About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Living Under Judgment


In a previous article I suggested that our western democratic nations are beginning to undergo, or will eventually undergo, God's judgment.  We thus need to ask; "How should a Christian live when his nation falls by the hand of God's judgment?"  Much more can be said about this issue than what I'm about to say.  What I do say comes from my observation of how the Israeli prophet Daniel lived after Israel fell to the Babylonians as an act of God's judgment on Israel. 


When Israel was overthrown most Jews were either killed or exiled to Babylon.  Daniel was one of these exiles who was taken from his home against his will and forced to live among Israel's pagan enemies.  He recognized that it was God who delivered Israel into the hands of the Babylonians (Daniel 1:2).  He understood that the fall of Israel was more than a military attack by its enemy.  It was God's sovereign choice to step into the affairs of men and nations and rearrange the geopolitical landscape.  Like Daniel, the first thing we must understand about this issue is that when our nations fall, it's ultimately by God's doing as He works behind the international scene to accomplish His will.   


Once exiled Daniel resolved not to defile himself by participating in the pagan practices of his captors (Daniel 1:8).  Like Daniel, we should refuse to adopt the sinful practices of any culture.  We should decide in advance that we will stand for Jesus despite the consequences, and like the Jews in Daniel's day, there will be consequences. 


Daniel 2 describes how Daniel interpreted the Babylonian king's dream.  Even though Daniel's Lord brought his nation down and sent him and his fellow Jews into exile, Daniel wasn't angry with God.  Therefore, when called upon, God enabled him to interpret the king's dream without fear.  Like Daniel, we should not allow judgment to strain our relationship with Jesus.  We need all the divine guidance we can get during days of judgment.      


Daniel knew, recognized, and understood the prophetic signs in his day.  From Jeremiah 25:11 he understood that Israel's captivity would last for 70 years and therefore he acted accordingly (Daniel 9:2).  Like Daniel, we need to know Biblical prophecy even if we don't fully understand it.  If we don't know what the Bible predicts we won't recognize the predictions when they come to pass, and, we won't be able to act appropriately when they do come to pass.  Jesus Himself alluded to this thinking in John 16:4.  


In Daniel 6 we see Daniel being thrown into the lion's den.  He refused to compromise by surrendering to the pagan demands of his captors.  He was willing to die for his convictions.  Like Daniel, we must be willing to suffer and even die for Jesus.  That may sound severe but judgment is a serious matter.  Over the centuries Christians have suffered persecution, imprisonment, and even death.  We should not consider ourselves so special that we would have a pass on suffering.       


In Daniel 9 we see that Daniel was a man of prayer despite his captivity.  In verse 4 he began his prayer with; "Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love "  Despite his situation, Daniel was convinced of God's awesome greatness.  He knew God would not forsake His covenant commitment to Israel.  Like Daniel, despite any suffering that comes our way, we must never forget the awesome greatness of God and His eternal covenant that was confirmed on the cross of Christ.      


In Daniel 12:10 the Lord told Daniel that the wicked wouldn't understand the future events that had been revealed to him concerning Israel and the end of days.  God told Daniel that the wise would understand what was revealed to him when they came to pass.  May we be counted among the wise as we maneuver our way through the days of judgment.     


Daniel 12:13 says; "As for you, go your way till the end.  You will rest (die) and then at the end of days you will arise to receive your allotted inheritance."  Even though Daniel rose to political prominence for a while in Babylon , he had his days of suffering as a result of God's judgment on Israel.  Like Daniel and his fellow Jews, we may die before the end comes, but when the end does come, we will rise to receive our inheritance.  This hope of the resurrection has encouraged many Christians over the centuries to be strong during periods of suffering.  It will do the same for us during our days of suffering.     


Daniel was a prophet of God.  Although many claim to be prophets, not all are.  That being said, the ministry of the prophet is a valid and vital ministry during the time leading to judgment as well as during judgment.  Some Christians today think this kind of talk is too depressing.  They want nothing to do with it.  They turn their backs and plug their ears.  They'd rather hear about good times ahead.  They don't believe God would ever judge our western nations.  They're like most Jews in Daniel's days who refused to hear the prophets of God.  Instead, they gathered themselves around the false prophets who predicted good times ahead.  The sad fact of the matter is that these people were far from prepared when judgment swept over their land.          


I believe that judgment looms on our horizon.  If I'm right, we must know what judgment looks like and we must know how to live during days of judgment. Amos 3:7 tells us that God doesn't bring judgment on a nation without giving ample warning through His prophets.  I believe we're being warned.  It's our responsibility to respond accordingly.


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