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CENTRIFUGAL FROM HIMSELF,
CENTRED IN CHRIST
STEPHEN'S FLAMING SPEECH
AND PETITION FOR PARDON FOR HIS PERSECUTORS
You have heard of the case when GREEK MEETS GREEK! Here it is Jew meets Jew, Stephen in speech contravening the lawyers, overturning the doubters, exposing the controversialists who refused the clear testimony of their eyes and ears (Matthew 13:13ff., John 14:11, 10:32). With him, however, it was no mere native wit which supported Him, but the God of Jacob, who gave to His people their tests and their testimony, the spiritual depth from which they so often but not always turned and the understanding which though often aborted by folly, shone forth in times past in king and prophet, again and again.
It was the testimony of a man FULL OF FAITH, that they now met, filled with the Spirit of the God who had instituted Israel which executed His Messiah, the recalcitrants who had their own methods of extinguishing zealots, as did so many kings and Emperors, popes and others who betrayed the Christ who REFUSED violence as a mode of imparting or sustaining the faith (John 18:36), and came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. As they did, alas, so their nation was to receive. While this brought calamity on many who were so seduced into religious violence, nothing whatever to do with Christianity though much to do with many who even dared to use Christ's name while violating His commands, as they received from man what they gave to the Messiah of God, it was not only in this way that the course went.
One of their own race, their own vast past, one brought to the Lord in faith, it was he whom they despatched now in the very shadow of the Mountain of Christ, Jew against Jew, where however the spiritual realities entirely overshadowed the intra-racial death show.
This deacon of the early Church, having been charged with asserting that Jesus would destroy the temple, with changing the customs given by Moses, and not ceasing from speaking blasphemies, was now to answer. That was the tableau.
In his answer, he resolved, it seems, or was led rather, to survey the scene to see where MOSES fitted in, and where those who 'followed' him had their place, and where the Lord related to these relationships, and to show them from their own history. He would supply his perspective from the Law and the Prophets themselves, showing what they were, what they were about and the end of the matter. Thus the word of God was the answer.
First, then, he started with Abraham. Led by the divine call to leave his land, and to go to the land appointed, this patriarch went as sent; but at first, he had not so much as a foot of inheritance in that land. Yet even while Abraham was still childless - in fact, he rather specialised in this, having no child for the first century or so of his life - the Lord promised to give him the land of his call, to provide this to him and to his descendants. In showing Abraham these things, however, the Lord added that for some 400 years, they would have to live in a foreign nation, and even be oppressed. God however would JUDGE that nation (the Exodus from Egypt and its developments in the 10 plagues for example, but the matter went on as you see in Ezekiel 29:14ff.).
The covenant of mutuality within the sovereign call of God was thus given, a solemn oath with it (Genesis 15, 17).
Famine came to trouble Israel, declared Stephen, so the patriarch Jacob sent of his children those who would enquire concerning food. Joseph, sold in envy had become leader under the Pharaoh, and in forgiveness was to provide for them, Pharaoh himself learning of the relationship of the brothers. In due time, Joseph's bones were carried back to the promised land; but a new King in Egypt oppressed Israel, which starting with 75 persons coming to Egypt, grew greatly in numbers. While male children, babes were to be exposed to die, in a partial genocide, slow and painful - a prelude to Herod and to Palestinian blood seeking at the present time, in their often indiscriminate attacks, made by zealots from their own midst - one named Moses was called by God to a peculiar mission.
First, as a babe cast away, but secreted, he was rescued by a Princess. So brought up and becoming significant in Egypt, he sought to solve a fight between two Hebrews. It led to death and Moses decided on hearing a detrimental account of it, left Egypt speedily and after a long time away, being called by God, he returned to confront the Pharaoh then in power. Simply, he demanding in the name of the Lord, as sent by Him, that the people who came into the land at invitation, should be allowed to leave that land freely.
He did not come to confront the Pharaoh lightly. It was authorised and miraculously confirmed in a divine interview accorded to Moses, in the time when he was far from Egypt. Moses trembled at that meeting. He was sent, with confirmation of his calling by wonders, to rescue the people, his brethren, the Hebrews; for the Lord saw the oppression and heard the groaning of the slave-driven people. This same Moses then amid signs and wonders from God brought them out.
So Stephen sought to recapitulate, given the actual basis of the current religion, as distinct from anything else which might in slovenly style be imagined.
This Moses, he pointed out, was the same one who had been rejected by Hebrews in Egypt who asked him at the first, Who made you a ruler over us! It was he who, after the victorious Exodus, brought them to their pilgrimage to the promised land, and kept with them the 40 years of their discipline in the wilderness.
Having outlined what they all hopefully knew and knew well, and re-established its basis in their minds, Stephen thus made it appear that they had a great deal in common, the victim and the judges. The question would therefore occur in many minds, Why then is there this trouble ? and for what is all this commotion concerning this young man, Stephen!
The answer soon appeared clearly.
The Moses who had thus been vindicated - the Lord showing and using His power over and through him - was in a clear position. As to the One WHO had indeed made him a ruler, this became conspicuously apparent! but what of the people themselves ? THAT, Stephen made manifest, was the real question.
What shall be said there! THIS, he said, is the SAME Moses who predicted that the Lord would raise up from their own brethren a prophet like Moses. There was a consummation to come; Moses was not the end. "Him shall you hear!" was the advice.
But when He came, DID THEY hear Him ? That was the question that posed itself.
In other words, by now, it was probably creeping into their minds that this citation from Deuteronomy 18, impossible to deny, well known and a favourite consideration, focussed quite simply the great One to come. He was recognisable as 'that prophet' as we see in the culture of the times (John 6:14, 1:21). His arrival in due time was a common concept based on a basic book of their scriptures. If then there was THAT well-known, clearly predicted prophet to come, HOW could it be blasphemy to identify Him, when He came! and how would you not yield to evidence concerning just who it was ? for He was to be "from their own brethren," not to come dressed as superman or in a space suit.
How COULD they tell ? Of course, HIS WORKS would distinguish Him (as in Isaiah 29, 35 foretold, for example) and what ONLY God could do, done through Him, would be a confirmation of His words of self-identification.
Wait just one moment! however. IF this is the case, HOW can anyone just simply stick out the tongue and call Stephen a blasphemer since there was a PLACE, a NICHE, a NECESSARY situation for the Messiah to fill! Would not enquiring minds and restful hearts in godly men of peace simply seek to identify Him ? And in any case there was Daniel 9 clearly demarcating the time zone for His appearance, and this at that very time when He came, and when they killed Him *1. It is not difficult. You do not have to be a genius to do simple arithmetic. HOW then could there be any such FIXATION on the phase of revelation accorded to Moses, when it was THIS SAME MOSES who foretold the coming of the One to whom they MUST give heed.
If Moses is so great that they berated Stephen for talking of that prophet who was to come, and identifying Him as Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, then surely he, Moses, should be heeded. So far from being a repository for endless tradition, he, Moses was a preparation for the One to come and said so.
Moses had even made this clear in very direct terms. The greater is their desire to make Moses magnificent, the more clearly do they contravene him when they out of hand, without being able to resist the evidential proclamations and disputations of Stephen, decide to dump Christ as 'that prophet' and hence Stephen as a testifier of truth. Thus they would make, with a stark deviation from all evidence and care, the case out as negative, the Christ as not authentic, Stephen and not themselves as blasphemer. Ignoring Moses, they would kill for alleged contempt of Moses, failing to see the spiritual perspective, they would act in concentrated blindness, allied to passion.
It was not the attested affirmation, by sheer preference for the contrary which as with Christ, misdirected the judges, so making of Stephen not a preacher-teacher, through whom God did wonders as attested by ALL the results, but one worthy of death. In this, they were rejecting Christ who had done much more, and fulfilling all, been rejected and impaled as predicted, and still did not realise that this spirit of rejection, castigated so fierily through Isaiah and Jeremiah, yes and Ezekiel as well, was being exhibited like pathological slides from the microscope, publicly to all men. They in their awesome rage, were doing what God said would happen when, as He also declared, they rejected the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 49:7, 53), with a devastating blindness of mind, heart and eye!
What then would they do ? what would seize them, having seized Stephen and killed Christ, at least in the same spirit ?
Death by Russian roulette perhaps ? Just point the finger at someone and say, Blasphemer. Unable to produce the evidence to show that it was fault and not fact to which he gave his testimony, they would cut short the process with being physical. It is a common and popular pastime for many, then and since, and indeed, before that time.
Outraged in their raging, they acted with all the gross disregard of truth which their preoccupations with their phase, ignorant of its place, determined. It is like children, Peter Pans, who WILL not grow up. However pleasant childhood may be, it is not the point to endure for ever; for it is a growth condition leading on to the full image that God has given man. To remain in primary school is no good aim; to idolatrise it, as if it were all because it was useful, is to miss its whole point. To slay one who said that tertiary education was still to come was unnatural, unnecessary, gross and perfidious, anti-evidential, acrimonious, ungodly and without the fear of the Lord.
Alas, they paid. Pride and passion pay in the end. Truth always prevails in the end.
But HOW they paid, and for how long! Even their new exile as a nation lasted some 1900 years, a considerable advance on the earlier exile to Babylon, one of a 'mere' 70 years. Consummation can be costly, when it is that of disease. It can be worse when the disease has been itemised, characterised and foretold for centuries by God, and still the eyes do not open when it comes! Isaiah even showed the obstinate character of the condition as in Chapter 6; and with this, the result! It came, the word of God always comes.
Yet it was only necessary for them to repent and to receive the Lord, as all must do for their sins, of whatever kind, and the reproach would be broken and each one so acting, would have ALL his or her sins buried in the depth of the sea as Micah 7:19ff. instructs us. Pity them then, but pity more their refusal which brings the affliction; for truth, it is not a thing you can change. It is oneself that must be charged when adversatively related to truth.
Such was as it is, the situation.
But what of the case with Stephen ? What then is all this cant and ranting about blasphemy. How can they so speak of Stephen, unabashed and ignorant!
But there was more. While such thoughts might well have begun to mingle with the guilt of those perhaps seeking in vain to dismiss them altogether, for Stephen was moving with force and clarity like a sword in motion, he introduced a new line of argumentation.
It went in this way. He pursued his declaration with spirit and poise.
Moses was the one to whom the angel spoke on Mt Sinai (where the law was received from the Lord); but it was THIS SAME MOSES whom the generation with him (most of them, and as one whole characterisable) REJECTED. Did they not have so LITTLE love for him that they even dared to make a calf for worship, something reminding them of Egypt, a clear reference to Egyptian gods! Thus Israel had been brought out of Egypt in a divine maelstrom of ironic dismissal of those nonentities, in the 10 plagues, the 'gods' of the imagination who had no power at all. Indeed, they could not even prevent the escape of Israel, though a whole vast army was working for them! They could not touch an unprotected people: one exposed to all and to any, except for the protection of God.
The true and the false acted differently, the true as in true power and the false as in pretension alone. They lost. Their theological noses were rubbed in the dirt, or more particularly in the sand.
But did they obey the Lord who delivered them ?
Indeed, Stephen pursued the point of radical disobedience, incredible confrontation with the Lord on the part of those who were with this VERY MOSES. It was God as seen in Amos 5:25-27, who indicted them for their happy knack of 'knowing Him' as when slaughtering animal sacrifices in the wilderness (to which they were consigned for a generation, because of simple lack of faith and the actions which go with it, refusing even to enter their promised land when brought to its portals by miracles astounding in power and pertinence, continually); but mixing gods with Him. It was flagrant ceremonialism mixed with a truancy from faith, and a syncretistic, a sensational attempt to achieve symbiosis with the Lord and nature-worshipping fragments, moulded in the imagination, of those about them.
It was so like a young boy who, brought up tenderly, given a good education, then desires to mix these privileges and using the parental home, mix with wild women, wild louts and drinking and drugging, drive the family car into a light-pole!
With God, nothing mixes. Stephen did not need to emphasise more than in his mordant first expression to establish the fact. The Old Testament has many and long passages (as in II KIngs 17, II Chronicles 36, Jeremiah) which itemise their follies, some calling for repentance, some tenderly. This line was as apparent as are the Rockies at Colorado Springs.
Stephen simply went on with his quotation from Amos 5, to the issue from it. BECAUSE of these sins sustained and prolonged, God would carry them off, in exile, to Babylon. THAT is what their law said. That summed up their situation at that time. They had become chronic offenders.
Were they then ignorant of the penalty for REFUSING to believe what God had sent them! Were they to CONTINUE their violations, their wilful ignorance, their witless confusion of the Creator and Lord with nature-worship and the like! (cf. Jeremiah 2:27).
Would they indeed exalt their own importance and make traditions which they would heed, as if sent off on a journey, by sea, on disembarkation they forgot, after so nice a time, one simple fact. Which ? This: that they had in the first place been sent by ONE who had not only a first intimation but a final one to make. They were sent for a purpose, not for a mere maritime excursion. What about this ? Would they continue their rebellion!
Thus Stephen in word and in implication showed them the phase of rebellion in their past which with such awesome disregard, they were now continuing to the worst of ends. Instead, the point was clear , they should keep to the commission, and not go to sleep at the sound of their own voices intoning what they turned into a tradition more than the lively word of God, which for all their lassitude, was constantly directing them with finesse and precision!
In fact , Christ Himself had so challenged them (Matthew 13:14ff.).
Stephen now objectivised things.
Our fathers, quoth he, had a temple; but God, as the scripture says, does not dwell in temples made with hands. The point is that although a temple may SYMBOLISE what He desires to make clear, it is by no means the case that He actually lives there, as if there were some government which provided their little god with a place to live, so that it would be nice for him and he would not be cold! Did not the prophet point out this very thing, so far from blasphemy, this being God's OWN interpretation of what a temple is! It is not a HOUSE for His care, for He is beyond all houses.
Here Stephen cited from Isaiah 66, where God says that heaven being his throne, earth His footstool, so what house COULD they build for Him?
Solomon of course had made just
this point at the very dedication of the Temple, as registered in I Kings 8:27:
"But will God indeed dwell on the earth ? Behold, heaven and the heaven of
heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!"
The Temple has a message, a place, but it is NOT to be confused with God, for that is intensively ludicrous, systematically misdirected, a wholly ungodly concept in contrast to the inspired utterance from God Himself!
In so referring to this line of the scriptures of the Lord, Stephen was in fact answering their ludicrous charge about the temple. IS IT blasphemy to note that the Temple would be destroyed, even if this had been said, and not that Jesus would so fulfil what the Temple and its sacrifices were all about, that its place being superfluous, it would cease to be operational (cf. Isaiah 66:1-3, Jeremiah 2:16).
Even if in fact Stephen had added that continued unbelief would sent the Temple away in judgment, is this so wrong, since Jesus as the evidenced Messiah, had already indicated with profound sorrow, that because they were wilfully blind to their Salvation, they would in fact have this happen. It was no attack on what God had said by them, but one on their refusal to graduate into the fulfilment predicted, which would constitute the end of the Temple! In that sense, they were its destroyers, and the warning given to them, they did not heed. Hence the call, met with contempt, was a call that would not save them from a disaster which their attitude ensured.
Thus Stephen corrected in point after point their tendency to glorify themselves, their traditions, their making of the faith a mere nationalistic and traditionalistic emblem, forgetful of what it was emblem, and for whom it was erected in the first place, and indeed what He said who at that time, authorised it.
Rebellion from the first to the last had been all too typical of this people who now so flagrantly both misrepresented what he, Stephen had said, and what it meant, and so bucolically had failed to face the underlying truth, the necessary basis for all truth. It is that God does what He says and that this Jesus had indeed been both shown and proven to be the one to come after Moses, 'that prophet' whom one must believe or else be in wild rebellion against the explicit forecast and vast and ranging series of prophecies concerning their coming Prince!
Was evidence nothing ? Would they who for so long had been unable to resist the argumentation from Stephen that Jesus was the Christ, having failed in this, now dare to assault the servant of God who for their own benefit was teaching them what was in the Book they now refused to follow! Was this not one more rebellion, like that when they failed to enter the Promised Land ? The theme could be pursued as it might have at last reached their minds, somewhat later, or rather, the minds and hearts of some.
Was it not, THIS SAME JESUS, the very promised land par excellence, for without God what is a land! As they failed in lack of faith to even enter the promised land under Moses, did they even now refuse to receive the Lord's Christ...
Though He had kept the land for them, being faithful to His word, was not the entire point, the ultimate purpose of the covenant to be found in the Lord Himself ? and was this not for a nation to praise and relay the reality of God to the world (as in Isaiah 42,49, 43:21)! What of this was to be found in their navel-examining nescience, in their prized ignorance of their mission! For one and for all, for all nations this blessing was to come, a thing made so clear with Jonah, at the time of his tantrum (Jonah 4): would they now revoke it ? Would they be "stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears."
Would they even as "always resist the Holy Spirit!" Who was being judged ? Was it Stephen or they ? Their ludicrous pomposity (such as God mocks openly in Isaiah 1) is no more than that when it is not accompanied by a heart to believe, a spirit to receive and an eye to look at what God says and does!
Stephen now came to the immediate intention of the rebellious crew, about to commit a legal crime as judges. "Which of the prophets did your fathers no persecute ? and they foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom YOU have now become the betrayers and murderers."
REVIEW: THE RABBLE OF THE IMPEACHMENT
Stephen we have followed in his meteoric course. Notable were his life of faith and nobility, his serviceability, closeness to the people, signs and wonders wrought by the power of God, testimony to the Messiah whom they had so recently killed, irresistible arguments from the Bible as it then was, the Old Testament, concerning the point: Jesus is the Messiah and in Him is the fulfilment.
SO notable were they that false accusers were induced to testify against him. It is always deplorable when a body daring and caring to use the name of Jesus Christ, resorts to lies, truth squashing episodes, closed eye techniques, abortions of due enquiry and intemperate hypocrisies, as if truth were near, so near that they could do a Judas on it. Often have I found this as I have testified of this same Jesus, and this, it merely fulfils the great turning aside forecast in II Peter 2, II Thessalonians 2, Matthew 24:24, so that if it had not been thus, in due course the unthinkable would occur: the Bible would be wrong. But right it is! It HAS occurred, I myself have repeatedly experienced it in nation after nation. The time is ripe.
With Stephen it meant death by stoning. But what a carriage way to heaven was his, as amidst the falling stones, crushing the magnificent equipment which God has given to each one of us, a veritable orchestra of sound-sight-touch-vision-feel instruments, not only with conducting facilities from a logical apparatus, but a capacity to love people, ideas and values at the touch of the key of desire! How people can be so valiant for evil as to so attack what the Creator has made is always a question! To do so wickedly, corruptly, while speaking of righteousness, this is hypocrisy so great as to make one almost wince, as if seeing a baby lamb being minced, bit by bit.
However, they did it.
There is a line, a code of conduct, a marred and murderous mode of relationship with the word of God which has been all too apparent for all too long!
Let us review first, just a little, the precise position which Stephen had before them.
Perhaps Stephen was saying, As for the destroying of the Temple, as a result of their sin in killing the One for whom it stood, they would indeed lose it. Thus those who mock with proud, stubborn and restless hearts, might find their mockery return like an echo to themselves with a mimicry all to close to their own mockery and to their misjudging malady of the tongue, with which they attacked the very servants of God. However any thought of some sort of assault and attack to be wrought by the Jesus who made it clear that if they killed Him, the temple of truth, then in three days He would raise it up, was mere vapour, ludicrous, an atrocity with words (John 2:19-21).
Further, what Jesus said was not I WILL DESTROY THE TEMPLE, but rather as we read in John: DESTROY THIS TEMPLE AND I WILL RAISE IT UP. How does slander raise its sickly head. How does it go ? the word 'destroy' is used, and the word 'temple' so He must have said something about destroying the temple: just the sort of thing he would say! Thus might it go through the imaginative mind of the story weaver. But it was YOU DESTROY it and I WILL RAISE IT UP. This is the direct opposite! Their testimony was vile and in vain; and it was deliberate false witness, INDUCED (Acts 6:11) by those seeking to exterminate a witness to a truth whose words THEY COULD NOT RESIST! Here then is argument set in stone: he argues, they stone!
To be sure, the inducement was to 'witnesses' to state that he had blasphemed against God and in his speech about Moses; but we also read in Acts 6:13, that they "set up" false witnesses to make this false word about destroying the temple, so the coverage is correct, just as theirs was obtained in order to bash truth before they stoned Stephen. A worthy operation!
THE HIGH PRODUCTIVITY OF THE SPEECH, LIFE AND DEATH OF STEPHEN
At the trial, as we saw last week, Stephen gave a speech of clarity and impact.
Notably there was one there to hear Stephen's speech, and that ? it was the Saul, the apostle to be, newly to be named Paul. His words was registered there. Thus, if Stephen was cut off in a prodigious ministry, yet from the seed of his death there arose a vast forest of firs, as it were, a whole European and Middle Eastern ministry through the Saul who saw it, who heard it, who would find that same Lord to whom Stephen gave attestation in miracle, in word, in deed and in death. Paul too, he would carry it on with miracle, speech, in deed and in death...
Thus words of that witness would be given to Paul the apostle, from that same divine and dynamic source, just as Moses was given a significant part of the Old Testament, as scribe for God. Accordingly, through this same witness of Stephen's death, would be given much of the NEW Testament by the inspiration of God. How ample is the divine wisdom, how sure and true it is. Thus, while the devil seeks to close in and conquer the people of God, imprison a Bunyan, burn a Cranmer, cook a Huss, kill a Tyndale, deride sound teachers and seek lustily, drunken with self-conceit, for false teachers as now: yet God acts to preserve truth, in His own inimitable way.
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turn aside to fables*2."
Yet God has His answer. He is not mocked. The mockery accrues to the mockers, as in Proverbs 1.
calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares.
She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning,
And fools hate knowledge.
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
'Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
Because you disdained all my counsel,
And would have none of my rebuke,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your terror comes,
When your terror comes like a storm,
And your destruction comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.
'Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil.' "
Unsubdued in his day, Stephen gives us a lead in rebuttal , as in non-conformity to the misconduct of spiritual mischief, the delinquencies of deceit. Such was the wisdom given to the lips of Stephen, who seeing Christ at the right hand of God, declaimed that fact, while moving on to seek from God forgiveness for his tormentors as he died. His last energies were for his enemies (Acts 7:60). In their onrush to kill, the spirit livid, the mind obsessed, wrath excited, death sentence drooling from slavering lips - such is the appearance of the tableau as presented in Acts 7, they spatter stones like a wild cement mixer, their sin cast in stones that flew with hatred from their vehement source. Stephen their target, extinction their aim, the religious mob acted.
Do they not do so even now, in this religion and that; for as Orissa shows, while it is a speciality of Islam revived strenuously in its militant masses, as a very active ingredient in our generation, yet that is by no means the start of it; nor is it the only religion with exponents practising such atrocities and horrors. It would be good to learn from this.
Stoning! that simple but slowly effective mode of securing a departure of the human spirit from the bones for structure and the flesh for complex functions enabling man as one whole to be a person of this kind or that, as he goes this way or that: this was their choice. They battered his body but not his spirit. "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" he cried as he was yielding it. Yet he was not done, as forgiveness in a mighty surge seized his flying spirit: "Lord, do not charge them with this sin!" came the word of the dying patriot, lover of God, true son of Israel.
THE CHARGE OF THE DARK BRIGADE: THEN AND TO COME
A false prophet was the name falsely assigned for the true one, just as a false Messiah was the name for the true one. What a testimony and what a cost! When will man learn the high cost of untruthful living!
How often does humanity seethe in spirit at the very ornament of spirit, hate the hallowed and fall at the same time, in feckless witlessness for the most brazen of real deceits. It is as if reeling from passion in the rejection of what is true, it then becomes so drunk with power, with blurring of vision, that it accepts what is disastrously false. It even does it willingly! Hitler was one such case, and more and more world leaders seem increasingly to be cast in much the same mould. Far from what was thought when they were elected, they yet pander to corruption and please dissidence from the Lord, as they wallow without wisdom, with the effrontery of delusion.
The folly of hatred, incandescent self-belief and cultural conditioning, it is lethal indeed. Its wounds can be mortal, as in a sword fight, for in a moment, the blade pierces the heart. Blessed is the one who using the shield of faith, is invulnerable to the lusts of devil, world and flesh; and even if he fall, yet being the Lord's, is raised up!
The sheer, callow, culturally dominated misconceptions and mischiefs in the hearts of Stephen's slayers are but a prelude. The main symphony is to come, perhaps not today or tomorrow; but remember this, the restoration of Jerusalem to Israel, a thing hated by many nations and by those with much power of purse and propaganda, such as appears to come from the UN, and many in it, definitively determines one thing.
It did not do it in 1947, for then it had not happened. It was completely so only in 1980 - though it started in 1967 - when the formal announcement was put through the Knesset concerning their eternal capital, Israel's Jerusalem. Christ, whose errors number zero, made it simple and clear even for babes: WHEN Jerusalem is back in their hands, THEN the time of His return is near.
It is useless to pretend. It has happened once in some 1900 years. The new Stephens, on your marks! for as Jesus declared, people would even KILL, imagining that in this death to Christians, they would be doing God service! (John 16:2). In Orissa in India, in the past few weeks, this is precisely what has been happening, as formerly in the USSR, just as in China so many have long been assaulted, imprisoned, sought out, in order to be put under squalid supervision, morally impaled with false charges. This has long been the testimony, and Harry Wu of fame for it in the US in particular, is only one voice to be heard.
The confluence of iniquity, of various mounting charges against the Christians, various streams of effluent waters from the lakes of philosophy and militant desire, yes and greed, this is to come. Revelation 13 indicates some of the methods of financial control, Revelation 17 some of the religious attendants; for THIS TIME, they will not try to REMOVE religion, as in reckless Marxism, but instead to USE and ABUSE it. They will even specialise, having a 'dedicated' false prophet for the purpose, and a second BEAST to come with this ... shall we call it, his ministerial field... (Revelation 13:11-15, 16:13, 19:20).
What political name might the 'beast' - that politico-social-military-religious potency of power - give to this operation ? "State security worship" as if in China, or Prostrations of Piety ? As to the false prophet ? perhaps he could be called, The Minister for Religious Works … perhaps ? As the end comes for this Age, he not only stands behind the elevation of an image of the beast, some signal, sign, monument, exhibit or other, but seeks to induce, nay command all to worship it!
Therefore rejoice, for the time of meeting the Lord is near; and if the end of the academic 'year' brings examination, then in this more, for then the Age moves to the return of Christ! Being prepared, wait for it! Wait with expectation, for it will surely come. Yet nothing is too hard for the Lord: to serve Him, this is delight, and to endure, it is privilege. Rest also in Him, as you trust Him, delight yourself also in Him, and He who comes, it is HE who will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37).
*1 See Christ the Citadel ... Ch. 2, Highway of Holiness Ch. 4
*2 SHORT EXCURSION on the 21st CENTURY EXCURSION
AWAY FROM GOD
Consider the following quotation.
"The great conflict of the 21st century may be between the West and terrorism. But terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. The underlying battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernist fanatics; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe blind allegiance to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is no more than preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe that truth is revealed solely through scripture and religious dogma, and those who rely primarily on science, reason, and logic. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism is not the only danger we face."
This view is that of Robert Reich, former Harvard Professor and 22nd United States Secretary of Labour is credited, or debited better, with the above.
It means that life without relationship to its author, maker, contriver, inventor, Creator, both as to mode of sustenance morally, spiritually, physically, intellectually, and mode of living, as befits such as we are, who are all capacity with only minimal guidance, being without God and without wisdom as so well indicated by our racial results: this is the barren waste chosen.
That is not uncommon in its blindness, as in Romans 1:17ff.. The interesting development in mordancy and inordinacy, a good and fitting prelude to what is to come for barren man making for himself not only a psychological waste-land of force without control and devastation without limit, but a physical one as well, is that he makes terrorism a mere thing compared with the stupendous conflict. Terrorism ? bad to be sure, this appears his thought, though why this is so if there is no right or wrong, and how there could be if there were no God is an interesting aside. Vacuum is always the service unit for this type of reductionist approach which arouses every problem and solves none. In this it is the exact and precise opposite to the God of Christians and His word, the Bible, in terms of which every moral, aesthetic, spiritual, intellectual and philosophic problem dissolves, as when a suitable solvent is set on a seemingly resistant substance: it goes down when it meets its superior.
So here -- and on that, see Deity and Design...., Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ, Who Answers Riddles, and Where He is, Darkness Departs, Scientific Method, Satanic Method and the Model of Salvation. These exhibit that fact in detail, along with the other volumes in this area, listed in Search.
What then ? A frontal assault follows. Bad as terrorism is deemed to be (on such premises irrationally - just unpleasant for such models), it is the allegiance to a higher power, to God the Maker which troubles Reich the most.
Since when did logic and reason and science favour the incapacity of atheism to be causally explanatory or to remove the necessity of causation from logic ( (cf. Causes with Barbs... 6 -7 and SMR Ch. 5, and the above references)! It is, as this site shows and demonstrates, the case that reason requires Christianity and the Bible, and science when following its own scientific method, as in TMR, has no other refuge. It is only dim philosophy, naturally unable always to agree on the best schema, BECAUSE it has for centuries not dealt with the only one which works, sourced in mind and reason and creative power and the creator of persons and of their validity by which alone they can even declare the truth without irrationality, which speaks in faltering tones.
Thus this intemperate assault on reason in the name of reason, as so often is found, becomes the death knell of peace, since truth being dismissed by irrationality, and even made worse in its only demonstrable site, there is only error to be found. What is despised by Reich being what alone is demonstrably true, and this being worse in its challenge than terrorism, we face in the normal irony which the Almighty so often brings, the certainty of strife and loss of life in the pits of pollution where philosophy grimaces, and truth is dead.
The somewhat parallel case in the main original source of white settlement in what is now the USA, namely England, is a valuable addition for analysis of the direction of flow and go in the realms of anti-authority, which of course naturally leads to extremist authority of man, since man is made by it and for it, not as all, but as part. The grace of God yielded, the vehemence of man succeeds; those who 'liberate' like kind old Stalin, killing only some 20 million, by report, like the French Revolution, not too careful about blood either, like Hitler, delivering from the oppression of humble Christianity with some of the ludicrous, feeble panache of Nietzsche, ends where he belongs, weak, whimpering, wizened, dead by his own action.
Let us consider this Blunkett of England, from Deserts and Desserts, Delicacies and Desiccations Ch. 6.
The MILLENIAL COMMISSION - UN Type
The UN Millenial Commission meeting in New York in September 2005 has received a very due rebuke from George Bush in terms of removal of corruption, restoration of proper action and deed to relate to the objectives of dealing with such things as world poverty, helping secure human rights and human dignity, providing hope of liberty. Citing the actual make-up of the Human Rights Commission of this non-august body, the President indicated that this was a particularly unhappy example of UN hypocrisy. Its members include countries such as Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe. "When this great institution's member states choose notorious abusers of human rights to sit on the UN Human Rights Commission, they discredit a noble effort and undermine the credibility of the whole organisation."
"If," he proceeded, "member countries want the United Nations to be respected and effective, they should begin by making sure it is worthy for respect."
However they have not, according to a ABC News Radio BBC report, September 15, 2005, even been able to agree on a definition of terrorism. The UK's Blair has indicated that there must be a movement internationally to find the basis of it all and to deal with it. With the work of Britain's Blunkett on record, in which he slandered extreme evangelicals in that land in terms adjacent to those for terrorism, it is apparent that the misuse of the concept of "extremism" and "fanaticism" is not merely an abstract possibility, but a current danger. This was outlined in News 323. Mr Blunkett in his official role as Home Secretary in 2004, was reported as making the following pronouncement.
"We need to be able to take on these extremists and say, I'm afraid our society, pluralism and openness, the ability to accept differences without being subsumed, is crucial to our survival, it's what distinguishes all of us, from every faith, from those who would take our lives because they reject our faith, and it applies equally from far right evangelical Christians, to extremists in the Islamic faith."
(Reported July 2004 and taken from Ecumenical Insanity,
under the heading "Defining the Culture Wars". )
Since an "evangelical", if the term is to retain any vestige of its essential meaning, is someone who stresses the significance of the evangel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ as set forth in the Bible, and that Gospel stresses the necessity of NOT engaging in any form of violence in order to protect Christians from the evil attentions of the State apparatus, as shown in John 18:36 with Matthew 26:52-54, and moreover, the imaginary spectacle of people with biblical portfolios and faith setting about the destruction of law and order by violence would be even for this hypocritical world, a fascinating innovation, the British official's words were clearly an intimidatory assault on people who DARED, like DANIEL, to be DIFFERENT.
Christians always HAVE been different, and for that reason, were the frequent recipients of the honour of being set before lions in stadia, for the better pleasure of onlookers, as they fought and were torn to pieces by the wrathful beasts in the arena, as vicarious participants on the one hand, and the lions on the other. The Roman Empire of course fell. It deserved it, and was humiliated justly. They were different too when the Romanist body, wrongly called the Roman Catholic Church (how CAN you be 'catholic' when ordered from the non-catholic and highly particular centre of 'Rome'! - in fact Protestants who hold to the Bible alone have the privilege of being catholic, since they do not centre themselves in location, but in the Christ who is beyond all pride, race, pomp, and teacher, and alone is to be called Master - Matthew 23:8-10) ... when this body, of such ecclesiastical pretension, attended to them.
In what way did it do this ? For data, consult Inquisition, in Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 14. It was in the painful centuries of rampant hypocrisy, fitting too well with that of the current UN, that this page of evil was written by the Romanist body, which instead of being 'crucified with Christ' like Paul (Galatians 2:20), tortured and stole funds from countless thousands of Christians, leaving children destitute and sacking the riches of their parents. It was in this evil, never to be forgotten any more than the Jewish holocaust of the 20th century, that were to be found some of the enormities of history: for a sort of pre-Hitler attack not only on Judaism in the form of harassed and tormented Jews, but on Christianity in the form of orthodox biblical Christians, was launched.
Thus we see from Reich some rather solipsistic seeming concepts: one might endeavour to see the thrust in this way.
Look for the LIFE NOW and HAVE IT ALL FOR YOU, THE INDIVIDUAL, and don't interfere with all this founded or else confounded stuff, citing God: go for it! What a challenge we face, the message appears to be, what an ultimate horror, seems to be the scenario, comes from these people. It is more potent as peril than are terrorists, for they actually have a program, not mere blood of slaughter, to present. Away with such if we are to prosper in making the most of things while they, and we, are there!
This approach may differ from "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die," but here not at all obviously. Perhaps there are ways of being sad as well.
At all events, when we see this from the USA from a post of some power, and mix it with a post of more power in Britain, Home Secretary, in the person of David Blunkett who formerly occupied that office, we reach an interesting composite, or pastiche of philosophy.
Blunkett's idea ? It appears somewhat similar.
From his words, we find that evangelicals and terrorists may in fact share the site of the perilous for the nation: not good! This sort of thing may warp society (not quite clear how in the case of the evangelicals, except that they believe in truth, whereas Blunkett appears to believe in anything going so long as it goes well, no questions being asked, a not so scientific approach, and not so prudent. Social values are pluralistic: what is not, is dangerous.
What then does he seem to fear ? It is that the assurance of truth in evangelical Christians (designated in some kind of right wing mode, perhaps because any authority spells right ? try bureaucracy then!) could make society sink and wallow.
He seems to have the contra-factual concept that evangelical Christians believe in hatred of people, which at least has something precise about it, being precisely the opposite of the fact (I John 4) and the source of their salvation (John 3:15-17).
It is necessary to realise that this peculiar stridency is a vast advance on old-fashioned, vainglorious secularism, always a folly because of lack of reality, with man, his hips aching, in the old and wearing saddle, and a horse with no sense of direction, for the rider. This alas has always been a secular problem, since it is needed to supplement the blindness of the rider. He knows not where he has come from, is going to or why! Not too good as a leader, especially when the maps could not be clearer (cf. Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer).
.What then is the thrust ? We see an increasing militancy, an almost offhand sedition of the sacred, in mode, in the interests of a secularism which has its own religious force and intensity in being left alone, to enjoy and utilise to the uttermost all that has come its way, blind to logic, secure from scorn, making war ... in the end, directly with God. That is the biblical outline.
The analysis of the disease of doctrine here has been made for all time in Romans 1:17, showing the causal lapse, the reasonable failure, the assault on morals, the devastating decline of society, magnification of illicit sexuality and on and on: as it was to be, so it is. The spiritual syndrome is defined and operative in history, and now has that added rattle effect, the death one.
As in II Thessalonians 2 moreover, we have this tendency for the emphasis on the mystic-secular option increasingly coming forward. It becomes WRONG, DANGEROUS, SEDITIOUS (rather as in the USSR in practice) to have God, to owe Him allegiance for this most outstanding example of visible design which by any sustainable definition is ... ourselves (cf. Deity and Design ... Sections 3 and 2 ). Such is the apparent scenario.
Then man becomes THE GOD. He is the ultimate, the resource, the recourse, the meaning, the method, the message and it is all existentially mystic. WHY AND HOW ? Don't talk rubbish is the coming reply. He just IS! What just is ? Why man just is ? HOW is it the case that he just is ? In fact, he is born and dies, and there is nothing very just about the concept of his immutability truth, power or wisdom in all of that. It is important scientifically, logically, to find out how and why and where and when, not to disregard all logic and make infantile sounding announcements without any endeavour to examine the things frequently even made a cult: it becomes FORBIDDEN to investigate and to find, and to exhibit the truth, even in colleges.
Why ? Why is there this irrational, exclusivist CULT of the FORBIDDEN ? this jejune and arrogant dismissal of what alone meets the case! (cf. SMR pp. 300ff., 150ff.). Is truth so important that it cannot be faced ? Why is that ? What CAN face it, has only to do so. What cannot of course may exercise a social menace to truth by excluding the only sustainable answer as shown in the references above. That of course is what is happening (cf. Secular Myths and Sacred Truth).
How astutely scientific is this. Just say ANYTHING, and because it is desired, expect it to be accepted. This is the direction, the apparent scenario of the loose and detached ideas shown in this astonishing degree of collusion of concept in East and West!
Such is at least, in logical terms, the direction of Obama in his Cairo speech, concerning which see Israel IV, Ch. 11. An abstruse undefined becomes the source and goal, thus evading all definition and extracting all knowledge, even making knowledge of the absolute impossible, and in so doing, making its own claim impossible, so being self-contradictory. Many do not think as they absorb thought-free culture, for it is so pressed by so many and has been for so long by so many media, TV, blog, radio and even false church connivings that many are finding it either hard or inconvenient to think. Remember the state and fate of the rabbits in Watership Downs ? There was a certain ... shall we say 'suppression' about the truth! The thing was just to keep the head down, the nibbling going and ... relax, yes relax.
Man shuffles off to enjoy his long holiday from God, like man leaving this earth and all its fascinating design provisions, for space. There is little time, a little space before it ends now (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
The clouds gather and the storm blows; but it soon passes, even the hurricane. Holiness remains, God remains and history is following His account of it in the Bible, like a pet lamb; except that it has the cry of the wolf, the one dressed in lamb's clothing (cf. Revelation 13:11-12). That is the way of it: looks like ... lamb, speaks in fact, not only like a wolf, but a dragon. That is the second beast, the one now preparing to give itself a face, the religious one. He comes like a hurricane, and having wrought trouble, is gone, like air, just a thrust. He who remains is God (Zechariah 9:7). The events leading up to him, however, these are so amazingly constrained to what is written, that they for their part in sequence, follow the word of God like a lamb.