W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
THE DIVINE DEPLOYING THE HUMAN FORM OF DANIEL
DANIEL, NEHEMIAH, MESSIAH
THE OVERALL STRATEGIC THRUST
IN THE DIVINE MISSION TO THE WORLD
Daniel, like Moses and Abraham did much of his greatest work in old age; but not only then were there marvels. HE lived long, being a youth in an early section of the captivity, lived beyond that and operated right into the reign of Cyrus, of whom Darius may have been a subordinate.
Strategically, the role was amazing, and nestling in the heart of the Jewish discipline imposed in exile for 70 years, enabled what could have been a woeful near extinction in infamy and degradation for Israel (and Lamentations showed that this is indeed how the finale started, when Jerusalem itself, well after Daniel's export for cadetship in Babylon, was laid waste), to become a testimonial trumpet.
This it did, not only once, but often; not only in a lowly place (that of a cadetship), but in the highest realms of the kingdom; and not only there, in the first, Babylon, or in the day of Nebuchadnezzar of that empire, but also in the subsidiary reign of Belshazzar, as it appears to have been, and then again in the time of the new empire, Media and Persia, when it began, having taken over from defeated Belshazzar. To KING Nebuchadnazzar, Belshazzar, Darius, alike did Daniel DIRECTLY testify in highly central fashions, amid drama and excitement, clash and danger, with such a deliverance in each case as to cause more than wonder. It led to testimonials FROM King Nebuchadnezzar and from Darius, concerning the attested greatness of the God of Daniel, who of course was as He is, the God who made heaven and earth, has forsaken neither, and love righteousness, mercy and truth enough to die for mankind (I John 2:2), with heart large enough to cover all (Colossians 1:19ff.), and wisdom deep enough to cover only those who come (Romans 8:32).
To USE defeat because of sin, in the case of Judah, and exile of bright young men as cadets, subservient, to be occupied with a foreign culture and domain, where they would be thought of as potential recidivists, conditioned by gods and religions, if not directly, then by attrition; to show victory and triumph, power and glory and to have it RECOGNISED as such by THREE kings: this is a mastery of strategy so profound, and a procedure so deep as to bring delight to those who watch the ways, not of pollution, as if were the last word, or of greenhouse gases, as if they were, or al Qaeda, as if its lunacy (cf. Hosea 9:7) were the crushing nemesis based on destructive religion, for all: but the ways of God. The wisdom of God in His own ways is delightful beyond measure, and blessed are they who know Him. Three men, and especially one, He both could and did use to instruct two empires, three kings, and many who heard, so that the name of Daniel became almost a byword (Ezekiel 14:14ff.).
One of them, Daniel, lived like an oak through the storms, functional, felicitous in challenge, dire in his delight in duty to the Lord, faithful and available. If the empires past, and he remained, it was not least to continue to point to what their fourfold succession would be, to give to it all a spiritual perspective in the strategies of God, to focus the Messiah and His contradiction of the self-pampering and elevation of Imperial Persons, in devastating humility (cf. Daniel 2, 7, 9). Thus did He achieve, by abnegation, triumphing through desolation (Daniel 9:26), the uttermost for man, for all who so received Him: so that He might rule all peoples, being subject to no culture (Daniel 7:13ff.), but the very Wisdom of God, made flesh, the Lord of all.
The power of God, effective in desolation, was now shown; and how great was that result, the impact of this man of God, of these three, Daniel and his friends, dextrously placed for impact in the time of discipline for the nation. More, if the prophets seemed now to have no base, yet it was not so: for firstly, the word of Jeremiah before the exile arrived, showed how long it would last, 70 years, secondly, this word, pondered by Daniel when old, led to the revelation of the greatest arithmetically patterned pre-exposure of history that one could well imagine, through the Messiah to the very limits of this Age, and thirdly, through the faith in that same Lord who had led Israel OUT in the Exodus, and now led them IN to their land of exile for a time, Empires were announced before their day came, and the hand of God over all history was revealed.
What an exploit, what a strategy, what love and patience on the part of the Lord, to engineer wonder and glory, the very grace and sight of the power and wisdom of God, into the lapse of the nation supposed to show it, when it failed! What a grandeur, to expose that the very Messiah Himself, the One to receive in its time, dominion never to end over all nations and peoples (Daniel 7:9-14), would Himself be given not mere exile, but NOTHING for His pains (Daniel 9:26). From Him, all honour would be evacuated, all dominion seemingly levelled, a sinless recipient, as Isaiah had elaborated in 49-55, of the doom deserved not only by one nation, but by each person in it and in all nations; for without Him, there is only everlasting rebellion for renegades (Daniel 7:9ff.).
So, as in a prelude, did the Lamentations of Jeremiah, itself the very picture of desolation, with Josiah "the breath of our nostrils", magnificently passionate and discerning about reform, if too late to deliver Jerusalem, show the deserts of sin. From the day of the slain, godly king, Josiah, to the defeat of the nation, was but a short time, a few decades; and then was posted the picture of sin which had coursed so freely for so long, throughout the nation. It was sin which Christ would take to Himself, as the godly Jerusalem, one hit vicariously, the godly Temple assaulted in substitution for man (Daniel 9:26-27), available for as many as entered into Him, into His ransom and His relief, His redemption and His rule.
Thus all things attuned, we look further into this realm of the grace of God in its many intimations in Daniel, and in his day. What then of the Kings of his day ? Because of the works of God in deliverance, in solving riddles, in expressing demonstrable truth that no mere man could know, each one was humbled, saw his power overturned or surpassed, and made testimony.
Listen to the testimony of Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, side by side, as below (Daniel 4 and 6).
at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven,
and my understanding returned to me;
and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, 'What have You done?' "
"At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.
"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down."
Remember that this praise of the Lord came after Nebuchadnezzar had been told of an incoming insanity and time of deep humiliation awaiting him, as given in terms of Daniel's interpreting, when requested with so many others, a dream which the King had. Daniel alone interpreted it, and his God alone was honoured and seen in the lab of history, as the Lord of life.
"Then King Darius wrote:
To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree
that in every dominion of my kingdom
men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
"For He is the living God,
And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
And His dominion shall endure to the end.
He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."
That came after Daniel, caught in a malevolent trap, was about to be exterminated like vermin, on the earth but escaped by the control that God has over all events. Further, there was impact on another King, one Belshazzar, who had dared to use for secular purposes the spiritually significant, Temple sacred objects of gold and silver, captured when Nebuchadnezzar had earlier looted Jerusalem.
Even in a drinking orgy, those who so abused sacred materials could not escape the hand of the God to whom they referred in His Temple. To them, in their cups, there came a marvel of horrendous feeling, and it was nothing other than a hand, seen to be writing words on the wall. The hand of eloquently driven destiny was no mere abutment of forces: it came from a mind with wisdom, as seen by the agency of His hand, active as His self-interpreting means!
On hearing from Daniel the translation of the handwriting on the wall, signifying his demise as ruler (in fact, he died that night), that King, Belshazzar, elevated Daniel for his resolution of this mystery of the meaning of the writing, its application, giving him the place of Third Ruler in the Kingdom (thus suggesting that he himself was a second ruler, perhaps in charge at a more local level where Daniel was, or temporarily). The impact on those who saw the hand writing, heard the interpretation and then found Belshazzar dead that night, with a new empire occupying the land, must have been vast.
The stone of truth, thrown into events, was sharp and pointed, and many were the mysteries of corrupt religion into which it slammed. Indeed, that is near to the imagery of Daniel 2, where the stone to smash the power of empires, at its end for the Age, turned into a mountain that filled the earth. This, of course, was the Lord of all nations as exposed in Daniel 7:11:ff., in its coverage of summit wisdom, concerning the progress of human rule to the advent of direct divine rule. That however was to be through the Son of man, sent for the purpose. There depicted was the ultimate gift of God, that the LORD should become man as in Isaiah 40:10ff., 7-9, 11, Psalm 72, 45, Hosea 13:14: the Redeemer (and only God is this - Isaiah 43:10-11), the LORD (Isaiah 53)!
So did Daniel, added to Isaiah and Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 16:19-20), with Micah 5:1-3, the whole like a string quartet, produce at the hand of God, indeed at His mouth, the Spiritual Symphony, carefully following the musical score; and ever since man has been readily able to know what the score is.
The Lord knows who serves Him, and can use in love, His own wisdom of strategy even through the gift of ministry to His servants, appointed not by destiny, but to reveal it from the Lord. Even under duress, even in strange places, there is no limit to Him, to expand the testimony and reach more with more, and so starve what is least with less (cf. Jeremiah 10:11, Zephaniah 2:11). Just as there is only one God in the earth (Psalm 96, Exodus 20, Ephesians 4:4, Isaiah 43-46), so there is only one Book which reveals with detailed testability, reliability and responsibility, a security for reason, a declaration of the God who made it, not only of what is but of what is to be, yes and where needed, what has been, and very often, why it has been so.
Without this communication, man is like a small vessel in the high seas, tossed by the billows, gripped by vast octopus arms, creaking in its turmoil, creeping in its travail, boasting to the winds in its anguish, knowing neither direction nor protection in the fog. Not so was the direction availing for Daniel.
The Lord knows who serves Him, and can use in love, His own wisdom of strategy even through the gift of ministry to His servants, appointed not by destiny, but to reveal it from the Lord. Even under duress, even in strange places, there is no limit to Him, to expand the testimony and reach more with more, and so starve what is least with less (cf. Jeremiah 10:11, Zephaniah 2:11).
Just as there is only one God in the earth (Psalm 96, Exodus 20, Ephesians 4:4, Isaiah 43-46), so there is only one Book which reveals with detailed testability, reliability and responsibility, a security for reason, a declaration of the God who made it, what is and is to be, yes and where needed, what has been, and very often, why it has been so. Without this communication, man is like a small vessel in the high seas, tossed by the billows, gripped by vast octopus arms, creaking in its turmoil, creeping in its travail, boasting to the winds in its anguish, knowing neither direction nor protection in the fog.
Not so was the direction availing for Daniel.
Triumph through the Midst of Suffering
Strategy, nevertheless, as with Job, can involve intense suffering on the part of those who are honoured to be so used in the kingdom of heaven (cf. Acts 5:41). Consider Peter, condemned almost certainly to death, after James' murder by Herod (Acts 12:1ff.); but in this crisis, with which one can readily emphasise, we see him extracted from being chained to soldiers, guarded by 16 of them, in the night. Thus his SUFFERING was occasion for a divine strategy.
WHY so many guards ? Earlier, imprisoned also, following profound testimonials in healing and voice (Acts 3:11ff., 5:15), Peter had been rescued by supernatural action and then told to stand in the very place associated with the Temple, where people would be, and declare the ways of this life in Jesus Christ. This he did. Being freed by God from prison, he spoke for God out of it. Fear was nothing to the point; nor yet danger. He had the message (as in Acts 2 and 3), and so he spoke it where it was needed, bonds no obstacle, imprisonment in close confinement no deterrent, indeed overcome. The nation needed to hear the way of life in Christ Jesus, and so Peter told it, even as an escapee, right in the midst of the lair of his oppressors!
Next time, then, he was WELL secured, chained indeed in the presence of 16. Yet it did not suffice. He was evacuated again, not executed, in order to execute the will of God in many things, before the time when through death, he was permitted to show his devotion, and complete his career; and even in this, as with Moses, he was very aware when the time for it was coming (cf. II Peter 1:12-15). It was indeed, in that very known last period of his life that he not only told the people that he was writing to ensure that they were given a reminder of spiritual realities before he left, but included with this a fearful, Jude-like account of the fraud and falsity which many in the Church would accomplish. Treacherous traitors would come when the Age drew near its own end! (II Peter 2-3), and the cultural occlusion, the blindness which would accompany it (also shown by Paul in I Timothy 4, II Timothy 3-4) would act as if to suffocate, but in vain, the testimony of truth itself (cf. II Peter 3, Isaiah 59).
Right from Eden, God got in first, even there proclaiming (Genesis 3:15) in the protevangelion, that through man, the cursed estate of man would be redeemed. Whether in Isaiah, in Zechariah, in Daniel in his overview of imperial domains and the Celestial Kingdom, the Lord thus proclaimed what the strategy of the devil would be, and exposed it before it could well be established, to the end (Daniel 9-12). But let us return to the earlier segment of His power and protection - for His word is not only a light but a rock - in the day of Daniel. The strategy the Lord used with and by His servants, and His word through them, thus showed firstly, character and power, secondly, courage and endurance, thirdly, as with Daniel, the multiple delivering power of God, fourthly, that this is (as with the slain James), not a matter of stopping murder, for His saints could die for Him, but of stopping what needed stopping in its tracks, in the interplay of suffering, salvation and its testimony.
As with Daniel, so was it with Peter. As with the scholar, so with the fisherman, divine strategy was translated into action. Nor was there any lack of desire; for both Peter and Daniel were quite prepared to die if necessary. Thus Daniel had not in the least covered up his prayer times when it became ILLEGAL to pray to any 'god' except to the image provided by Nebuchadnezzar in his vanity and blasphemy (Daniel 6). In similar strength, Daniel's three friends, close colleagues, had refused in full open and public view, to bow to an idol, or to be subjected in their own spirits as attested by the actions of their bodies, to ANY OTHER GOD, or CULTURE or ultimate OBEDIENCE!
They would rather die in the midst of flames, than quench the flame which in their spirits (Psalm 104:4), made life meaningful, and shone through from heaven to earth as their mandate. Such is the spirit which His people show, as enlightened by the Spirit of God, and to which we are called. It is not to inflict evil, but to bear it; yet not to bear with it, rather showing the grace and the truth of Jesus Christ, fearless in faith, cordial in heart.
The strategy the Lord used with and by His servants, and His word through them, thus showed firstly, character and power, secondly, courage and endurance, thirdly, as with Daniel, the multiple delivering power of God, fourthly, that this is (as with the slain James), not a matter of stopping murder, but of stopping what needed stopping in its tracks, in the interplay of suffering, salvation and its testimony. God could allow a witness of faithful love in death to instruct those who preserved their own lives IN spiritual death, but no less, execute in dynamic power, a deliverance FROM death. In such ways, with His word to reveal His intentions, did He instruct whether by one means or the other, those who looked for the ultimate in power and the perfection of personal character from their Maker, and rebuke and expose those who ignored the gift of life from His mind and power, and the way for it from His grace, mercy and love.
Thus if some were slain for Christ, some were delivered, so that liberty would not die, while evil showed its colours, for reference to come, exposed in its nature. God has worked marvels of enterprise, wonders of initiative, in weaving together His power and man's weakness, man's vulnerability and His delivering dynamic, the weakness of the greatest of human power before His wise actions, the perseverance of faith in the presence of towering, tirading evil, the happy outcome of the hopeless when GOD IS FOR YOU, and the reality of a faith that faces death without fear, and yet escapes it without blemish, when God decides it that way.
As with Daniel, so was it with Peter. As with the scholar, so with the fisherman, divine strategy was translated into action. Nor was there any lack of desire; for both Peter and Daniel were quite prepared to die if necessary. Thus Daniel had not in the least covered up his prayer times when it became ILLEGAL to pray to any 'god' except the provision of Nebuchadnezzar in his vanity and blasphemy (Daniel 6). In similar strength, Daniel's three friends, close colleagues, had refused in full open and public view, to bow to an idol, to be subjected in their own spirits as attested by the actions of their bodies, to ANY OTHER GOD, or CULTURE or ultimate OBEDIENCE! They would rather die in the midst of flames, then quench the flame which in their spirits, made life meaningful, and shone through from heaven to earth as their mandate.
In fact, this is precisely what faces people now. When for example, as tent-making, I was teaching in a High School, where I had made my faith exceedingly clear to the authority concerned, and was asked to deal with Middle East religion, it would have been impossible in integrity to omit Isaiah 53, a major primary document intimately related to the topic, as also the relationship of Jew to prophecy, for example, as this is an objective fact, ignorance of which tends to make for intellectual ninnies in the present climaxes of history. I indicated from the first that there would examination of religions there in terms of what they SAY and what they DO, so that the principles and practice could be scientifically compared, in effect. It could have only one result (cf. SMR Ch. 9, Ch. 5).
This of course became my last High School teaching, since as one lady put it, We know what to do with people like you! DID YOU HAVE TO MENTION ISAIAH 53! she challenged.
Of course I did, as I responded, for here is a primary source utterly relevant to the whole thing. Here indeed was and is a documental key to the situation for Israel and its enemies, sharpest ground of differentiation and prophetically multiple in its verification, including that of forecasting the Gospel of the Gospel Age before it came.
As to the other major religions there, in the Middle East, both are wrong by the Old Testament of the Jews *1; and there CAN be no peace, just as there IS no peace when both parties deny the One focussed in Isaiah, for one, whose prophecies, scientifically, have verified themselves in the way NO OTHER RELIGION OR PHILOSOPHY OR HUMAN AGENCY has done (cf. Answers to Questions. Ch. 5, SMR pp.931ff., 973A).
It is so strange, it would seem, were it not for Satan, that people can be so blind as to imagine that when it comes to religion, facts are not relevant. This is the exact opposite of the case. Religion MUST be examined scientifically, not because 'science' is great, but because verification of demonstrable statements made in advance, and in retrospect, and in principle, is crucial to scientific method, which is one important member of the logical dynamic team, which is necessary to ascertain and confirm knowledge (cf. The Defining Drama Ch. 2). Since, with all its limitations, it is popular at the present time, it would be ludicrous not to apply it; quite apart from the propriety of using ALL the modes of logic in solving problems, as the case may require.
Thus teaching payments have long ceased; but the Lord has carried me, and I have been enabled to publish 169 of my works in a theological set, specialising in biblical Christian Apologetics, in the defence and proclamation of the Gospel in particular (cf. Philippians 1:7, II Corinthians 10:5, I Peter 3:15) and the word of God in general. All have been set in place on the Web, as well as some in book form on paper; and these have girdled the earth. Praise God for His strategy. In weakness, He is strong; when folly vaunts itself, He is wise.
Different persons have different places in the divine orchestra, to do this and that; and foolish is he who imagines that all must play the same interest, and unwise the one who schismatically, fails to integrate his work where option offers, and need occurs, with that of his fellow servants where these adorn the Gospel and magnify His name and word. When the pressures are on, however, many fail; and at one time, when a successful challenge to the Government seemed nearly complete, one of my allies suddenly refused to continue, as if faith were routed at the crucial battle, whereas we were in a major place to win massive victory. Courage seemed to falter, the irrelevant to take precedence, and only what had already been attested could remain; but as to that, it was decisive.
It was sad that more practical results were not for such reasons as this, not gained; but at least the testimony has stood and been repeated to this Government; while prayer is made for the children being mentally molested by a ludicrous and dictatorial demand made of Principals (cf. That Magnificent Rock Ch. 8), which is in fact very like the demand of Nebuchadnezzar concerning worship of his image. How any Christian Principal could obey this dictatorial and anti-empirical State edict is a mystery that one does not long to probe.
There, in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, it was a physical image; here it is a mental and spiritual one; but the principle is the same.
What of the night so long operative here in this field of education ? What is on cultural offer ? It is in effect, just this in the educational realm concerned. You can have any god you want, so long as FACTUALLY you serve the one they indicate, one of violence and vileness, whose works are imagined and never seen (cf. History, Review and Overview ... Ch. 5, The gods of naturalism have no go!), but whose people show themselves in endless impositions and commands. Where truth is fallen and prejudice has sway without reckoning (as in Isaiah 59, prelude to the coming of the Messiah in 59:20), where challenge to debate is declined again and again, as is now the case in this State in this educational myth-making: then nothing remains but the particular infamy of cloistering children, youth, yes and some older, in ludicrous imaginings and fables, without rational opportunity to expose them.
In such matters, Daniel proved himself consistent. He was about to find himself surrounded by culture in the form, kind and amount of food and drink: he did not bow, but found by grace a way out. Again, later, He was about to be killed because of the royal generic: Wise men are useless; but by grace he found a way out: and fame and notoriety and attestation of the power of God, these all followed. Again, later yet, he was about to be killed by lions, and such was the law of the land, that the King having signed the thing, the penalty had to be brought to action, even when the King himself at last realised he had been tricked by envious challengers to Daniel in his high position: for here was a Jew at the very top of power in Babylon. Yet God delivered him from lions, as He delivered his friends from the furnace, perhaps lest it seem a highly individual matter (Daniel 3) - which it was - but it was by no means ONLY that.
Deliverance and Daniel are bywords in common, whether as in Ezekiel or as now; and in this weakness of the nation, in Daniel's day, for it was then being broken for folly, even in exile, the testimony through Daniel and his friends was like polonium in exile from its cask, showing radioactivity all the time.
God is able in ANY circumstance to deliver (I Corinthians 10:13, I Peter 4:1ff.), and in EACH circumstance when one is asked to do this or that contrary to faith and the Bible, one MUST refuse and find a way, at whatever cost. In this, one has found a certain approach can lead almost to loneliness, and might well, were it not for the Lord (I Peter 4:14): since ways AROUND the challenge seem routinely to be found by many who slide, instead of being meeting the case. It is as in the day before the world's vast flood: people see the ark of truth, but do not enter; see the need for action, but do not act; speak of principles, but do not follow them. Like a pandemic, announced from the World Health Organisation, so is the fiddling, trifling, amiable wandering, procrastinating, never abating avoidance program. Leave the evil ? surely you are joking! We will insinuate ourselves, you will see!
See ? One sees Romans 16:17, Numbers 16, Psalm 94, II John, Ephesians 5, II Timothy 3-4, Acts 20, I Corinthians 5-6, Jude and II Chronicles 19:1-3, and little or no movement where action is required: as if complicity with the world of psychic desire and social aggregation were the obvious end of spiritual conformity to commandment, and not their opposite. Accordingly, the army of the Lord has dissident sections, by testimony, and fewer and fewer divisions in the truth.
Thus when at one stage an elder and I met with a high official of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, regarding its possible return from outrageous heresies which had governed it for nearly 40 years, and which had led to my own expulsion as I defended the truth as a student, when challenged (having since that despatch, become a Minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod), what we learnt was grievous. It became clear that they had bowed. Calvinism, said the official, was not something he and various others believed in, but since they could find no other course to get the Church up and going, they would in effect vote this thing in.
Now Calvin is one of the greatest theologians ever in the Church, as is Augustine, as is Luther, but each of them made monumental mistakes (as did Peter when he tried to dissuade Christ from the cross! as seen in Matthew 16). Calvin in particular, confused sovereignty and impossible failure on the part of God, in grabbing what He wanted, with the reality of love and impossible dictation from its direction to man, and so constructed a god with a 'horrible decree' in predestination which is a monument to his misunderstanding (cf. Christ's Ineffable Peace and Grace Ch. 2).
While the good points of Calvin (including his 5 points when read in the context of the Bible and not of Calvin's other statements) are many, this failure has brought much evil on the Church. It is a testimony to the wisdom of I Corinthians 3 NEVER to follow a man, as if to say, I of Calvin ... and so on; for it leads readily not only to a sort of spiritual hero worship and false obeisance, at least in spirit, as to a lack of creativity in the new researches into the vast depths of biblical truth, but to a tendency to eat the snails which are in the lettuce with the lettuce, as if by some kind of compulsion that beggars thought and kills all taste.
Thus the 'need' of the Church, the PC of Australia, as seen by some in the 1970s, the great reconstruction after what was admitted in the Church paper of the day, to have been 40 or so years in the 'wilderness', which was through false teachers, was fouled. It lurched from one evil extreme to another intellectual despotism, reigning in the word of God (Great Execrations ... Greater Grace Ch. 3 - and Paul), The Glow ... Ch. 4, Beauty of Holiness Ch. 2 - John 3:16; Christ's Ineffable Peace ... Ch. 2, The Christian Pilgrimage ... Ch. 3, 7 and 9; The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, and see below excerpt from My Life Story ... Ch. 4, on the 1991 failure in the General Assembly of Australia*1A.
The brilliance of the original constitution of that Church came at last to be smashed with the ludicrous idea that THIS element on the limitless scope of the loving desire of God for salvation, in a certain Declaratory Statement, added nothing to the Westminster Confession. Since it was explicitly ADDED for tender consciences, at the time when that Church was founded, obviously it did - as does the Bible - add to it, in its pre-systematic areas of the nature of the love of God. Love is not thwarted by rejection, but fulfilled in its own self-control; and sovereignty is not aborted when love does not invade, since this is the nature of love and God IS love (I John 4:7ff.).
Nothing contrary to it may therefore be posited of His surveying desires; and when hatred sets in, it is because even love's remedy is disdained (cf. Romans 9:22, Proverbs 1, Ezekiel 33:11), so that monoliths of horror have become endemically and systematically, indeed irretrievably lost as foreseen. Alas the grief is great (as in Jeremiah 48:29-34, Matthew 23:27ff., Luke 19:42ff.); but the thing is foreknown and so ordained (I Peter 2:2:8). Sin thus in the end, in such cases, becomes constitutive of man, and so hated. Thus you find in the Bible, both Colossians 1:19ff., and Romans 9:11-12, elements of the reality of the truth.
That Calvin could even wriggle at Matthew 23:37, as if the Father and the Son had diverse entertainments of mind at this point is, at face value, heresy, for they are always doing the same, the good pleasure of the Father inherent in the Son (John 5:19ff., 10:30, 8:29). That this was not systematic in him but a throw-back because of the pressure which his philosophy brought to bear on his mind seems apparent from other parts of his work; but this shows the folly of following what is mere man, or man's thought. Take what is good, and let God deal with the rest. Even a man of good appetite may vomit on occasion.
Shaving parts off scripture is never wise; and doing so for reasons of a construction of philosophy, as here, is the summit of unwisdom. It appeared that for absolute refusal to take such a line that I was penalised at Westminster Seminary when preaching, insisting on each scripture as it comes, unequivocally; but in the providence of the good Lord, it was from only one party that this type of thing occurred there, in the main, things being of a far more scholarly and godly nature.
Varying under such pressures, whether in the case of church or individual, these are NON-DANIEL ways of handling things.
The challenge which this author, by the grace of the all-governing God, gave to the Presbyterian Church of Australia at the GAA in 1964 and before that in various bodies during the first persecution, remains. The Church must return to the full scope of the Bible, which must rule not only in theory, but in practice. It would also be a good idea to regard its Constitution as more than a passage for obviation, and apply it so that what it says, not found in the Confession, might be honoured instead of being deadened into nothingness. Thus, the 'tender conscience' may be honoured, instead of being impounded with such departure from the full scope of the Bible (cf. Let God be God Ch. 12). But alas, first liberals and then Calvinist traditionalists (cf. Mark 7:7ff.) have spoiled and all but foiled its wonderful purpose, as set down in 1901. While something of the love of God is thus constrained and contained in a capsule of mistaken Calvinism, the use of women elders is not; and this double dissolution of biblical truth is, as so often, entertained with desire, so that what is right (cf. Assault on Timothy) is not applied, readily leads to an ecumenism beyond biblical constraints.
Developments are fast moving to the point where scarcely one large denomination will remain sound, the Pharisee and the Sadducee, and the Herodian, the traditionalist and the innovator in unbiblical doctrine and the political pusher, all seeking to saturate the field.
In such a case, like Daniel, however, the people of the Lord must ignore what it costs to stand fast, and having stood, stand (cf. Ephesians 6:13-14). If one has to be like a lonely Elijah at times, consider Athanasius, who was put up and down so often that it was almost like an exercise program; and it DID exercise faith, and it should and will and must.
Praise God, the God of Daniel, that HIS is the strategy that will be triumphant in the end; and HIS is the way to exhibiting the splendour of His love and the depth of His wisdom, for those who loving Him, wait for Him (cf. Isaiah 64:5).
But consider anew the particular and eloquent case of the prophet Daniel, we find excitement of admiration. Not only did his constancy, often very lonely, lead to expression of the power of God in DIRECT contrast with the power of man, since he trusted in his God and did not vary, so that the Rock of Ages was shown to be not only insusceptible to ageing, but potent at all times: he did more.
To him were given in his obedience and ardent waiting upon the Lord, prophecies of the utmost magnitude and divine splendour. These came in the very latest part of his life, even when horrific envies of flesh were at his heels, to bring him down (as in Daniel 9). If the 70 years of the Jeremiah prophecy (25), were now up, how old was Daniel! but old or not, he sought the Lord and gained in his hugely empathetic prayer a grant of arithmetically construed history which indicated a sovereign majesty of wisdom on the part of the Lord in His teaching, that thrills the heart in its joint simplicity and wonder. The whole of history was condensed, for nearly half a millenium, about crucial spiritual fixtures, ending in the crunch and crush of the Messiah. Such was Daniel 9, extending into 10-12 in an intricacy of events and a dominion of divine power, succinct, detailed, impactive, like the coding modes of the DNA, divinely spoken into our very bodies!
Daniel 9:24-27 in particular, comes not only as a tour, but as a tour de force of history.
Someone once asked me whether it really meant, at 9:24ff., that the Messiah was cut off, but not for His own sake, that is, a vicarious thing, or not. The answer does not appear difficult. It is NOT saying that. It is that which Isaiah has made intensively clear. To Daniel, another message is here given. It is in contrast to the pomp and majesty of kingdoms such as his predictions focus, a matter of where true God is to be found, and infinite majesty is to be discovered. It states concerning His being cut off, in fact, that there is nothing to or for Him. Negation is the rejoicing, if you will, and the celebration of His glory is this, that there is provided for Him, given to Him, by way of accreditation and acceptance, fealty and loyalty, praise and joy, NOTHING.
The expected is annulled; the unexpected is exalted; the suffering is epochal, epic, covered in a moment in text, but in giant travail in life, as in Psalm 22, Isaiah 50-53. Nothing is the key-note, as in those who like to make 'it' all arise from nothing in preposterous logic!
To God, give NOTHING. That sums up this feature in 9:26. To His faithfulness, respond with NOTHING. In the midst of His richness, suffering, attribute nothing; let nothing haunt your religious midst and eat into your devastated heart, bit by bit, taking on its useless nonentity-ship, as you view infinity as NOTHING! For that is what He got! Let the God of all glory arrive on this earth, and give Him NO accreditation, NO acknowledgement, NO glory, NO response of heart, NO accolade, NO place and let His life in the flesh be ANNULLED so that it might become if possible - though it was not (cf. Acts 2:23-24), NOTHING. When He arrives at the date specified in Daniel, then let this regal fact result in nothing! Do not even raise the eyebrows, but instead, call the word of God blasphemy (Mark 14:62-64), and dash the book of it, this time clothed in flesh, to the rock of mockery and the caves of the earth.
Then complain that God is harsh; for Christ did not come only for Jews, but for any and all whether Jew or not, who "believed our report".
This then is a literal rendering in Daniel 9:26 relative to the negation involved. It is never necessary to make one thing into another by specious reasoning. It is all what it is, and not something else, and we must all learn to relish each spiritual taste for what it is, and not alter the divine cuisine in His word, where each point is made as He wishes it.
In Daniel, himself so often reduced to nothing (almost to death, with narrow escapes) despite his high position, you see a type; and in the Messiah it is perfected. To evacuate sin, Christ became as if nothing, permitted by Him who sent Him (as in Isaiah 48:16, John 3:16), because this is the price of bearing it! with pain and endurance till its end, in death. End ? It ends itself but not the eternal life which is inherent in Jesus the Christ (John 5:26, 10:17, I John 1:1-4).
Prodigious prophecies came from this Daniel, then, into the midst of an alien culture, which in the face of indubitable facts of deliverance and knowledge and wisdom, at least acknowledged this fact when the 'test' as in a laboratory - here that of history - was past.
How great is this lesson from the stalwart Daniel, not only to do just the same, and let the power of God speak even when all seems lost over and over, but to show that in the very midst of rejection, there are summits of peaks of wisdom and understanding, useful to man and graciously given by God, which will last when the flurry of disfaith is past (cf. faith). This, it is an office of faith to perform.
Thus not satisfied with Daniel 9, the love of God provides through Daniel the massive data concerning the period on to the Messiah in Chs. 11-12*1B, and indeed, it moves to a sight of the end of the Age of the Messiah, when resurrection is the focus. On the way, it moves in enormous detail to the time of the first of the 'little horn' personages, that is, enormous concentrates of power and of evil afflicting the people of God, and then on to the arena of the last one, in the Holy Land segment. Then, "he shall come to his end, and no one will help him" - he who despised help, gets none. But at once, following this pageant of Daniel 11, the era of strange and salient suffering for this nation arrives (Daniel 12:1ff.).
Yet, we read, Israel will be delivered from its enormities, and then, that vast enterprise of divine entrepreneurial action, the resurrection of the bodies of the people of God as in Isaiah 26:19, from whatever quarter, arrives (12:2ff.). Many are those who will awake and shine, the dust no longer the habitat, for their resurrected bodies will be instant in life.
As in Isaiah 26:19, it is the whole earth which will cast out its dead; and as the Lord's own dead body, will they arise. As Paul is given to declare, "the dead shall be raised incorruptible", this mortal putting on immortality; and though Israel (Isaiah 30:8ff., 65:13-15) had received its come-uppance for its inglorious ingratitude, yet in the Messiah (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, 66), those of all nations who come to Him will arise as one.
Spiritual strategy, then, is one part of Daniel, his prophecy, and courageous living is another; suffering readily becoming a selective agency for teaching; and the use of faith to join them, is a third. Here if you will is the highest of productivities, where the nothingness of failure and intrigue, seeming to rule, becomes merely the occasion for the grandeur and glory of God to be expressed. Praise the Lord.
Judaism is wrong because it forsakes the verified Christ (cf. SMR Chs. 6, 8, 9, Christ the Citadel ... Ch. 2); while Romanism is wrong because it puts someone into place as authority-invested as Teacher, whereas the ONLY teacher Christ permitted, in contradistinct authority, was Himself. It is He who has the last word, written and sealed (I John 2:27). ONE is your master, teacher: YOU are ALL brethren (Matthew 23:8-10). If the pope had been sinless, born of a virgin, without sin, had died on the cross, and been resurrected there could be a claim. As he did none of these things, there can be no case for mistaken identity. There is no God Almighty on earth, but GOD. For the rest of the errors, see SMR 912ff., 1032-1088H.
On these topics, see the volume, Religion, Religiosity and Reality in Jesus Christ.
Below, inset, is the excerpt from My Life Story ... Ch. 4, adapted for our present purpose. It concerns the original emphasis of the PC of Australia on 'tender consciences' as stated in its Declaratory Statement, part of the Constitution, and the equal emphasis on the scope of the love of God, that God is not willing that any be lost. The fall into radical Liberalism which practically nullified the body as a Church, was at last somewhat rectified, when a return to a Calvinistic extreme relative to both the Bible and the constitution was taken.
This was shown all too clearly in 1991, when the Church became in effect a Confessional Church, thereby blighting one of its greatest features concerning the Word of God, if not in word, then in work wrought in elevating the Confession. It meant that the excellent joint emphasis on the sovereignty of God and the scope of His desire for salvation, which is an excellent feature, was lost. Thus the lurching one way and then another, has damaged the Church, perhaps irreparably, for once you have your own traditions with such zeal, where does it finish (Mark 7:7ff.)! and once the Bible as such in place does not determine all things, not only notionally but practically, what is the point!
The word of the living God is the point; and as to that, it is written, and was so long ago. At our point of departure, one notes simply that in the PC in America, there was a practice of having reference to the SYSTEM of doctrine in the Westminster Confession AND the infallible scripture as sole determinant.
It so happens that this formulation of the system in the Confession and the infallible scripture as sole and only ultimate basis works reasonably well as an approach.
The inadequate emphasis on love in the Westminster Confession is NOT a systematic failure, since the system is sound with or without it; and it operates coherently. The Biblical system of teaching, strictly so-called, is well handled by the Confession. Unfortunately, unlike the case of the Presbyterian Church of Australia which at its advent in 1901, in this did better yet, this love of God was not adequately portrayed in the Westminster Confession. That love in its intensity and scope is pre-systematic: God so loved the world THAT ... You can hold the system, but as seen in the PC in the USA (1903 Declaratory Statement) and later, it needs a supplement beyond the system, to cover the case.
Thus, whatever 'system' is unveiled, this love in logical sequence PRECEDES it; yet as to that same love, its priority is vast. The PC of Australia wisely emphasised (past tense only) separately this love and cited it as necessary in its own so-called 'Declaratory Statement' from the time of its 1901 Union in this land. However even in this same, once so blessed Church, a 1991 General Assembly Statement ignored this and erroneously acted as if the Confession by itself had all covered, without any statement whatever. (Cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 8 and Bible Translation 1, *3, 4, #41 )
The fact that this is contrary to the Declaratory Statement (DC) with which the Church was formed in the first place is dismissed with just that peremptory assurance that Assembly majorities can so readily command. How often and how deeply we are reminded of our sinfulness, in order that we might seek sanctification and godliness with fresh vision and vigour. That is a message to any who slips: let the glimpse of the sinfulness of sin strengthen your backbone like tungsten steel.
How true it is, Blessed are the meek! and where more is this meekness needed than in dealing with , or rather being dealt with by, the word of the living God: not a poetic fable, not a pasture for kicking the heels, but what it declares, the thoughts of the living God for man, true and sufficient, just and bound. Meekness in reception, strength in propagation, truth in works, grace in action, godliness in all, this is the requirement.
It is therefore not at all surprising that we read in this same word of God, in Isaiah 66:2, that to this man will the Lord look, to him who is humble and of a contrite spirit, and who TREMBLES AT HIS WORD. You do not tremble at what you surgically alter, whether to plump out the chest or to remove what you deem fat! Small wonder also that Isaiah 8:20 tells us that if they do not speak according to the word in the book of the Lord, there is no light in them. What light is there in making light of the Light Himself! or in slighting the product of His mouth, the fountain of His will, the expression of His thought (cf. Amos 4:13, Matthew 4:4)!
What then of life where the word of God is bound ? Some fret because of it, and seek to 'escape' from its constraints. The II Timothy 4 case shows the prediction of this pathology reaching its heights in the period before the end of this Age. That is verified. It is now (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). But consider this ...
If freedom in this comes from being bound, is it not the same in the body ? It is when the bowels are dissolved, or the heart is loosed that freedom is lost. Man is bound to the Lord, and to unbind Him or His word, which is His, is like having an open heart surgery in which by some error, the heart itself is removed. After all, salvation also is bound to the believer in Him according to His word, as in John 5:24, II Timothy 1:8ff., and is that not freedom itself, to be a child of the living God, furnished with eternal life and saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8)!
It is, in fact, rather difficult so much as to find one reference to this love in the Westminster Confession, that very love of God for those ultimately to be lost; but the case as shown above, is very different in the Bible. What then do we discover ? It is this. As to that subordinate standard, the Westminster Confession, it is fine in system, but needs indeed what the PC of Australia (PCA) gave it, a boost beyond the system, to bring in another facet of Biblical teaching. The historic stress on this feature, in the 1901 Presbyterian Union in its DC is just, capable and good; its 1991 Assembly treatment in effect deletes the specific addition by indicating there is nothing there. It ignores the 'sensitive conscience' for which advisedly and expressly the provision was brought in.
This unhistoric departure from the historic PCA constitutional emphasis is to be deplored, for it limits the love of God to a system of man, instead of expanding it to the direct statements of the Bible, a truth found not only in II Peter 3:9, but I Timothy 2:1-5 and many such places
(cf. Predestination and Freewill, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4,
Biblical Blessings Ch.3,
Repent or Perish Ch.1, esp. p. 18,
SMR Appendix B, pp. 1163A, *7,
The Merciful Might of the Majestic Messiah: Jesus Ch. 5,
Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah, Chs. 8, 9).
See Journal of Creation, Vol. 23(2), 2009, Professor Werner Gitt, pp. 82-95, and index at Information.