One of the situations we have today, not only affecting and infecting the United States but also across the world is the remembrance of history. The remembrance of how we got to the point of where we are. We have lost sight of connection and human brotherhood. Yes, our past has many injustices and atrocities that cannot be ignored, but when we choose to learn from them, we can garner added benefits.
Exodus chapter 1 gives us an example of how this ignorance of history can lead to the downfall of a nation. Exodus 1:6-8 speaks of the death of Joseph, of his brother and their generation. It speaks of the fruitfulness of the children of Israel and the prosperity of the Egyptian nation but there is a problem. The passage states that a “new king” arose which knew not Joseph. Joseph’s name means “Jehovah was added”. In other words increase, exceeding and continued abundance was added just because of the presence of Joseph. The reason that the nations of Egypt prospered was because of the children of Israel who lived and operated under the covering of Joseph. Yet all the “new king” of Egypt could see was a growing immigrant culture of people who were infiltrating his land while completely ignoring the benefits and fruitfulness that they were producing not only for themselves but the nation of Egypt as a whole. The unlearned “new king” instilled into the nation of Egypt a mindset of being overran by the “immigrant” enemy. The “new king” knew not Joseph. He did not know that Jehovah adds. Don’t forget to remember where all your blessings come from. How is it that the “new king” knew not Joseph? How do you not know your history. When the “new king” issued edicts to undercut and enslave the very people that contributed to the success of the nation, things began to falter. Where were the “new king’s” advisors? Were they also ignorant of Joseph? We sometimes tend to believe that new is better so we ignore the wisdom, the taste, the aroma of that which has been aged by time. When you as “new king”, fail to see the hand of God on your nation and how He through His own sovereignty is blessing you, you then begin to negate and forget Joseph. Soon you drift into a state of tribalism. It becomes an us against them, even within the same community. We forget it was the “us” along with “them which was added” that made the nation great, prosperous and fruitful.
Understand, in the seven Jehovah titles there is not one that illustrates that He brings division. It is the nature of Satan to bring the opposite of what the Father desires. Always with the addition of Jehovah connotation there is peace. The Father delights in adding, that it might be even more fruitful. Herbs, spices and salts adds to the flavor of the original food . How is it that we miss that concept in community, governance and yes even ministry? Wake up world. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Across the globe division seems to be the preeminent call for today. The word diversity does not mean division, it means variety, assortment, mixture, range and multiplicity. The nation is strengthen when we remember Joseph, Jehovah was added. Jesus prays to the Father in John 17 His desire for us to be a s one even as He and the Father are one. If the message is division and “us against them” then we have failed to remember Joseph. Don’t forget to remember…
“But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)
Attacked, stripped, beaten and thrown in the INNER prison; in stocks; bruised and bleeding; in pain and extreme discomfort, surrounded by the very worst criminals, in the worst of places. What does one do? Pray and sing praises to God, of course!
Well, ok, perhaps not for most of us, but these two men had a different mindset. They were more interested in pleasing God than men, more interested in Kingdom principles. Ihave just been sitting, listening and thinking on the events that are taking place in ourworld today. From the circus act we now call politics, police actions, humankind onhumankind criminality and greed, acts of terrorisms, we as a people across the globe are in a time of midnight. In the natural, midnight is the starkest period of gloom and darkness and it is made to appear that the sun has gone away. Whether you realize it or not, darkness, extreme intense gloom is covering our world today and it is made to appear that the Son has gone away. However, the real truth is the world has turn away from the Son. Not only are we in a dark time but also we have been thrown into a dark place, prison. Not just prison but an inner prison. What is an inner prison?
Inner prisons in the days of Paul were not pleasant or healthy. In the mind of the people, prison was equal to death, despair, sickness of mind and body, and humiliation. They did not have TVs and cable. They did not have commissaries and work out areas. They did not even have windows. It was devoid of light. There was no natural light at all. Sometimes we find our lives can be that way. Naturally we cannot see a light at the end of our proverbial prison tunnel. We struggle to bring a light of solution to our place of darkness and entrapment. Prisons, in the time of Paul had no air conditioners or heaters. The minimal comfort needed for sleep, were nonexistent. The floor was their mattress.
But far worse was the psychological and spiritual impact of total darkness on the prisoners. Some prisoners chose to commit suicide. They purposely decided to QUIT where they were. They purposely sabotaged their own life… BUT it still did not get them out of their situation. You know what I am talking about. God did not come through like YOU wanted Him to so now you do not believe in Him. Now you quit serving Him and going and BEING the church. You refuse to pray and bow the knees of your heart to Him because He failed you in your darkness. Spiritual suicide but you are still in locked up in your situation, dead. In Paul’s time dead bodies could lay in the inner prison for weeks at a time.
The bleeding, suffering apostles uttering their prayers and singing the praises of God must have amazed the other prisoners.
They sung hymns to God at midnight. In there location they could not be aware of time so the fact of it being midnight to them did not matter. They chose to BLESS the Lord at ALL times, in ALL times, through ALL times so the time of the times did not matter. It was not just midnight for Paul and Silas. It was midnight for everyone. It was midnight, not merely in that inner prison, but throughout the Roman Empire outside of prison, also. It was a midnight of morals, humanity, justice, forgiveness, kindness and TRUE love as well.
We are living in a time of midnight and the whole world knows. What song are you singing? And how are you singing it? How convinced of you of your own song? You can sing the right words but not be convinced of those same words! You sing “I Trust in God”, but do you? You sing “Great Are You Lord”, but are you convinced? You sing “You’re a Good Good Father”, but do that come with favorable conditions? You sing about loving Christ and Him loving you and wanting more of Him, but are you loving others with the same passion He possessed and displayed. Yeah you know, I am talking about that, “Father forgive them cause they know not what they do”, type of love.
Imagine the impact of the things heard in prayer and hymns on the jailer and the other prisoners. It was a far cry from the wails, threats and curses usually heard in such places. The message, the song, had its effect on the listeners, it always does. The kind of effect depends on each individual heart, but there will be an effect. What is the “world” hearing from you?
What is your song? “Nobody knows the trouble I see?” “Take this job and shove it?” “We can’t go on?” “Crash and Burn?” “Let’s Build a Wall, ten feet tall?
We understand the main objective of chains is to restrict mobility and prevent escape. Chains were made of rough iron that would eventually rust with the perspiration of the prisoners, causing infectious pain, saying nothing of the weight of the chains. Finally, chains were noisy, and that clanking noise of chains prevented even less sleep for the prisoners. Paul and Silas’s chains become apart of their song and provide accompaniment like a rhythm section, tambourines.
Every link became a part of their praise. The link of failure, PRAISE, link of pain, PRAISE, the link of plenty and the link of lack PRAISE. The Link of bad choices PRAISE, the link of right choices, PRAISE. Everything that is weighing heavily on my mind and causing me to lose rest and peace and feel fearful and powerless will be an accessory to my song.
I am certain that Paul and Silas didn’t feel in their natural man like praying and singing praises unto God. They were going directly against all their natural feelings and deliberately exercising their will to enter into praise.
Notice this final point, the prisoners heard Paul and Silas praying and singing praises unto God. This explains why none of the prisoners escaped when the earthquake came and their prison cells were opened. They had apparently been so moved by Paul and Silas’ demonstration of faith in God to such a degree that they recognized the earthquake as an intervention of God and followed Paul and Silas’ leading in not fleeing the prison. What a song, what a message they must have delivered in that “midnight” hour.
Paul and Silas had the audacity to forgive, before they were asked, to trust where they could not see and sing a song that shook the world.
It’s midnight… what are you doing? What song are you singing?
One of the things that we hear especially when things go chaotic in life is that God is in control. To our human intellect this would ring true. After all He is God and we are mere mortals. But to have that thought introduces several questions that we cannot answer especially from the unbeliever. Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people? Why did He not intervene in the Sandy Hook situation or the Las Vegas situation or the church shootings? Where was He when slavery and racism took the lives of millions of people? How could He allow His own to die under the hand of the Nazis? He is in control and He is our Father but millions have died via illness, disease and starvation? Children, babies are innocent victims yet bare the ultimate penalty? Where is your God? Where is this Heavenly father? Why, does He let the wicked prosper and allow others suffer? These are valid questions that we sometimes must field from the unbeliever and if you are honest with yourself, ones you have asked yourself. To be honest these questions creates a wrestling in your soul that struggles to produce an answer that is Biblically supported, an answer that makes sense. If that is how He looks after His children, His creation then something is wrong.
But and because He is a good good Father how do we reconcile? I would submit for your consideration that God is not in control. Before you hang me from the highest tree let’s consider if the Word supports this conclusion. Logically, a good place to start is in the beginning. In Genesis 1:26-28 through we read “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He Him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. So what I am hearing that He gave man the authority the edict to run things and rule over His creation. While He is in charge, all powerful, and sovereign that does not mean He is in control of the earth.
Now I know you are probably saying to yourself wait a minute, the Bible says that “the Earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwells therein.” (Psalm 24:1) True…but there is a notable difference between ownership and sovereignty and being in control. As I was thinking on this point, the Father showed me an example. He said you have a car that you own. It is yours, however if you give the keys to someone whom you allow to drive it, say to run an errand, who is in control of that car? What if an accident takes place? Who is in control, the one who owns it or the one who possesses the keys and is behind the steering wheel? A king can be sovereign over a nation having not to answer to anyone yet still not be in control of the activities of his subjects. Consider Psalm 115:16. “The heaven, even the heavens, arethe LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” Yes, the Father created it for man’s use supplying everything needed for man to live and thrive, howbeit retaining ownership. Understand, He has given control of the earth to men and we will have to give an account how we maintained it. I am afraid, however, that we have advocated our responsibility of being a mindful tenant. Being a renter of my place of residence does not mean that my landlord is in absolute control of the residence. It is given to me.
There is a point in the New Testament that many miss that illustrates this point. When Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by Satan in Luke 4:6-7 Satan declares that he would give Jesus the kingdoms of the world along with their authority and splendor, because it was given to him…through the fall, but with the resurrection of Christ ALL power was given to Him. His desire is that God’s will be done on EARTH as it is being done in Heaven. This would point to a probable fact that His will is not always being done on earth. We have advocated our responsibility in parenting, in governance, in the earth maintenance, and nature itself. Sadly we have not demonstrated loving our fellow man. Even to those proclaiming the banner of Christendom have advocated our call, our duty to love our fellowman with the unshakable, the unbiased love of Christ. As a renter it is MY duty to maintain the property as I am answerable to the owner. We Are answerable to the Owner and will one day give an account for that which He left in our hands. God’s sovereignty and ultimate ownership does not abate or eliminate man’s accountability.