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Chapter 1 Seeking and Searching
He never knew who he was." Biff, Willie Loman's son, stood at his father's grave summing up Willie's life.1 In his play, Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller wrote about all those who seek peace, success, and purpose from this world. The gods of money, social significance, and personal recognition will not answer their prayers. Like Willie Loman, many of us have perhaps missed the real reason for life. Many of us have asked ourselves throughout our earthly journey, "Who am I, and why am I here?" No one needs to be tossed around in confusion, grasping at man's attempts to satisfy these questions. Your earthly life is meant to be lived in peace, security, and inner power. You are a unique treasure, filled with special gifts. Life can have order and purpose and be lived in triumph. The goal is to discover how you can live in peace, security, and power. I believe women and men are seeking and longing for a reason for their existence. I believe many have faulty pictures of God in their minds. I believe many are living in bondage to their past. This book was written to encourage these men and women to become a people of God, "The Remnant." It provides an overall look at God and our relationship with Him. It was also written to emphasize the importance of applying the Word and His moral laws to our daily lives. Change is an exciting opportunity for the human race, yet many of us want to cling to whatever we find comfortable. As surely as the sun rises on a new day and the tides of the sea change continually, God has designed you to change. Being too comfortable can stunt us emotionally and spiritually. A personal change for our good can seem uncomfortable, a struggle. We can defeat ourselves before we start, forgetting that He knows we will triumph. Struggles are learning grounds. A parent shared this story with me, and I was immediately reminded of how our loving God leads His beloved child: "Why do we have to do this? It's too hard! Can't we just turn back? My legs hurt; I can't go another step!" All this was pleaded by our 9-year-old Sami on our way to our local mountain, Mount Rose, in September. But once she got to the top, she proudly beamed, "That wasn't so bad; now I feel like I could do anything!" Yeah Sami! She got it. As parents, it's a wonderful thing to watch your children "get it." And we adults are no different. The journey of life is a series of mountaintops and valleys and lots of flatland. And each time we face another challenge, we have options-complain and quit, grumble and inch slowly, or move forward anticipating growth.2 God wants you to know who you are. He never meant for you and me to wander in uncertainty. He has given you a plan of life. Living His way is living in peace, strength, and power. You can know who you are. The Remnant A remnant, according to Webster, is defined as "a small remaining part or number of persons. A last remaining indication of what has been."3 God has promised to preserve a Remnant for Himself. The Word of God shows He is steadfast in His promise. For example: But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a Remnant on earth. (Genesis 45:7) Preserving acts of God have continuously kept the Remnant. The Greek word hupoleimma (Isaiah 10:22-23, Romans 9:27) refers to a Remnant, where the contrast is drawn between the number of Israel as a whole and the number of those who are saved through the Gospel.4 God the Father saved us through the sacrifice of His Son, God Jesus (John 3:16). Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the Remnant will be saved. (Romans 9:27) The term "people of Israel" refers to God's chosen people both then and now. He, through Christ, made it possible for all of us to become a people of Israel. He calls personally to you to be gathered to Him. Throughout the Bible, God speaks of a Remnant people, His Israel. This Remnant can be described as a small remaining number of people throughout the centuries who have their hearts fully committed to Him. These are the children of His promise-the man, woman, or child who receives showers of His blessing (Psalm 68:9); protection under His mighty wing (Psalm 36:7); security, peace, and life forever (John 3:16). Does God call to the Remnant today? Has there been a continuous link throughout the history of mankind, a link called the Remnant? Yes! The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made this promise: For out of Jerusalem will come a Remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (2 Kings 19:31) Who is God, the Lord Almighty? He is the Triune God, called the Holy Trinity, and consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a three-in-one God with unique attributes. For those who struggle in their understanding of the Trinity, these analogies may help clarify this truth:
God the Father as a Root. God the Son as a Branch. God the Holy Spirit as the Fruit.
or this concept:
God the Father being the Sun. God the Son being the Rays. God the Holy Spirit being the Heat.
We live as His people in our world, our Jerusalem. Will you be gathered to Him as a Remnant? This is the plan for you, beloved reader. There is an offer made by the Triune God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is His covenant offer. Taken in covenant relationship, the extended hand of God offers you a life of confident excitement and power-filled purpose. Your life, when fully given to God, is a yielded life. When you live in obedient agreement with His moral laws, you live in covenant relationship. A covenant is a binding or solemn agreement made between two individuals or parties.5 A covenant relationship, offered to you by God, means that both enter into the agreement. His promises are for the person who agrees to live in heart obedience to God. The Covenant God has made great covenant agreements with us as His people. These covenants are found throughout His Word. The Remnant can stand on these promises and believe that God has not made them lightly or only for the ancient times. He does not and will not fail us. The history of mankind is one long lifeline of covenant relationships. The covenant promises God made to Abraham (Genesis 12, 15, 17) and David (2 Samuel 7) were made to them as future promises. As God has kept these promises, we see the generations of the line of Abraham continuing on through the Remnant today. He kept His covenant with David by sending the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, from the line of David, as our eternal King. Consider that God said He made you in His image (Genesis 1:26). It follows, then, that He created you to share in His holiness. Your response to God determines the empowering of your life. Your life, day by day, will be full, enriched, blessed and joy-filled when lived according to God's purpose. Choices apart from God lead to a self-willed life. What meaning does this have to your next 24 hours or to the remaining number of days you will be given on this earth? That question is answered by realizing that when God, through Moses, made a covenant with the people of Moses after they were delivered from Egyptian slavery, it was a two-way agreement. God has said to you, "I will..." He will bring blessings to your life, but your response must be to make and uphold the covenant with Him. God has promised, "...if you obey Me" (Exodus 19:5). How can this be possible? Jeremiah 31:33 affirms just how wonderful, how intimate your God is. "I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people." God has also initiated this New Covenant with you through Jesus Christ, who has made it possible for the moral laws of God to be written on your heart. A heart cry to Him allows the Holy Spirit to change your heart and to open your eyes. Opened hearts and eyes understand God and thirst to know Him. They trust God and want to become covenant keepers. A life process begins as a Remnant relationship is built through the power of the Holy Spirit. God has made a covenant (Remnant) relationship possible. You can relate to God because His grace and His mercy have been poured out by Jesus Christ (John 3:16). God's love is received, and your heart obedience is now through the death of Jesus. You can now be made righteous through an inner transformation. Obedience is a love response to God's love for you. Biblical covenants are understood through the knowledge of the types of royal covenants or treaties executed in the ancient Near East. Following are descriptions of the major covenants found in the Bible:
1. Royal Grant: Examples: God's commitments made to Noah (Genesis 9:8-17), Abraham (Genesis 15:9-21), Phinehas (Numbers 25:10-13), David (2 Samuel 7:5-16), Israel (New Covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34). This is an unconditional covenant given by the King (such as a land grant) for faithfulness, loyalty, and service. Heirs of the recipient benefited as long as they continued in faithfulness, loyalty and service.
2. Suzerain-vassal: Examples: Abraham (Genesis 17), Sinaitic (Exodus 19-24). This defines the relationship between a great king and one of his subject kings. The great king is sovereign. Total loyalty and service (love) is demanded of the vassal. If the vassal is absolutely faithful and loyal, the great king gives him and his realm protection. The relationship is known as lord and servant or father and son. "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession" (Exodus 19:4-5).
3. Parity: This is a solemn agreement between equals. "So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a treaty" (Genesis 21:27). An oath was usually verbal and was officially given with gods called upon to witness the agreement. If the covenant was violated, curses would follow.
Living in covenant relationship with God is made possible for you through the power of the Holy Spirit. God's ways become written on your heart. Zechariah 7:9-10 points out the four tests of a believer's covenant relationship:
1. Administer true justice. 2. Show mercy and compassion to one another. 3. Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the alien or the poor. 4. Do not think evil of each other.
The Remnant believer seeks God to empower his or her heart and actions in order to live in covenant relationship. Why live as a faithful Remnant woman or man? You can rest in His promises to be believed, His promises kept and His promises lived during a life designed for you by the great God Almighty. Promises to a Remnant are given because of God's integrity. "Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise" (Galatians 4:28). In order to believe this, you have to become familiar with the character of God. Otherwise, God is interpreted according to your guesswork or opinion. I have searched to, first, discover who God has said He is. Secondly, I wanted to discover why God has, for thousands of years, remained in relationship with a world that has rebelled and worshipped other gods. Why would a holy God remain in faithful relationship with man after the first rebellion in the Garden of Eden? History, both secular and biblical, depicts man as self-willed and sin-filled. Is God going to be faithful in His love today? Will He endure us much longer? Why? From childhood, I have sought the truth through reliable sources, experts, experiences, and facts. My question persisted, "Why would God put up with the hatred and violence and destruction acted out by mankind?" I began to search both in churches and books for an answer. Biblical records reveal many lives in rebellion against God and a failure to love Him. God, after all, being God, could have easily turned away in anger or disgust and destroyed the earth. I found that man could not answer my questions, except to offer possible explanations of God as each saw Him. Where could I discover His truth? The answer was, and is, to seek God Himself through prayer and revelation in His Word. Racing to the Return Why is it important today for you to understand your relationship with God? I believe we are racing toward the day of the return of Jesus Christ. The Bible has told us, for thousands of years, that this day is coming. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, will return and reign. The Remnant will not be stopped by the coming battle of Armageddon; they will live with Him. The day of the Lord is the time when Christ will be seen and known to you as the victorious Lord of this world: "Shout and be glad....For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the Lord. "Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become My people. I will live among you." (Zechariah 2:10-11) History continues to prove that biblical prophecy is accurate and true. The biblical prophets and apostles spoke to their contemporaries. They speak to you and me today with both warnings and strengthening promises. Jesus Christ's return will permanently change mankind and all life-an exciting, revealing, and powerful event. The Remnant, God's faithful, should be eagerly anticipating this glorious day. God warns, however, that for the unfaithful it will be a day of darkness (Amos 5:18). Millions of people on this earth today are seeking answers to the future in cults, mysticism and psychics. The future has been written, dear reader, by the One who is Truth-God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Time is not measured by a world clock. God's time line and plan for the earth and for you and me has not changed since the Garden or since creation. Throughout the centuries, people have heard that God loves His people and has called them to His kingdom. The Remnant has heard and believed. This kingdom news has been passed down generation after generation, first by accurate oral tradition, then by writings on stone and finally by the holy, revealed, written Word. First-century Remnant believers, those who believed in the life, death, and resurrection of God Jesus Christ, were linked to the early prophets by faith. Believers knew the prophecy was fulfilled, and they spread the truth. "The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Matthew 11:12). Others heard and scoffed at God, and this is still so true today. Bowing down to man-made gods of convenience or power is not new. Others heard and worshipped at the altars of darkness. Others simply ignored God, not bothering to take the time to go to His revealed Word, the place to discover Him for themselves. A gathering of these "others" at the throne of God will be a gathering of those "weeping and gnashing [their] teeth" (Matthew 8:12). Tears will surely stream down the face of the Savior Jesus. He will have to address the multitudes who worshipped themselves. Jesus wept over Jerusalem for the same reason. He knew what they had missed: If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:42)
The price for refusing His offer of life is severe, and at the time of His return, there will be no moment left in which to choose Him. This gathering will be at God's last judgment. All will have been decided before that appearance. Jesus Christ made it clear. They will be "thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12). I am amazed that anyone would reject His offer of a secure and intimate relationship. The Creator of all things and the One whose name is Love and Mercy makes that offer. Why would a man or woman choose not to have Him on his or her side in this lifetime? Could it be that those who reject God simply do not know Him? I have heard many different descriptions about who God is and what God should be. It is as though God is a coloring book picture in the hands of a toddler with a box of crayons, a different image depending on the maturity of the child. The younger the child, the wilder and more distorted the picture, just as those who have little knowledge of the biblical God have drawn a distorted image of Him. It is each person's responsibility to personally know God. Paul's letter to the Philippians prayerfully encouraged them: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11) Finding Him Looking out into the darkness of the night, I could not make out the road ahead. Driving on an unfamiliar road to get to a speaking commitment is never a comfortable experience for me. Wondering what lay ahead, I longed for a little light that would make me feel a bit more safe until a familiar landmark or sign appeared. This is probably a common experience for many others who travel on a desolate road with a dark sky above and no horizon ahead. But then, a glow to the east and a soft light appeared, becoming stronger and more brilliant until at last the sun burst over the mountaintop. Now I could clearly see the desert ahead for forty miles. My surroundings seemed safe now that nothing would suddenly leap out of the darkness. I felt peaceful because I could see the roadway ahead. Dark shadows had become a friendly landscape. This experience is similar to much of life. I need to see where I am going, and I need to have the light to do so. I walked through years of darkness, not knowing I was living a desolate life. Yet, I was longing for the true light. I worked hard to succeed and achieve while gaining an education and became schooled in philosophy, history, and religion. Searching and seeking, my heart was like stone toward any talk of Jesus Christ. A God of love, in a world filled with hatred, war, abuse, and confusion, seemed illogical. One day I finally realized I had been walking in the darkness of a thousand false suns. That day my heart was opened to the true Light of the World, God the Son Jesus Christ. I had been fiercely refusing His light for years. The light did not belong to a religion, a group, or even to the godly pastor speaking that day. I looked into the face of the Greatest Love, beyond human description. At last I could see God. The Word of God I heard in a church became clear that day. The Father's love seemed to fill me beyond description. My heart accepted as fact that Jesus Christ had taken my sin upon Himself. I could be cleansed and could walk into the presence of a welcoming God. The Son Himself had risen, and I would forever be in the radiance of His glory. I was free of the darkness at last! I didn't realize then that the Holy Spirit had been preparing my heart. God had chosen this moment to change my heart. He could hear my call to Him, even though I did not know to whom I was calling. I was found by Him, and I realized that my life apart from Him had been an empty dream. So I asked Jesus to forgive me, and I gave Him my life. Until that time, I had, in my limited thinking, looked at life as a brief span to be lived well and enjoyed before it was over. Was this the plight of man, who I thought was a product of some cosmic accident and evolutionary chance? A poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had been one of my favorites, but only the first stanza had ever captured my attention:
Tell me not in mournful numbers Life is but an empty dream; For the soul is dead that slumbers And things are not what they seem.
However, now I saw the depth of what Longfellow wrote in the next stanza:
Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul.
Having chosen to surrender all to Jesus Christ, I experienced new life. However, I discovered that I had three unrealistic expectations. One, every person who claimed to believe in Jesus Christ would want to live fully for Him and find out as much about Him as they could. Two, I would find that churches that claimed to be Christ-centered would be filled with the radiance of God Himself. Three, the body, the people within a church, would be living in triumphant obedience. The more I learned about the majesty, justice, faithfulness, and forgiveness of God, the more excited I became for everyone to find freedom and victory in Him. This was the answer for the confused and corrupt state of mankind, and it was all so simple. The ancient Greek mathematician and inventor, Archimedes (c. 287-212 B.C.), was puzzled as he sought a solution to one particular problem. He was both wise and persevering. At last, the solution to the problem came to his mind. "Eureka!" he called out, which in English means, "I have found it!" Eureka! This cry was also heard across our nation. Just west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a place called Sutter's Fort, California. In the 1840s a miner discovered gold in a creek owned by Sutter and cried, "Eureka!" This was a howl of delight for new riches found and now personally owned. Eureka! When the American people heard that word, they began a race to the West, and the California Gold Rush was on. There was a promise of new life, with a fortune in gold just waiting to be found. That is how I felt and still feel today about the discovery that new life is available in Jesus Christ. Because God so loves you, He has left true gold in a stream of living water available to you. Eureka! That is how I felt when, by the grace of God, faith was given to me and I believed. In one moment, my life changed completely. According to Ephesians 2:8-9, it was by God's favor toward me that He gave me the gift of knowing He is Truth. Why would anyone choose not to leave everything behind and go for the gold? This golden offer to believe in His Son and to live in covenant relationship has been made by God. But the Living Water, Jesus, is often ignored and His gold remains in the water. What is the present-day condition of man? I wondered if we as a world were simply becoming increasingly dependent upon technology and scientific answers. Have more options led to apathy and/or rejection of the Creator? As a new believer and now as a believer of over twenty years, I agree with the simple fact that the Word of God is the most unchanged and historically true document since recorded history. The first time I heard this, I could not believe my ears. Surely, the high school and college history and science professors had not left out such an important fact. But yes, they had, and I had accepted for twenty-nine years that the Bible was simply an invention of a group of men with a cause. How many times I still encounter family and friends and strangers who believe the same thing. I know now this is a common tactic of Satan. The counsel of God in Psalm 146:3-4 is wise. Do not put your life in the hands of false experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don't have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them. Instead, put your hope in God and know the real blessing.6 So much of my own searching for truth, sorting out relationships and striving for success during my years as an unbeliever had been in vain. How I had needed to listen to the tender voice of our mighty God speaking, "Priscilla, 'Be still, and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10)." Beloved reader, have you been still? Have you listened with an open heart to the Holy Spirit? Do you know without reservation that HE IS GOD?
1. Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), p. 138. 2. K. Baldock, NV, 1996. Used with permission. 3. D. Guralink, ed., Webster's New World Dictionary (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), p. 1202. 4. W. E. Vine, Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1981), p. 276. 5. Guralink, Webster's New World Dictionary, p. 326. 6. Eugene Peterson, The Message (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1995), p. 856.