by Jerry Gentry
"And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17).
Preparation is a a great principle of the Bible. Preparation is necessary before readiness is achieved. Joseph prepared for seven years, by storing up grain and foodstuffs, for a coming famine of seven years. Through his foresight and vision of preparation, the nation of Egypt made ready and her people were saved alive. Israel was preserved and multiplied.
King "David prepared abundantly before his death" (1Chr. 22:5), and made ready for the eventual building of the magnificent temple of Solomon, his son.
The apostle Paul was struck by a blinding light from heaven, while he walked with others on the road to Damascus. "He fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:4). Paul was led to a certain house, where he prayed and fasted for three days, while he waited upon the Lord. A God fearing believer, Ananias, was instructed to go and pray for Paul, who immediately received his sight again. A prophecy from Jesus Christ foretold that Paul would "bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15).
But first, there was a time of preparation: "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. (Gal 1:11).
"For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (v. 12).
"Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus" (v. 17).
"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days" (v. 18).
Paul made himself ready, through a lengthy period of preparation, in the wilderness of Arabia, and received the gospel directly from the Lord. Only after he made himself ready, did he then fulfill his calling as the great apostle to the gentiles.
What is your calling? Will you make yourself ready for the coming "year of recompences?" Will you fulfill the destiny God has purposed for you personally in this world, "According as he hath chosen us [that's you and me today] in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Eph. 1:4)?
Christian, will you be a wise virgin and make yourself ready! Or will you be a foolish virgin, caught short, without oil, "in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger" (Isa. 13:13).
The principle of readiness is found throughout the Bible. Wise king Solomon advised: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise" (Prov. 6:6). There are leaf cutter ants, carpenter ants, honey pot ants, and a host of other ants, who store up grains and leaves for food and water. They work diligently during summer months to make ready for winter, thereby replenishing an annual survival store. Will you be like the ant? Will you "consider her ways, and be wise?" Will you prepare now for hard times ahead? And if so, what are the priorities of your preparation?
The Bible says, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28). The Bible teaches, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [food, raiment and shelter] shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). Did you know that the Kingdom of God is a kingdom that will be set up right here on this earth? Yes, Jesus' disciples eagerly awaited such a restoration: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6), they asked? Kingdom believers know that they must prepare now for the tumultuous tribulation&emdash;"the year of his recompences"&emdash;prior to the return of Jesus Christ. Will you make yourself ready for that great time? If so, then you will learn some great principles of the Bible, and begin to act on what you learn.
There are many Christians today, who are making ready for the wrong event. These Christians know the Lord, and have the assurance of personal salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. But they have yet to make ready for that "great and. . . terrible day of the LORD" (Joel 2:31), when there "shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:21). These Christians should be preparing, as Noah, Daniel, and Job, to live through great trials. Instead, they are looking for a rapture, to take them out of the earth. Such an idea is not taught in the Bible, and was not expected by believers in Jesus' day, who looked for the resurrection of the dead and the heavenly kingdom to be set up right here on this earth.
Christians are commanded: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:36). How can you make ready, and "escape all these things?" You must learn to put first things first. You must learn to prioritize your life, morning to night, one day at a time. If you are a genuine believer, you have repented of your sins. You experienced a dramatic change of heart when you "repent[ed]. . . and believe[d] the gospel." (Mark 1:15). Follow this carefully.
If your salvation is genuine, then you need to experience another level of repentance? The Bible says, "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds" (Rev. 2:22). You have repented of your past sins, right? But have you also repented of your present deeds?
If not, brother and sister, you will go into great tribulation, that you may learn what it means to receive the Bible as your standard of living in this world. Grace only Christian believers will not fare well in the coming "year of his recompences," no matter how prepared they may be otherwise. Grace only Christians will either "repent of their deeds," their antinomian lifestyles in opposition to the law of God, or they may well suffer enormous persecution and even martyrdom.
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20). The light of the Bible is Jesus Christ. He came not "to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matt. 5:17), He said. And further, only that "remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17), are the portion of the church who, "fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days" (Rev. 12:6). Only such a remnant is promised an escape from the worst of the coming tribulation, which begins with "the year of his recompences."
Friend, where is your wilderness? Where is your Rock? Where will you hide yourself in "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7). Will you find that place spoken of by the Psalmist, "in the shadow of thy wings [where] will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast" (Ps. 57:1)?
Christian, will you make yourself ready for "the year of recompences?" Should you store up food? Should you secure a source of good water and other supplies? Should you find a wilderness place where you can live? What should be your priorities? Christian, hear and heed what the Bible says, and thereby make yourself ready for "the year of recompences." Secure yourself in the only stronghold of safety, the only genuine place of preparedness, the ultimate shelter from the coming storm. Find and heed the Word of God, and seek refuge in the same.
The Bible says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple" (Ps. 19:7). Are you a converted Christian? Then you will uphold "the law and the testimony" as the standard of your personal life in this earth. And when you fall short of that standard publicly, you will make public confession and ask forgiveness. Will you right the wrongs you have committed openly against your brother?
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebr. 10:31). You can fool people sometimes. You can bluff your way into the good graces of men. But you can never fool God, who "is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebr. 4:12).
Christian believer, are you a converted believer? If so, you will take these warnings to heart. Otherwise, you will "be sure your sin will find you out" (Num. 32:23). With King David, you will be quick to recognize your guilt before God, and confess, "I have sinned against the LORD" (2Sam. 12:13). And remember, lack of faith&emdash;having an unbelieving heart&emdash;is listed along with the whoredom, as in "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, [who] shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8). Christian, will you live in denial in this life, and later burn in hell? Or will you confess your grievous public sins now, make restitution, receive forgiveness, and inherit the kingdom?
The Psalmist cried, "With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments" (Ps. 119:10). Are you seeking God with your whole heart? Either you will voluntarily do so now, and escape the worst of great tribulation, or you will be among Christians who are "cast. . . into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds" (Rev. 2:22).
Remember our text verse for today: "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). Will you admit your own disobedient heart? Will you seek with all your heart to find "the wisdom of the just?" If so, then you are on the road of being "prepared for the Lord." Considering the alternative of great tribulation, and even the lake of fire, it would behoove every believing Christian to cast his cares upon the Lord, in heartfelt yieldedness, even as the publican who "smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13).
What else do you have to give back to God, other than your yieldedness, considering that "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isa. 64:6).
Will you make ready now for "the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion" (Isa. 34:8)?
Then consider this warning from the prophet Samuel: "And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines" (1Sam. 7:3).
Christian, make yourself ready now for "the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion." Do you look for God's supernatural protection during the coming great tribulation? Then you must "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). Only when you find and yield to God's divine purpose in your life, will you be ready for "the year of recompences."