"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 24:7-13)
Because this Scripture accurately describes the days in which we live, it has a tendency to strike fear into our hearts. We are fearful because we wonder if we could possibly stand firm to the end under such terrifying conditions. We are truly in the "beginning of birth pains" - with wars, famines, earthquakes, false prophets and wickedness all around us. Jesus called them "birth pains" because He wanted us to know these events would be growing closer and closer together, like a mother's labor pains. Indeed they are. If you are watching, you know that the false "one-world-religion" and "one-world-government" are even now forming and taking shape.
But this morning in our Sabbath worship, our pastors gave us wonderful, sound counsel about fear. If we would return to a true fear of the Lord, we would not fear men. If we truly had a profound, awesome reverence for Yahweh, the King of the Universe, and feared only what HE might do, we would be free from fear of these times -- because we know we can trust HIM to act for our highest good. The false prophets of our day, and counterfeit religions and revivals, are nothing new. They are simply the original lie, re-wrapped in new packaging. Remember Satan's original lie in Genesis 3? "Eat the fruit of the tree...you will surely not die...you will be like God." Men who are convinced they are "enlightened" and "like gods" simply have no fear of the Holy One of Israel!
Psalm 111:10 says "The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding."
Psalm 112:1 says, "Blessed is the man who fears Yahweh, who finds great delight in His commands."
Proverbs 14:7 says, "The fear of Yahweh is a foundation of life, turning a man from the snares of death."
Psalm 33:18 says, "The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine."
Exodus 20:20 says, "Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.'"
Clearly the appropriate, reverent fear of our mighty God is connected with our salvation and protection from sin and death! How is it connected? Those who fear God do follow His precepts, do find delight in His commands, and do have wisdom and understanding. To walk in Torah (His commands) is to fear God and to seek HIS heart and mind, HIS ways - and these are the ones He delivers from death and famine.
I believe it is a critically important message for these days. It is, after all, at the very center, the very heart of His Book! The verse at the very center of the Bible is this:
Psalm 118:8: "It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in man."
The fear of the Lord keeps us from fearing man. Psalm 118:6 says, "The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" If we allow Him to truly write these words on our hearts, we will be able to stand firm to the end. The apostle Paul says, "Finally be strong in the Lord and in HIS mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to STAND." (The Greek word here for stand is histemi and the definitions are listed as: "stand up, hold up or covenant)." Ah yes! The armor of God is His Word - and those in covenant with Him will stand! HalleuYah!
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