Australian Bible Church – June 29, 08
A CONTINUATION OF THE
OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA
ON BIBLICAL LINES …
THE FOUR TOWERS
Genesis 45:5-8. 50:20; Romans 3:8, Isaiah 45:7, 45:19, 8:29ff.
The Twin Towers, famous in New York as embodiment of something of the power, prowess and acumen of the USA, were destroyed in a short time by those so limited they even had to use USA equipment to do it. If that nation does not take heed to that fact, in the midst of immoral declivities and religious prodigalities, it is not wise.
There are however not twin but four towers of a better order, manufactured in heaven for this earth, put into the word of God. Calamity, Control and Deliverance are their associates. They work on a grand scale of vision, and discharge only good where wisdom is found.
Tower I - The Deep Plans
In Genesis 45:5-8 and 50:20 we see some deep plans brought to triumphant conclusion. Joseph, loved by his father, a dreamer, had been the victim of his brothers' jealousy, sold to a slave caravan to be taken to Egypt in a heartless fashion. These, his brothers, pretended a wild animal had killed him, but in fact wild passions had done so, on the part of most of them, or something near to equivalent!
When Joseph, moving through many vicissitudes, requiring much patience, had eventually become in effect, Prime Minister in Egypt under Pharaoh, greatly esteemed through his interpretation of dreams leading to security and wealth for Egypt, things changed in Israel. His brothers because of famine, were sent to Egypt to buy grain, but in so doing came into contact with ruler, Joseph, who recognised them, though in his eminence, his family relationship was not realised by them as they sought food from this rich land.
At last, he revealed who he was to them and made several statements of great importance in terms of TOWER I, the Deep Plans of God.
The FIRST statement from Joseph was this, put to his brothers in the climax of their food search. It is found within Genesis 45:5-9, below (red for the one's stressed here).
"But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."
Look at the implications. First, God had a plan to save the lives of Israel's people. Secondly, He foreknew the imminent famine. Thirdly, he USED the jealousy of Joseph's brothers, to put Joseph in Egypt, and the character of faithful Joseph, to put him into power in Egypt, having various side-plans, such as having Joseph in prison in order to meet a court official there, and so on.
When the famine came, He arranged for the brothers to be sent, while Joseph was in charge of this vast food program in Egypt, and for them to meet. This enabled Him to use Joseph to bring Jacob down to Egypt to cover the famine, then to house the rest of Israel there as cattle people and deploy Joseph to give a lesson of great value for all mankind. At once, we note that Joseph does not harass his brothers, but sees the racial plan God had, and proceeds without any complication from self-interest or vengeance, to fulfil it.
That, it is deep; it is powerful to the uttermost point, because ANY error or failure in the divine plan, one thing following from another, would have ruined it.
This is not all. At the death of Joseph's father, Jacob, the brothers are concerned, in view of their own trend towards cruelty shown earlier, though not all of them were of this kind, that he might THEN seek vengeance on them. Joseph however declares a vital Christian principle (for Christ was already in view from Genesis 3:15 in the mind of God cf. Barbs ... 17): it is found in Genesis 50:19-21.
"Joseph said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?
But as for you, you meant evil against me;
but God meant it for good,
in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
'Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.' And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them."
EVIL imposed by man can be evil DISPOSED by God, to turn it to good. Such is His wisdom; and the practical lesson for us at once, is not only to have such faith that apparently adverse developments do not move us, except to prayer, but NEVER to seek vengeance. That is God's prerogative, and with Him, it is not for personal satisfaction, since we can add nothing, but for the maintenance of truth in its impact, amidst the mercy He also shows habitually. This is customarily shown until there is no remedy (as in II Chronicles 36:16: "But they mocked His messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy").
Isaiah 57:15-16 shows how this is so.
“I dwell in the high and holy place with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend forever, neither will I always be angry; for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.”
Tower 2 - The Tall Assumption
Does this fact that God in His wisdom is well able to turn evil (in intention and plan, even in execution) to good, as here, mean that one might as well do evil, knowing full well that good can come from it by the power of God ? Certainly not, says Paul in Romans 3:8. Putting the power of God in the format of redemption, which is free, he makes the strong point that sedition of righteousness is not its method of enactment, that this is mere slander against the grace of the Gospel. The trend of Romanism to accuse those who need no works, but only those of Christ, to be given their eternal salvation is pertinent here.
This religion has to ADD, both to the word of God, and to the place of man’s action for salvation, directly cursing in the Canons of Trent, the view that through the mercy of God in Christ, those freely acquitted through and in Him, need nothing more for them to secure heaven. Work they will, but BECAUSE of salvation, and not to achieve its grace. You are saved without works, but not without faith, and faith works.
In fact, the regeneration of the Christian (Titus 3:3ff., I John 3), changes the nature of the person, and God's discipline as required (Hebrews 12) is not made an excuse for ruining His plan of salvation, this depending on NONE BUT HE, is certain and secure.
In this they err greatly, knowing neither the Bible nor the power of God.
In fact, the regeneration of the Christian (Titus 3:3ff., I John 3), changes the nature of the person, and God's discipline as required (Hebrews 12) is not made an excuse for ruining His plan of salvation. This, depending on NONE BUT HE, is certain and secure.
It is precisely here that each person must examine the heart. DO you REALLY rely on GOD ONLY, in Christ's sublime sacrifice and bodily resurrection, so that He is now AVAILABLE in prayer in His name, to bring you home to Him, through many adversities, but with perfect security ? If so, this suggests you are really TRUSTING Him to do what He says (Ephesians 1:11, John 6:40-54). If not, you become a co-Saviour, and for my part, anything of eternal value depending AT ALL on me, depends too much. Were I even 90% perfect, some day, some way, I could fail in blindness, and ruin all. It is good God needs no helper for this.
Tower 2 broadcasts continually against all seditions of free salvation (Romans 3:23ff., 5:15, Titus 3:3-7), not least those founded to counter false assumptions.
Tower 3 - The Written Resumé
The Writing Tower, the Third, this is found in Isaiah 45:19.
"I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth.
I did not say, 'Seek Me in vain';
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right."
In Job 28, Job gives his wonderful discourse on wisdom, indicating that it is not hidden in dark places, as in mines, difficult to find. It is to be found in God. He, for His part, has ensured that the Book of the Lord is the best seller for hundreds of years, on this earth. It is known more than any other book. It was not given in some dark place, but in staggering clarity, entwined with history so that it is in some ways like a Physics Lab Book! showing principles and their verification, with history as the lab.
Seek, says Isaiah 34:16, out of the Book of the Lord and read: NONE of these shall fail. Not even a pair of birds specified to be found in the ruins of a place noted, destroyed in judgment, will lack, for each has its mate; and so with the words from the Lord, the word of God, each has its mate, and all form a directorate for history, which has followed them always. Not a jot, declared Christ, of the prophets or the law would fail till all is fulfilled, yes and this is so even though heaven and earth are to go. The word of God, in other words, depends on NO part or even ALL of creation. As the word of the Creator, it is beyond all that, even though it makes specifications for and to creation. That, it is the Author's privilege, that of the Author of creation and of our salvation (Hebrews 12, Col. 1:15).
This lofty Tower stands serene, inviolable with the mountain backdrop of the vast ranges of the Lord's own righteousness, truth and mercy IN TERMS OF IT!
Tower Four, That of Deliverance or Calamity
Romans 8:29ff. gives a last word on deliverance for our use here. ALL things work together for good for those who love God, those called according to His purpose.
God sees to that, as He did for Joseph, even though the lad was tested very severely indeed. Imagine languishing in prison, AFTER being sold by your treacherous brothers, and falsely accused by an adulterous wife of the boss, a woman from whom you fled, and then finding that courtiers of Pharaoh had come near you, being themselves also in your very prison, in the shade of Pharaoh's anger. Keep imagining and you find that one of them has a dream which you correctly read, fulfilled for himself, and then FAILS to mention you to Pharaoh as arranged. A long period slips on. You are young, grievously misused. Fetters bind your innocent feet, which are harmed by them.
No depression, no rejection of the Lord. You bear it and believe. Such was Joseph. ALL things worked together for good, as we have seen above, though it included MUCH that was very hard to take, multiplied injustice, treachery, dishonesty and a chance to get your own back. This is an epic in deliverance BY Joseph and OF Joseph, and IN Joseph, in terms of his extremely affectionate reception of those who had so vitally wronged his WHOLE LIFE. YOU, he said, did evil but GOD meant it for good, and has used it to deliver all of us! What vision, what grace, what goodness! (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). Here then is much to learn, and to apply. One such point: patience as desired by the Lord (cf. Romans 5:1ff.), is not just to 'take it', but await the point of it. This is both in character, and in history (Habakkuk 2:3-4).
Beyond all this, there is from the high towers we have considered, a better view. Romans 8:29 moves to 8:30 where we learn that it is not as if some plan lacked for each one of us who is His: for WHOEVER is foreknown, this one is predestined. That is, there is a limit and way set, to ensure that the desired end is secured, as found out in foreknowledge. As to that, it is not a question of what we are to do, but of God's eternal knowledge of us (Ephesians 1:4), His who desires all to be saved and saves those who do not prefer, in the end, darkness. Those predestinated are justified and these are glorified, found in the end at His side.
When you get used to the Four Towers, vision increases, and the turmoil and pressing events of this earth no longer apply breaking force to your mind, your spirit, your heart. It is all in His hands; and He may indeed have for you a challenge as for Joseph. No one denies it. You have to take up your CROSS and FOLLOW Him; but the end is good and the way is clear and His company is with you, as is His plan. Keep then to the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35), which moves up the hills of faith, in the light of the good and precious will of the Lord, and be plentiful in good works. On the other side of this Tower, it looks out at calamity, the final product for recalcitrants and transients, who in the very face of His light have not trusted in the Lord (Isaiah 45:7, John 3:19,36, Psalm 1:4-5, Daniel 12:1ff.).