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Kody Kostenko Dateline 9/22/2017 Belize
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EYES TO SEE AND EYES THAT SEETHE

 

            “Show thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust [in thee] from those that rise up [against them].  Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,  From the wicked that oppress me, [from] my deadly enemies, [who] compass me about.”  Psalms 17:7-9

 

This week is a week of prayer for us here at MOVE, a missionary training school in north-central Belize. For us, it was already on the schedule, but for Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan and others, this has become a week of prayer through hurricanes and earthquakes.

Reports streamed in on my wife’s social media after the monster quake near Mexico City on Tuesday.  Friends of friends in Mexico posted the losses. The families of at least three people here at MOVE were affected.

            “Where is the help? We are dying here!”

“Why isn’t ADRA here yet?” were some of the posts in comment threads on my wife’s Facebook.

“ADRA is meeting with church officials to assess the situation” was one response.

Adventist youth from Montemorelos and Linda Vista are organizing their own relief efforts. People are trapped in the rubble. We cannot wait for committees!

Almost simultaneously, hurricane Maria tore a swathe through the Caribbean and set her dreadful eye on Puerto Rico, just weeks after the pummeling by hurricane Irma. We still haven’t heard from our missionary friends on what is often called the Island of Enchantment. By the pictures coming in it looks more like the Island of En-flat-ment!  

At home, my wife and I are recovering from a much smaller crisis, howbeit with plenty of “cry” in its own right.  We have an on-steroids version of conjunctivitis that started as a pink tropical storm in one eye.  Soon it crossed the bridge of my nose and escalated into a tempestuous red hurricane, including fever and muscle cramps that rival the dengue I experienced in the Amazon flood plains of northeastern Bolivia. As the days pass, the virus has rampaged across campus, and I have suddenly found new levels of meaning in the expression “I want to see the whites of your eyes”—anybody’s!

Since we are quarantined, we miss the evening meetings, and Lyli and I hold our own service in bed. The chosen book for the evening is Last Day Events. Lyli reads, because my eyes are patched with charcoal-chia seed poultices.

“The enemy has worked, and he is working still. He is come down in great power, and the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth. God has withdrawn His hand. We have only to look at Johnstown [Pennsylvania]. He did not prevent the devil from wiping that whole city out of existence. [ON MAY 31, 1889, AN ESTIMATED 2,200 PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD WHEN A DAM BROKE AFTER MANY DAYS OF HEAVY RAINS.] And these very things will increase until the close of this earth's history.

The earth's crust will be rent by the outbursts of the elements concealed in the bowels of the earth. These elements, once broken loose, will sweep away the treasures of those who for years have been adding to their wealth by securing large possessions at starvation prices from those in their employ. And the religious world, too, is to be terribly shaken, for the end of all things is at hand. The time is now come when one moment we may be on solid earth, the next the earth may be heaving beneath our feet. Earthquakes will take place when least expected.

In fires, in floods, in earthquakes, in the fury of the great deep, in calamities by sea and by land, the warning is given that God's Spirit will not always strive with men.” (25.2-26.2)

            There is a clarion call sounding in nature. God is letting us know that the moments of mercy are running out. “Seek the Lord, while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). There is a world to warn and the watchmen are asleep on the walls. Or maybe they just have pinkeye. The next paragraph burned much more than my swollen, itchy eyes.

“In the visions of the night a very impressive scene passed before me. I saw an immense ball of fire fall among some beautiful mansions, causing their instant destruction. I heard someone say: "We knew that the judgments of God were coming upon the earth, but we did not know that they would come so soon." Others, with agonized voices, said: "You knew! Why then did you not tell us? We did not know." On every side I heard similar words of reproach spoken.”  (25.1). 

The clamor we heard from the earthquake victims is but a faint preview of the bitter reproaches we will soon hear from entire neighborhoods, cities and even countries that have been left unwarned.

Arturo and Tania, two missionary friends of ours in Mexico arrived at the Benito Juárez international airport to pick up a new missionary volunteer just hours after the earthquake. They saw the devastation. They stayed as volunteers in the relief brigades. (Arturo and Tania need help with supplies. You can contact them here. Their page is in Spanish, but they speak English too.)

Wow, I thought. What an opportunity! But then it struck me. Hasn’t God given us an even greater opportunity in these last days when he summoned us to join His ultimate relief squad for a preemptive rescue mission? With how much greater enthusiasm and intensity should we rush forth to do the work before millions are swept away, unwarned, unprepared?

            This morning I looked up other references to the fearful remonstrance of the unwarned in the works of Ellen White, and I found this passage:

“In great distress I awoke. I went to sleep again, and I seemed to be in a large gathering. One of authority was addressing the company, before whom was spread out a map of the world. He said that the map pictured God's vineyard, which must be cultivated. As light from heaven shone upon anyone, that one was to reflect the light to others. Lights were to be kindled in many places, and from these lights still other lights were to be kindled.  (9T 28.2)  

                  I awoke in great distress myself several times this week. It’s impossible to sleep when your own wretched sickness shakes you up literally. Convulsed by fever, I awoke. I took a cold shower. Then I paced the house between stretching exercises to relieve my cramping muscles.

Lord, give us fever as a church! Something to get us out of bed! Give us painful strokes if You must, that we may see our true condition, our great need. There is a whole map of work to be done. That map includes places like Syria, Iran and North Korea.  In these times of distress, let us experience a great spiritual awakening! This is what it will look like:

                  “I saw jets of light shining from cities and villages, and from the high places and the low places of the earth. God's word was obeyed, and as a result there were memorials for Him in every city and village. His truth was proclaimed throughout the world” (Ibid, 28.4).

            Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.  Here’s reality:

     “Then this map was removed and another put in its place. On it light was shining from a few places only. The rest of the world was in darkness, with only a glimmer of light here and there. Our Instructor said: "This darkness is the result of men's following their own course. They have cherished hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil. They have made questioning and faultfinding and accusing the chief business of their lives. Their hearts are not right with God. They have hidden their light under a bushel."  (28.4-29.1). 

I spent a good deal of time with my eyes under not quite a bushel of charcoal this week. It is strange to have your eyes open and yet see nothing. Christ said the light of the body is the eye (Luke 11:34). Not because it produces light of it's own, but because it is the channel through which light enters our mind. If our eye focuses always on darkness, we become blind. Focus on Jesus, friends. The Testimony continues:

“If every soldier of Christ had done his duty, if every watchman on the walls of Zion had given the trumpet a certain sound, the world might ere this have heard the message of warning. But the work is years behind. While men have slept, Satan has stolen a march upon us.” (29.2). 

It's time to wake up! Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria and company are giving the trumpet a certain howling sound.[i] Nature obeys her Maker, why will we not? Our problem is a heart problem:

“When our own hearts are right with God, we shall feel an intense desire to do all we can in bringing the light of truth before those who have not heard it. In the great work of warning the world, God has committed to his people a sacred trust. ‘We are laborers together with God.’ ‘As thou hast sent me into the world,’ said Christ, speaking of his disciples, ‘even so have I also sent them into the world.’ In the formation of character, we are to represent the One who gave his life for the world, and if we are alert, we shall see, on the right hand and on the left, opportunities to speak words for the Master” (RH, August 15, 1907 par 12).

One of those opportunities in my life is the security guard at the bakery in town, a thin black man with piercing blue eyes.

“Why are you so happy?” he demanded the first time I went into the shop several months ago. I praise God he saw me happy, for that gave me the chance to tell him why!

“So you’re trying to eat healthy!” He remarked last time I went in a couple weeks ago and he saw me picking out the wholegrain bread. As Christians, we are a spectacle to the world, though to be fair, it is his job to observe as a security guard.

How are things going at the mission?” he asked. I needed to run to catch the bus, but I paused to talk for several minutes. “You know, that’s nice you have a Bible school and all, but what else do you teach? People have to make a living man!”

I explained how the Bible gives practical life lessons on work and we teach mechanics, construction and health classes too.

“Well, I read the Bible sometimes, but I don’t need it. I have life experience.” He challenged.

“My life experience has been that I can’t trust human experience. I need something more solid, more reliable, something with more hope in it. The Bible is all of the above! In Proverbs it says, ‘there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death!’ So we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one!” I countered with a smile. There is probably more I will yet need to say to Mr. Inquisitive. I pray to be attentive and faithful. The quote continues:

“If we neglect these opportunities, the time will come when there will be spoken to us by those we have not warned, words of reproach and bitterness: "You knew of these terrible judgments that were coming. We were associated together, but you did not tell us. Why did you not warn us, that we might have escaped?" May God help us that we may not have upon our garments, because of our neglect, the blood of souls!”  { par.13} 

God help us or we perish.

On the first of this month, after the carnage of hurricane Harvey, the president of the United States of America signed what the Washington Post called “a proclamation…making Sunday September 3 a national day of prayer.”[ii] This is but a portent of the fulfillment of Revelation 13. A few more disasters, another financial crisis — what will it take before the beast with lamb-like horns legislates Sunday as a national day of rest? These are the soberest of times.

According to the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement this year falls on Sabbath, the 30th of this month.[iii] We are living in the antitypical Day of Atonement, and all of God’s professed people are under review. When will my name come before the judgment bar of God? If we do not follow our High Priest Jesus Christ in His work for this time, we will be cut off from His people. If we do not go forth as His ambassadors, we will go forth as His vomit (Rev 3:16). As events in nature and the nations of the world trumpet the warning that God’s final judgments are at the door, I invite you to make these next days a special time of fasting, prayer, and heart-searching. Let us have a week of prayer for the victims suffering in disaster zones, but let us also pray for the billons of victims suffering in the disaster zone of this world. Let us not commit the sin of ceasing to intercede for our rebellious loved ones (1 Sam 15:23). Let us pray for ourselves, that God will eradicate our own rebellion and pride, and let us plead for that heavenly eyesalve, that God may “see the whites of our eyes,” and the white robe of Christ’s righteousness upon us.

I have come to have quite an appreciation for eye ointment this week. Someone brought us a little bottle of special antibiotic formula. I was amazed at the near instant relief. My blurry vision cleared! God has the perfect formula for His people today. It's no secret. Repent, and be converted! Let us cry, not tears for what we suffer, but for what we have made Him suffer, and for the souls who have been swept away in death without warning, without our best efforts to save them – often without any of our efforts at all. God knows, we are only human, yet He has not made us invalids! There is yet grace enough to dare and do. We are responsible for the duties at our doorstep and for the people next door. Let us shirk no longer. Good intentions are not good enough. Too many have already died at the end of even the best intentions.

Let us fast and pray for true love, for a will to work. A few days ago I started learning John 4:34: “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of my Father and to finish his work.” God’s will is to finish the work! We have unfinished business all over the map. That needs to be at least as important to us as the basic necessity of filling our stomach. If we all spent an equivalent amount of time, planning, energy, and resources on spreading the three-angels’ messages that we spend on feeding ourselves, I believe we’d already be around the table in the Kingdom!

            There is a calm eye at the center of the storm that will soon engulf the world. If you will keep the commandments of God “as the apple of your eye,” God will keep you as the apple of His (Prov 7:2, Deut 32:10, Zech 2:8,).

 

[i] By this I don’t mean to say that God sends every storm. He often allows Satan to work destruction through nature. Even still, like the Master He is, God turns Satan’s fiercest assaults in such a way that they unwittingly work out His overarching purpose.

 
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Kody & Lyli Kostenko