By George H. Warnock
Of all God's Appointments with men, certainly there is a Day, which must be near at hand, which is more than an Appointment - it is rather an Encounter of the mighty God, with men of all nations. We speak of the Day of the LORD, which is both Great and Terrible.
We speak of the Day when God rises up in confrontation with the forces of Evil, which will also be a Day of Encounter with God's people.
We speak of a time when God will say "It is Enough," and will rise up to purge His Church from her iniquity, and to consume the tares that are mingled with the wheat, as well as the chaff of the threshing floor.
It is a day when He will consume the "man of sin" out of His Temple, the Church, with His holy fire from heaven (see 2 Thess 2:8).
It is described by Isaiah the prophet as "the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified" (Isa 61:2,3).
It is perhaps difficult for us to understand how the Day of the LORD could be both a mighty working of God in His people, as well as a time of His awesome judgments. For it is a Day of both Darkness and of Light,
"Arise, Shine; for thy Light is come, and the Glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His Glory shall be seen upon thee" (Isa 60:1,2).
I believe that God is preparing a people once again, and causing them to seek His face earnestly, for this great Encounter with the Most High God. Surely He is jealous over His people, and will come to us, and stand before us with those seven eyes, like flames of fire, to search us out, and to consume the chaff in our lives, that we might be a praise and glory unto God in the earth.
A Clear Voice in Times of Apostasy
We can be assured of this: God is always faithful to raise up a Clear Voice in times of Apostasy. God will send forth a clear warning to His people in times such as these, when darkness has settled in the Church, and the true heart longs for the Light. And those who are humble and contrite before Him, will have the assurance that God has spoken a clear word. I know at this time there is a lot of confusion, and many of God's people are as 'sheep not having a shepherd.' There will be a contest between the true and the false, but God will expose the false in His time, and vindicate the truth. The true sheep will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and will not give heed to the voice of the hireling.
The Day of the LORD, as we read about it in the Old Testament and New, emphasizes God's judgments. Peter tells us that God's judgments begin at His House (see 1 Pet 4:17). It is time that we recognize that He is Jealous over His people, and will not tolerate the sin, and the idolatry, and the pride that characterizes much of the Church of this hour. He speaks words such as these to His people:
"Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud:
For the LORD hath spoken.
Give glory to the LORD your God,
Before He cause darkness,
And before your feet stumble
Upon the dark mountains,
And, while ye look for Light,
He turn it into the shadow of Death,
And make it gross darkness."
This is a very awesome warning. It was fulfilled in Jeremiah's time, and I believe it will be fulfilled again in this generation. God is faithful to raise up weeping prophets like Jeremiah, who warn God's people of coming disasters, and who cry out --
"But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep
In secret places for your pride;
And mine eye shall weep sore,
And run down with tears,
Because the LORD's flock
Is carried away captive."
God is certainly a very good and gracious God. We have known much of His goodness, but we do not care to hear of His severity. Paul wrote these solemn words to the Church at Rome: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off" (Rom 11:22). The Church has known much of God's blessing, seasons of revival, and times of great repentance before God. And we know there is still a people in the land, as in the days of Elijah, when God reminded the prophet that He had "seven thousand men" who were true to Him, and had not bowed the knee to Baal. But deep and horrible apostasy has invaded many of the churches, and the Spirit of God whom God sent in the stead of Jesus, to lead His people into all truth - has been driven away by ambitious leaders in the Church.
God is Jealous over His Church, and we expect that there will be a great encounter of God with His people who profess to believe in Him, as He seeks to turn their hearts back to Himself. But it appears it may take a lot of trouble in the land, before this will happen. It does not seem to take long before a once vibrant Church, forsakes their first love, and God removes their Lampstand. Then, if there is no repentance, what was once the House of God becomes a social system, and the Spirit of God has been driven away.
No doubt we are all familiar with the story of Jacob, how he fled from the wrath of his brother Esau, and camped out in the darkness of the night under the starry skies. As he slept, he had a vision of angels "ascending and descending" on a great ladder reaching down from Heaven. He saw God at the top of the ladder, and heard him confirm the promise He had made with Abraham. When Jacob arose in the morning he said: "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not -- this is none other but the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven." And so he called the place Bethel, which means the House of God (see Gen 28:11-19). Jacob set up a stone as a memorial of this great visitation.
But in process of time, Bethel became a place of idolatry, and the people of Israel would go to Bethel to worship the golden calves that king Jeroboam had set up, to replace the true God of Israel. This is just one example of the apostasy that sets in, when people forsake the God who revealed His glory at a certain time and place - and then, when God is no longer there, they make it to be a place of idolatry.
The New Testament equivalent is the Church, for Bethel means the House of God. And now all over Christendom there are places of worship called "the Church," because the true God was once there. The holy Dove of the Spirit of God has long since been grieved, and has flown away. But they still call it "the Church" and people go there to worship they know not what. The Spirit of Truth has been expelled from their gatherings, and replaced with innovative things of one sort or another, to make the place attractive: all kinds of musical instruments, pipe organs, beautiful pulpits and altars, and vestments for the pastor or bishop and the choir, and a short but eloquent sermon. And a true child of God may visit the place, looking for Jesus, and say something like Mary said to the angels at the tomb: "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him" (Jn 20:13).
The same with Shiloh, where the Tabernacle had remained for many years after they had come out of Egypt. The priesthood had become corrupt, and Eli the high priest seemed helpless to do anything about it. They had ample warnings from God, as to what would happen, but to no avail. And God sent the Philistines to devastate Shiloh, and slay the priests that served their own selfish interests, rather than the people of God.
Now where was God in all this apostasy? God had a chosen vessel right there in the Tabernacle - a young lad by the name of Samuel. Hanna had asked for him, and she called him Samuel, because God had heard her prayer. And young Samuel grew up there in the Tabernacle, with a clear word from the heart of God. So clear, that God "did let none of his words fall to the ground" (1 Sam 3:19).
So it was with God's true prophets all through scripture. They suffered much for the truth, but God was always faithful to bring a clear word to the people, in times of apostasy.
One time Jeremiah stood in the gate of the Temple, and cried out against the people who had gathered there to worship God:
"Trust ye not in lying words, saying,
The Temple of the LORD,
The Temple of the LORD,
The Temple of the LORD, are these
" -- the buildings, and the altars, and the sacrifices, and the vestments, and many other things that God had ordained for Temple worship, but were now given over to idolatry. And the God who ordained the Temple and the ordinances, was nowhere to be seen or heard (see Jer 7:1-4).
Listen, people of God! You do not have to stay in a place of worship because it was founded by some great man or woman in the Church of former times, or some present day apostle or prophet whom God has used, when the Spirit of God moved freely in their midst -- and now it is given over to comedy and drama and musical entertainment and idolatry. And you know that the Spirit of God is grieved, and the Holy Dove no longer rests upon the people, but has flown away in sadness of heart. When His freedom to move in your midst as a Wind from Heaven, and as a Fire that purges and cleanses His House from all defilement -- is no longer there. (However, we would not want to bring any person under condemnation for staying in such a Church - if they are assured that God placed them there to be a Witness and a Light in their midst.)
The Church, God's Standard of Righteousness
Christians are grieved when governments approve immorality, and especially when they pass laws to legalize what the Bible condemns. But where is that powerful Testimony of Jesus in our churches that will cause God's holy fear to take hold of the workers of iniquity and put them to shame, and bring them to repentance?
It is the responsibility of the Church to declare God's righteousness in the earth. When Jesus was here, He was God's righteous Voice in the earth. And when He returned to the Father, He made provision for that Voice to continue in the earth, by sending His Spirit to abide in His people. Jesus said:
"When He is come He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment" (Jn 16:8). The Holy Spirit is faithful to do that; but do we not realize that we are the Temple of His Spirit, in which He lives, and speaks, and performs His righteous judgments in the earth? That's what the body of Christ is all about - a people walking in the same Anointing that Jesus walked in, and manifesting the glory and power and righteousness of King Jesus, who now reigns with all power in Heaven and in earth.
God will yet have such a people, and they will become a living reproof of the sins of men, and will declare God's righteousness and judgments with power and anointing. In doing so, they too will suffer as Jesus and His apostles suffered, because this world hates the Lord Jesus, and continues to rebel against Him. And if we are on His side, the world will hate us, as it hated Him. "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" (Jas 4:4). We must always be aware that our warfare is not against "flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph 6:12). And we must know that our armour is spiritual armour, and totally sufficient to cause us to overcome any enemy that comes against us (see Eph 6:10-18).
The followers of the Lord Jesus are assured of victory, and they rejoice in the Lamb who is revealed in the Day of the Lord as Conqueror over all the earth. "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty;
Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.
Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord,
And glorify Thy Name?
For Thou only art holy,
For all nations shall come
And worship before Thee;
For Thy judgments are made manifest."
We hear and read of the suffering Church in many places in the earth, as they war against the Dragon. But the thought seems to be: That's over there, it will not happen to us. Let there be no self-confidence in any of us who know a little about the Word of God, and the evil hearts of men. There will be much persecution even in our land, when the Name of Christ is proclaimed with power and anointing by His faithful servants.