Public Christianity is deep into world apostasy. Historic Fundamentalism, a movement that was once raised up by God to stem the tide of the falling away in Christianity, is dead. It has been assimilated into Neo-Evangelicalism, and the only true saints left on the planet are the remnant of God scattered by Him throughout the world.
The “Plandemic” of 2020
The year 2020 will go down in infamy as the year when the first global prelude to the forming of Antichrist and his spirit was instituted in unanimity across the governments of the world. And 2021 has been able to press with greater witness for further takeover of humanity through global leadership against God and His righteousness. Perhaps what we have faced is a “plandemic,” an invisible virus that has become the appointed reason for the crisis visibly altering the course of human history. But it must be acknowledged that the radical paradigm shifts changing our country and the world and resetting human living have been instituted by governmental powers taking advantage of the crisis. By doing so they have created their own oligarchic plan, implementing draconian mandates that have been oppressively forced upon humanity unlike anything we have witnessed before.
Men and Women of Renown
Emerging from this global oppression have been certain men and women of renown who have quickly risen to international notoriety. Similar giants of influence arose in the days of Noah, both before and after the Flood. The Bible calls them “men of renown” (Gen. 6:4). They were men known throughout the inhabited world, men of power and influence, men who hated God, and preeminent men of ungodliness. We have witnessed such men of power and renown rise to international notoriety in these two years. In our own country, such men have been Governor Andrew Cuomo of the state of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, Governor Gavin Newsom of California, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Co-founder of BLM, Patrisse Cullors. Then there are the men of renown which head up the social media, such as atheist Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, atheist Jack Dorsey of Twitter, atheist Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and the atheist Sundar Pichai of Google; these have asserted great power and influence over global media. We have also seen the rise of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, and President Xi Jinping, the powerful leader of China. And the surprise for this decade is the rise of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who have become foolish shepherd leaders of the United States. But other men of renown have risen, such as the pseudo-medical authority Dr. Anthony Fauci and the infamous billionaires George Soros, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates. The wealthy have become wealthier, and the prominent have become globally prominent. These fourteen months have revealed the rise of notorious men and women who are now setting the stage of world-renown personalities who continue to produce a melee of End-time confusion and control of humanity. Such personalities are born from the sea of humanity aggressively rising to global prominence. Clearly, the sea of humanity is churning and roaring in its search for a final man to rise in the earth to take control of all the world and its authorities.
Yes, we are witnessing an unprecedented hour of personalities whom the world would call “great.” History has given record of those who were given this surname “great”: Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, Alexander the Great, Antiochus the Great, Xerxes the Great, Herod the Great, Constantine the Great, Genghis Khan the Great, Pope Gregory the Great, Ivan the Great, Vladimir the Great, Catherine the Great, etc. Because of various natural accomplishments, these personalities have been so named. Such powers and renown spirits of men and women will even more abound in the prelude to the coming of the Antichrist.
What Is True Greatness?
Christians have our own definitive thoughts of what makes great men and women of God. How often we have looked back in history and observed certain godly men and women and declared from our observation of their lives, “These were great men and women.” We think of the apostles Paul, John, and Peter; the young Athanasius who stood for the deity of Christ in his days in the 4th century; then there were John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, John Newton, Isaac Watts, Frances Havergal, Elisabeth Prentiss, etc. Even great young men such as David Brainerd, Robert Murray McCheyne, Hudson Taylor, and others, we believe, were men and women who rose to greatness in their walk with God. But in the kingdom of God, there are no great men or women of God. There are just humble men, submissive men, men and women whom God chose to use greatly.
Humble men and women—how do we know when such men and women are humble? The answer is given with care: when God speaks, they tremble. Such men and women truly God looks upon.
Foundations Bible College and Theological Seminary is in existence for the training of young men and women, yet it finds itself in a global sphere, a world age of the pride of man. There is a mood, a spirit being bred within humanity bringing it to the greatest generation of the pride of man that we have ever known. Such an age will finally give birth to the man equal in humanity to the pride of the fallen angelic world leader, personified in Satan. Such a man will be the personification of pride and will be the king of pride; he is called in Scripture, the Antichrist.
The Pride of the End Time
The Bible is replete with declarations that the pride of a man is that which keeps him from God; it is the singular sin that keeps a person from coming and accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. Pride is that which attacks God and becomes the number one enemy within the soul that stops all progress and promotion of heart with God. Though there is an honorable self-acknowledgment, pride is an inordinate self-esteem. Pride is an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments. Even when there is nothing to be commended, it may be found in a simple conceit of self. It manifests itself in lofty airs; at times there may be a putting of a distance between oneself and others, reserve, and often, contempt of others. It may come forth in insolence, rude treatment of others, loftiness, and ostentation.
Pride found its beginning in the highest of angels. According to Ezekiel 28, taking us back into the history in heaven, pride was the chief sin of Lucifer, whose heart was lifted up because of his “merchandise,” his beauty, his manifested abilities which were higher than all the other angels God had created.
We have alluded to the fact that pride is an inordinate and unrestrained self-esteem. It was the chief sin of pride that brought into existence the city of Sodom and its perpetration of its strange flesh of sodomy. Though Genesis 19 reveals the fleshly sins of Sodom, Ezekiel 16:49, 50 reveals the spirit and heart that led such inhabitants down into their strange flesh:
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
Pride hardens the mind in understanding the self, honorably and honestly. Along with the company of the Devil, such pride rises in men like Cain, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Herod, Diotrephes (3 John), and the coming Antichrist.
The Bible gives a variety of words that declare pride: haughty, impenitent, impudent, pretentious, presumptuous, puffed up, rebellious, scornful, stiff-hearted, stiff-necked, stubborn, vainglorious, etc. Of all the effects that came from the fall of Adam, pride is the most powerful side effect of the sin principle. It is the singular aspect of sin that keeps us from coming to God, living with God, and going on in a life with God.
When the fall of man came about, it was through the pride of the only two human beings on the planet. Eve wanted to be like God. But without God telling her of right and wrong, it was to be based upon her own selfish decision. As for Adam, what was his desire for self above God? Was it the same as Eve, or was it the fear of losing Eve his wife in death, and thus willing to follow her and her proud desire no matter what it cost them together?
Yes, pride is the final barrier of man coming to God! This is why godly sorrow must be given to man for him to see what he really is. That godly sorrow must work repentance for the individual to acknowledge what he really is. Then, this godly sorrow will lead to salvation—the yielding to another, to God Himself, in order to be saved.
God Desires a Place of Rest!
When God comes to an individual, He does not ask initially for anything of tangible possessions; however, He does ask for the person himself. It is not so much what we have; God wants who we are. Why is this? It is because God seeks to create in our hearts a sanctuary for Himself, a place where He may rest.
The prophet Isaiah is the halfway mark in history between Moses and Jesus Christ. Found throughout the prophecies of this dear prophet are rapid changes between warnings of judgment and words of comfort, responding to the impenitent or penitent heart of Israel. Surprisingly, chapter 66 of Isaiah concludes with a company of penitent Israelites going out of the city to look on the evidences of the divine judgment on the impenitent in Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom beyond the walls. Note Isaiah 66:24:
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
It was this scene that the Lord Himself uses as a symbol of the Lake of Fire in the New Testament that will be the end of every individual who rejects Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
In the early verses of Isaiah 66, we read that Jehovah is infinitely above all creation, in the heaven of heavens, or as the apostle Paul calls it, the third heaven. This heaven is where God’s throne resides. His infinite government and Great Throne transcend everything of existence. His glory is announced in this chapter in a limitless realm. But here we are told that the earth is but a footstool for His feet. Could we dare think that God needs or would even want a house built for Himself upon such a footstool? Would anyone, human or angelic, think that He is wandering restlessly looking for some settled dwelling? Would any think that He needs a house built upon His footstool?
Isaiah 66:2 states, “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD.” “All these things” He declares are but the work of “my hand.” But amidst the infinity of His inscrutable being, His limitless majesty, His resistless power, there is one dwelling that He will not despise, one object that will arrest His eye. Now, we may ask, what can that be? What is it on this footstool of His that can captivate His eye? The object of delight is not found amidst the principalities and powers of heaven. Amidst all the greatness of the heavens where thrones and dominions exist throughout the angelic world, there is not to be found what God is looking for. He comes to earth . . . to find something. But His sight is not on some mighty host or large company, or even some prestigious assembly. His eye is to rest on one individual.
At Foundations we have desired for our students and community people to come to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. The death of Christ purchased the “wonder” of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within. God made man for this wonder. And even though Adam and Eve fell in the garden and were cast out, God has not laid aside His intent and will for man with Himself. Christ not only died to save us from our sins and the power of sin, but also to bring us back into conformity to the image and likeness of Himself. And that image and likeness we are told in the New Testament will be the second member of the Trinity; we were made in His image and likeness, and His death and resurrection brought the reality of this back for man. But the plan went beyond even this. God wants to dwell in Man, and He wants man to dwell in Him.
What Is God Looking For?
How can a man living on this fallen footstool of God have any hope for such a wonder of glory? To God, man is distinguished by nothing that men esteem of value. God is not impressed with the wealth a man has, or the position he holds on earth, or man’s authoritative power, or even his social position. It will not be the bigness of the man’s ministry, or how many sermons have been preached, or his accomplishments of life. It is not the marvel of any invention nor feat of daring we have accomplished; it will not be our eloquence, or our power in debate, or greatness in sports, or even any religious accomplishment. It will not even be our orthodoxy in and of itself, or our abounding energy and ministering from morning till night; yea, none of these things arrests God’s eye.
Upon what then does the eye of God stay its search and rest? Isaiah reveals the answer:
But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word (Isa. 66:2).
These three things Isaiah declares God is looking for in a person! These are three marks that are approved by God. These are what the workings of the cross desire to bring us to; these are needed for us to be used of God, to be anointed of God. God desires in us this poor, contrite, and trembling human spirit for Himself to dwell! God wants to come to His footstool and find a dwelling place that will become His place of rest—His place of rest! And God Himself reveals what He is looking for! “To this man [or woman] will I look, even to him that is poor.” Is this a great man?
The first mark of poverty is not the thought of mere financial poverty. It goes deeper. It speaks of such consciousness of deep need as forces to the ground every high thought of self. It is the one who is actually poor and is afflicted by the sense of that poverty. The Hebrew word for poor carries with it the closely related thoughts of affliction.
In Luke 18 Jesus called upon His disciples to “always pray, and not faint.” Then He gave a parable about the intensity of prayer when great needs arise in the life. He speaks of importunity in prayer: an urgency, a crying out, as a beggar pleading for help. In the context of this parable, it is a widow pleading with an unjust judge for help. And Christ asked, when the Son of man cometh will He find faith on the earth . . . such faith as found in this pitiful widow?
But immediately after this parable, Jesus tells the story of two men who went up to the temple to pray. One, a Pharisee, believed that he was a good man, that God would naturally accept him. He thought his goodness, yea, his greatness is what would make him acceptable by God. Jesus then presents another man, a publican, a tax collector, one despised by the Jewish nation, but whose perspective of himself was most unusual. Note carefully the words of Jesus:
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
The Greek rendering here is, “God be merciful to me the sinner,” The Lord gave heaven’s commentary about this man, the spiritually poor man, or one who viewed himself as spiritually poor.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
God . . . looked . . . upon this man! But we must also be careful about the honesty of the heart in saying such words. Myriads of souls may utter almost these same words: “Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners”; yet, God’s eye may not find a resting place there. A proud spirit could easily utter these lowly words, but God looketh upon the poor in spirit and heart.
Saul of Tarsus was quite wealthy in his own estimate as he journeyed on to Damascus. But quickly all his wealth shriveled in the glory of the light that shone upon him. His heart became instantly poor. Then that heavenly Eye marked him and sent Ananias for his comfort. Note Paul’s observations of this event in Romans 12:3:
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God had dealt to every man the measure of faith.
In Philippians 2, we read of the mystery of the kenosis of Christ that He entered when He came to earth. It is in this passage Paul calls upon his audience to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” The Greek brings an embellishment to the understanding of this: “Let this mind, this thinking, this process of thinking, this thought life be in you, which was in Christ Jesus.” This is how Christ thought concerning Himself:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery [or believing He had to have the outward manifestation of the glory of God] to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation.
Christ “took upon himself the form of a servant, . . . And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Even Christ, when He came to earth, thought of Himself as poor. He became poor in spirit that we might become rich, but He lived every moment depending upon His Father for everything. He never used His deity to satisfy His humanity.
The poor of spirit truly is the man to whom God will look! “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” No matter to what extent God will use us in the coming days through His providence, we will not know His precious and beloved dwelling rest until we come to that beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This word poor means the beggar, one who is so poor that he lives from hand to mouth. Every moment we need His grace; every moment we need His provisions for our living. Yes, it is to this man that God will look, even to him “that is poor.”
God through the prophet Isaiah gives a second marking for His dwelling and the lodging of His Rest. It is what the outcome of this poverty of spirit brings the man to: he is of a contrite spirit. A contrite spirit is precisely the reverse of what is so esteemed by mankind today. People admire “a man of spirit” who is self-assertive and insistent on what he believes is right for himself. But this man of Isaiah 66:2 is a man that God has found with a heart that has stopped its mouth from all self-justification and from all accusation of others. Remember the poor thief who hung on a cross by the side of the Lord; he told the other thief, “Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly.” These words mark true contrition! The orthodox Jew is noted for outward beating of his breast as he prays. This beating is a tangible expression of his desire of a broken heart. This gesture depicts this word contrite: “to break or bruise; thus, broken-hearted for sin; deeply affected with grief and sorrow for having offended God.” It is a manifestation of humility, breaking of the spirit of pride.
After David (in his early 50s) sinned with Bathsheba, he spent seven days before the Lord in prayer and contriteness. During these days David penned Psalm 51. He wanted this psalm to be given to the chief musician and declared of its penning: “when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” It was in this spirit of contriteness that David revealed several truths we read not in any of the other psalms. He longed to be “whiter than snow,” he longed for God to create in him “a clean heart,” and he gave to the Jewish world a new perspective of sacrifice:
O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
This became a New Testament heart and spirit . . . ahead of time, of what God was truly looking for in a sacrifice. John Newton described true contrition as “the act of grinding or rubbing to powder.” It is only then that God will accept whatever we give Him in the act of tangible sacrifice.
But God through the prophet Isaiah declared a third marking for the dwelling of God. When all self-esteem is broken down, all pride abased, and the human spirit is awakened to the voice of the Lord in His Word, and the individual listens to it or reads it, he trembleth in reverence. God is drawn to the trembling heart. Once the heart is broken, it is now awakened to the voice of the Lord in His Word. The individual now listens to it, reads it, with trembling reverence.
The day in which we live has promoted a self-esteem, a pride that is atheistic. This day feeds disrespect and irreverence for God; it fosters such a spirit and promotes a mood and spirit of ungodliness. This spirit is not only set against God but against anything that represents authority and headship in life. We live in a society that cries for the decapitation of any honorable headship—whether in marriage or in a school—and for the overthrow of that which quells truth of living and submission. Such a spirit is seen in the rebellion of children—both open rebellion as well as subtle, manipulative rebellion. Oh, the utter chaos within the public schools today and, sad to say, within many private schools. Oh, how the feminist movement has produced a womanhood that despises God and a husband. This spirit has become a breathing, spiritual virus in our country. Even the place where Jesus died—on Golgotha, Hebrew for “decapitated head”—is the commentary of man in his denunciation of God’s authority over him. God was crucified that day. As Paul will declare in Romans 15:3, “For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee, fell on me.” God’s authority of headship over man was decapitated that day.
Yet, the greater grief is that such a mood has equally invaded the Church with the Laodicean spirit of every man doing that which is right in his own eyes. Within our society and churches today, who now trembles at God’s Word?
We are told, not only by the world but equally by the Church, that the Bible is filled with errors and outgrown superstitions. Our contemporary society, both in the secular and in Christianity itself, has so maligned the Bible, who then has such a poor spirit, a contrite heart, that would cause them to tremble at this Word? Only such a person with these three markings could even view the Bible with reverence and trust.
It is not slavish or abject terror that causes us to tremble; it is filial reverence whereby we tremble. It is not because of threats from God and the final judgment; it is because of Whose Word this is—this is the Word of God.
Here we see in Isaiah’s conclusion the one to whom God will look. Such a soul is first personally poor. Secondly, such poverty brings one into true contriteness. And finally, the individual comes into a private, inner sanctum where he or she is enclosed in an indwelling place with God altogether.
Yet, immediately after Isaiah’s words (66:2), we read a strong contrast in verse 3:
He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck: he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
The formalism, the outward giving of a sacrifice of an ox without this trilogy of spiritual heart, is like that of committing murder upon a man in the sight of God. With the absence of this heart that has been previously described, God takes no pleasure in the sacrifice of a lamb, no more than He would in the death of a dog. It is evident that when the individual is so filled with himself and not with the Person of Christ, he might just as well approach God with swine’s blood. The burning of incense, without acknowledging both in truth and in life the precious delight of the perfections of Christ (of which the incense speaks), is only giving incense to an idol.
Oh, this formalism is what has happened in Christianity. This external religion even began early in Church history. Even in the days of the apostle Paul, the heart of Christianity was leaving its first love as ceremonialism and sacerdotalism took the place of spiritual works of grace within the human heart. This new approach to God and His Son affected the falling away by the second generation of the Church. Throughout Church history God sent periods of revival and reformation to call the church back to His Son and the preeminence of His redemption. The last great move in history was the Philadelphia Church Age. It brought a deepening of the message to include purity of heart to love God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength. That age opened the grand insights of the second coming of Christ in the secret coming of a Rapture for a remnant out of the institutional Church. The Rapture will be followed by a Great Tribulation Period and then Christ’s coming with all His saints to set up His Kingdom to consummate the history of this world before a new heaven and earth are made.
We are in the final Church Age, where Christianity is viewed by its greatness, its wealth, its mega churches, its great signs and wonders; yet, with deep lukewarmness, as it judges its relationship with God by its tangible wealth and material possessions. Yes, to the modern church today this is “greatness.” All this has produced a blindness when it comes to spiritual matters. The church today does not know that it is “wretched, and miserable, and poor” spiritually, and “blind, and naked.” While the churches sing their moving, contemporary songs, believing this to be the “moving of the Spirit,” they do not know how far away they are from God. Jesus Christ has spewed them out of His mouth; He has brought both the world and the institutional Church into a delusion, because they do not have a love for the truth in heart and in living. They are looking to the deeds done rather than the heart’s posture before God. The heartless prayer, coldness of worship—this is what the God of heaven is grieved about. It is not the murderer and adulterer who are being spewed out of His mouth; Revelation 3 is addressed to the church itself! She does not hear Christ’s voice, and she does not answer in living and responding to the Word.
And where is the place of Christ’s rest? It is not in the institutional Church, for Christ has been cast out of the last Church Age. But we do read,
Behold, I stand at the door [of the human heart], and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the [that] door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
The Hebrew word rest means “to rest, remain, to settle down in a place.” God seeks a place where He can completely envelop and thus permeate every dimension of our lives, where He can tabernacle and remain within us. Note John 14:10:
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
There is rest because Christ is abiding, remaining, dwelling, resting, and working in us and through us. There is no rest to a hardened heart, a proud heart. Christ declared in Matthew 11:29: “Learn of me; for ye shall find rest for your souls.”
May God help us in this hour when man is filled with pride, and the man of sin, the king of pride is standing in the wings of humanity waiting to step forward to try to rule the world. May we as Christians come to this precious posture of heart: humility, contriteness, and trembling at God’s Word. May we become the place, a holy place made by God, where God Himself can rest within us . . . on this footstool.