Trouble; January 14, 2019

Revelation 11:7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.

Whatever else you say about Revelation, I think you will concede that some pretty bad things can turn out to be part of God’s plan. As has come out already with the discussion of the angel with “one foot on the sea and the other on the land” much of the language is allegorical and/or figurative. Even so, there’s a lot of rough stuff, and it doesn’t just happen to the “bad guys.” These two witnesses at first come across like super heroes, with flame coming out of their mouths, but then it says here the beast defeats and kills them. There is a very strong echo of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion here. Like Jesus experienced the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, things might seem to be going very well indeed, but then it seems like everything falls apart. I think we can agree that every moment of Jesus’ life on this earth was foreknown by God and used as part of His plan of salvation. That’s exactly why Jesus told the disciples, and through them us, that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Even what looks like complete defeat, as is described here, can be turned around for our blessing and God’s glory. (Romans 8:28) Jesus said His encouraging words to us before He was scourged and crucified. In other words, He didn’t yet have what we would call proof that His words were true. From our current perspective we can see that they were, but there was a lot of faith involved. That’s precisely what is called for in all who follow Him today. We need to trust that He is both omnipotent and perfectly good and loving, which is precisely what some people insist He could not be. Many years ago I wrote a note in the margin of my Bible at Psalm 91:9-10, which reads, “If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the Lord, who is my refuge— then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.” My note says, “Whatever it looks like, it isn’t disaster.” When rough stuff happens, and it will, we need to keep trusting God and look forward to His resolution to the situation, even if it isn’t in this life.

It’s very interesting that God has spoken this to me at this point, when yesterday included unplanned ministry that involved situations that grieved us in the past. We still don’t know how anything will turn out, except that we know that God, and His plans, are always good. I am reminded of my friend who dropped dead of a heart attack very unexpectedly on New Year’s Eve. Right now his wife is in great need of this assurance! Right now the widow of another friend, who died after a battle of several years with cancer, is discovering that God is indeed able to meet all her needs in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) I am to assure others of this truth, as well as keep it firmly fixed in my own heart and mind. If I will do that, people will indeed want to know the reason for the hope that I have. (1 Peter 3:15)

Father, thank You for this encouraging Word. Thank You for all You did yesterday, and for involving us in it. I pray that as we go to the meeting in Fukuoka today that every moment would be exactly as You intend, accomplishing Your purposes not only in the hearts and lives of those involved, but in the spiritual realm as well, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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