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Who Will be Left Standing?

Scripture: Exodus 14:10-14, Revelation 6:12-17, Malachi 3:2
Date: 01/01/2000 
What lasts? Who will be left standing at the end? The Bible tells us not everyone will be left standing. A great judgment day is coming. Riches will not keep us from falling. Our health will not last forever. God's word is the only thing that will keep us standing.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

You know, if I was to summarize what it is I want to speak about this morning it would be to focus on and think about what and who is going to really last. What lasts? Who is going to be left standing? And I picked that sermon title because I thought it might serve to help conjure up some images in your mind. If they’re not there maybe I could help paint them for you a little bit. Back in Bible times, or actually after the Bible times a little bit, in the coliseums of Rome they had these sports where they would release the gladiators to battle one another. And sometimes for a little added entertainment and thrill for the spectators they would release wild animals. The gladiators would battle one another and battle the wild beasts. They knew that whoever was left standing was free. The gladiators, of course, were slaves. They were required to fight, fight to the death. But they knew that there was at least a glimmer of hope, that if they could survive the assaults of their fellow gladiators they had been training with and the wild animals that might be released upon them that the emperor or the presiding governor would give them the thumbs up. You know we still use this as a symbol, right? It came from Rome. And he would be released, given his freedom and a reward. And the object was to be the one left standing.

Or maybe you have those images still impressed on your mind from your childhood watching those old cowboy flicks where, you know, Shane marches into the saloon and after a fistfight and a gunfight and when the smoke clears he’s the only one left standing. He hops on his horse and rides off into the sunset. Who will be left standing? You know the Bible tells us that not everyone is going to be left standing. And it asks a very important question at the end of the Bible in Revelation 6:12-17, you can read, but especially notice here where it says, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who is able to stand?” Who is able to stand? Malachi 3:2, I’ve got a lot of scriptures. I can hear your pages rustle and I really like that sound, but you might want to pull your pencil out, too. Malachi 3:2, “Who can endure the day of his coming? and who can stand when he appears? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and a launderer’s soap.” The Bible tells us that there is a great judgment day coming. Daniel 12 begins with Michael standing up and then that same chapter closes by God promising Daniel, “Go and sleep, and you will stand in you lot at the end of the days.” It starts with a stand and it ends with a stand.

You know we talk about Custer’s Last Stand. But it really should be called Custer’s Last Fall because he didn’t stand. It was the Indians’ last stand. Standing means that you’re victorious, that you survived, you’re still there. Ephesians 6 tells us that the secret to standing is in being armed for those spiritual battles with the spiritual equipment. I’m going to read verses 11, 13 and 14. “Put on the whole armour of God, that you might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Verse 13, “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you might be able to withstand in the evil day, having done all, to stand.”

You know I’d like to see if I can engage you in a little congregational participation here. Why don’t you say the word stand with me. When I tell you. Here we go. Let’s read that verse again in Ephesians 13. But I appreciate you being so willing. “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you might be able to withstand in the evil day, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,” and he goes on and identifies the different implements in the armor of God. There is a storm coming. There is a day of reckoning. Most of the world will be swept away. But there will be some who are left standing. I want to be among those. How about you? I want to be able to stand before the Lord clad in His armor, covered by His blood. Maybe we ought to begin with the process of elimination and talk about what isn’t going to stand.

What isn’t going to last? I think most of you already realize that some things that people are building on make a pretty shabby foundation. Money is not going to last. Proverbs, and I’ve got a few scriptures here for you. Proverbs 11:4, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivers from death.” You will not be able to bribe the judge when Jesus comes. Amen? Proverbs 11:28, “He who trusts in his riches will fall: but the righteous will flourish like foliage.” Proverbs 23:5 and this is just a handful of hundreds of scriptures that explain this principle. “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” And then of course Isaiah, speaking of the day of judgment, says in chapter 2:20, “In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they have made each for themselves to worship, to the moles and the bats; from the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake the earth mightily.”

Speaking of the approaching day of reckoning, Isaiah tells us that people then who have worshipped gold and silver will cast it to the rats and the bats and the moles. Money is not going to last. How about fame, worldly fame? Well we already know. Proverbs 10:7, “The memory of the righteous is blessed: but the name of the wicked will rot.” Psalms 34:16< “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” And of course Daniel 12 tells us that the wicked, their names are covered with everlasting contempt. Instead of fame it’s really infamy. Their names will be erased. How about friends and family? Can we build on that? Will that last? Is that what we are to trust? I’m not saying that money has no place and friends and family have no place, but this must not be our foundation or we will not stand. They don’t last. Job 19:14, “My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.” Mathew 10:36, “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” And Jesus said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” One of the side affects of the gospel is it brings division even into families.

Have you ever considered how many times in the Bible you find stories where a man’s foes were they of his own house? Who was it that committed the first murder? Cain killed his brother. And in the last days we’ll probably see a repeat performance of that. Who caused David the most grief? Was it the Philistines, the Moabites, Edomites and Ammonites? Or was it Saul and Absalom? Those of his own house. Who was it that betrayed Joseph? His brothers. And Jesus, His own friend. And so that should not be where our confidence is. Can we build on the foundation of health? I don’t even need to go there do I? We know that doesn’t last forever. What about physical pleasure? Ecclesiastes 12, here he uses beautiful poetic language to describe the aging process. He says, “They also are afraid of heights, and the terrors of the way, and when the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is a burden, and desire fails: for man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets.” And of course I John 2, “The world is passing away, and the lust of it: but he that does the will of God will abide forever.”

Even physical pleasure does not last. It will not satisfy. Well certainly we can trust the earth, right? The ground we’re standing on must be a dependable foundation. What does the Bible say about that? Isaiah 24:20, “The earth will reel to and fro like a drunkard, and will totter like a hut.” Have you ever been in an earthquake? I’ve been in a few earthquakes, having been born and lived quite a bit here in California. And one in particular was up in the Redwoods. Before I was in an earthquake and I just I almost had like a queasy feeling because I thought, “Boy, I feel like I’m losing my balance.” I looked at the basketball that was sitting on the dining table was rolling around in my house all by itself while I was on the phone. And that was a little different, but there was a sensation I had when we were at a camp meeting up in the Redwoods. Some of you maybe were there. It’s probably over 10 years ago. We had an earthquake. And I looked around the parking lot and all the cars were bouncing on their springs. And I felt the earth roll under my feet. And you know you’re used to the earth being stationary under your feet. It’s very disturbing when the ground you stand on starts to move. And it helps you realize there’s very little in the world, including the world, that you can stand on and depend on. Matthew, or did I already read to you in Isaiah where it says the earth will real to and fro? Matthew 24, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” And maybe this is a good point for us to transition into that which will last. Heaven and earth will pass away, but what will not pass away? The word of God. Isaiah 40:8, now here’s something you can stand on.

Maybe instead of saying stand with me I ought to have you all stomp your right foot. Unless you’re left footed. Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God stands forever.” What is it that’s going to be dependable? God’s word is going to last. Now there are some people that you can know are going to make it. First of all, if you want to stand in the last days you need to be filled with the Spirit. You know we’ve got a vivid story in the book of Judges. One of the battles of Samson. It tells us in chapter 15:14, “When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke.”

Let me give you the background here. This is another case where he was betrayed by his own family and friends. The Philistines were hunting for Samson. They were going to attack all of Judah just because of Samson, all of Israel. And so the people came to him and they said, “Look, you know, you’re causing lot’s of problems for us. We need to turn you in.” “Well, if you promise not to kill me I’ll put myself in your hands.” They said, “No, we’re just going to tie you up and turn you over.” He said, “OK, that’s fair enough.” So they tied him up. They brought him down to this valley. They left him there. They abandoned him. They ran up to the hills where the Danites lived. And the Philistines saw Samson was there defenseless, bound. They shouted the victory. They surrounded him down in the valley of Lehi. You know what Lehi means? Jawbone. You know where that valley got its name? The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and he snapped the ropes just like thread. He looked around wondering, “How am I going to fight these thousands of soldiers that have come to arrest me?” And he saw nothing there but a new jawbone. New because they’re brittle and they break easily when they’re old. This was fresh and very hard. And it sort of has a natural handle and a club in it. You know, you’ve probably fought with jawbones before. And he reached down he picked this thing up. And the Bible tells us that he took off fighting against 1,000 soldiers; 1,000 to one. Found a fresh jawbone. He reached out his hand. He took it. He killed 1,000 men with it.

Now obviously the Bible writers are exaggerating there. You think it is? Boy, I tell you, he must have been moving. He killed 1,000 men with it. I believe it’s true, friends. “And then Samson said, With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps.” Why do you think he said, “heaps upon heaps,”? What do you think the scene looked like when Samson was done with that battle, after being filled with the Spirit of the Lord? He was surrounded with piles of slain Philistines. He was the only one left standing. Even though he was technically defenseless other than the jawbone of a donkey. Why did he remain standing? Why was he the only one left standing? Because he had the Spirit of God. You know it’s hard to make an empty sack stand up. When you fill it it stands a little better. Am I right? If you want to stand in the last days you can’t be an empty sack.

We need to be filled with God’s Spirit. The Bible seems to tell us that there’s going to be a confederacy forged against God’s people. And we’re going to be outnumbered. Yet the promise is we’re still going to stand. That’s why the scriptures are filled with stories like the one in the scripture reading where all the Egyptians came against the children of Israel and they said, “Moses, what are we going to do?” And God said, “Stand still. I’ll fight for you.” Not the only time it happened in the Bible. In II Chronicles 20 you can read verse 17 and verse 21-24. There was a confederacy of the Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites that all came together to annihilate Judah and Israel. King Jehoshaphat was king there of Judea at the time. And it looked like it was hopeless. They were greatly outnumbered. You know who the Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites were? Family. Edomites were the descendants of Esau, the children of Mt. Seir. The Ammonites and the Moabites were the children of Lot. They all had similarities in their religion. They believed in the one God. They practiced circumcision. And they ended up becoming in many respects the most intolerable enemies of the children of Israel. Those closest to them.

You know I sometimes am miffed at the Christians who really think in the last days we need to fear the pagans and the New Age movement and all these things. I don’t, I’m not afraid of that at all. Prophecy tells me; you know who our enemy’s going to be in the last days? Who was it that Christ needed to worry about? He was betrayed to the pagans by His own people. And it’s going to be those who share things in common with us just as surely as the Edomites and Moabites and the Ammonites. The neighbors. I always thought it was interesting that Christ said that we need to love our neighbor. And he also said love your enemy. Could it be because our neighbors are often our enemies? They surrounded them on three sides. And here they forged this alliance. And it looked like it was hopeless and God spoke through a prophet and said to King Jehoshaphat, “You will not need to fight in this battle: position yourselves, stand still,” don’t flee, “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: do not fear, or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord is with you.” “And when they had consulted with the people, he appointed,” to get their SWAT team out in front, is that what he did? “They appointed singers.” Would you go into battle picking the choir to be point man for you? Don likes that. Don I sort of like the idea, too, actually. When that day comes. And it says, “appoint the singers to go out before you, that you should praise the beauty of holiness, and they went out before the army, and they said, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endures forever. And when they began to sing and to praise the Lord, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir,” that’s Edomites. And it begins to elaborate what happened. “Which were come up against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab they stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the,” Edomites, “the inhabitants of mount Seir, every one helped to destroy another. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.”

Now imagine that. Three nations, the armies of three nations gather against the children of Israel. And before they ever get to the battle they self-destruct. They stop trusting each other and pretty soon they’re turning on, the Edomites are turning on the Moabites and the Ammonites on the Edomites and pretty soon in the confusion because they have similarities they forget who’s on whose team. And everybody’s sword is against his neighbor until finally you’ve got the last two battered and scarred battling it out. They stab each other simultaneously and they fall over. I know I’ve got a vivid imagination, but it’s the only way I can picture that they were all down. Nobody was standing. And here the children of Israel come to the battle with their choir and they’ve self-destructed. And all they’ve got to do now, it says they spent several days plundering the army. They took the booty. They got all the loot and all the resources from this army that self-destructed. Have you read in Revelation that something similar is going to transpire in the last days? There is going to be a three-fold alliance brought against God’s people.

You’ve heard about the beast, the dragon and the false prophet? You know those three unclean spirits, I’ve read where there’s going to be an alliance between apostate Protestants and Catholics and Charismatics, Spiritualists that are going to forge together to fight God’s commandment keeping people. Have you read there in Revelation 18 where it says that those who once worshipped the beast are going to make war with the woman? And every man’s sword is going to be against his brother and they’re going to self-destruct. We don’t need to fight that battle. In the last days if you wonder how you’re going to fight you don’t need to worry about that. What is our battle that we need to fight, if we want to stand? Well we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the whole armor of God on. Amen? Turn with me to Psalm 91. I’m going to read the whole Psalm to you. Now I always take a risk, I’ve seen it happen. When you spend a lot of time reading during a sermon people start to phase out. So I want you to all shake yourself or the person next to you. I want you to take this in because this Psalm has a great deal of promise for those of us who want to stand in the last days. The devil used this Psalm against Jesus. Remember he said, “For it is written, He’ll give his angels charge over you so you don’t dash your foot against a stone.” He left out the part, “and keep you in all your ways.”

Now I’m not saying you should memorize it because the devil memorized it. I’m saying that you ought to at least know your Bible as well as he does. Amen? So that he doesn’t misquote it. Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide,” don’t miss that word, “under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him I will trust.” Don’t miss trust. “Surely he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler,” that’s the devil trying to trap us, “and from the perilous pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will take refuge: his truth will be your shield and buckler. You will not be afraid,” not only will you stand, you’ll not be afraid, “of the terror by night; not the arrow that flies by day; nor the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor the destruction that lays waste at noonday.” Don’t miss this, verse 7, “A thousand may fall at your side,” like Samson, “ten thousand at your right hand;” picture that if you will. A thousand at your side, ten thousand at your right hand all fallen, but you’re standing. Well that tells you one thing about the odds in the last days. Jesus never says that it’s going to be the multitude on the road to life, does He? “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life.” You know why? Very few people know what foundation to build on if they’re going to stand. And those that know, very few among those that know are willing to build on that foundation. “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes will you look and see the reward of the wicked.” Why? “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the most High, your habitation; no evil will befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. For he will give his angels charge over you,” how is it that the angels take care of us? “to keep you in your ways.”

Are angels there just to protect us from physical harm? Or does God principally send His angels to keep us in the will and the way of God? “He’ll give his angels charge over you, to keep you in your ways. They’ll bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You’ll tread upon the lion,” what’s a lion a symbol of? The devil goes about like a roaring lion. “You will tread upon the lion and the cobra:” the serpent. Who’s a serpent a symbol of? What does it talk about treading on them? That’s a symbol of having; you’re standing. They’re below you. Am I right? “The young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.” That means when temptation comes, by the grace of God, you can be victorious. Why? “Because he has set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him:” If that’s clear say amen. What is it that’s going to be a prerequisite for standing and deliverance? “Because you set your love upon me.” Wait, I thought love is something that just sort of comes spontaneously, just kind of hits you like the weather—you don’t know when. Here it’s making it sound like you are choosing to set your love on somebody. Is love spontaneous or is it a choice? “Because he has set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He will call upon me, and I’ll answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” Now here we’ve just identified who it is that’s going to stand and how they’re going to stand. Notice, “He will abide under the shadow of the Lord.” We must abide in Him. They say, “He is my God; I will trust in Him.” He is our refuge, the one we run to because you’ve made the Lord your refuge, the most High your habitation.

We are in Christ. He is our temple that we abide in. And it says, “He set our love upon him, and we know his name.” The last thing it says is that we know Him. What will Christ declare to the lost? “I don’t know you and you don’t know me. We don’t know each other.” What is a prerequisite to standing in the last days? We need to know Him. Not just know Him. It says we know His name. You know there’s power in the name of the Lord. Do you utilize that power? Do you pray in His name? They have known the name of the Lord. You know I believe it’s those who have the word of God that will also be left standing. Let me take you to another Old Testament battle in the Bible. This is a very short battle, but we have enough information about it that it gives us a very vivid picture of something unusual. The Bible itemizes the mighty men of David. You ever read through that list of the mighty men of David and their exploits? And in I Chronicles 11 and II Samuel 23 it tells about one of the three great mighty men of David. His name was Eleazar. That’s a noble name. He was the son of Dodo. I can’t help that. That’s just what it says. But Eleazar was one of the three mighty men. And it says here in, let me start with II Samuel 23:9-10, “And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated: he arose, and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword:” “clave,” it means he would not let go of his sword. “and the Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder.” Now at first glance you picture Eleazar standing alone in the barley field fighting, swinging his sword on every side until pretty soon he’s defeated all those that would dare to attack him. And the troops, everyone retreated and left him alone, but he would not retreat. You know what that means? He took a stand when everyone else retreated. Let me read the second passage, the parallel passage.

I want you to notice in I Chronicles 11:12, “After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. He was with David at Pasdammim, now there Philistines had gathered there for battle, and there was a piece of ground full of barley; and the people fled from the Philistines.” They retreated. They chickened out. They ran. They did not stand. “But they,” it doesn’t say, “Eleazar,” it says “they.” You know who it is? It says, “he was with David.” Here’s David and Eleazar back to back they station themselves. What do you think that means? You know how that translates? They took a stand. All the men retreated and here they’re engaged in this battle and they’re surrounded on every side and they’re back to back fighting with their swords until pretty soon there are no attackers left. They’re surrounded like Samson with dead bodies and they’re the only ones left standing. I think it’s significant that it says that they “clave to their sword.” You know we’re living in a day now where a lot of God’s people are retreating before the enemy. They look in the Bible and they say, “Come on now, we’re educated. We can’t take these things seriously. We shouldn’t be too literal about that. And you’re going to look like a fool if you follow Christ and take all these statements and these commands and follow these standards. You’re going to look like you’re eccentric or a fanatic.”

You may find a day coming where you stand alone. Will you still stand? You know where the word standards comes from? It means you stand for something. And I’ve got news for you, friends, as we approach the last days if you don’t stand for something you’re going to fall for anything. You’ll retreat. But God’s people they planted themselves in a barley field. What is grain a symbol of in the Bible? The word of God, the bread that came down from heaven. They put their lives on the line to defend a plot of grain, a barley field. And they clung to their swords. What’s a sword a symbol of scripturally? “Word of God is like a two-edged sword,” Hebrews 4. Revelation Christ is seen with a sword, a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth. What are the two edges? The two witnesses, the law and the prophets, the word of God, the New and the Old Testaments are the two witnesses. And here because they took a stand in that barley field and they clave to their swords they were left standing. God fought for them just as truly as He fought for Samson and He fought for Jehoshaphat and the others. And He will fight for us. You know there’s a statement in the Bible that says, “Those that honor me I will honor.” And if we stand up for God’s word and the truth, even though it’s not popular, and I’ve got news for you—there are some elements of the truth that may be acceptable today that will become increasingly unpopular as time goes by. You need to really decide if you’re going to retreat with everybody else or if you’re going to stand fighting back to back with Jesus the son of David. He will not ever leave you or forsake you.

There are some other elements that deal with what’s going to last and what’s going to stand. Of course you know God will stand forever. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” Of course that’s Psalms 90:2. Proverbs 22:29 tells us if we’re faithful in the details of life we will stand. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He will stand before kings.” The Bible tells us that God’s people who are faithful will give their testimony before kings and rulers. II Corinthians 1:24, “For by faith you stand.” How do we stand in the last days? By works? By faith. How could anybody fight 1,000 people? Is it their physical prowess that enables them to do that? Anybody that goes into a battle like that where the odds are so much against them they’ve got to do it by faith; or presumption, right? Let’s hope that it’s by faith. “For by faith you stand.” That’s II Corinthians 1:24. I Corinthians 16:13-14, “Watch, and stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” How do we stand fast in the faith? Be brave, be strong. And that doesn’t mean you drive around without your seatbelt to show that you’re brave. Being brave means being brave enough to face the devil and resist him. To be strong for God. And then he goes on and he says, “Let all that you do be done with love.” Why? I Corinthians 13, who’s going to be left standing? “Love never fails.”

Would you think that I’m being dishonest with the scripture if I said love never falls? Love never fails. I Peter 5:12, “This is the true grace of God in which you stand.” Well we’ve learned that we stand in faith and love and we stand in grace. I Thessalonians 3:8, “For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.” All through the Bible; you know matter of fact I typed in my computer the word stand. I was amazed at all the references in the scripture that talked about the importance of standing. Standing firm, standing tall, knowing you have a purpose that you live by and a code that you will die for. Who is it that will not be condemned? You know we started out talking about who is going to stand at His coming. I’d like to direct your attention to Luke 21:36. Who’s going to be left standing? You know that question is asked by Jesus? I hope that you’re not disturbed that I would choose this subject for the new year. Jesus asked this question. He says in Luke 21:36, “Watch therefore, and pray always, that you might be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Who will abide His coming?

You know there’s a wonderful story in the Bible. It only appears in the gospel of John 8. And when you read it in its context it’s evident that there was a trap. The Scribes and Pharisees wanted to find a way to trap Jesus and to use the Roman government to pronounce the death penalty. So there was a girl from Magdala who during the holidays had a cottage business, you could call it, in Jerusalem. Her name was Mary and they knew about her cottage business so they set up a trap. And in the morning they had one of their number who agreed to go in and be a customer. I’m trying to be delicate here. And they barged in, caught them in the very act. The Bible tells us that. Let the man go free because he was an accomplice evidently. It says they caught them. There had to be two, right? Let the man go free and they grabbed Mary. She’s all disheveled and shocked and they drag her through the streets of the city. She maybe figures at first that they’re going to make an example out of her and throw her out the gates. They used to do that. But they did something different. This time instead of taking her and casting her out of the dung gate.

Before the Feast the Scribes and Pharisees would go through this spectacle to try and seem pious and they’d evict one of the local prostitutes. Throw her out the dung gate. Spit on her. Instead they take her to the temple. And they pick up rocks along the way. And they bring her that morning to the temple. And there Jesus is in there. He’s already cast out all of the merchants, the sacrifice salesmen. And I suppose even as they approached the courts of the temple Mary is wondering why all the sacrifice salesmen are out on the outside. And they come into the courtyards and it’s quiet except for the singing of children saying, “Hosanna.” Can you imagine, first of all, being in her predicament?

Side two…situation like that. Brought to the holiest place on earth, the temple of God. And then being thrown at the feet of the holiest individual who’s ever lived. And having those around you point the finger, even though they set you up, point the finger waiting for Christ to pronounce judgment so they could take you out of the city and execute you. I’m sure she was trembling, overwhelmed with both guilt and shame and fear. And they threw her at His feet and then they tried to trap Jesus into saying, “That’s right. The Law of Moses says anyone caught guilty of adultery should be executed.” They said, “Master, according to the law; this is what Moses law says.” And they thought they had Christ trapped because if Jesus said, “No, let her go free. Look how scared she is.” They’d say, “What? You don’t believe the law of Moses?” And the Jews at that time were very zealous of the Law of Moses because the Romans were already encroaching on their religion. And they would incite the mob then to stone Jesus. And if Jesus said, “That’s right. She is guilty and you need to fulfill the law.” They didn’t care about her. They were going to take her out, stone her to death, then run to the Romans and say, “You know this person named Jesus calls himself a king and he’s pronounced a death penalty on somebody.” And then the Romans would execute Christ for taking those prerogatives. They said, “We’ve got Him now. There’s no way out. If He turns to the right we’ve got Him. If He turns to the left we’ve got Him. We’ve got our rocks in hand. We’re going to stone Mary or we’re going to stone Jesus.”

They thought they had a foolproof plan. They underestimated the power of His words. As they pressed their question, “What do you say? What should we do?” He ignored them. He stooped down. He began to sketch in the dust on the marble temple floor as though He did not hear them. He stood up and He said in those immortal words, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” And then He knelt down again and He would not even look at Mary at first. He did not want to shame her any further. And they were bewildered about how to interpret that statement. They thought they had Him trapped. Like the time when they asked Him about, “Should we pay tribute or not?” They thought, “This is a yes or no answer. Either way we’ve got Him.” And He blew them away by saying, “Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar. And unto God what belongs to God.” They didn’t know how to grapple with that answer. While they’re pondering, “How do we deal with this answer?” they suddenly for the first time took note of what He was writing. He was writing out their sins, the laws they had broken. You know there’s only three times recorded in the Bible when God writes.

The Lord wrote His law in flaming letters there in the stone on Mt. Sinai, unchanging. He wrote in flaming letters on the walls of Babylon their impending judgment. But then He wrote the sins in the dust. Aren’t you glad that though God wrote the law in stone He wrote our sin in dust that could be erased? And as He was writing their sins down they recognized their personal sins. Here they were accusing her. You know Paul says, “You who accuse others of adultery, are you guilty?” And they saw themselves. “Beginning at the eldest, even unto the least,” don’t miss that. Have you read there in Ezekiel 9 where it talks about the judgment and it says judgment begins at the house of God? “And begin with the ancient men at the sanctuary.” Where did this judgment of Mary take place? In the temple. Who did it begin with? Beginning at the eldest, the ancient men. “They being convicted,” why the ancient men? The longer you live the longer your record, right? They crawled away one by one. And here’s the part I wanted you to notice. “Then those who heard it,” John 8:9. Who is going to be left standing is my question. John 8:9, “Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman now standing in the midst.” They, her accusers, were all gone and there she is face to face with Jesus, standing, and what does Christ say to her? “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you? She said, No man, Lord.” As if to say, “They have no right, but what about you?” And He says, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.”

How could Mary stand under those circumstances? Because there was an understood communication that Christ took her penalty. I want to go back to something I read a minute ago. Christ said, “Watch, therefore, and pray always that you might be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Notice, Jesus doesn’t say that you will be worthy. He says that you will be counted worthy. Was Mary guilty of sin? But did He count her guilty? He gave her mercy. She stood in grace. This is what Paul was talking about. Who’s going to be left standing? The one’s who love the Lord. The ones who have faith in God. The ones who are standing in grace. The ones who are not afraid to stand alone with Jesus. They’re the ones who are going to be standing. Proverbs 24:16, “For a righteous man may fall seven times, and rise again.” Can you say amen? You know the Bible tells us that Mary fell again after that. Jesus refers to Mary as the one out of whom He passed seven devils. And if you read in the book Desire of Ages it makes it clear it wasn’t that all at one time He cast out seven demons like He cast out legions of demons from the demoniac. Seven different times she fell back into her old patterns and He again forgave her. As often as she repented He genuinely forgave her. “A righteous man may fall seven times.” Do righteous people fall? But we can still stand in the judgment if we’ve got the righteousness of Christ. If we’re not sinning deliberately. Romans 14:4 talking about those that judge others. “Who are you to judge another’s servants? to his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand: for God is able to make him stand.” Do you sometimes wonder, “Lord, how am I going to be able to stand in the last days? I’m not Samson. I’m not Eleazar or David or Jehoshaphat. How can I stand?” You can’t, but God can make you stand. He can give you the strength when you need it.

Someone asked Moody one time if he thought he had enough faith to be tortured for Christ without denying Him. He said, “Not now I don’t, but when that day comes I trust He’ll give me the strength.” “As your day so shall your strength be.” You know I think that there are going to be some trials ahead of us. You know right now we seem to be dwelling in times where the world is celebrating, “Peace, peace.” For me, that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The last thing in the world I want to see is the church becoming complacent during this time when we really ought to have our lamps trimmed. Amen? I remember reading one time about; you ever heard that expression, “Face the music”? You know where that expression comes from? Back in China many years ago there was band that played for the Emperor. And there was this one man who so much wanted to be in the presence of the Emperor, but he couldn’t play an instrument. But he was friends with the conductor and finally he bribed and prevailed upon the conductor to let him sit in the band and just sit in the back and to hold the flute and move his fingers during the music time. Just so he could be sitting there like He’s part of the Palace Choir. And so sure enough years went by where he sat in the third row and he held his little piccolo and he just wiggled his fingers when he thought that it sounded like the others were playing. The conductor died and they got a new conductor and he decided to interview each one of the musicians and to place them in accordance with their skill. Finally when it came time for this phony flautist to be brought before him he said he was sick and he couldn’t come and he kept postponing and making excuses and finally it was demanded that he come and face the music, meaning the sheets of music. And he came and he couldn’t play a note. Of course he was evicted from the choir as a fraud.

There’s going to be a judgment day and we cannot fake our experience to the Lord. We cannot fake our relationship with the Lord. We need to have something genuine. We need to know the song. Amen? You need to be able to sing like the choir of Jehoshaphat the praises of God and know how to stand still in His salvation and watch what God is going to do, to have an experience with the Lord. If we’re going to be able to stand with Him then, friends, we need to be able to stand in faith now, to stand in grace now, to stand in love now, to stand upon the promises, to have standards for which we will stand. Amen? And if it’s your desire to be found standing, to be left standing when Jesus comes, to be counted worthy for Christ’s sake, please reach for your hymnals. We’re going to talk about standing on that solid rock. Number 522 My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less. And of course you know you can’t sing about standing sitting down so let’s stand together as we sing 522.

Verse

You know there’s that wonderful story of Jesus where He tells us that the wise man builds his house upon the rock. It’s not only important to have the right foundation. Paul goes on to tell us that we need the right materials built on the right foundation. Because whatever you build out of will be tried in that day. Will your house stand? You know we heard recently about the earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan and some people went to jail. They were engineers who had deliberately used bad materials to conserve money and line their pockets. They found one building in Taiwan they had used plastic bottles to reinforce the building. And people died. Shabby materials. Friends, I want you to know that it’s not only important that we build on Jesus and the truth, that we build of the materials that He gives us: faith, love, hope, grace. That we take Him at His covenant and we stand believing that by Christ’s blood we can be innocent, we can be counted worthy for His sake. Is that your prayer, friends? Let’s sing about it in verse three.

Verse.

The last verse here talks about Jesus coming, the trumpet sound. I believe that day is very near. I really mean that, friends. There may be some of you here who have wandered from the Lord and you’d like to return right now. There may be some who on investigation realize that your foundation is made of the wrong stuff and today you’d like to begin building on Christ. We want to give you an opportunity to respond to the message today, to come to the front as we sing the last verse. We want to have special prayer for you. Come if the Lord is speaking to your heart as we sing verse four.

Verse.

If there’s anyone else before I pray and the Spirit is speaking to your heart, you want to be able to experience what’s reflected in the words of this hymn, faultless to stand before His throne, covered by the blood of the Lamb, come. We want to pray with you.

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