God's Strange Work
by Tom Stewart
January 5, 2000
Generally, the concept of God's judgment of man's sin is difficult
for man to comprehend; but, the LORD "repayeth
them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that
hateth Him, He will repay him to his face" (Deuteronomy
7:10). A prime example of this concept is the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before
the LORD exceedingly" (Genesis 13:13). Obviously, Sodom
and Gomorrah failed their probationary period with the LORD-- having been given a
chance-- they were finally judged. "24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom
and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of Heaven; 25
And He overthrew those cities, and all the
plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground" (19:24-25).
It is a more agreeable thought that God should fight for His people, as when David was promised the victory over the Philistines at Baalperazim. "For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim [or, Baalperazim], He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act" (Isaiah 28:21). Though the LORD enabled David to smite the host of the Philistines from Mount Perazim to the Valley of Gibeon; here, instead, the LORD promised through the prophecy of Isaiah to do a "strange work" and "strange act" by fighting against His people Israel! "Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!" (Isaiah 28:1). Ephraim represented the drunkenness and sin of the Ten Tribes of Israel, that had "erred through wine, and through strong drink"-- the "priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment" (28:7).
Judah, as well, had also rebelled in heart against Jehovah, seeking refuge from the Assyrian scourge through the assistance of Egypt, and not from the LORD. "Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves" (Isaiah 28:15). Now, instead of fighting against the enemies of His Chosen People, the LORD was promising to do the previously unknown, unfamiliar, and "strange work" (28:21) of fighting against His Own People in judgment for their sins. How like today is God's promise of doing "His work, His strange work; and bring[ing] to pass His act, His strange act" (Isaiah 28:21) in judging His Wayward Church! "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?" (1Peter 4:17).
How oblivious is the Professed Church to its own worldliness and sin, not recognizing the nearness and certainty of God's judgment! "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1Corinthians 11:31). We have become too familiar with the ritual of sinning to recoil in horror at the offense and transgression against a Holy and Loving Father. "Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy Law, even by departing, that they might not obey Thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him" (Daniel 9:11). Because we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into expecting that we cannot help but find ourselves sinning against God, we have given the Almighty every cause to have to judge and chasten us. "30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep... 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the LORD, that we should not be condemned with the world" (1Corinthians 11:30, 32). [Please, see our article, "Must We Then Sin?" ---New Window, for "A Clarification of What is Sin, Why We Sin, and How Not to Sin".]
As much as the soon return of the LORD Jesus Christ is a Sanctifying Hope for the Saints, i.e., "2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (1John 3:2-3), the necessity that the LORD must perform the "strange work" (Isaiah 28:21) of judging His Wayward People, no doubt will be the reason that many will miss the Pre-Tribulational Rapture. "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). And, since our Worthiness "to escape" (21:36) is entirely dependent upon our leaning in faith upon the Worthiness of our LORD, i.e., whose "righteousness is of Me, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 54:17), then our lack of a "faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6) indicates that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that we can be accounted righteous by a faith that does not work. "21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God" (James 2:21-23).
God must purify unto Himself a holy people. "Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1Peter 1:16). And, since a prime reason for the upcoming Tribulation Week is to "make an end of sins" (Daniel 9:24), then what sins we do not judge ourselves for through the introspection of the Holy Spirit-- "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9)-- we will remain here until we get it right, as He performs "His strange work" (Isaiah 28:21) of judgment upon us.
May the Spirit of Christ make a quick but thorough work in us of repentance, faith, and holiness, that we "may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass" (Luke 21:36), "according to the Power that worketh in us" (Ephesians 3:20).
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