Exodus 23:14-24:2; Matthew 24:29-36; Psalms 30:4-12; Proverbs 11:12-13
OT: “I am going to send an angel before you to protect you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to him. Do not defy him, because he will not forgive your acts of rebellion, for my name is in him. But if you will carefully obey him and do everything I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. For my angel will go before you and bring you to the land of the Amorites, Hethites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. Do not bow in worship to their gods, and do not serve them. Do not imitate their practices. Instead, demolish them and smash their sacred pillars to pieces. Serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water. I will remove illnesses from you. No woman will miscarry or be childless in your land. I will give you the full number of your days… I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River. For I will place the inhabitants of the land under your control, and you will drive them out ahead of you. You must not make a covenant with them or their gods. They must not remain in your land, or else they will make you sin against me. If you serve their gods, it will be a snare for you.” (Exodus 23:20-26, 31-33 CSB)
God’s presence and favor is the big difference maker. But His presence and favor is not unconditional. Many people quote verses like these and claim these promises over their lives, but the ignore the conditions that qualify the promise. Whether His presence is The Angel of the Lord or the indwelling Holy Spirit, the same conditions apply: do not defy Him, obey Him, and do everything I say. The main reason these promises did not fully come to fruition was not because God was not able – it was because the people were not willing to follow the conditions. They defied the Lord and grieved Him tremendously through disobedience, lack of faith, and succumbing to the worship of other gods and idols. However, if we faithfully and lovingly obey the Lord and remain free and holy, His presence and favor remains.
NT: “Learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that he is near — at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Now concerning that day and hour no one knows — neither the angels of heaven nor the Son — except the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:32-36 CSB)
Jesus was still talking about signs of the end of days and His return to establish His kingdom on earth. With most prophecy, there is an immediate or initial fulfillment, and then there is an ultimate fulfillment. With Jesus’ prophecy about the end of days, the same was true. There was an initial fulfillment when Rome ransacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple – and the generation that was alive at that time lived to see that event. However, the ultimate fulfillment has not happened yet – and while that generation of people have long sense died, the generation of believers called the Church has not. So ultimately, the Church of the Lord will not pass away until all is ultimately fulfilled. And even beyond the end of days, the Lord’s words will never pass away. So we as the Church watch the signs and remain expectant and ready – but no one knows the exact time. Anyone who says that they have figured it out – they have not. There are definite signs, and the biggest one is the proclamation of the Gospel to every people group and ethnicity on the earth. The signs tell us when His return is near, but no one – not even Jesus Himself, knows the exact time, only the Father. So we actively wait, obeying His words, remaining faithful to Him; and actively watch things unfold on the earth with expectation.
Psalms: “Sing to the Lord, you his faithful ones, and praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor, a lifetime. Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning. When I was secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you showed your favor, you made me stand like a strong mountain; when you hid your face, I was terrified… You turned my lament into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, so that I can sing to you and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” (Psalms 30:4-7, 11-12 CSB)
There were times in David’s life when, through disobedience and sin, he fell out of favor with the Lord. Those were the times when, as David describes the experience, the Lord hid His face and David was terrified. Thankfully, God is a merciful and forgiving God. As quickly as we repent of our failings and turn our face back to Him, is how short His “anger” and our weeping lasts. As we remain in Him and He remains in us, and we maintain that union through confession and repentance, the Lords favor will last a lifetime. He will turn our lament into dancing and our grief to gladness. What a wonderful gift confession and repentance is!