In what seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I owned 2 pizza delivery stores. At one of them I had a manager who was well liked, got along with everyone, and was polite with customers....but just couldn't understand the concept of showing up for work on time.
On numerous occasions I went to the store at 11am (opening time) and the phones were ringing wildly, drivers were standing outside wanting to be let in so they could go to work...and the manager wasn't there.
Furthermore, for example, our large (16"/40.6cm) pepperoni pizzas were to have 16 ounces of cheese (453 grams) and 52 pepperoni slices, but he put 18 ounces and 62 slices on. And, he liked talking so much to employees, that when business slowed after the lunch or dinner hour, he couldn't bring himself to have them clock out. As a result, his food and labor percentages were $2000 too high each month.
But I was witnessing to him, so starting in January continuing through September I kept giving him warnings and talking to him. Each month or pay period that went by I would make a deadline and goal for him to meet, and when he failed he sincerely apologized and had what were to him legitimate excuses for what happened on x night to make the percentages off...so I relented.
On October 3 I was complaining to Barb yet again how he was costing us $2000 per month in food and labor, and he had failed every goal I'd set with some excuse or another, and she said: "You love him more than you love me, because if he is costing us at least $2000 per month like you said, that is money taken away from me and our children's mouths and you're giving it to him." She was right.
I fired him the next morning.
I had ended last week talking about how Steven told us in Acts 7:42 God reached a point when He decided He would not go on giving Israel chances to repent. He said, "...and God turned and gave them over to worship the host of heaven."
Israel refused God 10 times
Upon hearing God had turned and would not give them another chance, but would make them wander in the wilderness 40 years, a year for each day they had spied out the land and decided against going into it, the people mourned and repented - but their repentance was too late*.
To show the Lord how sincere they were they gathered an army without Moses or Joshua and entered the Promised Land and attacked the Amalekites and Caananites who lived there, against Moses' advice. He had told them not to go for 'God is not with you'; but they attacked anyway and were soundly defeated, retreating
back into their camp. *Numbers 14:39-45
Israel is the manager...
In my example above we could make Israel the manager and my position as owner, as God was to Israel.
God reached a point with Israel He decided to let them experience the ramifications of their words and actions. Parents reach those points with their children. Teachers with students. At some point giving them grace becomes enabling them to continue in dysfunction or sin or laziness, and there comes a point they must experience the consequences they'd been warned about. That is what God did to Israel. Their actions caused Him (and us) to do things we don't want to do, but must.
Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter the Promised Land
Consider Joshua and Caleb's perspective for it is ours, as Christians no matter in what nation we live. Joshua and Caleb were a remnant who saw their nation falling away from God's ways.
A remnant is a small piece of cloth that remains when the rest of the cloth has been sold or used - it is a left-over piece. That word 'remnant' is used 540 times in the Bible and often means 'that which is left over after a community or nation undergoes a disaster or catastrophe'.
It was used to describe left over food or oil, and 'leftover' people. That is the position of believers in the midst of a nation and culture that doesn't serve God. It describes Joshua and Caleb who were remnants of their generation, and it describes the 7,000 knees that refused to bow to Baal in Elijah's time.
Think about what the remnant saw going on around them when Israel as a whole started following other gods and goddesses. How they must have mourned and prayed, and even feared what might happen to them and their nation. Are we any different today no matter what nation is your home?
There is always a remnant who watch in horror the things befalling their country due to the evil practices of the ungodly - but it happens to their nations anyway.
When Ahab first met Elijah he asked in I Kings 18:17, "Are you the one troubling all Israel?" To the evil, it is the followers of God, the remnant, who appear to be the troublemakers, and to them, they must be stamped out.
That spirit giving evil people that perspective has been seen throughout history - from the rulers of Babylon who were against Daniel and friends, to Hitler thinking the Jews and Christians were troubling Germany, to in the US and other nations in a continually increasing boldness among liberals who blame conservatives, Christians and Jews for the troubles of their nation.
From their perspective, we are causing their agenda from being implemented so we are the troublemakers, and if only they could be allowed to do what they want, the country would be at peace.
People have asked me...
I often get asked when I travel if I feel evil spirits over a city. And if I turn my attention to it I can often sense areas of particular demonic activity or what 'big' spirits rule an area, but to tell you the truth, I am so aware of Christ in me and God's presence in and around and with me, and look for what He is doing in an area, that I only see and feel and sense Him. I just don't naturally look for what the devil is doing.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 "And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the world with a witness (signs/wonders), and then the end will come", THAT is my measuring stick for where we are in world events - what God is doing - not what the devil is doing.
I find it fascinating how the Ezekiel 38 alliance between Russia, Turkey, Iran (Persia in OT times so could easily include Iraq) is taking shape daily right before our eyes, even as I write this we see news of Russia, Iran and Iraq forming Russian bases in Iraq and Syria - amazing days!
BUT...on a personal level my focus is to listen to the One voice: Christ in me, the hope of glory.
Many, many Christian voices are actually spirit of fear driven - from conspiracy theories to world economic collapse, many Christians have reached a point they don't care anymore because they are just plain tired of all the voices. Many are mere breakfast cereal: Fruits, nuts, and flakes.
When Jesus said in John 10:3 that His sheep know His voice and He calls each by name, that was only the first part of His statement. He concludes saying in v5: "And a stranger they will not follow for they don't know the voice of strangers."
Too many believers are listening to other voices than the Good Shepherd who is in them. We need to hear His voice in us, for we are in the days God when God has turned, and is allowing all nations to walk in their own ways while we as remnants watch with fascinated horror the world dissolve around us. And as has happened before, we will get the blame...
I've run out of room - next week - tying it all together, why the rapture didn't happen, what God is doing.