What is transition anyway? It is a defined leaving of the familiar we have been in, and going through a narrow, confining passage, to an unfamiliar place. It’s a place that holds no name because it is the space between where we were and where we are going. If we observe a bundle of smashed grapes, we can no longer identify the distinct, beautiful, plump, ripe fruit. It is not what it was; it is not yet what it is to become — juice or wine. More grapes, additional ingredients and time all play an integral role in the transformation of the grapes to the desired, new state. Many of us are like these grapes; we are ripe fruit presently being squeezed through a narrow place. Just like the grapes, the Lord is changing us into who He has called us to be. Transition is what we pass through to become; it is the place of transformation.
Punitive Judgment and Then Wrath
The Lamb will release punitive judgment out upon the earth and its inhabitants in one last, merciful attempt to drive people back to Himself in repentance, and save them from eternal damnation. But it will only serve to prove His justice and judgment righteous and true as the reaction comes:
Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed– by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm. But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Rev. 9:13-21)
And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:7-8)
The parable of the unjust judge has its resolution in the final statement above by the Lord Jesus. The Lord brings a contrast between earthly, unjust judges who may pass sentences depending upon their moods and convenience (or lack thereof), and that of the just and righteous Judge of the earth. We’re told that the Lord is aware of every injustice with which His saints have been afflicted and that every injustice will be requited when He gets the cooperative cry of faith and agreement from the saints on earth. But implicit in this parable is the reality of voluntary suffering that comes to the saints through injustice. This voluntary suffering (or in most cases, IN-voluntary suffering!) is part of the training process by which He conforms us to the image of the Son, who is the epitome of One who suffers injustice. Once these remedial judgments come to the saints of God, thus bringing us into full maturity and union with the Son, we then partner with Him in releasing His judgments into the earth with the main view to bring a harvest of souls.
Meeting Jesus As Judge
The depth of intimacy with our Lord affords a liberty and honesty in our relationship like no other. No one will ever know us to the minutest detail as He. We have great assurance and confidence in Him, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus, as the perfect Husband, exhibits an unparalleled patience with His bride. He affords us an extended grace period or honeymoon, where we become secure in His undying love. When our relationship is strong and stable, as King, He is also faithful to begin to reveal truth to us about our character. He shows us weaknesses and flaws that do not conform to His image and likeness. Jesus is a faithful Bridegroom/ King who confronts us, and works in us to conform our character to His likeness.
We are a Bride Awaiting Our Bridegroom
Jesus is returning for a bride that is without spot or wrinkle. We know that Jesus must have a bride that bears His image. The bride, who is the church, must make herself ready (Rev. 19:7-8). If we examine the betrothal process of the Hebrew culture, we can begin to understand how to embrace the intimate relationship the Lord desires.
It was customary for a Hebrew young man to prepare a Ketubah, a marriage contract (a covenant), which he presented to his intended bride and her father. Included in this covenant was the Bride Price, an appropriate gesture in Jewish society meant to compensate the young woman’s parents for the cost of raising her. In addition, and more importantly, the payment was considered an expression of the man’s love for his intended bride. This betrothal covenant was legally binding once the bride and her family accepted the terms of his Ketubah.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, We had everything before us, we had nothing before us. We were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens opens his classic, A Tale of Two Cities with a series of paradoxical statements that paints a vivid picture of tumultuous times in England and France. The year is 1775, and while England is soon to lose its grip on the American colonies, France is soon to face total anarchy as the peasants arise to overthrow a corrupt and decadent regime. England is rife with crime and France with poverty. While life for the nobility was exquisite, the lower class struggled to survive. The plight of the times raised serious questions about man’s ability to rule justly and the desire of man’s heart to serve selflessly.
The word “judgment” has received bad press, and that bad press has mostly come from the church….
In one extreme, parts of the church are now saying that God does NOT judge; He’s too nice and loving to do such a thing. This has been carried to heresy in those that deny the existence of hell and of a final judgment after death. Those who hold to such a view do not know the Lord in His awe-inspiring beauty and justice. If there is no judgment of sin, action and lawlessness, then God cannot be a just God. If He is not just, then He is not holy, without mixture. In denying this aspect of His holy nature, man thus has successfully remade God in our fallen image (at least what we would LIKE Him to be).
(It is highly recommended to go back and read Part 1 of this continuation to have a better understanding of the main premise.)
Counsel Between Friends
While on their way to judge Sodom and Gomorrah the Lord and His angels stopped at Abraham’s encampment. Sodom and Gomorrah had become the most wicked cities on the face of the earth. A grievous cry against the people of this valley had reached the throne of God and come before the face of the Lord. Genesis 18:20 tells us, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave“. In these cities, perversion was not only permitted but was also encouraged and promoted. Romans 1:32 and Hebrews 6:4-6 describes such behavior as representative of a debased mind, a mind that is reprobate…so seared that it is impossible to renew it again to repentance. The bowl of iniquity hanging over Sodom and Gomorrah was full, and God was about to allow them to reap what had been sewn, but on His way to judge, God stops to discuss His plans with Abraham. Why?
God never intended for man to spend his life in search of his identity or purpose. In the book of Genesis, God declares man’s identity and purpose as he introduces mankind to the universe. Genesis 1:26-28 says:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Eph. 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
It has often been said (as quoted in the “four spiritual laws”) that God has a wonderful plan for our lives. This is most definitely true, but I think that we have not consistently looked at this statement through the lens of scripture and reality, but mostly through the lens of western cultural thought. We need to rethink all of this to get to the essence of true living and kingdom impact that the Lord intended for us in fulfilling His desires and plans, and in being fulfilled in our destinies.