W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for this Volume What is New
"IS THERE ANY WORD FROM THE LORD ?" –
Negative Side To Open
Jeremiah 37:17 with Jeremiah 23:33ff., 34:8ff.
Isaiah 37:1ff., 38:14ff., II Kings 22:12ff., James 2
In this Chapter, we open with an issue: IS there any word from the Lord! It comes in an historical setting, it shows itself to be far from an hysterical setting, to which some modern false prophets draw near, as they adumbrate their own ideas, infiltrating Christianity, or seeking to subvert it, make it a carrier for some other program, like African slaves in the USA cotton fields, or Chinese virtual slaves in many a factory, or Russian ones in Siberia, as if doctrine had made them so, and not lust as a father for the disease of the soul called Communism, that blatant abuser of man by man, as wild as the worst excesses of any other irrational frivolity of mind, and tragedy of heart in the blighted history of this race, humankind, in its massive unkindness, as it has populated this earth.
It is not as if God has not provided: His gifts in brain, brawn, integral communications systems both inside the body and in the inter-personal field, in environmental wonder - these have been munificent to the point of awe.
It is not as if He has let man go:
He has carefully and
sometimes progressively as well as processively
He has appealed. He has used
one nation as an example,
He has traced the results for that nation, in
He has drawn attention to this fact overall, in
Isaiah 44-45, and
He has rebuked unbelief, and foolish
autonomy in man, in Isaiah 41, 43, 48.
He has shown the evidence that cannot be
overcome, but only overlooked
has pinpointed it again and again.
He has come to this earth as a Man.
He has foretold the
coming, its date, the reaction of the Jewish State,
He has provided exceedingly well.
Today we are looking at some of the exemplifications and indications of the Almighty, from His word. We peer into history, mainly ancient, but then with sudden emphasis on modern parallels and indeed, fulfilments as we approach, like a raft on Niagara River, near the famed Falls, leading to the sudden descent which this world faces because of its constant friction, failure, lack of faith in the Almighty, refusal of His written word, verified and validated past all measure*2, of His living word, the Lord of glory, viciously treated, gloriously vindicated and soon to be back with mankind. This ? it is after the fulfilment of the final rigors of man's pathological spirit and inane wanderings ANYWHERE except where the Lord points.
We proceed to see the opposite, the apposite, exemplification of abiding, obeying and not straying, of the glory of the Lord, in triumphs immeasurable, kindness unfathomable.
It is not so very hard when you think of it. Many refuse His discipline, like weaklings trying to enter in the football team, preferring to stay weak. They refuse His oversight, like those who WILL not have anyone to coach them. They refuse His morals, like those whose ethics NO ONE can determine, while they USE His gifts, which no man can begin to equal, in body, in spirit, in mind, to defy His name, or defile His word and mislead many.
It has an end. Before it comes, it is well to consider it, and something of the beginnings as well.
We start at this point, with the King of Judah, ancient Zedekiah. For any who desire to see earlier accounts of this situation, of the words of Jeremiah, please look at The Track of Truth, Meadows of Mercy and Peace of Pardon Chs. 8, 9, and the Epilogue.
THE UNSPIRITUAL MAW THAT IS KEEN TO KEEP SLAVERY
Surrounded by enemies, shrinking into famine, a very sieve for sin, as if collecting acid rain, King Zedekiah was not lacking in boldness. He followed the practices of his brother, King Jehoiakim despite his dire end, and added his own reckless renegacy. Thus he both failed to hear Jeremiah after his 21 year old institution as King, and feared nothing about Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, who had already taken King Jehoiakin to Babylon, where he would have a 37 year captivity before things ameliorated a little.
One might have thought that he would think twice before breaking the law of God, the lore of wisdom in rebelling as a weak kingdom while holding the Lord well apart, against a powerful one. After all, it was in terms of that invasive king, Nebuchadnezzar that he had been placed on the throne, and by the word of the prophet, Jeremiah he might have kept it and glorified God, being guided to be more like his princely father, Josiah, who needed no title to show regality, and having all power to do the will of God, had effectively USED it.
However King Zedekiah did nothing of the sort, rebelling against 1) God's law, 2) Jeremiah's counsel and 3) the King of the captivity. You might have thought, then, that these things being so, with three rebellions, one against the source of power and victory, one against the counsel of kindness and a third against the earthly tyrant, that the clashing roar of these stormy waves might have awakened him, if not sharply, then perhaps just a little.
It is so with many. They ask why they have neurosis, incapacity, no sense of power, of peace, of program, of progress, or even of meaning; they attack others being jealous, the State being exasperated with life and unwilling to recognise the good things provided or even themselves, their duties, as if maddened by their displacement. Here they become spiritually displaced persons, in whom the fire of fury and frustration works; and what they will do next, who can tell, but the Lord! They leave the wife, ignore the beauty of the co-operation that was, for the interests of the lust or temper of the moment, and sail off after decades of wifely service, in a selfishness so profound, that it is like a lobotomy, a cutting of part of the brain, in brainless ingratitude and ceaseless preoccupation with self-centred desires.
Zedekiah was an ancient example of a modern disease.
It is therefore both amazing, in terms of principle, and yet not at all surprising in terms of statistics, that when the Lord gave an MORAL order, through the prophet Jeremiah in the very midst of the wars coming more and more freely to engulf little Judah, once a great nation but now increasingly depraved, especially since King Manasseh, that masterpiece of corruptive wickedness – though he DID repent, that Zedekiah took one more step. Which was this ?
The prophet Jeremiah, in the name of the Lord, indicated that the people were misusing slaves. They were treating them inhumanly and not according to the law.
A massive slave release was accordingly mandated. Having violated the conditions given, they were now to dismiss from slavery all the male and female slaves. Since they had not honoured the code for liberation in its time, therefore now they were to free all AT ONCE. In the fear of their unprepossessing situation, they acted speedily, setting them free.
A wave of realism, if not repentance, surged across the land. Was it possible that now, as in the day of righteous Reformer, King Josiah, they would return to the Lord and find both strength and solace, meaning and might ? It was. Yet it did not happen. Seeing their unjust profits diminish, their power reduced, their pride and importance deleted, their ease eroded, why they turned back and put the released slaves back into servitude again!
Such is the topsy-turvy recklessness of those borne along in the winds of fury, both lifted up and cast down, simultaneously, or if you prefer, in movements so near to each other that they were almost like a super-quick dance. Ambiguity, changeableness, self-centred skating was IN!
To be weak is bad; to be of impure heart is worse; to vacillate and respond now to self-interest and now to decency, obeying God and winking at it anon, this is like crossing a road of violent traffic while reading a book, and giving sensitive attention to the mobile phone, while at the same time, regarding with pleasure the flight of birds to distant trees.
The penalty did not delay, for this vacillatory demise of virtue. The Lord said this (34:17):
"Therefore thus says the LORD:
'You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty,
every one to his brother and every one to his neighbour.
'Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,'
says the LORD -
'to the sword, to pestilence , and to famine!
And I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth.' "
A further 'deliverance' was into the hands of their enemies!
Thus the concept of deliverance the people had treated meanly, calculatingly, half-heartedly, and then revoking it, they forced slaves back once more to their illicit and heartless treatment of them. Deliverance ? Why for them, it was to restore a means of wealth, irrespective of human suffering, and against the law of God.
Deliverance ? since they thought so much of it, then, as to deliver the slaves, if only temporarily, and so little as to bring them back into anti-social suppression, twisting the terms and mocking their meaning, then they could systematically endure what they gave, and acquire for themselves what they had bestowed on the slaves. If that was their mercy, they could experience it!
THEY, yes they too could have 'deliverance' a dancing, glancing term, and themselves enjoy the wonder of a short deliverance (until the enemy destroyed their nation, at least temporarily – exiling them for 70 years, as foretold in Jeremiah 25). Then many could experience even more deliverance, the kind that does not count, and find the meaning of a new subjection as the enemy forces swept them aside, as if they were scarcely human, and used them for their own profit and power, pride and love of subjugating other people.
Both Moslem armies and Romanist-directed ones have performed such SUBMISSION-and- control scenarios over hundreds of years, in seized lands and nations; but then they have found something of the other side of submission. Such was the case :
Hitler carried off much of Europe like a despised bride, to misuse her,
when Islamic power was broken in
World War II, after threatening Europe with its force,
when the Vatican, after centuries of allowing the depraved horror
These are but illustrations, from far and nearer. God simply does not like oppression, is not favourable towards man strangling man heartlessly; and while He reserves the right of judgment of sustained and chronic evil (to let its corruption go on, can be more unkind that to abort the whole thing), yet He may choose to teach slave-loving oppression, what the American Civil War so poignantly taught about the dynamite of sensitive sorrow and suffering hidden in oppression. Whatever started it, this was a dynamic within it!
Back to Israel: In the very midst of the slavery episode, indeed a little later, you find this same King, who reigned at that time, asking the prophet this little question, to which we now come.
THE PREVARICATOR WHO ASKS FOR PRAYER
In Jeremiah 37:3, the King requests prayer. Many request prayer. Do they consider changing their ways, or do they ask for woe while continuing as if obsession had removed the eye of the soul, and their codes and conduct were invisible even to themselves, blinded not only to what happened outside, but to what is occurring within, in their own hearts, as well! If you want prayer, it is time to want holiness, the pardon of repentance, to seek godliness and His glory, the payment to your account of the righteousness the Lord who to faith gives freely, having paid the ransom price in Christ Jesus. What is the use of putting on mosquito protection fluids, if you insist on sitting in the middle of a jungle swarming with the things!
Still, Zedekiah approached the prophet. The reply ? At about that time, the Egyptian army came to assault Jerusalem, but having other problems, suddenly left. Don't think this is deliverance, said Jeremiah, for the Chaldeans, the Babylonians "shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire. We saw last time that even if the whole Babylonian army, each one, lay wounded, so vile was the flavour of the dis-faith of Jerusalem, that this sick army would even at that, rise up and conquer it! (Jeremiah 37:10). The King had his answer.
This IS the answer when without faith in the self-revealed God of creation, history and redemption, shorn of the self-accrediting*2 Bible, man vacillates between religions, entwining now this and now that phase, mode or model, exploiting and expressing now this and now that, whether in Europe, America, Australia or any other part of this globe, whose God does not weary, not does He change. His ways are eternal, expressed and immutable (Malachi 3:6, Habakkuk 3:6, Acts 2:23, 1:7ff., Revelation 22:18-19, Matthew 5:17-20, Ephesians 1:10,Galatians 1 and 3, Isaiah 59:21).
But let us return to Zedekiah.
UNSPIRITUAL EAR THAT QUESTIONS GOD
WHILE DEFYING HIS TRUTH
Jeremiah 37:17, 38:14ff.
Things developed. We also noted recently that Jeremiah went to claim land outside the city, was deemed to be about to side with the enemy, or defect to it, was put in prison, and there languished. The King, who had not been sparing the prophet thus far, though not in entire control (even when one is NOT in entire control of events, one can use what measure of control ONE DOES HAVE, and so show sincerity; and indeed, often people seeing courage in someone, will take heart and arise en masse to seek the good thing hitherto avoided!) now sought a favour. Now he secretly called and interviewed Jeremiah, in his own house!
"Is there any word from the LORD ?" asked he.
The effrontery of sitting in the vomit of vice and asking if there was any hygiene!
Jeremiah gave the word at once:
"There is. You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon."
He asked for the reason of his own imprisonment. But he did not ignore the plight of the King. How often does God PLEAD with people to abandon evil, seek mercy, show kindness, be merciful to the poor, to act in faith and follow Him!
Yet the words in the midst of the trouble often seem like distant cannon fire to the tormented souls that equivocate and seek to make of God an accomplice, a participant after the fact, in their evils and sins. They do not heed: they want only what they prescribe, and act as if God were a petrol station, to be blamed if not providing the energy of cars, to the waiting vehicles, at a minimum price. As to driving ? of course, THAT is their affair. For them, God is merely a serviceable supply source.
Later, having been treated a little better, though still kept in imprisonment, and having given further warning to those who insisted on not surrendering but staying in the doomed city, Jeremiah was brought into a horrible pit, without prospect of food or drink. See him now: From this, taken by the mercy of the eunuch, Ebed-Melek, he is once more brought to the King. Mercifully, he tells the King of the deliverance if they would surrender to the invading forces. The King would not do so; but notice the language of the prophet.
"Please," he cries, "obey the voice of the LORD which I speak to you. So it shall l be well with you, and your soul shall live."
Yet the King would not. IMPLORED in the torrent of mercy, sought in the spirit of love and lovingkindness, YET THE KING WOULD NOT LISTEN. Again, despite this condition of his heart, he still once more took the step of ASKING Jeremiah, seeking some spiritual good. Thus the prophet PLED with the King: PLEASE, he said, in tender concern which vice did not eliminate, from the heart, please do as I tell you from God.
In Isaiah 48:18ff., you likewise see the exclamations of mercy sent away, the tenderness of the pleas of God.
" 'Come near to Me, hear this:
I have not spoken in secret from the beginning;
From the time that it was, I was there.
And now the Lord God and His Spirit
Have sent Me.'
"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
'I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
'Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
Nor destroyed from before Me.
'Go forth from Babylon!
Flee from the Chaldeans!' "
These were no mere words, but each one of His supplications to errant and erratic man is like a nail in His own flesh, which He certainly felt. What He suffered there, is the physical and inwardly personal in its outward expression; on the Cross its pain was visible. Here it is the laboratory exhibit of the pleas of His heart.
What then ? SEPARATE from the sovereignty of sin, and do not remain in that city. HEED the word of God and do not remain where it is not heeded, in any Church, and does not rule. HALLOW the name of God and be in the fear of His name, for the fear of the Lord is clean. Be innovative in many things, but never with the word of God, to exchange it for asininity, to befoul it with unbelief, to be inoperative while it operates, like a paralysed army. Consider the merciful pity and the wonder of wisdom in the Lord, and follow Him.
You can say as much about divine sovereignty as you please, but nothing takes the emotional force from the love which wishes that all might repent and come to the knowledge of the truth. His effecting of salvation is no testimony to His rejection of others unsaved, but of His refusal to force on any whose heart is not moved, the implementation of salvation where it IS found. Then His relief and rest, it is not taken and so the tension with truth is not resolved: grace is wasted.
If anyone reading these words is not yet taken into the heart of the Lord, is mistaken in shiftless unspirituality, then repent now, receive the love of the Saviour, and being His, soar into His kingdom, sitting in heavenly places with Him whose presence is then the ULTIMATE ENVIRONMENT (Ephesians 2:6-8) for the human heart.
Thus we have considered the largely negative side of the WORD from the Lord. Now we come with joy to the positive side, exemplified in King Hezekiah and King Josiah, but in so many more nearer by far, to our own time.
"IS THERE ANY
WORD FROM THE LORD ?"
Jeremiah 37:17 with Jeremiah 23:33ff.,
34:8ff. Isaiah 37:1ff., 38:14ff., II Kings 22:12ff., James 2
THE FAITH THAT ACTS AND PREVAILS
ON THE PROMISES OF GOD …
WHERE WORDS ARE GIVEN A HEARING IN THE HEART DOMAIN
I Hezekiah’s Trip to the Temple, His Heart’s March to the Lord
Take the case of King Hezekiah as seen in Isaiah 37ff.. HE is told of the coming onslaught of an arrogant, cruel and haughty King, Sennacherib, and what does he do ? Yes, the King of Israel, he too goes to seek the Lord, a wise counsel. He does it in person: that is wiser still! He presents the letter sent to him, and to the Lord goes the evidence, carefully arranged; and he seeks Him (Psalm 27:8-14)*3.
To the prophet Isaiah the situation is made known, and Hezekiah without self-confidence, with no semblance of self-esteem, but deeming God most able to answer prayer, seeks Him where He may be found, in poverty of spirit, expectation of power and supplication on the basis of what he as King sought for his mission and his people, but for the name, honour and glory of the Lord.
The Lord gave an answer to the challenge of Assyria, to the swagger from their King Sennarcherib, a point by point mocking and devastating word of irony and dismissal. That was the first part, through the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 37-38).
The second part of the divine answer came a little later.
The army of the Assyrians soon was smashed in an amazing divine intervention. It matters little what means, directly miraculous or systematically prepared long before for outcome at this moment in the foreknowledge of God: the thing happened to the army in view at the time when it mattered, causing a massive loss both of personnel and prestige. It came in the face of direct challenge to the God of gods and Lord of lords, which implied He was one of the mob, and His people could be cleaned up precisely as any other.
Really ? Precisely as it had done at the Exodus from Egypt, so in timing, guidance to His people and overcoming power, He responded.
Pride is contemptible: it merely exalts what has been given, and how far all of us fall below what might have been achieved for God, if we had known Him from the first, and followed Him with relish at the outset. Those poor in spirit are the blessed (Matthew 5), the OPPOSITE to those seeking by all means to survive, to have self-belief and to overcome for the sake of their persona's accomplishment. TO THIS MAN, the Lord declares in Isaiah 66, will I look, to him who is "poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word."
Notice that it is not all emotion, spiritual hijinks of an athletic kind, dramatic announcements of a 'word' and so forth. It is God who will ACT (cf. Isaiah 64:4-5), and actually MEET with the person who "rejoices and does righteousness." Stay and obey, repent and receive pardon, seek vision and vigour and do the will of God: there is no problem. It is He who acts. We serve: He performs (cf. Psalm 57:2, 72:18).
Cease prevarication, equivocation, procrastination, the trilogy of feeble folly.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
do not lean to your own understanding,
acknowledge Him in ALL your ways,
and HE WILL DIRECT YOUR STEPS!"
╬That is the word of the Lord from Proverbs 3 (capitals added).
It is a capital word, from the capital of the Kingdom of Heaven, in its Eternal Word, who with His Father is its coming Temple in Himself (Rev. 21:22), the light of the World, Jesus Christ. The curse that has captured 'nature' - that is man's terrestrial environment at the created level - this, Christ has captured and done so selectively, for all who come to His liberation. Where ? there on the Cross He cancelled sin for those who truly receive Him. Some may wish, like reluctant inmates of concentration camps in Germany as the US Army rushed into them at the close of WW II, to remain in those unholy hospices. Those however who receive the liberation of Christ, get it: no one else.
Hezekiah, then, had a dynamic word from the Lord: it is He who spoke AND acted! We come now to a later King of Judah, in fact near the end of the line before the Babylonian captivity: Josiah. Judah of the South had escaped the Assyrian onrush (though Samaria with its idolatry was ruined); yet warned and not heeding, Judah was kept till a later Empire brought up its own day of judgment. Mercifully, it was in that instance, not permanent but for 70 years exile ( foretold by Jeremiah in Ch. 25). It was this together with the devastations that lay between! lyrically exposed by a grief-stricken Jeremiah in Lamentations. But let us consider Josiah and how in his case, as with Hezekiah before him, deliverance was wrought by the word of the Lord.
It can come, issued into history like a CO's orders to his officers, in ways past finding out. Like mist it comes, like growth it comes. It must be sought, the Lord's action on His own promises; and they stand, and so do those who rely on Him, and on His word so expressed (cf. II Peter 1).
Josiah’s Kindly Death, Once the Mission is Manifestly Complete
A Timely Transference to Glory
Josiah’s case was unlike that of Hezekiah: for that was one which threatened his life, yet the potential tragedy was turned into epochal triumph, and his life long continued after this. He was not early met with a threat of this kind. Rather it was complacency amid sounder seeming circumstances, or pride, that was the challenge, magnificently met by the boy King, Josiah.
In fact, over 18 years his glorious reign was to include vital elements, a sort of Reformation, such as this world received especially in the 15th and 16th centuries A.D., when a millenium of developing superstitions and traditions had made the ‘temple’ of testimony to be corrupt and cornered for many, in the money-seeking Romanistic body, one loaded with unloveliness and corrupt papacy. Josiah met the case, as later in the seasons of history did Wycliffe, that morning star of the Reformation, as did the beloved and burnt John Huss, and Luther, Calvin, and Tyndale, living on into the 16th..
With Josiah, a vast change came upon the land. He purged evil, removed idols, cleansed and repaired the Temple, ensured honesty in accounting, sought the people’s hearts to return to the Lord, and purged sexual deviation in religion, showing a consistent and insistent zeal rarely found. From a young age, he had been a king in waiting, waiting on the Lord, ready to be tested. Just as Hezekiah, some reigns before him had thrust out rubbish from the horribly abused temple, which was shamelessly polluted from the syncretistic evil of his own earthly father – the appalling Ahaz, a spur to anti-ecumania now: so Josiah brought back a keen sense of the presence and mercy of the Lord. Moving in sober, spiritual, godly approach to Him, his thrust was in keeping with zeal for His word, testifying of His pardoning mercies in a vast worship occasion with historic impact.
In the midst of his operations, there FOLLOWED a test supreme. With him, the early beginning was the challenge, and the fruits came after this test, like a personal examination while still young. Now a further test of a sudden kind came to his chosen, zealous godliness.
How did this test come ? In cleansing the temple and repairing it, there had been found a copy of the the Book of the Law which brought to mind things long disregarded to the point that the master copy appeared not even known as to its precise location in the temple. Indeed, as for many a Bible in many a home now, it was a ceremonial object; and worse, a forgotten one; and in this case, like a Bible left in the garage and obscured by rubbish set upon it!
Josiah did not institute a committee, instal the equivalent of a Senate Enquiry, appointment, or make a Royal Commission to sum up the whole position in 400 pages. Instead he tore his clothes, symbol of a vast and inner distress and horror at tragedy, of woe before the Lord; and he wept. A young man of 8 on his accession, at 26, he was tender-hearted enough not to be anaesthetised by the dignity of his position, or stirred by the dreamy scent of royal succession and power. He asked someone to enquire from the prophetess, Huldah.
Back came the word:
“Because your heat was tender,
and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard
what I spoke against this place and against it inhabitants,
that they would become a desolation and a curse,
and you tore your clothes, and wept before Me,
I also have heard you, says the LORD.
Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers,
and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace;
and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.”
THAT, it was to come; but God did not see fit to let His friend Josiah inhabit the land when that sort of hideous revolt came to do so. He was therefore taken before that came!
Soon to come upon the thrust of the land, its ways, there would be a swerving off the straight road once more. They would be driven by a sort of engine of injury to the soul, just as Tiananmen in China, at the time appointed, corruption served this purpose, not only to the bodies of the young slain, but to the heart of the nation. Such climaxes arrive unbidden by actual voices, but called for by moral accountability and evil desire, when secondary things take precedence, and the presidency of God becomes dimmed and diverted by the pressure of man and his events. Since this is mere delusion, judgment calls. It does not always leave first its calling card, especially when those are deaf to its initial calls.
Indeed, the evil in Israel at that time, was soon to grow, till there was no remedy. It is reviewed with this conclusion in II Chronicles 36, reaching the fateful point as seen in verse 16. By then, Josiah have fulfilled a magnificent mission, was long gone where his heart rested and his soul continued a life endless in scope, with the eternal God of creation and of redemption. It is not only a question of the quality of life while one lives, but of the eternity of consummated life, when one leaves this world, eternal life in time untamed by termination, even to everlasting! (John 3, 4, 5, 6, Titus 2-3, Ephesians 1:11, II Timothy 1:9ff., Job 19, Psalm 21, 145).
It is not how long you live, but whether YOU KNOW GOD AS YOU LIVE, and doing His will, adorn for ever the commission of Christ, like clothes that respond to His own movements, and follow Him with joy (cf. Isaiah 61:10, Jeremiah 13): it is this which matters, not date of moving from here to the next world in Christ.
III THE REALISM THAT RESISTS EMPTY FAITH
AND FAITHLESS EMPTINESS ALIKE
James has some words on this region of life. Having told us that all good things are gifts from God, who of His own will has caused Christians to be born again, he then traces this whole area of unseemly pretence, pretension and insincerity, obvious nonsense which many dare to practice in the very face of the Lord.
Abraham, the epistle of James tells us, was indeed justified for BELIEVING GOD, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. The reality of faith being present, then the covenant of assurance, God at once enacted (Genesis 15:6,10ff.). Equivocation had no place. Faith acted, God acted: accounts met the light. Faith enabled the relationship to become active, dynamic, directive, protective and when later Abraham was tested, in graphic mode (Gen. 22) – would he even offer his son ? a ram was provided to depict cover for his son and indeed himself. When you take it, it enters your spiritual blood-stream. It is ALL GIFT (Romans:25ff., Ephesians. 2, John 6:47-54), propounded by God, received by faith, sealed by grace.
It was the ram which was thus provided as cover for his son and indeed for his own life. Making the gift dramatic, its nature as donation from deity apparent, God had even caused it to be caught in a thicket to make it easy to get, just as Christ was willingly caught in a thicket of ecclesiastical apparatchiks, a mafia of murderers, daring to use the name of the Lord as if it had something to do with their lives.
That 'catching' too was planned (cf. Psalm 22, Isaiah 49-55, Psalm 16, 69, Daniel 9:24-26). It is all GIFT by grace (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:5-8). Nothing less could save any in polluted man’s plight (Romans 1-2, Eph. 4:17ff.); and received by faith, the thing is not grievous!
v It is gift OF DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS through abundance of grace (Romans 5:17).
v It is a gift of salvation BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH (Ephesians 2:1-12).
Not merely is the thing a gift; the mode is grace, undeserved favour in method; indeed, the cost is zero to the purse, but all to the heart. This must come to surrender and render fealty to the Lord through faith (Luke 14:27ff.), so that this gift of grace might be freely received, just as it is freely paid for all concerned, even as many as do receive Him (John 1:12, Ephesians 1). Reject it at your peril; refuse repentance and perish!
There is a warning. It is this. When faith, instead of being employed as a reception committee, is used as a smoke-screen, and a verbal prod to God, then the case is far different. If you really do BELIEVE, if your faith is not a DEAD corpse rather than a spiritual dynamic, if you avoid trusting in your own way and playing about with something you dare to call 'faith', but instead receive objectively the Lord's Christ, the Christ of the Bible's testimony, then with Abraham rejoice!
Yet if you are not showing this faith's reality by the team of your spiritual horses moving determinedly to the desired end, what in the world do you think you are doing! If you love, you don’t pretend. You don’t have to ‘work at it’.
It flows. It needs no adornment; it exhibits itself naturally. To be sure it is not YOUR WORKS which make the difference, but the attitude of heart which shows that faith is a genuine condition, and not a verbal substitute for realism. ONLY God does wondrous works (Psalm 72:18), and you need not try to imitate Him; but if you DO have faith in Him, then look once more at Abraham, and what do you find ? It is this.
When the time of test came, he was willing to OFFER UP THE VERY MEANS OF DELIVERANCE, even his son Isaac; for it was through Isaac that the whole testimonial train was to run, to the Messiah, to blessing for all nations. He did not insist on what HE considered had to happen, but on the word of God.
Yes, there was a word of the Lord for him, which would test his trust in the power of God and His faithfulness; and he passed that test.
The very merits of the Messiah were thus able to come to Him in advance of the entire payment at Calvary and through all that led up to this to make it operative, in the sinless Christ (cf. Romans 4, esp. 21-25). Then, not in ram but in Royalty, not in Isaac’s loss (Psalm 49:7,15), but truth’s gain, there came the sacrifice to reach beyond any time, to cover all who are His (Galatians 6:14).
Thus was it shown that his was not circumstantial faith, surrounded by possibilities and sundered by probabilities. It was instead a faith in God transcending all such things, and one which did not refuse translation into what SHOWED IT!
He believed, he acted. He trusted, he travailed and he triumphed by grace; and Isaac, ready to be lost, was found. Moreover, being found, he showed that part of the way to the consummation in Christ, the sacrificial lamb in Person, the necessary sacrifice to end all atonement, the eternal Redeemer to end all redemption, granting eternal life: Lord over all lords, king over all kings (Hebrews 7-10).
Accordingly, as the Lord shows through James 2, the faith which, if it does not operate, is a dead kind of a thing, yet by contrast, being alive and authentic, in Abraham showed itself living; and although of course the righteousness was given to the patriarch WHEN the faith first operated as James indicates so clearly in this 1:23, yet the reality of the faith was attested later, when the test came. Faith without works is always dead.
You are saved without works (Romans 3:23ff., Galatians 3, 5, Ephesians 2), but not without faith and faith works! It does not trust in its works; it does not trust in the ammunition and praise God as a formal after-thought. It TRUSTS (after all, it IS faith), relies God to DO what is needed, but praises God in anticipation, in unmitigated joy of heart, and meets the test of purity of motive because being alive, IT IS THERE!
Through faith, man is not using God to get an easy advantage (Christ did not turn the stones to bread, taking no 'special case' arm-chair position, since He was a real man, in humility tested in His incarnation). The man of faith is believing in God to move through him and throughout his life, and that of whomever else He may select, to ACHIEVE the needed result. HE will do it (Phil. 1: 6).
IS THERE ANY WORD FROM THE LORD ? Remember the cry of King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 37:17), alas found fidgetting because his life was alive with unrepented sin! It is not always that such a case arises; but what does arise is tested. Therefore as Peter instructs us, let us not be dismayed by the trials and tests like fire, that come; for God can purify what is mixed and secure what is clean (I Peter 1:7, 4:12-19).
Therefore as Peter instructs us, let us not be dismayed by the trials and tests like fire that come, for God can purify what is mixed and secure what is clean (I Peter 1:7, 4:12-19).
But again, let us answer the question. Is there a word from the Lord ?
Of course there is: it is ALL written, the beginning, the core, the Christ Saviour, the suffering, the false sentence, the crucifixion, the bodily resurrection*4, the progress of this world in hideous regress*5, the signals that His coming is near*6. It is all there: so set about obeying it, following Him not in word only but in deed, not subverted or subverting others by making up new morals, a new christ, like the sects, new easy ways and alluring arm-chairs for watching some kind of 'spiritual' TV! Work then, not to gain eternal life, but because you have gained it IF YOU HAVE SAVING FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ, God as man and alive from the dead and to be KNOWN (John 17:1-3, Romans 10:9, I Corinthians 15:1-4ff.).
No amount of words can turn a photograph into a person, so it is useless just to have doctrinal jabber ALONE, and imagine this saves you. It is no less useless to have a vague feeling, void of content, and with no authority from the word of God. These areas must be conjoined, not disjoined. They are environmental elements in the operation of biblical faith. The words refer to FACTS, to ACTUALITIES, to GOD HIMSELF. Being referred to the realities of the Lord, you find Him ... by faith (cf. John 5:39-40).
You do not sit under the sign-post, like a prisoner regarding the shape of the hole in the wall. You act on it. You then make the friendship of the most glorious Being through the Person of Christ and the operation of His Holy Spirit (cf. John 16). Cultivate His acquaintance, therefore, follow His word and behold ... you will know. Does He not say it ?
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves
And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father and I will love him and manifest Myself to him …
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love
and We will come to him and make Our home with him." Such is the way of God, true from the first, available to the last, when judgment sits.
Such is the way of God, true from the first, available to the last, when judgment sits.
It is well that with Him is pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7, Micah 7:19-20); and it is well that pardon produce its fruits, as roots are formed, the plant of life is set in the ground of faith and the water of the Spirit makes it grow (not the faith, the plant).
Faith ? a minute seed of this is sufficient. It is the One in whom you place it, that matters, the right One, the God of glory, creation, atonement, pardon, reconciliation for man through redemption, the God of love, truth and mercy, who sent His only begotten Son not as an image for spectacle, but as the Life that gives itself in sacrifice, as an offering for sin, so that those who by faith plead grace and free gift from this, might be made anew, into new people (Romans 6:23, 5:17, Ephesians 2). Such people, with hearts that receive, know and find love, adoption as children of God (Ephesians 1:5), like the patriarch. They find eternal life itself, and transmit this love because it is simply too much to hold within.
*1 See The Plagues of Egypt.
LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST
WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES
AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS
Bible or Blight, Christ or Confusion:
The Comprehensive Resolution of Man's Intractable Problems
is Found Only in the Bible, the Word of God;
DEITY AND DESIGN, DESIGNATION AND DESTINY
REASON, REVELATION and the REDEEMER
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy,
The gods of naturalism have no go!
These glorious verses of reciprocity with the Redeemer, response to His call to His gracious presence, encouragement and faith, continue like a million arrows, to reach with joy the targets of many hearts. This part of Psalm 27 is as follows.
You said, 'Seek My face,'
My heart said to You, 'Your face, Lord, I will seek.'
"Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.
"Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
"Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!"
How beautiful it is for brethren to dwell together in unity, or how good and pleasant it is (Psalm 133)! Yet how difficult it is, as this 21st century develops, to discover those pearls of unity in Christ, without departure from scripture either in the interests of ungodly and presumptuous addition, subtract or mutation of the biblical text! How beautiful are endeavours to heal the breaches, and how ugly those to ignore them, and let them rend the ship, if it were possible!
Hence in The Bay of Retractable Islands, much effort has been expended to seek more unity on issues which never should have been grounds for division, for they are arenas of wild bullishness in some cases, roaring extremes needlessly adopted, as some aspect of the holy word of God is insensitively or even grossly and damagingly rammed into the setting of that word, without regard for the rest of it, and raucous noises tend to be made, as at a boxing ring, for this or that.
Ecumenical aspiration is good; ecumenical desperation is bad. Ecumenical zeal is good; but the ecumenically surreal is not. It is well called 'ecumania'. The spirit of this Age rages and is confident, corruptive, corrosive, invasive, bold, arrogant and self-fancying, putting aside the restrictions of yore, and indulging, even in the case of many 'churches' in such rank and hideous moral crimes IN THE NAME OF THE LORD that it is hard to believe them not intoxicated. The Bible in such cases tends to become a old cricket prize, set there for old times sake, invidiously disregarded.
Yes it goes, this corruption that dares in vain to use the name of Jesus Christ, or His word. It was foretold (II Peter 2-3, I Timothy 4, II Timothy 3-4, Acts 20, Matthew 24:24). By no means does this require one to separate from ANYTHING; nor does it allow one to endure what is rank rebellion from the word of God. Where the clear text is countermanded, or addition or alteration of what it teaches is authorised, however, there is no option but separation, if there is no yielding. See Separation 1997. andthis. See also 'separation' in the index.
Every age has its challenges: this, it is one of our own. The joy is this: that it is one of the signals of His coming, this plenitude of sects, from Islam (combined from Jewish and Christian sources), to the more recent, from Romanism to the fancies of New Age. When the wildness of dissidence from the authority of the word of God in the bible is rank, then it is time to avoid the ranks of what is of this kind, and in peace to proceed in the Lord, as His coming draws near (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). It is ALWAYS good to abide in Him and in His words! See also SMR pp. 743ff. and 750Bff. (at '731').
See: The Ultimate Irony
Barbs, Arrows and Blessings
Biblical Blessings Ch. 15, Extended Endnote 2,
BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 33
Acme ... 11,
With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 3,
Spiritual Refreshings Ch.
The Magnificence of the Messiah, Endnote 1,
Dastardly Dynamics ... Ch. 11,
SMR Ch. 6 and Index,
The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9, Section 14, JJ 25, ASP 15, 16,
Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 5,
Things Old and New Ch. 2, Excursion 2A;
Light of Dawn Ch. 3,
Beyond the Crypt ... Ch. 2;
Dizzy Dashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 2; REF 5, 6,
Ancient Words and Modern Events Ch. 8 (on resurrection and Lazarus, yes and both with Jerusalem); contrasting Greek bodily terms - GBG 2 ;
and New Zealand Dizzy Dashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth 6,
The Frantic Millenium Ch. 4;
Bewilderment ... and the Beauty of Christ Ch. l 1
See for example, earlier Chapters of this volume. See also SMR pp. 639ff., 670ff..
See Answers to Questions Ch. 5,
SMR Ch. 8,
with His Time is Near.