3. Light in a Dark Place of the Church Militant

By John Thiel, Light in a Dark Place Seminar, Study 3, mp3

Scripture Reading: Zephaniah 3:1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!

We are living in dark, trying times for God’s genuine people, and we need God’s word to illume our pathway. The light that shines in a dark place must illuminate our pathway. In our previous study we looked at a personal dark spot, which is our human heart where God brings Jesus into close, inward proximity, so that in the dark place of our heart the light of Jesus, His face, His truth, can shine. In this study we want to examine the dark place in the church militant. This may sound strange. In God’s church? Is there a dark place in the church militant? How does the scripture that we have been quoting relate to the subject of the church militant?

A More Sure Word of Prophecy

2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

This is prophecy that deals with the church militant. Is it a suggestion that the church militant could have a dark place that prophecy can illuminate? We are considering through this series the detail of prophecy referring to the final church, the church in the last days, the church militant in transition as it enters into the church triumphant. That detail it is our purpose to appreciate: The prophecies of the church militant in transition to the church triumphant.

Let every one who is seeking to live a Christian life, remember that the church militant is not the church triumphant. Those who are carnally minded will be found in the church. {FE 294.2}

Are you a person who is seeking to live a Christian life? Then you must remember that the church militant is not the church triumphant. What is meant with that? There are those who are carnally minded in the church militant.

Darkness in the Church?

Say, is the carnally minded a dark place in the church militant? In the church militant there can be found a dark place; a dark chapter, just like it was in the church in the time of Jesus when He chose His twelve disciples. There was a dark chapter there, in the very high position of the treasury – Judas. Clearly then, in the church militant we must remember that there are dark places. What is written regarding this in the prophecy so that the day star can illuminate this spot, this dark carnality in the church militant? We want explore the prophecy of Zephaniah 3 to enlighten our minds in regards to the church militant and the dark spot in that church. As we read carefully this scripture, what time frame can we see that these words apply to?

The Last Days

Zephaniah 3:8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination [is] to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, [even] all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

Here in the midst of Zephaniah 3 is an identification prophecy that Zephaniah is talking of. It is the time of God’s indignation which is included in this prophecy. There is this gathering of the nations; God is assembling the kingdoms to pour upon them His indignation. There are also other scriptures that speak of that period. This is the word of prophecy, a light shining in a dark place:

Jeremiah 25:15 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. 16 And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. 17 Then took I the cup at the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me:

He then goes into the detail of all the nations that exist at the time of God’s outpouring of His wrath.

Jeremiah 25:29 For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name,

Who does He start with? His city, Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 25:29 …and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts. 30 Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread [the grapes], against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 A noise shall come [even] to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them [that are] wicked to the sword, saith the LORD. 32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. 33 And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.

The Shepherds of the Flock

What does He say about the shepherds?

Jeremiah 25:34 Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves [in the ashes], ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel. 35 And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape. 36 A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, [shall be heard]: for the LORD hath spoiled their pasture. 37 And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

The Wrath of God

Anyone who studies into the depths of the prophecies of the last days knows that this here is talking about the vials of God’s wrath that are going to be poured out, as it is written in here:

Jeremiah 25:30 The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread [the grapes], against all the inhabitants of the earth.

The very same event of God roaring from His temple is again described in Revelation chapter sixteen:

Revelation 16:17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

This is the seventh vial, where the voice from heaven comes, God’s voice roaring from His temple. Indeed, chapter sixteen is the detail of the outpouring of the vials of God’s wrath, as He has said, “Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand.” The words of Revelation 15:5-8 help us to appreciate all this detail that is encompassed in Zephaniah 3:8:

Revelation 15:5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: 6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. 7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

The temple in heaven is opened, and out of the temple comes this voice from the throne – the fury of God – and who else comes out of the temple?

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Can you see how all these Bible texts are saying the same thing? “He shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes” (Jer. 25:30); “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened” (Rev. 15:5); the roar of the Father’s anger; the Son of God is coming with the angels on horseback to orchestrate the destruction of the nations during the plagues. The period of Zephaniah 3 is inclusive of this. It is a prophecy that deals with the period just before, and during the plagues. What happens just prior to the plagues? According to prophecy, what happens before the plagues strike?

The Four Winds

Revelation 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Here are the angels holding the four winds. We read in Jeremiah that there would be a whirlwind from the four corners of the earth that would bring destruction (chap. 25:32). Here it is – the four winds are being held from blowing upon the four corners so that there would be no destruction, until what? “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Until the servants of God have been sealed in their foreheads. Here is the detail of the picture of the period that takes place before and during the plagues. The vision of Ezekiel chapter 9 is another such description of the same period. This is prophecy; this is the light that tells us what happens in our day, ever since 1844 when the sealing of the 144,000 commenced.

Ezekiel 9:1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man [with] his destroying weapon in his hand. 2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them [was] clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar. 3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which [had] the writer’s inkhorn by his side; 4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. 5 And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: 6 Slay utterly old [and] young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom [is] the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which [were] before the house.

Here is a direct description of what we read in Revelation 7 – the sealing work of the angel, of the man with a writer’s inkhorn by his side.

This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision. {TM 445.2}

We are looking at the details of the period of which Zephaniah chapter 3 is talking about. What does it say? Those that sigh and cry for the sins that are done in Israel. If we apply it to these last days, where are the 144,000 chosen from? Out of the twelve tribes. Modern Israel is the church as Israel of old was. The description continues:

John also had been a witness of this most startling revelation. He saw the sea and the waves roaring, and men’s hearts failing them for fear. He beheld the earth moved, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea (which is literally taking place), the water thereof roaring and troubled, and the mountains shaking with the swelling thereof. {TM 445.2}

The same angel who visited Sodom is sounding the note of warning, “Escape for thy life.” The bottles of God’s wrath cannot be poured out to destroy the wicked and their works until all the people of God have been judged, and the cases of the living as well as the dead are decided. And even after the saints are sealed with the seal of the living God, His elect will have trials individually. Personal afflictions will come; but the furnace is closely watched by an eye that will not suffer the gold to be consumed. The indelible mark of God is upon them. God can plead that His own name is written there. The Lord has shut them in. Their destination is inscribed–“God, New Jerusalem.” They are God’s property, His possession. {TM 446.1}

God has shown me that at the very time that the signs of the times are being fulfilled around us, when we hear, as it were, the tread of the hosts of heaven fulfilling their mission, men of intelligence, men in responsible positions, will be putting rotten timbers in their character building–material which is consumable in the day of God, and which will decide them to be unfit to enter the mansions above. {TM 446.3}

A Dark Place in the Church?

Let us examine some more detail of the time before the plagues commence, in reference to the experience of the church, the people who sigh and cry for the sins that are done in the church. There will be intelligent men in responsible positions putting rotten timbers in their character building. There is this dark spot in the church militant.

The leaven of godliness has not entirely lost its power. At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world. {5T 209.3}

They are members of God’s church and they are crying for what the members are doing after the manner of the world. Is that a dark spot in the church militant that we need enlightenment on?

These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking. {5T 210.2}

What was lacking in the church? In God’s church militant, just prior to the outpouring of the plagues, there are people who are sighing and crying because of the things that are done in the church of God. They “still continued the forms of religion;” they were still preaching, but God’s presence and power were lacking. Here is a prophetic detail of the last days.

In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. {5T 210.3}

To obtain the favour of any.” Who do you want to please?

Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect. {5T 210.3}

Do you know what that feels like? I know it.

The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” {5T 211.1}

Here we see that the church–the Lord’s sanctuary–was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. {5T 211.2}

Wolves in the Church Militant

You don’t want to claim loudly that this is God’s church, do you? This is what happens in God’s Church. I ask the question, God’s Church??!! Is God’s own church full of this detail? Oh we would place such negatives on fallen churches, but not on His own. But remember God’s church militant is not the church triumphant. It contains wolves and unworthy members. As it is described in Ezekiel’s vision, the men with slaughter weapons destroy even the ancient men – the ministers. It is very fascinating to see how Zephaniah describes exactly this:

Zephaniah 3:1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!

What does she do? She oppresses.

Zephaniah 3:2 She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. 3 Her princes within her [are] roaring lions; her judges [are] evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.

“It’s alright, we can deal with that tomorrow; then we will gnaw them.”

Zephaniah 3:4 Her prophets [are] light [and] treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. 5 The just LORD [is] in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame. 6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant. 7 I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, [and] corrupted all their doings. 8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination [is] to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, [even] all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

Light and Darkness in the Church

Here it is – the church militant. Her princes are roaring lions. “Her judges are evening wolves.” “Her prophets are light and treacherous persons.” “Her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.” As we read this, God says, Wait, be patient, because I will deal with it (cf. verse 8). What did we read? “Begin at My sanctuary.” Let us look at the detail of Zephaniah 3:1-5. Is this true? Is this applicable to God’s church militant? That her princes are roaring lions, her judges evening wolves, and they are an oppressing city? They gnaw the bones, and the prophets are light, treacherous persons? Her priests are polluting the sanctuary, and have done violence to the law?

Remember, God’s law is very broad (Ps. 119:96). The pride manifested by people in leadership can lead them to behave as patrons over their brethren. That, Sr. White says, is not according to the law. There are many more details. God’s church has those kinds of people in it? No, we don’t want to hear that. We don’t want to admit that. “Then we are judging.” No, all we have to do is take God’s word. That’s all. We don’t have to judge any man. God’s word judges. Here is the dark place within the church militant:

Has God no living church? He has a church, but it is the church militant, not the church triumphant. We are sorry that there are defective members, that there are tares amid the wheat. {TM 45.1}

That is the church militant, with the tares amongst it.

The church of Christ on earth will be imperfect, but God does not destroy His church because of its imperfection. There have been and will be those who are filled with zeal not according to knowledge, who would purify the church, and uproot the tares from the midst of the wheat. But Christ has given special light as to how to deal with those who are erring, and with those who are unconverted in the church. …. Tares will appear among the wheat; but it would do more harm to weed out the tares, unless in God’s appointed way, than to leave them alone. While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into its fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God. {TM 46.1}

What is happening in the church? Light and darkness are within the church. One is pushing against the other within the church. This is what is written.

Some people seem to think that upon entering the church they will have their expectations fulfilled, and meet only with those who are pure and perfect. They are zealous in their faith, and when they see faults in church members, they say, “We left the world in order to have no association with evil characters, but the evil is here also;” and they ask, as did the servants in the parable, “From whence then hath it tares?” But we need not be thus disappointed, for the Lord has not warranted us in coming to the conclusion that the church is perfect; and all our zeal will not be successful in making the church militant as pure as the church triumphant. {TM 47.1}

In the period of time that Zephaniah is talking about, the church militant is in transition with its evils amongst it, until at the last moments, it comes into the church triumphant.

Through long ages God has borne the anguish of beholding the work of evil, He has given the infinite Gift of Calvary, rather than leave any to be deceived by the misrepresentations of the wicked one; for the tares could not be plucked up without danger of uprooting the precious grain. And shall we not be as forbearing toward our fellow men as the Lord of heaven and earth is toward Satan? {COL 72.2}

False Brethren

The world has no right to doubt the truth of Christianity because there are unworthy members in the church, nor should Christians become disheartened because of these false brethren. {COL 72.3}

Do you sometimes get disheartened when you see these false brethren in the church with their way of dealing?

How was it with the early church? Ananias and Sapphira joined themselves to the disciples. Simon Magus was baptized. Demas, who forsook Paul, had been counted a believer. Judas Iscariot was numbered with the apostles. The Redeemer does not want to lose one soul; His experience with Judas is recorded to show His long patience with perverse human nature; and He bids us bear with it as He has borne. He has said that false brethren will be found in the church [for how long?] till the close of time. {COL 72.3}

This will be the case till the close of the time of probation when the wrath of God will be poured out. In later studies we will go into the detail of how that transition will take place at the end of time. How close to the end of time do you believe we are? As we see it in the vision of Ezekiel, already while the angel was sealing them in their foreheads, the others were following. Haven’t we seen in the events since the First and Second World Wars through to now, that slaughtering weapons were already being exercised? After the thousands and millions of people that have been slaughtered, where do we think we stand? Till the end of time there will be false members in the church. We are here, aren’t we? What did we read in Zephaniah? The false brethren are there identified, and even the leaders in the church. What are they? They are oppressing. They are princes that roar like lions, and evening wolves gnawing the bones till the morrow; prophets that are light and treacherous. “Her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.” What is written next?

The Lord Is Still in Her Midst

Zephaniah 3:5 The just LORD [is] in the midst thereof;

Is that light in a dark place?

Zephaniah 3:5 …he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.

Here is the light in the dark place. The just Lord is the midst of the church militant. This is His church; He is in the midst of it, no matter what goes on in it. All that is described in verses 1 to 4 can be found in the church militant, but the just Lord is in the midst thereof.

Let the light shine in this dark experience. Jesus is there. The day star arises in our hearts. What does He do? He brings judgment to light, He faileth not. Judgment in the midst of corruption; He brings judgment to light that in the midst of this darkness in God’s own church, the company in the light will be illuminated by the judgment that He brings to light in the church militant.

Do not despair, the daystar arises in the dark just before the break of day. When the plagues fall, isn’t that the breaking of the day? We must take courage by understanding the light in the dark place of the church militant.

Dark Chapters

Sister White is here writing to Brother Magan of a circular regarding the Berrien Springs school:

In it [in this copy] there were some things that I think would be better left out. Let us not dwell on the dark chapters in the experience of Seventh-day Adventists. {7MR 383.1}

That was Sister White’s time of the church militant. There are dark chapters. There is darkness in the church. Don’t dwell on it.

They bring up a discouraging, depressing picture, and it would seem as if Christ, the Light of the world, had not been near to help. {7MR 383.1}

Jesus is in the midst thereof, but if you concentrate on the dark chapters, it will seem as though He is not.

There was no need of the dearth of knowledge, no reason why mistakes should have been made. Christ was then, as He ever will be, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He was ready to help, and no one need have made grave mistakes or errors. {7MR 383.1}

The time to which you have referred–a time dark, perplexing, and discouraging–let it stay in the past. Do not talk of it unless forced to. To make reference to the worst features in the experience of those now in positions of trust in the work of God, does not benefit anyone. Let us not call up the dark shadows of the past. Let the past lie where it is, with all its objectionable features. Into the present we are to bring pleasantness, hope, and courage. {7MR 383.2}

If there are those who are allowing the enemy to obtain an advantage over them, tempting him to tempt them, and carrying out his plans, let not this appear. And do not bring up the dark, unchristlike deeds of the past. The dear Saviour was all the time inviting those who did these deeds to cease to dishonor God, and to turn to Him for help to do right. {7MR 383.3}

At the present time we have plain evidence of the specious, artful working of Satan on human minds. We have to meet this working with determined effort. But let the dark pictures of the past be buried, and let them stay buried. Let us not cloud the mind of anyone by bringing up these representations. Let us at this time bring in all the light possible. … (To Brethren Magan and Sutherland, November 11, 1903.) {7MR 383.4}

Yes, we may have been bombarded and we have been experiencing negativities in the church militant, but let us no longer talk about them. Let them be buried. This is what we are instructed to do. And let us focus on the Jesus whom the church of His time crucified. We know that they are going to do this to God’s faithful people too. But that is not what we look at. We look at Jesus. Instead of concentrating on those dark patches, let us concentrate on Him who is in the midst thereof, and who every morning doth bring judgment to light.

In the church triumphant there is the company in the light. What are God’s judgments over His expectant, prospective, triumphant children?

Pride

God is here speaking about the terrible destruction previously mentioned in verse 8:

Zephaniah 3:11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me:

Isn’t this true to every one? We have transgressed, every one of us; and we think we are going to have to meet the consequences of that. But if we choose to embrace Jesus in the justification work of His wonderful love, we will not be ashamed for all our doings wherein we have transgressed against Him.

Zephaniah 3:11 …for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

To believe that we are God’s church is a very pridy attitude. When we say, This is God’s church, you must obey me because I am a representative of God’s church! it is just like a husband saying to a wife, Wife, do as you are told, I am the man over you! The pridy attitude of men over women is exactly what the men in church leadership do over their membership. There is no room for that in God’s church. “I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

A Poor and Afflicted People

Zephaniah 3:12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. 13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.

This is light.

Zephaniah 3:14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, [even] the LORD, [is] in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

Praise the Lord.

Zephaniah 3:16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: [and to] Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

God will sing.

Zephaniah 3:18 I will gather [them that are] sorrowful for the solemn assembly, [who] are of thee, [to whom] the reproach of it [was] a burden.

Are you sometimes burdened because of the reproach of God’s church?

Zephaniah 3:19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. 20 At that time will I bring you [again], even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.

Do you love Zephaniah 3? I love it. It is a beautiful, encouraging message. This is encouraging light in the midst of the darkness. There are kindred scriptures to verse 18 and 19, “I will gather them that are sorrowful;” “Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out.” He will gather His jewels.

Malachi 3:14 Ye have said, It [is] vain to serve God: and what profit [is it] that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?

Have you ever been tempted to think that way?

Malachi 3:15 And now we call the proud happy;

See how happy they are? and we are oppressed.

Malachi 3:15 …yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, [they that] tempt God are even delivered. 16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. 17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. 18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

That is when the wheat and the tares will be totally revealed. Don’t despair, the Lord will take you. Those that tremble at His word will be cast out. “Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified.” (Isa. 66:5) They seem to be doing well, and God’s little company in the light are being oppressed. This is the description which we are given. “But He shall appear to your joy.

John 16:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, [crying and sighing for the sins that are done in Israel,] but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. … 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

He is in the midst thereof. In Me you will have peace, because I am in the midst of the church militant. Be of good courage.

Zephaniah 3:12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. 13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.

Micah 4:6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; 7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.

Who are the children that God will reign over? Those who have halted, those who are poor and afflicted, who become the remnant, and who have been cast out by the church militant.

Joel 2:30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

Is that our time? Absolutely.

Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

The company in the light that is always within the church militant will finally be isolated. That is the remnant of her seed. That is the overcomer. That is the church triumphant. Brethren and sisters, persevere through the darkness! Let God do His work in His church militant with us. Because in His church militant, if we stand faithful and true, then He will bring forth His true people. Don’t become so overpowered by the darkness of the evil within the church that you cease and turn back. Where are you going to go to? If we turn away from that which God is giving us in His church militant then we will go back to perdition.

What is God doing? What must we not run away from?

Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It [is] my people: and they shall say, The LORD [is] my God.

Indeed if we will remain faithful in God’s church militant, what will happen?

The work is soon to close. The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant.– Letter 32, 1892. {Ev 707.1}

Think on these words. The church militant is where we are. If we remain faithful, we will become the church triumphant. What does it mean to be faithful?

The life of Christ was a life charged with a divine message of the love of God, and He longed intensely to impart this love to others in rich measure. Compassion beamed from His countenance, and His conduct was characterized by grace, humility, truth, and love. {FE 179.3}

That is Jesus in the midst thereof.

Every member of His church militant must manifest the same qualities, if He would join the church triumphant. {FE 179.3}

We will continue to explore these details so that we can appreciate the light that shines in the dark place of this present age of God’s church militant and of the darkness of the world around us, and so we can make intelligent decisions. We must not be pushed from one pillar to the other, or from one belief or thought to the other, but our minds are to be illuminated by the light of the day star in the heart, and we may walk intelligently in the darkness, because the darkness is intelligently illuminated by the prophecies – the light shining in a dark place. May this be our decision to persevere to the end so that we can be those who will comprise the church triumphant.

Amen.

Posted on August 23, 2009, in Divine Service Sermons, Light in a Dark Place of the Remnant Church, Sermons by John Thiel, The Church of God, The Church Triumphant and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: