Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Hananiah, Mis...
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) (1863 painting by Simeon Solomon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is easy to avoid suffering, if you are not called of God. Simply join yourself to almost any of the churches in America and embrace their false concepts of God. Then when problems enter your life you can blame the devil, curse your fellow man, seek human solace, and run from spiritual maturity.

Among the protectionist tools of Organized Christianity are the Gospel of Prosperity, Free Moral Agency, and the Rapture. These phantasms of the carnal mind are devices created and sold by the modern church as charms against suffering. But success in avoiding suffering is success in preserving your own state of spiritual death. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness. Without “crisis,” there can be no “way of knowing” God. Without travail, there can be no birth. Without a birth, you cannot become a Son. If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

 Organized Christianity offers you the comforts of self-protection, but the price is a continued existence in your present state of carnal minded death. When affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. The erroneous doctrines of Organized Christianity are not new. They are the doctrines displayed by Job’s four friends. During Job’s suffering he correctly analyzed the personality of God. Job asserted that his calamity and suffering had come directly from the hand of God. But Job’s friends did not correctly assess God’s character, methods, or purpose. My servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.

Job’s friends accused and ridiculed him. I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.They could not believe that God is responsible for suffering. Their spiritual concepts were juvenile. They were ignorant of God’s purpose and plan. Instead of pursuing their own spiritual sight, they could only weave doctrines of spiritual death, to salve the blindness of their eyes.

  Job’s friends made three fundamental mistakes in their assessment of God.

Mistake #1:     Job’s friends believed that God would not bring suffering upon a righteous person.Eliphaz:      Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent?

Bildad:        Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? … Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers.

Zophar:      This is the portion of a wicked man from God.

Elihu:          He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.

This position is incorrect, for Job was a paragon of virtue. There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.Job’s suffering did not result from any unseen evil in his life; he knew that he was righteous. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. Job’s friends knew nothing of this sinless suffering. They had never experienced it, and their concept of God was too limited to understand it. Like modern Christianity, they could only deny God’s sovereignty over good & evil, and scoff at those who were actually living-out the divine plan of God. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

 After you suffer for evil unto good, then like Job, you must suffer for good unto life. An upright life of virtue and good works will qualify some mortals to suffer for the maturity of Sonship. He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.

Mistake #2:     Job’s friends believed that suffering was the evidence of sin. Eliphaz: They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.

Bildad:        The light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. … For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.

Zophar:      Know that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.

Elihu:          If they [kings] be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction; then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.

This position is incorrect. Suffering is not the evidence of sin; it is the proof of God’s love. It is the evidence that God is working in those processed by it. Suffering, judgment, or retribution for error, is not an automatic occurrence for anyone; it occurs only by the divine selection of God. Those abandoned by God are very likely to have a lovely, peaceful life. They [the wicked] are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. The wicked will suffer only if God desires their repentance. So also, those who are righteous will suffer, only when God desires to complete their maturity into Sonship. For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

All the sufferings of earth will one day be seen as the personal working of God. Suffering is not the evidence of sin; it is a divine treasure. It is the proof that God has chosen you for a greater revelation. Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Mistake #3:     Job’s friends believed that the blessing of God is earthly prosperity. Eliphaz:      The Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver.

Bildad:        Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.

Zophar:      Thou shalt forget thy misery, … thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. … Thou shalt take thy rest in safety. Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid.

Elihu:          If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.

This position is incorrect, for the blessing of God is not earthly prosperity. Rather, it is an inner fire of revelation; it is a personal knowledge of God; it is spiritual maturity, and a place in the first resurrection. These things can be obtained by those who are either rich or poor. Earthly prosperity, or the lack thereof, is meaningless. Those who crave the wealth of this world do not know God, nor his plan for mankind. Men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness. Like the Israelites in Babylon, these are they who worship the golden image. Using the doctrines of Organized Christianity they accept the safety of idolatry, in their attempt to avoid the burning fiery furnace.

But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were righteous and cared nothing for the wealth of this world. This qualified them for suffering, direct from the hand of God. These three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. By this suffering they came to see God, and to know him personally. Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

In the furnace of God you will finally see him face to face. There you will enter his realm, and be loosed from your bonds. This is the greatest blessing of God, and far greater than the pathetic treasures of mortals.  No doubt Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all went to the same church, for they elucidate the common teachings of Organized Christianity. These have come to God in a relationship of “Salvation,” based on “hearing.” They have suffered for the riddance of “evil,” but retain their addiction to earthly “good.” They have never suffered for righteousness, and know nothing of it. They cannot perceive the existence of the “seeing” realm of Sonship. Being bound to the created realm, these worship a puny God of carnal good, who is their slave to bring them riches.  Those who are called to be an Overcomer of the Flesh, will suffer through the hellish nightmares of Gethsemane, while the rest of humanity sleeps. Those in Nominal Christianity must await their turn. And until that time, they are free to employ their doctrinal fables for their comfort and peace. Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

 Suffering is the forge of God. There his firstborn Sons are heated, hammered, and fashioned into the mettle of Christ. Jesus Christ and all his brothers have been prepared by suffering. It is the foundry of life.

When Job experienced this he cried out for his own destruction, for death seemed preferable to the continued pain that had become his daily bread. Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! But God had in mind only the blessing of Job, and an eternal award of life and wisdom. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.

 Hagar suffered the terror of a double death, as she was rejected by her husband and also faced the imminent death of her son. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she lift up her voice, and wept. But God had already saved the lad and made him mighty upon the earth. God wanted her to have an experience in suffering, but the outcome was never in doubt. As for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget.

There was a time when Rebekah’s heart was crushed for her sons, when all she valued appeared poised for destruction. And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, what good shall my life do me? But before she had travailed, God had already provided abundantly for her and her children. And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. The sufferings of this earth have been programmed by God. They are not accidental, and the end is always secure.

Joseph was sold as a common slave by his own brothers. Instead of a happy life with his family, he found servitude and prison, and this in spite of his righteous character. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. But this suffering worked into Joseph the character of God. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art.

 It has been said, “the dungeon didn’t need Joseph, Joseph needed the dungeon.” Through suffering, God prepared Joseph to become ruler of all Egypt. Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. Joseph’s experience in suffering filled him with wisdom, blessing, and the character of God. But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

When Moses was young he had every earthly delight. He was set up for a cushy life in Pharaoh’s household. But tranquillity and wealth are not the indicators of Sonship. Moses became qualified to rule, only after he had suffered in a lengthy torment of apparent failure. Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. To Moses, the suffering necessary to bring forth the anointing of Christ was more important than any earthly thing. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

 Moses turned away from the “good” things of Egypt, and casting upon the mercy of God, wandered forty years as a shepherd in the Sinai desert. All his former princely estate, his prestige and past grandeur, he counted as loss. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Daily he fought the tauntings of inadequacy, as he waited for the promise of God. This experience prepared Moses to become the leader of his nation.

When the Israelites were suffering in the wilderness, And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. They believed they would die. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? But God had a different idea. He knew that their suffering was a means to an end. Ye are the sons of the living God. The Israelites expected death, but in reality they had been selected for royalty. Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. So also with you. When you think you have been abandoned by God, when you can take no more, know that you have been selected to rule.

 David knew that his suffering was from God. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off. He lived much of his life in constant fear of death. Truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death. But this is the method that God used to prepare David for eternal greatness. I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

 Elijah had killed the prophets of Baal, but then ran in fear from Jezebel. In despair he wished for death. He requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. But God had something different in mind. He saw Elijah’s suffering as a preparation for glorious immortality.Behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

 King Hezekiah felt impending doom and expected death. I shall not see the LORD, … he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. But this anguish was simply the vehicle of God’s mercy and blessing.I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.

Jonah was confused and depressed unto death. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. But through his suffering, God brought forth victory and saved alive a multitude of people. And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

 

Jeremiah’s life was a living hell. The daily events that framed his world had become sorrowful bitterness. He had good reason to believe that he would be killed at any moment. They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.   But God had a different perspective. He knew that Jeremiah’s pain was just part of the plan. Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. … Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Jeremiah’s suffering prepared him to become a principal ruler of the world. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms.

 Jesus Christ suffered an untimely and undeserved death, when he was thirty-three years old. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. But through this suffering process he was made perfect, and exalted to the throne of God. Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Had Jesus not been slain, he would not have been worthy, and the same goes for you.

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