Keeping Account Of Our Hearts
by: Lonnie Lane
This question came from a gentleman in Barbados, West Indies, in response to an article in which I mentioned that God is not the destroyer, Satan is. He wrote, “We know that God is not ‘the destroyer,’ and that He brings good out of the evil intentions and acts of the ‘evil one,’ but I would like to hear your thoughts on the passage in Isaiah 45:7; where the Lord says, ‘form the light and create darkness, I make peace [national well-being] and I create [physical] evil (calamity); I am the Lord who does all these things’ (Amplified Bible). This might even be the subject for a full article. Thank you in advance for your response.”
Good question. I have often thought of this verse and wondered, as this man has, about it. At this point the way I see it is this: no matter what occurs, God is still the Almighty Sovereign over the universe. He set up the rules from gravity to morality. Nothing happens apart from His oversight. While evil is not resident within Him, knowing that it exists, and even allowing it for His purposes of purifying; in that sense, He “does all things,” even if they are contrary to His character and nature.
Each person in each generation is confronted with the same dilemma and the same choice; whether to trust God and His goodness, and put our entire faith in God alone, or distrust His goodness, and act independently for what we think is our own good; thereby disobeying Him and His Word. The consequences in our lives are determined by our choice(s). I realize that this is a matter of a life time process of repeated choices, and ultimately of coming to know Him. The issue is always the same, whether we know we’re dealing with God in those choices or not; will we do what we feel is right, and moral, and good, or go against our God-given conscience? Admittedly, “good” is often culturally defined, but God knows the motives of each of our hearts; whether to do good as we understand it or to do evil.
There is, of course, a vast chasm between the true God and His true goodness, and the many cultural or religious interpretations of God that misrepresent Him. I believe the Bible tells us there is only one way to eternity in God’s presence, and that is through the atoning blood of Yeshua. However, not everyone gets to hear about, or know Yeshua as born again believers do. Yet Romans one tells us, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being…” (Romans 1:20-23).
Even today, in our civilized world there exists the worship or honor of statues (images) that are considered a valid part of their “Christian” religious practices.” Notice the verse doesn’t say anything about being saved by the blood of Yeshua, which is the only way to true salvation in God. But it does say that God has made a way for every person to somehow relate to God and to be aware of His “eternal power and divine nature.” You have to start somewhere. I confess to you that at one time, from about the wise age eleven, I became an atheist. I saw no reason for God existing until I was in my thirties. (Look what the Lord has done since!) But I had definite ideas of what/who God would be, if indeed there was a God. Every atheist or agnostic does. We all have some idea of God even if we don’t believe He’s there. Obviously, it’s not a correct concept of God or they would believe.
…each person will stand before God and be judged by our deeds.
Believe in God or not, each person will stand before God and be judged by our deeds. While salvation is only through Yeshua, there still seems to be a need for judgment. Judgment isn’t necessarily bad. It can be a dispensing of rewards as well. John reported seeing this when he was taken to heaven: “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds” (Revelation 20:12, 13; my emphases).
One man whom Sid interviewed on a radio program, Richard Sigmund, had been to heaven numerous times (He is there now permanently!). I thought you’d like to hear what Richard had to say: “I was taken to the archives of heaven to a large building. It was miles tall, deep and wide. Inside of this building were layers of shelves. I do not know how tall. Angels were stationed all around these books. I was taken into an archway. I turned to my right and went down an aisle. A large angel was at my shoulder. He held a book that was about 15 feet square and 2 feet thick. It must have weighed tons. He opened 1/3 of the way through the book. It had a picture of me looking at the angel holding the book. I saw in the book what was going on right then. Every thing past, present and future under the blood of Jesus is there! Our thoughts are recorded. I saw another angel, a huge angel. He had a golden book and had it open with a quill-like instrument about 6 feet long in his hand. He was looking and writing, looking and writing. I asked the angel with me, ‘What’s he doing?’ He told me that Angels record all that’s done and said; and even your thoughts are recorded.” Richard went on to say, “It is important to keep a pure mind. The eye is the window of your souls. Thoughts enter your soul through what you are watching or looking at. Guard what you see to guard your spirit, to guard the anointing of God within you.”
Our hearts are greatly affected by what we continually look at, or sometimes even see once. Since God judges us according to deeds, which are motivated by the desires of our hearts, it is our hearts He “reads” while assessing our deeds. A poor example, perhaps, but it makes the point: Someone may steal because their children are hungry and another may steal out of greed. Would God judge each the same? No, not to excuse stealing; but He would judge, it would seem, God being just, on the merit of their motive.
Let’s look at this same issue of the motives of our hearts from a salvation perspective. Stories abound today, if you’re in the right channels to hear of them, that Yeshua has been appearing to millions (yes millions) of Muslims in dreams and visions, who come to salvation through His appearing to them. Add to that the additional millions of Muslims who have come to the Lord through satellite Christian programming beamed into Muslim countries in their native languages. These ministries report they receive thousands of responses from Muslims who have come to the Lord monthly. Why is this happening now?
God sees their hearts and responds to them.
Well, for one thing, the world is in an uproar in many Muslim countries, and “wars and rumors of war” (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7) are everywhere. God has evidently heard the prayers of these thousands of Muslims who, though they have been praying five times a day on their knees to Allah, and not Yeshua or Yahweh; they believe Allah is the true god, despite having no assurance of heaven, or ever having heard his voice, or felt his comfort to them; as we can from Yeshua through His Holy Spirit. God knows they are seeking to obey Him and desire to please who they believe is God. Though they are praying to a false god, God has kept account of their intention to obey Him as they understand Him. Wouldn’t God honor that desire by revealing Himself to them? In the midst of the evil that rages in many Muslim countries, there are souls seeking to hide themselves in God, and wanting no part of the evil around them. God sees their hearts and responds to them.
I believe that’s what happened to Saul (Hebrew: Sh’aul) of Tarsus, a.k.a. Paul the apostle. He may have been trying to do away with the believers in Yeshua, before he met Yeshua himself on the road to Damascus; but his motive was a pure worship of Yahweh. He knew of the great troubles that had come upon Israel when they worshipped false gods, and it was his heart’s deepest desire that it not happen again. Paul was a rabbi who sought to be a Pharisee of the Pharisees; which is to say, to live an exemplary life of holiness in pursuit of God. That’s how he saw it. That was his motive. And though he got it all wrong, and brought much heartache, and fear to the believers out of his ignorance of who Yeshua truly was; once Yeshua arrested him, his entire life was wholly given over to Yeshua, with nothing ever withheld it appears.
Did God see his heart for purity and truth in worshiping God alone, and reward Him with the revelation of Himself? I believe He did. And so He has done so with millions of Muslims, and who knows how many other countless people over the centuries. He is a merciful God and knows when hearts are seeking to know Him. Another group of people who have often desperately sought God, but who heard no answer from Him, are the Jews who were sent to Nazi concentration camps. They experienced horror after horror; and millions went to the gas chambers to die, naked, terrified, and seemingly without God. But God in His infinite mercy did not leave them alone or without salvation.
I was, at one time working for the Messianic Jewish Alliance magazine, and found in the archives in a vault in the basement, issues of the magazine from the 1930’s and 40’s. In at least one of the issues was a stunning article (there may have been more than one) that was written by some man who had lived to tell the story; having been liberated by American soldiers at the end of WWII. It was evidently his job to watch at the door, through the small window, to be sure everyone in the showers-turned-death-chamber was dead. But he reported that he repeatedly saw a man in white walking among the naked people. The picture of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego comes to mind; with the man in white walking among them in the pit of fire; when they came out without a singed mark on them. God is indeed “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)!
God was keeping account of hearts looking to Him…
Were these people who were crying out, “God, where are You?”; with hearts devoid of bitterness, but with the fear of God upon them? Only He knows. This same man reported that approximately ten percent of the Jews in the camps had become believers in Yeshua. That means Jews in the hundreds of thousands accepted Yeshua in the camps. Was this because of what was seen in the gas chambers and told to the others? Or did He reveal Himself in dreams and visions? Or were there perhaps believers, Jews or Gentiles, in the camps who began to share about Yeshua? Never underestimate the wake of telling just one person or a few of the Lord. Expect the seeds of salvation that you sow to reap a vast harvest!! That these people were saved means they are in heaven with Him today. Some of you reading this, or those you may know who are Jewish, may have lost relatives in the war who are now in heaven among the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), who await their relatives’ arrival in heaven to greet them. What a reunion that will be!!
So here in the midst of abject evil, God was keeping account of hearts looking to Him for help, and understanding and bringing salvation to those who, perhaps even silently, cried out to Him in great humility and need. He didn’t create the evil, but He did override the evil in the hearts and spirits of hundreds of thousands of God-honoring Jews. That is not the whole story, of course, but perhaps these stories give us an idea of how God works behind the scenes when evil seems to triumph. Perhaps we will all see the glorious triumph over evil, and see that He has been triumphing all the while evil had been stamping its feet thinking it is winning. It’s not. Evil never wins in the end. It is for us to put our trust in the light in the midst of darkness, should we find ourselves in the midst of it. I realize it’s easy for me to say, sitting here comfortably at my computer, in the safety of my lovely, book-lined office in my home. Perhaps the question our brother asked is one that God prompted to give us cause to consider how we will each respond should we ever find ourselves faced a threat to our “peace [national well-being] and…[physical] evil (calamity)” as this verse states (Isaiah 45: 6:7 AMP).
Where would God be in the midst of it? Looking to see whom to help, whom to rescue, or strengthen, or deliver? Who is looking to Him, for His goodness toward them, even when it looks otherwise? Here’s a good verse to memorize and keep in mind, or even to remind Him of: “The eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9, my emphasis). Make it part of your prayer petitions: “Lord, make my heart completely yours!” Then He will “strongly support” you no matter what is going on. It is once again a matter of the motive of our hearts. We must each keep account of our own hearts: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2011.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.