God’s Two Processions,
Two Processions, One God
Two Processions, One God
“Often I get confused about the workings of God when I see the righteous prospering or those who know him but have abandoned him, doing better. It baffles me. What’s going on?”
This was the confession of a sweet saint.
I don’t think she is alone in this confusion, bafflement and disturbance. There are many saints in that boat of the crises of faith.
32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:
33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented —
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
The palmist was there.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm.
5 They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men.
6 Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment.
7 Their eyes bulge with abundance; They have more than heart could wish.
8 They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; They speak loftily.
9 They set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue walks through the earth.
10 Therefore his people return here, And waters of a full cup are drained by them.
11 And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches.
13 Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence.
The prosperity of the wicked is set to destroy them; it’s a snare, a trap, a deception, delusion, leading them gradually into a bottomless pit. They are goaded, blindfolded and taken to the slaughter. If they knew it they will run for their dear life. The god of this age has blinded their eyes so they cannot see. What they consider freedom is actually imprisonment. What is presented as enjoyment is gradual, stealthy dismemberment by their enemy.
When prosperity makes you put on the coat and character of Satan- pride- as a necklace, and violence as a garment, you know you are prepared for the chop. When you are so puffed up that you point the finger at your Maker and scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; …( and ) speak loftily.
9 ..set (your) mouth against the heavens, … you know you are on a slippery slope to destruction.
Thank God the Psalmist saw reality, understood the workings of God.
However it did not happen until he went into the sanctuary of God. It is in the secret place that we see differently, clearly from a vantage point, just as watchmen see the enemy from afar and warn those below. At the holy hill of the Lord, we see through God’s eyes and are in no doubt that ‘there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.’
37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; The future of the wicked shall be cut off.
…He shall destroy many in their prosperity.Dan8:25
For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. Message
New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
32 “Childish people go down the wrong path. They will die.
Foolish people are satisfied with the way they live. They will be destroyed.
Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
32 For the turning of the simple slayeth them, And the security of the foolish destroyeth them.
New English Translation (NET)
32 For the waywardness of the
simpletons will kill them,
and the careless ease of fools will destroy them.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
32 “Fools die because they refuse to follow wisdom. They are content to follow their foolish ways, and that will destroy them.
GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
32 “Gullible people kill themselves because of their turning away.
Fools destroy themselves because of their indifference.
GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
For the choir director; by David.
1 Godless fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt.
They do disgusting things.
There is no one who does good things.
In my conversation with the sweet saint who was confused we looked at John the Baptist- the forerunner of Jesus. He recognised his purpose, embraced it, prepared for it and introduced Jesus to the world.
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! “ John 1:29
“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.
28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’
29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.
6 But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod.
7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.
8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”
9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.
10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.
11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.
12 Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
The question arose:
‘Why was he cut off in his prime, and so gruesomely? Why did God not stop it?’
Was God powerless or careless?
There are two processions of God- those He ‘takes out’ and those He ‘takes through.’
Therefore there are certain pits, calamities, atrocities, sufferings that He will take us out from and there are others that He will take us through. He determines what the situation will be.
James, a disciple, was martyred, but Peter was sent an angel who led him out as the saints prayed for him, even though they did not believe in their prayer. Acts 12 God took Peter out of martyrdom at that time because his work was not done. However when the time came for Him to depart, he was crucified, albeit upside down as he requested, He did not want to die like Jesus, his Master.
Two processions, One God!
Acts 12: Herod’s Violence to the Church
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.
2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter Freed from Prison
5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.
7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.
8 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.”
9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”
God was very much in control of His two processions.
Many years ago as a foreign student in London, I did some part-time cleaning work without a work permit. Many other foreign students (friends of mine, even fellow-Christains), did it to make ends meet. We were in the black economy. I was caught and put in custody overnight where I almost sang my heart out past midnight, thinking there will be a jail-quake as it happened to Paul and Silas.
To my great disappointment it did not happen.
Later on another occasion, I was caught again and that led to my being exiled. I was threatened with deportation which drove me to Ireland where I continued my studies. God was still in control. My friends who lived in the same house with me were never caught. They went on to get married and had jobs and a permanent stay while I was caught in another country.
God however used the mishap to bring me closer to Him. He gave me financial testimonies as someone in England volunteered to pay my fees and maintenance if i was allowed to study in Ireland.
Many songs were composed while I was in this valley and I sang them in Churches in Ireland. It was there also that I preached my first message in a Church which recognised the hand of God upon my life despite the vicissitude of life that brought me to Ireland.
What am I trying to say here? My friends were spared- taken out, but I was taken through. Was God fair and good on but accounts? Definitely so!
In the fullness of time, I completed my Irish Times and returned to England.
Looking at Paul’s sufferings, he would have been killed many times but God preserved his life. In fact on one occasion he died and the believers gather round him and he rose up when he had completed his work, he knew the time was up and he bowed out gracefully. He was beheaded and went in a blaze of glory.
Suffering for Christ
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
23 Are they ministers of Christ? — I speak as a fool — I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness —
28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.
31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.
32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me;
The Thorn in the Flesh
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Arrested in the Temple
26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.
27 Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him,
28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”
29 (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
30 And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut.
31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done.
34 And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks.
35 When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob.
36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”
Paul himself persecuted, tortured, maimed and murdered Christians before he was arrested by God on the road to Damascus. Those he could not kill were ‘taken out’ and those he killed were ‘taken through’.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
This was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit and use to do many miracles, signs and wonders, yet he was siezed, tortured and murdered.
3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Stephen Accused of Blasphemy
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
Israel Resists the Holy Spirit
51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,
53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.“
Stephen the Martyr
54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;
‘In the Martyrdom, Polycarp is recorded as saying on the day of his death, “Eighty and six years I have served him,”, “How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt.” Polycarp was burned at the stake for refusing to burn incense to the Roman Emperor., stabbed when the fire failed to touch him ‘
In your life you will experience these two occasions being taken out of a situation or being taken through it, His grace being sufficient for you. The same applies to me. We will continue to be required walk by faith. Ours is to pray and God’s is to answer as He deems fit in line with our purpose.
Jesus came to redeem fallen man. He had to go through the way of the cross. It was gruesome, painful, costly, but He had to do it, yield to the Father to take Him through. Before the cross, they tried to kill Him but they could not.
So in what procession are you in what you are facing? You need divine insight to be able to press on until you finish your assignment. God is good all the time. All things work together for good to those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose.
Shadrack Meshach and Abednego were three Hebrew children who were righteous, loyal, devoted and dedicated wholeheartedly to the Lord. They had made up their minds not to defile themselves even though God had allowed them to be taken into captivity, exile and treated as slaves in a foreign land. Then they were favoured to be chosen as one of the King’s special aides. This was a privileged position but required being fattened up to look presentable before the king. They chose to forfeit the delicacies of the King and make do with vegetables. That was their first test which they passed. God honoured their stance and made them ten times better than their compatriots when the time of reckoning came.(Dan1:16-20)
Later, a bigger test came when the King built the image of gold and wanted everyone to bow to it when they heard the music play. The three Hebrew men refused to bow. They faced a penalty of being thrown into a fiery burning furnace that had been heated seven times hotter than usual.
Their resolve and faith were unequivocal:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.
17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.
However they went from faith to trust:
18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
If their stand meant going up in flames as living sacrifices or burnt offering to their God, they were prepared for it. If God deemed it fit not to deliver them- take them out-they were ready for it. If He opted to take them through the fire, so be it. They went from faith to trust. They trusted His good judgement. They knew God is good all the time and knows best.
The result of that trust was that they were bound and thrown into the furnace. The furnace was so hot that the flames sucked up those strong, macho men who threw them in.
However, the three Hebrew children who were thrown in bound were set free by the fire and walked in freedom in the flames. So that which designed to undo them set them free. Glory be to God.
In the same way your fire which God has allowed will set you free for freedom. It will set you free to fulfil vision, glorify your God.
The King came later on to see their corpses but was greeted with a glorious movie. Instead of seeing three, he saw four and became confused and enquired:
“Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”