Faith

In the last days: The posture of the persistent widow

by Joanne Kwok // July 27, 2019, 11:42 pm

Photo courtesy of Burning Hearts.

Eight years ago during a conference held at Kum Yan Methodist Church, a young man responded to a call to bring God day-and-night worship in Singapore. He didn’t fully understand why he felt the urgency to say “yes” nor did he know how to make this happen.

Week after week, he faithfully showed up in the prayer room with a few friends who had come alongside him to fan the flames of the prayer movement. And out of this “weak yes” birthed the Burning Hearts house of prayer, which hosted their fifth annual conference just last weekend. 

Standing before the fully packed worship hall on the final night of the Burning Hearts Conference 2019 — also at Kum Yan Methodist Church – the look on Jason Chua’s face said it all. This would be the seventh year since Burning Hearts started running under his leadership.

“Tonight is my turn to give that same call,” he said.

“As one marked by the Lord, the same charge is going out to all of Southeast Asia to respond to the One who is worthy.” 

Jason Chua speaking on the closing night of the Burning Hearts Conference 2019. All photos courtesy of Burning Hearts.

THE END IS A NEW BEGINNING

Seeing the Church reunited with her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, had since become the deepest ache and longing in his heart. “Some call it the day of His appearing or the day of the Lord.

“I say it’s going to be a good day. A glorious day. A day where God will put an end to death. To Satan. To cancer. To sex trafficking. To poverty. To wickedness on this earth.

“Every form of injustice you can think of, on that day God will eradicate all of it. And forever we will no longer weep; we will be fully fascinated without pain or sorrow. (We will have) an unbroken communion and perpetual fascination with God.”

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved… But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:11-13)

And in order to hasten that day of Christ’s return, there are things we need to do. Instead of passively waiting, we must actively partner Him in the Great Commission, fulfilling His commands and keeping His words in our hearts.

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“A Gospel that doesn’t preach the coming of Jesus is a hopeless Gospel,” Chua declared. “How many of us are satisfied with what we’re getting – through service, cell group, some prayer meeting – and think: ‘The rest of the time is mine. You, God, will bless me and give me a life of comfort.’

“That wasn’t the way God designed His Church to be.”

“But God wants to stir us, not scare us, with a sense of urgency, so that we will not live in a place of passivity.”

God gave an assignment to us, he continued. And he believes that prior to that day, God is raising up the prayer and worship movement on earth to witness to and prepare the earth, as a kingdom of priests would rightly do (1 Peter 2:9).

“The great revival that God is going to release will come hand-in-hand with a time of great crisis,” Chua said, drawing parallels with the early Church, which experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit amid challenge, chaos, persecution and death.

“But God wants to stir us, not scare us, with a sense of urgency, so that we will not live in a place of passivity.”

If it’s the end of the world as we know it, I don’t feel fine

End-time prophecy throughout the Bible, culminating in the book of Revelation, is a preview so we know what to expect and prepare for, Chua explained. “Imagine if God did not show us what the end looked like. It’s His mercy to stir our hearts so that we will search His heart and mind, so that we will know His character.”

When we grow in knowledge of His will, we will stand confident when the things spoken about start happening. We will know His plan does not end with crisis, but with glory.

“It’s called the end times because He’s bringing an end to something,” Chua said, smiling. “An end so that a new beginning can be brought forth.”

THE POSTURE OF WAITING

Jesus, too, dropped hints of what the last days will look like when He was still on earth. In Luke 17, He talks about the coming of the Kingdom.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot – they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all – so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” (Luke 17:26-30)

Chua believes that the chapter right after this, Luke 18, gives us a picture of how we must wait. Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the persistent widow, “to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart”.

“The parable is a prescription to Luke 17, the end days,” Chua said. “When everything seems to be attacking us, crumbling, injustice prevailing … Jesus gave us the solution through Luke 18 – the response the Church has to take in that day.”

In his opinion, those days of coming calamity, as in the days of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah, are within this time of history. And it is in those days that the Church must be like the persistent widow who has been subject to injustice under the laws of unjust rulers.

“In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” (Luke 18:2-5)

Will we offer up day-and-night worship and prayer in our crying out to the Lord, even if it does not make sense to the world around us?

Labouring in the place of prayer day and night may not make sense now because we do not know what is coming.

“In the days of Noah, there was no such thing as rain,” Chua pointed out (Genesis 2:6). “The assignment was to build an ark on dry land. And even though he had no understanding, he just took God at His word and built the ark.

“People thought he was crazy!”

Likewise, labouring in the place of prayer day and night may not make sense now because we do not know what is coming. We must not lose heart.

THE PURPOSE OF PERSISTENCE

1. We are not widows

“If the unrighteous judge will give this woman justice, what more a loving Father who loves justice and righteousness!” Chua said. “And our God sees us as His Bride! We are not widows!”

“And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.” (Luke 18:7-8)

He continued: “We have a husband and Bridegroom who was committed to die on a Cross to seal the promises of the prophets, so that He would have for Himself a radiant Bride fully in love when He returns.”

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2. God is committed to justice

Do we believe that God is not detached from the affairs of this earth?

“God is very aware of every deed, intent, injustice, persecution of the saints,” Chua said. “His eyes are not closed. He’s coming as a mighty man of war who is going to remove wickedness from the earth.”

“Injustice will seem to prevail if we do not have clear understanding of what God is doing at the end of the age.”

Many of us live our lives for the next conference, the next gathering, but are we a people of understanding, who actually know what God is doing on the earth now? 

“We do 24/7 prayer so that we have knowledge of God, know the heart of God for us, His character,” he added. “So that when things happen we will not resist Him but embrace Him.

“Injustice will seem to prevail if we do not have clear understanding of what God is doing at the end of the age. He is committed to giving us justice even if everything around us looks like it’s crumbling.

“We need to have a heart that searches Him out – so we know His heart for us. He will not let us be abused by a king who rages against us. He is determined in His heart to redeem us.

“Do not lose heart.”

Have you lost heart?

3. Jesus is looking for faith

The things that are going to happen will not be comfortable. When Jesus returns, will He find faith in the midst of crisis, injustice and chaos?

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

“Will we be offended or will we be found faithful?” Chua asked the audience. “Who will be like the persistent widow?

“Are there things in your life right now that are worthy of that invitation – that you are intentionally building and faithfully living towards to keep the Word of God?”

Referring to his newborn son, he added, “Is there anything for our next generation to imitate, so that there will be a reality of faith that keeps him standing if Jesus comes back in his days?

“What can I leave behind for my son so that if he ever lives in that dreadful context he would have faith? So that Jesus would find faith in his life amid the shaking and crumbling?”

Whatever faith we build today is not just for ourselves, but the generations to come – that there will be a generation of young men and women who will be found faithful, who know there is a God who is coming to save us.

As he concluded, Chua made a final impassioned plea. “If the Son of Man were to come right now and the world begins to crumble, all the things we put our confidence and security in will be lost. 

“Can you still say: ‘Lord, I trust, I believe in the promises that you will not leave me hanging in this place – I know you will come and deliver’?

“We put so much of our hopes and dreams in an economy that will one day be no more. If we don’t learn from the persistent widow, we may not fully understand – but it will make sense when the day comes.

“If we don’t start now, many will fall. Wrestle with God in the prayer room until we know that His ways are righteous and true. That when He finally comes to bring an end to an era, He will be our God and we will be His people.”

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And finally, he extended an invitation to all who were listening: “For the next few years, I want to invite you on a journey to contend for the knowledge of God, to become a people of understanding so that we can be partners with Him.

“Will there be people who will be faithful witnesses? People who will not be offended when the trials come?

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on this earth? This is an invitation to you.”

As Burning Hearts reaches its 7th year milestone, it is trusting the Lord for a permanent space that will be dedicated to ministry of the Lord. The “100 for 100” campaign will sow into this vision to create and sustain an environment of worship and prayer. To find out how you can support the ministry, visit the 100 for 100 page. 

THINK + TALK

  1. What do you understand of the end-times?
  2. Do you spend time getting to know the heart and character of God?
  3. How can you align yourself to understand God’s ways more?
About the author

Joanne Kwok

Joanne is a bundle of creative energy commonly heard before she is seen. She believes in the triune power of good conversation, brilliant writing and bold ideas. She also likes milo.