Pulpit Today Sermons
“Can You Hear Me Now?
by Robert D Pace
Most people don’t recall Malchus, but he was one of the most recognized persons of Jerusalem in the First Century. He was the personal assistant to Caiaphas, the High Priest, and his chief duty involved listening. He was the “ear” of Caiaphas. Malchus listened to the Roman militia that occupied Jerusalem. He listened to the Pharisees, the Herodians, even the common-folks. And he reported all that was significant back to Caiaphas. It’s strange that you hear nothing of Malchus until John 18:10 where the Bible says, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)” Although his name is parenthesized there’s nothing trivial about this story. Here was Malchus the “listener” tracking Jesus, most likely, for the three years of His public ministry. Imagine what he heard: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; “He that comes after me shall never die”; “He who has seen the Son has seen the Father.” Was Malchus listening? It seems not because he complied with Caiaphas’s scheme to seize Jesus. It was Thursday night of Passover when a mob stormed the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ was being arrested and Peter realized it. So from a torch-lit night, he raised his sword and slashed it through the air. Malchus had suffered its damage and lost his right ear. You can imagine the scene with Malchus in pain and blood drenching his garments. That’s when Jesus calmly bent over, scraped-up Malchus’ ear, and restored it. To everyone’s amazement, the Suspect became the Specialist and Malchus was healed. For a moment the night fell quiet and nobody moved. Now, with nothing hampering communication, Jesus looked into his face, and without words signaled, “Malchus, can you hear Me now”?
We don’t know about the remainder of Malchus’ life. It’s uncertain whether he repented or remained hardened. What we can surmise is this: Some people can draw near Christ, hear His teaching, see His glory, and never accept His Word.
I bring you this message because many Christians today struggle much like Malchus. They have a hearing problem. More specifically, they have a willingness to hear problem. And it regards the Bible’s message to the last generation.
You see, we all have our agenda. We have our vision, goals, and Mission Statement. But the Bible describes the last generation dealing with unprecedented upheaval. It shows the Endtime charged with drama, ferocity, and wrath. And because it conflicts with our agenda we reject it, ignore it, or refuse to investigate it.
I have to admit, God’s action at the Endtime is dreadful. The predictions of the Prophets are ominous! And very truthfully, until recently, I would have never thought my preaching would have involved eschatology and investigating Endtime events. I’d much rather be the “Prophet of Peace and Prosperity” and tell everybody the world will re-correct its course. But that’s not what the Bible expresses. If we shut our eyes to Truth it won’t improve life or cause the future to readjust its course. It only causes us to stumble through the dark!
(Transition) Let’s take a moment to put the Endtime in perspective and read some passages that describe the Last Days and create tension among Christians:
The book of Nahum is but three chapters, but this Prophet scribed some ghastly warnings of the Last Days. Listen to his words in Nahum 1:3: “His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (4) He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. (5) The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. (6) Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.” (Who wants to preach that?)
Let’s continue the Bible’s description of the Endtime. When other Scriptures unveil it they call it a “day of wrath,” a “day of darkness, and a “day of clouds.” The Bible uses words like: gloom, distress, perplexity, fear, and terror. It projects the omens of wars, earthquakes, and cosmic disasters. It shows the appearance of blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.
Isaiah 6:9 says, Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. (10) For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. (11) I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. (12) I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir.”
And the book of Revelation describes mankind being afflicted with boils, plagues, demons, and insufferable misery. Revelation 6:7 summarizes the Endtime by saying: “the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand”?
That’s the message that creates discomfort. But there is a reason for this. After thousands of years of extending grace, God will arise to hold mankind accountable for his rebellion and for rejecting His Word. Thus, He will be forced to appear as the Great Judge.
The only way you can understand the fury of the Endtime is by understanding the nature of God. The character of God is imperative to understanding the Last Days. The Bible describes God as our Father, Shepherd, Savior, and Provider. But it also describes Him as our Judge. While many people cringe at this, a Judge without judgment is nothing more than an advisor. And God is more than an advisor dispensing moral counsel. He is man’s Judge. And the God of Justice cannot excuse sin or dismiss it as a mishap. He can’t simply let sin resign and say, “I’m sorry.”
Sin resulted from a deliberate decision to disobey God. It is responsible for cursing this planet with evil and death. And the God who sentenced His Son to the Cross to remedy sin won’t ignore it or let it escape its punishment. That’s why Acts 17:31 says God “has fixed a day when He will judge the world in righteousness.” Judgment? Yes! Unfair judgment? No! Nobody will be able to stand before God and accuse Him of being unjust. “He will judge the world in righteousness,” and that means His sentence will be without reproach.
It has been 5000 years since Noah’s Flood. During this time God has manifested His patience by sending us Prophets, His Son Jesus Christ, His written Word, and a 2000-year dispensation of grace. Think about that: Paul said, “the grace of God has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). The Prophet Micah says the Lord “delights in mercy” (7:18).
But the Bible says after 5000 years of patience the Lord will arise to demonstrate His judgment against sin. Any sensible person would admit that 5000 years is sufficient time for patience to run its course. This is what the Endtime is about.
Despite the patience of God and the Bible’s precise description of the Endtime, some Christians are dismissive of this message. For example, here’s a quote from a highly visible American preacher that discloses his interpretation of eschatology:
“Bible prophecy has generally been looked upon with doom and gloom—a subject meant to frighten the daylights out of people. And if you grew up in church, at some point you may have heard preaching about the Antichrist and the mark of the beast—a message that sent you home in fear and trembling. This riveting series . . . [doesn’t] deal in doom, gloom and fear because there is no doom, gloom and fear in Bible prophecy. . . . They’ll help dispel the misconceptions and erroneous teachings about the end times, the Antichrist and his satanic assignment.”
(Quote) I have an additional a quote from another widely-recognized prophetic ministry dated March 13, 2014. “We hear all the time about it’s the end of time, it’s the end times, it’s the end of time, and I say to people it’s not the end of time” (Kim Clement). Saints of God, that is irreverently frightening!
My question is this: What is the benefit of rejecting God’s Word regardless of its content or temperament? Would we rather our omniscient God peer into the future and restrain from revealing it? Do people assume life can be improved by overlooking ominous passages? I believe the contrary. I’m convinced we are enriched by accepting whatever Scripture reveals and especially as it relates to apocalyptic warnings!
The Blessing of Privilege
(Prophecy) Some years back, I heard God speak one word into my heart: “Privilege.” As I researched its definition I discovered it meant this: “a right or benefit granted to select people. That’s important! Privilege is given to select people. It offers (1) Advantage, (2) Opportunity, and (3) Immunity. If you’re like me, that’s something I want— advantage, opportunity, and immunity. And we will especially need this in the Last Days! After the Lord spoke that to me I asked Him a question: “Lord, how do we secure privilege”? As I listened for his answer, I sensed one way God dispenses privilege is when Christians make themselves available to hear God’s voice. I’ll illustrate it this way:
(Illustration) The story is told of a person applying for a position with the CIA. On the assigned date, scores of applicants crammed into a government building and awaited their opportunity to interview. Some scribbled notes. Others sent text messages. Others were preoccupied with their mobile devices. Suddenly, a man jumped from his seat and bolted into the office. That’s because a coded message had quietly sounded over the intercom and invited in anyone that could decipher it. The man passed through a closed door and secured the job because he had fine-tuned his hearing.
Now, you can choose which camp you live in: you can live among the preoccupied, distracted, undiscerning, and aimless; or, you can live in the Camp of the listeners! And if you live in the Camp of Listeners, you’ll claim privilege!
Let me reemphasize the blessing of privilege: Privilege is given to select people. It offers (1) advantage, (2) opportunity, and (3) immunity. Advantage means you’ll see and hear what is oblivious to others. Opportunity means you possess the “keys of the Kingdom” that let you pass through locked doors. And Immunity means the sins and mistakes of your past will not prevent you from excelling in the future. That’s divine privilege! And Jesus promised this to His followers.
Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 13:16. “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. (17) For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” This is remarkable because once Jesus appeared, 2000 years ago, Believers were granted privilege to know and discern the mysteries of His Word even unlike the Prophets and Wise Men of the Old Testament! That’s the grace of revelation that Christ brought upon NT believers.
Saints of God, mark this down: God is going to pour forth an abundance of revelation as we enter the Endtime! It’s what the Bible has scripted. Acts 2:17–18 says,
“It shall come to pass in the last days, says the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; (18) even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”
The Bible shows that man’s final hour will include God giving an abundance of visions, dreams, and prophetic revelations. And this supernatural insight will be inseparable to our survival. Again, this is called privilege! And it will make the difference between succumbing or surviving.
(Transition) Since that’s the case, I want to explain how you can receive insight to God’s Word. And it comes by submitting to a unique law of the Kingdom.
The Law of Revelation
God has embedded laws into the universe that govern all areas of life. These laws are incontrovertible. They will either work for us or against us. For example, there is: the Law of Polarity; the Law of Cause and Effect; the Law of Motion; the Law of Reciprocity. And from a Biblical perspective, God has ordained a Law of Revelation. It determines who gets “Inside Information.” This law is as certain as the Law of Gravity. Ultimately, the Law of Revelation discloses that insight to God’s Word is available to some but closed to others. Some can interpret the secrets of His Kingdom and others cannot.
Obviously, Jesus told His disciples that they had access to His secrets. He said in Matthew 13:11, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [unbelievers] it has not been given.” But it goes beyond this because there are deep secrets that some Christians attain that remain hidden to other Christians. Why is this?
The Bible gives us insight as to how the Law of Revelation operates among Christians. And it relates to our posture before God:
The Lord said in Isaiah 66:2, “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my Word.”
Psalm 25:9 says, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”
Isaiah 57:15 says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.”
Besides Jesus, Moses stands as the man of greatest revelation. He conversed face-to-face with God. There’s a reason for Moses’ incredible ability to perceive God’s mysteries. Numbers 12:3 says, “Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”
The people that best discern God’s voice are those that have the props of pride knocked out of their lives. (You have to “slay your ego and your pride.”) Let me show you how this Law of Revelation operated among Christ’s disciples.
Do you know the message that was most difficult for the Apostles to understand? It was Christ’s message of His death on the Cross. Up to His final hours, Jesus tried to explain His mission to suffer and die but the Apostles couldn’t hear it. Peter, with his preconceived ideas about Jesus, jumped up and said “[Lord,] this shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). That’s when Jesus rebuked him with the words: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Notice who understood Christ’s plan to die on the Cross: it was a woman that bowed before Jesus and soaked His feet with tears and anointed them with perfume. It was someone that couldn’t get any lower! The Apostles had gathered around Jesus and perhaps wondered which miracle He would next work to wow the masses; but not this woman. She was saying “Goodbye” to Jesus. She had deciphered His message and was anointing Him for His burial (Matthew 26:6–13).
If you’re going to hear God’s Word for the “hour,” your chief demand is to posture yourself in humility. That’s why the Lord said: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my Word.”
The reason I’m preaching this message is because, as I stated from the start, many Christians have a hearing problem. They can’t bear to hear the Bible’s depiction of the Endtime. Its drama conflicts with their agenda or Mission Statement so they shut their eyes and ears to it.
(Transition) But there is a grave danger when people reject a genuine word-for-the-now. Let me show you what happened in the First Century.
The Danger of Rejecting Truth
Jesus said in John 8:43, “Why do you not understand what I say? [And then He answered His question.] It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.” Christ’s message was too weighty. It conflicted with their agenda and didn’t match their ideology about the Kingdom.
Here’s what the Religious leaders looked for in their Messiah: They wanted Him to be a Warrior that would liberate Israel from Roman occupation and reestablish their Jewish State. They wanted Him to appear as a Lion-like Judge that would devour His enemies. But that’s not how the OT had portrayed the Messiah. He wouldn’t appear as the Lion; He would appear as the Lamb. He would come as the Man of Mercy and Compassion and hang on a Cross. And they rejected Jesus because they wouldn’t relinquish their preconception of the Messiah appearing as a “Lord of Judgment.”
This was a costly mistake because 40 years after the crucifixion, those that rejected Christ experienced the wrath of Rome invade their city, destroy their Temple, and kill a million Jews. Folks, there are consequences to substituting our version of how Scripture should “play out” instead of simply accepting its proclamation.
(Application) Again, this is what some Christians do today. They reject the Bible’s testimony of the Endtime because it doesn’t fit their pet-doctrine or match their agenda. So they invent a more palatable message. It’s a fatal repetition of the First Century religionists. The difference is the process is inversed! Two thousand years ago, Jesus appeared as a gentle Lamb. He came to surrender His life on the Cross. But Christ won’t appear that way to the last generation. As the Apocalypse lifts, Christ will appear as the Lion—a dreadful Lion that will judge those that have rejected His grace.
(Transition) Remember, God’s Word doesn’t need amending. The passages of woe and dread are scribed for a reason. As I said earlier: we are enriched by accepting whatever Scripture reveals and especially as it relates to apocalyptic warnings! Let me show you what I mean.
The Blessing of Hearing & Accepting Truth
Do you realize God has threaded hope, grace, and privilege into the prophetic harbingers of the Endtime? Throughout those foreboding passages that describe the Last Days the Lord has embedded special grace to select Christians. Let me show you what I mean:
You remember Nahum, the fierce Endtime Prophet, whom I quoted a few minutes ago. But after describing wrath and woe he says in Nahum 1:7. “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Now, is that something you want to ignore when times grow dark, or notice?
Malachi 4:1 says: “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.” But thank goodness Malachi didn’t stop writing there. He says in verse 2, “But for you who reverence my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.”
Isaiah 60:2 says this: “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you.”
Notice what Jesus said in Revelation. Here is the book that discloses torment, gloom, peril, pestilence, and dread. And yet, the first chapter opens with these words: “Blessed [privileged] is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” This is the only book in the Bible that invokes a special blessing upon the reader and hearer!
Notice something else about Revelation: Jesus is its author! Verse 1 begins with these words: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” The fiercest book of the Bible is uttered by our compassionate Savior who then pronounces grace and privilege upon those that accept it.
This is why I don’t shrink from preaching the Endtime message. God always offers His people hope! The Lord isn’t trying to dispirit us or create fainthearted Christians when He describes the Endtime. He’s preparing us for what’s coming.
As I conduct Discern the Days Prophecy Conferences I have a byline (motto or slogan) I use: “Imparting Prophetic Insights and Inspiring Hope for the Endtime.” That’s what I’m doing now. I’m presenting the truth of the Endtime along with assuring Believers of their refuge in Christ.
(Illustration) I want to relate a personal story that happened to my wife and I recently. It occurred as Annette left the house and I was alone. I immediately felt unction to “pray in the Spirit.” Within moments of praying Annette phoned back saying: “As I drove away the following words burst from my spirit: “Enshrouded by the supernatural for the daunting journey ahead.” It was evident that God had spoken! Tongues and interpretation came when we were about two miles apart (9/23/13).
This is a “word” for the Endtime: As the days grow darker, the Spirit must grow brighter! We must be “enshrouded [totally encompassed] by the supernatural for the daunting journey ahead.” And the Spirit will grant this. He will supply supernatural power and insight that will deliver us from peril.
As I prepared this message I noticed something. Do you remember the Bible’s record of Christ’s last two public miracles? Christ’s next-to-last miracle occurred on the Road to Jericho when He opened the eyes of Bartimaeus. His last recorded miracle occurred in the Garden when He restored the ear of Malchus. Christ’s last two miracles involved restoring man’s seeing and hearing. Do you think these final miracles are coincidental or providential?
(Insight) God has a “word” for the last generation, but the offended can’t hear it. People that pick up an offense toward the Bible because it contradicts their ideology, theology, or doesn’t fit their agenda become deafened to the truth. This is why we must walk in humility and honor God’s Word. Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have they that love Your Law and nothing shall offend them.” When you maintain unwavering love of God’s Word, it will never offend you regardless of how weighty it is.
I, like many here, would love to see a glorious spiritual awakening descend from Heaven upon the Church. But there is something that must happen before this revival appears. Christians must open their hearts to God’s present-day message before they will experience the glory of God. True revival never appears without the Word claiming its rightful place. “Saints of God, Can you hear Me now?”
Robert D. Pace