Jesus' explanation of the world just before His return is frightening. He begins the discussion by saying "See that no one leads you astray." He describes the time as violent for both man and nature. It will be a period of such great distress even the heavenly bodies are shaken. But God (I love to say that! Every time I read that phrase in Scripture, I rejoice) will protect His elect in the chaos of the end times. He will even shorten the days of distress because of His chosen ones. He will keep them from being deceived and, ultimately, He sends His Son with His angels to gather those who are His.
Then Jesus tells them to remember everything they see will pass away, but what He says never will. With the full expectation of fear, deception, violence, and chaos, believers, based solely on Jesus' Word, are not to be shaken but to stand firm to the end. Every time I doubt my ability to stand in the face of all that is going on, I am reminded of Jude 24-25 (NRSV), "Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."
Even though I do not know when Jesus is coming, I am supposed to live each day as if this one could be "the day." He says, "Roy, don't be alarmed, be on your guard, don't be anxious, be watchful, pray, and stay awake."
The question of life is: "But how can a man be in the right before God? How could I ever meet God's standard?" In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." If only there were an "arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both." (Job 9:33) If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together.
Thank You, YHWH, for Your solution to my problem of standing before You. You alone are the just and the justifier. Thank You for Jesus, my Mediator. You alone are my righteousness. "And because of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)
"Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience."
What are we to do for the sake of conscience? Yesterday, we saw the guilt Joseph's brothers felt after all those years. Hebrews 9:8-14 discusses insufficient methods of having a perfect conscience and the only way to cleanse our conscience. Interestingly, Hebrews 9:15 describes Christ, the One who offered Himself to purify our consciences, as "the mediator of a new covenant." He is the One for whom Job was hoping.
In Matthew 5:23-24, we are told being reconciled to an offended brother is a priority, even before offering a gift to God. If I remember (because of my conscience) a brother who has something against me on the way to offer a gift to God, I must first correct that wrong. So the Holy Spirit uses my conscience in His process of sanctification. I am commanded not to quench His work.
Holy Spirit, I desire to have a clear conscience with both God and man. May I, like Paul, take pains to do so.