Between The Testaments
To Make Ready A People
Pr Edi Giudetti
Preparation; when it comes to celebrating an event with a cake, there is preparation involved. As for the cake, the first step in preparation is deciding what sort of cake you want to make, having a vision formed in your mind to create the perfect cake suitable for the event.
The next step in preparing the cake requires a time of planning; consideration of ingredients, quantity, cost, what is available at hand and what needs to be purchased and from where.
But even then you need to think about cost, will you have enough money to finish what you started.
Neither of these steps of preparation are filled with much physical activity most of it is formed first in the mind. Someone does not need to see evidence of preparation on the outside to trust that it is happening.
The acts of preparation are begun when what you have determined to do, and you act in time to do it.
This next form of preparation is filled with activity, the recipe is being studied, the list is being drawn up, the cost is being counted and the shopping for ingredients is being done.
But the cake is still only in the mind.
Once you have gathered all the elements you can begin the work of creating the cake in sequence. Step one, step two, step three etc.
The cake is not a cake until its creation is complete.
This does not just apply to cakes;
Building a home takes preparation and the steps are no different.
Building a bridge
Building a car
Building a garden
Building a career
Building a relationship
- Family ….yes building relationships requires preparation in just the same way as building a cake.
It’s interesting that everything but relationships seems to be recognised as needing preparation, yet the only thing that truly makes us happy or sad, the only thing that is truly worthwhile, relationships, we spend so little time thinking about.
Yet it’s just that, which God places first and foremost in preparing and building, relationship.
And the Lord works all his effort in time and history to prepare and foster a relationship with his people and with you. Its why creation was created.
All that you have gone through in life is designed to prepare you. Now I want you to understand there is a little difference between you preparing a cake and God preparing you.
If you miss an ingredient or a sequence in your preparation, that is your own fault and not the cakes, if the time of rest or of baking is off; it’s not the cakes fault, it’s yours.
When it comes to relationship with you, God has provided all the ingredients necessary to make ready a people, the sequence is perfect and the timing perfect, the oven set at just the right temperature, the heat of life expected to be just right to make ready a people, a person.
It’s funny though, clay is probably the most abundant element on earth, but heat can harden clay and make it impossible to work with, but it melts Gold.
The humble heart is as precious as it is rare, yet it is only this heart that God can turn into something of incredible value.
People were placed in your life at just the right time, events occurring, roads forking, signs to be seen and even the parents you were born to and the country you were born in are preparations for you because the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
But the heart is not revealed until it is tried.
The trying of the heart is to make it ready, to prepare it for eternity, for either eternity.
To make ready a people.
For the people of the Lord, that preparation began in Genesis.
God worked in History to redeem a people for himself to be a witness of him to all the world.
Acts chapter 7 gives to us a summary of the first seventeen books of the Old testament through the eyes and wisdom and speech of the first Christian Martyr in History, Stephen.
My desire is for you to sit back for the next 7 minutes and listen to the preparation of God and the work of God through history for his people and his nation whom he called and saved.
This will take up most all of this first point and you will see its conclusion both the witness of God through history and the stubbornness of those who would not receive his witness.
Set the Scene
Stephen is to give a defence for his life and witness of Christ under the accusations of false witnesses who are witnessing against him in chapter six. The high priest now turning to Stephen.
1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. 4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. 5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. 9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. 14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. 15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. 20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: 21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. 44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
All the ingredients were provided for the people to know their God. The timing of things were perfect, the preparation that God prepared aforetime was ideal, even the temperature of the iron furnace in Egypt was set just right (See Deut 4:20, 1 Kings 8:21, Jer 11:4).
But they would have none of him.
It was not a lack on God’s part, it was always due to hard and rebellious hearts.
Every sermon you hear, both good and bad, test and try your hearts. Even the bad sermons and messages test your discernment to trust only in the words of the Lord.
(1 Cor 11:19) For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
And the good sermons are to both exhort you and encourage you to faith and trust in Christ and to warn you of the wrath to come that you might flee from that destruction.
These messages are not to be vague, but plain, like the “WRONG WAY GO BACK” signs on the freeways.
Hab 2:2 says “…Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”
All things that happen to you are to prepare you, both to find eternal life yourself and to show others the way to eternal life.
Most people are going the WRONG WAY, God prepares their hearts that they may GO BACK.
But incredibly these same efforts of preparation also have a way of hardening the stubborn heart.
The choice is always our own.
The middle of the Old testament is found the five books of wisdom and poetry.
Wedged between the seventeen historical books and the seventeen prophetic books are the five books that reveal to us the heart of God.
Lest we charge God foolishly as a harsh malevolent dictator in the Old testament, the very centre of it gives to us an unadulterated look into his heart.
It also gives us a look into our own journey to his heart.
Beginning with the book of Job the Lord shows to us the need for humility before we come to him aright. Job is not about why the righteous suffer, as so many people think today, if it where one would think the question would be plainly answered but it is not.
Job is given that, no matter how good we think we are, we are to humble ourselves, to justify God and not ourselves, to soften our proud hearts.
Of God it tells us that he and he alone is God. He is the creator and not the creature, he does not answer to us, but we to him.
He teaches us this for our benefit because it is ONLY the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom.
Man’s lack of fear of God will see him in hell, man’s attempt to justify himself will see God judge him according to himself.
Every time we think the answer is in us, we fail and fall. Our hearts gets lifted up in pride, and just as every proud heart, it shall be abased.
We fall and sometimes we fall hard.
Job is given that we might humble our hearts. Remember that Job was the most righteous man on earth at the time of this writing. God said to Satan “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Jb 1:8)
If the most perfect and just man of all the Earth had to humble himself, what of you and I?
In Job, God is revealed as GOD.
PSALMS is a picture of the heart of a redeemed man before God, worshipping in joy and praise and song, but also troubled in heart from persecution and sometimes fear and oftentimes his own sin.
The Psalms are true reasons we worship God; it reveals his love and his grace and his faithfulness and his mercy and his forgiveness and his encouragements and his grace again.
We praise the Lord because he is WHO HE IS and not who we thought he might be.
He is our redeemer and our hope and our joy, he is our salvation and our very lives.
The Psalms are songs of the hearts burden to be with God and reflects his longing to be with us when he will wipe all tears from our eyes and we will ever be with the Lord.
Let all the earth Praise the Lord.
PROVERBS reveal to us all his wisdom to us, in short book. All the philosophical books ever written are confusion and groping in the dark compared to The Proverbs.
Proverbs shows to us the hunger of the new born child of God for the wisdom of God after he has praised his name in song.
It is where we first read that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, a fear we first gained in Job.
ECCLESIATES reveals to us that there is no purpose nor joy nor meaning outside of God.
To the believer, Ecclesiastes is a picture of how fickle our hearts can be in turning from the living God back into the things of the world.
Gaining wisdom, we now think that leaving our first love and trying to find him in the world is a purposeful undertaking. But it is nothing but Vanity and Vexation of spirit.
Ecclesiastes shows us that God knows our hearts ahead of time; and through Solomon, the man who had all the means and wisdom and power to attain contentment by worldly lusts, concludes at the end of his wasteful journey;
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Eccl 12:13)
SONG OF SOLOMON shows how it all ends, this walk of faith. It shows both the Bride and the Bridegroom joined in love once and for all.
It reveals the affection of God and his Church, the sacrifice of Christ for his Church and the pursuing of his Church for Christ.
Song of Solomon is the true and only “happiness ever after”
The first point for us was HISTORY, the preparation of our lives through the events in our lives. The first seventeen books of the Bible.
The second point is the preparation of our HEARTS through the needlepoint of
- humility at first;
- Praise and Song second;
- knowledge third;
- an understanding of natural timidity fourth;
- And lastly, the heart of God eternally entwined with the heart of his purchased possession.
The third and last point is Preparation through HERITAGE, that which is promised.
So the preparation through HISTORY, dealing with us as people
The preparation through the HEART, dealing with our position in Christ
The preparation of HERITAGE, dealing with promise of inheritance, that which is our HOPE.
The last seventeen books close the Old testament and therein the entire Bible for the Jews. Israel does not recognise the new testament as part of the Bible and sometimes we forget that.
This is so incredibly sad because the last seventeen books of the Bible are all prophetic and deal partly with that which was to come and was fulfilled in the history of the first seventeen books, but it is mostly dealing with that which was to be fulfilled after.
The Old Testament, and thereby the Bible for the Jews, Ends with promises unfulfilled.
The promise of a redeemer not yet come
The promise of a Land not yet given
The promise of a regathering not yet attended
The promise of the destruction of the wicked not yet accomplished
The promise of a King not yet reigning
The promise of the end of sin and iniquity evidently not yet performed.
In effect, the end of the Heritage of the Prophets is an end filled with “Not Yet’s”.
Turn to Luke 2:25
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
The nation still had faith that the Lord would fulfil his promises, even though four hundred years have passed.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
To this individual a peculiar promise was made, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
So long was the wait for the people of Israel.
But as they waited, God prepared.
Those four hundred years were anything but silent years. These were the years that revealed through history, God working to fulfil his promises.
Suddenly the Books of Isaiah and Daniel and Zechariah came alive during those years.
And if you believed Gods words and where watching carefully what was happening around you, (as you should be watching today,) and you expected that God would truly bring all things to pass that he said he would bring to pass, you would be given eyes to see all the historical events unfold before your very eyes, even as you considered the times.
When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matt 16:2-3)
When you ever hear that phrase “the signs of the times” know what it is referring to and where the saying came from.
If you were a Jew and believed the Old testament and knew the clear historical prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel you would have known;
- There would be a commandment Given by a man named Cyrus to restore and to build Jerusalem.
- That there would be trouble is so doing under the reign of the Persians
- The reign of the Persians would come to an end.
- The Persians would be thoroughly defeated by a mighty King from the Kingdom of Greece.
- That King would die with no descendants
- The empire of that King would be given to four generals.
- Two of those Generals would fight for the entire kingdom
- One will succeed at first, but it will be taken from him by the other.
- An evil king will rise and defile the nation of Israel and its temple.
- And you would also have known of a forth empire that would come to vanquish the Greeks. A Great and terrible empire that will only finally be defeated when the King of Kings comes. An empire that will change somewhat at its end, being partly strong and partly broken.
- But most importantly, you would have known that from the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem there would be 483 years exactly until the coming of messiah.
- But just before that happens, you would also know that there will stand up a man in the spirit of Elijah who will prepare the hearts of the people, who will prepare the way,
- He would be a voice crying in the wilderness
- and there he would make a highway to their God
Though sometimes there seems to be nothing of God done or being prepared, no word, no prophecy, no open vision, even Silent years; don’t assume nothing is being done or prepared, God is working.
He is preparing and making ready a people to receive the coming of the Just One.
In your life God already prepared your way, he prepared your heart, he made clear that which would come to pass and if your eyes were open, you would see all the work he has done and is still doing in your life.
He does not want to observe the lying vanities of the world, but to trust him.
Be careful you don’t miss it.
Turn to Luke 1:5-17
This passage gives to us an historical account of the birth of that man that will prepare the way.
Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, has before him the angel Gabriel who tells him he will father a son who will be that man Crying in the wilderness. A man that should have been expected to come before messiah to prepare a people for the Lord.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Turn to Galatians 4
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
The historical time between the testaments were times of preparation.
The Greeks made a universal language prevalent in the empire and the New Testament was written in that language.
The Romans, that fourth empire Daniel refers to, was a great empire which later came and created great peace and made roads, safe roads.
The Gospel and the new Testament finally had a way and a language to bring the word of the Lord in the quickest possible time to all the Earth and the world was Changed.
Don’t underestimate the preparation that God is doing in the world today and your lives to prepare YOU for the world TOMORROW.
YOU ARE HERE FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS, there are no accidents in Gods will.
The Jews lived in a time Between the Testaments.
We live in a time between the ages.
This is the Church Age, it ends when the Church is “caught up” to ever be with the Lord.
Judgement of the world and the Millennial rule of Christ will shortly follow.
Much is spoken of respecting the signs of the Times, watch how history is unfolding and get excited as you see the word of God come alive.
The Lord is preparing a time that he will come.
The Lord is preparing you for such a time.
Be found watching
Be found waiting
Be found living for him.