Archive for November 2013

Heaven – The Cloud of Witnesses   Leave a comment

The scene is like a race in the Olympic games.  The sky is blue and the wind is catching the banners and lifting them high.  The runners are all lined up and on their marks and you are in line with them waiting for the starting signal.  You have trained so long and hard and sacrificed so much to be here and now it’s finally happening.  The signal sounds and off you go.  It’s your turn.  It’s your day and your time to run.  Then suddenly as you look up into the grandstands you recognize those you have only read about from another time!  Among this great host are the Apostle Paul, Moses, King David … they are on their feet cheering and saying things like,

“Come on!  Run!  Keep going!  You must win this race for us as well as for yourselves!  We ran well but we were not allowed to finish.  It was not for our time. (Heb.11:39,40)  But it is your time now and you are the last of the runners in this relay.  You must run!  You must finish well!  Go!”

Beside them are members of your own family who ran before you and those who discipled you.  They are crying tears of joy and calling your name as they wave you on.

This is the reality of Hebrews chapters 11 and 12.  Chapter 11 has been called the great hall of faith, describing many who have been over-comers in ages past and have gone on to be with the Lord in Heaven.  In chapter 12, Paul speaks specifically about them and all the other over-comers from Adam up to the present day when he refers to them as the great cloud of witnesses.  He encourages us to remember their legacy as we run this race and to understand that they surround us, watching us and cheering us on!  (Heb. 12:1)

Before we move on to study this subject, I wanted to share an experience I had with them several years ago:

Once again I had fled to the solace of the place where I had met Jesus so often.  But this time I could not discern His presence.  The agony and confusion in my heart was overwhelming.  It was becoming very difficult to discern what was actually being required of me by the Lord as a sacrifice and what was merely being stolen more and more by the enemy.  I thought of Israel, continually giving up land for peace.

I began to sob out all the pain in my heart to Him.

“Lord,” I cried. “I don’t understand.  I am completely Yours and totally in love with You.  I should be able to hear Your voice and know what You are asking of me.  Oh God, remove the confusion and bring understanding.  Speak to me and show me what to do.”

Finally I had no more tears left to cry.  I lay starring up into the afternoon sky, searching that quiet place within me for His still, small voice.  But I heard nothing.  The only noise was the murmur of the creek nearby and the wind blowing softly in the trees.  Now, time in this realm required me to make a decision.

At last I said to Him,

“Jesus, please see my heart.  See that I love You beyond all else.  If this sacrifice is what You are asking of me, then I am willing.  But I will not let the enemy steal from me all that I have.  So I give it all to You, my Lord, with all my heart.”

Reaching into His realm, I placed it all within a large gift box and tied it up with a beautiful ribbon and a card that read,

“To Jesus, with all my love.”

Then I lifted it up to Him.

Instantly a curtain was pulled back in the sky above me.  Within the large crowd of people I was viewing I recognized my earthly parents, grandparents and my husband’s parents.  There were a few others I knew, along with a great many angels who were all smiling, cheering and applauding loudly.  A few were crying tears of joy.

It seemed I had made the right choice.

Heaven – The Lamb Who is Worthy   Leave a comment

Then I looked and I heard angels, thousands and millions of them!  They stood around the throne, the four living creatures and the elders and sang in a loud voice, “The Lamb who was slain is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom and strength, honor, glory and praise.”

And I heard every creature in Heaven, on earth, in the world below and in the sea – all living beings in the universe – and they were singing, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory and might, forever and ever, through the eternities of eternities.”  (Rev.5:11-13)

Can you imagine such a spectacle?  What prompted this extreme amount of praise from the realms of Heaven and earth, from every living being in the universe?

John the Beloved, one of Jesus closest disciples, was now an old man exiled for his faith on the Isle of Patmos.  In this  prophetic encounter he is taken into Heaven and sees the Father on His throne.  In the hand of the Father is a scroll covered with writings on both sides and sealed with seven seals.  Reading further into the book of Revelation shows us that this scroll was filled with the judgments of God which are to come upon the earth.  “And I saw a mighty angel who announced in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (Rev.5:2)

Who can the Father entrust with the power to judge the earth?  Who is worthy?  A search began throughout all of Heaven and earth.  It could not be an angel.  It had to be a man from the earth in order to be just.  All the saints passed by in review.  Abraham – the father of our faith, Moses – the friend of God, David – the warrior and worshipper, Paul – the great apostle.  But no!  None was found worthy for all have gone astray. (Isa.53:6, Rom.3:10)  It had to be a spotless one.  But “no one in Heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or take a single look at its contents.  And I wept audibly and bitterly.” (Rev.5:3,4 Amp.)

And finally, in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and  the elders, there stood a Lamb who had been slain. (Rev.5:6)  He is the man, Christ Jesus and He is God, the only one found worthy in all of Heaven or earth.  And He came and took the scroll from the hand of the One sitting on the throne, from the hand of His Father. (Rev. 5:7)

When this was accomplished it brought an immediate response from all those in Heaven who fell down before the Lamb crying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals for You were slain and with Your blood You purchased men unto God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Rev.5:9)

This is why we love Him.  This is why we trust Him.  This is why He is worthy to judge us and judge the earth – because He died for us and poured Himself out for us.  His judgments are just and true.  He drank the cup and tasted death.  He received the wrath of God in our place and now He is worthy to administrate the Father’s wrath.  He is acquainted with our grief.  He is the suffering King who gave up His glory to bring us back to God.  This is why we love Him.  This is why we trust Him, because we know Him and we know His heart.

Sometimes the very questions we ask reveal our lack of real knowledge of who He is.  I still hear people ask questions like, “Why should we worship God? What does He get from our praise?”   An appropriate response to that question might be, “Have you seen Him?  Do you know Him?”   I am not simply speaking of prophetic experiences where we may see Him face to face in the natural realm.  These are available to us, of course.  (See previous posts on this blog under “On-ramps into Heavenly realms”)  But I am speaking of seeing Him and knowing Him in the Spirit – in our spirit, inside our hearts.  God is, after all, a Spirit … and we must learn to worship in Spirit in order to really experience and know Him deeply.  (John 4:24)  Those who really know Him intimately will have no need for such inappropriate questions.

The bride in the Song of Solomon was faced with the same questions from the maidens who asked her, “What is your beloved more than another?” (v. 5:9)  By the time she finishes describing Him (v. 10-16) the maidens have been won over by her love for Him. Their response now is,” Where is your beloved hiding himself? For we would seek Him with you!”   When we lift Him up, all may be drawn to Him. (John 12:32)

There was only one found worthy in Heaven, on the earth or in any realm.  He is the Lamb of God who was slain and by Him all things consist and are held together. (Col.1:17)  How could we not love the One who gave all for us?  How could we not give our lives to Him so that He may receive the reward of His suffering?

He alone is worthy of it all.