“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9: 2-7 NASB).”
“For a child will be born, a son will be given,” a child has come and a son has been given. He has come born of innocence in a land teeming with the stench of pride and death. His innocence the only sacrifice able to redeem fallen man. He was given, a Son. The precious Son of Almighty God, blameless. He was given, a Son, to pay the penalty that belongs to each one of us. He knew this before He came. He knew the suffering that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-3). He came, enduring the cross for the resurrection of the joy that which has been set before Him. That joy, us, His children. He endured shame and torment to be called Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Messiah, Jesus our Salvation.
Isaiah, in the verses above, recounts the hope of His light which will be poured out upon the earth. Isaiah writes as an encouragement to those who are in the midst of darkness. He writes to offer strength in the truth of an eternal King! Isaiah compares the hope that we all have in our King to the hope that Gideon found in the battle against the Midianites. Gideon was a reluctant hero. He was hiding in the winepress threshing wheat to avoid being noticed by his enemy the Midianites (Judges 6:11). Nonetheless, God chose Gideon to accomplish the task of delivering Israel from the oppression of the Midianite and Amalekite attackers. In what should have been an overwhelming defeat, God used just 300 men to overcome an army that was described as being as “numerous as locusts (Judges 7:12).” Even in what should have been certain destruction, God overcame the enemy because of the obedience of Gideon and the 300 with him. It was the Lord Almighty who broke the rod of Midian. God, Himself, delivered Israel in the face of overwhelming odds because there were a few who were willing to carry the light of the Almighty. God instructed Gideon and the others to carry pitchers and place torches inside of the pitchers. When the time was right, they were to blow the trumpets and then smash the pitchers revealing the torches hidden inside. This display struck so much fear into the hearts of the enemy that they actually started to fight one another (Judges 7: 22-25). Gideon overcame the enemy by the provision of the LORD. The Most High God brought victory because there were those who chose to hold up the light of His deliverance.
My friends, take heart in this familiar message; for it is a message that continues to speak. It is a message of great encouragement for those of us who call upon the true name of Salvation. We live in a world that grows dark. It is not difficult to see the many things of the enemy that plague our world. War, famine, sexual perversion and unrelenting pride pervades the landscape. The enemy crouches around every corner waiting to strike and bring down the hope that is within us. Just like the armies of Midian and Amalek, our enemy seems to be “as numerous as locusts or as sand on the seashore (Judges 7:12).” The influence of evil seems to be without end and the darkness overwhelming.
Many believers, feel the oppression. They feel the weight of the battle and the strength of the forces that stand against the throne of the true King. The view of many believers is one of pessimism. They view the fate of the true church, the true assembly of believers, as one of doom. They fear the church is coming to an end. They fear that the witness of God is fading within the earth. They sense that His influence is but a shadow, a whimper of the once glorious truth that fell upon those who were filled by His Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. We long for a revival, but in pessimism we cower in our winepresses. We thresh our wheat in secrecy to avoid the notice of the enemy. The gloom of oppression is an overwhelming weight that relegates us to silence and fear.
Tribulation. The word tribulation comes from the Greek word (Θλιψις), phonetically pronounced thlipsis. A literal definition of this word means pressing, pressing together, pressure. A figurative definition is anguish, burden, trouble. Our Messiah warns us that in this world we will have tribulation. He says to those who were with Him as they walked to Gethsemane after the Last Supper, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33 NASB).” The Lord offers encouragement and hope in that we will face tribulation, but in Him, and only in Him, will we find peace. He can offer this peace because He has overcome the world. It is interesting to note that Yeshua, Jesus, states that He has overcome the world before His death and resurrection. Our Messiah entered this world as a child, given, to overcome through His obedience and diligent walk according to the Father’s will. Jesus was given to shed His blood for us on the cross, but He was also born into victory as the overcomer, the Redeemer of the lost. As Yeshua walked the earth, He knew the victory. Our Messiah also gives us a warning in the book of Matthew. The disciples were asking Him about signs of His return at the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). Jesus recounts events that will increase before His return in the end. He states that there will be war, rumors of war, famines and earthquakes. He explains that these things are like birth pangs before the return (Matthew 24: 6-8). Our Savior then states that during these dark days, believers in Messiah will be delivered over to tribulation. He uses the same Greek word thlipsis when describing this event. He warns the disciples that they will suffer tribulation, pressure, because of Him. They will be hated and some will even be delivered over to suffer death because of His Name, Salvation.
The most disturbing aspect of this warning given of the end days is found in verses ten through twelve. Jesus states, “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold (Matthew 24: 10-12 NASB).” How true this is in our day! So many are falling away because of strife and discord in the body. We are so easily offended. We lash out at one another in anger, rather than embracing one another in an attempt to lift each other up in love. Lawlessness has increased and we can feel it within our hearts. Within ourselves we feel unsettled and on edge. Because of this internal recognition of strife in the world, we lash out at one another. This is a strategy of the lawless one to cause division in the body. The enemy knows that a house divided cannot stand (Luke 11:7). Our common enemy seeks to divide in order to conquer.
It is imperative that we recognize this as a strategy of the enemy. It is vital that we acknowledge the discord within us; the sense that at any moment disaster can strike. We need to embrace this sensation and allow it to guide our speech and actions. Knowing that the enemy works to cause dissention in the body, we should seek ever more diligently to remain united in the truth of Messiah and His return. He spoke one message, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2).” In this hour, we should seek repentance and return to the purity of our faith. We can use the attacks of the enemy as a weapon to increase our own faith and to band together as His body. Isaiah writes, “’No weapon formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgement you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me’, declares the Lord (Isaiah 54:7 NASB).” It is within the authority of His people to use that which comes against us as a weapon to strike back and repel the enemy. The beauty of what Isaiah writes is that it is our heritage as servants of the Lord to have victory. Our lineage as His children is that we have the dominion to overcome. We are children of a KING! The enemy has been defeated; it is our duty to stop allowing him to have victory. Glory to God the Father!
There is one more truth I want to draw out of verse nine in Mathew chapter 24. Remember our Messiah says that because of Him we will face tribulation. Again, a literal translation of the word, thlipsis (tribulation), is pressure. We can easily grasp that as the days draw dark, there will be pressure that falls upon believers. The system that is against the One True God will increase the pressure as the end crests the horizon. I am sure that the pressure, the tribulation, will feel overwhelming at times. But take heart in this truth. If we inflate a ball, there is both pressure on the outside and the inside. The pressure experienced on the outside of the ball presses against the surface, much like the pressure spoken of by our Messiah. Though pressure is expressed against the external surface of the ball, the ball remains inflated because of the internal pressure. The hope is that as believers, we have the authority to stand firmly on His Word to demonstrate pressure against the whims of our enemy. We do not have to cave to the pressure because we have the promise of His Spirit dwelling within us to push back just as hard, if not harder, than anything that comes against us. Please remember this truth. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31: 6 NASB).” His command: be strong, courageous and do not tremble because He goes with us and He will never fail us. Keep this thought of pressure in the back of your mind for a moment. I am going to move to another truth and then we will get back to our discussion of pressure and how it will play out as we prepare for His return.
To quickly summarize the events detailed by Yeshua from verse 9 in Matthew 24 up to verse 20, we see a description of tribulation that will befall the people who call upon His name and are alive during the period of time when the antichrist is beginning to be revealed. The tribulation spoken of is anguish felt by the people. The cause of the anguish is found at the hands of the world system that is allowing the antichrist to rise to power. In the words of Jesus, this is the tribulation. Now, looking at Matt. 24:21, we see a descriptor added to the word tribulation. Jesus begins to talk about a “great tribulation.” He describes this time as seemingly unbearable. The hope He gives is that the Father will cut the days short. The Messiah explains a little about what this time may be like, but it still remains a little unclear. Many scholars teach that when Jesus transitions from talking about tribulation to talking about the great tribulation, the recipients of the tribulation changes. Many scholars suggest that the initial tribulation can be compared to events described in Revelation chapter six. In this chapter, the seven seals are opened by Yeshua revealing the adversity that will befall the earth. In chapter six, we see the various riders inflicting destruction and torment across the world. We see the horsemen of the antichrist system, of war, famine, and death. The enemy is working to bring destruction to the people of God. This is the tribulation inflicted upon believers by the hand of the enemy. At the end of chapter six, we begin to see a great convulsion, a shaking upon the earth. The sun is darkened, the heavens are rolled up, the mountains and the islands are removed. We see the heavens begin to blow the trumpets and the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out against those with the audacity to stand in opposition to the Almighty. We begin to see the universe attempting to cope with the return of the victorious and conquering King!
The great tribulation, spoken of by Jesus, is compared to the sounding of the trumpets and the bowls of God’s wrath. We begin to see the Almighty unleash His judgement. The trumpets sound which causes hail, fire and blood fall to the earth. The bowls of wrath are poured out, as God makes war with lucifer. The great tribulation is the acts of God against the forces that are trying to separate Him from His children. This will be the Father’s acts of tribulation against the enemy. It is this time that Jesus declares to be of such wrath that it has never happened “since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Matthew 24: 21 NASB).” The greatest tribulation, pressure, will be felt on the back of those who seek to drive the sheep away from the shepherd.
Pressure. We can clearly see that the pressure from the enemy will increase before the Father moves to realign the world according to His design. I offer a word of encouragement in light of distress; for those who feel pessimistic about the state of His witness on the earth. For those who feel that His church, His assembly, His people are dwindling into obscurity. I offer this encouragement first in the form of a question. Think on this question before you read on. In a war, why would the enemy expend valuable effort and resources to increase the attack?
The only logical answer for an enemy to increase the attack by expending resources and effort is because those whom he fights grow in strength. An increased attack only means that the battle is becoming more difficult for the enemy. My friends, hope in the strength of Messiah because He fights for us. Our enemy is limited. he is not self-sufficient, omniscient or all powerful. If he chooses to increase the pressure against those who claim Messiah as their Lord, it only means that we, believers, are growing in strength. The challenge to deceive the true believers is becoming more difficult. The ease at which our enemy was once about to exert his will upon us is turning to agitation as he loses his influence against us. Deceptions are being revealed, the enemies plan is being laid out before us and the true people of God are waking to stand in authority and dominion as servants of the King. The army of God grows in authority! Take heart that only He offers victory! Stand in the authority given to you by the Risen Savior, for He has overcome. “You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous hand (Isaiah 41: 9- 11 NASB).”
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them (Isaiah 9:2 NASB).” My friends, though the enemy encamps around us, the pressure will increase. The increase will be the pressure to push back against the enemy of man and God. Like a matchlight at midnight, those who place their faith in Messiah will shine brightly in the dark as a beacon for the lost. This is the hope that we are entering into as we see the world grow dark. The hope of His people is that we have the eternal Light of His Salvation emblazoned within us. This Light is brilliant. The darker the world becomes will result only in the increased intensity of this Light. No one can extinguish this Light. No enemy has the ability to remove the Light. Hope in this Light because this Light will pierce the darkness. This Light will push back the enemy as darkness has no authority over light. Darkness will not and cannot permeate the Light. Darkness cannot repel the Light; only the Light wields the authority. In the darkest hour, the brilliance of the Light of His Spirit will shine forth from His people drawing the lost to redemption.
This is our hope in tribulation. We will yet be brilliant as His servants to lead those who are lost to receive Life abundantly. In the words of Messiah, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me’, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water (John 7: 37- 38 NASB).’” Beloved, believe that He will accomplish His will for the good of His Name. Raise your torch, like the warriors with Gideon, and cast a piercing light upon the valley of deception. The hatred of the enemy will shrink away at the power of His glorious Light.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9: 6-7 NASB)."
The Child has come; the Son has been given. He sits in the throne room of God and awaits His return. He will ride in clouds descending upon this earth to establish His everlasting government. The very ground will split at the weight of His heel (Zechariah 14: 4). Rejoice, Be Glad! The Father will uphold these promises because of His zeal and for the sake of His Name!
TODAY'S TEACHING from Philia Contributor Corby Shuey @ www.becomingbereans.com