror of what is coming will not be fully evident until the event is fully in motion and there is nothing that can be done.
The real horror of the look on Noah’s wife’s face is that she only understood the magnitude of what was happening after it was too late to take any more action. By the time she fully understood what was going on it was too late to do anything about it. It was too late to prepare any more. It was too late to warn others, and it was too late to rescue any more souls. The door was closed and the deluge had come and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. So too the real terror of the Day of the Lord is going to be that we will only fully grasp it on that day and on that day it will be too late to prepare our hearts to face the fullness of God and too late to declare to others the need to repent that they may be saved in that day. What has been done will have been done. In that moment, the fog will lift and we will clearly see our lives and actions for what they were and the pain of regret, which for some will be an eternal terror, will be immense.
Just like Noah’s family in the movie, believers are living in intellectual assent to the idea that Jesus is coming but with virtually no understanding of just what that day is going to be like and no preparation for it. Our theology may be correct in our hearts, but in our hearts we live as though everything that day will destroy is actually permanent. That day will literally shake the earth. Men will seek the escape of death because of the appearance of a holy God on the planet. We must begin to read the Scriptures simply, taking them at face value, and see that throughout the entire book there is a consistent declaration that God is coming to physically dwell on the earth among His people, and that coming will demand a complete judgment of all that is wicked and a restoration of the earth. We must also begin to see that all other themes in Scripture are in the context of this coming day and God’s purpose for it.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; – Isaiah 61:1-2 (ESV)
We are presently living in the year of God’s favor. It is the time period when salvation is made available. God in His immense love and kindness has repeatedly, though His Word and through messengers each generation, warned us of the events to come and provided, at the cost of His own blood, an ark of escape in that great day. However, this salvation makes little sense without the context of the day of vengeance against all wickedness, no matter how minor or how subtle, that is coming. One thing is sure: Something is coming far beyond what we can imagine. We are presently blessed with a period of time to come under God’s mercy and allow Him to prepare us that we might stand on that day, but this blessing will be a curse in that day if we find, like Noah’s family, that it never was real to us.
If you are not right with God through Jesus Christ, I don’t have words that are strong enough to urge you to turn your heart to the cleansing in Jesus Christ that you might be prepared for that day. If you are already a believer, I would challenge you that you probably do not live in preparation for that day. Like Noah’s family, we have heard the message but we really haven’t anticipated exactly what that day will be. Most of us are expecting the inauguration of some sort of utopia and heavenly retirement age and this bears no resemblance to the way the Scripture describes this day. While the end result is a cleansing and a perfect dwelling with God, we have grossly estimated the trauma of that process and the full purity of our God.
The reality is that this coming day is so dramatic that none of us can fully anticipate what is coming. Even those who give their hearts to prepare will, in some measure, stand like Noah’s family trembling under the weight of it all when it actually unfolds. Saints, that day is clearly described in Scripture if we only open our eyes to read it. Let us prepare our hearts in accordance with what the Scriptures really say while allowing our hearts to take the message to all those who are unprepared for this day. Malachi perhaps has the best summary of our predicament:
But who can endure the day of His coming, and who can stand when He appears? – Malachi 3:2a (ESV)
Posted in Apostolic, Eschatology, Genesis, Judgment, Malachi, Prophecy/Prophetic, The Flood | Tagged apostolic, deception, Eschatology, flood, holiness, kingdom, noah, prophetic, salvation, theology | 3 Responses
By Samuel Clough
I wanted to make everyone aware of a new work available by Art Katz titled The Anatomy of Deception. This book was published posthumously from Art’s messages. Recently a friend was kind enough to send me a copy of it before I was even aware that it was available for purchase and I am very grateful for his kindness. Years ago Art’s writings were for me a deep drink of refreshing water amidst an arid land. He gave perspective to yearnings in my soul and helped form the basis of a Biblical, New Testament theology in my heart. After just spending a few moments in the introduction of this book, my heart was again stirred in a similar manner. As I read through this work, Art’s words were again proving to be a deep drink of refreshing water.
In this Art takes aim at the critical issues in the church which, when unaddressed, lead us into deception and become avenues for even greater deceptions and delusions. While manifestations of power are important to the church, Art takes aim at the deeper issues of our heart before the Lord and our life, both individually and together as believers, and demonstrates how, when these things are lacking, power can become a dangerous thing and ultimately even a means to deception. This book is an excellent examination of things that we often fail to examine and in so doing cause great harm to ourselves and the church. If you have a burden to see a church that is genuinely apostolic and prophetic, you would do well to spend a few hours in this book and let it test and try your soul.
In the days ahead, we are going to desperately need the kind of truth that is found in this little book, so I have to encourage you to get a copy of it and read it. I also wanted to make a note of the fact that this is a relatively small book and I also found it to be one of Art’s easiest books to read. In fact, if you’ve never read Art before this would be a fabulous book to begin with as it’s relatively short and very approachable while clearly communicating Art’s burden.
I wanted to add one last comment about the issue of signs and wonders. Some saints might walk away from Art’s writings with a cynical heart towards the miraculous. I want to encourage us all, as saints, to not become cynical towards signs and wonders simply because of their misuse. Signs were an important component of Jesus’ ministry as well as that of the early apostles. When we hear of God working in an extraordinary way, we should be like the Bereans who were both excited to hear of what God was doing and, at the same time, verified the word to be sure that it was true.
The reality is that we desperately need the power of God accompanying the gospel in our day and we must understand that God sometimes works in amazing ways through individuals that are imperfect and that imperfection does not necessarily invalidate the signs themselves. In fact, we even see apostolic correction and tension even in the New Testament between Paul and Peter at one point. My point here is to ensure that we properly apply Art’s message and do not let the enemy twist it so that we develop a cynical spirit.
That having been said, Art’s message may seem to some to be very strong but remember that when the pendulum swings too far in one direction we often need an equally exaggerated message to bring us back to the full counsel of the Lord. While I have warned against developing a cynical spirit, at the same time realize that without the word Art brings in this book being applied, we will not have the ultimate depth that God requires and any signs in our mist will not be capable of having God’s intended effect and could even end up being tools in the hands of the enemy.
You can get a copy of The Anatomy of Deception at the Art Katz Ministries Online Bookstore which is located at http://artkatzministries.org/online_bookstore/. If you have not read Art’s other major works such as Apostolic Foundations and the Spirit of Truth, go ahead and order those as well. They will add a depth to your life will be greatly needed for the days ahead. While you are visiting the Art Katz Ministries site you may want to sign up for updates because I believe there are also some other new works that will be coming out in the future that you will want to take advantage of.
Works such as The Anatomy of Deception are rare and valuable.
By Samuel Clough
While working on a new post, I came across two powerful quotes I wanted to pass along. Both are worth some time and consideration. Thanks to Becky over at IHOP for posting these.
First from John Piper, Hunger for God, p. 14 -
The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of the triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.
The Second from Allen Hood, The Excellencies of Christ -
Satan the adversary, the ‘bringer of light,’ opposes the advances of the Gospel primarily through the realm of ideas and deception. The object of his deception and the subject matter of his deception is who? It is Jesus.
That is why for the first four-hundred years the Church fought vigorously for the Person of Christ, to the shedding of blood to the laying down of their life. There is a reason why they could not worship at the emperor’s altar. Beloved, if Jesus is just a good teacher, if He just shows you the way to God, then they can easily worship at the altar of the emperor. Yet hundreds and hundreds of thousands of believers year after year after year were led to the lions, were filleted alive, were skinned alive, were run through, were crucified upside down, were hung on crosses, they were burned and set on fire. Why?
Because He is not optional. He is the unique, supreme, revelation of the Living God. When you have Him you have it all. When you do not, you do not. Satan will oppose that revelation over everything, and he will do it through the most popular polished people on the globe. He does not mind feeding the poor. He minds the testimony of Jesus who is the only King who will return and set the poor truly free… [The testimony of Jesus Christ] is the subject matter that will enflame our hearts and set us on fire and make us fearless before the most powerful men and women of the earth.