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The CONQUEST OF SPACE IS NOTHING
COMPARED WITH THE CONQUEST OF MAN
NOT BY MILITARY MEANS
BUT BY THE REGALITY OF REALITY,
BY THE GRACE OF GOD
WHOSE RESCUE COURSE HAS INFINITE BACKING
WHY DID GOD ... ?
WHY did God ... ? How often is this question asked.
Before we proceed to answer the query, Why did God engage in an astronomical undertaking so vast, so almost hilariously powerful, shocking to the naturalistic taste in its intrusiveness, in its timing, in its personal expression of divine desire irrespective of the established order, in its all but flamboyant disregard of the 'necessity' of uniformity of 'nature' in conformity to the foolish philosophies that put matter from nowhere, mind from thoughts that are not there, in order that it might show mastery in that realm and spirit for perspective, will, thought fashioning in originality and aridity of heart or exuberance in the Lord, from nowhere in particular ?
To which vast astronomical undertaking does one then refer ? It is that which was shown in the case of godly King Hezekiah. A Jewish king ? Rather King of Israel. What is the difference ? A Jew could be king anywhere; but the King of Israel is a person in a post of divine definition, for a divine purpose and a resultant in the end, so vast in significance that the whole starry universe is but a backdrop, a stage setting. Here are the props for majesty; but through the King of Israel is the person for the stage.
What however is the 'stage' for ? It is for man to walk, strut, play the mut, engage in smut, to rut, to spew his spiritual gut, to be clamorous for blood (that is to say, that of someone else), to be militant, to be pompous, airy in heart and acting as if a divine replacement with a heart from hell; or else to be noble but vacuous in disposition, to be kind but confused in spirit, or again, to be godly and delightful in forbearance, kindly with wisdom, gracious with wit, discerning with humility and loving in aspect. It allows action, quality and profanity, love or urbanity, sobriety or insanity, gaiety or inanity, purity or perversion, realism or inversion, brotherliness or bother, spit and grimace or spirituality and grace.
It is a stage for many plays, and because it is so large, the stars can look down on many of these comedies, acidulous ironies, inventive fantasies, woeful tragedies, insanities, profundities of understanding, restraints of heart, sacrificial actions, works of wonder wrought in the very power of God; and man can look at them likewise, with eyes blinded by the acids of his spirit which exude into the very pores, open but not opened to the wonder of the Lord, refusing to look or else with a silent unsublimity, averted from the sights which are the key to all the dramas.
But to return WHY did God so act as we read in Isaiah 38 ? why did He show to King Hezekiah, righteous and upright, a reformer with zeal, man of heart and spirit, such a sublime thing as the shadow on a sun dial going backwards, not forwards, AFTER FIRST SPECIFYING that He would do this ?
WE should be sure we know the gen, the data, the span of reality here. THIS King of Israel, as we have begun to show, was one out of the box. Which box ? that of mercifulness of heart, kindness of disposition, cleanliness of spirit, godliness of life. Is that so unusual ? In that historical situation, alas, it had become so in the ranks of power. By that part of the history of Israel, appointed nation for the divine drama that is able to make of man not a sink but a soul, not a clutter of bits, but a design for destiny, not a wholly organised 'accident' (by a self-contradiction more vast than the heavens) or a meaningless incident, but a meaningfully sited and sighted person in communion with the God of creation and redemption, Hezekiah shone like a star.
Many in the preceding reign had been so preoccupied with that rebellious spirit with equipment to display the glory of God on hearty application seduced into a screen saver of ugly detail and dimension, that Hezekiah was not in a good part. A hurricane of unholiness had ravaged the nation, infected the temple, focussed idols and acted as if the provocation of the Lord was a chief objective.
That is the first point. It shows Hezekiah as a reforming King after a deforming mess, seeking divine mercy in the midst of an inherited miasma.
His father, that lustreless Ahaz, had been so asinine in dealing with God that it startles the heart to note in this illustration, the depths to which the human spirit can go. GIVEN BY GOD - yes God has a full hand with gifts - the opportunity to meet a grant to importunity, power to prevail in ANY situation, ANYTHING you ask, the offer for godly aspiration, when faced with an overwhelming seeming battle situation for the nation, did he grasp it happily like a swimmer drowning the hand of the life-saver ? No, indeed not. As to that divine offer, he turned it down! HE refused to operate by faith, declaring that he would not test the Lord. TEST? test One who had OFFERED to do something ?
How does this differ from hypocritical romancing in a relish for rebellion! from distrust ? from devious guile associated with desperate folly! Such was the character of the preceding regime which Hezekiah had inherited, complete with slack worship, false idols, foolish ways and degenerating life in the nation.
Well, you may say, is that so unusual ? People often degenerate, and someone has to do something. Yes, but not SUCH a people with SUCH a task and SUCH a background of both divine appointment and divine deliverance (from Egyptian slavery through the desert some 40 years, before entry into the promised land with its premised miracles)!
True, you may reply, but as to this purely formal, pseudo-faith of Ahaz, is that so unusual ? Again, its setting was crucial to the very existence of the nation, and the destiny for that nation, to become base for the predicted arrival of that Messiah without whom the race itself could not continue (cf. Isaiah 24, 59, Matthew 24:21-22). As to the type of disfaith, of practical unbelief which Ahaz had shown, perhaps more usually, the life of faith is turned down as tainted, or unreal by a fabulous power of disfaith, of mordant death working in the spirit, with perhaps a blasphemy or two to add flavour to the earthly drama of the dissident spirit of man.
In this case of Ahaz, there had been no expression of distastes for. or disbelief in, the divine. He toyed with words, played with an offer of triumphant potential, and went on his way as if blind and deaf and dumb, but not so dumb in mouth as in heart, when ALL he needed was on unlimited offer and deliverance for the nation was ready for delivery!
In that event, you might pursue the point, if he had all kinds of military trouble, and God Almighty made such an unqualified offer (except that OF COURSE, nothing would be given contrary to His established and clear character AS GOD, as loving, as equitable, as just, as compassionate - and here was a strong expression of this very thing), then why on earth or in heaven for that matter, depending on where you are envisaging his operations, in his own heart or in his superior realms to which he might so well have been attached, instead of studying the engineering of hell ... WHY DID AHAZ NOT TAKE THE DIVINE OFFER! Why did he not get the thing needed, including stability and strength and godliness and grace and compassion and the engineering of victory over these inveterate foes confronting his nation; and then REJOICE!
There is wonder indeed. Why for that matter, answer this first, does modern man in numbers of nations, well aware of the power of God and His purposes, seek war instead of seeking peace with purity, nobility with worship, goodness and loveliness, splendour of spirit in humility and happiness with holiness ... It is because the heart is not there with which to believe, the head is curtained off from the light, the spirit is in bondage to sin and the heart beats in the domain of the devil as if pollution were its exclusive property and deliverance were a thing for a smirk. Alas, there is little room to smile at the endless parade of atrocities to the flesh, the homes, the lives, the ways, the living conditions, the bodies, the children of men, which come in Georgia now, in China, in the Sudan, in Zimbabwe, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Iran, by the heat of the new Russian Cold War and the cold hearts of those who consent to become human bombs to make of children a thing of agony, life a burden and lust for land a religion, in the Middle East.
Man marches with an indifference to truth and righteousness and justice more and more closely resembling that specified in Isaiah 59, which is concerned with the return of the Lord with power to govern, as foretold for so long whether in Psalm 2, 110, 72, in Isaiah 65, 11, in Micah 4 and 7, Psalm 67 and the rest, such as Revelation 20 and II Thessalonians 1.
Nevertheless, this is all the more reason for us to consider the way of King Hezekiah when his nation had become so twisted and tormented, and the way of the Lord in dealing with his sickness, even on an astronomical scale; and further, seeking the meaning and pith and point, of such a divine action from the word of God, that Bible which turns the pages of history, as one turns to find its wisdom, leading to the end of this Age and beyond.
MODERN MAN NEEDS TO READ HISTORY, NOT POLLUTE OPPORTUNITIES
Someone who had been preoccupied and not listened to all of the above, might suddenly interrupt here. Wait a minute, you may say. I know what you are going to say. WHY does not modern man, with two millenia of the Gospel, which has graced many a nation with depth, even been fundamental to some societies at extended times, WHY does not modern man, in this king and in that, simply supplicate the Lord for a similar result to that which Ahaz COULD have obtained, but did not ?
In principle, why not indeed! Righteousness exalts a nation whilst sin is a rebuke to any people! (). However, while disfaith works in many, whereas faith worked in Ahaz' son, King Hezekiah, that latter King did have a special site for his plaint at being sick and his appeal to the Lord. This gave a milieu for immediate divine action at the national level. Indeed, earlier in his own career as King, he too had been confronted by a far more powerful enemy than those which had threatened Ahaz in his day. He had SOUGHT the Lord, rather than mishandling the Lord when HE brought His own offer to him! He had been active, not dead on arrival at the scene of a divine initiative! Hezekiah had sought the Lord in fear and sought him in heart and been answered. Consider that earlier case as seen in Isaiah 37.
Firstly, then, it was a special offer which God made to him. Secondly it was an offer to a King of Israel. Thirdly, Israel was a theocratic nation with a history to be established, so that the Messiah might come to a country that existed, not to one which did not, that He might come as incarnate in a body which was in a land that would include Galilee, for example, where some of His prodigious marvels were predicted to occur (in Isaiah 8-9) and where He might come as their King seated on an ass's colt as Zechariah predicted (Ch. 9), and be ABHORRED by that nation as Isaiah said would occur. The place had a purpose-built scenario attached to it.
Hence an offer to any King of a land so enmeshed as was Israel, with the divine imagination which of course became history at His will, had to have some special significance. If you MUST save the crown jewels, then obviously what you do with thieves who feel they MUST steal them could lead to wonderful expressions of power ON BOTH SIDES!
Still, to make the point in passing, it is a marvel that godliness in measure, in many parts of certain nations at certain times in their history, such ones as Britain and the USA, DID flourish and that the righteousness (though alas only in part, still in significant measure) which they once held, DID EXALT those nations as Proverbs insists (), and that despite this they later, both of them, suffered such a diversion from this position as now in many churches and in the political realm, we are seeing! Thus, gay marriage in the USA is a matter of moment and gay union is a point on the platform of one of the contenders for the post of next President of that country, while Britain has received debasing orders from Europe (which it helped to liberate from the slavery of Hitler's racism, and totalitarian confusion of man with the power of God, incognito in the philosophy which of course did not work).
Those orders to once Great Britain ? They were to the effect that they MUST allow homosexual soldiers to be equipped with posts and position in their army, like it or not. What began as an economic market comes now as foreseen by many, to the point of being a moral order, or more accurately an amoral disorder, and a futile debasement of a nation which is so stricken with spiritual sickness that it is finding it hard to establish its own identity in the morass into which it has fallen.
What Hitler could not secure, submission to an alien philosophy, and what the Cold War could not command, international Russian communism itself being overthrown in its senility and slavishness (), England readily accepted into its land, by political and commercial means! Without any troops so much as using the Chunnel as a funnel, it submitted. Its heart was gone. Its opportunities of triumph through the divine deliverance was given up. It thus abased itself, initially perhaps chiefly for commerce, to what began an incubus of a hideous godlessness, imposed by foreigners because of desire. Whose desire ? Why that of Britain. So did corruption proceed from within, when it had no opportunity by imposition from outside. As to that, it was by the mercies of God that they had been delivered, in episodes such as those shown in Dunkirk, and those at the earlier case of the two Spanish armadas, designing to invade, but dashed by the mighty hand of God in tempests suitable to the deliverance.
But let us turn to that other notable modern example, the USA.
Why did the USA use the politics of power, such as Kissenger touted, and become corrupted in its ways, allowing untruth and deviousness to slip into the gear-box, like so much sand, permitting victory to outwit virtue, to the point that the Oval Office could become a sort of stationary landau for lust, or a site for swearing, all but an emblem for the suppression of truth as in the unwashed ambits of the Watergate affair!
It is because the faith in the primary place of power, did not flourish, but hope in the secondary avenues of action began to transcend it. Alien ideas put hope elsewhere, and actions followed accordingly.
There is little so lordly as success, and so dangerous as triumph; but when the heart of man is godly, then an exuberance of blessing can come with victory, as at the first with Hezekiah, whose righteous zeal for the Lord, and for the reformation of the people, the redress needed for its broken religion and false spiritual excursions, was as famous as those were infamous. In his restorative rule, it was as if there had been erected a kind of Statue of Lovingkindess for the land, and even that, it was not himself, but the word and will and ways of the Lord.
Ahaz, his father, the exact opposite, was more like a sliding nation. The presence of spiritual power to exalt the nation did not seem to matter, or if it did, he had no heart for it. Not so unusual ? Yes, but it was his pseudo-religious waffling which was a special feature. It was the environment of divine help and the drama both of the military situation and the mode of the offer through the prophet Isaiah which signalised it, a slippage in the arena of the sublime.
I WILL NOT ASK, NEITHER WILL I TEMPT THE LORD! That was the nature of his reply. That is formalistic doctrine, with misapplication of the very nature of the text on tempting the Lord, as a sort of freakish fantasy instead of factual faith. It is so very like the current wild, infamous preoccupation with naturalism*1 in this our own Age, not only in the USA in much (but not all) of its billings, but in Europe and other nations as well. Tied to their impotent 'nature', they have nothing for human nature*2 but harassment and strength of aim, man trusting in himself as awful a sight as this world offers.
THE REGAL CHANGE: FROM TRIUMPH TO TEST TWO
Hezekiah offers a splendid exception to the rule of decline. He, then, for his own part, did not follow his earthly father, and in fact little farther from such ways could in all the earlier stages of his rule, be imagined. When his own test came, later, he stood and believing, was established all the more because of the test, with more splendidly spectacular evidence of the power of God than ever!
But why, you may pursue, did God perform for him such a spectacular and astronomically staggering act as is recorded in Isaiah 38, when he was sick. I mean, you might say, it is one thing to give to the King a military victory such as he had, when 180,000 Assyrian soldiers at his front, were destroyed by divine prediction and insurance (like a pay-out), just as the seemingly invincible armies of Hitler did NOT swallow up the 300,000 British troops (each ONE a singular and significant human being with heart and soul and mind and spirit, and drama and destiny) left at first on the overrun mainland of Europe. But if that King in Israel of old, if he becomes sick, what is the point of having a sundial go BACKWARDS in its shadow. Do you have to spend a billion dollars in a gift, when some beggar asks for a pittance ?
No, actually you do not. But was Hezekiah simply a beggar ? and did he ask for a pittance ?
No: that is the answer in both cases. Firstly, as just noted, he was not a king of some nation, but of the NATION SELECTED by DIVINE CHOICE for a work which would culminate in the arrival of God via a virgin in actual birth onto the soil of the country, where He would grow up. Yes let us be clear, He would grow up ON that soil, even IN that culture (but not through it, being purity itself, as God - a message for the godly who have access to Him and want to be like Him in heart and character, though in a corrupt country) .
He would die for sin, as a sacrifice for its folly, an exhibit of its effects on man and a substitute for those who trusting in His mercy,. To this selected nation, Israel, there would come the divine gift which was even greater than that given to Hezekiah. What divine gift ? Pardon for sin, power for living, peace for the heart, mission for the soul, commission for the mind and life bent to the purposes of God, as a CHILD of God. Yes there comes even this: adoption into HIS family and the friendship sublime with Him by His Spirit!
It is THAT divine gift.
What, however, you might ask, was the need for Hezekiah to have such a display of plenary divine power, as SIGN that he would recover from an impending death, as this! Did he actually need such a re-assurance ? Granted, then, that he was a king of vast significance BECAUSE of the amazing work given to that nation, which even included the sequence of spiritual prophets whom God elected to use in order to give the Program for the Divine Opera. in three Acts: Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, each part stunningly 'played'! The incarnation brought his with its unlimited and uninhibited power available to man (Ephesians 1:19), who as in a good opera, might nevertheless with amazing folly and impending tragedy REJECT it. Yet still, did Hezekiah’s personal illness have to have such a portent as that of a shadow on a sundial going BACKWARDS AT HIS OWN REQUEST!
No, of course it did not NEED it.
God is exuberant in grace, however, as He is in beauty, even giving, to butterfly wings and sea-gull aeronautics alike, a grace and a beauty which dazzles and delights; and if He desires to impress something, well what would you ? Is He to use His power to that end, or would you rather have an asthenic god of no power and small wit ?
Again, VAST as was the CONTRARY-TO-NATURE sign on the sun-dial for Hezekiah, yet it was but introduction to that summit of all signs, the arrival not of a symbol, but of the very Son of God, Lord of all nature, into it! But in what way contrary to nature ? Only in this, that it is not the norm, the current disposition of things that the Maker should choose to enter the realm of data He had made by His own creation, and using a womb, become man and act for the deliverance of many! It is not a thing which contradicts the nature of nature, but merely utilises it in a directly supernatural way, just as had occurred in its very creation, which embraced it instead of nothing of that kind, and so brought it to be at all!
Yet for all that, it is a thing most prodigious for any author to enter into the realities of his fiction; and how much more for the God of creation to enter into the realm of delimited facts, which He had made. Prodigious ? but of course, but as far from contradictory as if one should move the furniture which had sat there for 50 years, or use a study which had stood unoccupied for a century, and warm it with a life it had never known. In this case, it was the very life of God!
Some might say: Granted the King might have needed a miraculous healing in order that the country should continue at this point, and so proceed strongly to the rest of Isaiah's prophecy and that of Jeremiah and Ezekiel FOR EXAMPLE, laying down the Program foundations for the incarnation in their predictions, and the principles of morality with their special divulgements from the Lord. Granted, even that Hezekiah’s righteous life might have been made even a SPECTACULAR vehicle for such a divine miracle to be wrought in an impressive manner, yet why SO staggering astronomically as this!
The answer to this is not far to seek.
It is, in one word, because the ultimate, mentioned in Jeremiah 31:22, the incarnation, is a turning back from creation to the Creator; and an astronomical work of the magnitude of the sundial shadow moving backwards on the King's sundial, that was a fitting shock to make the mind ready for it to meet something in this line, but infinitely above it! It is after all this same Isaiah who predicted the incarnation (Isaiah 7, 9, 11, 26:19, 40) AND the crucifixion (49-55), indeed the Gospel as well (50-55, 60).
Here, first, in this smashing of the fist of Assyria, and secondly, in the restoration of the health to the threatened King, and thirdly, with an astronomical sign of the heights of the supernatural power to foretell and then to DO it, was a triple punch to the lethargy of mind which might forget God. He had great things to do and used great preliminaries just before Israel in the North (the part which in a civil war broke away, lacking Jerusalem, the temple and the ordained sacrificial system), was to be destroyed, during the reign it seems of this same Hezekiah, and while that King of Judah was under threat as if 'nature', this world, would swallow it up and hence destroy the long plans of God.
NOT SO! said the Lord as He moved out an army, slain, in a healing, a restoration, and heavenly bodies, a designation of the immensity of the precision and power of the God of this same creation, of Him who had plans of entering it to rescue many of mankind, as many as would receive Him (cf. Isaiah 53:1, 10!).
Indeed, it was an introduction to the special feature of the divine feat in not merely acting with supernatural, precisely predicted power in all the above cases, but demonstrably doing so. Word and work were as close as those of an airline pilot responding to a message from the aerodrome, to elevate his course in order to avoid collision. No sooner is the word out, than the action is in; and so it was both in the victory over the Assyrian and over the threat of death through sickness, and yes, with it, the astronomical counterpart in the exhibition of the source of it!
Prodigy was in the prophesied incarnation, through this same prophet Isaiah; prodigy of lesser but highly, sensationally impactive character was associated with the same prophet's works before the King, and all this, both present and future, both national and international to come, it was seen in this sequence of 4 chapters of Isaiah 37-40! Indeed, the New Covenant of the Gospel of divine grace through the Messiah, and the incarnation, together with the prediction of the restoration of the place of Israel, all this too came in just one chapter in Jeremiah*3 - the 31st! This has two others in harmonious enlargement and explication, 23 and 33.
It was closely knit together, in the Bible, in its places, as in history, in its graces.
To what then have we arrived ? It is this. Thus came the prodigy of the divine answer in the practical sphere first of the military and political, then in the medical and astronomical, the sign attendant on the health miracle; and with all this, there was a strong mingling with the prediction of incarnation - and indeed, through Daniel the date of the substitutionary death of the Messiah as in Daniel 9*4. Thus did God underline the whole matter of salvation, its Core in Christ, its outcome in the Gospel, its deposition in the New Covenant dramatically, before performing His unusual action, His awesome work*5, the like of which makes astronomical marvels but a portent.
Yet, as we see, a most creatively intimate one for the supernatural actions in view for the salvation within mankind, of as many as received this same Messiah.
As to that, how well Ahaz depicted the negative to such supernatural work, and Hezekiah the positive embracement of it, seeking and finding, delivered from sin and made a signal.
It is THAT divine gift. This was presaged with Ahaz; and indeed, WHEN HE REJECTED the offer, God made this explicit (Isaiah 7:1-14), speaking of the coming incarnation freely, though with fitting irony, it would come too late to represent deliverance for the king of the free-falling nation.
No, of course it did not NEED it. God is exuberant in grace, however, as He is in beauty, even giving to butterfly wings and sea-gull aeronautics alike a grace and beauty which dazzles and delights; and if He desires to impress something, well what would you ? Is He to use His power to that end, or would you rather have an asthenic god of no power and small wit ?
Not at all, you might reply, but to the point: WHY SUCH a display in THIS case. Granted the King might have needed a miraculous healing in order that the country should continue at this point, and have the rest of Isaiah's prophecy and that of Jeremiah and Ezekiel FOR EXAMPLE, laying down the Program foundations for the incarnation in their predictions, and the principles of morality with their special divulgements from the Lord. Granted, even that Hezekiah’s righteous life might have been made even a SPECTACULAR vehicle for such a divine miracle to be wrought in an impressive manner, yet why SO staggering astronomically as this!
THE LANGUAGE PARALLEL TO THE SIGN, SIGNIFYING SALVATION
In answer, perhaps one might lead you to Jeremiah 30-33. Here we see that God is making it most plain that the work of divinity in selecting Israel, with all its portent and place in the Program Divine, was guaranteed with divine power. HE would not suffer His covenant to be falsified: though the stars might fail, this would not. Indeed, it was even more than this: HIS NEW COVENANT to be made with His people (even though Israel for a time would abhor it - Jeremiah 31:31ff., Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), and available to Israel, THIS would come, endure. Indeed, anyone hoping to annul it would have to try knowing the measurements of the heavens and be able to roll back the work of the stars, the sun, the moon and the tides.
Israel was a funnel. It was a site. It was a people. It had a place in triumph and in failure, in exposition of the meaning of both, and in a vast canvas its tale was fashioned by divinely inspired word before ever it hit the tarmac of history on the wheels of events. The picture was a portrait, and the facts were events; but the two coincided in message and its fulfment.
THAT this would all happen (as shown for example in no small regard in SMR Ch. 9), was surer than the starry universe. Let us hear then Jeremiah 30:30-33.
" 'Behold, the days are coming,'
says the Lord,
'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah -
not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers
in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt,
My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
'But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after
says the Lord:
'I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts;
and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
"No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother,
saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they all shall know Me,
from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.
For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.'
"Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for a light by day,
The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The Lord of hosts is His name):
'If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the Lord,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.'
says the Lord:
'If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done,'
says the Lord."
In this dramatic announcement of the New Covenant, the New Covenant in My blood, as Jesus Christ called it, as recorded in Matthew 26, it is made apparent that as the architect of astronomy and geology, and of the divine methods of terrestrial illumination in sun and in moon, He was giving His word. The dimensions of His design, known to Him, the functions of it in its natural state, these are HIS business and such order is in His hand.
However, when it comes the the players in the drama, and in particular to those of the Deliberate Divine Drama which has grace and kindness, faithfulness of magnificence in its purvey, indeed the point of the whole matter, the making of sentient, conscious beings with spirit and power that CAN say NO even to God (but not to His power, even if they seek to isolate their own souls from Him, like dust that refuses to settle from a storm, and is in the air, not on the ground): then you have an option. You would have either to be able to disrupt and dispel the whole thing, or understand it and make it your own bauble of mind, to break His will for Israel.
In other words, the statutory establishment of the entire astral universe and its marvels, and the wisdom back of the earth, THIS is the work of One whose will to have His way with man, and hence with Israel as a messenger (cf. Isaiah 43:21, 61, Micah 5-7), will prevail. Corrupt, disrupt, be the vastest of astral sophisticates, make the universe your playpen, if you can: it is the Lord of creation itself with whom you deal, and hence you must have HIS power in order to resist HIS will, determinate upon Israel.
HENCE it is rather easy to comprehend that when He healed a righteous king who had RE-ESTABLISHED the whole symbolic apparatus of the Temple, the singing and the offices of equity in the land, a royal monarch who had been delivered in his kingdom from devastation by a startling MILITARY victory which none can rationally deny, and this King, before his work was done, was sick: then divinely wrought results may well accrue. The power and the determination to act, the scope of His mercy and the beauty of His concern, these moved. Indeed, the power of the Maker of the universe being BACK of that King, the powers of the universe were shaken just a little, in order if you like, to UNDERLINE the power of Him who so ordered events. He healed, and showed by astronomical control, contrary to the normal and habitual workings of 'nature', that stage management is relatively simple, compared with the salvation of man.
It was a wonderful way, if you will, in having the script of history written, so that the play-house shook when He affirmed it. Thus was signified the divine power which matches the divine determination to have His way with Israel, as a feeder unit for Christianity. In this first, it holds the program (from its prophets), the site (for the Bethlehem incarnation at the first), the place (for the crucifixion at last) and the story (the recovery of Israel, after it ditched deity in Christ, its restoration to its land as so often foretold would occur at length - as in Ezekiel cf. SMR Appendix D, in Micah, in Deuteronomy). Rub it out ? Try it!
Hitler had a go, when it was most vulnerable. After all, after over a millenium without the land (as foretold as an event, in Leviticus 26), they DID seem to some to be on the outer rim of the story, as if the text might now be violated, and they might NEVER return to their land, even if the word of God deliberately and in so many passages and scripts, said THEY WOULD.
Hitler attacked. Kill many millions of rich Jews, influential Jews, Jews with interlocking power, and remove (what to him was) this shocking race from the earth, and so let the Nordic, the Germanic, the Teutonic, the tonic race, the tonal music of the march of time, come to its own unchallengeable power, and ... And then what ? According to accounts of Himmler in particular, it would enable Germanic youth with pleasant maidens to be the head and not to tail, and in particular, to occupy flowery lands with their nobility, while serf types, like Slavs, would minister as the case might require.
That was a dream. The word of God is a hammer to dispel dreams and even shatter rock (as seen in two places, for example, Jeremiah 23 and history). It happens ... ALWAYS.
Thus the divine determination to heal Hezekiah supplied, in THIS PARTICULAR, HISTORIC CASE, a scope readily enabling Him to italicise this particular part of the Deliberate Divine Drama; and God did this.
It was certainly not excessive. After all, Russia still seems intent on meddling dangerously far South in the Caucasus, and this arena, to the North of Israel, seems precisely that from which the attack of Ezekiel 38-39 is to come, as the Age comes towards its close. It is an attack on the relatively newly returned Israel, we there read ... Its rebuke from God, to those not satisfied with Belsen, Auschwitz and all the other horrendous things which some seem to want to mythicise by their own myth making riots, is wholly understandable. Beat up the beaten ? Crucify the crucified ? Kill the deadened! It is not a task for the fastidious; and accordingly, the divine rebuke so long kept in store for those who want to make Israel once more the subject of their riotous Gentile mischiefs will find a rebuke like that to Egypt in the Exodus. Such is the message both in Micah 7 and in Ezekiel 38-39.
Thus while Putin is now thinking of an idea, to re-invent the Cold War while he pressurises (equals brings death and destruction, broken hearts and heads to) Georgia, a self-appointed punishment squad of one, the Moslems in the same area are kicking with some heavy shoes also. We read of 'soldiers' without uniforms, of people enabled by Russian occupation, hoodlums and murderers killing, pillaging, spoiling, intimidating, acting like bulls maddened by ... red.
The thing develops. Strange dreams come as from the day of Jeremiah as noted in Jeremiah 23; and they are dispelled sometimes with that same devastating divine power that was shown in meeting the threat of Assyria, a threat to the Jewish race and hence the salvation through its medium, on to the Messiah, in the day of Hezekiah. God does not forget.
Yet some will not listen. Then they lapse, as when we read of Hamlet in the text of Shakespeare, Die, die, die, die (dies).
They have been warned ? Yes, but so had Hitler been warned. If there is one thing which any foolish dream of humanity about some or all of it being itself like God, there is something of which to be very sure. It is that such vanity will pop like the soap bubble it really is, even if millions are lost in the iridescence of red that so often accompanies vain dreams.
Yes, there was abundant reason for that sundial event in the day of Hezekiah, whether its astronomical backdrop was as surmised by Dr Velikovsky, or other. With God there is no limit to what He can do; and while the most sophisticated of men may for a whole generation hold forth on this phase of thought or that, allegedly scientific or other, they are then frequently found to be so wantonly wrong as to constitute comedy. It is a costly way of playgoing for man, however.
Darwin's chance was one such idea. Chance in a Boeing 737 readjusting the computer code or wiring so that it works better ? The cognitive insanity of the idea is merely illustrated by the astonishing complexity and coding sequencing of the design called man's body. Would you like Law out of chance ? principles out of nullity ? coherence out of chaos ? wisdom out of nothing ? the cosmos of the comprehensible out of the chaos of the unidentifiable, based on nothing ?
Communism's ideas of rule are no different: dreams founded on confounding the God who made thought valid, that is its style of desert thought (cf. TMR Ch. 5, Barbs... 6 -7, SMR Ch. 3, News 37, 97-98, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9).
However, the One works as He says, and the other does not do as it says, and how could it ? since it is in despite of God! It COULD not and that is why it does not (cf. Isaiah 41:21-24).
But with God, He can and when He chooses, He does (cf. Isaiah 14:27); and when He wishes (cf. Amos 3:7, Matthew 24), He predicts what He will do, a few hours, or days, or months, or years, or centuries or millenia ahead of time. The wise see and wonder and worship.
THE WORSHIP, NEITHER PARADE NOR PROMISCUOUS, BUT PURE
Worship ? Yes that is what Hezekiah did after he was healed (cf. Isaiah 38:20).
The conquest of man by God is not a military operation, though the Lord will defend its operational medium, the Gospel, by any means that are apt, in a way not unakin to a doctor who protects his medicines from thieves and pollutants alike! The surrender of man to God is not a military lapse, but a restoration of place to an errant child of disfaith*6 , returning to faith in what is the reality, which is wonderful, to Him who is Counsellor, the Mighty God and the Prince of Peace, alpha and omega of all creation (cf. Revelation 1:11, 2:9).
Conquest by the Prince of Peace is no mere subjugation exercise, but a submission of a child to its womb, of an embryo to its place, of a youngster to the rule of order in his home and to the love of his parents. It is restoration to reality, remedy to the unreconciled, release from rebelliousness and joy to the heart of angels.
Which of us is not touched by seeing reconciliation of erratic child to loving parent ? Which is not pleased when the grace of God brings back someone on the brink of a fatal wandering in the wilderness of godless folly, to the faith of purity and truth, found in the God of creation and the Lord of salvation ? Only the Christian ? Mainly so, but many are touched by any release from unrealism, even if in the grip of such things for their own part.
There is a beauty about the drama which, exposing the savageries of sin (foolish failure to realise reality and to love the God of our creation and His word to man), yet concludes with the sweetness of salvation. That this is ONLY ONE - because it comes from the ONLY ONE God who is there, brings the joy to the heart because, despite all the wilful, witless wonderings of so wise man (cf. I Cor. 1), here is home for heart! Even if he forsakes the Lord, even if he seeks to obliterate Him from his own consciousness, or as often, God is just a concept for his head, yet while he may indeed anaesthetise his thoughts, he cannot excise his origin. Each brick in the biological, physiological, psychological building bears His stamp. Stamp on the stamp and you only hurt your foot.
Touched by Him, however or not, with conscience
though scarred operationally, or securely seduced:
man remains the identifiable outcast, the derelict from the call divine, the would-be god who cannot be it, as from the first (Genesis 3), to the last (II Thessalonians 2:4ff.).
|Thus man's place
in the divine drama is as it is,
|and Israel has its place as it is,
|and the God of Israel, who is
the God of creation whom Israel failed,
but who has not failed Israel,
despite its colossal disciplines and almost incredibly vast rebelliousness:
God has all things happen as He says and declares in determinate resolve.
It is not His will that the wicked perish
(He says so - Isaiah 44, Ezekiel 33:11, I Timothy 2)
or that man remains unreconciled (Colossians 1:19ff., II Corinthians 5:17ff.),
for the sake of some other created thing,
some triviality, instead of worshipping his Maker in truth.
His love however does not dictate, though His compassions are vast.
Death ? what bigger penalty ? He has paid it in person.
Life beyond death, through the removal of its legitimacy ? He has exhibited this.
History as a help-mate ? He has so used history.
The pathway to glory which He gained through His call to Israel, it was not only to satiate the mind, stimulate the morals, educate the understanding, but to give perspective; and in using Israel in such ways as we have just examined, He was making clear in a simple practical, historical way, that the matter of man far surpasses the issuances of matter itself, and that the very disposition of the heavens is subject to the same power as the One who speaks.
Indeed, He both can and will remove them in His time (cf. Isaiah 51:6). No captain of war can move a blade of grass, to change the path of the Lord; though many may, like the King of Babylon, inherit such issues of shame as seem to shrivel them, before they die, like parched earth suddenly gained where life was (cf. Jeremiah 50-51, Isaiah 13).
As He has used Israel to bring the book, and to carry in the womb the Messiah who would bring the light to Jew and Gentile alike, one light (Ephesians 2, 4:4, Colossians 2, Galatians 3), so now there has come the Prince of Peace, the Israel of God who is Potentate indeed, the incarnate Servant who has replaced a failed Israel by coming to this earth in person AS HE FORETOLD a millenium before Israel failed in its last unhappy act, the crucifixion. It is He who is the pivot, the rock, the place for restoration and the goad to the ungodly. ,
When you look at an atomic source of energy, you may be moved to consider how vast is the store of energy being released by such means, for sudden deployment to deter the evilly dynamic; but when you look to God Himself, this w hole range of universe's energy is merely one stage arena for His power.
It is He who has both formulated, forged and made it all, who thus moves about this furniture of atoms, to suit His disposition of events. A woman for the help and care of her house may move furniture around on the floor, though she be old. This breaks nothing in the laws of nature, being a direct input of intelligence and skill. When God moves nations around, in the midst of their shame, or in the milieu of His protection, there is injection of directed power. It has results like other injections. Indeed, the more direct His power, the less relevant all restraining influences.
When He finally came Himself, He has made the way open, plain, simple, cost-free (in the glory of redemption), His yoke easy, His path narrow, as in all precision instruments. The more they behave, the more power they have; and the more you keep His commandments, the more fully do you find the joy of His presence, for whom you are made.
Restoration by repentance, so escaping the wrath of the Almighty for a vast series of woeful confusions and illusions, pertinaciously pursued and wifully followed ? Yes, that is the will of God for man (TItus 2-3).
It is not, however, infinitely pressed, imperiously wrought, but merely diligent provided and sovereignly discerned; for love does not make robots, but releases captives. If they prefer chains, the rub goes on.
See: The gods of naturalism have no go!
See SMR pp. 254-267, 292ff. What is Life For ? and Life, What is it ?
THE GOSPEL OF GRACE, THE CRUX OF JEREMIAH AND THE FAMILY OF FAITH IN THE FORETELLING AND THE FACT
It is remarkable how much of the ingredients of the Gospel of grace and divine design for history is to be found in this series of 4 chapters in Jeremiah. Much has been written on it already (cf. Jeremiah is More Than Jeremiad).
In Jeremiah 32, the restoration of Israel to its land in the short term (actually after 70 years as in Jeremiah 25) is dwelt on. This is in terms of an obvious device: Jeremiah is to buy a field in the land foretold as facing successful invasion, but the land is not to be lost for ever, but happiness with Jewish occupants will return. In personal commitment to the word of God, Jeremiah thus buys what to some might appear a piece of soon to be invaded and thus worthless land.
In Jeremiah 30, as in 23:5ff., a longer vision is present as perfectly apparent in terms of this: that the Messiah is here seen as both resident and present, indeed acting with presidential power in the land (30:8-9, 23:5 cf. Isaiah 11). The yoke of political opportunists seeking to have Israel will be broken (v.8), and "they will serve the LORD their God, and David their king whom I will raise up for them" (as in Isaiah 11). That is the nature of the situation then.
It is "the latter days" that "you will consider it." It is so indeed; and just as in those self-same days days of yore the prophecies were made, so in our contemporary world, it shows its cutting edge and happens! Indeed, we e are already in that era at its commencement exercises for the end of the Age (cf. Jeremiah 23:19-20), in the false-prophets, false sects rash!
We are in it in MANY spheres, in a startlingly precise array, in fact (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). It comes in one point, it comes in all.
Again, Israel is not to be glorified (nor any other people - Isaiah 2:10-17), but on the contrary, is to suffer adequate disciplines (Jeremiah 30:11)! This has assuredly happened, and indeed past in its fulness has been the foretold "day of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:5-7). "Why is every man's hand on his loins, like a woman in labour, and all faces turned pale ?" the Lord asks. It is BECAUSE it is this unnatural and horrific day of Jacob's trouble. That has happened. It was a ghastly epoch in history, ruin and desolation like the carvings of the winds on the barren rocks amid the ruinous desert.
God declares this:
"Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you,
yet I will not make a complete end of you."
Assyrian strength and Babylonian brutalities are indeed past, Nineveh and Babylon archeological 'finds' show the foundering and dust fit for such intemperate empires. Israel however continues past those vast Empires that menaced her so much, and cost her so dearly. He did not act immediately, but after long warning, exhortation, probe and confrontation with His loved people as in Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Yet even Judah did not hear; and when she continued so recklessly in shedding the Lord like an old snake skin, in the end He declared in advance and then executed these results, even adding the name of the king in a new empire who would deliver them, namely Cyrus (as in Isaiah 44-45 cf. Christ and Cyrus). This part of the game plan has occurred. It has all happened, the complete ravagement of her savage assailants and the correction of herself 'in measure', following what was ALSO predicted. That ? It was not only that the Messiah would come and suffer and be rejected and killed and later rule, but that Israel itself, instead of welcoming Him, rather like Ahaz, would even reject Him, amid some acclamation to be sure, but kill!
This too has now happened.
Now Israel is back, for how would it be otherwise, since she had to be restored first to her land and then to her Lord (as in Ezekiel 36-36) in two utterly distinct stages (cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 10); or how could it be avoided since Jesus Christ Himself predicted that it was precisely her return to Jerusalem as her own city that would mark the end of the Age of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). This has happened; providence has shown itself not an overall feeling, but a precise sovereign coverage by the God who has so made man that he can indeed despise and ignore his Maker, but not with any love of fact or truth or reality, what HE DOES!
So has that nation returned, and it has done so with smack and impact, in military marvels as forecast by Zechariah 12, prior to its wide-scale repentance to come, for piercing even the LORD, who incarnate was to come, and came, was to be rejected, and was rejected, and who foretold before He came, what would follow in the Gospel (as in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), from these works, among the Gentiles. Thus have we seen the Gospel working in the hearts of millions of Gentiles, and the Israeli triumphs as the Gentile era completes itself. This has been spectacularly displayed by the Almighty, in His faithfulness to His word, which is wonderful.
Indeed, despite this continued phase of return by Israel to its land, without as yet restoration of heart, the foretold military triumphs, displayed in1948, 1967, 1973, have come in just the scale predicted, before their coming repentance, no less predicted which was and is to follow their return (Zechariah 12-13:1).
The LORD however Himself does the works, undertakes, overrules and acts. It is NOT for YOUR sakes that I do this, He declares (Ezekiel 36:22) as He brings them back to the land from which they are now restored by His own word (36:34ff., 37:23), and to which He is to come to rule, just as earlier He came to suffer. Israel is NOT to be glorified, and more than was the prodigal son! Her suffering thus was long foretold (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 32) as was the Lord's intervention to overthrow her gaping and grasping enemies (Isaiah 59, 66, Micah 7, Ezekiel 38-39).
Without the Messiah to minister to their land and to their hearts, their case is without hope.
In itself, "your affliction is incurable" (Jeremiah 30:12), as it is for Gentile sin likewise (cf. Jeremiah 16:19ff., 17:9-10, Isaiah 64:5-6, Romans 1-2). But David your King, that is the Messiah (as in Isaiah 11, 65, Micah 4-5, Isaiah 2, Psalm 72) will rule, the Saviour Himself (Isaiah 53). There is no mystery in this prelude of suffering:
"Why do you cry about your affliction ? Your sorrow is incurable.
Because of the multitude of your iniquities,
because your sins have increased, I have done these things to you."
There is another Scene in this divine drama. It is found in Jeremiah 30:16: it is this THEREFORE:
"Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured."
Hitler found that. Assyria found it, Babylon echoed it, the Turkish oppressors found it, and if need be, Iran will find it. For all that, the divine intention is reiterated: "I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds."
Another facet ? It is this: "Because they called you an outcast, saying 'This is Zion, no one seeks her'," with this in mind, He acted. He would not have hypocrites without the Lord making so much of the failure of Israel! Mad philosophies of naturalistic power are to be rebuked as much as Israel's failure, both too much like Ahaz, to believe the Lord.
" 'Their nobles shall be from among them,
and their governor shall come from their midst;
then I will cause Him to draw near,
and He shall approach Me;
for who is this who pledge His heart to approach Me?' says the Lord.
You will be My people, and I will be your God" -
Having been born in Bethlehem, indeed, their Governor will be of themselves (Micah 5:1-3). The predicted result from Hosea as in v. 22 that they will be once more His people, and He their God is indeed to be fulfilled. We remind ourselves that the first part already in place in their return (Ezekiel 37 cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 10). "In the latter days," the Lord adds (Jeremiah 30:24), "you will consider it."
THIS Governor of Jeremiah 30:21 is unlike the similar, but divergent case, in Jeremiah 50:44, where the Lord asks,
"who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her ?
for who is like Me ? Who will arraign Me ?
and who is that shepherd who will withstand Me?",
for He has no equal!
Here in Jeremiah 30, however, we find that it is one at one with Himself who approaches Him, pledging His heart to this (as from eternity, seen in Psalm 40, Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 2:8). In other words, THIS ONE BECAUSE HE IS LIKE THE LORD, being in fact His eternal word (John 1, Isaiah 45, Philippians 2), does draw near to the Lord in reality, even in the realm of government, and not just priesthood. In so doing, He is unlike all other human 'shepherds' who NOT being LIKE HIM, cannot fulfil so exalted an office. Here HE bears the glory, being simultaneously priest and prince as is the case in Zechariah 6:12-14, but very decidedly NOT the case when King Uzziah presumed, as King, to act as priest, receiving leprosy for his presumptive arrogance! (II Chronicles 26:16ff.).
Thus in Jeremiah 30 there has been much not alone of the methods to be used by the Lord, at His option and choice, but also of the ways to be seen by man concerning Israel on the one hand, and the Messiah on the other, together with annotations concerning the history of Israel which was used for the Lord's glory and advent, expression and testimony.
In Jeremiah 31, much more is added in this field, and realm of discourse.
Here we see first, in 31:1-14, words on the immediate future of Israel, when raptured to Babylon, they come back as Isaiah 44-45 indicated, via Cyrus, king of that Persian Empire, that Median body which was the forecast deliverer of those captured by Babylon, now itself defeated.
Here we simply refer to the theme of the title deeds to property which Jeremiah bought in illustration of the divine determination, after defeat and exile, to bring them back to their land. This happier time is initiated in the amazing restorations under Ezra and Nehemiah in the shorter term. This thus leads on to the era of relative victory such as found before Rome took the land, in the day for example, of the Maccabees and their substantial Jewish Empire.
A new phase appears.
In sharp and very sudden contrast to this, as we move from Jeremiah 30:14 to 15, we we have a sudden Programme Scene of vast misery. It is this, 'Rachel', type of the Jewish mother, "weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." This was sited in the New Testament as indicative of the Massacre of the Innocents under Herod, who had a sharp resemblance to Hitler in the mass murder approach. The principle of such tyrants seems to be this: when you want to remove a perceived enemy, slaughter it. In Herod's case, as seen in Matthew, if you want to get rid of a kid who could one day threaten your dynasty, just kill ALL of the group involved, around the area, relative to the time of the Wise Men's statement, and ipso facto, you get the one you want. Easy! (cf. Matthew 2:13ff.).
Of course God did not let mere human mentality prevail, and gave angelic instructions to the Holy Family to move to Egypt, where they stayed till this blast was past. The NOT-SO-SECRET weapon for man's salvation was thus kept till it could be meaningfully and victoriously deployed on the Cross and from the tomb.
"Refrain your voice from weeping,"
the Lord says into this foretold situation,
"for your work shall be rewarded and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future ..."
So "your children shall come back to their own border." Following this now famous event, Israel is to possess its OWN land with its OWN border once more. This of course has happened in this great finale following the incarnation and the rejection of Christ in the crucifixion, an event in which amazingly and significantly, Israel's government JOINED WITH that of Rome to do this deed!.
Then, in sequence, with this history all past, the slaughter of the innocents, as it is sometimes called, and the Jew back in his own land, as happened in 1948, and made more meaningful with the restoration of the rest of Jerusalem in 1967 (to fulfil Luke 21:24 in its prediction of the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled), we come to repentance on the part of much of Israel, as in Romans 11:26ff.. Blindness departs. The provocation begins to be removed. They look on Him whom they pierced (Zech. 12:10), flesh is put on the bare bones of the army of dead bones brought from many nations as in the parable of Ezekiel 37, and the spirit now inhabits the formerly merely (spiritually) dead mass of restored Israel. The dead bones, like clicking skeletons, get flesh, breath and at last LIVE before the Lord, who so carefully shows His intentions in that Chapter of Ezekiel.
In Jeremiah's coverage in Ch. 31, therefore, we hear more! It is poignant, pitiful and painfully plaintive.
"You have chastised me, and I was chastised"
says the ghost voice of foreseen repentant Israel.
"Restore me, and I will return, for You are the LORD my God,"
says the envisaged form of repentant Israel.
"Is Ephraim My dear son ?"
asks the Lord.
"Is he a pleasant child ? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still. Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD."
He then gives the ONLY way back, the ONLY Lord, the ONLY Saviour, the One who in fact PAID the price of salvation, the Messiah of Deuteronomy 18, of Micah 5, of Psalm 2, and shows this in a similarly graphic form as this:
"How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter ?
For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth -
a woman shall encompass a man."
That of course was the ONLY way in which the 'seed' of woman (via virgin birth) would stash in the head of the serpent (as foretold in the proto-evangelion of Genesis 3:15, which flows on to the evangel of John 3:16 so nicely).
HOW COULD a woman so encompass a man but by eliding the normal male part of the job of having a child, enfolding it all in herself! How could God become man, and be related to a woman with child (as in Isaiah 7, cf. Matthew 1 and SMR pp. 770ff.), except by BEING the Father, and so using His supernatural power to give the needed ingredient to the virgin.
Incarnation requires a womb; thus it is a most joyous thing when "unto us a child is born" and on His shoulder will be the government, not of Jew only, but Gentile as well (Isaiah 9*, 42:6, 49:6, Revelation 20, Micah 4). This 'encompassment' then is just the human side, in terms of normality, an exception. The Father is God so making the one born, deity in flesh (as in Matthew 1:20-23, Luke 1:35ff.). THAT is how the Messiah can be and is named "the mighty God", a term then used again in the following chapter, Isaiah 10:21, of God Himself (Isaiah 9:6, 10:21). THAT is why His throne if the throne of GOD! as in Psalm 45 and how it is that the Saviour crucified is "Me" when God is Himself speaking (as in Zech. 12:10).
This scenario leads on to the NEW Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31ff. following 31:22). This follows from the NEW and only Incarnation, that was associated with the foretold slaughter of the innocents, which is to be operative thereafter, and so NOW with that Gospel thrust forth into this whole world (as in Isaiah 66, Jeremiah 16, Psalm 67 with 22).
The God who was to ensure this deployment and scenario for salvation, was He who, as we have seen, is the very One who as God has the whole settled power to control astronomy and earth, keeping all in place, brilliantly in the midst of liberty to sin or enablement to shine, for manking.
THAT is the magnitude of the power which was to MAKE ALL THIS HAPPEN. In the day of Hezekiah He showed the power that spoke, but what He did. Now as to His words, they are done. He has spoken and what He has said, He has done till the very penultimate point.
He has done so, both birth and slaughter, both discipline of His land and its restoration, both victories on the part of the newly nascent nation and tensions as in Zechariah 12, as Israel continues in unbelief until (12:10) its time for THAT part of the scenario eventually arrives, and a change of heart follows at last, on from the change of location! In this phase, there will be a vast desolation inflicted on enemies as in Jeremiah 31:38ff., Ezekiel 38-39.
Jeremiah 32, after dealing with the purchase of the field by Jeremiah, with the above noted intent and portent, concerning restoration.
Jeremiah protests to the Lord, but He insists that He is going both to devastate the land and restore it. "For this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My fury from the day that they built it, even to this day, so I will remove it from before My face," the Lord indicates (and when you read the books of Kings for example, this is scarcely surprising at all).
They turned to Him the back and not the face; and it is a grievous and afflicting fact that this is what Australia seems to be doing more and more with many fake religions, false churches braying as they stray, and not staying with the word of God, and even seeking to hide this with monstrous pretensions. May the good Lord have mercy and send revival to this straying land yet!
7) Let us then learn more from history, the script of the Lord followed, and its teaching the better realised. Let us both review and extend.
The Lord then is to restore His people, but eventually, not only to the land as He did after the 70 year exile as predicted, in Babylon, with Ezra and Nehemiah, but to Himself. Such is Jeremiah 32:38ff.. It is as in 31:33.
"They shall be My people, and will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hears so that they will not depart from Me."
Thus is the New Testament or Covenant foretold, as now fulfilled; while Israel in the midst of fearful enemies, is lingering in the back-stage rooms, till its call comes and its heart is restored to the Lord as in Zech. 12:10 and Ezekiel 37, as in Romans 11:25.
The Lord moves on to restate His vast and amazing word of assurance, inJeremiah 31:35ff., in in 33:20-22. Re-organise the settlements of creation, alter day and night, manhandle astronomy and change the orientation imposed by God in the heavens, yes then consider change. In fact, there IS to be no change. ALL of this was to come; nearly all now HAS come, and the rest WILL come. When God declares the certainty of an event, it happens. Indeed, it has no option. WHEN someone repents and comes to the knowledge of the God of truth as in the Bible, then the PRINCIPLE of damnation turns into the principle of SALVATION.
God does not change: His Gospel is the same, His foreknowledge of His own is the same, but what is NOT the same, is the heart of the one who is thus saved, and what WOULD have been his destiny, now is as God foreknew it would be, that of salvation. THIS after all has been the mainspring of His vast enterprises for man, to bring him back so that God will be his God and he and those who believe, with him, the Lord's people. There is neither Jew nor Greek in this, as in Galatians 3; but the Lord is then in it all, the whole conspectus fulfilled and the one God with one Gospel to one family, His own, gives one life, gives eternal life, to those whom thus He has rescued by redemption.
Thus, Israel is NOT coming back to the Old Covenant (VERY far from it - as in Isaiah 65:13-15), having disgraced itself in this (cf. Ezekiel 36:22ff., where the point is made exceptionally clear!), but to THIS NEW COVENANT as stated. It is this which has the birth via virgin (as in Isaiah 7 cf. SMR pp. 770ff.), and the rule by God Himself in human form, the Messiah of Psalm 2, 16, 22, 40, 45, 72, 110 and so on). It is not a dispensational exercise (cf. Deliver Us from Dispensationalism), but a divine culmination (Ephesians 1:10) without intermission, interlude or interest in obsolescence (Hebrews 8:13).
It is sad if some in Israel cannot comprehend this; but amazing if some Gentiles add their number to such anti-scriptural imaginations! This is to miss the whole point of the development, and to wander far away from the scriptures of God Almighty (cf. Romans 11 in its conclusions).
History however will never do that, nor has it ever done so. You may, the Lord indicates in Jeremiah 30, 33, consider whether His covenant with day and night can be broken. But just as it CANNOT be broken, neither can His word of salvation as described in this book of Jeremiah, be broken. I WILL cause the captives to return, He says, and WILL HAVE mercy on them.
This is precisely as stated in Hosea, where Israel is given the role of a harlot purchased and then unfaithful, and accordingly with great grace bought back. This picturesque portrayal is indicative of the redemption of the New Covenant, in the new nation (cf. Ezekiel 16:2-55). This is yet to be vastly applied; though it will be! Suggest otherwise ? Then try to break the divine appointment of day and night first, just as an exercise for your ... wit!
That is the message. If it to one, it is to all.
And to what is this return then ? First to the land, it is then to the Lord (as in Ezekiel 36-37 cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 10). The very name of Jerusalem will be this: "The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS". That is as in the New Covenant in Isaiah 44:3-5, 45:24, in train with Isaiah 40:1-10, 42:1-6, 49:1-6, 52:13-53:12, 55, 60:17-18, 61:1-4,8-10.
God came, and that is why in Isaiah 40, you have them saying, at the advent of Christ into the field of His own labour, that they must declare to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God."
But to what do they return, who are assured of this after their desolatory exile, as predicted ? It is to a situation where the Lord assures them, He will not cast away this family, this Israel, and that it will not be true that He "will not take any of his descendants to be rulers of over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." He will cause the captives to return, and He will have mercy on them. Look now at Jeremiah 33:17,21. The word to David concerning his seed is assured.
There is the assurance, after return, of perpetual leadership and rulers for Israel. How could this be ?
It is because the very essence of the covenant with David was this, that it would be his seed, one of his descendants who would be the Messiah, his own Lord (Psalm 110), who as God would have the throne, and rule (Psalm 45 exhibits this), in whom mankind would have to trust (cf. Jeremiah 17, where such an approach is reserved for deity). Thus it is the Messiah who would fulfil this fortified promise. It is indeed this same Messiah who is to redeem His people (as in Psalm 72, Isaiah 53), and HENCE it is small wonder that the Lord uses such extravagant seeming language concerning sun and moon and stars, in Jeremiah 31, 33, as fortifications about His word that it would surely BE.
As with Hezekiah and the sun-dial, when the shadow went backwards, as that king requested, to give assurance of health (so that all the things to be secured, would be, since he was in line for the Messiah on the Davidic line, and was preparing the nation most zealously), so with this assurance through Jeremiah to Israel concerning the continuity in terms of the Davidic covenant. It was nothing less than the salvation of the human race BY THE MEANS APPOINTED LONG BEFORE BY GOD, the Messiah, that was implicitly involved.
God DOES use means. ONE of these was the Cross. Christianity without the Cross is like lungs without air. Thus does Paul abhor any thought of glorying except in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ by whom this world is crucified to him and he to the world (Galatians 6:14).
Christianity is NOT an abstraction, but a concretisation. It is not a dream but based on deeds, in turn based on the nature and power of God. It figures with Cross and tomb, blood and resurrection.
Hence we find such collections of marvels both in deed and accompanying words, such assurances, such actions as the sun-dial. If one wants facts, they are there to eat. Symbolism has its place; facts do the job. Christ crucified yes risen, is not words only: having Him means deeds: His for us and ours for Him.
See Highway of Holiness Ch. 4.
See Isaiah 28:16-21, 29:11-14, 52:13-53:12.
See faith in SMR index.