Monday, June 24, 2019

“He’s got the whole wide world in His hands”

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Duurt Sikkens
 
 
Good Morning, brothers and sisters
 
Today I want to study some texts from the Bible with you and try to learn something about the events leading up to the end time.
 
First of all will you turn to Matthew chapter twenty-four. Here Jesus preaches for a long time about what is going to happen in the end time. He illustrates what He says with parables. Sometimes this sermon is referred to as the second sermon on the mount.
Jesus says in verse fifteen: “So “when – and take note of that ‘when’- when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place……. So there’s going to be an abomination IN the holy place…………. Mark puts it a little differently; in chapter thirteen verse fourteen: “when you see the abomination of desolation set up where it should not be……” This abomination, this awful horror, as some newer translations put it, is something that doesn’t belong in the temple, it shouldn’t be there.
 
Now to Daniel twelve verse eleven where God says to Daniel: “From the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate is set up”………. there you have it again, the abomination. And what is the continuous burnt offering he talks of ? A different translation calls it a perpetual sacrifice; what does that refer to?
Well that is the sacrifice of Jesus, that is the sacrifice that Jesus made, giving his life to redeem us, and that sacrifice goes on for ever, is valid for ever. And this sacrifice of Jesus, which forms the very foundation of our Christian life, will gradually disappear from the minds and hearts of many people, and, it seems, will be replaced by something horrible.  One of the other translations refers to a change, or an exchange.
 
And the holy place that Daniel refers to: what is that? The holy place is the temple of God, not the visible one , but the invisible one where He lives in the Spirit. The temple of God refers to the spirit-filled Christians. In other words,We are His temple.
 
Historians have confirmed that there was once a ruler who removed the sacrificial altar from the temple in Jerusalem, and put another statue there in its place, and that more than once an idol has been put in the temple in Jerusalem. Astarte, for example. So, it seems, another inhabitant will make his dwelling place in the temple.
 
With this in mind read Ezekiel chapter twenty-eight, starting at verse one. It says: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, - (now this prince lives on an island in the middle of the sea. The mountain in the sea is an image. the mountain portrays a spiritual power, and the sea, the kingdom of death.
And the spiritual power, the mountain, has its origin in the kingdom of death, in the sea, and manifests itself on earth, because it comes up out of the water.
 
This prince of Tyre is an image of the antichrist, and God says to Ezekiel: “you know what you should say to him?”  Say ”Because your heart is proud, and because you have said “I am a god”, (Literally it says “I am god” and in another translation it even says “I sit on god’s throne”), So say to him “Because you have become proud and claim that you are god – while you are a person and not a god – and because in your heart you compare yourself to a god, because you say all this, verse ten, you will be defeated”.
 
In this context also read what Paul says in his second epistle to the Thessalonians chapter two verses one to twelve, and especially verses three and four. First there will be a time of rebellion, he says; there will be people who have been baptised in the spirit of God and yet now choose for a change. They want something different, because they say: “The holy spirit, what use is it? It doesn’t cause anything sensational to happen. It is quiet and inconspicuous, instead of causing spectacular things to happen”.
 
 
The holy spirit is too  quiet for the people. They want spectacular things to happen, miracles andsigns to impress the world”.
This makes the holy spirit sad. The holy spirit of God is quiet and unassuming and doesn’t like power and force. Just the opposite in fact. And so the holy spirit becomes sad and fades away.
But then that leaves an opening in the human spirit, which the spirit of the anti-christ can’t wait to fill.
 
Why do these disappointed people decide to follow this spirit?  “Well,” Peter says, ”because it is all taking such a long time”. The people are impatient. “When will the day of his coming arrive?” they ask. Literally it says in the second letter of Peter chapter three verse three and four: “scoffers will come following their own passions and saying ‘where is the parousia’, that is the promise of his coming.” It’s such a long time coming. 
 
And then in verse five it says they deliberately  ignore what God had said; so they do it on purpose and they know better, but that’s because they have lost sight of the fact that God works quite differently to what THEY want, or to what they expect. They want to see action. They want to see God doing things, manifesting his power in this world.
 
“Well, ”Paul says “Then they don’t understand anything, because FIRST there will be a rebellion, people falling from their faith. First a type of people will emerge who call themselves Christians, but in fact they choose to be exactly the opposite, and I call them, Paul says, “the lawless”.
You can read all about it in the second letter to the Thessalonians chapter two. Read it through again at home and study what it says, because it is all explained there in detail.
 
This spirit of the anti-christ wants to inhabit the dwelling that God has destined for Himself, the human spirit to be precise. “I want to reign there”, the anti-christ says. I want to be the boss over their lives. And to be honest, I think that right now the world is gradually being made ready for this to happen. Because these days you see all sorts of spiritual movements rising up all over the place. The excessive interest in the spiritual and the supernatural is extraordinary. You see it in art, films, literature, television -  all focussed on making contact in the spiritual world.
 
There is also a yearning for great, spiritual leaders, charismatic figures who draw in the crowds. Dynamic persons with a message for the people, whom they can look to for guidance. They want to see huge congregations, and meetings with thousands of people. Not a small group of inconspicuous people somewhere in a small town.
You won’t achieve anything like that, they say. No it’s got to be big international groups with millions of members all over the world; and they bring this viewpoint in the name of our Lord.
 
And the leaders of these groups, they are the ones who proclaim: “We are the sons of god who all creation is waiting for”.  If they have to say that of themselves, then they haven’t understood anything of the gospel. They proclaim: “We are the ones. We are the specially anointed of the Lord”. They make themselves into a god, Paul says in two Thessalonians chapter two verse four.
Did you ever hear Jesus say that of himself?  No.
 
Butthese leaders will present themselves to the world as great peacemakers on earth, and a lot of people will follow them and believe in them, especially because of the spectacular miracles they see happen, however dubious they may be. It will become an international political-religious party. They will present themselves as THE great saviours of the world.
 
‘To be as god’ is the oldest temptation in the book. In the garden of Eden satan tempted Adam and Eve in the same way: “Don’t you know that if you eat from that tree that you will be as God” he said to them. So they eat from the spiritual tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But good and evil don’t go together, you know.
It may LOOK good, but it IS evil. The age-old lie: “We are as God” becomes flesh and blood in the ant-christ.
 
And they want the whole world to speak the same language, so that they can speak of the same things all over the world. Just as it used to be in the city of Babylon, all the same language. Bablyon:  It means ‘Gate to the gods”, you know. The evil spirits run free there.
 
And then you see that gigantic building rising up in the spiritual world. In Revelation chapter eighteen verse two, it says that this enormous spiritual city is a dwelling place for all the unclean spirits. And that’s an awful lot! And the whole world will be swept along with them. The whole world will follow in amazement.
 
And then compare that small, mobile tabernacle of our Father to all this. What a difference. And in this context think, too, of what Jesus said in Luke chapter twelve verse thirty-two: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
 
Now I’m going to Revelation. Literally it is ‘apocalypse’ which means “removing of the veil’. In Matthew chapters twenty four and twenty five Jesus told us a lot about what was going to happen in the future. How first people would fall from their faith, and all about the false Christians who would spring up.
The word ‘christos’ means ‘anointed’. So this gives you an idea of what the word ‘antichrist’ means: ‘anti-anointed’. In other words, someone who is anointed with a different spirit, baptised with a different spirit to the Holy spirit of God.
Even though this spirit continues to call himself holy spirit, it is not the spirit of God. It is a different spirit. These peopleknow the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven; they know all about the unseen world. They are familiar with the words ‘baptism’, ‘born again’, and so on. And yet there comes a moment in time when they make a choice for something else. So first they choose what is good, but then later they choose what is evil, because deep in their hearts their motive was wrong. They want to take a different path to become ‘as God’. They want to rule instead of serve.
 
And that’s exactly howsatan thinks. That’s why it is so important for people to have a good image of what God is like. He is love. He is a loving Father, and there is not the slightest trace of darkness in Him. He is all good. He doesn’t use force, or thirst for power. His sheep, the small flock, know the voice of the shepherd. And they are led by Him through the religious chaos in the world today. And the road which the sheep take is narrow. That is what is meant by the ‘narrow road’.
 
 
Now will you turn to Revelation chapter thirteen and verse one.
“I saw a beast rise up out of the sea”. There you have it, the sea, that portrays the horrendous kingdom of death. And the beast is a powerful evil spirit, summoned by satan. Satan is standing on the beach by the sea and he summons his greatest and most powerful trump from the bottomless pit. An horrendous beast. And THAT is the spirit of the antichrist, with a blasphemous name on its heads. And what are the blasphemous names? Not swear words, but the names of God and of Jesus, divine characteristics like goodness, glory, love, majesty, sonship etc. So the beast, thespirit of the anti-christ, uses these qualities to mislead the people. And it calls itself of course, the holy spirit. It does. Yes. It uses exactly the same words as we do. So if there is one thing you really need these days, then it is to be able to discern the spirits, to be able to distinguish the true from the false.
 
And then look at verse 11: “I saw another beast rise up out of the earth”. And THAT beast represents the people who let themselves be inspired by this spirit. When they work together, the spirit of the anti-christ and his human followers, then you get the anti-christ; the anti-anointed; the enemy. The greatest trump that satan has.
 
 
In verse eleven it says that it speaks like the dragon and looks like the lamb of God, our Lord Jesus. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. What a liar. It says that it is the Christ who has returned, through a human being who claims that he is divine, that he is as god. Let us pray that we are never tempted to believe that. Or worse, to join in. THAT is the abomination that reeks destruction in people.
 
Just look at verse three and four, how that beast is worshipped. ‘The whole world wondered, and they worshipped the beast’. The whole world! That’s an awful lot!
With all the modern communication systems we have, everyone can follow what is happening. They all fall under his spell. And what do they do? They worship. Try to visualise these huge happenings. Worship and praise meetings.  An immense crowd of people, worldwide, who entrust themselves and their lives to this spirit. You wouldn’t believe it possible, but everybody gets swept along with this hype.
 
And they say : “Who is like you”.  Just like the people said of God in the Old Testament, for example in Psalm seventy one verse nineteen. Only in THIS instance the anti-spirit claims these words for itself. That is blasphemous. The anti-christ is the embodiment of the spirit of the antichrist. And he uses the same words as Jesus.
He has, after all, been given all power by satan, and satan is the prince of this world. The antichrist is given all the power in the world.
 
That’s why John says ”Test the spirit to see if it is from God”. And he’s not talking about angels or evil spirits. He’s talking about people. Be on your guard; is a person born of God or not. People will say: ‘All power is given to me in heaven and on earth’, or “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” They will use EXACTLY the same words, and THAT’s why it is so difficult to judge whether they are true or false.
 
These so-called sons of god are conceived by the father of lies. They are not peaceful, loving, children of God. They want to rule over mankind. You are familiar with the expression, Father, Spirit and Son. Well, you can apply that here too. The father of lies, the anti-spirit, also conceives sons. And what does Jesus call these sons, these christs? False. But do you know what it says in the Greek original? Pseudo. Imitation, a good imitation. And that’s what it is. It all looks so good, but appearances are deceptive. All that glitters is not gold.
 
 
Revelation chapter thirteen verse sixteen: ‘All received a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads”. A mark, or in other words, a way of thinking , and a way of working. The mark is a sign in the spirit of the people. It is on the inside. It is the sign of the baptism with the wrong spirit.
 
And now take a look at Daniel chapter two.  It is a well-known story and I’m not going to go into it this morning. I just want to remind you of that huge thirty meters high golden idol. And in particular, the foot, the base of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which Daniel interprets. The base of this statue is a mixture of clay and iron. Clay is an image of the natural human being, and iron was in those times the only metal that was seen as unclean, mostly because it was only used to make weapons. In verse forty three it says that they will be mixed as in marriage. But iron and clay do not mix.
 Iron is the metal of the antichrist, and the human spirit and the spirit of the antichrist do not belong together. They are actually totally different to each other. The Spirit of God belongs in a human being, not this horrendous spirit. That was God’s plan. But, because of his dream, the king of Babylon, the king of the anti-christian kingdom, erects this golden idol, but he makes thewhole statue from gold.
 
And who has to bow down to this idol? The whole world. Accompanied by lots of music, because people get carried away by music and everyone must join in the worship.
 
But the point I really want to make is thesize of this statue, this idol. It is sixty by six. Add a dimension. We already have six, and sixty. Add a dimension: six hundred. There you have the number of the beast: 666. And what does Revelation thirteen verse eighteen say: It is the number of a man, of a human being. The number six hundred represents the depth of the mind of the spirit. A dimension of deep darkness. The church in Thyatira, we read in Revelation chapter two verse twenty four, had learned what some call the ‘deep things of Satan’. That is the most dangerous territory there is. WE learn the deep things of God, through the Holy Spirit. But through the anti spirit you learn the deep things of the devil, his thoughts and ideas. And you don’t want that. These thought don’t belong in us. We don’t want anything to do with them.
 
But the people who DO, are those who want to have power on earth. And they get the political-religious power. Remember what the devil said to Jesus when he tempted Him in the wilderness. ‘If you worship me’, the devil said, ‘I will give you all power on earth’. Jesus didn’t fall for his trick, butwhat a temptation. Wouldyou fall for it?
Just imagine that it would be up to you to decide what was to happen in the world, spiritually and politically. Would yougo for it? The whole world lies at your feet, and everyone is worshipping the idol, the golden statue. Revelation chapter thirteen verse fifteen. And it is just like the old Babylon, with lots of music.
 
I was once in a church where you couldn’t hear or see anything any more. I could hardly think. My mind was numbed by the noise. And I think that THAT is what they want to happen. And then I shut the noise out. You can you know. You can just shut it out. And then you feel the peace and quiet in you. Wonderful peace and quiet. That’s possible. God is with you in the quiet. He is a God of quiet. A god of love and simplicity. His Spirit is also the Spirit of simplicity. 
 
Let’s go back to our story. Do you know what Nebuchadnezzar means? ‘The god of wisdom, protected heir’. That is a beautiful title that could easily apply to Jesus, were it not for the heathen origin. I mean, the sons of this god, the sons of destruction, say the same as we do, but the origin is different, it is a different father and a different spirit and a different heir.
An image exactly the opposite to Jesus, who inherited everything from HIS Father.
 
The false christs, the false prophets, are merciless. In Daniel chapter eight verse twenty four there is another description of them: their faces are hard and they are experts at deceiving people. DECEIT is THE characteristic of the serpent. Read it out: ‘a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences’ (or as another translation puts it,  ‘expert in intrigues’), a king like this will rise up, and his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper’. Well I know which psalm he will sing. Psalm one verse three, where it says that the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the wicked will prosper!!
He is so deceitful. So two-faced. Such a hypocrite. He is the ultimate opposite to our lord Jesus, who is so kind and humble. What a contrast!
 
So the spiritual characteristic of the anti-christian person is that number. But there are also some more names for him in the bible. Isaiah named a few. In Isaiah fourteen verse twelve the King of Babylon is referred to as the ‘morning star’ and the ‘son of dawn’. These are names which only our God and His son Jesus may bear. In the Old Testament in Psalm 110 verse three, God is compared to the dawn, the womb of the morning, because we are born of God, conceived in tender love.
And Peter says in his second letter chapter one verse nineteen that the morning star will rise in our hearts. That is the word of God, the living Lord.
So when this anti-king of the false church claims these names for himself, that is blasphemous. And Isaiah also names him : ‘the one who overpowers the people’. Well THAT is the true nature of these false christs, because God never uses force. The way he treats his first born son is proof of that.
 
Opposite all this spiritual force of the beast, which is portrayed by the number 666, the number of a human being, is God’s small flock of sheep . How many will there be? How many will there be in those days? I call them ‘the seven’. Opposite three times six, I put theseven of the candlestick of god. And the candlestick, that is an image of the Holy Spirit, who divides into seven, the seven spirits before God’s throne. One spirit, yes, but spread over seven churches. So all the churches where God’s spirit is, you could call the seven churches. It is a collective term. And seven is often the number of perfection too.  They are all just images, and the candlestick with the seven gently flickering flames is something quite different to the all consuming fire of the dragon.
 
 
That’s why Jesus begins his sermon in Matthew chapter twenty-four by saying “Take heed” and later on “Do not be alarmed”.
Jesus begins by saying that, because he understands only too well that all this could be frightening. ‘Don’t be alarmed’. Quite clear I think. ‘And don’t let them tempt you” he says immediately after. “These things have to happen”. Not because HE wants them to happen, but because satan wants it. “Don’t be frightened”.
 
So when you pray, pray that you will not be brought into temptation and that we will be delivered from evil, from satan. It’s important to spend your time on the things of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, because they are meaningful and can bring fulfilment in your life. And when one day you die, then all these thoughts and ideas go with you. What you’ve learned, stays with you. Your knowledge continues to increase. You continue to grow.
 
The beginning of Genesis becomes clear again. There you have the seed of the women and the seed of the serpent and they both become ripe. And ONE of them CALLS themselves the sons of god, and the OTHERS ARE the children of God. So what I’m trying to say is that the clearer and better our image of God is, and that is an image of a loving God, then the clearer and better we can be in our behaviour, because we are going to become like Him, in his image and likeness, it says in Genesis. We will become full of kindness.

If there is one thing that people really need in this world, then it is a God of compassion. People have such a deep need for compassion, for someone who cares, someone who will put their arm around them. And so I think: THAT is God’s secret. That’s it. A God of compassion. Because someone who is loved by the Father, shows love in the same way as he is loved. Let’s spend time discovering, experiencing and showing this tender love, because THAT is what is meant by the deep things of God.
 
Amen
 
 
Let us pray
Father, we pray that we will not come into temptation but that we will be delivered from the evil one. And that others will say of us, that we too show compassion. We pray the same for all the believers listening to this sermon on tape. We pray that they may realise how much you love them, just as they are.  We don’t have to do great things for you. All you want, is for us to put our lives into your kind hands, and feel safe from all the violence and strange forces in the world. Father you are love, and only love.
 
Amen