We need the promise of wisdom that is found in James 1:5, and God is ready to give it to us!
Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7
That is probably one of the most powerful promises in all Scripture. Part of God's promised plan was revealed to the prophet Isaiah.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus came to this earth with the responsibility of revealing the love and wisdom of God's government to the human race. In the Old Testament, His government was expressed to humans through the sanctuary and the ark of the covenant, with its law and mercy seat. Forgiveness and salvation were to be understood through the system of sacrifices pointing to Christ's coming sacrifice. It was God's demonstration, in symbols, of His loving supervision and solution to man's problem with sin. All this had been planned before the first week of existence of this world. Jesus Himself was the Lamb of God...
... the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
This plan was all worked out by God for man's sake. Since God is a God of all power, it was as good as done once it had been planned.
... His work has been finished since the creation of the world.
God Promises A Clear Plan
The human race would be doomed to extinction if sin (rebellion) was chosen by mankind and they would cut themselves off from God. But God had a plan:
It was a second chance, ready and available as a free gift, because God the Father loved the humans He had created as much as He loved His own Son! Jesus said it:
"I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
John 17:22, 23
Now The Promise
Any. human being who chooses to accept this free gift from Christ Jesus, anyone who would trust His government (His love) would enter into a rest relationship with God that had been planned since the beginning of time.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
Hebrews 4:9. 10
Man was saved by God's work. God, because He is so loving, treats His people intelligently. He reasons with His created beings.
"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
Isaiah 1:1 8
God reasoned. He pleaded. He explained. He demonstrated. But many times humans tend to ignore God's Word and question the fact that God has taken care of man's salvation by working out before creation all man's possible needs, even the needs man would have if he chose to sin, which Adam did choose to do.
God Promises A Substitute For Us
God wanted humankind to hate sin; to realize that turning from His government cut them off from peace of mind, rest, and eternal life. So God instituted a system of innocent animal sacrifices designed to teach people about Himself and the work He had planned in dying for man's sin. But instead, humans began to think that taking the lives of innocent animals was itself the solution. People thought they were earning their own salvation by satisfying a punishing God. But David was inspired to explain how God felt.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart... Psalm 51:16,17
God wanted people to understand how sins would be changed from scarlet to white in God's reckoning. It is by His love expressed in the death of His Son, which we accept as we repent.
In heaven, Satan had claimed that God and His government were unfair and unloving. Satan's lies had come between the Creator and many of the angels themselves, as we learned in earlier studies (see Powerful Promises booklet 12).
God Promises A Messiah
On this earth also in Old Testament days, Satan came between human beings and their Creator God. He attacked the very system of sacrifices in the sanctuary that God, through His chosen nation, had used to symbolize to the world His plan for solving the problem of sin. Then human leaders of God's chosen people succumbed to the temptation to try to solve human problems by human efforts. They piled tradition upon ceremony to cloud the picture of the sanctuary, the high priest, and the sacrifices the picture of Christ Jesus, and God's government. God, always in control, gave His own nation a timetable (a deadline) so they would know He intended to step in to bring about recognition of what the whole plan was really all about. God kept His promise by revealing this plan through His prophet. This is the powerful prophecy/promise the angel gave Daniel.
As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision: "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens.' and sixty-two 'sevens.'... He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven,' but in the middle of that 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offerings Daniel 9:23-25, 27
God was trying to help the people He loved so much to realize what was happening. He was telling them that the "Anointed One" (the Messiah in the King James Version) was coming exactly on time, according to plan. With this schedule He was assuring the people that He was in control even though much of the sanctuary services symbolizing His governments plan had become confused by the enemy in people's minds.
God's enemy wanted people to believe God's government was not viable, functioning or wise; not in control of the situation.
God had given clues before, and now He gave the timetable deadline. It was to be a total of seventy sevens or 490.
God Promises 490 Years Probation
The time period was to be counted from the command to restore and rebuild
Jerusalem. Ezra, chapter 7, dates the time historically when the priesthood and the worship of God in the sanctuary were once more fully authorized. It would be another opportunity for the people God had chosen, to share with the world God's method for solving the sin problem. History records the year of the command that is referred to in the restoration of Jerusalem as 457 B.C. Seven sevens, or forty-nine years later (a time equals a year in prophetic promises see page 10 of this lesson) Jerusalem was rebuilt. Sixty two sevens, or in another 434 years, marked the year of the baptism (anointing) of Jesus Christ. That was A.D. 27.
In the middle of the next seven-year period, all the sacrifices and offerings in the symbolic services would no longer be needed, according to the prophecy/ promise God gave Daniel. And three-and-a-half years after Christ's baptism-in the spring of A.D. 31-Christ, the Lamb of God, was offered on the cross as the perfect sacrifice. No more symbolism was needed. God had wanted the symbolic sacrifice to cause people to hate sin- and to turn to Him with repentant hearts. Finally, once and for all, He Himself provided the solution.
First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:8-10
God had given His free gift to the human race, and all heaven rejoiced. Angels grasped the extent of God's love as the cross was lifted between earth and heaven. The human race had been saved from extinction.
God In Control After All
God had planned in Old Testament time to reach all people of the world through His chosen people, giving them an opportunity to understand and choose to accept His sacrifice. But as a nation, the leaders of those chosen people rejected Him and the real reason for the system of sacrifices.
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." Matthew 15:8,9
Then, three-and-a-half years later, in A.D. 34, the religious leaders began to destroy those who had accepted His sacrifice. God instructed His followers that it was time to go to persons of other nations. The final special opportunity timetable for God's covenant with one nation had ended. The 490 years were completed in A.D. 34. But God's covenant plan made with Christ before creation was an everlasting one, and available to anyone. When the story of God's solution to human problems was taken to the rest of the world, God had again demonstrated His provision-His control in the affairs of humanity.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuse them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb...
Revelation 12:10, 11
Christ's death forever settled the questions of love and fairness in the minds of the heavenly intelligences. He next permitted the human race an opportunity to see exactly what worship is like when any power attempts to come between the Creator and His creatures, as Satan had desired to do in heaven.
God Promises Freedom When Humans Use Force
Forced worship by human government was to be given free reign, but only for a limited time. God's children were being given opportunity to clearly see the options, to make an intelligent choice. God revealed this in the Old Testament days to Daniel. Since it would happen after the cross, He also revealed it to the last Biblical prophet, John. The same time principle was used as was found in the 490 year prophecy/ promise: a symbolic day equal to an actual year of human time.
He will speak against the Most High and op. press his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. Daniel 7:25
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "it will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed."
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagles so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach.
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.
... They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.
The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
The total of each expression is the same: 1,260. In the year A.D. 538, an earthly political power, the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, sent one of his generals to route the last "barbarian" power (the Ostrogoths) from Rome, and the church authority had free reign to exercise the civil authority which Emperor Justinian had given to it.
God is never caught by surprise. He had given a timetable so people could see the persecution that comes when human beings get involved in using human government to force worship-even if they think they are helping people. God's government specializes in free responses from love relationships.
The enemy of God instigated ideas in a system of worship that attempted to persuade humans that God's law was subject to change by human authority. And we see another prophecy / promise. From A.D. 538 onward during the next 1,260 years, those who dared to disagree with this religious authority that had governmental power were at times subject even to burning at the stake. Money or good deeds were required by this system in return for forgiveness. Prayers were said, not to the Father through Christ Jesus, but through other humans called "saints." Again, Satan's plan was to get between the Creator and His creatures. However, Christ had promised:
"I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." John 16:23
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
In the year A.D. 1798, exactly when God had said it would happen, the head of the religious system that had used such force on so many people, was taken prisoner. It was exactly 1,260 years after that religious system had received its political power.
At the cross, the heavenly intelligences sealed their choice in favor of the God of heaven. God wanted mankind also to clearly understand the result of governmental power in the hands of any spiritual leader other than Himself. Human choices need to be sealed, too. God wants people throughout eternity to choose His worship, knowing and trusting His love and fairness. Because He treats us intelligently, we have assurance that in Him, and only in Him, rests true freedom and real love that respects each person.
God provided for it all, even as He provides for us right now. He has a plan for each of us. When He promises, He means.what He says. He has a full life for us.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
Still Free To Choose
God's government is still in control of the universe. Each individual is still free to choose his own response to God's plan. The invitation is the same now as it has always been, and our answer can be like Joshua's.
"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
Whose authority do you choose?
Special Powerful Promises
His comfort brings joy:
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
His gift brings life:
"For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
His quietness brings love:
"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
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