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adversity discernment false prophets following christ offense suffering troubles

Why the Prophet’s Weren’t Heard

(An Adaptation of a Message by T. Austin-Sparks)

Acts 13:27
The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath.

Hos 14:9
Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.

2 Cor 3:13-14
We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.

Isa 53:1
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

Why didn’t the Jews hear the voice of the Prophets that were read every Sabbath? Why don’t we hear their voices? What does it take to get it?

We read the Bible every day, yet most Christians, just like the Jews, don’t get it. Year after year we sit under preachers, and they preach, but we don’t get it. For thirty years that was me; I didn’t get it. I thought I got it, but I didn’t get it, and the question again is, why?

The Prophets were read every Sabbath, as Paul points out. Although the Prophets were read continuously on the Sabbath the Jews never heard their voices. And, because they never received the meaning, and they never heard, they lost out on everything, as illustrated in Acts 13. This is not a small matter. These educated Jews, who studied the O.T. and memorized it, and could quote it, never got it; when it really counted, they missed it by a million miles. Again the question is, why? It is essential for us to find the answer. Look again at the statement: they “…did not recognize Jesus… they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath.” The answer to this question will bring us down to the foundation and root of the problem that exist in the Church today, and that is, not being able to hear what is being said. Will you hear the voices of the Prophets or close up your ears and by so doing fulfill prophecy?

An Object of Offense

The answer to the question, “why” is that they were not willing to accept the Divine meaning of the Cross.

Hos 14:9
Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.

Every attribute, or gift, or revelation of God, which is full of comfort for the true believer, becomes in turn an occasion of stumbling to the rebellious (Christian); the things which should have been for his richness and prosperity, become, to the rebellious, an occasion of falling. They cannot temper their wishes, desires, lust, or ways to the divine law, because, obeying “the law of their members,” they stumble and are offended at that other law, which leads to life. In the passage above, the prophet Hosea sums up all he is trying to say. This was his grand conclusion of all that he had said, about the Coming of Christ, and our resurrection. This is the answer to our question; this is our choice, to walk in God’s ways, or to stumble over them, and be offended. It is like that today, just as in the days when Christ came in the Flesh, so it is now, and so it will be to the very end. Ps 69:22 May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and a trap.

A Suffering Messiah

They were not willing to accept the Cross in its true meaning. That is the root problem, then and now. The Jews did not want a Messiah who would suffer and they would not admit such a thing. They knew what their Messiah would be and what he would do when He arrived. Any notion to the contrary was to pick a fight with the leadership. They had it all studied out and they were all in agreement, as much as possible, through their associations, and anything or anybody that spoke to the contrary was a trouble maker. Yet the prophets were always speaking of a “suffering Messiah.” Isaiah 53 is the classic text on the suffering Messiah, yet he opens the chapter with: “Who has believed our message…?” The well studied Jews did not believe it. The leaders of that religious organization did not believe it. Paul, in Galatians 6:14, 17, says that if he was going to glory it would be in the Cross, and that he bore in his body the marks of the Lord. Now, if Paul were to take the message of the Cross out of his preaching he could have avoided persecution and suffering, but he chose to glory in the Cross, and suffer with the Lord. This was, and is, the offense of the Cross, this idea of suffering and littleness, that was the cause of all his problems Gal. 5:11, because the Jews remained unwilling to admit to a suffering and weak Messiah. The false Christians in the Book of Galatians reasoned that if they, the true Christians, would simply make a few concession that they could avoid all the unnecessary suffering they were experiencing. Those false Christians are still around today, and are leading the Churches of the twenty fist century. The Church in America and around the world have taken the bait.

Well, is there more to this suffering than this? Was it more than just an issue of interpretation or organizational pride? Yes. It was made a personal matter to the Jews and to any who would come to the Lord. The Cross always has a way of offending the way we understand how things ought to be. The Cross simply will not fit into the box we have made for it, regardless of how beautiful or big the box is, or how magnificent our presentation.

The Narrow Road of Death to Self

There is a principle involved here, the principle of the Cross. It is a way of being emptied of the self life, and this way had no appeal to the Jews. They were “somebody” and they wanted it to remain that way. When these Jewish leaders came to Jesus, they were presented with the offense of the Cross, through the words Jesus gave them, and they could not accept it—and off they went. For Nicodemus, although very interested in the kingdom, which he anticipated, when it turned personal, a matter of the Cross, he was out of there. John 3:14-15 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Then there was the rich young ruler, Matt 19:22 “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth, he loved this world’s goods and went away very sorrowful,” because Jesus touched the crux of the matter, the offense of the Cross, the will of the Father. Jesus had not gone to the Cross yet, but He could still apply the principle. Even His disciples, who He was with all the time, never understood completely. It was always the “principle” He would get back to, and look forward to, when talking to seekers, and many went away disappointed, because it was a great offense to their lovely life in the flesh. It is very difficult for the rich to enter Heaven; the offense of the Cross will find them out. So, whether it is pride, like Nicodemus, or riches, like the rich young ruler, or position, or any kind of lust or desire to build or be something, it is all covetousness and a clinging to this world and it is offended by the lowliness of the Cross, and what it means to all those things.

_____________________________

Now, what we can see here with these Jews is that they wanted to make the kingdom of God something of this earth, using different principles, the principles of this world. But, we cannot point a finger at them without four fingers being pointed right back at us. Things have changed very little from that time to this, but all the incentive and motivation, remain the same. This is where we battle right up to this very moment, even as we read these words. The Cross remains an offense and will eventually find us all out; it is the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, and will lay bare our deepest motivations. Oh, we may not be expecting to build an earthly kingdom, or sit on literal thrones, or have something to which we can sign our name, but are we not, in many ways, offended when we are confronted with the principle that Jesus is trying to kill certain drives and desires that hinder us from moving with Him in that very narrow path, a path of suffering, or loneliness, or hardship, or smallness. At this point we find ourselves in trouble because we plow ahead with our own plans and designs and then pretend that the Lord Himself has sanctioned our efforts. Death becomes for us, at that point, a most grievous undertaking, something we dare not even think about. Isn’t this the basis of so many of our problems, this offense of the Cross? We want sight and sound; we want to see, we want to have; we see things that need to be done and we pretend the Lord wants us to do them; we want the signs, proofs, and the evidences. We want the same thing the Jews wanted, we want a kingdom that can be evaluated, tracked, tallied, and cherished by our senses of sight and hearing and feeling—an obvious kingdom, something we can point to as the results of our labors; the opposite to that is a great strain and test of our faith, and will eventually become a predicament and a crisis.

Where will we find the great flocks of Christians, at any time in history, but especially today? You will find them where something great is being built-up, something big, something impressive, at some great movement or concert, something that can be seen, where there are manifestations and proofs; that is where the crowds will be found. Why doesn’t the Lord do the things we think He ought to do? For this very reason He doesn’t do them, because of the cravings and fleshly desires to have that which can be seen. It is simply our desires to have outward signs and wonders that He doesn’t work this way. The enemy will be where there are things that will promote the cravings of the flesh. The enemy so loves to imitate our Lord and carry Christians away in their soulish drives. We are easily impressed and desire demonstrations of greatness and are easily led astray. These are the very things that govern leaders and rulers. The masses of Christians in the United States and Europe are not ready and have not been prepared for the principle of the Cross to be applied to their lives; it is a life of emptying not filling, a life of littleness not bigness, a life of giving not getting; it is to begin with, a life of ending, an end to everything, besides the Lord Himself. And, so goes the saying, “Only very few will find the Way.”

This is the message of the Prophets that was an offense to the Jews and it remains an offense today. The offense can only be embraced in a radical way, by going to Him outside the camp away from the crowd; by coming out from among them through radical obedience and trust and bearing His reproach. This is not a popular message and very offensive to most, but this is,

“…the message of the Prophets that was heard every Sabbath.”

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