Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Valley of Decision

We are amazed at what we see on our TV screens and via the internet today as we see moment by moment news flashes from around the world. We can watch as after shocks and new quakes hit China’s Sichuan Province and in the next moment see the devastation in Myanmar or bombs exploding in Iraq. We can go on the internet and see all the recent earthquakes shaking the ground all around the globe. We can pull down news feeds from networks around the world and hear the latest news that speaks of prophetic fulfillment and warns the believers that it is possible that Jesus could return at any time. Yet, though we have all this technology at our fingertips, the world rumbles on—going through the daily motions and routines. The Bible gives us the warnings of God’s judgment on the nations in Joel 3:14-17 "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness. 16 The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel. 17 “ So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, And no aliens shall ever pass through her again.”
God will be bringing the nations of the world to a point at which they must choose….a valley of decision. When we are so busy, so distracted, so apathetic, we are not ready to make important choices. But when the pressure mounts and the times get hard, we begin to look at our options a little more carefully. We begin to make priorities. Some are already doing that with their cars. As gas prices climb, we choose what we will go for, and we plan our trips carefully for the best use of our gas money. We park our gas-hogs, pull out our bikes or walking shoes and get some exercise instead. Suddenly we take the time to think about other options. We choose what is really important and what is not.
God wants us to do the same with our spiritual lives. Soon, all around us, there will be millions, in the valley of decision. They will be looking for answers to the dilemma’s they face. They will want to know what to do and where to turn. They will want help with their questions, and will want to know about God and eternity. Some many be very angry, blaming God for their circumstances. Some will be in a state of utter despair. But the believer is not to be this way. He is to be ready, not indecisive. He serves God, who knows all things. For the believer, there need be no panic or fear. When we see the signs, the divine notifications, we can be sure that God is working His plan and He has an eye on those who are His own….But the LORD will be a shelter for His people. While the multitudes are in the valley of decision, we are to take note that the ‘the day of the LORD is near .' This tells us that in the divine calendar of God, we will see things to point us to the Lord. In a recent broadcast on Prophesy in the News with J.R. Church, he hosted a Messianic pastor, Rev. Mark Biltz who shared an interesting interpretation regarding the signs that Joel talked about here….the sun and moon growing dark and the stars diminished brightness. Back in the days when it was written, they did not understand what was happening when the sun or the moon experienced an eclipse. Today, we understand what causes this to happen. Yet, to God, He uses these rhythmic occurrences to remind man of His existence and His plan as well as His calendar. Today we use a Gregorian calendar. But the Jews have a calendar all their own. Their New Year begins in Sept/Oct instead of January. Rev. Biltz noted by looking back in history via NASA that God often allowed historic events to occur on the 9th day of Av (July or Aug) including the destruction of two of the Jewish temples(423 BC and 69 AD), the expulsion of Jews of Spain(1492 AD) and England(1290 AD), the 6 day war in Israel(1967), and the expulsion of Jews from Gaza (2005). When comparing these dates with eclipses of past history, they coincided. God marked each sad day with a sign in the heavens.
While we tend to look at the catastrophes like just another news item, God marks them in His divine calendar. He tells us in His Word, that we can expect to see these things all happening at the same time. It is a sign to us all. While some think God has abandoned the Jewish people, it is amazing that the prophecies spoken thousands of years ago, continue to point the people of God to the reality of a God who loves his creation enough to warn them in advance. When God speaks from Jerusalem, and the heavens and earth shakes at the sound of His voice, we need not fear. God is in charge!
How is God shaking your world today? If I have to pay $4.00 a gallon for gas, I find it hard to complain when I hear that others in the world are paying $9.00 for the same thing. If I have a small ache or pain, I just can’t complain when I see the sad destruction of thousands crushed under crumbling buildings, and homes washed away. When I look up to the sky, and I see the creation of God, the moon and the stars, the sun shining on my world, what can I say? God is still God. Even if I should be wounded or killed by some catastrophe, does God stop being God? No!
We ask ourselves, why do the righteous suffer? We must remember that this world is not our final home. We are strangers and pilgrims in a ‘foreign land.’ The suffering that the righteous may have to endure here for a moment of time is nothing compared to the eternal home He has prepared for us all. We often forget those in the past who also suffered and died. Of the 11 remaining disciples after the death of Jesus, only one, John the beloved, died of old age. The remainder died a martyrs death. Throughout the annals of time, great men and women are listed in Foxes Book of Martyrs, including Polycarp, Wycliffe, Luther, and Tyndale, who suffered persecutions and death because of their faith. Today, websites record stories of modern day martyrs for the cause of Christ. Perhaps you heard of the Christians who were burned alive in their church in Kenya this year. This week as China was mourning it’s losses, it also was putting on trial pastors of house churches. In Pakistan, a mob of 200 Muslims are calling for the hanging of a Christian medical doctor who has served faithfully for years. Since 1985 it is estimated that 2 million people, many of them Christians, were killed in Sudan because of their faith. While we sit on our comfortable sofa’s and watch the news like we watch fictional dramas, people are dying for their faith. If such persecution were to come to North America, I wonder how many would stand and how many would fall.?!
Jesus spoke to his followers in Luke 18:1, 8 “he spoke a parable to them that men ought always to pray and not to loose heart…. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes will He really find faith on the earth?”
While some are busy, caught up in accumulating their wealth, souls are dying without a Savior. Where are our priorities? Even in the churches today, we get so busy with our spaghetti dinners, and our seasonal presentations that we forget to go outside our walls and talk to the neighbor next door, or the stranger at the bus stop. While we should be spending quality time with the Lord in prayer, modeling for our families what is really important in life, instead, we spend our time with frivolous video games. How many churches have closed their doors on Sunday night due to poor attendance? How many evangelists have left the road to take a church because churches were too busy to have a revival service? How many missionaries have abandoned their call to the world because they were unable to raise their support at churches who use their buildings only on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights? Multitudes, multitudes—in the valley of decision…. And what are we doing to reach them? Look around you! Who needs Jesus? He did not come for the righteous, but sinners. Are there any sinners in your life? Jesus moved about. He went to the most unlikely places….the home of the tax collector…. The funeral procession of a child… The pool where sick people lay about…. And He went up into a mountain to pray…! It takes time and effort and prayer to do the work of God. If you are physically unable to go… then give...and pray...and love...and encourage those who can.
When you begin to get a little self-centered….turn your thoughts toward others who are facing the valley of decision. Some must choose to pay the rent, or buy some food. Some must choose to stand for Christ and face beatings and death, or recant and be lost. When you put your own problems into an eternal perspective of such magnitude, they really seem much smaller. We have been in the valley of decision and we have chosen to follow the Lord. The rewards of that choice are ‘out of this world.’ “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Revelations 22:12 We must be about our Father’s business….ministry to the multitudes in the valley of decision.

J. Johnson

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