Call to Worship: Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Songs: Holy Is the Lord - The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Our God - Chris Tomlin
While I'm Waiting - Travis Greene
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 29:1 “Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. 3 In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5 and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. 6 Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. 7 They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore, the anger of the Lord has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. 9 This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.”
Song: Giants Fall - Francesca Battistelli
Sermon: Before and After
Closing Song: Send the Fire - Nashville Singers
Benediction:Isaiah 12:1 “In that day you will say: “I will praise you, LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. 2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. 6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
If you look at any diet pictures you always have two pictures; the before and the after. The one is always sad and probably slouching, dim lighting, the worst picture, but the after is a big smile and a different looking body and there is a distinct difference in the two pictures. As it stands now, our before and after pictures are both dismal. We have followed false gospels therefore our before is not the before it should be which has resulted in the after which leads to death. I know that doesn’t sound like good news but this is. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Since our before was a rejection of this good news, if we repent and return to him, our after can be totally different. The picture will look better than any after diet picture can ever look. Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 22:3 “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” What a picture that is but we must repent and return. Did you notice the unbelieving was in that category of people.
As we make the transition from living in desolation with no hope to living in prosperity by defeating the giants and taking back the land, we want to prepare ourselves to cross the Jordon. This is a return to the gospel we read in Matthew 4:23. Deuteronomy 9:1 “Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. 2 The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” 3 But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you.” The key to this is our belief in the word of God. Exodus 32:13 “Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.” Mary said, Luke 1:54 “He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Galatians 3:26 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Ephesians 3:6 “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Then later Peter said 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
You must choose to believe this gospel and you must also believe what happens if you do not obey this gospel. That death was described in Revelation. Till now we have been talking about the rebellion and the great falling away. We have talked about false teachers and their gospels. We have talked about how the church looks just like the Old Testament. We have also talked about the promise to David and how that promise remains intact and we have talked about how there is just a remnant left. Will Jesus find faith when he returns? Will you find the narrow door? The good news for us is as Isaiah 10:20 “In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. 22 Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous. 23 The Lord, the LORD Almighty, will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land. 24 Therefore this is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: “My people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did. 25 Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.” So like Israel, God’s wrath has been poured out upon us. The enemy has struck us down but like Israel Isaiah 11:16 “There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt.” Like Judah Isaiah 37:31 “Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. 33 “Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria: “He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. 34 By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city,” declares the LORD. 35 “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!”
Even though God kept his promise to the remnant, even the remnant ended up going into captivity as we see today. 2 Kings 21:14 “I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hands of enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their enemies; 15 they have done evil in my eyes and have aroused my anger from the day their ancestors came out of Egypt until this day.” It would be naive to think that God would not do the same to us for disobeying his covenant that Jesus gave us. We were told to obey and we refused and decided going our own way would be better than God’s way, so desolation and delusion entered the land and we were defeated by our enemies. You must bear in mind that this is spiritual warfare now. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” God gave us a promise that he would not totally destroy us, so we have hope. Yes even though the remnant went into captivity as we have, there is a remnant left who will rise up and be the church Jesus called us to be who will follow his words and no one else’s. Jesus is our king and we are his servants. So even though all looks bleak, Nehemiah 2:20 “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding.” Paul describes it this way. 1 Corinthians 4:1 “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 6:4 “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” Ezra 5:11 “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.”
Paul said 2 Corinthians 6:2 “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” Jesus said in Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” So we too are rebuilding the temple. Now this temple has not been completely destroyed, as were the other two because as we are the body and Jesus is the head; it has only been infiltrated by the enemy but we will be victorious. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. This temple will stand firm. Hebrews 4:14 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” The foundation is built on the ROCK; it is Ephesians 2:20 “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Once again God will turn his face to shine upon us. Just as Daniel’s prayer was heard, God has heard our prayer. We are now just waiting for God to restore his church to him. Since Jesus walked on this earth, we have been given the chance to repent but instead we have followed the empty ways of man. As Peter was preaching after Pentecost he said that what the prophets spoke of was fulfilled in Jesus. Acts 3:17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ 24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Peter continued and said Acts 4:11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” There is only one gospel and that gospel will be restored. This gospel is the hope we have. Colossians 1:25 “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” So once more we continue in Paul’s work with great hope in God’s word. Amos 9:11 “In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be.” Psalm 60:1 “You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us! Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. 10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? 11 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. 12 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” Psalm 80:19 “Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”
I want to look at a few scenarios of before and after. First we have Jesus and the salvation, power and authority he intended for us to have. Revelation 12:10 “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.” This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 2:2 “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Jesus came so that we would have life eternal. John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Not only will there be salvation for those who believe, the believers will continue to do as Jesus did. The plan was that we would continue doing as Jesus did in the power of the Holy Spirit. John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can’t do what Jesus did without his power and authority living in you. We were told to wait so we could go, clothed with the Holy Spirit, not naked and ashamed. The after was going and making disciples of all the world. Acts 1:4 “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” All this time we should have been focusing not on times and dates of His return but focusing on the return of his power so that when he does return we will be ready. We cannot defeat the enemy without power. 1 John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.” We cannot continue the work if we do not have power. We also cannot be saved if we do not live wholeheartedly by his word. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:9 “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
We have been offered salvation but it only comes through this gospel and no other. So no matter what you were before, your after can be eternal life with Jesus. Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Jesus said Mark 1:14 “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
Yet most sleep and don’t want to wake up from their slumber. If we would have continued to adhere to God’s word and did not turn away, we would have sped the return of Jesus. 2 Peter 3:11 “You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. We would have gone to the ends of the earth clothed with power and continued the work of the disciples. Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” As we know this did not happen so what does our before and after actually look like? It definitely does not look how Jesus intended it to look. Sadly the before and after of the church looks just like Israel did. In the before they were given so many promises yet they did not adhere to God’s word. They were given the Promised Land just like God said yet just like God said they were vomited out of the land. For most their after was captivity and desolation yet for the remnant a return to promised land. Today we look back to Jesus to see the before, how Jesus intended the church to be but the after is the same desolation Israel faced except ours is deception and delusion because of our disobedience. The church lies in ruins and desolation just like Israel did. Nehemiah 1:3 “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” Yes I realize that most will refuse to believe that the church has been taken captive for disobedience yet sadly that is part of the deception / delusion. If you return and adhere to God’s word and stop listening to the lies of men and women, you will see it. This is why we have the Old Testament to show us. Too many have accepted their traditions, reasoning and experiences as equals or stronger than the bible. This has become their before. They have set the word of God aside. They have added and subtracted without the slightest fear of God bringing down the curses listed in his word. Revelation 22:18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” So the church started off right but right away they veered off curse. Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” 1 Corinthians 15:1 “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”
Instead of following the gospels, the church added and subtracted to make their own gospel. Romans 2:5 “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” By doing this God turned his face from this temple of which he wants to live and we lost the power and glory of God. They rebelled against the Lord by going their own way. Deuteronomy 9:23 “And when the Lord sent you out from Kadesh Barnea, he said, “Go up and take possession of the land I have given you.” But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. You did not trust him or obey him.” Nehemiah 9:26 “But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they turned their backs on your law. They killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.” Psalm 78:56 “But they put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes.” Psalm 107:11 “they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.” Isaiah 1:2 “Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. Isaiah 63:10 “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.” Jeremiah 3:13 “Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’” declares the Lord. Ezekiel 2:3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day.” We have not been raised in the ways of God but in a rebellion against the Lord. Now the after looks just as it did when Assyria attacked Israel and in the end even the remnant has gone into captivity.” Judges 6:1 “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.” So like Gideon we ask Judges 6:13 Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The problem is that the desolation is so extensive most do not see it and continue on their merry way towards death and destruction. They refuse to cry out which makes us worse than they were.
If we stay this way we will only hear, Matthew 7:23 “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” That is not what we want to hear, so we need to change our before and after. We need to return to the how the before was supposed to be. We don’t look back 50 or 100 years, we go back to the beginning and do what Jesus said to do. For us presently, our before is desolation and captivity but there is hope for our after if we repent and turn around. The security we thought we had was a lie so therefore our after was a lie too. We had fallen from our secure positions because it was not well with our souls. When we return to God’s word we have hope once again. Why because God’s word tells us we have hope. Paul said. 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” You see we belong in that group of people. If we do not change our ways, we have no hope.
So as we were headed for the wide gate, we stopped and turned around. Yes those running freely to this gate will mock and put you down on the way by. But by going the right way against the crowds, you will find the narrow door. Luke 13:23 “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us. “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’” It doesn’t matter whether people mock you; turning away from false teaching and gospels is the right thing to do. Your life depends on it. Trust me when I say you will have to brace for impact because the numbers going through the wide gate are immeasurable but you can do it as God leads you along. So the answer to the before is simple. God said in Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.” Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” Seeking and returning means to turn from our wicked ways which are following other gospels and have nothing to do with the form of godliness we were raised with.
Now to have the right after, we need to be like Josiah. His before was like ours. The word of God was lost and the temple was in ruins but he turned back with everything he had. 2 Kings 23:2 “He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” He proceeded to destroy, tear down, demolish and do everything he was told to do. We also need to be like Joshua who went in and took the land. One of the greatest before and after’s was King Josiah. 2 Kings 23:24 “Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” Josiah turned back to God and did everything he was supposed to do. Things were so bad the book of the law had been lost. Those who went before him did not do what they were supposed to do. This deterioration can happen really fast. Hezekiah was followed by Manasseh, then Amon and then Josiah. Judges also gives us the speed at which they fell away. Judges 2:10 “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Now when Josiah came along, in the 18th year of his reign he began to repair the temple. While they were repairing the temple they found the book. 2 Chronicles 34:21 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.” The answer they received from the prophetess was 15 She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made,[a] my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’” After Josiah’s sons turned from God, this was fulfilled. 2 Chronicles 36:20 “He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.” 2 Kings 24:20 “It was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.”
So here we are today living in desolation yet the church thinks they are on the right path. Those who went before us have not adhered to the word of God but like Josiah we can return to the lord our God and he will hear our cries. Our after can look totally different so that when those who come to know the Lord because we repented, they will have the right before and after just as Jesus intended it to be. Their before and after will look just as it was intended and then the end will come. But for us we have returned to the Lord. We have turned from wicked ways and we wait on God to fulfill his promises to us. If we do not wait, the path of our before would continue from desolation to eternal damnation. We cannot take lightly as to how far off track we were. This leads to a proper fear of the Lord. Most do not even worry about it, as they are so secure in their false gospels.
I also wanted to cover one other area of before and after. You may have followed wholeheartedly and your before has been one of adhering to the word of God and you think you know God. If this is you stand firm and let nothing move you. For this before and after, I want to look briefly at Job. Job 1:8 “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” After he lost everything Job 1:22 “in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Again after his own body was “afflicted with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head, he did not sin against God. Then you have the journey of his friends mocking Him. He had become a laughingstock. But even in his journey he said Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;” He then said I know that my redeemer lives. The in Job 29, 30 he talked about his before and after. He said Job 29:21 “People listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel.” Job 30:1 “But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs.” This was a great man yet he said “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. 5 I spoke once, but I have no answer— twice, but I will say no more.” After God questioned him Job 42:1 “Job replied to the LORD: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Now you may be like Job and think your before was okay but even Jobs changed. He was a great man in the eyes of God yet even he despised himself. Even if your life was holy before God and especially if it was not, despising ourselves before God is the best place to be. If we want to be used by God this cannot be about us. The good news is like Paul said. These people had terrible backgrounds but they were no longer those people; “that's what some of you were.” One of the horrible people in scripture was King Manasseh. 2 Chronicles 33:9 “But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.” 10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”
The question is do you know that the Lord is God? Have you humbled yourself before our great King and begged for forgiveness? So whether your past is like Manasseh or Job or in-between, we must come to understand that the Lord He is God He is God and that there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:39 “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” So we start over so that our before and after are as they should be. Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Colossians 1:21 “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
As we think to our future, we long for a new beginning. 2 Corinthians 5:16 “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
As we begin this journey to rebuild the temple, we are His servants. Do not be afraid; God is with us. Nehemiah 2:20 “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding.” Isaiah 58:12 “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” Isaiah 61:4 “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Haggai 1:13 “Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.” So as we wait we believe that His glory will fall on us once again. Haggai 2:6 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
2 Samuel 7:25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.”