When Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders, to save themselves from losing their positions and importance and the money that came with that, they twisted the truth and came up with a noble cause of saving Israel from being destroyed by the Romans. So they gave Jesus up to be crucified. That is an instance of when the light in the hearts of people is darkness. Similarly when Churches love the world and the things the world loves, the love of the Father is no longer in the church, but truth can be twisted and manipulated to justify evil. When people refuse to love the truth and they harden their hearts against the truth and against God, then God will blind their eyes and deaden their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts. So the church can be in ruins, but like the people in Aceh, they can be blind to it.
In the previous segment in Kingdom 59, I said that Jesus did not waste His time on the indifferent and antagonistic. I also said that after Jn.7 He focused only on the believers and seekers. In case you might be wondering, I need to clarify something. Although Jesus no longer went to preach to the multitudes, He did continue to speak with the Jewish leaders whenever they came to engage Him in conversation. Why did He do that? Was He trying to get through to them? Was He hoping they would change? Was He trying to disciple them perhaps? Of course not. He knew their hearts. He knew they were hardened. Read what He said of them in Mk.12:38-40 and the whole of Matt.23. No, He was not trying to change them. In fact He came to announce to them that they were finished. In Matt.21:43 He told them the Kingdom would be been taken away from them and given to others who would produce its fruit. God had given Israel more than 1500 years to change. But did they change. No they didn’t. They kept rejecting God. They had come to the end of God’s patience with them.
So why did Jesus keep talking with the Jewish leaders then? I believe it was for 2 reasons. First, it was to draw a line in the sand so to speak, and to tell them, this is it. They were finished. And second, everything that transpired between Jesus and the Jewish leaders was for His disciples to hear. Through His dialogue with the Jewish leaders, Jesus was exposing to His disciples what was in the hearts of the Jewish leaders. He was showing them what kind of people they were. It was an object lesson for His disciples, both to warn them not to end up like these guys, and also to prepare them for what they were going to face. Just as He would be killed by these guys, the time would come when they would also have to face these kind of guys, and they would also be killed by these kind of guys, whose kingdoms will be threatened by what the disciples will preach.
Back to the point about drawing a line in the sand. In a court of law, before judgment can be pronounced and executed, the facts and charges must first be put to the accused. The accused is given a chance to respond. Will he admit or will he deny and try to defend himself? In the parable of the tenants in Matt.21, Jesus said the tenants kept killing every one of the prophets that God sent to speak with them. And finally God sent His Son. Here is actually God Himself coming to confront them. But were they repentant? No they were not. By the way they responded to Jesus, they proved themselves guilty.
In Kingdom 54, I alluded to what Jesus said in Jn.12:35. “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.” And also in Matt.6:22, about how the light within people can be darkness. As I said, every time we are confronted with the truth, we have to make a choice. Shall we acknowledge the truth, whatever that might be, and walk according to what the truth requires of us, which means that we have to change, or shall we push it out of our minds, and excuse and defend and justify ourselves? If we choose to reject the light, meaning the truth, Jesus says the darkness will overtake us. Then I gave an illustration of how the light within a person can be darkness. I told you about the church leaders who siphoned off funds that was meant for rice distribution, for themselves, and they twisted the truth to justify themselves.
There’s actually a perfect example of that in the scriptures itself. Look at the Jewish leaders. They said it was better that one person be sacrificed than a whole nation be destroyed. So they gave Jesus up to be crucified. That’s in Jn.11:50. Why did they do that? It was because Jesus exposed their hypocrisy. In order to save themselves from losing their positions, and their importance and the money that came with that, they twisted the truth and came up with a noble cause of saving Israel from being destroyed by the Romans. It was actually to save themselves, but they made it appear as something that was necessary to save the nation. To save themselves, they threw Jesus to the dogs. It still happens today in politics, at work, in organizations and in the church. I’ll talk more about what happens in the world later in another segment. In this segment I want to focus on the church and how truth is being twisted and manipulated to justify evil. How light can become darkness in the hearts of Christians.
In December 2004, when the Aceh tsunami happened, just before I went to Aceh for relief work, the Lord spoke to me from Isa.6. He told me to read especially the last 3 verses. Let me read it : “Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” This was a vivid description of the destruction in Aceh. So I was wondering if God was telling me to go and speak to the authorities and the people in Aceh to tell them that this was His judgment but that the destruction was not finished yet, but more disasters would come and destroy everything until only a remnant of people who repent would be left in the land. Well I was prepared to do that if the Lord was actually telling me to do it, but somehow in my spirit I did not feel the release to do it. So I waited. I waited on the Lord and months later, one day it dawned on me what the Lord was telling me. This was His word not just for Aceh but for the whole world, including His church. What happened in Aceh was just a picture of what is happening in the spirit.
Isa.6 is unfortunately often misquoted in missions conferences by the way. God did not send Isaiah to bring the good news but the bad news. Look at verse 9 and 10. He sent Isaiah to tell them that they will keep hearing but they will never understand. They will keep seeing, but never perceiving. Why? Because God has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor would they turn so that the Lord would heal them. John, the apostle John quotes this in Jn.12:40 about the Jews who kept resisting Jesus.
After the tsunami destroyed hundreds of villages and killed more than 200,000 people in Aceh, a news reporter from Jakarta went around Aceh to ask the people there why they thought this happened to them. They all said this was definitely the judgment of God. The people in Aceh are all very religious and so no one could deny it was the sovereign act of God. They are fundamentalist and radical and they consider themselves the true Muslims while the rest of Indonesia are infidels to them. There was also a movement among them that was fighting for separation from Indonesia. But why did God bring this destruction on them, the reporter asked. It was very interesting what they all said. They all said that it was because of the sins of the central government in Jakarta. But that does not make sense does it? If it was because of the sins of the Indonesian government based in Jakarta, why did God not bring this judgment on the people of Jakarta? Why did He bring this judgment on the people of Aceh, who in their own eyes are pure and holy? Why did God not judge the people in Jakarta? Doesn’t make sense right? Well, they couldn’t answer that question. They simply kept insisting that it was the fault of the Indonesian government. How blind can people be?
Earlier I said that the picture of destruction and the blindness in Isa.6 is not just about Aceh but about the whole world, including the church. I don’t think I need to tell you how blind the world can be. But what about the church? Just like the people of Aceh, and just like the Jewish leaders in the time of Jesus, I have observed that the more religious people are, the more blind they become. Today’s churches of course have a different kind of religion or spirituality. John told us not to love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life—they come not from the Father but from the world. But many churches are doing exactly that. They love what the world loves. Do they seek to know the heart of God and His love for the poor and those who are oppressed and marginalized and forgotten? Are they troubled about all the injustices and suffering that’s going on around them and around the world? No they are not. They love money and big buildings and the most expensive furnishing, and flashy cars, and the latest state of the art equipment. And their meetings are like clubs and discos. Instead of influencing the world with the culture of the Kingdom, they are following the world. As Darrow Miller has said, “When the church fails to disciple the nations, then the nations will disciple the church.”
Many churches today are so absorbed in themselves, so self-centered like the rest of everyone else in the world, so absorbed in their new kind of spirituality, they have become blind and deaf, just like what Jesus said of the church of Laodicea in Rev.3 : “You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” That’s what Jesus told them.
In Isa.6, God told Isaiah to tell them that this was His judgment on them. Because they harden their hearts against God, then God Himself will harden their hearts so that they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts. In 2 Thess.2:10-11, Paul said the same thing. When people refuse to love the truth then God, notice it’s God, not the devil, God Himself will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie that they prefer. So they can have all the Bible verses to justify themselves. Just like how Satan can quote scripture also for his own purposes. When the world judges them and throw them in jail for embezzlement and corruption, they can even say they are being persecuted and they are suffering for Jesus. Imagine that. And their followers will say, “Hallelujah, praise the Lord for our leaders”. You see to them it is light, but the light within them is darkness.
These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it