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ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: WRATH vs. TRIBULATION
And a supercalifragilistic morning to you! Well, OK! Expialidocius, too!
WOW! Guess I should have seen it coming, but didn't realize my last Coffee Break would stir up such a hornet's nest. Talk about angering religious spirits! Even had one preacher call me the Antichrist because of what I shared. Oh well! I know that when you begin to address long-held doctrines and traditions, this comes with the territory. Nevertheless, I'm bound to share that which Holy Spirit directs.
This Coffee Break can be regarded as part II of the Antichrist series, and yet I'm dealing more with the confusion that has developed in the body of Christ as a result of "antichrist doctrines" -- or doctrines which essentially cheat the Lord Jesus Christ out of receiving His due inheritance in His people. Before I get into the things I need to share, let me build a "fence" around this discussion. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I don't know all there is to know. (Grin!) The apostle Paul put it like this (see I Corinthians 13:9,10,12):
"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away...... For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
I can share to the extent of the revelation that Holy Spirit downloads in me, and to the extent that I walk out and experience that which He imparts. I used to look back a decade or so and think, Wow, the Lord sure has taught me a lot! What was learned during a period of ten years ago in time past has accelerated enormously as we draw closer and closer to the Day of the Lord. Now I look back a matter of months and say, WOW!!!
Now, let me make a few quick corrections to some statements made in the last Coffee Break. I'm indebted to a good brother in the Lord and fellow-laborer in the Gospel, Keith Gerner, for steering me in the right direction. Keith is a true apostle. He has overseen the move of God in Ireland for more than 50 years, and is one who has literally been responsible for tens of thousands of people (and even more) coming into the Kingdom of God. That said, Keith received his degree in history from Oxford, and was able to help me get some facts straight concerning Margaret MacDonald and the influence of the Scofield Reference Bible.
First, Margaret MacDonald was not an adherent of pre-trib rapture. Some of her writings are available online, and as she wrote in an article the year before she died, she saw the rapture coming AFTER "the tribulation, being the fiery trial which is to try us," and for "the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus."
Secondly, the doctrine of dispensationalism, along with the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture was the product of a "revelation" by two Jesuit priests in Spain in or around 1830. As they began to share these doctrines within their sphere of influence, it drew the attention of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. They were subsequently excommunicated, eventually leaving Spain for France where they fell in with local leaders of the newly-spreading Plymouth Brethren movement.
These teachings became part and parcel of the Plymouth Brethren, and began to spread into the Reform denominations -- along with that, the Presbyterian leadership in America. C.I Scofield was converted in or around 1879 and mentored by James Brookes, then pastor of Walnut Street Presbyterian Church of St. Louis. Brookes had become a strong adherent of J. N. Darby (Darby's Translation of the N.T.) who was a pioneer in the Plymouth Brethren's beginnings. Darby was a strong proponent of the dispensationalist pre-trib teachings. As a result, Scofield was mentored under those doctrines.
I originally stated that Scofield's Reference Bible was published in the late 1890's, but in fact, Scofield only had his New Testament notes and commentary at that time. His complete reference Bible was published by Oxford Press in England in 1909, replete with Scofield's notes, references and cross-references.
OK. Enough of that. Let's move on.
Over the past years, and especially the past few months, we have had numerous discussions with various brethren concerning the confusion surrounding the difference between tribulation and the wrath of God.
As I noted in the last Coffee Break tribulation is something promised by the Lord for all believers. Jesus put it like this:
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Before we get too far along in this discussion, it's necessary for us to look at the Greek word used throughout the New Testament which gets translated "tribulation." This is an interesting word. Thlipsis (there's a tongue-twister for you!) literally means: pressure, afflicted (affliction), burdened, trouble -- and of course, the two uses we most commonly associate with: persecution, tribulation. This word comes from the root: thlibo, which means to squeeze into narrow places, to crowd.
Pretty clear so far, right?
One of the translated uses of thlipsis in Paul's letters is the word, affliction(s). I'll come back to this momentarily.
The word "wrath" which appears in the New Testament Greek as the word orge (and comes from its root, oregomai) occurs some 45 times. It literally means: violent passion, justifiable ire or abhorrence, and by extension, punishment; indignation, vengeance. This is one of those picture words in the Greek language which creates an image of the mind literally stretching forth in violent excitement in order to execute righteous judgment.
Now that we have these definitions, let's take a look at some appropriate applications in the Word so that we can clearly understand why tribulation is a necessity for God's people; and why, in contradistinction, those in love with the Lord and committed to Him will not experience His wrath.
Pardon me, folks, if at first this comes across pedantically or too much like a lesson from a Bible College class. I don't want to bore you, but it is necessary to lay a foundation so that you can understand the real picture of tribulation and rejoice in the midst of it because of what the Lord is doing in us.
Consider Joseph. Here's a guy who had some real revelation from the Lord. He goes to share it with his family and gets mocked by even his father. In fairly short order, his brothers kidnap him and sell him to some Ishmaelite slave traders. He gets sold to Potiphar, Captain of Pharaoh's personal guard, as his personal slave.
Despite the betrayal of his brothers and the unbelievable change of circumstance, Joseph manages to refrain from becoming accusatory or bitter. He behaves with integrity before Potiphar and in the process of time is given charge over all of Potiphar's household and business affairs. Things are looking up.
Potiphar's wife decides that she's going to have Joseph and attempts to entice and seduce him. Nope. When she tries to lay hands on him and force him into a compromising situation, he breaks loose leaving his outer garment in her hands. When she cries "Rape!" Joseph is immediately seized and thrown into prison without a trial or any opportunity to defend himself. Still he refuses to become embittered.
Once again, the Lord is with Joseph (He has been all along in the midst of this tribulation) and he gains the favor of the prison warden. Once again, Joseph is given complete charge -- this time over all the prisoners and over the operation of the prison. Something like five years pass. Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker get caught in events which anger him and they get thrown into prison, only to be placed in Joseph's care.
A few months pass and both dream dreams. Because the Lord is with Joseph he is able to interpret these dreams. The cupbearer is going to be restored to his position and the baker is going to lose his (and his life). Joseph pleads with the cupbearer to remember him to Pharaoh when he is restored. Sure enough the baker is executed and the cupbearer is restored to his position. Unfortunately, the cupbearer forgets his promise to Joseph.
Two more years pass. Joseph has now been in prison for seven years. He was 17 years of age when his brothers sold him into slavery. He is now 30 years of age. 13 years have passed -- years of trial, trouble, pressure, false accusations and -- for the last seven -- imprisonment. These are years of severe tribulation for a man who has had dreams and visions from the Lord, and promises that are forever etched in his being.
Now it is Pharaoh's turn to have some dreams -- two of them. No one among Pharaoh's wise men and advisers have any clue as to what they mean. All of a sudden the cupbearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh about him. The long-awaited call comes and Joseph is retrieved from prison, cleaned up and dressed in appropriate garments to be presented to Pharaoh. As Pharaoh unfolds his two dreams the Lord reveals the prophetic picture to Joseph, which he in turn shares with Pharaoh.
In less time than it took for Joseph to share with Pharaoh the prophetic implications of his dreams and make recommendations to him, Pharaoh changes Joseph's status from former slave and prisoner to Prime Minister of Egypt. Now Joseph is second in command over the entire nation.
What am I getting at?
The tribulation that Joseph experienced wasn't God's doing, it was man's! But God used those 13 years for Joseph's benefit, his training and preparation to rule. He took what was meant for Joseph's harm and turned it to Joseph's benefit, the benefit of Joseph's family, the preservation of Pharaoh and all of Egypt, and the preservation of surrounding nations.
Consider David. Like Joseph, he was 17 years old when his life took a very unexpected turn. Anointed by Samuel to become King of Israel, he came to Saul's attention in fairly short order after the Philistines sent their champion warrior, Goliath, along with the armies of the Philistines against Israel. Sent by his father, Jesse, to bring bread and goodies to his brothers who were on Israel's front lines of battle, David sees and hears Goliath's taunts against the Lord and against Israel.
The Spirit of God rises up in David when he hears these taunts and he lets it be known that if no one else is going to take on Goliath, he will -- and the Lord will be with him. Saul is glad to have someone who will challenge the giant but wants David to take on his armor before going to battle. Saul is a big man, standing somewhere between 6'6" and 7' in height. David is nothing like that, and Saul's armor is way too big. David shrugs off the offer and takes on Goliath announcing and decreeing the Word of the Lord as he heads toward him.
As a sling-fighter, David has developed deadly accuracy, and with divine guidance directing the stone from his sling, David drops the giant with a single stone to the center of his forehead. Leaving nothing to chance, David rushes over, grabs Goliath's sword and cuts his head off. Seeing their champion dead, the Philistine army turns to flee the scene of battle. Israel's army under Saul's leadership takes off after them. That day, tens of thousands of Philistines die.
Saul decides this is too good a warrior to waste anywhere but at his side, and he takes David into his court. Jonathan, Saul's son, has a heart for the Lord and a bond of love and fellowship develop between the two of them. In the celebrations and victory dances that followed the slaughter of the Philistines, the women of Israel -- throughout all the cities of Israel -- began to sing and chant, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten-thousands!"
In that moment, hatred of David is born in Saul's spirit, along with fear and jealousy, and he determines to find a way to kill David. During the next thirteen years, David will find himself at the wrong end of Saul's spear, conspired against, falsely accused, on the run constantly for his life, and occasionally taking refuge among the enemies of Israel, the Philistines.
Interestingly enough, it was during these years of tribulation, trial, persecution and being on the run for his life continuously that men and women began to join themselves to David to stand with him. Initially we are told (I Samuel 22:2) that some four hundred men (not counting women and children) joined themselves with David's company. Later, we see that group growing to more than 600.
Despite all that happened to him, David learned to conduct himself circumspectly with honor and integrity, displaying the grace, the love and the mercy of the Lord God in the sight of the entire country. When at last Saul died at the end of a spear the men of the tribe of Judah crowned David as their king. Another seven years would pass before the rest of Israel would determine that David should be king over the whole nation.
It isn't necessary for me to recount all that David did, or the life he led. We all know that according to recorded history, David was considered by the Lord to "be a man after God's own heart." David became the king by which every other king in the nation's history was judged and measured.
Why? It wasn't just the way he ruled. It was the way he functioned even in the midst of great persecution, trial and tribulation. He became not only the standard for kings, he was a classic example of grace, love and mercy in the face of tribulation and persecution.
Let's skip ahead to the apostle Paul. Tribulation? Hmmmmm..... The way I see it this man's life epitomized tribulation. How much more do you want to see in the way of opposition, attempts on one's life, false accusations, imprisonment, hunger, thirst, shipwreck, etc., etc., etc.?
How did Paul put it? "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (II Corinthians 11:23-27)
Last time I checked, that counts as tribulation. How about you? Care to try all that, and then suggest that Paul didn't experience great tribulation?
So what was the fruit of all that tribulation? For Joseph, it was the ability to show mercy to his brethren -- the same ones who started him on his 13-year journey through Hell -- and rejoice because of what the Lord did with him as a result of it all.
For David, it was a picture of love, grace and mercy demonstrated to the grandson of the enemy who tried to hunt him to his death. It was a picture of mercy and grace toward a son who betrayed him and tried to take the throne away from him. For David, it resulted in the development of such character that God promised a new covenant with His people predicated in "the sure mercies of David." (see Isaiah 55:3, Acts 13:34)
For Paul, it produced in him the ability to communicate to every succeeding generation the love of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Now, let's talk about the wrath of God.
Remember when Korah rose up against Moses along with Dathan and Abiram and 250 elders of Israel? Remember their rebellion against God's choice of Moses to lead Israel and their jealousy of him? Remember their accusation against Moses and against the Lord, saying that Moses had simply led Israel out of Egypt to kill them? (Read Numbers 16)
Despite the fact that God had delivered Israel out of the hands of Pharaoh and his great oppression, performing spectacular sign after sign with the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the water out of the rock, the manna from Heaven, and everything else that God did, Korah and his conspirators were accusing God of having ulterior motives. Because they took their anger and jealousy out on God's anointed and chosen leader, Israel got to see the wrath of God in action in a way they'd never forget, and at the same time see God's vindication of His choice in Moses!
"And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD." (Numbers 16:28-30)
And that's precisely what happened! The earth opened up and swallowed Korah, his household, his family, his tents and all that belonged to him, and then slammed shut. Then fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 elders that had joined in the rebellion. But it didn't stop there! 14,700 people who had stood by in tacit agreement with the rebellion were consumed by a plague. That, my friends, is a classic example of the wrath of God.
There's a whole lot more to this picture and we'll pick it up there in our next Coffee Break titled, PICTURES OF TRIBULATION & WRATH.
"The deep things of God are known only to Him, but are revealed to us through His Spirit. That is the promise of 1 Corinthians 2. Therefore, it is our expectation to witness an unprecedented outpouring of His Spirit and unfolding Last Day mysteries that will perfect the bride and empower the Sons of the Kingdom.
Mere human knowledge is not sufficient to bring in the great harvest. We must be endowed with God’s supernatural provision that is clearly promised for this hour. To do so, every saint of God must come to the realization that Christ is "all in all."
He is Light; He is the Way, Truth, Life; He is the Resurrection; He is Wisdom; He is Righteousness; He is Goodness; He is Understanding; He is Alpha and Omega; He is the Beginning and the End; He is All in All.
To merely acknowledge these as doctrinal truth is not sufficient. They must become experiential reality through personal encounters with the Living Christ. The Lord is standing at the door knocking with a personal invitation for profound fellowship and the unveiling of Latter Rain revelation. For those who will forsake all else to dine with Him, this will be an age of greater glory and personal transformation into His very image. (Prophetic Word from Paul Keith Davis)
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener CAPENER MINISTRIES
709 South 7th Street Sunnyside, Washington 98944 (509) 515-0133
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