Friday, April 14, 2017

Don’t Get Too Comfortable With Your Religion and Religious Practices

And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” – Matthew 24:2

In the past several months and even into the last few years, Matthew 24 has been consulted over and over again as people search for signs of the times and for clues as to what is coming. I’ve referred to this chapter several times myself and just like many, I’ve skipped over the most important warning Jesus gives in Matthew 24. It wasn’t until the Lord directed me toward the obscure references of Shiloh that finally saw what Jesus was telling His disciples and US in this passage. Before we go into that, let’s build the scene.

Earlier in the week, Jesus, the King who comes in the name of the Lord, has ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt fulfilling prophesy and doing it on the 10th day of the first month in connection with bringing the sacrificial lamb into the home before the Passover. As the Triumphal Entry is taking place and the very stones of the ground are crying out that He is Lord, Jesus begins to weep for Jerusalem. As He arrives at the temple, His weeping turns into anger and He cleanses the temple. Following the cleansing of the temple, Jesus rips into the religious leaders and pronounces judgments upon them.

The chronology and timing of isn’t clear between the three references, but it is possible that Jesus left the temple to cool off. Please don’t take this to be certain, because it might not be the case. Instead, place yourself inside the character of one of the disciples who has been watching all of this take place. You’re expecting that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is about to set up His earthly kingdom. Having seen the zeal with which He had cleansed His Father’s House, you assume that bringing up how beautiful and majestic God’s House is would be a safe move, right?

That’s when Jesus delivers the jaw dropping statement above. In essence He said, “Don’t be too taken by that or too impressed by it because not one stone of it is going to stand upon another.” The disciples followed along behind Him quietly as they passed through the Kidron Valley, and then went up the other side onto the Mount of Olives. When they stopped to rest, one of them had the guts to ask, “When will all of this take place?” That’s when Jesus delivers the prophesy which so many people have been referencing. Let’s leave that alone and go back to the jaw dropper, because there is a gem to be found in that single statement.

We know that He was talking about the future destruction of the temple, but there is deeper meaning in it, especially if you lay that statement beside the one found in John 2:19, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’” In that statement He was referring to His own body as John points out in verses 21 and 22. They fit together more closely than you realize, but you have to go to Jeremiah to start getting a handle on it. Just as a hint, both statements are connected to Shiloh. Let’s go see what Jeremiah said.

 “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know,  and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord.

  “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these works,” says the Lord, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer,  therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. – Jeremiah 7:8-14

This judgment continues on and Jeremiah repeats it again in chapter 26. Let’s get some more background into what God is talking about in this prophesy. Shiloh is an obscure reference to Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah spoken of in Revelation, but we’re not going there just yet. What Jeremiah is talking about is a place called Shiloh, which was a holy place where the tabernacle was set up after the Israelites entered the Promised Land. You hear about Shiloh throughout the Old Testament all the way up until you read about the Philistines capturing the Ark of the Covenant and then you never hear of it again until this prophesy of Jeremiah.

Shiloh and the tabernacle were wiped out by the Philistines and that is why you never hear of it again. Jeremiah’s prophesy is making reference to what happened to Shiloh for what is going to happen to the temple and then Jesus repeats the judgment again. If you compare the judgment that Jesus pronounces on the religious leaders in Matthew 23 with the judgment of Jeremiah 7, you see that they are very similar. It would take an entire book to make a complete comparison between the two, but we can boil it down to something very profound, which applies to US.

Read verses 8 – 11 of Jeremiah 7 again:

“Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know,  and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord.

Basically, God’s judgment against Israel in Jeremiah's prophesy and Jesus’ judgment against the Jewish leaders is that they were running off and doing whatever they pleased, sinning freely, worshiping other gods, stealing and killing and doing all sorts of wicked things, and then rushing back to the house of God to confess their sins and trust in the religious rites, ceremonies, worship services, communion, tithing and singing hymns of praise. They were trusting that they could do anything that they wanted to do because they could always go back to the temple of God to set things right again.

Does that sound familiar to any of you? Let he who has eyes to see and ears to hear understand.

God set up the tabernacle so that He could come and dwell among the people as they wandered through the dessert and as they came into the Promised Land. God brought them out of Egypt, He parted the Red Sea for them, He gave them sweet water to drink in the dessert, He provided them with manna and quail as they wandered on a daily basis to feed them, He gave them His law as a civil code for them to live by and establish a nation and then He asked of them to keep Him in the forefront of their lives. God asked the people of Israel to EXALT Him above all other things in their lives. Look at the challenge Joshua laid down in Joshua 24:14 and 15:

“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Brothers and sisters, CHOOSE WHO YOU ARE GOING TO SERVE! Exalt Jesus over all of the other things in your life or do not. To put it in the same blunt language of Joshua, please excuse me in this, but it is URGENT that you understand this… CHOOSE TO PUT JESUS AHEAD OF ALL OTHER THINGS IN YOUR LIFE OR GET OUT OF THE WAY so you will not lead others astray along with you.

You might be insulted right now, you might be angry, you might be frightened and you might want to turn against me. Fine, but understand something first, running out and doing whatever you please, exalting the things and the circumstances in your life, putting your head in the sand and hiding, arguing with me or calling derogatory names on Facebook and then running back to your religious practices and your church with the same arrogance which the people of Israel had with both the tabernacle and the temple will not bring God's blessing upon you.

God has been very gracious in providing us with signs of His coming wrath so that we might escape it. God has withheld the evil of the earth from attacking with its full force. Over the past several years He has slowly been pulling back His hand as a warning to us that the times which Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 are coming. Just like a woman in the pains of labor, they have increased in frequency and intensity and they will continue to do so.

God has given us hints of what is coming in all parts of the world, in some cases, right in your own back yard. He will draw back His protection just as He did when He allowed the Philistines to destroy Shiloh, the Babylonians to destroy the temple the first time and the Romans to destroy it the second time. Jeremiah’s words, Joshua’s words and Jesus’ words ought to shake you out of whatever slumber you are in and draw you to TABERNACLE with your Lord.

I promised I would visit the meaning of the person of Shiloh. It is a very powerful and sobering connection as well. The person of Shiloh, who is Jesus, was referred to only once in Jacob’s blessing upon his son Judah (Genesis 49). In that blessing, he called Judah a lion’s whelp who would rule over his brothers until the person, Shiloh, came. What is extremely powerful and telling is that in Revelation 5, when Jesus takes the scroll containing His inheritance from God, He is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. That title is given to Him in no other place in the Bible. Look at what is sandwiched between those two mirrors of Genesis 49 and Revelation 5!

While you’re trying to decode the riddles of Daniel, Revelation and Matthew 24, you’re missing the whole point. While you’re constructing time lines and wringing your hands over whether we’re going to go through a pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib rapture, you’re missing the whole point. While you’re watching wars break out, hovering in front of your televisions and computers for the latest world news and what it means to end times prophesy, you’re missing the point. While you’re looking to the skies and wringing your hands over the star alignments and planet X and sunspots and meteors, you’re missing the point. What is the point?

Jesus wants to tabernacle with you. Jesus wants to pitch His tent right beside yours every night and eat breakfast around the camp fire every morning. Jesus wants to be your temple. He wants to be lifted up in praise and thanksgiving every day.

Don’t look on Him as the people of Israel looked upon Shiloh and later upon the temple. Exalt Jesus day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Drink the sweet water He provides so that you will not thirst. Eat the manna and quail He provides so that you won’t go hungry. Trust in Jesus for your salvation, your protection and your deliverance. Let Jesus be exalted in your salvation and in the salvation of those around you. The day is quickly coming when not a single stone of the temples which you have built for yourselves will stand upon another.

Look at what Jesus told His disciples after explaining the time of the end to them:

“For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 21:35 and 36.

Lord, Jesus come and take dominion over your people and over all the earth. Amen.

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