Letter to the Brethren – May 9, 2007

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Dear Brethren and Friends:

When you receive this letter, the annual Holy Day of Pentecost will be only about two weeks away. It reminds us of the time when ancient Israel, according to tradition, received from God the two tablets of stone with the Law of the Ten Commandments, and when the New Testament Church collectively received God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to keep the Law. In addition, we reflect on our own individual calling and our receipt of the Holy Spirit, after our conversion and baptism.

Those of us who have been in God’s Church for a long time know from experience that Satan seems to be the busiest right before Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the case, as Satan hates the thought that God will soon end his rule over this earth, by sharing His government and Kingdom with us, who are now begotten of the Spirit, and who will then be born again. As the Passover season symbolizes the beginning, and the Tabernacles season the completion of God’s master plan for human beings, Satan is reminded of his fate, too. He is very angry that God’s people keep those days holy, by celebrating and rejoicing in their destiny and the hope and glory of God’s Kingdom and government over this earth, as well as Satan’s banishment (Romans 16:20).

From reports we have received, pertaining to all of the Church of God organizations, which comprise, collectively, the body of Christ, it appears that Satan has been extraordinarily busy this year, and that his evil activities have continued with full strength since the Passover. While the situation in the world is getting more dangerous, troublesome and explosive almost on a weekly basis, problems have also been facing God’s people, it seems, in an unparalleled way. Sometimes, of course, some of our problems are “self-inflicted,” and other problems will always confront us because we don’t live in God’s world, but Satan’s. We know that Satan will always be busy, walking about like a roaring lion to seek whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8), and we also know the time of our salvation has drawn nearer, by any standard (Romans 13:11). But, as I said, it seems that this year, the enormity and frequency of individual trials and problems lead us to consider an additional possibility: Have we reached the time when Satan “has been cast down… [and] has come down to [us], HAVING GREAT WRATH, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:10, 12)?

We might recall that Satan is a master of bringing upon us disillusionment and discouragement, through trials, temptations and problems. While God allows those difficulties to test us—so that we pass the tests and DON’T sin—Satan tempts us so that we DO sin. In times of serious trials and discouragement, we need to draw close to God, humbling ourselves under God’s mighty hand, and God promises us that Satan will be defeated (James 4:7-8, 10). Christ tells us in Revelation 12:11 that God’s people overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

Remember when ancient Israel kept the very first Passover. The people found protection from God’s angel of death through the blood of the lambs at the doorposts of their houses. This symbolized and foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice of the precious blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. On the first day of Unleavened Bread, at night, Israel left the captivity of Egypt with a high hand and great joy. They followed God’s lead Who showed them the way in a cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. But Pharaoh pursued after them, trying to bring them back as his captives, or to destroy them. When Israel saw the Egyptian army, they became greatly afraid and discouraged. According to tradition, God parted the Red Sea and led them through the divided waters on the last Day of Unleavened Bread, while the Egyptians drowned when they tried it.

Pharaoh symbolizes Satan in this occurrence, and Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea symbolizes water baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). God led the Israelites out of captivity and on to victory over Satan. By following God’s lead, they overcame their enemy.

But the story does not end here. On their way toward the Promised Land, the Israelites were confronted with more problems. First, they only found bitter water in the desert, which they could not drink; later, they could not find any water or meat. They began to murmur and complain against God, while losing all hope that God could save them from, and help them in their troubles. And even though He made the bitter water sweet; even though He gave them water from a rock; “angel’s food” or manna from heaven; and meat from the sky; they still continued to be frustrated and depressed, as well as filled with doubt that God was really with them, or that He could help them in seemingly hopeless situations.

Why did those doubts enter their minds and stay with them, even though they had seen God’s mighty hand time and again? Because Satan was still there! True, Pharaoh had drowned with his army in the Red Sea, but the real power behind Pharaoh, Satan the devil, was still very much alive. He continued to sow doubt, discontent, discouragement, and even outright rebellion among the children of Israel.

God led them to Mount Zion to give them the Ten Commandments—the Law which we are to follow today as well, so that we can LIVE and enter the Promised Land of God’s everlasting Kingdom (Deuteronomy 8:1). Ancient Israel, devoid of the Holy Spirit, could not and would not obey (Romans 8:7). And so, God founded the New Testament Church—spiritual Israel—on the Day of Pentecost, by giving it the Holy Spirit, thereby empowering it to keep the Law. But as Satan was present in ancient Israel’s times, AFTER they had received the LAW, so Satan was present in New Testament times, after the Church had been founded (Acts 5:3). And Satan is present and very active TODAY.

We have followed God’s lead, repented of our sins and left Satan’s captivity (2 Timothy 2:25-26); we have been forgiven of our past sins through the blood of the Lamb; we began to strive overcoming Satan, society and self; we have been baptized and received the Holy Spirit; and we continue to strive in our battles to conquer our spiritual enemies—but as ancient Israel could not obtain victory, apart from God (Deuteronomy 1:42-45), WE cannot, either, UNLESS we use God’s POWER and MIGHT in us to wage that war!

We are NOT fighting against flesh and blood—we have NOTHING to do with the wars of this world, be it in action or in word or even in thought—but we ARE fighting against the spiritual powers of darkness, Satan and his demons (Ephesians 6:10-20).

We see more and more the time of Christ’s return approaching (Hebrews 10:25; Philippians 4:5; James 5:8; Revelation 22:20). And so, our strength, patience and endurance will be tested more and more. God WILL give us victory—every time—when we truly submit to Him and His might—but we will lose out—every time—when we give in to Satan and his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).

We must never be ignorant of what Satan has in mind. When we allow ourselves to become discouraged, we have become victims of Satan—and we must immediately get on our knees to ask God to forgive us and to give us His strength, power, hope, faith and CONVICTION that He will help us and that we CAN and WILL succeed and overcome our enemy. We might not always know what to do, or how victory will be given to us, but we must ALWAYS know that we never NEED to sin or give up—we never NEED to become discouraged and depressed, thinking that everything is hopeless, because the ONE Who is in us—Almighty God—is greater than the one who is in the world—Satan the devil (1 John 4:4).

Let us take the time to review and reflect on the meaning of Pentecost, as revealed in the Bible. And as we know its meaning, so does Satan. We LOVE the fact that the God of powercomfort and hope is our Helper, and that He has given us of His very Spirit, to make us partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). But Satan HATES it. He is angry and full of destructive rage. He WILL try everything in his power to tempt us to give up. He will discourage us from following God, day and night, in the way that our Father wants us to live.

God will never leave us nor forsake us. He WILL show us the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13)—whether we are passing through raging waters or walking through burning flames of fire (Isaiah 43:1-2)—so that we CAN endure whatever test and trial He ALLOWS to come our way. And God IS confident, as He was in the case of Job, that we WILL succeed (Philippians 1:3-6)! But we have to follow His lead. We have to want to succeed. We have to make every effort to succeed (1 Corinthians 9:24). And there is one thing we must NEVER do—become so discouraged that we are willing to give up.

If we do, Satan will have reached his goal of defeating us, and we will have lost. But God wants us to WIN. Don’t you?

In Christian love,

Norbert Link