— Brother Phil Enlow: Praise God! You know, last week we began in Revelation 12. I’m not gonna turn there, but you remember how we talked about there was a war in heaven, and how history is not just about what happens here in the realm that we can see. It’s not about kingdoms rising and falling, and political stuff and all that kind of thing. There really is a spiritual realm and there is a war going on.
And basically, we looked at Old Testament history and we saw that on the one hand we have Satan’s ambition. Satan rebelled against God who had created him and his ambition was to rule over that creation, to become like the Most High and to rule over it, to bring everything under his wicked rule.
And, we saw that particularly expressed in the Tower of Babel. You remember how God told Noah and his sons to fill the earth…scatter, fill the earth and all of that and be fruitful and multiply. And instead of doing that they…men began to coalesce and to gather themselves over in this place called Babel, some place in the Middle East. And, their ambition was to build them a city and a tower which would reach to heaven, make them a name, lest they be scattered abroad.
So you see this direct affront to what God had said. Rather, gather them together, and God saw enough of a threat in this that He deliberately scattered them across the globe, by confusing their languages, so the different family groups, different tribes couldn’t understand one another. And so, therefore, they migrated to Europe, to Asia, to the Americas, to Africa, to everywhere. And, we see what took place.
And, throughout the Old Testament, we see one kingdom after another trying to rise up, and God shutting them down, bringing somebody else on the scene. And always we see this picture in the Old Testament of God pulling the strings behind the scenes. And the reason for that is that God had a purpose long before Satan ever showed up on the scene. God had a purpose that was conceived in His heart before eternity, and so this is the purpose that is being unfolded and God is only using the Devil while he’s here to help fulfill His purpose. It’s amazing.
But one that that just jumped out at me as I was thinking about this is that we serve a God who is outside of time. He created time. He’s not limited by time. He can see the end from the beginning. It’s all present to Him. The Devil is confined by time. And so, you’ve got two different plans going on in the world. Which one do you want to be a part of? You know, when you really lay it out it doesn’t make any sense to think about being a part of this world’s system and just live for its values.
But I wanted to go through a lot of scriptures today, and I feel like we need to be looking at the scriptures, rather just my referring to them all the time. Maybe there’s a time for that. But, I wanted to look at some truths that really flesh this out in a way that I believe will help and encourage us.
One of them is in Daniel chapter 10, right at the end of it. And this is scripture that I preached on one time years ago. But this is the occasion when Daniel was seeking the Lord for 21 days…we’ve talked about this…and finally the angel shows up and says…God heard you from the beginning but I’ve been busy fighting with the prince of Persia.
Now who would an angel be fighting? Obviously it’s one of Satan’s angels. So this was a powerful figure who ruled over the kingdom of Persia. These were the gods of the nations. They were real beings. And they wielded real power, and so, while he was praying, there was a battle going on in the heavens, wasn’t there? There was war. And finally Michael, the chief prince over the people of Israel, this is God’s angel, came and helped him in the battle and then he came a talked to Daniel. So this was the occasion.
And, so in verse 20, he asks Daniel, “So he said, do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come…” (NIV). But here’s the interesting thing he says. “…But first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth.”
Now think about what he’s saying there. This angel is about to tell Daniel what’s about to happen. And basically, he goes on to talk about the fact that there’s gonna be three more emperors in this Media-Persia empire. And then somebody from Greece is gonna come. Who was that, for you historians? Alexander the Great was gonna rise up and conquer the known world, but when he died, still a young man in his 30’s, the whole kingdom was divided up into four parts.
Well, this is what the angel is about to unfold in a whole lot of details in the events of what was coming. But the point that he made, the point that he allowed us to see here was, this was already written. Now, let that sink in. History, because we serve a timeless God, history has already been written. Doesn’t that put a different perspective on things? I mean, we need to walk in the light of that and realize the God that we serve, and how He knows how to work things together.
You know, the scripture that we have used many times and I’ll just refer to it briefly, it’s in Psalm 139…wonderful Psalm of David, when David is just exulting in his understanding of God. God, You know everything. You are everywhere…no place I can go where You’re not.
And not only that, You…verse 13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body.”
So, in the first place, here’s a God who can foresee and who works things. Even before we know all about it, He was there overseeing the fact that…David wasn’t even born yet and God was taking care of him. Now listen to what he says. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Whoa, does that change the perspective on everything! I mean, we’ve got a God, like I say, who has written…we talk about history, but God has written His Story and that’s the one that will come true, because it’s the God who is behind it. And I, I appreciate what Ben shared Wednesday night. It was exactly on track. It fits this exactly, because we’ve got people that go in the ditch…and I’m not gonna spend a lot of time on this, but we’ve got people who go in the ditch on the sovereignty of God and the will of man.
And those who go to one extreme think God…I mean, there’s no logical way to eliminate the idea that God created evil, created everything. It’s all His responsibility. He made me like I am. I don’t have any choice. I mean, they would not admit to that, but that’s really what it comes down to.
But then you’ve got people on the other side that are so much about free will and choice that God…it’s almost like God comes as a beggar, a salesman, trying to convince people to agree to His plan instead of Satan’s. And oh, poor God, if we don’t agree then His plan is just going to go begging. It’s gonna be like merchandise left on the shelf…too bad.
No, we’ve got a God who knows how to weave the story together. We’ve got a God who knows how to weave His creatures’ choices into His Story, so that we are responsible for choices, but yet, we’ve got a God who is underneath it all and weaving the story.
I’ll tell you, the weakest person…how many songs did we sing this morning about this? The weakest person who reaches out to Him, who understands, I can do nothing without You. I don’t have anything to bring to the table. Just as I am, Lord, I come. But this is a God who knows how to take that kind of a choice, just to surrender and trust in Him, and bring us all the way to Glory one day.
Oh, it doesn’t depend upon me and my strength. But oh, I’ll tell you, there are people that hear the message of love and they resist and they harden their heart. God weaves those choices into play as well.
And, you know, I love the example Ben used of Peter, ‘cause when the Lord warned Peter about what was coming…and Peter had a choice, didn’t he? He could have availed himself of Jesus’ warning and prayed and found strength and he would’ve learned something from that, but he didn’t, and he still learned a lesson and God still didn’t throw him in the trash!
God took the choices that He knew Peter was gonna make and He said, I’m gonna make something out of this. I’m gonna teach My servant something and he is going to become a strength to his brothers and sisters because he knows something about me that they haven’t gone through. So, what an awesome God we have, who can weave those choices into something.
Now that certainly is not a prescription where, oh, it’s all in God’s hands, I can just float through life, make my own choices and do as I please. You will reap what you sow, and so will I. So there’s always that encouragement by God. I’m gonna show you the way. I want you to make choices, but I’m gonna work in your life according to the choices you make.
So…I don’t know. God’s the only one who can put all this together, but He does. He’s written a story, not just of history, but He’s written my story. Praise the Lord! I want to recognize that and love Him and cooperate, and make the choices that will make the story bring Him glory.
But you know, there’s another side to that. The Bible talks about how He used Pharaoh, and how God hardened his heart. But if you go back to the beginning of what He said about Pharaoh…God told Moses, I know him.
In other words, God knew the kind of proud, stubborn man that he was, and He took advantage of his character and the choices that God knew he was gonna make. He said, I’m gonna use that. I’m gonna cause him to so rebel against me by just simply doing what I planned to do. I know how he’s gonna react and I’m gonna judge him, and everybody in the world is gonna hear about Me. So here’s God weaving the choices of a rebellious man into His plan, as well.
Hasn’t He done that throughout history? Whoa, what an amazing God we have! God is outside of time. The Devil is inside it. Now which side do you want to be on?
Now, there’s another side to it. This is how God actually unfolds His plan. I mean, we look at Old Testament history and we just see it going on and on and on…and, there’s the rebellion of Israel. There’s their unbelief. There’s a remnant. What in the world is all that about? Why did God take all of that time?
Well, there is a truth and it comes down to the concept of prophecy. Everything God does, He speaks. Now let’s see if we can unfold some of that, what I’m talking about. Look at 2nd Peter, chapter 1, is one good illustration of the nature of prophecy. And Peter, this is the last letter he wrote trying to encourage believers before he was taken from the scene.
And so, to begin with…I mean, what did they have to preach? What did they have to go on in the New Testament? We open the Gospels, we open the letters of Paul and we can talk about God’s plan. They didn’t have that. So what did they have? Yeah, they had the Old Testament and they had eyewitness testimony, and that’s basically what they went with. Okay?
So, in verse 16, “For we did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
When did that happen? That was the Mount of Transfiguration. You remember when the three disciples went up there and He started glowing like the sun, and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. They were eyewitnesses of that. That wasn’t just something that they imagined. “We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” So that’s one side of it. We’ve got eyewitness testimony to a whole lot of stuff that they were proclaiming. It wasn’t just second-hand stuff.
“And…” There was something else. “…We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Okay? So, what we have going on is something that God inspired. Folks, if we don’t have something that God is inspiring, what do we have? Nothing, just religion. But I’ll tell you, to be part of His Story is the whole…I mean, that’s the whole game. That’s what everything is about.
And so throughout all that dark, strange period of time when nations were rising and falling, and most of His people, that supposedly were His, were walking in heathen idolatry, God had a remnant and He had prophets that He called and He put the words in their mouth. So what in the world is prophecy about? Well, on one level, it’s certainly just prediction, isn’t it? And why would God predict things before they happen?
( congregation inaudible ).
Well…yeah, it’s certainly a witness, isn’t it? Just one example…this is everywhere in Isaiah, but I’m gonna just pick one little scripture here in Isaiah 48…48, there we go. He’s talking here to the Israelites who just, again, they were struggling with idolatry. So many of them were in unbelief. They didn’t know what in the world was going on.
And so, he says, at the beginning of this passage, “Listen to this, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel—but not in truth or righteousness—you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city and rely on the God of Israel—the Lord Almighty is his name: I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. For I knew how stubborn you were….”
And so forth, and then He goes on and talks about the fact that…all these idols you’re messing around with, did they do this? No. I’ll tell you, we’ve got a God who bears witness to who He is by telling things before they happen. So, that’s part of it. And, many times we can look in the New Testament and we see the exact fulfillment of something that was spoken by somebody long ago, don’t we? So that’s part of the witness…that’s part of the reason why God did things the way He has done them.
But, there’s another thing. Constantly, throughout the Old Testament, you have this…these people that we call the Remnant. Even in the darkest hour, there were people who were faithful. May God give us the grace to do the same in the hour that’s unfolding before us. God has a remnant that is real. And so, there was this side of prophecy that was meant to give them hope, because it carried the sense of promise.
As I said last week, things will not always be as they are. Yes, things are bad, but I’ll tell you, something is coming! And I’m gonna speak it through my prophets. A king is coming! A kingdom is coming! Salvation, a New Covenant, all these wonderful blessings, they’re coming. Don’t worry, just trust Me, wait. It’s gonna come at the proper time. So you’ve got this sense of God’s promise.
And I’ll tell you one scripture that we love to use every now and then that illustrates this very well is over in Hebrews. That’s chapter 6. I want to bring together a number of scriptures that we’ve used…we’ve kind of cherry-picked them and used them in isolation, but I want us to see a bigger picture today.
I mean, this is talking about the fact that God made promises to Abraham and in order to back that up, He swore by Himself. And so, down in 16, the writer makes this point. “Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said….”
So, I have what I say but now I’m gonna back it up. You know, in court…I swear to God to tell the truth and the whole truth and all of that, and then they go ahead and lie, but still, you get the point. This is only as good as the oath. But this is the oath of God, isn’t it? All right.
“…The oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.”
Now, why did He do that? “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
So God says there are two things and they are not…they cannot be changed. One of them is My purpose. I conceived this before the world was. I am not like Indiana Jones, making this up as I go along. I conceived this.
Satan didn’t know anything about My purpose. He jumped in and said, I’m gonna be like You. Well, he’s not like God. God had something in mind and He planned. He knew your name before the world. That’s the God we serve. And so, that is an unchanging purpose, will not be changed.
But, the other thing is a promise to carry out that unchanging purpose is also something that is unchangeable. And so those are the two unchanging things. Well, what is it that makes the promise good? It’s the promise of Somebody who is incapable of lying. That gives me solid hope, doesn’t it you? I’ve got a purpose that was declared before the foundation of the world. It cannot be changed. And the word of Somebody who cannot lie!
What are we putting that up against? The ambition of a rebel who cannot tell the truth! That’s what’s going on in our world. Those are the two camps. So we have that sense of promise that produces faith and hope in His people.
But here’s something that I want to try to get across, at least in a measure. The Word of God is more than prediction and promise. Turn over, if you will to Hebrews chapter 11. We’re in 6 now. Flip the page over and go to chapter 11. And the writer begins, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
Now, here’s the verse. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” When God created the universe, how did He do it? He spoke! His words do not merely convey His wishes, His information; they have power! God did not say, Gabriel, go flip a switch and we’ll have some light! He said, “Let there be light.” And the very power to make that happen came out of His mouth.
I’ll tell you, that’s what God is doing throughout history. There was a God who is speaking things into existence by the very power of His words. Don’t the scriptures say about the Word of God, that, “…The word of God is living and active…”? It accomplishes things. I mean, there is literally…it’s the expression of His power.
Do you think maybe, just maybe we need some of that? Do you think that’s kind of central to what God is doing in this hour? We need to hear the voice of the Son of God in such a way that it has power to penetrate people’s hearts and change lives!Return to TV Transcripts