This is Our God
And it will be said in that day,
"Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited
that He might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."
This text has been taught to me all of my life as the words that God's people will exclaim when they finally see that Jesus is coming to rescue them at the Second Coming. I have heard these words quoted many times throughout my life and I am in no doubt that this is what will be said at that time. However, this text has come up in my mind several times recently and I have begun to see much more in here than ever before. Because of continued exercise in inductive study methods I now see much more in everything that I read and this verse is now much richer in meaning for me than ever before.
The first thing that suddenly jumped into my attention was the waiting part. Now I am seeing some of the implications under this word more clearly. If God's people exclaim that they have been waiting for this God, then quite likely there has been strong inducements for them to adopt other alternatives before this time. And based on my understanding of last day events that is exactly what they will have been up against.
God's true and loyal people in the last days will be tested, reviled, persecuted, hunted and hated by all the rest of the world because they refuse to accept the religion and the concepts of God that are taught by the traditional religions. Their view of God is so different than what everyone else insists is true that they find themselves constantly at odds with all of the rest of the religious world.
It might be easy to think in our time that this tension will just be a matter of which denomination you belong to, that one church is going to be persecuted by all the other churches. But this is not going to be the case. In fact, the worst enemies of God's true followers are going to come from within, many times their own churches, their own people and families, their own friends. So why should it be any surprise that this tension will already be seen today whenever a person begins to believe and share radically different views of God from what is commonly accepted even by their own church members?
There is so much in this one word waiting that can be uncovered. It tells me that instead of taking things into their own hands and trying to make things happen for themselves, (remember Abraham?) these people have chosen to wait for God to act in their behalf. Everyone else has decided that salvation involves doing at least something themselves, that they are supposed to work at getting themselves more righteous and that God is there to help them when they don't have enough strength to overcome etc. The fiercest opponents of God's true people are not going to be godless atheists who persecute them for believing in God. No, the worst enemies of God's people are going to be the most pious, the most religious, the most conscientious who are working to unite the world together in Christianity so that Jesus can set up His kingdom on earth. Does that sound familiar?
But there are going to be individuals who insist that God does not operate the way that most religious people believe He does. These people are going to share their new views about a God they have discovered who chooses to respond always in love instead of resorting to force. They will teach about a God who wants to transform people from the inside instead of imposing unity through conformity by using threats, intimidations and punishments. They will believe in a God who fiercely protects the rights of every persons freedom of choice, even that of His enemies. This is a very unpopular view of God among most Christians today and always will be to the end of this age. And that is exactly why those who appear to be too passive by insisting that this God of love will eventually come to save them from their enemies will be viewed as terribly deluded and even dangerous to the unity that is being sought for and seems to be in reach by so many others.
There is another phrase here that also tells me a lot about what these people believe deep in their hearts. They insist that the God they believe in who is so different from what most Christians talk about is the God they trust in to save them. He will save us, they say. This is in contrast to any other methods or teachings that induce us to try to do something, anything, to help God out with our salvation.
Part of this problem of confusion about salvation is because too many of us think that salvation is all about us instead of about God and His reputation. For too long we have focused exclusively on the idea that salvation was invented to get us into heaven and avoid burning in hell. But this narrow and selfish view of salvation completely misses the far more important and central issues in salvation that are seen by God's true believers. (It also is based on very sick views of how God feels about sinners and how He relates to them.) And yet in Revelation it is seen that those who end up before the throne of God, those who are saved from earth to be with Him for eternity have a completely different view of what is really going on in salvation.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9-10)
It may seem strange to many at first that God might need salvation, but that is exactly what is mentioned in the Bible in various places. We are not the center of the great trial going on in the universe or even in the day of final judgment as we have always thought. God is the one primarily on trial and we are His witnesses. Witnesses in a trial may often be cross-examined which can make them feel like they may be on trial, but it is still a fact that they are only there to bear their personal testimony as to the character and validity of the claims of the defendant.
God is the one who has been lied about and accused before all the universe. Therefore it is God's reputation most of all that needs salvaging (the real meaning of salvation). It is true that by association and identification with God that true believers come under the same attack as God is under, but it does not mean that they are the ones being put on trial. God has claimed that He can transform sinners into saints without using force or coercion but by using love and healing grace and the principles of heaven that have always been the essence of His character. The enemy of God has insisted that God's ways are not effective, that righteousness cannot be produced without using fear, coercion and other means that are so popular among many in religion today. So the bottom line comes down to the testimony of the people God is working in to reveal in their lives and their words whether God's methods really work or whether it is all a sham and He is a liar.
The intensity of the differences between these two views of God and how He should operate become so extreme that by the time Jesus comes again His true followers will be close to the point of being exterminated by those who oppose their views and teachings. Yet these people refuse to resort to force for self-protection and instead keep trusting that their God – the one who appears thus far to be completely impotent according to the view from the world – is the true God that will in the end save them. And He is going to not only save their lives but is going to rescue them fully from the lies about Him that permeate all the rest of the religious world around them.
I can almost hear the intense emotion in these words that must fill their hearts. These words are the climax of many discussions that have taken place before this point. Others have insisted that they have a false hope, that their views of God are simply wrong-headed, that God is not as wimpy as they seem to portray, that the powerful God of the whole universe simply will not stand back and let His true followers be persecuted and killed without stepping in to forcibly intervene in their behalf. And because many of those who have shared this new view of God have already been tortured and killed it will appear that the claims of false religious leaders are correct after all. It will be asserted that if this small group of people were actually teaching the truth about God that He would have come to their rescue already.
This enormous pressure of circumstances will be agonizing for those who choose to trust and wait for a God who externally appears to not be looking out for them. Their faith is severely tried as they choose to trust in a God that seems too passive at times, and yet His word assures them that His methods will prove superior in the end. When all the evidence seems to confute their beliefs about God, it will be very difficult to not succumb to the more rational explanations of circumstances and adopt the more commonly accepted ideas about God that have been taught for hundreds of years by all the “experts” in religion.
But they have chosen to wait for a God to save them that so far has not shown up. As a result they have become the object of extreme derision, shame and hatred. And yet these very attitudes by their enemies reveal to them that the spirit, the fruit that is produced in the lives of those who believe the more popular views about God is revealing that the God their enemies believe in is not the true God of heaven. For if a person believes the real truth about God then the fruit produced in their life when they are opposed by others will always reflect the gentleness, compassion, forgiveness and love that was seen in the spirit of Jesus while He was being tortured and taken to the cross.
So these people continue to wait for their God, the God they have come to know personally, intimately, passionately. They have pinned all their hopes on this God they have come to know and are willing to give up all other options, all other opinions, all other alternatives and have in essence put all of their eggs into one basket. They are risking not just their lives but their eternal future on the belief that this God who appears to have forgotten them externally will at the last moment come to rescue them. And when all other options have been exhausted and everything has played out fully on both sides of the conflict, He will indeed show up to take them out of this wicked world and give them far more than they ever hoped for or could imagine. They have waited for this God and He indeed will save them.
Think about this scenario that may very well happen in the last days in this conflict on earth.
Remember Elijah? Remember how he orchestrated a showdown on Mt. Carmel to demonstrate who was the one true God everyone should follow? Remember the powerful impact that demonstration of power had and still has to reverberate throughout Christendom yet today?
But consider this. Did Elijah make the right decision when he chose to kill by the sword the 450 prophets of Baal? We very seldom question that part of the story, but if Jesus had been there doing things instead of Elijah that day, would He have taken things into His own hands and killed those men? Tell me, how many people did Jesus put to death for worshiping false gods when He was here on earth? Think about it open-mindedly for awhile. How safe is it to insist that since Elijah was God's chosen prophet that everything he did must have been the right thing and that we should follow his example?
Personally I have come to firmly believe that Elijah made a terrible mistake that day when he took things into his own hands by killing those prophets instead of seeking God's mind first on that issue. It is a very easy mistake to make when one's mind is pumped full of adrenaline after a mountaintop experience like Elijah had just had. Remember that Joshua did something similar when he failed to check with God before attacking the little town of Ai and suddenly discovered that even a man of God's choosing cannot trust their own judgment and assume they know what God wants them to do without asking Him first. But Elijah's mistake is going to have ominous repercussions yet again that may be very unexpected as we shall soon see.
The reason I believe this is because of what happened in the rest of the story. Notice that Elijah only had to pray once for the fire to fall but after his subsequent choice to kill the prophets of Baal he had to pray seven times before the rain cloud appeared. Does that have any significance? Then a little bit later he found that his sense of protection and boldness had mysteriously evaporated and he was fleeing for his life after a simple threat by a woman who had no respect for God whatsoever. At the climax of this part of his story we see God taking Elijah through a re-training session on Mt. Horeb to remind him of the right way we are supposed to hear God's voice. It is not in the spectacular things like the fire falling from heaven or earthquakes or powerful hurricane force winds. It is in staying in tune with God's Spirit and keeping God's disposition so that His quiet, still voice can be detected rather than the more thrilling alternatives around us.
But here is the clincher for me that I recently received from the Word of God. Take a look at this text predicting what is going to happen in the last days of this world's history in the conflict between those who wait for God to save them and those who want to have a God of force and external displays of power to reinforce their objectives.
He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. (Revelation 13:13)
Who is it that is going to do this? It is going to be a lamb-like entity that later comes to exercise power like a ferocious beast in opposition to the loyal people of God who wait for Him to take care of them instead of complying with the religious ideas about God promoted by this power. And notice how different and yet how similar this situation will be in the last days to that in Elijah's time. How effective it will be to purport to reenact the showdown of Mt. Carmel once again in the latter days to convince everyone which side God supports. Whichever side receives the fire from heaven obviously must be the right side that God supports according to the story of Elijah.
Now from the text it becomes evident that the fire next time is going to fall in support of the religious system that opposes the true people of God in the last days instead of falling to vindicate them. This alone can be very frightening. But consider the next step that this counterfeit religion will take following the example of Elijah even further. They will claim that since Elijah set the precedent by killing all who opposed God and His servants that they will be justified in doing the same to all who refuse to accept the sign of “God's fire” falling to earth in these last days.
And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (Revelation 13:15)
How amazing and how compelling will be this use of Biblical history to justify a picture of God who uses force and fear and intimidation to get people to follow and serve Him. The whole controversy has always revolved around this issue of how God relates to those who oppose Him and it is going to come to a climax in these last days when these two views of God will become so clear and vivid in the way they deal with those around them; the contrast will be impossible to miss. But this is also the way in which God is going to allow the full maturing of sin to take place so as to fully inoculate everyone in the universe from ever wanting to go down that path ever again.
God's people in the last days just before Jesus comes to rescue them will fully reflect His character through focusing their hearts on Him and allowing Him to fully have His way in their lives without any resistance. Because their example of humility, love and pacifism will be so obnoxious to those who believe in a God of force and fear that the dissonance between these two views of God will lead their opponents to finally attempt to exterminate all who refuse to adopt popular views and conform with the unity of the world as predicted in the book of Revelation. It will appear that God's ways do not work after all and that evil may triumph on this planet. But really what is happening is that both sides will be fully maturing their pictures of God to the point that only the direct intervention of God will prevent the complete loss of representation for Him by a group people on this earth.
God's people will not base their faith on God's supernatural intervention on their behalf. In fact it will appear just the opposite; the fire apparently from God will fall in support of their opponents and all who refuse to accept this sign from heaven will be attacked just as Elijah attacked the false prophets. The faith of God's people will have to rest on their personal trust in His goodness, His faithfulness and a firm belief in His love even when all the evidence seems to be against it. The final rescue is going to be the most glorious, for this time God is going to do far more than just rescue their mortal bodies from being killed by their enemies. This time God is going to take the battle into the last phase and is going to vindicate all those who have chosen to believe the real truth about His character even if it meant their own death. He is going to unveil the very character in His own presence that they have been reflecting by their focus on Him. He is going to come in His true glory with is the same glory the world has been seeing in His people all along.
And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. And it will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." (Isaiah 25:7-9)