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THE FORESEEN SPIRITUAL SAGA
FROM SOME 2700 YEARS AGO
Applied to the Heart of Today
On the latter part of Isaiah, see also. The Biblical Workman,
Appendix on Faith,
More Marvels Ch. 6 ; Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 3 ;
Joy Comes in the
Morning Ch. 6;
Pilgrims and Strangers Ch. 3
TAKE HEART, TAKE COURAGE, TAKE HEED
THE NEWS SCOOP FROM MILLENIA AGO
In Chapter 2 above, the topic was centred in Isaiah 65-66. Indeed, we had reached the point where the first verses of Isaiah 66, concerning sacrifice, had been covered, and the restoration then to come, as the end of the Age and the approach to eternal destiny proceeded was about to be focussed.
As noted in Progress, Regress, Emphasis and Perfection Ch. 5, in Isaiah 66 there is an advanced news scoop, even millenia before the day, concerning the ONE DAY restoration of Israel.
Here is found a body which LACKED nationhood, being restored to it, and that from a position of once being out, then being in the grace of the Lord by covenant, then sacked and sent from their land following the murder of their Eternal King, sent for their salvation, but now restored to their erstwhile position.
This was further specified by a new setting for them, one heralded back around 700 B.C. by Isaiah, before even the loss of their capital and temple to Babylon, for God covers things in spectacular fashion, that there be no doubt in those ready to be realistic, of who is speaking and why He is doing so (cf. Isaiah 44-45, 48). Now the whole concept of repetitive animal sacrifice is irrelevant, passé. It has served its abundant purposes, including revulsion from sin, realisation of the depth of horror that is in sin and the challenge to life itself, and the penalty if it is not met with repentance and grace. It also stressed in the scape goat (Leviticus 16:15-22), the wonderful work of a divinely ordained sending away of the same sin, far off into the wilderness, placed on the victim. That is parallel to Micah 7:19 and Psalm 103.
How was this fulfilled, this 'scape goat episode for sin's removal ? That this victim was in fact to be a self-appointed one, even the Lord incarnate, once and for all, had been made clear in various ways, from Genesis 3:15, to Isaiah 49-55, from Hosea 13:14, to Psalms 22, 40, 2 and 16, Micah 5, Isaiah 26:19,; and that in so doing He held the trump card, the testimony of truth, the abortion of death by bearing and breaking it in actual human format, was no less conspicuous. Christ was sent into the wilderness of death, as physically it was, with the sin for which death was the penalty, here vicariously borne.
The outcome of residue where faith is dismissed, life is not found, and mercy is departed from now appears. It is focussed in this remarkable ending of the prophecy of Isaiah, to which we will return. Fulfilment is the very air we breathe here in Isaiah. Let us return to the nation so restored, in its first coming back.
The Lord in 66:3-4 makes it clear that the body concerned in this restoration noted in Isaiah 65:17ff., as similarly defined, in Isaiah 49, had been wilfully imperceptive concerning sacrifice, as Isaiah 49:7 and 53 make so very clear. The Messiah was "abhorred" by the nation, we find, and
"just as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations,
so will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them;
because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear;
but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight."(66:3-4).
That summed up the cause in general, in terms of wilfulness and heedlessness, and indeed recklessness. It is sad and not at all uncommon; but this was a special nation involved in a specialised mission (Isaiah 43:21), to demonstrate the righteousness, pity, salvation and pardon of God, even His redemption; and in many episodes and eventually as predicted, in the wilful sacrifice of their own King, they had failed (cf. Zechariah 11, Micah).
As foreshadowed in Leviticus 26, no more would the land be theirs till, as in Isaiah 49, Zechariah 12 and Ezekiel 36ff., they were brought back by an act of pure divine mercy, not for their righteousness, but despite their lack of it (Ezekiel 36:22). Nevertheless the profound honour of God was to be shown, as it has been, in this, that the covenant with Abraham is by no means broken (Genesis 17:7-8), and in mercy it will be honoured (Micah 7:19ff.).
In Isaiah 66 we have been seeing that in view of the sacrifice of the abhorred Saviour, whose name is Jesus Christ, the saving anointed one, the Messiah, the singular and the direct expression by incarnation of deity (Isaiah 48:15ff.), the old symbolic representation of the same principles is gone, and vast changes would occur. Delusions have been their fare in their dispersion (Isaiah 66:4). However, not all were spiritually seduced, and many seek for, desire, yearn for the restoration and some even for the means for it; for after all, the remnant is by no means a mere concept (Isaiah 11:10).
The Lord to be crucified, would come back to rule as King, as foreshadowed so intensively in Psalm 2, where the judges of the earth are told to beware of capricious or wilful abandon of truth for the sake of rebellion, and to kiss (show reverential spiritual submission to) the Son, to escape destruction. Indeed, He will return as He first came as a root out of Jesse, the famed descendant of David foretold not only in Isaiah 11, but as such in Psalm 110 and II Samuel 7:24-29 for example. His rule is to be beneficent, glorious in faithfulness, care, concern and correction.
Many therefore returning to Israel as in Isaiah 49, after the fulfilment of the UNTILS as specified in Progress, Regress ... Chs. 7 and 8, were indeed shamed and slammed by the enemy of souls, and his advocates on earth, but "your brethren who hated you, who cast you out for My name's sake, said, 'Let the Lord be glorified, that se may see your joy,' but they shall be ashamed," Isaiah 66:5. The believing remnant, first heralded by the Christian apostles, will indeed be vindicated as the land comes back to the nation, and the nation to the Lord, as in Zechariah 12-13.
Where then in Isaiah 66
have we reached ? The transition from
repetitive sacrifices to the one singular sacrifice in the Messiah was to be
rejected, amid nothing short of abhorrence for the manifestation of the Messiah.
As they delighted in being immovable and unreprovable in their resistance of the
supreme work of God as seen in Isaiah 40, 49-55, so they would be gifted with
delusions (as in II Thessalonians 2:10), this in principle, to be a more general world
failing later. They were expected in truth, though it was not to be so in fact, to answer His divine and pardoning call (made
as in Isaiah 52:7, 40:10). But they did not. Hence the dispersion as in Micah
THE STAGGERING PHENOMENON
BUT in the normal translation from judgment to mercy, repetitively seen for Israel (and figuratively featured in Hosea, while decisively depicted in Zechariah 12:10-13:1, and poignantly in Micah 7), there is a staggering phenomenon. The word of God makes it obvious that this is to be an unheard of thing, startling in kind, vast in significance. They will become a nation again in a day. We noted this part of Isaiah 66 and history now, in Progress, Regress ... Ch. 5, and this excerpt is conveniently taken from there (adapted for this purpose).
Here was a Rock*4 who stated blessing, and cursing (Deuteronomy 27-28), and fulfilled both, though the cursing was not to be the end (Romans 11, Jeremiah 30,33); who foretold not only their removal but free restoration to land with circumstances focussed for the latter (such as the restoration in ONE DAY, as in Isaiah 66:6-8, and recovery of Jerusalem, one half, then all as in Zechariah 12-14). In their return, He allowed Israel to be an all but intolerable burden to the nations set on FIXING things to their own wills (Zech. 12:3). Powerful nations tend to forget that they are there by the will and for the plan of God and to act as if blinded by unbelief, despite formal professions which they may make. You see that with the case of Nebuchadnezzar most explicitly (Daniel 3 and especially 4, cf. Tyre and Egypt as in Ezekiel 26-29). In the case of Nebuchadnezzar you find it both negatively and positively (Ezekiel 29:19-21), and indeed there is a very positive flavour even in Daniel 4, for him. So do the nations go, one by one, in groups as now (as in Matthew 24, Luke 21).
History has seen this happen just as He said, to a degree to stagger even the imagination.
ISRAEL WOULD BE BACK, AND IT IS BACK,
THE NATION RE-FORGED IN ONE DAY -
THAT AN EXTRA IN STYLE
Yes, Israel the nation,
the honoured nation,
the functional nation with so vast a testimony to make
after such an Exodus
Israel was back.
It became once more a
nation in 1948, and re-possessed Jerusalem in one half
Let us for a little, reconsider the matter, now in review and proceed. Not only did that prediction of Isaiah 66:6-9, both in fact and in style come to pass; and not only was the nation born in ONE DAY, May 14, 1948. There is far more.
How ironic and despotic was the evil word of those who hated Israel (Isaiah 66:5), a malignancy which for some almost seems a hobby, perhaps because of the smell of divine things in Israel's history. Here Isaiah is granted to catch the exactly murderous, both callow and callous attitude of the nation's enemies, Let the Lord be glorified, they had mocked (66:5): how ? in the largely Gentile-imposed suffering. With twisted snarl, they hurled the name of the Lord at crushed Israel (cf. Isaiah 51:22-23), taunting, Let us see your joy as we do this and that! You would like God to be glorified ? Try this! Let their God intervene now, and let them suffer to show His greatness! came the blood-soaked challenge of the murderous.
These we learn here, will be ashamed (Isaiah 6:5). Let us see how happy you are under our boots, Nazi or other (Europe has specialised in this, but Russia has put in the boot too, in heartless pogroms), they derisively snorted, when you give you THIS, and this and that! Indeed shame will be their lot, as well it might be. If a Headmaster gives six of the best to an offender, is this a time for his enemies to bloat with self-importance, deride his shame and seek to thrash him again, while thus made vulnerable! What kind of people do this ? Shame indeed is to come; and it has come, for all of this is now past history, though many would prolong it; but this too is all foretold, as to its end.
THE SITE OF RESTORATION IS THAT OF CRUCIFIXION
In fact, it is just then (66:6) that we share with the sense of excited triumph as the nation is suddenly reborn, as the Lord acts, He who "fully repays His enemies," 66:6. This birth ? no labour, just the sudden act! Divinely ordered, the mass of contraries that could have crushed the Jews, historically were contradicted by the Lord in a miracle rivalled the Exodus when they were led out. So here they were led in to nationhood from sunrise to sunset, one day. This was their first day back, in statehood! It was like MacArthur with the Philippines, We will return! quoth he. Here it is God who underwrites it, by forecasting it. Strong is He who executes His word (Joel 2:11).
Would I bring you to delivery and then shut up the womb ? the Lord asks (66:9). It is a time for rejoicing, and for care of His protected people. Gentiles will help rebuild her (Germany's reparations were vast and useful, for example, just as here more recent gift of atomic submarines has been in the same careful concern after Auschwitz and co.). Where again would this comfort come ? The Bible cites the sites for it. Why it would be markedly in Jerusalem (66:13). It is reborn (here in Isaiah, as now in history) as a nation and a national capital is in view. Moreover, it is Jewish as exhibited above. It is precisely as in the co-ordinate prophecy of Zechariah 12:6.
"In that day I will make the governor of Judah like a
firepan in the woodpile,
and like a fiery torch in the sheaves;
they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left,
but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place - -Jerusalem."
Here as in Isaiah 66, there is an emphasis - as though foreseeing the reluctance to honour both the power and the word of God, for God knows all things as these prophecies themselves attest, a stress - on that very troubled city of Jerusalem. Take Zechariah. The governors of Judah are neither the United Nations, nor the Gentiles, nor any of their churches, subtle or subverted or even sound. They are as stated, the rulers in the site where Jerusalem is. Flights of imagination for the superbly defined nation as noted above, are irrelevant: this is sober fact. Surrounding peoples, in the plural, are to be overcome. Indeed, there are many of them seen assailing Judah, in Zechariah 12, and all of these will fail. In the face of this international and multiplied assault, and Jerusalem will for all that, be inhabited again. Did you notice where ? the Lord seems to thrusting, as He speaks.
He proceeds therefore to emphasise the reality of the thing further. The place which Jerusalem is to inhabit is not some new thing, some development just as Judah is not a name for Gentiles. The PLACE is HER OWN. That is where the called, divorced and restored people are to be then. It is back to HER OWN PLACE, which is the order of the day. That is the word of Zechariah 12.
It is then emphasised a third time. After the dash, we find this "- Jerusalem," as if you might forget! Here is a cardinal definition in terms and in terminology. What then ? In that day of power, God indicates through the prophet Zechariah, that He will make the governors of Judah (a not unknown tribe in Israel) "like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves... " Among whom ? Why, among "all the Gentiles around about."
How many fields have come in as bases for conquest, how many nations, how often, with what hateful rockets and methods, and disregard even of children, of domesticity, while then launching complaints as if Israel did not die readily enough, and dared to make defensive attacks as seemed necessary in so small a stronghold with so few to repel so many from such vast territories as make up a significant portion of the globe! But these, they did not prevail, whatever their bombast (into the sea with you! care of Nasser), or their cruelty; for they did understand the counsel of the Lord (as in Micah 4:12)!
A deep work has He had in mind, as perceived in Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, and Israel, though cut off the tree of testimony and free salvation is to be restored into that tree, in its full bloom of the Gospel (Romans 11). It is MINUS repetitive sacrifices that it is to be (Isaiah 66:3), for it is too small a thing for the Messiah to come with salvation to Israel; it must be for all mankind (as in Titus 2-3, John 3), the very nations themselves. ONE LAMB will provide a basis for the pardon for all who by His stripes are healed, all believers in Him.. One Gospel of One Messiah, with NO more sacrifices, is in view. How sacrifice after such a sacrifice as this described in portent and power, in Isaiah 50, 52-53, for example! Hence it is to a newly fashioned Christian oneness that the Israel to be the subject of an enormous outpouring of grace, and repentance concerning their piercing of the Messiah, as in Zechariah 12, is to come.
The nation is refounded; the errors however, these will be confounded. The assailants will be beaten back and ashamed; but the nation will also in repentance be appalled at its own former folly. It is a vast canvas and how Paul exults in the wonder of it all, the Lord's wonder, for He IS WONDERFUL, as Isaiah 9 makes so very clear (cf. Romans 11:28-36), after his description of the spiritual disruption and the restoration. Thus not only is Israel nationally back, but also as in Micah 7:19ff., spiritually. It is to inherit both its place, and His grace, as promised to Abraham; for the God who made our brains, also made His own covenants and does not break His word: instead IT BREAKS ROCK! (Jeremiah 23:8-9).
THE INTERNATIONAL CLIMAX
AND THE SPIRITUAL PRELUDE
Thus Israel is to be back (as also in Ezekiel 36-39),
and is to be both kept and assaulted
till the time of its recovery as a nation IN SPIRIT,
occurs as in Zechariah 12-13 and Ezekiel 37:1-14).
In the midst of this, God acts (as in Zechariah 14:3ff.),
epochally obliterating the lustful actions of the littered obilterators
by direct overthrow.
It is ZION which is the MOTHER, the child the nation in restoration*1.
It is not its own child (Isaiah 66:8), in mere continuity,
nor does the Church beget the Church (Isaiah 65:13-15),
nor is it the mother of itself, for the Church is
begotten by GOD Himself through His Spirit by His word,
through supernatural and not natural agency (John 3, Titus 2-3).
It is neither mother to itself nor is it mothered by any
but it is indeed begotten by God who ALSO as a mother comforts the believer
whether that one be from this or that nation (Isaiah 66:13, 40:1, 49:13, 52:9, 61:2, John 16:7).
To be sure, we may lend comfort to each other,
and learn this from the comfort of the Lord (II Cor. 1),
but these are derivative things;
the comfort that acquires power, having a just and everlasting base and basis
and the dynamic that saves and brings to birth,
and to sanctity is the comfort of God.
Without that, man is indeed "afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted,"
|Isaiah 54:11, nor has he any basis at all (Ephesians 2:12).
Neither is Zion the author or mother
of the Church,
nor its own basis, but both nation and Church at the outset
were brought into being through the ransom of His own blood
(Acts 20:28, Exodus 12, whether shown typically or physically).
There is one Gospel; there is one redemption;
there is one Redeemer, there is one God, and all is of Him.
Accordingly when ZION has birth
pangs for a body which is to leap into life,
a restored nation, staggeringly brought from nascency as in the womb,
to actuality in one day only, and that without even any prolonged labour (Isaiah 66:8),
the child born as soon as labour started, the matter is clear; it is not abstruse.
It is one thing only which is in view.
It is the parallel to what is so
often called "the daughter of Jerusalem,"
which means the current generation in the long line
of Jewish inhabitants of the place (SMR Appendix B).
It is the ZION which mourns as in Micah 7, who speaks, as in Isaiah 49:14, its heart.
"But Zion said, 'The LORD has
And my Lord has forgotten me.
To this mourning, the Lord replies, "Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb ?
Yet I will not forget you."
He then speaks of the depth of His commitment and provision,
"See, I have
inscribed you on the palms of My hands,
Your walls are continually before Me ..."
The only one who could be in view when Zion acts as mother to a body which proceeds from her 'womb' is a new generation of Israel, one staggeringly inhabiting Jerusalem after so long an absence, as to constitute a marvel in institution in one day, almost without effort, though the Lord defends it. Neither in idiom nor in theology is it other.
ZION has a new generation delivered strikingly suddenly. In fact, this occurred when history caught up with prophecy (Isaiah 46:10), and came by announcement from Ben Gurion, for all the world as if the nation were there before he spoke, while yet absent, so that it came to be with effectiveness, though seemingly impossible. Jerusalem back, the nation-state Israel resuming ? Where in history has such a gap been covered in such a restitution, where such a mother bears such a child, long forgotten as a power, but rather remembered as a victim and target for the ruthless!
In this situation, one of stress and yet of comfort, there is a dénouement at hand. God enlightening their eyes also deploys His power against now more and more explicit enemies who wish to advise Him (if they at all believe in Him), that THEY have a different view of things and find no reason to cede ANYTHING to the God of Israel, to the land of the Messiah (Isaiah 8:8), or to the promises of God (Genesis 17:7-8). Hence the Lord will "show His indignation to His enemies" and will come "with fire". If the nations want to gang up on Him, He yet will "judge all flesh," Isaiah 66:16. Indeed those slain by the Lord will be many. Physical force with judicial fury rebukes enemies, and the new comfort for returned Jerusalem is sustained in its directness (66:7-16). The Lord does not delay (Isaiah 66:14) but intervenes.
You see precisely this in Zechariah 12-14, where the same restored Israel is brought to spiritual peace (as also in Ezekiel 37, leading on to the Messiah), as the Lord sets forth to overturn the gusts and thrusts and the lusts of the multiplied enemies, as in Joel, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, as in Ezekiel 38-39 and Micah 5, 7.
What peace and what comfort then comes (66:12-14). It is when this is the case, when the land is back substantially once more to the arms of the Lord, that the "indignation" of the Lord (Isaiah 66:14-16) reaches spiritual crescendo and physical grandeur (as in the Exodus as the detailed account of Micah 7 tells us at verse 15), and the Gentile harassers, persecutors, obliterators, insufferable genocidal experts, engineered by what is false, find the force of God who IS the truth, and acts; for He IS the God who acts for those who wait for Him as Micah 7 so specially attests (Isaiah 64:5 shows the principle).
The Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, then reflects back to the outrageous events so signalised in the day of Isaiah (as in the idolatry shown in 44:20ff.), and such as seen in those days, in the testimony of Isaiah 66:17. He moves forward again. It is like some novels which begin with the salient crisis, and then reflect back to some of the preliminaries which will in due course conduct you back to that dramatic beginning, as we see in Isaiah 66:19-21). To this we shortly turn; but what of the results of the war of God on the thronging nations (as in Psalm 2, Zechariah, Joel, Habakkuk, Zephaniah for example) ?
What of the slain who are many in this conflagration ? they "shall be consumed together," recipients of that quintessential divine "anger with fury" (Isaiah 66:15, just as in Ezekiel 38:19 and Deuteronomy 32:28-43). What then of the "slain of the Lord being many" (66:16) ? Some try to make it a spiritual experience, a comforting impact to secure more for the converted or conversion to the unconverted. It is blood turned to blessing, a strange concoction of the imagination!
It is not usual, however, to talk of salvation in terms of coming to a judicial end, the literal word here, that is to say, consumed, or of suffering a fatal rebuke from the Lord in the midst of utter condemnation, or of being on the receiving end of a divine tour de force and being thrust to the dust, overthrown. The Pentecostal usage sometimes found here is one of the phenomena of the history of exegesis of the word of God, so contrary to its statements as to challenge the topmost contenders for recognition in the field of eisegesis, indeed in outright defiance turning a bloody massacre into a blessed acceptance, and fury into favour, a military event into an inward testimony of grace. All such transformations are parodies and mutilations of the word of God.
The word of God however, rebuts and does not relinquish, its faithful and fateful messages. Thus, having touched back to the errors such as were rife in the day of Isaiah (66:17), errors which will engulf many in the day of judgment, the Lord proceeds with the expanding narrative. All nations in this confrontation are to be "gathered together" and we learn that they will "come and see My glory," Isaiah 66:18. They will learn what it all means as in Ezekiel 39:22-23. The matter is painfully clear!
We then move in Isaiah 66:19-21, from this all-nation exhibit of His glory at the terminal points, to some of the modes of leading on to this result earlier, when that same glory is to be shown to the Gentiles who at that time HAD NOT SEEN it (Isaiah 66:19). In this, Jew and Gentile believers are predicted to join with a deep understanding, at a joint plane, and "they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations ..." (just as in parallel, as in Romans 11:26-36, Paul cites in his delight in the unity at last achieved on the Messianic basis so long neglected).
No more is the wall of separation active (broken down by the Gospel as in Ephesians 2:14-18); for no more is it to be a breach of a unity which is now possible since the Messiah is for one, as for all, having fulfilled the ceremonial law of offerings and sprinkling with blood, since not jot or tittle is to remain UN-fulfilled. It is fulfilled in this, and hence the duality becomes a unity in the fulfilment of the prophecy committed to and through Israel, and the application of this, as given to the Gentiles, and then again, back to the Jews (as in Romans 11). Indeed, Romans 15:15-16 uses the very language of Isaiah 66:20 in referring to Paul's own Gospel ministry in which he acts "that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit."
Thus does Paul apply this offering concept to the Gentiles as the work of the one Gospel moves through this dual agency. In Israel, it is one suddenly expanded as in Romans 11:25, as much of that nation at last is swept into the faith. The ministering servants of God, Jew or Gentile alike, then, will "declare My glory among the Gentiles," even those who had not heard. Apostles and individuals do much; but the nation not yet. In the confrontation as already noted, all nations will hear; but that is the exceedingly dramatic end of the line. On the way, there are many and there is much to be shared, as the combination of Jewish and Gentile believers continually pour out the testimony to the world. Such is the message of Isaiah 66:19-21. No cut-off remains. This is a prolonged procedure; the coming in judgment is not! This precedes.
REJOICE IN THE HEART AND WISDOM OF THE REDEEMER
OR RELISH THE RUIN OF THE IRRECONCILABLE
In this, there is no and/or; and we start at the end of Isaiah, with the OR.
The total testimony fulfilled, and the major confrontation concluded, the testimony of heaven and hell, this remains as one result from one God, who has one way for wisdom, for salvation, and sent ONE only-begotten Son to achieve it, who having been raised from the dead, when the Gospel of mercy is complete in international testimony, returns for a time to this earth to rule, and to exhibit in this very orb, the testimony of truth, before the earth itself is removed, and fresh creation, in a new heaven and earth, proceeds fit for eternity with those made fit for it, by the perfect fit of the resurrection (II Corinthians 5).
What then of this presentation of the glory of the Lord by Jew and Gentile in mixed in race, in singularity of theme as in Isaiah 66:20-21? It was a declaration of the advent moving towards the finale, when all nations see it. It was a blessed preliminary, starting with apostles and the Church in Jerusalem, moving to the return of the King. We are in that movement. Here is the patient processive work before the final complex confrontation, one both of forces and for faith, as noted re Romans 11:25.
What is the obverse ? (Isaiah 66:24) depicted in its desolation ? It is this.
The evil counsellor (Nahum 1:6-15, II Thessalonians 2:4-10), the devil's messiah comes in his time, as come all things in theirs, and then the fateful futilities of bewitched brains and seduced minds, filled with aggressive desire for this earth without the Lord God, will cease, being overthrown. It is enough. By that time, that masterful mastiff having had his day of duping freedom on the earth, there is the final progress in a captivity that condemns and consigns in its own way, to hell. It is this hell on which Isaiah 66:24 dwells so vigorously, and it is the option available instead of worship of Him who is the truth, and NOT the destroyer (Psalm 17:4, Revelation 9:11). As to that evil agency, however, death is an instrument, hell is the destiny, ruin is the theme and perdition, lostness of the soul, is the badge. Unrealism begets ruin, and stridency or sedulous self-assertion enables it, and rejection of the appointed divine mercy (Isaiah 54) brings forth this unhallowed mess (John 3:19).
Not in a myriadform disarray of kaleidoscopic confusion is the truth to be seen, as if a thousand evils were the news, or the rubbish tin the focus of life; but rather in simplicity it is comprehended. ALL have sinned, inherit the curse, and there are no spiritual aristocrats (Galatians 3:10-14, Romans 6:23, 5:1-10). Israel was an exhibit and communicator which did well through the prophets, to fulfil this, but killed many, aborted much and invented its own cultural subversion.
Gentiles have now had their own day (cf. Luke 21:24), and it is fulfilled. Israel is to come back spiritually (phase 2 of Ezekiel 36), just as it has already done so nationally, and in terms of its capital Jerusalem, as Christ declared would be the case. As it was to be; now it is! If the one nation has inherited what is now soon to pass, Israel in particular, the curse, so now do the nations which seem TO RELISH intoxication in reviling reality and hating the truth, even to the point of using complex complementary apparatus for the continuation of this race, as if it were a face to face plastic surgery, for mere preference.
Indeed, more generally, inventing man as the seat of the creative power, which in simple fact came to him as gift, while ordering more and more subservience to atheistic myths and fear of man instead of fear of God, man roves around the perimeters of ruin. Multitudes exhaling the breath of intoxication come near to smothering the earth, attracting or invoking the riots and tempests, floods and earthquakes, rummagings and exposures of the innate energy of earth's material building blocks, as radiation ruins and the foolish bray their vehement violence, .
These are results. They have causes. All mankind has this initial situation of having left God; and the escape from this condition is as clear as the day is bright, to the mind that heeds rationality (as Paul declares in Romans 1:17ff.). Yet results have their particulars and crises are not limited to the physical or the financial; for even now, the spiritual smog though enveloping, does not of itself kill, though even now time is running out (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). It is like that when you deal with reality. There are causes and consequences.
Avoiding, taunting, tainting, contaminating the word of God in general, and the Gospel in particular, with deceitful face and hidden motive, or confused because of dismissing the truth (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10), man now merely adds to his fallen condition (Romans 1:17ff., Galatians 3:10-14), intensifying the curse by smothering the call to its revocation through the redemption in Christ. It is for each, one at a time, as intimate as eating (John 6:47-54) and as necessary as water (John 4:14). Christ crucified and risen, is the antibiotic for the spirit and the health for the soul, that neither temporary prosperity nor approaching ruin alter in the least. You cannot escape what you are; and if you insist on simply being it, like being born with a superb sports car tied to your wrist, then in robbing God of His Fatherhood and your condition of its cure, you self-inherit by a will not written in evil necessity, but in your own preference, not guided by mere circumstances, but foreknown in truth before time on the one hand, and creation on the other. Fancy getting what you insist on; but the results are anything but fancy!
You cannot escape what you are, nor can the leopard change its spots; but to man God has given grace that he might escape, courtesy of the Maker, and some have "fled for refuge" (Hebrews 6:18-19) to the Redeemer, for the curse is potent, competent and prevailing past all comparison, as heaven above earth; but this liability is downward (cf. RELIGION, RELIGIOSITY AND REALITY IN CHRIST).
In fact, then, that curse has a reason, and its results, both intrinsic and extrinsic are apparent whether socially, economically, meteorologically, psychologically, politically, militarily, astronomically, geologically, biologically (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!); for just as "the curse causeless does not come," Proverbs 26:2, so its results do not go ... except in mercy which has its divinely ways proclaimed by edict in the Gospel.
Sin has not only its long-term but its immediate basis. Refusal of the Messiah in His merciful sacrifice is the roar of its ruin (John 3:36) and flights of fancy in the face of spiritual fact is the lethal intoxication. Stubborn indifference, sheer indolence, dismissal with distaste and faithless imaginations of human glory, even when it is branded with shame are entrance qualifications, one or all, these qualify for extended ruin; for without faith you cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6). As to quartering yourself in the vitiated visible BY invisible PREFERENCE of your own! it makes its own account, and has its own result (John 3:19,36). For sheer irrational irresponsibility this leaves but the burrowing worm of guilt and the smouldering flame of anguish (66:24).
But the spiritual descendants of the Lord will remain (Isaiah 66:23, 55:1-17); and His word will direct, till this earth past, the Rock realises its covered ones, who stand on it, and the power of God having protected His saved ones, brings forth the new heavens and the new earth. These do not pass away, for they then are the very site and inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, and a place for the witness of, the delight in its spiritual splendour, wrought by God alone. Before glory, however, is test; and the ultimate test is truth, and the necessary response is of the heart, known before creation even commenced, to God Himself (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:19ff.), who misses nothing; for He delights in mercy (Micah 7:18-19), though not in pretence.
So leading to this finale, the remnant of Israel, amid converted Gentiles, as one (66:19-20, as in Romans 15:16), will continue, suddenly enhanced when Israel is spiritually awakened as in Romans 11:25, till drawn to the Lord (Revelation 19:8, Matthew 24), they come to Him (Revelation 11, Matthew 24:27-31, 25:1-13), and then with Him (I Thessalonians 3:13). So comes the revolution beyond all revolutions, that to the truth, the Remedy and the realisation of peace (Psalm 72, Isaiah 65, Isaiah 2, Micah 4).
The millenium (as in Isaiah 65 and Revelation 20) will proceed, as history unfolds to its earthly finale. But the Lord through Isaiah is thorough. In a figure, at the end of Ch. 66, Isaiah shows the common Gospel approach leaves a sight of the common hell both for the resistant, unbelieving Jew, and the parallel amid the Gentiles, and the exclusion of these is a sight to the mind, and a testimony to the spirit, as the military scene of Revelation 19 changes to a profundity of peace amid the promises of God, and the premises of the Gospel are fulfilled (66:24). THESE remain when even the earth goes! (Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35). Jesus never fails.
Thus let the Christian rejoice and the rebel realise, God has a program, a scenario, a bill of fare according to which all fare whether well or ill. The entry is free; the result is fervent. The way is faith; the alternative is what men call fate, and fate indeed it is, and fateful for those who fall into it. But there is no need. There are no aristocrats in the kingdom of heaven, nor corrupt cronies who abuse the system.
It is the Shepherd Himself whose is the Kingdom, and praise for Him is
for His reliability (He does not trick His
people for whom in Christ He died),
incorruptibility (neither the whole of
history nor any part is not to fulfil His lacks,
for His faithfulness, for there is nothing
to oppose His word
for His responsibility, who not only
does as He says but promises and gives principles,
and for His love, His mercy kissing truth that in sacrifice He might sanction pardon.
Praise is thus for Him for whom even His own Being was not too much to send that truth might be fulfilled in love through the medium of mercy (Philippians 2, Titus 2-3).
If you want other things, you deserve them
LIBERTY, LORDLINESS AND LAW,
TRADING IN TRUTH FOR FANCY
AND TURNING TO THE LORD
What liberty He has given! that the paths and principles, the procedures and provisions set in nature, both the blessed beauty and the searing curse, might be, illustrative of His greatness, grace and judgment; that people and nations, families and societies might discover their paths exalted or subdued, whether to find rebuke, or to find blessing, to find delusion or to find clarity. To some, in the teeth of truth, their desolatory departure from the Lord may come to seem meaningless so that power corrupts the more, in their unhallowed desperation, or their rebukes may afflict the more, so that their consciences might pound the more, in case by any means any might find the proper place for man, with his God in mercy, peace and grace. It is better to find yourself out of place, than being misplaced, to find no mercy.
Yet for all the liberty allowed its own measure in its own desires, a glorious gift however misused, there is the intervention of God, when and as He sees fit (as when you take your car to the mechanic or to the tip, that does not remove the liberty of your driving but rather is inclined to assist it! Many have been His actions, and vast His interchanges, not to stanch the natural order, but to cover it as a teacher covers a school, allowing massive liberties in development and learning, and at times taking massive actions! But God is the author of life, that unparalleled masterpiece as well as liberty, including that to mock Him and misconstrue evidence in intellectual and wilful ruin!
Great are the issues. He has judged at times in catastrophe as we learn in Genesis 6, in the case of the flood (cf. News 1), the horrors of man meeting their exposure, their inundations in sickly sin finding their parallel in waters to cover their misused playground! This came at the most impactive in the universal flood, to match the appalling and rigorous rioting of man, as master of life, and as with Sodom and Gomorrah whose self-indulgent ways would govern even the ways of God. Again through the prophets He has acted in profound and direct communication, with hope and opportunity for deliverance or the result of its rejection. Thus did He bring forth the treasury of truth and the vast regions of mercy, in their place of presentation, through His word, His Spirit.
Audience is not obtained by any means, just as rail-traffic is not obtained on any little track. There is a place where God is to be found, and that is as sent and confirmed, verified and fulfilling many predictions, Jesus Christ the incomparable and only tested human being on earth, meeting continually, both when here and when returned pending assessment and rule, the prophecies concerning Himself (cf. Luke 24). Yet the intervention of mercy, effective for those who realise their prison of containment in divinely specified evil, and detachment from their Maker, in not only impactive, but was impactive on the Lord Himself, as foretold in detail for the time indicated in detail (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9, The Christian Prescription Ch. 2). This place of pardon and appointment of mercy is offered to all (cf. Isaiah 61:1-3, Isaiah 53, I John 2:1-2).
Thus the two ways are shown both through the natural unfoldings and as needed, in the supernatural attentions, both allowing liberty its maximum exposure: some rejecting, some receiving. Those of the former group perennially tend to persecute those of the latter, so that there is a test, and liberty with it, this to match it with faith and the presence of God, His directions, or to sink as unsaved, a mere spiritual speculator. Many hide in forms without the power of God and have used the power of flesh to persecute, even using Christ's own name to do it (cf. Ancient Words ... Ch. 14); and many seek to seduce all by confusing what abuses His name and the treaty of truth (cf. John 18:36, Matthew 26:52-56), with what He uses according to His word. But the facts remain (cf. SMR pp. 1032 - 1088H).
While many thus look to their stars, whether popes (v. Matthew 23:8-10), or gurus (v. Matthew 24:24), or even astronomical peregrinations, feelings, grabs at opportunity, self-elevation or consignment to this corpus or that, to natural processes or logical outrages, like naughty children having tantrums, unless anyone will LOOK TO THE LORD (Isaiah 45:22-23), there is neither relief nor meaning nor redemption.
Useless it is, and is shown to be, to trust in a natural creation and then expect it to become god for you, or to care for you, or to solve international crises for you, or to limit the misuse of its power for you; and this eloquent futility helps wisdom. Indeed, as in Psalm 107, it is when you begin to watch the ways and workings of the Lord in hearing and answering prayer, and being available as the cry of faith is made (Psalm 145), that you may come to see it, that the Lord is good and in His wonderful works for men, in His own interventions and suspensions through grace and in mercy, there is life. It is here with the Person who made persons, cognition, concepts, controls, laws, government, layers of direction in bodies and of understanding in minds, that the answer comes. It is not in the worship of the mute, the incoherent in speech, the worse than moronic that truth or help or meaning is to be found. The study of a studio neither produces paintings nor makes any.
Persons produce principles and procedures by means of mind and understanding. The very means of making theories are not a consequence of the inert, nor a specification of what cannot specify.
If you are a student, don't worship your chair; consider knowledge. If you are alive, don't consider its means when needing its point, purpose and programs, but consider the Maker, by whom you inherit its unparalleled provisions; and find what He has to say, what you have to do, amid the priceless liberties, without making yourselves gods, as if to mock the vacuity of thought with the wantonries of pride (as in Ezekiel 28:9). Wise is he who considers these things says Psalm 107, the vicissitudes of man, the interventions of God, His goodness and His depth.
Therefore be wise, and abandoning your self and your world and your natural functions as if they were the point (like someone on ship board, consulting the funnels and the sea to find the destination and the point of it all), find the Lord, and don't stop your seeking to you find Him; which you will do if you seek Him with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13). God does not disparage this or that race, but revealing the condition of all, invites all, but seduces none. Meaningfulness is required; and God is zealous, and that is why there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 who are already placed.
A superficial relationship may be conceived between Isaiah 66:6-10 and Revelation 12:1-3,13-17.
However the principle holds firm, indeed in view of this, even more conspicuously, that from the non-spiritual, you do not reap the spiritual, and that neither Christian church nor spiritual person is born except from the Lord, so that no secular base, except in abortion of truth, could be seen as what gives birth to what is spiritual in kind. It is indeed only from the Spirit of God operating in terms of the Word of God and His truth, that one is born again (John 3, Titus 2-3), and confusion here is confusion indeed.
Thus, in Revelation 12, you have a directly monergistic, a totally divine, indeed a direct matter of deity in view as the crucial and staggering operation is suddenly set before one's eyes. It is Israel dressed a woman giving birth to deity incarnate, the Messiah. The 12 for the tribes are symbolic attire for Israel, and she in turn is metonymy for what in fact, was just one of her children, namely the mother of Jesus in the flesh, but only as an expression of Israel as source. The child, who is thus to be born through the instrumentality of Israel, depicted here as a woman for the purpose, is to be the "Ruler of the Nations," as in Psalm 72, 110, 2, 45, Isaiah 9:6-7, 11, 48:15ff., 54, Isaiah 11, 54, Micah 5, 7, Ezekiel 34; and is as Son of God, eternal, deity Himself, the Word in flesh (John 1:1-14, 8:58).
As Revelation 12 begins, there is a human agency indeed, but in the utterly unique and univocal case where God becomes incarnate as man, starting as babe, so that from this on in the narrative, the perspective is that of GOD on earth, and all things flowing not in general, but in this format and relationship, so that the unique office of deity is in view, in this form as an atmosphere and a given dynamic and perspective. Accordingly, the results are seen not in one person (as if a nation were one and this were parallel), but in many persons (Rev. 12:12-17); and not in a generality of persons, but exclusively in spiritual persons (Revelation 12:13-17). That is made all the more dramatic in view of the war in heaven, and the casting out of depraved spiritual persons, from that area.
This, then on earth where the central action of incarnation has occurred, is expressed in the arena of God, now here Himself, and of the godly, so that the persecution is not in a normal format, but through that of the Messiah, Himself, and it extends to that of those who take on, not as God but as regenerated, His image, and so are those who "keep His commandments", as in Revelation 12:17 and "have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
The topic is the incarnation, the human source for that format, leading on to the devilish attack from the first to eliminate the Messiah earth, as God in heaven; and then the theme moves to those who have His testimony, who keep His commandments. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the birth of a nation, either at first, or in a renewed generation. Its products are not even expressed in the singular, but as many persons, each godly. It is spiritual in topic, having for God a human format in which there arise after His own coming, those indirectly proceeding from Israel, in that His own coming related to Israel, which in one person gave birth to Him as Messiah. It is from Him, in His name, for Him and to Him the persecuted followers proceed. Such are the theme and developments in Revelation 12.
In the case of Isaiah 66;6-10, and the sudden birth of the nation, on the other hand, if one were to try to make a comparison, the main omission is God. That however makes all the difference, as one might well expect! There in Isaiah 66, we see not only a mixed nation, but a sinful one, which in a straightforward if dramatic way is conceived and presented as the source of this suddenly born nation. ZION, singular, is doing the conceiving (Isaiah 66:8). Zion, singular, is the product. This basis therefore for the product is as far from being God, the author of His Church in Christ, as infinity from zero.
Thus, Zion, the source cited for this sudden birth of the nation (66:8), has also Zion as the result cited (Isaiah 49:13ff.) in sustained nomenclature. In other words, it is a transfer in special circumstances. Instead of occurring in the next generation, after Rome destroyed its place, it came only after a vast delay. Only then came its re-appointment as a nation, as it came to its place AGAIN (as in Zechariah 12:6); and only then did it suddenly resume after so long a time, as if one generation to another, in the normal way noted above. Indeed, it was as one to another, but with a gap for a spiritual restoration, as presented in Zechariah.
Thus there is, as there can be, no violation of the principle that what is spiritual is begotten by what is spiritual, and not by what is secular or carnal.
Moreover, Zion, the source cited for this sudden birth of the nation (Isaiah 66:8), has also Zion as the result cited (Isaiah 49:13ff.) in sustained nomenclature. In other words, it is a transfer in special circumstances (of vast delay before re-appointment as a nation) from one generation to another, and there is no violation of the principle that what is spiritual is begotten by what is spiritual, and not by what is secular or carnal.
That indeed, is precisely what Christ declared it (John 3:6), as a determinative principle: "what is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the spirit is spirit." Israel cannot beget therefore, the Church, for example, but only itself in one more generation, in the normal idiom. This restoration of sinful Zion is in fact done by sudden divine action associated with a dynamic devastation of its enemies, following its own large-scale conversion to the Christ, whom it and not another, specifically crucified (Zechariah 12:10-13:1). For this, it repents as the prophet shows (cf. Romans 11:25ff.), and in this repentance and faith, it receives comfort, as God fulfils both elements of His covenant (Genesis 12, 17, Micah 7:20).
It is this which the Bible teaches concerning Israel on the one hand, and concerning the Church on the other, itself of another origin, begotten by God even when Israel was decommissioned spiritually (Isaiah 65:13-15). This Church-birth was through a continuing resource, even the work of the Holy Spirit in engendering what is the Lord's own, as purchased by His blood, of which He is head, even many persons. When the avenues are activated and fulfilled, then the remnant of Israel, in its own place (Zech. 12:6) and of the Gentiles are spiritual one (Ephesians 2:14-18). Everything is in its time and mode and place and setting; and in the end, all deeds and promises done, all premisses fulfilled, as Paul delights to report in Romans 11, the masterful plans finished, there is the unity which only the Gospel provides.
It is essential never to short-circuit the plans and words of God, either personally, through becoming impatient, or in prophecy, through unbecoming suppressions of His word, as if it must conform to an idea, rather than have ideas conform to and become apparent from it!