AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH November 4, 2007
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
TERMINAL VELOCITY FOR ISRAEL,
TIMELY ADVICE FOR ALL, NOT ON THINGS POLITICAL BUT FINAL
Today, there was on News Radio (November 3), a presentation on the topic of religion as taking back a major focus in the world. About 1/3, it averred, of the world professes to be Christian, some 21% Moslem and so on. But why was this new focus arising ? It was partly of course the Islamic use of force from their numbers, newly re-focussed, partly Hindu nationalism and so on. As to the Middle East, where of course the situation is even if possible more obvious, there is a dispute about land, said the speaker, and religion enters in.
If ever there was a missing of priorities, it was here. The ‘dispute about land’, even if you think of it in terms of whether as in the Bible, God gave the West Bank to Israel, or as in the mind of various men, something different was done by some invention called Allah, one who does not bother, it would seem, to show his power by his actions, or his truth by any verifications and who must therefore be left in the realm of the productions of false prophets in terms of the Bible’s predictions (Matthew 24:24), as indeed of scientific method: it is not a land matter primarily. It is a matter of who is God and who is a false prophet. ALL else is merely derivative.
This is a religious matter, always has been and will be; for the documents of the case bear no comparison, the Bible only being verified and validated continuously in all things, and not least in this very Middle Eastern arena. So great is the propaganda, whether for religious purposes or for 'world peace' by pillorying Israel again, since it is MUCH smaller than the Islamic hordes and vast land masses and has little oil, and MUCH more easily contained (God apart, which of course He is not, but this trifle is often forgotten in the muddle of non-truth which passes as dissertation): that many might think that this itself is mere propaganda. It is not.
It is fact. God said that Israel would be chastened cumulatively for its sins, eventually removed from its land for a long period, would kill the Christ when He came and abhor Him, that He would rise from the dead and it gave the Gospel in advance in terms of which His word would travel the world, spoke of the return of Israel, its victories in disproportionate wars, its failure even then to believe in its own crucified Christ, the continuation of all but unbearable tensions in the Middle East and the arising of powers of determination and thrust to settle the matter once for all, with God's response also itemised, with catastrophic results for many. Nothing on earth matches that. It is quite simple (cf. SMR Ch. 9). It is a predictive series now nearly complete, sequence, now fact.
God has done what He said, and as former Malaysian President Mahathir declared, it is astonishingly unsatisfactory (in his view) for 50 years or so to have past with Israel still very much alive and active and uncontained. As seen in SMR pp. 829ff.,that is simple verification. Similarly, Muhammad, though citing as righteous the Jewish prophetic line, is hideously and rampantly contrary to their major thrust, and hence invalidated (cf. SMR pp. 1080ff.). You can kill or emote, but facts remain. Where the Bible is concerned, they always do; that is why it has its place, loved by some, hated by many, but impervious to all assault.
This focus on Israel, which appeared in the dissertation on the radio, and in the gun sights of much of Islam, as in the Pan-Islamic Conference of 1991 which pondered its destruction, and in the words of the President of Iran, which say rather more and not less! this is not new. The wrath and froth of the nations was earlier aroused, and God even used it in the discipline of Israel, as shown in Jeremiah 30, today's text. God foretold moreover the eventual return of His people to their land, as was formalised as late as 1948, an event in the last days, to move on to the Messiah.
It is not really Israel, ultimately, but God. It is not that Israel is great, but God; it is not that Israel is to be vindicated (it has in much done woefully, but in some other things splendidly), but God's word concerning it will be. It is all really an affront to, attack on, assault upon God, in spirit as much as in the case of Calvary. It is, this time, Gentiles of one kind or another (defined as non-Jews) who are the focus of attack on the Lord, as they peck at His word, as if blind, and wonder at the predicted results of turmoil and confusion, which duly HAVE COME TO PASS. Hence this is one of the key points in the News item on the new forefront for religion in international affairs.
We will move into a realm of analogy, that of speeding: ‘the speed that thrills is the speed that kills,’ and follow an imaginary court case resulting, while applying this to ourselves, our world and God's Gospel of grace.
I THE SPIRITUAL SPEED THAT KILLS AND LEADS TO CONVICTION
Before the calamities are outlined in Jeremiah 30, the Lord indicates the result in due time, that the soon to be exiled people would be brought back to their own land (30:3). But in the meantime, WHY, asks the Lord, does He see every man with his hands on his loins, and all faces pale - it is like a woman taken with child labour pains. Indeed, Jeremiah brings the future near and judgment close, indicating a DAY OF JACOB'S TROUBLE, "for it is great"! “But he will be saved out of it” (30:6-7). Deliverance from that searing scourge will be sure, God will deliver Israel from fiery foreigners, and the nation will at last under this liberating hand of the Lord, serve the Messiah, "David their King" ( 30:9, as in Psalm 72, 2, 110). This has yet to be, when in His power and regality, He will deliver them from their enemies and break their yokes imposed for so long as they are scattered among the nations (30:16-17,20,24, cf. 33:11-16).
Indeed, Israel's coming to their New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31ff.) is also yet to come. Yet the conditions are ripe, the furies of the nations are ready for His action (as in Ezekiel 38-39) and what has transpired since 1948 is what has been prescribed by Zechariah 12, as a prelude to the vast, national recognition of Jesus Christ the crucified, as their Messiah, Lord and Saviour, yes the God of Israel whom they pierced when He came (Micah 5:1-3), from eternity to time to endure the impact of sin to secure the result of salvation (Isaiah 53). The prelude, not only in the return of Israel to its land (as indicated in Luke 21:24 and here in Jeremiah as in Isaiah 42, Micah 7), but in its horrid suffering before the blessing culminates, is now in place.
What then is that terrible day of vast tragedy which was to hit Israel before the Messiah at last came (Jeremiah 30:9,23-24), when stark horror would rule in an unparalleled manner ? It is not hard to see its infamous and inglorious name. It is the Auschwitz, of the death camp matter of killing around half of Jews in the world, in ways as carefully sought out by their captors, as a scientific experiment. What power the Jews had obtained in their scattered state throughout the world at that day, that their destruction should occur at the hand of a demagogue by the name of Hitler, and to such an extent! This day of trouble, it is GREAT indeed! (Jeremiah 30:5-7).
So had many in Israel achieved real progress in Europe, only to be ditched in this ONE MORE shameful assault, crowning centuries of affliction, precisely as Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 32 had foretold from Moses. Harden your neck often, and your destruction comes, says Proverbs 29:1. "He who is often rebuked and hardens his neck will be destroyed suddenly, and that without remedy!" we read. Mercifully, the remedy for Israel, being selective for the remnant (Isaiah 11:11), is as extensive as the Gospel (Jeremiah 31:31ff., Isaiah 49:6, 42:6, Jeremiah 19-21) which is to all people by what might be called an amnesty, based on mercy, expressed in sacrifice in the temple of the body of Christ (Isaiah 52:12ff.). Only direct divine action could produce this remedy for Jew or Gentile, obliterating the irremediable in the Remedy that is God in His own Being, wrought in this same Messiah of Jeremiah 30:5ff., Isaiah 49-55, freely.
But what of the fall of Israel before the God whom they crucified in the format of flesh, and the years since, for that nation ?
It is in one sense like falling, from a high craft in the upper air, until you increase to your terminal velocity. Here your mass in wrought on by gravity, and in due course the wind resistance is such that you reach the fastest you can go. It is in the spiritual sense, terminal in both regards: it is a fall so fast it could go no more, and its end is sure! It is so unless of course a parachute of grace opens when the air moves fast past you as you fall further down, and there is an ABRUPT HALT to the furious decline because you are born up, and let down gently.
Yet it is not air but the word of God which alone can buoy you up, since His power is on promise and His offer is in grace, and it is founded by pardon in peace from repentance with the SORT of faith which SIMPLY RECEIVES His grace without addition (Matthew 18:1-3), His blood offering without other fluids (Galatians 1, 3), His pardon freely (Romans 5:15, Isaiah 55) and His resurrection as the ground of faith that never moves (Romans 10:9, I Corinthians 15:1ff., Isaiah 26:19). Israel has already reached that velocity, and God is already intervening before its great day of grace. The Gentile world, as if over-hungry, is seeking to replace her with great effort; yet individuals have the opportunity to avoid both disasters and receive the Lord by faith through grace NOW.
Thus Israel is not alone in this predicament, although scripturally focussed for all to see the accuracy and reliability of the word of God, whether for catastrophe, if you harden, or for good. The Gentile world is now acting as if programmed to parallel Israel's performance in securing the due, deserved and inalienable wrath of God, except His mercy be invoked where it may be found (Isaiah 55). Hindu nationalism, Islamic lust for world domination on the part of many a nation and group, utter intolerance of Israel by seething nations, fearless interference by the Madrid Quartet, playing God without success in the Middle East: these things mean Gentiles are increasingly qualifying as the next recipient of major trouble (cf. Matthew 24:8,22)! The hardening of the neck is in them now apparent abundantly!
Events have come to pass rather suddenly.
A picture in The Advertiser on October 31st., 2007, shows horsemen and memorialises the splendid courage of Australians in a battle in October 31,1917, horsemen against machine guns! which opened the way later for the British to liberate Palestine. So could the Jew freely return to his millenial homeland. Thus came the point for the British Balfour Declaration of 1917, giving this same Palestine to Israel, partly in gratitude for the vastly helpful work of the Jewish explosives' expert, Dr Chaim Weizmann. How different would history have been if this promise had been kept - and note that it later became an international promise on the part of the victor nations, shortly after World War I! Now is trouble...
Hard was the heart that betrayed Israel, in handing 2/3 of this to Jordan around 1920. Hard was the heart in Britain that blockaded Jewish hired vessels, bringing back survivors and more to Israel, after Hitler had been defeated. Harder yet are the hearts that try now to induce Israel to give back part of the Jerusalem they conquered in 1948, 1967, in the face of NO help from the world in the former case! Hard is the way for those who dare to ignore Zechariah 12, and the fact that Jerusalem is to become a heavy stone for those who try to intervene and direct things!
Thus Jeremiah's message to the Israel of his day, which showed in advance the peak point of Israel's persecution, is one applicable to the Gentile world of our time. Indeed, what does Jeremiah 30:16 say of Israel: " 'Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall become plunder, and all who prey upon you I will make a prey. For I will restore health to you, and heal you of your wounds,' says the LORD, because they called you an outcast, saying, 'This is Zion: No one seeks her.' " This is in the very context of the breach of Gentile dominion as the rule of the Messiah becomes apt, relevant and practical to their plight (Jeremiah 30:8-10): it is not for all, but for a substantial remnant that the spiritual result obtains, but the nation is delivered from its habitual enemies, oppressors and invaders, its plunderers who preyed on it shamelessly. The deliverance is from overwhelming power of nations by the supervening, supernal power of the Lord (cf. Deuteronomy 32:34-43, Micah 7). The one is the butt for His power, as Israel was for theirs; the other is His power for His people.
While that was more closely uttered to the Israel of that day, and had a preliminary point, yet it is applicable in principle to the uttermost in the transition time when this same Lord intervenes to rule the world (cf. Isaiah 11), overcoming the prolonged works of others who try to make THEIR discipline 'help' Israel by adding murder and horror, lust and greed as they seek to expropriate more and more of the land from the people, whose enclave in the Middle East, even now, is pitifully small. What great nations are this Madrid Quartet, to seek to make the successful mouse deliver up more of its crumbs to the vast, stomach heavy cat, which eats amply in principle. Alas, America has already suffered once allied with Islam in the USA, and others so conspicuously at the famous Prayer Breakfast of Bush... Is it just that this time it will have companions, unless it relents, not from Islam but from afflicting the true God! (Jeremiah 30:16-17).
Indeed, what would Islam have had to do, to threaten, if TWICE Germany et al., and later Germany plus Japan, had not sought to gain this and that, and so greatly weakened Europe that it has become vulnerable, and will doubtless seek heavily to close the gap. Its time comes (as in Revelation 13, 17-18) when the home-bred antichrist to be in its midst is up for destruction (Daniel 7, Revelation 19 SMR pp. 886ff., 502ff., Biblical Blessings Ch. 1, The Wit and Wisdom of the Word of God ... Ch. 6). Russia helped to precipitate all this by its vast cruel, heartless and fairy-tale philosophy (cf. News 98, SMR pp. 925ff.) so that all clashed in vain, to make way for what is far worse than any! the very spirit of fraud in god-affirming format! (cf. II Thessalonians 2:4ff.). The precursors were clothed in symbols: this becomes direct!
II THE DAY IN COURT
We return from application of these things, to Israel itself, set in the spiritual sights of the prophet Jeremiah. Thus God declares of Israel, as He specifies its judgments to come, "There is no one to plead your cause … you have no healing medicines." It is like the day in court after being convicted (cf. John 16:8ff.), of speeding! Yet there is One in Court, the Judge of all men whose day comes swiftly (cf. Acts 17:31). In fact, Israel's return to Jerusalem after the crucifixion is one of the chief indications of the nearness of Christ's return (cf. Luke 21:24).
How many feel much the same as beleaguered Israel! They are caught in court, without shelter, merit or feature, only dependent on mercy! Amazingly, in fact before the mercy of God, it is PRECISELY then that there is hope. "Behold," says God in Jeremiah 3:35, "I will plead My case against you, because you say, 'I have not sinned.' " Mercy is not for mouthings but for repentance. How lovely that it is by promise given in Jesus Christ rather to him who pounding his chest cries, "God have mercy on me a sinner," than to the one who in uplifted pride and self-importance thanks God he is not as other men (Luke 18:9ff.)!
Repentance FROM sin (Luke 13:1-3) INTO life (Acts 11:18) if like knocking on the door. It will come to Israel soon (Zechariah 12:10-13:1); it must come soon to any, for the time is short now the pattern is complete (Luke 21:28ff., cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
III THE BARRISTER COMMISSIONED
Finally, let us note, in Jeremiah 30:21, the amazing expression of the divine commission of Christ, the Messiah - rather like that found in Revelation 5:1-6, where only Christ is good enough and potent enough to take the scroll of coming history and open it: without HIM, it would have been all horror; because of Him, mercy is entwined in the roots of the tree and brings life where the sap goes. Hence being merciful, He takes this sealed scroll of coming events, opens it and so earth history moves to its end.
" 'For who is this who pledges His heart to approach Me ?' says the LORD.’ ” It is He whom God will cause to draw near, the governor in their midst, the Incarnate Christ, the crucified One (as in Philippians 2). In Jeremiah 50:44, you have a similar question posed regarding the LACK of any shepherd to safeguard Babylon's interests, for NONE can withstand the Lord who acts to devastate it. Teaching is by contrast.
Thus, here, it is the LORD Himself, who comes! In victorious humility (as in Zechariah 9:9), and having as there salvation, He comes to govern. It is He who not only is acceptable, but is CAUSED to draw near, exactly as in Daniel 7:13 - "they brought Him near..."
HE is MOST acceptable (as in Isaiah 41:28-42:7), for indeed He delights in Him. He comes in flesh as His beloved servant, the One born of a virgin (as in Isaiah 7, Jeremiah 31:22, Isaiah 40,42,49-55), an eternal delight (cf. Proverbs 8, John 17), so that it is HE who is Almighty God, incarnate from the Trinity (as in Isaiah 48:16), who is the acceptable SHEPHERD. It is He who comes. When He rules, it is for one and for all, whoever will, and whoever will not, that one is not of His flock (cf. Isaiah 26:10), and if his heart remains obdurate, yet Christ's rule comes to the once so sullen and ebullient earth (like a bipolar patient) to bless it, both in power and in pastoral felicity (cf. Micah 7, Isaiah 11, Psalm 72). In this glory to Jew and to Gentile, to this earth, it forms a prelude of wonder to the new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65, Revelation 21), where the remnant of Jew and the chosen of the Gentiles are one flock with one Shepherd (Revelation 7:1ff.,14ff.)
What power is here, what protection comes. Indeed the very Redeemer Himself will come in person (as in Zechariah 14:5). It is THIS God who IS sufficient for our every need, to pardon, empower, enlighten, envelop in kindness and cultivate us like soil, that we bear much fruit in the sunshine of His heartening presence: He in the Father and we in Him, in His glowing radiance and kindness, both vast and intimate.
It is He who as in I John 2:1-2, is the barrister in court, it is He who pays by His own blood (as in Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 53, Ephesians 1:7), who IS the ransom (Matthew 20:28, Psalm 22,49), who in redeeming both denotes the cost by the very blood of His veins, and the love by the willingness to have them broken. It is He who having come near, goes far by His Spirit to find His own.
It is He who makes history move and salvation occupy the hearts of His people, each one in Zion appearing on an individual basis before God! (Isaiah 44:1-5, Psalm 84:7). It is He who makes many of the Gentiles rejoice with His people (Deuteronomy 32:43). Remember, he who believes in Him does not make haste, for HE goes before you (John 10, Isaiah 28:16).