“A Great Sign” (2009)


What are the ultimate – most significant, highest, greatest – purposes of God, so far as you are concerned? Church growth? Revival? 24/7 prayer? Israel? The success of your ministry, church, denomination? Do we need to be concerned about such a highfalutin question at all? Surely – you may say – it’s enough to observe where the majority of Western Christendom is presently stampeding off to, and just run-along
and join right in?

According to the British Bible scholar, Theodore Austin-Sparks (1888-1971), we ought to be supremely anxious abut this matter because, “If we will not, however, embrace the ultimate purposes of God, then neither, ironically, will we have any relevance in His immediate purposes.”

In other words, if your ultimate destination (concern, passion, ambition) is not according to God’s, why would you ever think your pathway there is going to carry you along His “narrow road that leads to life”, which incidentally, “only a few find”? (Mt 7.14)

T. Austin-Sparks (in an essay entitled “Prophetic Ultimacy”) identifies the culmination of history as being “the theocratic glory” ... the literal, global reign of our Lord Jesus Christ from His millennial throne on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in Israel.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him.” (Mt 25.31-32)

For all aspiring prophets, Austin-Sparks’ assertion should have the same effect as a wack up the side of the head with a very large, frozen tuna. Our brother continues his thesis by unequivocally insisting, “A prophet shows the unbroken continuum of things past, with the imminence of the eschatological (end-time) future, that culminates in the theocratic glory. The prophet announces or projects
the impending end of the world in apocalyptic fury and judgement in a way to birth the longing for the new heaven and new earth in which dwells righteousness.”

Why is the Western Church in the main so yawningly indifferent to the Second Coming of Christ? Because the prophetic ministry has failed to communicate precisely and sufficiently graphically what is finally to become of our world as the result of humankind and satan’s “reign” ... a smouldering and howling wilderness, studded here and there with massive, steaming piles of human waste! Nor have we sufficiently and
adequately prophesied the glory and the wonder and the unutterable beauty of Heaven’s King, His throne in Jerusalem, and the Kingdom which He alone can usher in and inaugurate here on our ruined earth.

“The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously.” (Isa 24.23)

Still pining to be an oracle for the hour? Then ponder this parting shot from our brother’s essay, “When we do, however, embrace them (the ultimate purposes of God) then all hell will howl ... The moment we embrace the ultimate purposes of God we become marked people before the powers of darkness.”

“And then the lawless one will be revealed (exposed), whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming.” (2 Th 2.8)

“You should pray ... ‘your kingdom come.’” (Mt 6.9-10)

Here are gathered a collection of essays concerning Israel and the Church. Why bother? Because key, prophetic events and absolutely necessary stepping-stones which lead inexorably to the Lord’s return and enthronement, concern God’s Jewish People.

These events (most notably Israel’s national restoration and salvation) are what the Apostle Paul calls “the mystery” of Israel. (Ro 11.25) If  we, God’s Gentile People, fail or refuse to grapple creatively with these great, mysterious truths until we are enlightened, then we shall be “blind guides” in a time of great darkness.

“If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Mt 15.14)

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Mt 5.13-15)


November 2009