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The TWO-EDGED SWORD
FOR and AGAINST:
and the setting is
SIN or SALVATION
Recently, there occurred the publication of ISRAEL III, Faith, Fishbones, Fiascos and the Faithfulness of the Lord, A Contemporary Inspection and Collection in the Inextinguishable Light of the Bible.
This Chapter extends that work, as do some of those to come.
Here we seek to find some of those many verses which specify the spiritually impoverishing character of what disowns, discharges, derides, despises Israel on the one hand, while not at all hiding what from the Lord, derides their own sinful regressions and rebellions. Both are present. Neither is available for deletion. In SMR Appendix A, some of the more obvious features of the place of Israel are specified; but here we are seeking to be informed on data, details in the Bible concerning just two features: what is to be found in derision of derision, from the mouth of the Lord, when it comes to Israel. When many nations bully it and swagger in derisive derogation, what is the Lord's opinion of this ?
What is the view of God... What does the Lord say about that belligerent bullying of the school bully - those illustrious Gentile nations engaged in the practice - who assails the one the Teacher has just very justly disciplined on the one hand, this little Israel ? We add, in due balance, a little at least of the discipline itself.
There is no need to glorify what is not glorious, or to demean what God exposes as if one had a special sanction. The GOSPEL of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE raises any man, and as to the nations, they are as God specifies (Acts 17:26ff.) raised and given their opportunities at His pleasure, who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11).
Israel in error is not alone, nor even in reneging. Many a nation has toyed with the Gospel, whether to endorse it nationally or not; and some have done this, though far from faithfully in the norm, only virtually dump it, though at times after a very long time. In both Australia and the US, not to say parts of Europe, this is the trend. Political USE is made of the Gospel, but the glory of it is unapparent in the slithery slopes of syncretism, where chameleon politicians pump out words and then countermand, amend or clarify very differently.
Neither the Gospel of the only path to the grace of God, by His own demonstrated authority*1, nor Israel, as one of the pivots of history in God's own chosen way of dealing with mankind, is a power play object. As for Israel, like much of modern Europe, it shows as yet no great interest in this same Gospel of the necessary salvation of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12), even though this very Being, the Saviour, came through Israel as for so long predicted (cf. Micah 5:1ff., Isaiah 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 22, 32, 40, 49-55, 59-61), adopting the format of flesh via the womb chosen.
However, instead of transforming rejoicing in His salvation, so exquisitely prepared and magnificently presented through the life, the Cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God definitively incarnate, this world is now the more flagrantly turning to burning (cf. Matthew 24:24, II Thessalonians 1-2), and one of its daemons is Israel. It loves to demonise, to delete, impair, prohibit, inhibit, interdict, render destitute, impute evil and imagine new derogations against it.
However, SINCE God appoints the nations for their due opportunity, and sovereignly selects the sanctions in history, rewarding, disciplining, showing patience, in love seeking to show mercy, then the place accorded Israel is not to be made different by demonisation. Each nation is individual in its nature. This one happens to be pivotal for much else. God selects what He will and uses it how He will, saving whom He may in accordance with His holiness, and dealing with spiritual vagabondage, calloused and chronic, as He will (Ephesians 1:11).
Many seem to imagine that because Israel has a very special place in history in terms of God's selected mode of self-revelation which includes the necessity for salvation in every soul on this earth, through HIS OWN METHOD, the Gospel of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, therefore it is to be hated or mocked, like teacher's pet. One even hears of it as if a favourite, a pet!
HOW often is a pet treated in this way, and who would vie for such a post if this is the exemplification of what it means! Israel has been battered and murders abound, and efforts repeatedly made almost to the point now of an international interdict, to delete it, at once, or by attritions, grabbing bits by international pressure, until it becomes virtually indefensible. Of course it has asked for it FROM THE LORD (as in Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 32, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah and so on); but that is no excuse for others, themselves sinners and often grasping ones, to act as if they were innocent and had a wand of judgment to wave. For this, as this volume shows in passage after passage of the Bible, there is due divine response, as has been attested elsewhere in this work.
With joy, many seize both on God's remonstrances with Israel because of its repetitive unbelief from the day of Moses on (as seen in Stephen's speech, so dramatically rehearsed! and with such a pointed application - Acts 7); and they seek to dismiss that nation. Others tend to glorify it, as if the fact that it was chosen for a great task, and through the power of God and the faithfulness of the often persecuted prophets, accomplished it, meant it was GREAT. Not so! (Deuteronomy 7 is very clear about this, and Isaiah 19 ends on a very solemn note here). It failed at the chief venue, that of its Prince of peace, and how it has inherited war; and by no means was this the first fall! (Acts 2:23).
ONLY GOD will be glorified when judgment sits (cf. Isaiah 2), and disciplines meanwhile surge against many nations on this recalcitrant earth, specialised in obstruction and invention, despite the grand simplicity of the Gospel, and the glorious depth of the word of God, which is true to the last jot and tittle, even in the ovens of history, which for all Hitler's efforts to extend them, did not extinguish Israel.
NOTHING WILL (cf. Matthew 24:34); for that generation, race, that body representing indirectly an age, as Vine points out in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words), that Jewish people in this case, that vital assemblage, that called body, that group of people or engendered assemblage will NOT pass till all is fulfilled; and this you see exemplified in Luke 21:24 where right at the end of the Age, there is Jerusalem, and there is Israel, the capital city itself NO LONGER downtrodden by Gentiles, but in possession of this same Israel! ... as now!
God has very different plans than mere extinction for the 'generation' which "will by no means pass away till all these things take place"; and indeed the nation which rejected Jesus Christ is not to be blotted out whether by Arab ire, jealousy or inventions, or Gentile expediency. "All these things" in the eschatological context, included the return of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:36ff.).
Never forget that the Jew-born apostles were part of it, in that the early Church, that sling to cast the Gospel of God's glory in Christ Jesus to the world: the early Christian Church was inhabited by Jewish people, however small the minority of the nation this may have been! It would stay and it did, this generation; and it would again have its day in Jerusalem as we see in Luke 21. These things, as all things to the least in the word of God, the Bible, have happened, and we, this generation chosen to behold many of these last things in time, we have seen many such things jjut onto the stage of history, recent history, with our own eyes.
There are those who would rather see them deleted, for they shout to the deaf, as if it might hear. But the ear is languid.
If, therefore, the nation of ancient Israel has fallen as in Romans 11, what is the feeling when as forecast, it returns (Romans 11:15), when this, their blindness ceases! That was a thing still to come in the day of St Paul (Romans 11:25, Zechariah 12:10-13:1). What then of the time when they are delivered despite their long sojourn AS A NATION OR PEOPLE, in the land of unbelief ? Their worldwide dispersion having been at the hand of God as predicted for their encumbrance with idolatrous syncretism and synthesis of foolish empty religions and religious objects (Leviticus 26), their restoration is to be greeted with great joy even within the Gentile fold, when its spiritual phase comes! (Deuteronomy 32:43).
Already phase I of Ezekiel's two stroke restoration is finished: they are back in their appointed land (Ezekiel 37:1-8, Genesis 17), and later as in Zechariah, the Spirit of grace and supplications will anoint them widely. Then the geographical instalment in the faithfulness of God's reliability (Genesis 17, Ezekiel 36:22), shown in their current physical return, will become a spiritual consummation. It will be as tangible, visible, audible as is its current, monumental industrial and scientific ardour. Its fruits adorn the earth as foretold (Isaiah 35). This new and spiritual fruit waits in the curtains for its impending time.
In Ezekiel, there were two commands to the dry bones, scattered among the nations, the prophetic symbol of the dispersion of the nation of Israel. The first brings them back, assembled as skeletons, yes, but that in Israel! Back from the perimeters of disperson, they are seen rattling together in the vision, brought back to their land. At that first time, however, in the vision, they do not live; and spiritually, for the nation, this is the present position. You do not have to seek far to find this.
However the second stage comes quickly as Ezekiel 37 shows. It is then that the breath is inspired into these skeletons BY A SEPARATE command.
That is the symbolic exhibition from Ezekiel. The breath is ordered to come into this physically restored body of bones; and THEY WILL LIVE, we read. Indeed, as in 37:24, the Messiah will come (as also in Zechariah 14:5, Psalm 73, Isaiah 59) and rule. These are, like cliffs seen in the distance as one's vessel approaches the beloved shores of one's homeland, events looming.
But what of the history over some millenia ?
Is this to glorify Israel ? Actually not. In Ezekiel 36 as we are led to that time when there will be a restoration of spirit as well as nationhood, God speaks very differently indeed. This He says in 36:19-32:
"So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds. When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name - when they said of them,
‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’
"But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.
"Therefore say to the house of Israel,
‘Thus says the Lord God:
"I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel,
but for My holy name’s sake,
which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.
And I will sanctify My great name,
which has been profaned among the nations,
which you have profaned in their midst;
and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,"
says the Lord God,
"when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.
"For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.
"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean;
I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh
and give you a heart of flesh.
"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes,
and you will keep My judgments and do them.
"Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers;
you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
"I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.
I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you.
And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.
"Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds
that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight,
for your iniquities and your abominations.
"Not for your sake do I do this," says the Lord God,
"let it be known to you.
"Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!" ' "
Would you say that this is congratulation ? then someone half-dead of lung-cancer is in a great state of health ? Hardly. Here is explicit shame, attributing self-loathing in terms of "iniquities and your abominations."
NO ONE will be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2); for with what does a sinner exalt, but with the name of the Lord!
BUT the history of the nation, its glory in the Lord and shame without Him, its restoration in a defined action of divine compassion and in His faithfulness to PROMISE as its PREMISS, this proceeds in its clear and sharp witness to all, to its consummation. God's love itself is operating in the first place back of His promise (Deuteronomy 7 tells it of Israel), so that He made it. That fact however neither obliterates its point nor diminishes the effectiveness of God's plan; for in fact, it enhances it.
You see, God is VERY wise, most wise, and in Him wisdom has its site and place (Job 28): its origin and its name are His, and as to Him, He being both eternal and immutable, delighting in mercy (Hosea 7) and filled with goodness (Exodus 33).
Thus when the Gentiles 'put their oar in,' become oafish in self-congratulation, in spiritual pseudo-godliness, despising the Jew, is it not time to recall Romans 11:15-23!
"For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world,
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
"For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy,
so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off,
and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them,
and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
do not boast against the branches.
"But if you do boast,
remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
"You will say then, 'Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.'
Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith.
Do not be haughty, but fear.
"For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.
Otherwise you also will be cut off.
And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in,
for God is able to graft them in again."
Here you see matters of form, matters of function and matters of fact, all three,
If in FORM, they were branches and yet did not live in Him, then in fact they became an impersonation, an imitation, a pretence, and were cut off AS A NATION. They were like branches such as you often see in orange trees, shooting up, soft and green, sports as they are called, and there is here reversion to stock. It is not of the tree as created, but a reversion, a reminder of its past!
This wild reversion to type in fact happened, and for some 1900 years they suffered for this. It was, as Hosea 1-3 indicated, a LONG TIME! Consider the Lord's scathing references to this trend as seen in Amos 9:7-8, Hosea 12:4-14). Who however is in principle better as you see in the grand sweep of exposure in Ephesians 4:17-19, from the inspired apostle Paul ? ALL must be changed, and each within the all (cf. Zechariah 12:10ff.).
If in FORM, some Gentile peoples appear or claim now to be branches, then what is the fact ? The Jewish people were cut out, says Paul in Romans 11, and some Gentiles were grafted in. Does this make them better, or is it the grafting, and this for one as for the other, and all from the tree into which grafting is made and the gardener who does it! In this, Christ is the tree and those in Him, the branches, here nations in primary focus.
Is the current Gentile branch position a matter for pride, then ? Is your rescue by a life-saver while drowning in the surf to be set with Olympic records, while the eyes gloat with simplistic pride ?
If this too is to become a nuance of thought, a festering of feeling and not faith, in what way are they any better than Israel THE NATION ? Might they not then justly have the same sort of divine imprimatur on suffering and exposure to truth, those puffed up and not taken up, and judgment set: that they are frauds, fakes, unspiritual and ungodly and unable to be sustained in hypocrisy, when their time comes ?
Certainly it is the same (Romans 6:22-23, 10:12). With God, while history has His imprimatur, spirituality has His approval only in the non-pseudo form, when the quasi- ceases to be the crazy, a mere imposition of pretence (Hosea 9:7); and as to that, when to this is added PRETENSION, even BOASTING about themselves in comparison with the Jewish people, this is becoming entirely intolerable, as a multiple fraud. Who is the judge but the Lord!
Paul tells the Gentile nations to beware (Romans 11:18ff.), take care of vanity and pride in boasting AGAINST what was there, in that very tree, before!
Speaking of Israel in tree terms, arboreal attire, of being a branch cut off, one integral at the first from the root, God tells the vaunters among the Gentiles, BOAST NOT AGAINST THE BRANCHES! WHO, He indicates, do you think you are! Do you even want to ASK for the same just treatment! Have you taken leave of your perception of the grounds of history and the divine fulminations against fraudulent 'faith' when it masquerades as if genuine ? (cf. Romans 10).
Is Israel not an example for you to be meek and lowly, but rather to be mistaken as a chance to be lordly while yet without life yourself ?
Is hostility then holiness ? and is overweening contempt for some who suffer, a sign of sainthood ? Is there then no fear of God, He implies, in your hearts, who so swagger who have nothing to swagger about! who so derogate Israel.
In Jeremiah 48:26-27 we see an example of the overweening contempt and derogatory pride of Moab in this phase of spiritual pride:
"Make him drunk,
Because he exalted himself against the Lord.
Moab shall wallow in his vomit,
And he shall also be in derision.
For was not Israel a derision to you?
Was he found among thieves?
For whenever you speak of him,
You shake your head in scorn."
Moab, we see in that site, was to inherit a future not at all balmy, in view of its excoriating contempt for Israel, tossing the head, salient in scorn.
Cease then this unholy contempt, and become realistic about the goodness and severity of God. Such is the flow of argument from the apostle Paul, in Romans 11. Do not IMAGINE things about yourselves, but rather being repentant have real faith that acts lives before God, every last nation of you.
This is not to be confused with the individual Christian who, as in Romans 5:1-11, and 8:29ff., is chosen before time and kept past all time that ends into eternity (II Timothy 1:8ff.). Nevertheless, though such, actual Christians, are a new seed and a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:5), kept by the power of God to salvation reserved in heaven for them (I Peter 1), yet this injunction is a reminder to all that IF you are His, then this being so, you will have fruit corresponding.
It is not that you wait for the fruit in order to gain the faith, for then you would not be waiting with faith in the Lord in your heart, so what fruit could that have! But WHEN, with Paul you can say this (II Timothy 1:12), "I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED AND AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE TO KEEP THAT WHICH I HAVE COMMITTED TO HIM AGAINST THAT DAY," then of course, this being faith on the basis of promise as its premiss (John 5:24, 4:14, 11:25-26, Ephesians 1:11), its end is assured. That ? endless life, eternal life, unguttable grace (John 10:27-28).
Nor is the fruit of faith by any means to be confused with nullity of result. Israel is NOT to be pushed around, nor are those who have no mercy to promote their own pride as if there were some divine right to avoid the commandments to love your neighbour as yourself. How much how many must hate themselves, if their attitude to Israel is to be understood as one of equality with themselves, in the love regions! Yet it does not appear so: no it does not, whether the Madrid Quartet, say to midget mouse Israel, given to be sure, more than a few paddocks (gained also in war, when many sought its extinction), GIVE BACK MORE LAND! or when Ahmadinejad says, YOU MUST PERISH! or such sentiments flow so freely from his thoughts.
Certainly, it does not appear so. Such varieties of 'love' are neither impressive nor overwhelming! In fact, the divine works as traced earlier in Deuteronomy 29-32 proceed as listed. History follows meekly like a lamb, though the captains shout and blood becomes as water in muddy fields.
Despite endless rebellions from Him, as to God, the glory of HIS name is certainly certified; for out went Israel, self-shorn of its most blessed Messiah, and in came the enemy to uproot them, the desolation so long and so often foretold.
With this as divinely indicted, then came the special enmity and the laughter and the scorn of the great as they dispersed the Jew. For all that, many were most filled with Jewish works, for many are those Jews who have become Nobel Prize winners and leaders in science, agriculture, music and the like. Then God brought them back, using a swelling of joy in Britain in the Balfour Declaration, honoured in part, dishonoured in part, and in the League of Nations' arrangements for Israel, dishonoured all but totally in spirit at least to the present day, as nations seek to harry the Jew. At least, many of them operate in such a style that if this is not the objective, a vast confusion is the subjective condition!
The wars against this restored Israel have come as specified, and the triumphs against overwhelming odds as equally specified (cf. SMR Chs. 8 l- 9 ). Jerusalem has been regained in part as in Zechariah 14, and then in whole as in Luke 21; and the harrowing nations bent on 'peace' and perhaps some other things, are finding the burden of Jerusalem vexatious, as foretold in Zechariah12 likewise, as it leads up to the vast outpouring of the Spirit and repentance in this little nation over the crucifixion of their Messiah (12:10-13:1). The flurry of the fusiliers as they speak in militant, Gentilic terms is increasing, even to raucous shouts from Iran in particular. It is all there as is Isaiah 59:9-20 with particular emphasis on 59:20, and in Micah 7, with its blend of mercy in the Gospel and power in the land, as the Lord applies His word, as seen further in Joel and in Ezekiel 37ff.. He Himself is to come as these events sweep on to usher in at length the end of the Age.
In this total milieu, then, we come to the word of God on the topic of those who despise Israel. It is very sure, very notable and at times vehement; for WHO likes the bully, and the hypocrite; and how holy are the mentors and disposers who arise to tell the Jew, in his Israel, all about how to live and govern his country, when what may be said of their own!
Let us then attend to the words of God concerning these topics further, and in particular now that we have come so far, to those of His words which speak of the divine attitude to those who wish to pillory, punish, bring debacle to Israel. To this, the plan is to give attention for several chapters.
DISQUISITION FROM THE BIBLE
This is more nearly EXPOSITION, but since it is bringing a series of biblical sites to notice and applying them jointly, we give the above title.
We shall plan to visit the following references:
Isaiah 51:22-23, with 47:1 and 6, 49:24-28 (content), 54:17 for review, Jeremiah 30:15-16, 48:28-36, 51:9, 49,56, Ezekiel 35:11-15, 36:5,22-29, 37:24. Zechariah 2:7 merging to 2:11., 12:2, Micah 7:15ff., Obadiah, Zephaniah 2:8-10, 3:2,15,18-19, with Zechariah 11:7-13, and 13:4-7, Isaiah 24:14-16.
Let us begin with Jeremiah 48:28-30, since it is so rich and varied in its dramatic pronouncements and heart-felt cries, both of lament and of judgment. In earlier parts of this prophecy, there has been abundant evidence of appeal, exhortation, invitation, opportunity for deliverance for Israel; but now it progresses, with the terrible forcefulness but necessary acuity as found in Ezekiel 21, to results. Suppose for ten years you were a student, State-supported, indulged, helped, entreated, but at every examination, you lay down the pen and sent text-messages elsewhere. Every endeavour to deliver you failing, at last the awful moment comes: GO and study no more, fake, feckless reckless wreckage of former studenthood, massif of the unmomumental, and take your place amid the dead blow-flies, who twitch a little, now here, now there. So judgment arises.
There is a certain soulless feeling to resistance, the renaissance of ruin, the advance of laziness, the quintessence of spiritual lethargy mixed with dilettante dreams; and when its time is up, you could use the term 'judgment' both now and hereafter. It might appear from the case of Michael Jackson, at least if multiplied newspaper reports are to be even given some kind of credit, that his proclivities to be different, to diverge, to indulge in this and that fantasy or desire, to take drugs, perhaps to escape and build a world of feeling, where things are different, perhaps to reconstruct his face, to alter the things that are, led at last to a burial of talent, because he could go no more. It is sad; as was the case of Howard Hughes which superficially, at least, might seem to have some resemblance.
The change that is needed is no illusion. It is not the hope of lost ideals, lost youth or lost vigour, not the implementation of a dream of vitality and wonder and love; but it is the obtaining of life from God who made it. It is not desperate dreams that are needed, but functional reality, the heart of more than dream, of vitality and exuberance, of life itself from God for man. This is not too difficult. To be sure it involves not the indulgence but the crucifixion of one's former life. God at one point in Ezekiel 16 speaks of finding Israel in the wilderness, unclean, unkept and unkempt. He proceeds through cleansing and adorning in numerous actions, to make of her a thing of beauty, desirable. It is God who does it, not man or his mazes of moulds and hopes and adventures of spirit.
The nation has its own history, and each nation has its curriculum vitae; but it is applicable to individuals no less.
" 'As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut,
nor were you washed in water to cleanse you;
you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.
No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you;
but you were thrown out into the open field,
when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born.
'And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood,
I said to you in your blood, "Live!" Yes, I said to you in your blood, "Live!"
'I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured,
and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew,
but you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you,
indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you
and covered your nakedness.
'Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you,
and you became Mine," says the Lord God.
'Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood,
and I anointed you with oil.
'I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin;
I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk.
I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck.
And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.
'Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk,
and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil.
You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty.
Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty,
for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,' says the Lord God."
So does the parable speak of spiritual beauty being formed by the interest and grace, the cleansing and moulding, the leading and helping of God in His love. It is covenantal in basis, that is, emitted from the mouth of God, permitted by the grace of God and committed by the declaration of God, available at call, the call of faith in repentance, till one comes to know the God of creation as the Lord of salvation.
It is a far better thing than roving dreams and the hopes of the mere imagination; for what one imagines may indeed have some grounds in reality, but not simple natural reality; for the house does not built the character, nor does the drainage system cleanse the soul. For the inward you need the outward power of the personal God who deals with persons, not the environmental heritage which man is given for his excursions and to find knowledge.
Houses are good; but do not worship their walls.
Thus we come to this passage in Jeremiah 48. The topic is Moab. One notices first the insistent exposure of divine depth of knowledge. God knows how that nation, here personified, has developed. There has been a certain settled character to its life, we read, for Moab is like liquid never poured from vessel to vessel, as one settled with dregs, on his lees. "Moab has been at ease from his youth. He has settled on his dregs" - Jeremiah 48:11.
He has taken gods as a young fool might take prostitutes (48:13), and shame is to be his inheritance. He glories in imaginary strength, in his strong men for war, but
"How can you say, 'We are mighty and strong men for the war' ?" God asks.
"The calamity of Moab is near at hand."
We get the developing picture of pride and even arrogance (48:29).
"We have heard of the
pride of Moab (he is exceeding proud),
The case is not pretty.
We find a scathing divine scorn coming to this braggart.
"Make him drunk because he exalted himself against the Lord" (48:26).
Then we come to another feature: it is the divine scorn at the scoffing of Moab against Israel. To be sure, Israel was suffering for her own sins, plentiful, like heavy rain, and varied (as outlined for example in Ezekiel 20, 23 as in Jeremiah 5, 9, 23). Of that there is no hiding:
"And like their bow, they
have bent their tongues for lies,
For all that, the sins of others are no excuse for one's own! Thus when one sinner excoriates another and takes advantage of his follies, commits follies of assault, and when the sinner attacked in one being disciplined already by the Lord Himself, then the results of assault can become incandescent. A school bully punching up a child who has just been severely caned is not likely to appeal to the Headmaster, for any kind of charm! Charmless, he is also shameless, and inherits it! There could be other results ... not unfitting.
Now we come to the point for our present purpose, on which one has touched a little earlier. There is a combination of considerations leading to something close to extinction for Moab (Jeremiah 48:26-27).
"Make him drunk,
Because he exalted himself against the LORD.
Moab shall wallow in his vomit,
And he shall also be in derision.
For was not Israel a derision to you ?
Was he found among thieves ?
For whenever you speak of him,
You shake your head in scorn."
The scorner is to be scorned. The swaggering, pestiferous oppressor of Israel, one who would shake the head in arrogant dismissal of that nation, as if it had been caught out and found to be a thief among thieves, this declamatory nation will itself now inherit its own species of scoffing, soon to be seen wallowing in vomit. Indeed, its own unpretty position will be viewed publicly.
Notice the precision of the rebuke. You scorned, you scoffed, in heartfelt arrogance, you swaggered, you were dismissive with a taunting indifference and a callow self-assurance, despising the Israel (however wrong it became) whom God had chosen for a select purpose. You became as if a god and took over the reins of control, imagining there was none to see you : as in Psalm 50:21ff. ... "You thought I was altogether like you!"
You thought you could act as if in a sealed-up flask, a spider devouring a fly. You imagined incompetence for every power, divine or other, as you assaulted this people to your heart's content.
Are you out of your mind! YOU WILL WALLOW IN YOUR VOMIT.
Thus is the direction of the divine dictum to the dictatorial Moab.
WHEN WILL the nations of
today learn to read history and the Book of the Lord alike,
and when will they realise that
there is a result for
overweening operative glory,
there is an end to telling
Israel DO THIS, or DO THAT!
while the memory of
Auschwitz and of Britain's action
the failure of the UN in
the invasive day of Nasser does not escape the mind,
and the grabbing of bits
from Israel, on and on,
God, as we often now see, does not like oppression.
Witless scoffers and scorners of Israel are looking at many examples of the principles and practice of divine scorn of scorners of His people. Alas for Israel, they have secured the breaking of the covenant, its benedictions (as in Zechariah 11:10), the blessings noted from Mount Gerizim are unhappily being replaced by the cursings from Mount Ebal (Deuteronomy 26-28). They have been exiled as forecast by Leviticus 26 from near the first, they have become loathsome as co-murderers with Rome of the Messiah.
Is it not so ? Very good, then that is clear: but does this make them a prey to the foolish, a butt for the arrogant and a victim for the viciously victorious ? Does it undo the unconditional mercies which are to be resumed first in measure and then in culmination (as in Ezekiel 36-39, Zechariah 12-14, Micah 7, Romans 11)!
Is their rejection for rejecting reality and their unrepentant heart (as a nation) to become the ground for other hearts, equally unrepentant and lofty in overweening pride and arrogant superiority, as if appointed supervisors, so that they might savage them and shake the head in dismissal as if themselves divine! Will not the nations of today learn from yesterday, before the fire and vehemence of judgment anoints them (as in Micah 7)!
This they may do, but it is not as inviolate that they violate. The nations are not gods, but sinners whose salvation from the Lord is the requirement for each. God sees, considers, makes accounts and deals with the transgressors!
You may have heard of Hitler, and noted what became of Berlin! Britain in its repeated failure, after some wonderful work for Israel, following World War II has not exactly risen to the heights, but with a multicultural occlusion of the heart is failing more and more, so that religions become mere nostrums or available services.
Increasingly*2, she is dipping as did ancient Israel.
In the absence of Great Britain as a meaningful Protestant nation, the world is up in arms; there is none to rule her amassing billions, and any national lout can rise up and chant: DOOM, DOOM SOON! as he plays with atomic power or bacterial warfare.
You reap what you sow; and divine mercy has little effect when its basis is deplored, its offer is despised and its grandeur is disregarded. So this world advances on Israel as if Deuteronomy 32, Micah 7, Ezekiel 36-39 and Romans 11 had never been written.
Blindness ? Israel has it for the time (Romans 11: 25), but not for all time.
But blindness of belligerence in the Gentile assailants (whether by committee and paper or actual bombs), what is it like ? It is like crossing a major street in London, whistling with the nightingale of the imagination, dwelling on one's last Summer holiday, with one's radio blaring as one does a little minor jitterbug on the pavement before stepping lithely into the advancing roar of traffic, the eyes closed in savour of one's inward state!
It is rather ... dangerous... that. Aversion to reality, to principle and to the past is not a sign of wisdom.
This the Madrid Quartet does not seem to ponder, nor does the usual Arab voice acknowledge, while al Qaeda does a Moab altogether!
With all this, however there supervenes a glorious fact. It is not about man; it is about God.
Thus you find with this scathing scorn for the scorners, which God expresses, a staggering impact in the Lord's expression of the grinding grief of heart. When does this come ? It is shown as the Lord experiences the result, as swaggering without repentance or mercy, Moab reaches its pit.
It is not as if this nation, not being chosen for the special mission of Israel, and inert through pride to spiritual entreaty, or the consideration of reality, of God indeed, and of its vulnerability is mere muck. Even Moab is deeply ingrained into the heart of God, and that even while it worships snippets of spirituality, naturalistic nothings which it contrives to squeeze illicitly out of 'nature', that thingummy of the mind of meandering man, abused for his illicit and irrational theological desires.
Though Moab thus makes idols, even so, God is not insensitive to its plight.
In fact, as He ponders what must come, since morality is not dispensable and truth is not supervened, He declares this, moving from the inveterate cause of wrath in Moab to the result:
"I know his wrath, says the LORD,
But it is not right:
His lies have made nothing right.
Therefore I will wail for Moab,
And I will cry out for all Moab,
I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres ...
Joy and gladness are taken away from the plentiful field ...
No one will tread with joyous shouting ...
Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab,
And like flutes My heart shall wail
For the men of Kir Heres..."
(colour added to alert to the fascinating and beautiful fact of divine concern).
This is precisely like the mourning of Christ, the lamentation over Jerusalem as seen in Luke 19:42ff..
"If you had known,
even you, especially in this your day,
the things that make for your peace,
but now they are hidden from your eyes..."
Blindness leads on to devastation as the text proceeds to tell, and history related in gross detail, what had been foretold, a little later, just one generation to be precise...
ISRAEL has against her, her sins; and she has brought on enmity to her condition from the Lord; but He remembers her and will not relent from His divine program (cf. Ezekiel 36-39), nor turn from His unbroken intention (Micah 7, Isaiah 49, 66), whether of heart or illustrative domain. Nor will He turn from the punishment of her oppressors. The artful hypocrisy can become so nauseating as they swagger and parade, that the result is not in any doubt. Only its timing remains to be seen.
For all that, for the people of the broken covenant, Israel, or for such as Moab, with no such special provision, a pagan nation*3, God has heart that can wail for the folly of it to come to its come-uppance and relent; and having delayed in patience (as in II Peter 3:9), for Israel or for this world, He does not remove judgment as the foolish in heart rampage and imagine He is like them! It comes, oh yes it comes, as does Winter, the Winder of discontent as Shakespeare might put it.
Thus it is superficial just simplistically to say this or that about Israel and this world. There is a depth of divine compassion. There is a host of prophecies fulfilled precisely in Jesus Christ the Messiah for one and for all (as in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), and not just for the Jew. There is, to be sure, a SPECIAL outpouring of His Spirit upon the much smitten race of the broken covenant (Zechariah 12:10, Romans 11:25); but there is also a long history of many centuries in which the Spirit of God has been poured out now in this and now in that nation among the Gentiles, with immense emphasis, in the nineteenth century, in Britain and the USA.
There the immense, intense love in the heart of
there is the rule of justice,
there is the scope of compassion;
there is the historical fulfilment in practical
there is the resurrection of the immovable God
from the dead, in His Son
there is the New Testament Church Age, where
that power is available (Ephesians 1:19)
there is the dissolution of morals as now
there is the swaggering insolence towards God
and there is judgment around the corner.
It is time to awake; but this world sleeps on, blowing trumpets and settling down to the next drama as if folly were its mother and fortune its keeper. Then it cries and laments at this mortal sphere, this marvellous orb, which the Greens can neither keep nor restore, at its plight while it delights not to do right. It is like one dying with death rattle, and it rattles the illicit pleasures with dubious joy as it goes. It is time to awake and find the Lord, while it is yet day; for the night is indeed coming in which no man can work (John 9:4).
It came in a little trailer of things to come, for Moab. It was a minor picture then of things to come to all nations where repentance fails and redemption misses, in the end. Judgment ? It did not dream in endless twilight; it actually came. Night comes. Winter comes. The season of attestation arrives. Dreams go. It is important to awake (II Corinthians 6:1ff.).
Now we have come far in this review of the verses mentioned at the first, so that it must be to the next Chapter that we consign the next ones. For this, click here.
Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ,
Who Answers Riddles
and Where He is, Darkness Departs
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy.
The avowed desire of the Prince of Wales in Britain to be defender of faiths, not a Defender of the Faith is brilliantly clear attestation of this fundamental decline.
In vain do people try to make the love of God minimal, marginalised: it is to ALL peoples, and He would have ALL come to a knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2), and it is ALL things in heaven or on earth, that He would have reconciled by the blood of the Cross (Colossians 1 cf. SMR Appendix B). The responsibility is therefore for and upon ALL mankind, and any others sinful and sought; and those who want to blame God can blame themselves, every last one.
Predestination, knowledge of all to the uttermost, beforehand, this ensures there is no missing chord that might have sounded (II Timothy 1:8ff., Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:4, Isaiah 46:10, Acts 15:13) in any heart that might have relented. God, knowing all, finds all, and not for lack of love is any rejected: Christ came NOT to judge but that the world might be saved, in love that without that result, a summoning might sound and all available found. God does not force; but He bore taunts to enable the liberties of love to be fulfilled under His own supervision and truth.
There is no lost soul that might have come. God fore-KNOWS those who are his and ordains their coming (John 6:65). Moab occasioned vast grief in the Almighty; but there is no God who is merciless. There is only One of the most profound sympathy who has suffered to the uttermost to bring the last one, to the ultimate, to Himself (cf. II Peter 3:9), not cancelling heaven for the sake of those who hate Him, nor making it unobtainable, except for the most talented, but rather choosing to come with the Gospel of Christ as a free gift to one and to all.
It is however with this proviso: you take it thus, freely or not at all. You come freely, with complete surrender to Him according to His word, or not at all (Luke 14:27ff., Romans 3:23ff., Isaiah 55).