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The Christian Counter

   

Study 2

The Full Cup Principle
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God’s Love Poorly Understood

The Bible declares that God is love, but God’s love is poorly understood today. (1 John 4:7,8) The meaning of love is so distorted by sin that many people do not understand what love is! When God sends His judgments upon the nations of Earth, one of the most difficult things the 144,000 will have to explain is that God is love! How will people reconcile “God is love” when the smoldering evidences of His wrath are lying all around?

God’s love is revealed in a perfect balance between justice and mercy. Because of sin, man’s sense of balance between justice and mercy has become distorted and inadequate. We cannot see everything that God sees and our limited view makes trusting an infinite God very hard sometimes. God understands our limitations, but He requires His children to trust Him implicitly. He alone knows the best way through the corridors of life to eternity. His laws reflect His infinite knowledge. Few people spend time trying to understand God’s laws, mercy, justice, authority, glory and power, but this will change when God releases His wrath. Stunned by chaos and destruction, people will open up their Bibles and discover a diary of God’s actions covering thousands of years. God’s policies are changeless because God does not change. It is ironic, but during the time of God’s wrath, many people will learn what divine love is all about and, for the first time, experience a saving relationship with God. (Jeremiah 29:13)

God allowed the prophet Isaiah to see certain aspects of His glory, yet Isaiah was amazed at God’s reluctance to show Himself to the world. He wrote, “Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and savior of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:15) God’s apparent silence in the affairs of humankind is a consequence of sin. Most people know that inappropriate behavior can separate friends and family members from each other. The same is also true of God. Sin is so offensive to God that it has separated us from His presence. As generations come and go, the reality of God becomes dimmer. As knowledge about God becomes faint, and the longer we go without renewed evidence of God’s authority and glory, the more silent He appears to be. In the vacuum of this silence, sin becomes more attractive and less offensive. Wicked people become bold and defiant in their transgressions. Violence, sorrow and suffering spring up like dandelions after a spring rain. Every night, the evening news confirms the human race is wallowing in the slime of depravity. Degenerate, even hideous sins are either glamorized, justified or treated as inconsequential on television. Sin is like the drug Novocain – it deadens our sense of fairness. Sin causes us to minimize the suffering that results from our deeds and to avoid, at all costs, any penalty for wrongful behavior. (How many people in prison falsely maintain their innocence? How many people in prison would be willing to stay in prison and pay the full price for their deeds if they had the option to get out?) Because of sin’s deadening power, people can commit a horrible deed and then convince themselves they did not do it or justify their behavior for doing it. Such is the power of sin. From the very beginning, sinners have been reluctant to accept their responsibility for sin. Lucifer blamed God. Our parents, Adam and Eve, also deflected their responsibility for sin in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:12,13) Even though sin has great control over sinners, the power of sin can be broken. Whenever a sinner is “born again” by the Holy Spirit, the first thing a saint wants to do is to take responsibility (and provide necessary restitution) for his or her sin.

God Will Not Be Silent Forever

The Bible confirms that God breaks His silence from time to time by using one or more of His four deadly judgments to limit the growth of sin. (Ezekiel 14:21) The four judgments He uses are sword, famine, plague and wild beasts. (Revelation 6:8) In His infinite wisdom, God allows a nation to have power until it fills up its cup of iniquity, and when it does, the bible says He removes that nation from power. (See Daniel 2:21; 4:17; Leviticus 18:24-28.) What makes this process so remarkable is that God, even within the chaos of sin, always accomplishes His plans and purposes on Earth! We may try to explain the outcome of earthy events by analyzing the actions of the players, but this remains a limited view. Do not be naÔve and think that things just happen in the universe without God’s knowledge and permission. Even though we are not able to see god on His throne, we can know that He reigns over the kingdoms of man. God is Sovereign. We may not see all that He is doing, but the evidence is right before our eyes. The Bible is crystal clear. God is in control. (Job 38) How He maintains control is a mystery. That He does it without showing Himself is His silence.

God’s silence is not impossible to penetrate if you really want to see and hear Him. The evidences of His handiwork are all around us if we want to acknowledge Him. However, if we choose not to give Him respect, we can easily ignore Him and deny the recognition He is due. Thus, His silence compliments our power of choice. God can either be the greatest and most wonderful Being in all the universe, or if we choose, we can deny His existence. What a God! Perhaps the least understood element within God’s character is His reluctance to awe His creatures with His power and presence. His silence will be a topic of eternal discovery!

Very Important Point

God will soon break His silence with the first global earthquake. (Revelation 8:5) When Earth’s inhabitants experience God’s coming judgments, God’s love and His purposes will be grossly misunderstood and misrepresented. The religious leaders of the world will encourage politicians to enact laws “honoring and appeasing the god of heaven.” However, mandating righteousness cannot accomplish what God wants! God is more interested in true repentance and a submissive attitude from His children. He wants men and women to recognize His sovereignty, not for who He is, but for what He is and what He represents. God is love. He calls for men and women to live a life free from the damning power of sin. Even more, He will grant His power to everyone so they can be victorious over sin. He wants us to overcome our carnal nature and rebellion against His boundless ways of life. Inconceivable as it may seem, Revelation predicts that the majority of men and women will reject God’s terms and conditions for salvation during the Great Tribulation. Hardened by lifelong rebellion, the hearts of many people have become so numbed by sin that even God cannot reach them. If a person’s heart cannot be reached through love and patience or through redemptive judgments, how can God produce a broken heart and a repentant spirit within a sinner?

Revelation describes how wicked people will be filled with a spirit of hatred when confronted with the truth about God and His will. God will initiate this confrontation when he selects and anoints 144,000 servants –prophet to speak on His behalf. These spirit filled people will proclaim the gospel to the inhabitants of every nation. Evil men will punish and torture God’s servants because their message will openly reveal man’s rebellion against god. God’s messengers will be in direct conflict with those who govern a world that currently belongs to Satan. (Luke 4:5-6) The persecutors of God’s servants will think, like Pilate, that they can wash their hands from the guilt of these acts. Yet, God never ignores evil, even though He may allow it to flourish for a time. Eventually, God will avenge every evil deed and He will be sure that wicked people receive a double portion of pain in return for the pain they have inflicted. (See Revelation 18:6, 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Obadiah 1:15.)

In the context of His coming judgments, God’s character and His behavior will be grossly misrepresented and misinterpreted. This is the heart of Revelation’s story. It is a story of a patient God visiting a planet in deep trouble. It is also a story about rebellious people and a world gone astray. Most people, when put to the coming test, will openly and willfully reject the clearest evidences of God’s truth and God’s sovereignty. They will unite themselves in rebellion against the laws of the Most High God by first obeying the laws of the land and then, the laws of the radiant being, the antichrist – the devil himself. About two and half years after the Great tribulation begins, God will allow Satan to physically appear before the people of Earth because “they refused to love the truth and be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11) Jesus said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”(John 3: 19-20)

The Full Cup Principle

The Bible says that God is love. (1 John 4:8) The Bible also says that God has wrath. (Colossians 3:5,6; Revelation 15:1) Because God’s character has both properties, it is sometimes difficult to reconcile these two attributes. So, let us consider how the perfect balance works between God’s love and God’s wrath. Bible history reveals that God follows a consistent principle when dealing with humanity. I call this principle the “full cup principle” because the Bible often uses the metaphor of a cup to indicate fullness of an experience. For example, consider the words of Jesus just before He was arrested and crucified, “…My Father, if it is possible, may this [bitter] cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, insertion mine) Jesus did not want to endure the experience of a bitter death on the cross, but He was willing to do it if this was the only way to save the human race. The metaphor of a cup can be used to indicate a joyful experience. Consider David’s well known words, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup [of joy] overflows.” (Psalms 23:5, insertion mine) King David uses the metaphor of an overflowing cup to express joy beyond containment! From these two examples we see that a cup represents an experience. The contents of the cup indicate the type of experience.

Notice how God used the metaphor of “the cup” in Jeremiah’s day: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled [to the brim] with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.’ So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand and made all the nations to whom he sent me drink it.” (Jeremiah 25:15-17, insertion mine) Now compare Jeremiah’s words with the warning words of God’s servants, the 144,000 in Revelation 14: “…If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:9,10) This text points forward to a time during the Great Tribulation when people will be warned about worshiping the Antichrist. Everyone who submits to the laws of the devil will have to drink from the cup of God’s wrath.

The full cup principle is based on the idea that God measures the actions of mankind. Every time we do wrong, we add a sin to our cup of grace. When all of God’s grace has been displaced by willful sin, our cup becomes full of bitterness and we have to drink the consequences of our actions. When god forces people to reap what they have sown, He is returning to them what they deserve. (Galatians 6:7) The golden rule is an ironclad rule. It says: As we do unto others, the same will be done to us. (Matthew 7:12; Obadiah 1:15) Because God acts on this principle, He is said to have vengeance. (Romans 12:19; Revelation 2:23)

In a similar way, God measures the actions of nations. Do you remember the words Daniel spoke to King Belshazzar the night he saw the handwriting on the wall? Daniel said, “This is what the words [on the wall] mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:26-28) Babylon had filled its cup and God responded. God’s patience with man’s arrogance and defiance has limits. When the cup of transgression is nearly full, God breaks His silence by sending a warning through His selected messengers. If the warning does not work, He then uses one or more of His four deadly judgments (sword, famine, plagues and wild beasts – Ezekiel 14:21; Revelation 6:8). If the situation goes beyond redemption, His judgments are very destructive. Remember, the coming events predicted in Revelation will be divided into two groups of seven. The first seven plagues (seven trumpets) will be redemptive. The seven last plagues (seven bowls) will be very destructive.

Many people currently interpret God’s silence or passiveness with evil to mean that He is either nonexistent or indifferent to what we do. Others see His permissiveness as proof that He is not interested in each person’s day-to-day activities. For this reason, a growing number of people committing horrible, evil deeds, thinking that God does not see them and will not hold them responsible for their actions. Many people do not realize the strict accountability that each of us must give to God for every action! Solomon said, “…Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil,” (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14, italics mine)

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