KNOWING the END from the BEGINNING
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
OCTOBER 3, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’ (Isa. 46:10).
The Lord is patient and long-suffering with our human frailties, which is a good thing because we all have them in abundance. He continues to impress upon me the message, “Be Yourself,” with positive reinforcement that since He is in me and works through me, my “true self,” in Scriptural terms, is perfection IN Christ. Jesus’ admonition, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), used to scare me to death, because I realized just how far I was from that glorified state. I worried and obsessed about it until our dear friend Harry Fox shared his wise counsel with me, that this statement, like many others in scripture, was meant to be understood in the indicative mood, NOT the imperative mood. What a difference it makes, when it bursts upon our awareness that being perfect is not a commandment which we cannot possibly keep, but rather is a statement of how God sees us IN Christ. He certainly does NOT see us the way we’ve been taught to see ourselves most of the time.
James wrote, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). We all know that the New Creation which we are IN Christ, is a gift from God, not something we achieve on our own. James says that the unchanging heart of our Father is where this good and perfect gift originates. I had a sign on my fridge back in the day, which read, “God doesn’t make junk.” When He sees the New Creation being named Jan, He does not see my warts and zits. Knowing this helped me immeasurably in “getting over myself,” as a good friend puts it. Wasting time putting myself down is worthless, off-putting to me and anyone else who has to listen to me whine. Those things in me that are amiss, but which I have no power to change, I surrender to Him, knowing that He with whom we have to do, does all things well.
Now, if this is the truth about me, and it is, then it is the truth about you and everyone else as well. Lest anyone think I’m preaching a positive confession, “feel good” gospel here, I remind us all that Paul said of us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us IN CHRIST with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us IN HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph. 1:3-4). You can’t be more perfect than “holy and blameless.” I used to have these glorious words written on a 4”x 6” card, which I posted where I would see them everyday. They helped me to know that God really does not make junk and that no matter what I look like now, or how I feel about myself, He will have the victory and the glory.
Why am I repeating what I’ve written before and beating this drum yet again? Because I need to see it and hear it. I’ve been pondering Isaiah’s statement about God, knowing the end from the beginning, and my consideration of the verse has been expanded somewhat. The beloved prophet Isaiah was writing those words to Israel about the daughters of Babylon and the Chaldeans. When you consider that Isaiah prophesied to Israel 150 years BEFORE they were hauled off to Babylon because of the sin of rebellion in their hearts, it really becomes something to get and hold our attention. (Note, Isaiah received his call to prophesy to Israel in 740 B.C. And Jerusalem fell to King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian hoards in 587 B.C. That’s actually 153 years).
The man Isaiah had the gift of knowledge, big time, but I wonder how he survived the jeers and ridicule of the unbelievers, because both he and they would be long dead before his prophecy about Babylon’s fate came true. He really was firing into the wind, but in the 6th chapter of his writing, he recounts God’s call on his life. He had a vision where he saw “the Lord, high and lifted up and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isa. 6:1). The angelic beings cried, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Vs. 3).
Because he had seen God, Isaiah who acknowledged that he was a sinful man, thought he was going to die, but one of the seraphs flew to him holding a live coal from the altar with tongs, and touched his mouth with it saying, “See this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Vs. 7). When the Lord asked whom He should send to deliver His message, Isaiah answered, “Here am I. Send me!” (Vs. 8) With an anointing like that and the Lord’s faithful Presence in his life, the prophet spoke God’s judgments as well as His continued blessings upon the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Many of his proclamations were done with signs and wonders, and predictions of dire consequences for failure to comply. I always wondered how they could be ignored when I was a child. That was before I was old enough to understand the human condition, the vanity and hubris of the heart of men and women. Some preachers still don’t get it because they follow the lead of the Old Testament prophets, when they threaten the flock with hell fire and damnation as a consequence of sins committed. “Repent or perish” has been the battle cry of preachers, ministers and priests for nearly 2,000 years, with no lasting success.
Since God knew the end from the beginning, He is not surprised at this, because knowing the end from the beginning gives him an advantage that we humans cannot possibly replicate. We think we know what’s about to happen, and some are still proclaiming it from the pulpit and on TV, crying out, “The end is upon us. Repent or burn in hell!” There’s a group that has this message written in huge, bold letters on a large wooden sign, which members hold as they stand at the intersection of highways 59 & 60, near my house. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo that threats of punishment, do not guarantee success in the long run, and usually not in the short run either.
What the world craves and needs so badly is LOVE, which is in very short supply now, as evidenced by the non-ending battering we all take of BAD NEWS!
“Wouldn’t be grand if we did know the end from the beginning?” Someone is sure to ask. I’m fairly certain that Adam and Eve could have used some prophetic good news after they were unceremoniously tossed out of Eden, but so far as we know, they never got it. That possibly became a thorn in their minds about life, even as they battled the thorny, thistle covered ground to eek out an existence. Those thorns and thistles seeped into what Psychologist Carl Jung calls the “collective unconscious,” for mankind has been expecting and dreading the worst, ever since. For me, it’s far better to say,”Surprise me, Lord,” when I’m worried about the future, than it is to try to figure it out in my mind.
God did prophesy to Abram that Sarai would bear a son in whose seed, would all nations be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:4-5; 17:1-17). Knowing what the end of the story would be didn’t help Abraham and Sarah, and in fact their action of having a son through the maidservant Hagar (Gen. 16:1-3), serves as a cautionary tale for us in 2014. They created Ishmael, whose descendants have been a constant thorn in the flesh of Isaac’s seed until now. Ishmael is a reminder to all of us about what happens when we try to help God out in fulfilling His plans for our life.
If I ever feel like I’m are not good enough to be used of God, the Spirit reminds me of Paul’s declaration already quoted in Eph. 1:4, that you and I, all of us, were chosen IN Christ BEFORE the FOUNDATION of the world. What did you or I do to earn that? If your answer is “nothing,” you would be correct. That knowledge puts me on my face before the Lord, in praise and worship.
Father, these are tough times we live in, but followers of Christ have always been persecuted and often killed. Christians in this country probably won’t be thrown to the lions, but a woman was beheaded recently by an ISIS follower in Moore, OK. Whenever we face death and uncertainty, You are our rock, our hope, our Deliverer, and our Redeemer. In You alone, Father, we put our trust. To You be the glory, for the Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth. Amen.