AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH January 21, 2007
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
VISION, VIM and VITIATION …
I The Word 'Vision' in the Hebrew and English
VISION, that is the point. Where you do not have it, the people perish. That is the text.
The New King James version has this: "the people cast off restraint". The Berkeley has "the people run wild". The AV has "perish". Ungovernable because ungoverned in soul, the people breach their lives with folly, and the end is mere consummation of folly. It is like saying, in physical terms, where there is no wisdom, cancer moves unrestrained. The rules for life being ignored, the breach is not.
In Proverbs 8:33-36, you see just how ruinous it is, when wisdom is not heeded, the wisdom of the Lord. Wisdom speaks and declares this (red is to alert us, colour not in original):
"Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
For blessed are those who keep my ways.'
Hear instruction and be wise,
And do not disdain it.
"Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life,
and obtains favor from the LORD;
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul"
All those who hate me love death."
Before however we examine the text in its application, first of all, we need to examine the word rendered "vision" from the Hebrew base, in 29:18. It is fascinating, and not unlike the English word 'vision' in its coverage.
First of all, it means what you look at, perceive, realise, find in sight terms; then what you grasp, understand; then it moves upward to what God reveals and essentially to the revealed word of God, via prophets, enabling man to know what to do, what are the conditions of life, his spiritual environment, the case history of man and the needs of therapy, pardon, placement and adoption by God. In this, comes the Gospel, as the pith of the revelation. It was most open in Isaiah, clear in Zechariah, the thrust of the Psalms and even intimated in advance in the Genesis 3:15 account of its need. Nothing changes here.
All this, then, is in the meaning of the word. There is God, there is sight and there is the opening of it to God, so that you are knowingly linked, and finally believingly adopted as His child.
In English, there is no great difference in range to the scope of the word 'vision', except that in the Hebrew, Israel being theocratic, there is more stress on an even more politically ruled nation under the Lord than was England 1688 to the middle of the last century, since when it has become more and more painfully dissociated from its ostensible base. Vision in the end was open knowledge of God and His will, words and works, on the basis of which you can live securely, IF YOUR HEART is where your eyes are! It could involve lesser ranges of 'sight' but in the word of God, this is the criterion.
II The Meaning and the Application of 29:18
Without it, you perish; the people perish. Running wild they chide, chafe, act like chaff, fail and fall.
This is happening world-wide, but in terms of a fall from a measure of grace, it is notorious in places like USA, Europe, now formally regarded as a mission field (and this has been so for several decades), Australia, Canada. Other places, have often failed to find any national movement to Christ, and thus in China, we hear reports of large numbers of people being converted every day. Rule by power, however, on the part of nations with a clear Christian basis is now a thing of the past. In the USA, for example, there was a report of a huge pornographic meeting, and talk of one in three downloads from the internet being pornographic, of many pictures being made every year, in this style. The meeting in the USA sounded rather like a Royal Agricultural Society Show, in Australia; but what was shown instead of being animals and products, was moral pollution and the means of decease of the spirit of man, in one major component. It was rather like a spiritual funeral, with the rejoicing which in some places seems to follow, yet here in insalubrious social combinations.
What a show! Churches once sound are increasingly strangled by deceit, deviousness, survival techniques so horrible in craft, as to remind one that if one seeks to 'save' one's life, one will lose it (Matthew 16).
Thus, firstly, political movements reflect this. Thus in February of this year, there is a Bill to be considered by Parliament, the ‘EO Bill’, ironically the Equal Opportunity Bill. The last report seen on this was one which was officially affirmed to mean this: if you said what the Bible says on such topics as profession, divorce, gender or sexuality, you could become a criminal. This would be what you expect in Sodom, before it had, that time, not simply no rain, but too much, the rain being as archeology suggests, that of hot bitumen and sulphur, erupted from the earth and then descending from the skies
Secondly, international action confirms it. Thus President Bush spoke of a good Islamic religion (cf. Red Alert Ch. 13), trying to separate out terrorists; but the Koran is repeatedly using violence in the arena of faith (see Divine Agenda Ch. 6, for example). To praise what rejects redemption through the slain Messiah, whose very date of death was forecast by Daniel in Ch. 9 (see Highway of Holiness Ch. 4) and has works as the way to God, not grace, is to praise what is by definition therefore, an antichristian movement! To be President you have to care for and be fair to all, but not sell, lease or bend your mouth for any! Christianity is utterly exclusive of all but Christ as the sacrificial and sanctioned way to the Father (John 14:6, Acts 4:11-12), and what denies it, in biblical terms, is inimical to peace, misleading and not moving to God but to judgment. Enemies might ignore this; but those who love man must warn, with grace and clarity, kindness and pity.
On the other hand, if you tried to believe two opposite things, you are merely torn apart both logically and practically. How on earth does America hope to have clarity, charity, power and direction if it has this sort of testimony for its nation! Indeed, befouling in testimony as this is, the overall testimony of President Bush as the Christian level has been far superior to that of some past Presidents.
VISION ? It is departing. Sight of the truth, awareness of it, fear of God, love of mercy, the paths of holiness, these are being replaced by an atmosphere for body and spirit, so polluted that in China in both senses, its toxicity is amazingly threatening, for the nation, while other nations are quickly drawing close. This Bill for 2007 in our own State, if passed in its present form, would quickly bring in persecution of Christians. You are asked to pray for our efforts to overturn the evils of the Bill, if God so will, by having people call for an amendment, specifically to exclude religious persecution by penalising people who dare to present biblical truth as such.
WHY is the USA so freely presenting democracy in the Middle East, when the Islamic rule in terms of the Koran MEANS suppression, submission, and that to what not only has no verification, but cannot stand (cf. SMR pp. 1080ff., More Marvels … Ch. 4, Overflight … Ch. 1).
Thus Muhammad was strong in declaring that he was in the line of the Hebrew prophets, but his whole message is found to be rejecting their central theme, that of direct divine and personal redemption, as the ONLY way to heaven, so that there is no solace for his words there. His words are as far from theirs as heaven from hell, truth from fiction and discontinuity from continuity, in which the prophets wrote over the millenium.
There were innovative, dependent on one man and a divorce from all before, in no way supplemental, incremental or integral with the Bible. Far less does Muhammad accept the centrality and necessity of the death of the Messiah to bear sin in substitution for the sinner; in fact, he gives two accounts of Christ's death, one disclaiming it, one naming it (Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8, *1). Good works, prayers and obeying the prophet were allegedly the sure way (Surah 24:53,62, Surah 22), and if sacrifice entered in, as it does rarely, it was that of animals, as an expression of obedience, a good work. Salvation by grace through faith is as far off as is that through the Messiah’s death and resurrection.
Thus in no way does his doctrine allow for coverage of sins by the Messiah, or redemption by grace to salvation, the way to find God, as so clear from Leviticus to Revelation, from Psalms to Isaiah, from Jonah to Malachi. Enemy of the prophets, of necessity, he had a very different source. As to them, there was to be NO END to the truth of their doctrine (Isaiah 59:21). Islam has no verificatory basis, and no testable truth, nor does the Almighty Allah have the results, even when multiplied millions in milling nations oppose little Israel throughout the twentieth century: this numerical point being one deplored by the former PM of Malaysia not long ago (His Time is Near Ch. 10). Yet honour is given by one called Christian President to this false prophecy.
Vision is perishing from a people once strong in faith. The roses of Summer are now memories as the scraggy butts shrink unwatered into a barren Winter. Folly rises, disorder thrusts, violence becomes like a game, a match, and what is low and unproductive, schemes to destroy the earth. Such is the way when VISION is GONE, not what is inscribed on paper, but in the heart! Indeed, efforts to change the Bible first by philosophy, then by innovative text, have abounded as man flounders towards visionless obscurity. In the dark, said Christ, you stumble (John 8:12, 11:9-10): add atomic bombs to your arms, and your fall is the more notable.
III Allies in Spiritual Action 29:24-25
In our theme today, v. 24 shows that if you push your life with false religion, false talk and words and ways, then you are in partnership with a thief, the thief of truth, and become one who "hates his own life." You are trying to have two hearts, which do not beat in sympathy! A divided heart, one that beats partly to its own tune, this is one that brings direct divine response, as you see in Deuteronomy 8:11-19. Verse 20 proceeds to declare that this result will be like that for the nations that went before Israel. The land of Israel was no mere favourite, but an exemplar, and when it should turn away, like a child spending the capital of the parent, then it would be shown the same surety of judgment as any other people; except that in the end, the Lord's plans included a return of heart and restoration in a vast program of pardon, strength, recidivism, mercy and restoration through the very Messiah whom they slew.
Rend your heart, and not your garments! says Joel 2:13. Cardiac arrhythmia itself is like a parable, for it may follow heart attack, and result in various glides and slides, with menace and peril. How much more if what your heart is used to perform, even in the spiritual field, this too, has neither rhyme nor rhythm with reason, reality and above all, vision, the directions and declarations of Almighty God, invariant for millenia.
On the contrary, says our Proverbs 29:25, it is trust in the Lord that makes safe, whilst the fear of man brings a snare. This applies to any then, whether as a nation, State or individual, who are twisting like a snake, to resemble whatever they wish, in order to avoid this and that, to survive or something similarly characterless and godless as the final intention. Is it not so even in friendship ? If your friend thinks first of his own survival, what character does he have, what strength, what meaning, and what access to the term 'friend', but one of irony. Again, if any professional, dentist, doctor, teacher, thinks first of income, stability of employment and so on, what reliance can you place on this sold soul!
So vision of God leads to virtue of life, and a clean fear of God, not craven but just and due, to vigour and singleness of mind; and in the very act of sacrificing this and that to the Lord, you are like a vessel being careened. It makes your career brighter, keel lighter, and your way just. Hypocrisy seeks a double life but holiness intervenes. This leads to more vim, as the course of life, like a stream pulsing in from its elevated source, fresh from mountain snow careers in serene strength and fluid action.
How unthinkable therefore is the loss for the languid, without faith – Jeremiah 18:14. So does the called and claimed sinner turn by faith as in the presence of the Lord, to the sublime gift of life in God; and vitiation is lost, a haunting horror of the past that now cannot last. Then it is true for you that He has hidden your sins in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19ff.), and you are washed for service (I Corinthians 6:11), for sacrifice with joy (Colossians 1:10-11, Luke 14:27ff.), and strength with meaning (Ephesians 3:16).
The spirit of man does not deal advisedly in doublets, in refrains of duplicity, ambiguity, carols of uncertainty and symphonies of seduction. It has seducibility, because it has perception and conception with imagination and a life which is not merely menial. This turns of course in one extreme to paranoia, when the wonder of liberty becomes the illusion of grandeur, and little gods spawn themselves in imagination, while remaining mere mortal men; but in the other, it moves to rank violence, in attestation of its own estimation of its significance, and this, being mere madness, leads to contempt, for it complicates life and spoils its soaring. This may also be self-seen contempt ...
Then, often it may lead to melancholy, dissipation into a sense of meaningless. This is the psychic equivalence of cancer, when indeed in this case, the tissue of the soul has become spoiled as well as soiled, and the follies of trying to find meaning without the Creator lead to a natural cynicism, an unnatural nihilism or a rank coarseness, as the sublimity of our quest, back to the Creator, becomes the profound inertia of the unlinked, floating in the foam of folly.
Fear ? there should be none but of the Lord. Faith, there should be none except in the only one who is unseducible, inalienable once He has saved a person, and immortal; for faith in less is trust in insecure foundations. As to life, it is one. To mess it, is to mess all you have.
Playing games without vision is like walking on a tight-rope in the dark, over an abyss. It is worse. Even if you reach the other side, the access to deliverance is not mere movement, but through a mercy which has not rope but reality in store, and not self-assertion of one's own morals or life or religion or purpose or excellence or hope, but sober acceptance of the perfection which only God has, and the gift which only He COULD make (Psalm 49), providing in the Cross of Christ (I Corinthians 1), that reliability which man, like a feather in the wind, cannot be expected in himself, to provide.
Without vision, vitiation; with divinely implanted vision, based on the testable, empirically checked, long sustained and unchanging Bible, on the Christ who is its centre and who came at the long since past date consigned for Him: then there is vim.
There is also victory (I John 5:4, Romans 5:17ff.), for in Him there is not only the form of truth, but the fact of it, and the power for it, and the mercy to enable association with the love to appeal. How often has He appealed! The time is long; but the end is short.