TRIBULATION & JUDGMENT
"... tribulation brings about perseverance,
and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope: and hope
does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within
our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us ..." (Romans
PART 1: TRIBULATION REVEALS
WHAT IS ALREADY FORMED
We have by now learned that we - as Christians, as the church of God
- are going to go through the Tribulation. We now turn to deal with
the following matters:
TRIBULATION REVEALS WHAT IS ALREADY FORMED
IN US; IT DOES NOT ADD ANYTHING NEW TO US
Oswald Chambers once wrote, "We are in danger of forgetting that
we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do.
We cannot save ourselves nor sanctify ourselves, God does that; but
God will not give us good habits, He will not give us character, He
will not make us walk aright. We have to do all that ourselves, we have
to work out (i.e., develop) the salvation God has worked in (us) ..."
What Chambers was saying is that if we fail to take advantage of those
opportunities now to "develop our salvation" [i.e., to bring
it to maturity, to develop Christian character in ourselves, to have
Christ's life actually worked out in us (Phil. 2:12)] then we will fail
when a real crisis (test) finally comes.
Many of us, nonetheless, continue to think that if God gives the call,
we will somehow or other rise to the occasion. We imagine that we will
be OK; sadly, however, the crisis (test) will only reveal what has already
been developed in our lives as Christian character - it will not
add anything new into us. If we have not risen to the occasion before
in the little things of life - we will surely fail when the real test
comes. All that a crisis (test) does is reveal what we are already made
of. If we have yielded to temptation and weakness before in the little
things, we will yield to temptation and weakness in the big things.
If we are not in God's will in the things that are nearest to us, when
the crisis (test) comes, instead of being revealed as ready, we will
be revealed as unready. A crisis reveals character that has already
been formed - it does not in itself create new character.
The Bible says that someday our Christian character is going to be
put to the test - that the time will come in all of our lives that pretense
will have to yield to reality; when what we are really made out of will
be dragged out into the open for all to see, and we will be revealed
for what we really are. If we have not "practiced the presence
of God" in our lives, if we have not learned to yield ourselves
to the leading of the Holy Spirit, if we have not taken the time to
study the Word of God and know for sure what it really is all about,
if we have not been living a sanctified life in the circumstances that
we are presently in, if we have not been instant in prayer in the little
things, then the crisis (test) will reveal all that!
If you say now, "I have no time for prayer, I have no time 'to
practice the presence of Christ', it's so impractical to yield to Christ
in this or that business decision now - but when the time comes, I will
do it," our answer to you, sadly, is "No you won't!"
Many people think of David as a man of faith, and that when he went
out to face Goliath, he relied on that faith to get him through - and
that certainly is true. But what so many Christians fail to see is that
the faith David had was not a blind faith - it was a faith that had
been well developed. His faith was a developed faith - and it was in
the strength of that developed faith that he went out to face Goliath.
David had developed his faith years before as a youth tending his father's
sheep on the back side of the desert - out of the way where no one saw.
He had tested it against a lion and a bear - and he had prevailed. When
he finally met Goliath, then, he was simply walking in the way he had
been moving all of his life. The path of faith he relied on when he
faced Goliath was a well worn path - he knew it well. He was ready for
Goliath. It was not blind faith that saw him through, it was developed
faith. The story is recounted in First Samuel. The Bible says,
"And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying ... Who
is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of
the living God? And when the words were heard which David spake, they
rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him. And David said unto
Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion,
and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after
him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he
arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew
him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised
Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies
of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me
out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will
deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And he took his
staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook,
and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and
his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And
David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang
it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk
into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. (1 Sam.
Let us, therefore, develop our faith now, while there is yet time -
for soon our test will come, and our faith will be revealed for what
it really is - either to honor or to dishonor:
there is nothing hid, which shall
be manifested; neither is any
kept secret, but that it
come abroad. (Mark 4:22)
The word, "Judgment," conjures up fantasies of old, bent,
black robed figures glowering down with solemn, pitiless faces from
lofty heights; cavernous halls with high ceilings and polished marble
floors; echoing footsteps and hushed whisperings. It is a word around
which swirls vague feelings of sorrow and distress, dread and foreboding,
alarm and fright. And always, there is about the word a gloomy and oppressive
pallor; a dull, aching sense of impending doom.
The Scriptures anticipate a day of coming judgment - one that will
make men's hearts stop beating in fear and their blood run cold with
terror. The Bible refers to it over 150 times in both the Old and New
Testaments. In the Old Testament, the Psalmist writes:
"... for He cometh [this Judge, who flies on the wings of the
wind with fire in His eyes and darkness under His feet; whose pavilion
round about Him is dark waters and thick clouds (Psalm 18:8-12)],
for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with [pure]
righteousness, and the people with [absolute] truth." (Psalm
And in the New Testament, Paul exclaims:
"... He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world..."
In the vernacular, or common language of the people, this day of horror
has been referred to as Judgment Day - and perhaps even more to the
point, as Doomsday. Its anticipation has always struck fear in the hearts
of men and women. Indeed, so great has been man's dread of Judgment
Day that in the year 999 a paralyzing terror gripped all of Europe in
anticipation of the turn of the Millennium. It was commonly believed
by prince and peasant alike that Judgment Day was New Years Day, 1000
A.D. The ordinary cares of life were given up. The land was left untilled.
Houses and buildings of every type were allowed to fall into disrepair.
Throngs of common people slept in the porches and in the shadows of
holy buildings and churches. Kings and emperors begged to be admitted
to monasteries. A wild and uncontrollable dread and sense of foreboding
seized the entire continent.
And make no mistakes about it, that same terror is still alive - lurking
just beneath our Twentieth Century veneer of sophistication and science.
It comes to us when we are alone - at night; it's in our music, our
movies, our art. It is a phantom that defies the scientist's efforts
to dislodge it, and the psychologist's attempts to explain it away.
JUDGMENT: THE ACT OF
DECLARING SOMETHING'S WORTH
But beyond our fears, beyond our foreboding, what does the word "judgment"
really mean? Judgment is the act of DECLARING the worth of something,
of ANNOUNCING its value. We do it every day, in countless ways.
When we shop, we make judgments as to which foods are best for us, which
coats are warmer for the winter, what car is best suited for our needs,
where we should live, the house we should live in - all these decisions
are or will be products of a judgment we have made or will make. And
all these judgments [which have been manifested or DECLARED in
our purchases] were preceded by some form or process of TESTING.
True, the testing may have only occurred in our minds at a very rudimentary
level, but it occurred nonetheless. The judgments or decisions [which
is another word for judgment] that were made as to which products to
purchase were the results of that testing. A JUDGMENT IS ALWAYS PRECEDED
BY SOME FORM OF TESTING.
This brings us to the matter of the Tribulation. The word, "Tribulation,"
means test. It is derived from the Latin word, Tribulum, which
means to press and subject to stress as in a test. But the word means
more - it means to SEVERELY test, to press to the point of ANGUISH
- much as a test pilot tests an experimental plane and presses it to
its very limits of toleration.
The Roman word, Tribune, is also derived from the Latin word
Tribulum. A Tribune in ancient Rome was a magistrate or judge
appointed to hear civil and criminal proceedings. It is the word from
which our modern English word, "Tribunal," is derived - which
means a seat of judgment. In all these instances, the word Tribulum
[from which, once again, the English word "Tribulation" is
derived] had a legal sense attached to it. It meant [in the sense that
is appropriate here] pressure and stress applied to an object in order
to test it.
This is the exact sense that the translators of the King James version
of the Bible were trying to convey when they translated the Greek word,
Thlipsis, as Tribulation in Revelation 7:14. As with the Latin
word, Tribulum, the Greek word, Thlipsis, means pressure
and stress applied to an object for the purpose of testing.
It is this sense, then, of the word, "Tribulation," which
the translators of the King James version of the Bible wished to convey
to the readers - A TIME OF TESTING!! This is substantiated by
Revelation 3:10 when Jesus referred to the Tribulation as "the
hour of testing."
It goes without saying that in any test the presence of witnesses is
paramount. They are required to OBSERVE and RECORD the
results of the test. These observations and recordings, carefully compiled
and documented, are then used as the basis of later JUDGMENTS
In a criminal case in a court of law, the judgment of the judge is
preceded by a test of the evidence which has been compiled against
the accused. It is on the basis of this test that the judge will make
his decision as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. The process
is known as a trial - which really means test. Once again,
throughout the entire proceeding, WITNESSES are called forth
to give evidence as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. These
witnesses are people who saw or who can give FIRSTHAND accounts
[or TESTIMONY] as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. Hear-say
or second and third-hand evidence [gossip] is not admissible as evidence.
The witnesses can introduce into evidence only that which they saw on
a FIRSTHAND basis. In other words, they had to be present themselves
when the alleged crime was committed.
THE CHURCH IN THE TRIBULATION
The Tribulation, then, is humanity's trial, its test before its Maker
- a time of great separation, disunion, division, and parting. And the
Church will be a part of this immense process.
Oh, you're surprised that the Church will be a part of this process?
Well, be assured, dear Christian, your salvation is secure - it is not
in question! Nothing can pluck you out of the Father's hand. Paul writes:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation,
or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
"Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall
be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus
our Lord." (Romans 8:35,38-39)
Why, then, is the Church to be a part of this process? If this process
has nothing to do with our salvation, then why are we to be involved?
The answer is twofold. The paramount reason is that the church is to
be subpoenaed as a "witness" against this world and its present
world-ruler or Kosmokrator - a subject which we will discuss
at great length in the following sub-sections. There is, however, a
second reason - one which is almost as important as the first, and one
which is absolutely vital to the accomplishment of the first - for if
the church is to testify against the world and the things of this world,
it is necessary that it be shown to be not a part of the world - that
it be once and for all separated from the world. And because of
this separation (or "manifestation"), just and seeking men
everywhere will be drawn to Christianity and the Lord Jesus Christ,
producing even in such a time, the "Great Harvest of the Lamb.
This is what all creation is waiting for. Paul writes:
"For [even the whole] creation ... waits expectantly and longs
earnestly for God's sons [the Church] to be made known - waits for
the REVEALING, the DISCLOSURE of their sonship."
(Romans 8:19, Zondervan, the Amplified Bible )
The King James version translates it in this way:
"For the earnest expectation of the ...[creation] waiteth for
the MANIFESTATION of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19)
And the NASB version translates it this way:
"For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly
for the REVEALING of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19)
In this Paul is saying that the whole universe is waiting for something
to happen insofar as the Church is concerned. It is waiting for the
church to be "REVEALED," "DISCLOSED,"
These are interesting words that Paul has chosen to use with regard
to the Church. In a back-handed way, what Paul is really saying is that
the Church has been hidden and obscured in this present dispensation
What? But hasn't the Church always been with us? Can't we see it all
about us? In the hundreds and thousands of church buildings that seem
sometimes to all but surround us? In the proliferation of a now almost
countless number of Christian TV and radio stations? In the new manifestation
of Christian political power in such organizations as the Christian
Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition, Christian Voice,
But do all these church buildings, all this Christian activity, all
these people claiming to be Christian and born-again really represent
the Church? If they do, then God help us. Was the Thirty Years War -
which made the streets of Europe run red with blood four hundred years
ago - really a Christian activity? What about the Inquisition? What
about the bloody war that rages even now in Ireland in the name of the
Church? What about the Papacy? What about Jim Jones and the Jonestown
Suicides? What about all this?
Andrew Miller, the well-known and godly Church historian, wrote in
the last century:
"We must always bear in mind when reading what is called a
history of the Church, that from the days of the apostles until now,
there have been TWO DISTINCT and widely different classes of
persons in the professing Church: the merely nominal, and the real
- the true, and the false. This was predicted: "For I know this,"
says the apostle, "that after my departure [death] shall grievous
wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own
selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples
after them." (Acts 20) His second Epistle [letter] to Timothy
is also full of warnings ... as to the various forms of evil which
were then but too plainly manifest ...
"... Some historians have not taken into account this sad mixture
of evil vessels with the good - of true Christians and false. They
have not themselves been spiritual-minded men. Hence they have rather
made it their chief object to record the many unchristian and wicked
ways of mere professors [those who said they were Christians, but
were not]. They have dwelt at great length, and with great minuteness,
on the heresies that have troubled the Church - on the abuses that
have disgraced it. Much rather would we endeavor to trace, all down
through the long dark pages of history, the SILVER LINE OF GOD'S
GRACE IN TRUE CHRISTIANS; though at times the alloy so
predominates that the pure ore is scarcely perceptible.
"[But] God has never left us without witness. He has had His
loved and cherished, though HIDDEN ones, in all ages and in
all places. No eye but His could see the seven thousand in Israel
who had not bowed their knees to the image of Baal, in the days of
Ahab and Jezebel. And tens of thousands, we doubt not, even from the
darkest days of Christianity, will be found at last in the "Glorious
Church," which Christ will present to Himself, on the long-looked-for
day of His nuptial glory ..."
THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND THE
TARES: A PARABLE OF THE TRIBULATION
Jesus himself, speaking in a prophetic parable concerning this condition
of the Church, said:
"The kingdom of heaven [the Church] may be compared to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
"But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares
also among the wheat, and went away.
"And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, Sir,
did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?
"And he said to them, An enemy has done this! And the slaves
said to him, Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?
"But he said, No; lest while you are gathering up the tares,
you may root up the wheat with them.
"Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the
time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the
tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat
into my barn. "Then He left the multitudes, and went into the
house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, Explain to us the parable
of the tares of the field.
"And He answered and said, The one who sows the good seed is
the Son of Man and the field is the world; and as for the good seed,
these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the
"And the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest
is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.
"Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with
fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. "And will cast them
into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth.
"Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the
kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." (Matthew
Now in connection with the parable above, it is interesting to note
how the harvest was carried out in the ancient world and how the wheat
[the good seed] was separated from the tares and the chaff [the bad
seed]. BOTH WERE HARVESTED TOGETHER! Then through a process of
winnowing, the wheat was separated from the tares and the chaff. The
process of winnowing was accomplished in this manner: first, the harvest
was crushed and spread out on a large floor; then workers took shovels
and threw the harvest into the air by the shovel-full. The tares and
chaff, being lighter than the kernels of wheat, were blown away by the
wind, usually into another bin, while the kernels of wheat, being heavier,
fell again to the threshing floor. In this way the wheat was separated
from the tares and the chaff. The chaff and tares, being good for nothing,
were then gathered together and burned, while the wheat was gathered
together, bundled and stored in the barn.
Now it is important to note in this process, that the wheat itself
is not being tested at all. Wheat is wheat!! Tares are tares!! There
is nothing in this process which is meant to test the quality of the
wheat. Neither is there anything in this process that the wheat is supposed
to do. The wheat is required to do nothing. Works are not involved!!
The wheat needs to do only one thing - be what it is inherently - wheat.
The process is a SEPARATING PROCESS. It is not a process
of works. The purpose of the entire process is quite simple: to separate,
and by separating to MANIFEST or DISCLOSE, or REVEAL
(Romans 8:19) the wheat from the tares and the chaff.
PART 2: THE TRIBULATION AS A
WINNOWING OF GOD
"Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And
the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold,
And there be no heard in the stalls - "YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE
LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION."
In a day when it has become so popular - even fashionable - to be referred
to as "born-again" that political figures [whom the Bible
calls the basest or lowest of people (Daniel 4:17)] refer to themselves
as "born-again" to get votes, there certainly can be no doubt
concerning this matter. Indeed, what can one say to all of this when
even the owner of Hustler Magazine [one of the most notorious
pornographic magazines in the country] refers to himself openly as "born-again."
Yes, there is a winnowing coming! John the Baptist, speaking prophetically,
said of it:
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who
is coming after me [i.e., in the "end of days"] is mightier
than I ...
"His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge
His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will
burn up the chaff [tares] with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:11-12)
And how will He accomplish this winnowing? By the Tribulation! The
Tribulation is to be the great winnowing of God spoken of by John the
Baptist! And what will this winnowing accomplish? A great separation
between those who truly love Christ and those who merely claim to love
Him, but whose hearts are far away. This is the EXACT context
in which John uttered his prophecy:
"Then Jerusalem [i.e., the entire Jewish religious community],
all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him [John]
"And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming
to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who has warned
you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matthew 3:5-7)
John the Baptist was a forerunner, a precursor to Jesus. His work was
a work of separation - to separate the hypocrite from the believer,
the wheat from the chaff, the Pharisees and the Sadducees from those
in Israel who genuinely longed for the Messiah. So also with Jesus in
the work of the Tribulation - to which John specifically pointed in
The work of tribulation is first and foremost a SEPARATING work.
Specifically, it separates those who merely profess Christianity from
those who truly believe. This is important. The work of tribulation
- in the first instance - is a work directed not at separating the atheist
from the believer, or the idolater from those who worship the one true
God [idolaters and atheists are people who obviously and openly are
not Christians], or any other such thing; but rather it is a work SPECIFICALLY
directed at separating those who claim to be Christian [out of convention
or advantage] from those who truly are. And this is precisely the work
of tribulation in the Parable of the Sower. Concerning those who accept
Christianity and profess it superficially for material advantage, Jesus
had this to say:
"But he who received the seed [Gospel] on stony places, this
is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
"Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.
For when TRIBULATION or PERSECUTION arises because of
the word, immediately he stumbles (other translations say "wither
away")." (Matthew 13:20-21)
TRIBULATION: A WORK OF TRANSFORMATION
IN THE BELIEVER'S HEART
Yes, tribulation SEPARATES, but there is another more sublime
work of tribulation; and this work of tribulation is not a separating
work, but a purifying work directed not at the hypocrite, but at the
believer. This work elevates, ennobles, glorifies, and transforms the
believer. Paul says:
"... but we also EXULT in our tribulations, knowing
that tribulation brings about perseverance; "And perseverance,
proven character; and proven character, hope;
"And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has
been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was
given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
Indeed, tribulation is the gate through which all true believers must
pass into the kingdom of heaven; transformation is impossible without
it. The Bible says:
"And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made
many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,
"Strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to
continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations
enter the kingdom of God'." (Acts 14:21-22)
And again, the Bible - speaking of those saints who through the transforming
power of the Holy Spirit [during the Great Tribulation] have been translated
to the very throne of God - says:
"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude
which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white
robes, with palm branches in their hands ...
"Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these
arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?
"And I said to him, Sir, you know. So he said to me, THESE
ARE THE ONES WHO COME OUT OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION, and washed
their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation
TRIBULATION: GOD'S WAY OF MANIFESTING
HIS GLORY IN THE SAINTS
"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and
that man was BLAMELESS, UPRIGHT, fearing God, and turning
away from evil.
"Now there was a day when the sons of God [angles] came to
present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
"And the Lord said to Satan, 'From where do you come'? Then
Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From roaming about on the earth
and walking around on it'.
"And the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant
Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a BLAMELESS,
UPRIGHT man, fearing God and turning away from evil'.
"Then Satan answered the Lord, 'Does Job fear God for nothing?
[Why shouldn't he respect you since you take care of him so well?]
"'Hast Thou not made a hedge about him [haven't you put a wall
around him to protect him from me?] and his house [his family] and
all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his
hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
"'But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he
will surely curse Thee to Thy face'." [but take away the wall
and let me at him, and he will hate you]
"The Lord said to Satan, 'BEHOLD, ALL THAT HE HAS IS IN
YOUR POWER ...'" (Job 1:1, 6-12)
Why does God allow his servants to suffer? Why does God allow Satan
access to them? Why does God allow tribulation to enter their lives?
Many in today's Church, of course, deny that God does - but this is
obviously not what the Scriptures say. But these same people would retort
that God only allows suffering when there is sin - and, apparently,
this is what Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Job's, friends said about
Job during his sufferings: that Job was suffering because there was
"hidden sin" in Job's life, and that this was the only reason
that God would allow such suffering in one of his servants. But God
was greatly angered by such thinking:
"And it came about after the Lord had spoken these words to
Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled
against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken
of Me what is right as My servant Job has.
"'Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven
rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for
yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept
him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because
you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has'."
GOD'S PURPOSE IN TRIBULATION: TO MANIFEST
& DISPLAY HIS OWN GLORY IN THE SAINTS
GOD WAS GLORIFIED IN JOB!! Satan had said that Job loved God
only because of the "things" God bestowed upon him. What a
terrible thing to say. It is the curse of wealth. How does a rich man
ever know that he is truly loved? The sad truth is, he doesn't so long
as he retains his wealth. But should he lose it, then he will find out.
Great crowds of people followed Jesus so long as he fed them and healed
them of their diseases. But when tribulation arose because of the Word
He spoke, the crowds disappeared. Oh, to be loved because of who you
are, and not just because of the "things" you have! This is
the love that God desires from those who follow Him. It is the love
that Ruth gave to Naomi, and this even after Naomi had asked Ruth to
depart from her because she [Naomi] had nothing further to give Ruth
- she no longer possessed any "things" with which to "purchase"
"But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from
following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I
will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
"'Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus
may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you
and me'." (Ruth 1:16-17)
The Lord is looking for such to follow Him - those that will follow
after Him long after the "things" are gone, the crowds have
left, the popularity faded; when the clothes are tattered and torn,
there is no food on the table, and persecution rages all around. These
are the disciples of Jesus - with such people one can repose trust and
friendship, true love is here to be found!
These are the disciples who can say with the prophet Habakkuk:
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no heard in
the stalls –
"YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF
MY SALVATION." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
It is in this kind of love that the TRUE Church will be "revealed,"
"disclosed," "manifested" (Romans 8:19)! It is this
kind of love which will expose the hypocrites for what they really are.
It is this kind of love which will separate the wheat from the tares.
And it is only in tribulation that this love is truly revealed in all
of its splendor and peerless beauty. In this, God's glory can find rest;
in this the presence of God securely dwells.