The City of God

It is incredible to note the judgment of God from the pages of the Bible. The nations that were blessed by God at one time to achieve His purpose were later amazingly punished; not just mere punishment, but acute punishing. They were made rich and later were made poorer than the poor. Everything was removed from them as if one has gone through a forest with an axe. They were made to starve; the sight of them became unbearable to the surrounding nations. God had every authority to punish them, though he blessed them. The authority was given to Him by the nations themselves when they neither revered God nor recognized their blessings and victories as from Him; when they repeatedly boasted of their riches as if they themselves were the reason for them. They were blessed, because it was necessary for His people to regard His works and Law. They were punished, because they abused Israel and when Jacob turned to God, He had the mind to stretch out His hand to them. Whether the nations were blessed or punished it firmly depended on the spiritual nature of Israel. There were times when the nations were much more blessed than Israel, but when they, who did not regard His Law or have a law, rebelled against the Almighty, His fury had no end. This time it was Egypt at the receiving end. “The waters from the sea will dry up, and the river will be parched and dry” (Isa. 19:5). Their punishment was severe.

How astonishing it is for a great nation with all possible riches to become a waste land. Who can perform such an act than the God of heaven and earth? Or, who can stop Him from performing His righteousness? The sudden turn of events will give no confidence, but an expression of sorrow and severe grief. When Egypt boasted in itself, His anger burned. The one source for its fertile land was its rivers and when Egypt boasted as if they were her creation, His patience vanished. The extent of His anger can only be imagined from His words. “Therefore, behold, I am against you and against your rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt an utter waste and desolation, from Migdol to Syene and even to the border of Ethiopia” (Ezek. 29:10). The entire nation was made lifeless. One can only imagine the effect of His fury against an individual that turned against God. It is devastating. How life-threatening it is to live against the Almighty God!

Not only will the Lord’s fury be upon those that turn against Him, but even on those who turn against His people. For this reason, the Lord God, both in the former times and the present times, has reiterated that revenge is His to take. This is a blessing to all those who believe in Him, since they do not have to take matters into their hands to avenge their neighbors. And thus, Israel thrived in God. As long as they believed in Him and kept His Law they were victorious. “Now this will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth” (Zech. 14:12). Life became simple when God worked for them. Their thoughts and ways were prepared by Him. Their days were filled by Him according to His will. They were complete, without weakness or doubt. All their excruciating days were like a fleeting vapor and they continuously looked forward to God in whom they constantly rejoiced. God did love His nation.

It is has thus happened to the nations, since they warred against the Jerusalem that God chose to be His place. In these last days, God still continues His love toward the place, which He has chosen for Himself to live in. Now, the place which He chose is the New Jerusalem, the church of His beloved Son. Through begetting this church God has created a nation that receives a love greater than the nation of Israel. This is because the former was bought with a price, which is the blood of His Son. His love for the church of Christ is unfathomable in that He Himself appears to them in the form of the word. For this reason, the word has become much more precious for all who believe in Him. Everything else became inferior. It has become the leap that overcomes. If God did not spare them that warred against Jerusalem of earlier days, how much more would He expend His anger against those who war against the church of His beloved Son? And there are many who are warring against His church, not with weapons made of hands, but with unrighteousness and false teachings. It is imperative that leaders, preachers and elders of the churches of Christ begin searching the path of God that leads to life in order that the many in it may find life and escape His wrath.

If they are to fulfill their work for God, they ought to follow the lead of their predecessors. “So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables’” (Acts 6:2). To serve tables is not a small work; it is service to the Lord. Yet, it is inferior to the one work which those who are assigned to preach ought to perform i.e. embrace the word of God. As those leading the church toward life it is great to involve in benevolent works, but not at the expense of the word. Many leaders, preachers and elders have taken the word as a lesser thing and this has become visible from the manner they teach and the doctrines they preach. The purpose of their proclaiming the gospel has become flesh-centered. Unwittingly or craftily they are warring against the church of His beloved Son. To neglect the word of God is to embrace the things that are inferior to the word. This results in weakness, doubt and lack of understanding. When the word itself is neglected, the works of benevolence or any other works done by the church because of the word are imperfect and are not credited with righteousness.

If you believe and know you were called to proclaim the gospel, know that this is the measure that God has given you. For each one receives a ministry from God and there are variety of ministries making the body complete. But, in contrast, the ministry that many have chosen i.e. proclaiming the word is being neglected, since they did not know the reason to embrace the word. For this reason, the doctrines that are not of Christ are unveiled in His church; the subsequent generations too are glorifying them. But, there is no better work than to first endorse the gospel through embracing it. There is a strong reason for the apostles to first desire the word than other good works. It enabled them to approve the works that are excellent. For what better way is there to know of the works to be chosen and performed than to first justify them from the word? This word of God tests the works and the thoughts that arise to perform works that the church may be righteous and without blemish for the appearance of Christ. Hence, as a man assigned to preach the gospel, it is obligatory that you do not neglect the word “so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10); for you are answerable to the works you approve in the church.

Christians are not only ‘the called’ for salvation, but also to prosper and be in good health in this life. This is the advantage of believing Jesus. The works that we do in Christ are the reason for our prosperity and good health. These works are directly related to the prosperity of our soul. How is a soul related to works unless it is first nourished with the word? Hence, those who are assigned to proclaim the word are with a greater obligation to first embrace it. Only as the soul prospers in Christ does everything else related to life prosper. Good health and prosperity should not be a standard for the prosperity of our soul. Conversely, the prosperity of our soul, because of the word, should stand as a witness for our good health and prospering in life. This brings glory to God in the church. Our soul flourishes, because of the work of God in us. It produces truth, righteousness and the light of Christ from us. This is a true indication that our soul is prospering. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).

If our soul continues to prosper in Christ, God shall bless us with prosperity and good health. The prosperity of our soul bears witness to our blessings. We will prosper in all the works we wish to do, and we will wish and perform only those works that we know are approved by God from His word. For this reason, we will shine the light of Christ, His truth and righteousness. Whether through benevolent works or works pertaining to life, now, we have been truly called to glorify God. Because of such calling the peace that prevails in our life will provide us with good health. Just as on earth and so in heaven we have become a part of His city, since our worth has been determined. “The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18).

Posted in 2010, Archives.