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Shaking the Shakeables and Waking the Wakeables
Folly in the World sees Its Flags
But Man sees
the Futility of Brutality and the Folly of disfaith -
while zealously disbelieving:
and he keeps inanely waving...
THE ISSUE and its ISSUANCE
Shaking the Shakeables and Waking the Wakeables
I JEREMIAH’S DOUBLE MESSAGE WITH SINGLE INTENT
In Jeremiah’s day, Israel was as England and America and indeed, in no small measure, Europe and the USA today. It had been great, grandly led, marvellously attuned to truth, gallant in battle, worshipful in godliness for some periods, and much of the tradition of truth had remained in it; but then it ceased godly sorrow, rejoiced in strength rather than mourned in heart seeking the Lord, had gladness in badness rather than in mercy, and constructed for itself other ways for other days, forgetful that there is a time for shaking.
Christ once told a parable of a gardener who instead of removing a fruitless tree, suggested to his master that it be dug around and fertilised, to see if it would yet bear well; and if not, then be taken out (Luke 13:6-10). Living products truly sustained, in the fruit tree line, bear fruit. Dead ones don’t because they can’t. They tend then to be shaken by the roots, taken out.
Shaking! This is one of the major keys to the 20th and 21st centuries, the one past, the other a fledgling, but alas inheriting from its predecessor, many woes, of which Aids, famine, earthquakes, roaring seas, foul wars and fearful and ghastly morals in war and peace, are but some.
Jeremiah in his day, facing a time of vast provocation to God, parallel to our own in our own nations, was given a double parable. First a potter was seen making a vessel on the wheel, moulding and handling it into shape as the wheel spun, (Jeremiah 18). He marred what he was making, and so addressing the clay with his hands, moulded it into something else instead, a new design. Potter and clay, the Lord declared, show the relationship which the living God has to what is before Him. To be sure man has liberty; but not when marred, to remake himself. If he is ruined, rough tough clay unyielding, then he may find a new program, another design for his destiny! It is not one of his making, but one for which he calls out, as if crying for it vociferously ...
God then showed something of His grand mercy in its vast principles. If, He said, when He begins to think well for a people, and the nation then turns to folly, and does not “obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.” If on the other hand, He had been provoked into creating a calamity situation for a people, yet it “turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.”
Yet who, the Lord asks, has heard of such a thing as done by Israel! Will a man leave the pure snow waters from high mountains in Lebanon, for second rate stuff! Yet this almost unparalleled in folly, is what Israel has done.
People, hearing of it, will be astonished and shake the head (18:16). This was part of the message to Jeremiah, and through him, to the people, a message from the Creator, the Redeemer, from God. The prophet continues to relate what the Lord will do.
As to Israel, He will scatter them; and yet the Lord again and again makes offers and gives opportunities of repentance, as in the very easy case shown in Jeremiah 17!
The prophet then passes on to his next divinely given parable.
He takes a flask, a piece of pottery, something already made this time, and using this, tells Israel its sins of forsaking Him, His law, His ways and indeed any kind of restraint. In fact, they even burnt children in the fire as a religious rite - Jeremiah 19:8, just as South Australia burns the lives of many children in the fires of indefensible and undefended religious folly as often shown both to Government and others. Counsel then will be foiled, plans aborted; and the madness of man will meet the method of God. Having shown the message, Jeremiah then dashed the pottery as a sign of what was to come.
They then attack Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20), as if the messenger made the message; but the priestly assailant himself gains only doom, though the prophet is in stocks for a time! When the Lord came, it was not mere stocks, but crucifixion, a ransom paid for sin! The modes of man toward God are not, in the bulk, at all marvellous; though the Lord’s mercy to man, if he will but receive it, is acutely wonderful.
All that Jeremiah said, duly came to pass: his invitations, protestations, exhortations all despised, his very person immersed in sinking mud in a well, before his deliverance, stocks his mortal shame. Despised in his divinely given counsel, he lived to lament the results of Israel's rejection of the Regality and Majesty of God; for it preferred simple summary formalism, instead of faith, ceremonialism instead of mercy, and self-will instead of salvation. It was so; and the rhyme is sung again and again over the generations of the Gentiles, as if blindness to history were a merit, and inanity before the wisdom of God were worthy. It is worthy indeed, but only of damnation. What then ? heaven is no place for pretence, for in that is mere illusion, collision with reality leading to a certain surrender to the divine task force of truth
Thus is John 3:19 a perpetual warning to the Gentile version of Israel, which simply will not believe, so that the whole earth may writhe.
Yet there is the remnant who believe, and believing receive the Lord, and receiving His salvation, live. It is as in Ezekiel 47, the waters of life sweep wonderfully onward, and those feeling them about the ankles, then the waist, find their freshness and relief; but it is not so in ... the marshes.
2 ISAIAH’S SINGULAR MESSAGE OF DOUBLE INTENT
Isaiah moves in message to the Gentile world as a whole. His opening in Isaiah 24 is astounding in impact, for all varieties of social position will suffer, none is exempt (24:1-4),
“because they have transgressed the laws… broken the everlasting covenant”, and “therefore the curse has devoured the earth.”
It is very much as in Romans 8:18ff., and 5:1ff..
The prophet then moves to the end of the Gentile period, “the city of confusion is broken down” – Nagasaki showed how quickly this can now be done even by man’s weaponry – and
“the foundations of the earth are shaken. The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and totter like a hut…”
declares Isaiah from the Lord. “Its transgression shall be heavy upon it.” Even “the moon shall be disgraced and the sun ashamed.”
Yet as in Jeremiah, this judgment is melded with mercy: not to mad continuance in the lusts of religious, social and personal delusion, but leading to repentance and realism in returning contrite to the Maker, and receiving His solution to sin. Thus in Isaiah 24:16, you have as in Isaiah 4,32,49-55, reference to the work of the Almighty in all-compassion to the point that He will suffer for sin, to atone for it in the face of justice, and so pardon those who seeking Him, find, and finding, are citizens of His own kingdom of heaven! (cf. Luke 13:1ff., Philippians 3). In Isaiah 24, we have a prelude to the later chapters in a manner so arresting as to constitute an assault on the eye, the ear, the heart!
We see suddenly pictured before us, a remnant who will
“lift up their voice, they shall sing, for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea. Therefore glorify the Lord in the dawning light, the name of the Lord God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea.”
Here is the sharpest contrast to the shrewish, fox-like faithlessness of the people. THESE, they glorify the Lord, they exalt and exult in Him, they respond to His majesty as loyal subjects and are overwhelmed with rejoicing exuberance in His presence. They are a remnant, the remnant of grace (Romans 11:4-5).
Delightful as is this prophecy of a remnant, a relatively small number (cf. Isaiah 11:10), who will turn to the truth with relish, and to the Lord in faith that lives, there immediately comes into view the ground of this rejoicing. It is painful! It is as in Isaiah 53, the figure of One who is betrayed (as in Psalms 41, 55, 69, 109); and it is not only by one, but by the nation (Isaiah 49:7).Nor is it merely, in the end, by Israel the nation, but by the other nations, as we have just seen in Isaiah 24:5-6. The whole earth follows the folly of unfaithful disrelish of the Lord; while some do come!
Yet in the very process of their deliverance, there is treachery, now not only by a nation but by peoples against the Lord Himself who, coming as a child (Isaiah 7*1, 9, 11, 50), is on the one hand a cause of the utmost rejoicing, and on the other, a butt more then Jeremiah, for the utmost evil. While the remnant cry “Glory to the righteous!” (24:16), yet HE declares of His treatment,
- “I am ruined, ruined! Woe to Me!
The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously.
Indeed, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously!”
Isaiah 49:7 shows the nation engaged in doing just that, while Isaiah 24 exhibits the topic becoming a world fascination (predicted in kind in Psalm 2! cited in Acts 4:25-26). Indeed, it Is in Isaiah 22 that we have the concept of the glory of Israel being symbolically hung on a hook, one cut off, as is the Prince in Daniel 9:27; while it Is in Isaiah 28:16 that we find the “sure foundation” in the Messiah, so that all lies will be swept aside as by hail, and “the waters will overflow the hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled….” This the Lord declares of their religious renegacy. It was forged in lies.
Why not ditch the Christ, the Messiah of Isaiah 49-55, and ruin Him ? Is He not vulnerable, coming as a child, a son born (Isaiah 7, 9), in order to pay for sin ? so why not let Him have it! So they tear out His beard (Isaiah 50), and pierce His hands and His feet (Psalm 22), and consider Him smitten by God, in unbelief, even as they seek relief from God, even from His mercy, in their polluted streams, and polluted hearts and polluted spirits.
Yet there is no relief, only this SHAKING, SHAKING (Isaiah 24:19-20). It is not that God did not show mercy, but that man has marred mercy and shown a heart so violent in disposition, so wild in dispossession, that he seeks to take over the heavens and the earth for himself as if madness had become a mission (cf. II Thessalonians 2, Daniel 7, Revelation 13,17,19).
3 HEBREWS INTERPRETS AND APPLIES THE CHALLENGE TO MAN
Hebrews takes us to the end of the matter. Since man would not tremble before God (as in Isaiah 66:1-2), and find from Him a humble and a contrite heart, then the end comes (Isaiah 57:15), and the Lord will shake, as a teacher might a foolish lad: He will shake the whole earth; and “not the earth only, but also the heaven.” This is promised in Hebrews 12:26, which itself is citing Haggai 2:6, where the Lord indicates that “yet once more” He will shake the earth, which had received several appalling times already (cf. Genesis 6), as a preliminary. The theme is far from new, for the word of the Lord is constant and does not tire, clear and is never shaded, but gives light to life, a path to the feet, a way for wisdom and a guide to God.
Hebrews 12:27 continues the theme.
“Now this, ‘Yet once more’, indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
It is as in Matthew 24, in Acts 2 at Pentecost where the violent precursors of the coming day of the Lord and His return are itemised, indeed the forecast this time drawn from Joel. It is there in this Joel (2:30) that you see reference to the “pillar of vapour” which is to be a major item in the approach to the end; and in this short reference, this must be of enormous significance, as indeed is the mushroom cloud, that column of vapour. That column has become, a leading edge for a fallen world, like a guillotine waiting, sharpened by Iran, loved by North Korea, used by the USA.
What then is to be done ? Hebrews 12:28-29 leaves us in no doubt.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken,” as in Daniel 7:14,25-27,
“let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
We receive Him, as do all the rest of the remnant of faith, from Jew and Gentile alike; and
“as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe on His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Know therefore that it is not the will of man that saves, but God who acts; and though it is the will of man which is responsible before God, who knows the heart, yet the fear of God moves like a wind which blows, the Spirit of God moves to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16). Thus the meek seek the Lord to find Him, and do not rebel, but marvel at mercy, as the Lord appoints (cf. Acts 13:48). Yet if any find nothing in their hearts of this fear, this delighted, purified and reverential trust, and have no gust of the thrust of faith, then simply repent and return and receive Him as sin offering and Saviour, Him who saves (Isaiah 63:1, Romans 1:16).
A physician I met the other day was told by a patient of her hope that the doctor would not have to be seen again. Oh! said he, they all say that. But when you need me, then you will be searching me out!
So with the Lord. You need ? Feed on His faithfulness, rely on His redemption, draw near and drink of His water of life (John 4:1, Hebrews 4:16). The promises are sure. You need not rely on yourself; just trust in Him, and receiving His covenant in His own blood, LIVE FOR HIM ALONE, follow His word and rest in His righteousness: for it is then yours by gift (Romans 5:17). Then rejoice, for it becomes a condition of heart in the Lord (I Thessalonians 5:17); and join with those noted in Isaiah 24, lifting your voice to Him at His majesty, in praise, trust, wonder and reverence!
It is the wonder of Christianity, at the more intimate and personal level, that it not only urges us to live a new life (as in moral exhortation, made by many), but gives us a new life in which to live (as in the "washing of regeneration", being "born again" not of human seed but by the word of God - Titus 3, John 3, I John 3:9). This new nature for those who find God on His own stated biblical terms, vested in the resurrected Jesus Christ, being as much a miracle, that is a straight and frank divine act from the supernature of God to the nature of man, as the initial creation both of the universe and of man, it has results proportionate.
Thus the meekness which Nietzsche so lampooned, now that it has been forsaken by many leaders in his own Germany in two atrocious wars of might, and right and fight and race or glory for man and his knowledge and power and importance, does not seem to strange after all. It would have been better than the super-man, the super-race and the supreme disgrace of pride with jack-boots on. That failed.
The meekness in Jesus Christ, however, it works. It is fitting. Man being a creation does not do well to act as if he were a god. The battles of the gods as the horrid and internecine strife among men seems to want itself to be conceived, is not the actual category of human wars. This ? It is rather the battles of man, often deluded by false glory, sometimes even led by that proud spirit, the devil.
The idiocy for example of imagining that surviving creates, as if a last car not bombed, being THERE, is a fit source for millions of others: as if to BE is to MAKE, to exist is to invent. Such just-so stories as that of evolution and its gross and base defilements of human nature, have neither logic nor verification, unlike creation which has both to an overwhelming degree (cf. SMR pp. 140ff., Secular Myths and Sacred Truth).
Meekness is what is apt for a creation relating to a Creator whose directions and directives appear as they have appeared, for millenia self-verified and unchanged. It is far more so when the fatal directive is to the Son of God to bear the sin of many, and to call whosoever will, to His salvation, freely given.
Is the delivered sinner to be considered a god ? Is the saved soul a master ? Is not this the meekness even of Christ, that He neither slackly suffered untruth, rather delivering His flock in word and deed, nor vainly sought to slay His tormentors and accusers; but showing their folly, He used their madness to make of Himself a sacrifice for sin. Thus their weapons of vainglory and self-esteem became instruments for the Cross, and helpers, despite the extremity of their sin, in the display of the prodigious love and supreme efficacy of God, who having made, is mighty to save. God is like that: He knows what He is doing (cf. I Corinthians 2:8).
Indeed, on this man He looks - He actually tells us this in Isaiah 66:2 - to the one who "is poor and of a contrite heart, and who trembles at My word." Do you even with your car, cavalierly disregard the handbook supplied by the manufacturer ? Or do you consult it with CARE! Is this not the way rather than trusting the supreme wisdom and magnificence of yourself ?
Truth and honesty, integrity and goodwill, further Christian operating criteria, also appear not so unfitting for man when the contrary fruit of lies, dishonesty, impeachment, and grounds for it, embezzlement, deceit, propaganda, self-importance, self-seeking, ruthlessness and fruitlessness in any sort of goodness and beauty are seen in abundance, a bumper crop for our century! It is a century of woe, unwisdom and works of self-acclaim. It is in this way that waywardness in fighting with the morals, majesty and power of God becomes witlessness, so that crisis after crisis anoints the savage and the satanic, while the malign meditations of the blind chant, It is well, it is well, we will try harder and never relent or repent.
Forfeiting the knowledge of the living God, they either ignore God altogether or seek gurus and grandeurs which congratulate their sinfulness; but the Lord sifts the souls.
The knowledge of God, based on fact and act, as seen in the prophecies, the Gospels and the Acts of the apostles, who insisted on giving testimony to what they had seen and heard*2, is not so strange when the estranged ignorance of the great God and our Saviour (Ephesians 4:17-19, Titus 2-3), and hence of duty, destiny, the contours of godly character and the responsibilities of using resources with awe and joy for the glory of that same God who made them, defiles the greater part of the human race.
This makes of man a sort of sign-post idiot, twisting the pointer now this way, now that, in a fit of will and desire.
Operating in the absence of God is what is now found as a sort of international covenant among the mighty. It is the vast domain of deceitful, lying nations who regard power as position, and position as crucial, and in any practical form, rely not at all, AS NATIONS, on God. Mutual distrust has as thousand reasons, and mutual destruction a hundred possibilities, while mutual deception has scores of occasions each month.
Let the whirl-wind come, then, and it is now blowing very sharply, perhaps above 100 kpm; for the word of the ancient prophet is not less true now than when uttered, that of Hosea, who spoke of SOWING the WIND and REAPING the WHIRL-WIND (8:7). The latter, you see, is so destructive! Blow-hards about man's greatness only increase its velocity.
Even in many evangelistic preachments,
the holiness of God is under-valued,
the love of God is made more a matter of attraction to man than of redemption of an accursed miscreant by pure goodwill, a deliverance despite demerit; and
the fear of God, that stark reverential trust and faith in His thrust, in His power to act in the midst of the self-made inferno of this world
(if you are not feeling its warmth too much just yet, try being white in Zimbabwe, or Christian in Sudan, or in a faithful church in China, or a creationist in a University of pride and name)
is replaced by a palsy presumption which does not even to be too fussed about mere commandments.
Man has been very inventive in this century. Inventing himself without the power of God has proved to be the lower of the devil, the deception of pride and the device of devastation. The laboratory test goes on. The explosions continue.
Amid it all, the promised and predicted SHAKING continues, and bids fair to reach before too long, the amplitude of the divine prophecy, foretold in Haggai, boosted by Peter in the repeater station on the hill, if you will, at Pentecost (Acts 2).
It is the things that are heavenly which will remain (Hebrews 9. 10-12); nothing else can stay around. The hideousness of sin reaches its fitting conclusion; just as the Cross of Christ was the fitting conclusion which love envisaged, grace wrought and justice demanded. In His case, however, being deity, He shook off death (Acts 2:23-24), and in resurrection offers life to man (News 85). It is free; but it is found in a repentance to life (Acts 11:18), which is not superficial, but spiritual, not psychic manipulation, but personal regeneration, not rejuvenation but the access to eternal reality, even to the presence of God.
But how will man find God ? It is written, it is in the Manifesto of God, the Bible.
Where is the power ? It is given. It is in the life and resurrection of Christ.
How CAN a sinner lost in mind and heart, take heart to call on God ?
God loves; hence it is He who enables what man cannot do; and since love is restrained, and is an opposite pole to force, in this love He selects those who are His, so that desiring all, He takes some by a power mixed with purity, both infinite, intimate and ultimate.
The unshakeable is the unforsakeable! But you say, how would I not, given enough discouragement, forsake Him ? You may waver, but you could not and would not, if His, do so. He KNOWS His own, and those who enter into life eternal by the door of Christ, are KEPT by the Good Shepherd who, as Creator and Redeemer, can neither be busted by assailants, who like wolves lust for His flock, nor driven by distaste for those for whom He died. He has paid; and He will keep (John 10:27-28).
HE ? It is He who CANNOT be shaken.
See Bible Translations 20.
See Acts 4:19-20, 5:29-23, News 85.