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THREE CASES BEFORE THE FACES TURN
TO SEE THE PIERCED ONE
Three Sovereigns, but One Rule
There is no home away from home when it comes to Jesus Christ.
In our Chapter 1 in this volume, Israel has been central, as a scriptural case in point, indeed exhibit for our learning. Now we move to a link from later days in that kingdom, when it was divided and one part was about to be deleted, while another was challenged; and we consider this with our own times, to find classic features for concern and conclusion.
As to Israel, it is almost intemperately saddening to see such a nation so needlessly lowered, as if a certain perversity of spirit were to sour their palates, insisting on sorrow, while other nations of far less apparent industry and scope of spirit, can lead double lives and still hardly receive what Israel has!
It is, however, a case of a broken and special covenant! It was the same with Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar in two former occasions leading to vast ruin to the nation, first to the North, separate and idolatrous, and then to the South, Judah, suffering attrition like sandstone before the wave. Though much was lost, much was regained as in the predicted work of Ezra and Nehemiah, who rebuilt, and indeed almost an empire was regained before Rome's appointed day*1 there was a blessed opportunity for a release from the theme, amazing release in the Messiah; but it will come again, yet sadly after so much!
Let us look at the remarkable three, the parallels, the Assyrian, the Babylonian, two devastating in realism, one astounding in grace, that of the King of Kings in His coming and offers, and then see the finishing line for it all.
THE ASSYRIAN-IRAQ-IRAN CONSIGNMENT AND CONTINGENT
Not least in these throes is the nation of Assyria, currently coming in for what appears certainly a second cursing (not blessing!), for that ancient land encompassed not only what is now Iraq in general, but some of what is now Iran. It is acting according to biblical prophecy, this old Assyria, as you can readily find and attest by reading the following: Micah 5, Isaiah 30:27-33 and Isaiah 10. It is necessary to notice several things about these three locations, to which Isaiah 37:26 should be added. There is in short, a certain notoriety about the Assyrian case, relative to Israel.
In each case (Isaiah 10, 30), the action either turns on or moves towards the Messiah, not in suffering salvation, but in His coming imperial rule! In Micah 5*1A, the text moves from the incarnation as a babe of the everlasting God, to the maulings, intended by Assyria, which yet are thrust back in its face. This is foretold in the period following this incarnation (Micah 5:1-3), in terms of the rule of the Judge of Israel; and this not only over that nation, but over the entire earth. With what bears astounding similarity to the recent Gulf War (Micah 5:5-6), the text proceeds to the humiliation of 'Assyria', having started with the smiting on the cheek of the Judge of Israel, the Lord incarnate, to the Lord's own action in power.
This comes as He delivers the "remnant of Jacob" (Micah 5:7), who by then will have resumed their function of testimony (as in Zechariah 12-13), because of conversion to this self-same Messiah. Indeed, "Your hand shall be lifted against your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off" (Micah 5:9).
In fact, the Lord will bring peace in
His rule, cutting off the noxious 'sorceries' of false religion and appetite, so
that they will no more worship the work of their hands (or the work of their
strength, which includes philosophy and fatuous religiosity). Moreover, the Lord
declares, even the One once
'smitten with a rod upon His cheek', a very awesome thing.
It is this: "I will execute vengeance of anger and fury on the nations that have not heeded" (Micah 5:15). It is not only delinquent 'teenagers' who AT LAST must meet truth, however fast their contrary tread may have been, but delinquent nations no less. Have they not had enough of their little day of power and vulture-clawing with intense self-satisfaction already! It is enough that they follow racism, or adventurism, or vile versions of communism, making man or some imagination of his own to be king, though it can never rule and rather in wild follies makes a close equivalent to running amok with the lives it did not create; or perhaps it is with Nazism that they run, or communal socialism or any other production of man in man's name or the name of his potions and delirious options (cf. SMR Ch. 3, Ch. 10), his elected potentates, or unelected scourges. That, it is to end.
That phase of divine intervention and rule through Christ upon the earth (as in Job 19), it is yet to come; for as Christ declared to the disciples before going (Luke 24:25-26):
"Oh foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things
and then to enter His glory ?"
He then showed in detail the prophetic scriptures to enlighten them on the point.
Were they not slow in spiritual wit here, to realise it all, that this was just the beginning, that His sufferings were prescribed by that very providence in which He had participated in His 'goings from everlasting' ? (Micah 5:1-3).
They were indeed, for divinely written was the vast plan of a pre-eminent work in which suffering, via the acme in crucifixion, resurrection of the body and rule with power, were all parts. As in three-ply wood, each segment contributes to the strength of the whole thing being fashioned, so here! As Jesus Christ went on to show, in Luke 24, the Holy Spirit was to come and the Gospel was to be preached to all nations, who would in the end arise against and among themselves in tireless and futile wars: these flowing freely from their rejection of the true Lord of man. At the same time, false prophets and false christs abounding, they would inherit on a vast scale, what Israel was about to find for herself in microcosm. Thus would - and did - the Gentiles nations aspiring to glory, find shame, and join Israel in its own lapse. So in this style, is Israel a precursor for the Gentiles nations to follow. It comes for one as for all, by that self-same rejection of the Messiah.
What is it like ? If you were offered n an amazing deliverance from some court case in which you were about to be sold into slavery, but then reject it, who would pity you ? It is like that.
It is this which now is working out its wayward wisdom before our eyes, so much in blatant and flatulent fervour that it would be comic if it were not tragic. In this, then, though detrimentally, Israel was to be not the first of the few, but the first of the many! Nevertheless, it had as it has, a special place in the three-ply, and it keeps it, when corrected, to the uttermost (Leviticus 26, Jeremiah 30:11,Micah 4). Thus while the results of rebellion are extreme for the nation, yet there is hope in its 'latter end' (Jeremiah 31:17). Indeed, in Jeremiah 31 there comes after this announcement, that of the New Covenant in Christ, which defines the locale of this restoration, that of Zechariah 12-13 and Ezekiel 36-37, at the end of the Age.
If the Lord chooses a nation for a purpose, woe to the one who thinks otherwise in merely gratuitous and pertinacious insolence! There are many who are finding this. If that nation has to be disciplined, as has been the case, to the uttermost, then this is no warrant for 'class bullies' to act with glee and sit on it, the while! (Isaiah 51:21-23, Jeremiah 30:16-17).
There is one Lord, but His annunciation and proclamation, the former by the prophets of Israel and the latter by the apostles from Israel, this was a special work; and what God selects for special purposes, promising upholding as well as discipline, is upheld.
Since the world does not like to think so, there is a certain intemperance in the Middle East, almost as if there were some kind of insanity streak. It is actually not entirely this, but a spiritual rebellion by the Islamic, the Romanist, the Judaists and the nation of Israel, all present in the area, which brings each astray, each in his own way, into conflict, so that for none is there a common basis.
That actual common basis is uncommonly unpopular with all, but is as it has been made by God with His promises to Israel and His Gospel for all and for any; and it cannot be re-invented any more than the law of physics. Unpopularity is not a criterion of truth, reason, wisdom or justice; but often is it the mark of mere wilfulness, arbitrariness and selfish presumption. The reward for these things is suffering, and there is much to provoke and there are many to suffer it. The return to the Lord is disdained by those who would be their own lords, or invent them, and so there is no return for peace, until it is otherwise!
Iraq which was interested even to the Gulf War, in presenting air-borne missiles for Israel, and made it clear it was still since 1948 at war with Israel, has been largely dismantled, its power reduced, its calamity apparent amid the horrors of Saddam Hussein's incredible seeming tortures and despotic rule; and warring are the vying factions of an Islam which makes a new christ for itself (More Marvels ... Ch. 4), on no small scale; and these continue, even now.
Iran, now seemingly falsely governed through a misused election process, expresses through its President a desire for the extermination of Israel, while anxiously extending its powers to make atomic bombs (for whatever purpose the preliminaries may be made, they DO extend such powers). It is like Sennacherib of old and seems a worthy successor to his temper (as seen in Isaiah 37). Indeed, in the context of the cited biblical passages concerning this matter, above, the retort of the Lord may indeed resemble not a little, that given to Isaiah in his day. This is to be read in Isaiah 37:22ff..
It commences thus: "The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn."
Like Iran now, he then threatened Israel, Jerusalem with abrasive self-satisfaction and intemperate scorn. Let us look back and see what happened to that orally blasting potentate of Assyria.
The account proceeds after his arrogant antics to disrupt, corrupt, conquer Israel (II Chronic les 32). The Lord then subjects the soon-to-be-ruined Sennacherib to an investigation and summarily both in word and deed, puts him in place. That was then. What of now ? To be sure, Israel is not yet believing in the Lord, as a nation, but the Lord has His plans of sequence and replacement and has carried them out to this point to the letter (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9).
At what point in the clock of chronology do we find ourselves now, in this our own day ? Israel is back, Jerusalem is back with it, the nations are in ruinous ructions, the whole scene is as described by Christ for the end of the age (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5); and now we have this 'Assyrian' adventurism as foretold; and the result will be likewise, as surely as it asks for it. It is sad, to be sure; and this teaches people to hold fast to freedom when they get it, lest foolish dictators (through legal means or direct) should direct the nation into more or less open rebellion against the Lord.
This could readily happen in Australia, if the present atheist contender for the role of PM, should gain power and not have the wings clipped by the Senate; for the Labour Party's intention to have an internet filter, with reference to the Rejected Classification procedures currently in place, MEANS that unless there is substantial change in the ambition to rule people's tongues, Bible speech could be stung by angry rules, internet expression covered by fines and criminal concern, and the nation forego the current marvel of free speech and safeguarded religious belief which, though viciously compromised in practice in schools*2 is yet still substantially in force.
How often are we assured of the things which 'cannot happen' before they do, and often with little enough apology at that!
Thus, to revert, the Middle East is in place as foretold, amid angry nations.
THE DEFAULT LINE AND THE ULTIMATE OUTCOME
With Israel, however, there is the predicted return to the Lord, as in Micah 7 and Zechariah 12, Ezekiel 36-37 and Deuteronomy 32, and with that, for one as for all, the coming rule with the Lord returning to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14), not for one nation but for all. Yet He will in that day, sustain a peace amid His people, whether where He placed that nation, Israel, or with any other (Zephaniah 3:14-20), and will be the Rock of all who believe.
Thus will He show a mercy for which He longed, now at one with His people drawn back in their land, as with all from every and any nation, who come to the world which He has made, and now conform to the word which He gave. Over this world, according to that word, will He rule for a last millenial period*3, He will rule till the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14), a transformation as utter as that of the babe from the womb, coming to the light of common day! (Isaiah 11, 65, Psalm 72).
Only the Lord will be glorified (Isaiah 2:17), but in His glory is His will, and in His goodness there is yet peace to be found, where truth is now never more exchanged for a lie, though in the end, before the final assizes, some will try to the end!
But what of the present ?
As to the Gentile peoples now, increasingly, they are putting up a brave show, as if being reduced to ruin were a natural force! Through long and intensive missionary work over the centuries, many have received grace and truth in Christ Jesus and some, using much of this wisdom and vision have become great. Yet now, not a few such as Australia, the USA and in England, can hardly run fast enough from the Bible and the only work of salvation which the God who made only one design for man physically, has likewise made spiritually. So fervent is that retreat, that it is as if their very lives were depending on this inane scurrying, when in fact it is their deaths: and in much, eternal deaths at that! (John 3:36).
Like Israel of old, they are bounding and abounding in wickednessness and breach of covenant. In the Gentile case, it is breach of the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:5), given in the beginning to mankind (Genesis 3) and confirmed through the ages in Christ. That, now in its consummation in the Gospel, is one available for one as for all, and there is no other, for there is no other God, and no other proclamation; and this is intensive, extensive, exclusive, the truth which will not bend (Galatians 1:6-9, Daniel 7, Acts 4:11-12). It is spread abroad through His first coming: it proceeds from the same Lord who made all nations, whose face Israel as a nation has hit (Micah 5:1), while the Gentiles as many nations, increasingly seek to merge it into mist, or to have it fade in some museum, while the divinely ordered power of creation is grabbed for other pursuits.
In Australia, we find three political parties, one with a Romanist, one with an atheist, one with a homosexual orientation, as if to make the point so that the blind might see! (cf. SMR 1032-1088H, I Timothy 1, I Corinthians 4-5, Isaiah 44-46). In England news is that a new bishop is being pondered whose sexual activities are as condemned in the Bible, and this an active and open thing, as if in order to see if the Anglican body can be finally split, though the case has been large enough for long *4, to split any sound fruit!
Since all this has come to pass, let us use the privilege of history, and examine the three galling, appalling (on the one side) and glorious and kindly (on the other side) cases: the first two, in the evil mode, the third in the good. These are those of Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar and Christ. Three kings, two mortal one immortal, three ways: consider it well.
ONE - THE BOMBASTIC SENNACHERIB
Sennacherib seems to have felt roughly like some break-neck galloper on the swiftest steed imaginable, devouring the earth, overcoming hills, leaping through valleys, exhilarated with the sweat, far from the tears, clad in a carnal joy, a fierce felicity. His nation was cruel and vehement (Nahum 1:14, 3:1, 4, I8-19). He was lofty and conniving, sending his servant Rabshakeh to converse in Hebrew so that his threats might be heard by the people, appealing also to the people to defect and find (as equally nebulously did the Communist rebels in Russia in 1917) land for themselves and good conditions (Isaiah 36:16). Such was the snare to trap the weary in Israel, so like that to trap the defeated Russian soldiers in 1917. In both cases, the ancient and the modern, Intimidatory tactics were used to cower the people. In his own domain, however, Rabshakeh, with all this cunning, made a fatal mistake.
"What confidence," he asked, "is this in which you trust.
I say you speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words.
Now in whom do you trust that you rebel against me ?"
One might have thought he had them in his hand, that they were morally outrageous for NOT SUBMITTING to him. Such is ever the work of bullies, so well captured in cartoon format in Calvin and Hobbes. Such, in the adult and spiritual world, is the war of the godless tyrant, whatever his religious affinities, with the thoughts of his scheming heart and plotting mind. There have been many like him, this Sennacherib, but he assuredly dared to confront Israel concerning the God of their nation at a time when they had a godly King of some distinction and much devotion. This was Hezekiah, who went to the temple and prayed, spreading the matter out before the Lord, who soon answered. Israel tossed its head at this arrogant predator! That was the thrust of the reply, given through Isaiah (37).
Our interest here lies chiefly in this, what the LORD was doing in all of this! That is the most important question; and when nations ignore it, it is to their peril, sooner or later, either in defeat or in arrogance and rancour, leading to more war. In the prediction of Isaiah 10, covering the case of Assyria in several dimensions, we find this, "Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger ... I will send him against an ungodly nation..." Thus God was at first using Assyria to punish Israel for revolting sins of burning children in crazed religious ceremonies to a nature godlet, inequity, violence, murder and adultery (cf. II Kings 17, II Chronicles 36).
Such things rose and fell during phases of the kingdom in ancient Israel, often rising up like vast, impelling waves in the deep, to shatter much (Zephaniah 3:1-5, Amos 5:12-15, II Kings 17:7-18, II Chronicles 36:11ff.), and the Lord did not ignore it. Even His paths of mercy they adulterated, the coming generation they burned or misled, gods became like playthings and spiritual adultery became a way of life. Thus the composite became a way of death.
Hence it was not this or that pagan King who dealt with them, ultimately, but God, who ENSURED that evil though such kings usually were, yet their malignancy would be used like a cane. Thus Assyria is called as we see above, "rod of My anger"!
We see in Isaiah 10, King Sennacherib flying about in his imperious, militant rage, seeking to destroy and intimidate on all sides (10:8-11). However the Lord ensures that he gives no small attention to Israel in particular.
"I will give him charge,"
the Lord declares,
"to seize, to spoil and to take prey
and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so..."
Citing His anger against Israel for all the chronic distortions of life and commandments and the ways of the Lord, the Lord directs the thoughts of the pagan king, thus to surge into Israel.
Thus while thinking himself free in his evil designs, apt in his military power, this poor, regal instrument of divine chastisement on Israel (and many other nations, as in Jeremiah 25), is himself watched as he works; and the one who was the rod of God's anger to correct and awaken Israel, becomes in his own turn, an object of castigation. It is whittled; nay, it is snapped as a twig!
Thus the Lord first handles Assyria, directing it general evil intents to a specific target, not least in Israel, and then hands it to him, that is curse and judgment for his arrogance, pride and presumption. That vehemence and viciousness, arrogance and pretence, manipulation of truth as through Rabshakeh and propaganda warfare, that cunning and contrivance, it was his own creation; the Lord merely directed his thoughts to Israel. Indeed, the idolatrous Northern part of Israel, long since split from Judah in the South, was smitten like Autumn leaves by a tornado, depopulated of its Jewish people and repopulated with aliens. How brave, thorough, what an apparent determinant of history, was this Sennacherib with his Rabshakeh, a sort of combination in modern terms, of Goering and Goebbels for his Hitler role in the ancient world! How admirable! How the flesh should creep at this massive Assyrian power!
Really ? Are we then to be as children, and ignore the Berlin Bunker for the boaster ? the end of the matter for the religious philosopher about race and Darwinian survival! There was such an end, for that philosophy means nothing, since someone has to continue, and this vile violence generates nothing, if not the continuance of guile and grandiosity. Creation of what is good in engineering or morals, this requires effort; and information whether for the technical or the spiritual. It requires an informer, not an informant. Obvious as it is that classified and classifiable concepts and operational functionalities require input at their own level, in order to function, and that intellectual traceries which can be traced by intellects, are not products of non-intelligence, Information Science has to acknowledge the thing empirically. Sorted scenarios of directive orders, informative contents classified symbolically for reading, do not make themselves from what lacks these powers and properties. They have to be ordered by what has the relevant powers of ordering in this mode*4A.
When the Eternal Creator, always there so that anything, logically, might ever be there, acts to create man, in body, mind and spirit, and to create the world for him, and the astral worlds for His exhibits, and the meeting of mind over matter to investigate it logically, and spirit to endeavour, discern and direct, it is not that this action of His might be slighted, or its product, man, evacuated from responsibility to Him who made it, whenever he feels like it. Down go the Sennacheribs, and up comes the lesson for any latter-day 'Assyrian' monarchs, whether Hussein or Ahmadinejad or other, who treads in the path of Sennacherib, notionally, expansively, glorying in his religion of power or whatever other thing does not show the evidential marks of deity*5!
There is always a certain pity one feels for Macbeth, and loathing for Lady Macbeth, before even for her there is a quiet sorrow, that she who misdirected him was so misdirected; and yet, we are not gods, and choosing evil is abusing truth, righteousness and life, and the end, except mercy comes from the self-attesting God of the Bible, is sure. It is not otherwise for a nation, though mercy may for a time disguise it; for righteousness uplifts a nation, while sin is a reproach to any people, so that not only misled sovereigns, but misled people, however democratically they mislead themselves, have only themselves to blame.
Indeed, it is the more so when as with Australia, England, and Europe, the USA, for example, much of truth has been set forth with great suffering by many for long, and even nations have in this or that way shown accord with the truth of Christ, but they then as is smitten by some spiritual virus, decline as if dynamised to destruction. While it may be countermanded before it is too late, many have gone this way. They arise, they find wonder in the Lord, to this or that extent, implement it nationally to this or the other degree, and even THEN, going forward without a compass is chosen.
That seems to have been the way, if not the slogan, not only in Britain in its new radicalism, but in the USA with its (once more) NEWNESS, going ahead (but where, where!); and now it is even WITH the infamous slogan, coming near the tape in Australia. It is going forward into the dim distance, where the word of God becomes increasingly unknown, unhallowed, its morals exempted from attention, while devilish doctrines are taught to children*2, things alien to demonstration, verification or exhibition! That is, as it has been, the direction of flow of the now increasingly marshy stream of consciousness push ahead, as if a chasm were to open, and the stability of truth were seen in the dusty distance, and Go ahead! full steam, were the cry, as it evidently was in the likewise misled mind of the Captain of the Titanic. We have a time for arrival to KEEP, so put on the extra engine power and surge through the ice, so long as only one thing is done, this, that we go ahead.
Ahead ? yes to the dead.
Direction is in all things paramount, as is destiny; and deliberation with mere dynamic is a dying phenomenon.
Alas, woe the day, as they used to say so eloquently, grievous is this unthankfulness, rank ingratitude for the goodness of God who did so much for so many nations for so long, only to be dumped in large measure by the powers-that-be, however many may yet love the Lord in those nations at the individual level. Do we not feel grief, amazement or astonishment when some youngster looked after with care and solicitude, given a good education and home, then becomes a self-destroying, indulgent pet of philosophy, fool of folly's brigade', and sets upon his life as though he were a brigand, to destroy it while enjoying the process, going forward into folly as if it were his alma mater, and snuggling up to sin as if it had made him!
It is not otherwise with the nations; and their end to this escapade, growing as if in some kind of anti-moral cyclotron, in its departing whirl, is as marked in the word of God in Matthew 24, Luke 21, II Thessalonians 2, I Thessalonians 1, Isaiah 2 and 24; while the finality is as in II Peter 3, and myths are propagated as in II Timothy 4, amid a moral inferno, as in II Timothy 3.
WHY is this all happening ? people ask, not only at this level, but at so many others in seeming, teeming and even teaming parallel ? WHY did Sennacherib the mighty, the wonder of his day (in his own boastful estimation), declaring of his exploits that he was putting godly King Hezekiah into a cage (metaphorically - meaning, surrounding Jerusalem as if it were to become a prison for him), yet FAIL to take Jerusalem ? and why did he have to return without this trophy, this Britain if you will, a land not yielding to the lacerations of a Hitler! WHY did this arrogant potentate fail, and why did he end so ingloriously, smitten in the temple by his own kith and kin! as history records.
It is because there is an end to moral adventurism, godless making of little gods, self-carving of careers as if by black dwarfs in the night, enveloped in their own burnt-up atmospherics, nothing left but proceeding forward, into the lostness of hell. Mercy may distance it, longsuffering in the Lord may delay, patience may persist, but the end comes when the plan proceeds, and does not stop.
By the nose as Isaiah declared in 37:22ff/, did this bull of a ruler go back from his deranged ambition, back to his site, his place, in due course to be murdered in a religious setting, as if to make a final comment on his delusion of mind and spirit and heart!
But then ? The Lord directed His thoughts to the Assyrian army investment of Jerusalem, and acted, as He will act in His time, in coming days (cf. II Thessalonians 1), in a finale, and earlier epitomes of intervention to come, as in Micah 7, Ezekiel 38-39, Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 66.
What then of the Assyria of that day ? Will an axe boast itself against the one who chops with it ? the Lord asks (Isaiah 10:15), as He reviews the absurd notions of Sennacherib, who had been claiming it was by his own power and prowess that he had destroyed various nations with their gods (Isaiah 10:8-11). Certainly, they were as wood to his flame, for they were but the infested thoughts of deluded men, and those who trusted in such idols, as the Psalmist declares, are like them! (Psalm 94:4-12, 115:8): stultified, they resemble the useless.
Boast! the Lord denounces (10:15), it is in the case of the taunting, vaunting King of Assyria, "as if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up!" After all, the Lord used Assyria for His purpose, and now its irrational reliance on itself becomes a taunt to Him, and its inclusion of Jerusalem in its parade of powerless entities with powerless gods reaches critical mass for an explosion!
This devastation, gift of God to Assyria, occurred in one day as predicted (10:17), in one sudden, decisive, dispersive rout: the amazing destruction of Sennacherib's army being one of history's impelling events (II Kings 19:35-37). Although in the Sennacherib prism, we find much boasting, as fits with that imperious monarch, yet even in his boasting, that Hezekiah had been shut up like a bird in its prison, there is no question that Jerusalem was saved. Moreover, the boastful monarch was indeed killed by his own people, family, and richly did he deserve it, however wanton the morals of those who accomplished it. If evil lodge in man, cannot the Lord direct it! Does the axe ask for morning tea ?
So Judah escaped. So the desire to exterminate Israel, shared it seems by the new Assyrian, this Ahmadinejad, it fell. Israel stayed. The reason was simple then as now. GOD had a purpose already expounded in depth in the Bible, shown from Genesis 12, 15, 17, onwards, essentialised in Isaiah 43:21, made Messianic from Genesis 3:15, made particular in Isaiah 2, 7, 9, 12, 22, 29-30, 32, 35, 40-42, 49-55, 60-61, for example, as in Psalm 2, 16, 22, 40-41, 69, 72,110, as in Zechariah 6, 11-14, as in Jeremiah 16 with 23 and 31, and so on and on; and He chose to execute His word, as Joel tells us, as Isaiah insists, as history exhibits, He does!
TWO - THE AUGURIES OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR
So what is the surprise ? He said it, He said He meant it, He said He would do it to the last detail (Matthew 5:19ff., Isaiah 44-45), that His knowledge was absolute and His will ineluctable (though mercy could distil the evil and pardon promote peace when repentance came), that His determinate declarations would be done. So they are, right to the currency of all our new Sennacheribs, whether Mussolini with his Ethiopians, Hitler with his Jews, or Islamic militants with their butcheries.
Israel continues not because (as when it was chosen), it is numerous or astounding (Deuteronomy 7:7ff.); but because it is so appointed, to give
first, the post-flood faith its
centre and a terrestrial source,
then the exhibitions of the power
and mercy of God
then prophetic detail, to show that
it was not Israel that gained this
next, a land for the Messiah to
enter, for mercy, having shown his sufferings
then the miraculous in His life and
in His resurrection,
then the sending of His Holy Spirit
in the testimony to all nations (Luke 24, Acts 2),
then the restoration to its
God-given land physically, to Israel, and Jerusalem with it,
then the scope for a nation, Israel, to be restored in great measure, suddenly, spiritually,
only this last yet to come in its time, for which the historical data are now ... ready!*5A
God having stated His purpose, and in Christ having declared that the restoration of Jerusalem to Israel would be a signal that the Age of the Gentiles was passing to oblivion (Luke 21:24), is carrying it out. Quite a few will rise and fall in the process, and are currently doing so.
But it is time to come to our second tyrant, the famous Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar.
If Sennacherib was permitted to ruin the Northern site of Israel, Samaria, that famed and chronically idolatrous segment, yes that imperiously arrogant site for altars of golden CALVES
(of all things! - as if to hark back to the former period of Egyptian slavery with nostalgia, while provoking the Lord with a naturalism*6 as rank and foolish as that which rules the religious defilements of many a University and nation*2 today in its magical approach to biology),
what of Judah ?
To this we will shortly come. What indeed! And if Sennacherib was ruined in his effort to generalise power and subject the godly Hezekiah in his Jerusalem to ruin, as if God were one of the naturalistic navel-gazers that pre-occupied the mindless meanders of fallen man, what became of Nebuchadnezzar when he had completed his own assignment, this time concerning a now fallen Judah ? What became of him when God answered, in His own time and way, the waywardness of the preening picture of puny might!
What is it like ? It is like some student who does well in his courses, while having numerous illegitimate affairs, populating the earth with unbidden children, who then must face maintenance!
Let us rehearse the political, national scene. Hezekiah had humbled himself BEFORE GOD, when the mighty tyrant of Assyria sought to confront and smash him and his 'gods'. Indeed, a little oddity is this, that in his endeavours to humiliate and subject Hezekiah to his sovereignty and his 'gods' to his scorn, the Assyrian King made the point through Rabshakeh, his mouth. His theme ? it was that there was no point in trusting in the Jewish King, or his god, for had not he, the King of Judah himself, REDUCED the worship centres for this very god, so there was nothing to hope for, from that divine source! Thus he sought to whittle if not white-out faith.
Propaganda, whether in current universities on the topic of God-the-Creator-Redeemer, or elsewhere always has this liability. So great is the desire, so vast the delusion, that facts tend to be forgotten, and amid mythical powers being invoked which NEVER (repeat NEVER once) can be shown to be operative to the experimental eye, there is a certain looseness of talk. In FACT, Hezekiah did not have a god, comparable with those created objects of veneration, made by the nations, each for his own, some sharing some of these erratic creations which DO NOT help. Indeed, Jeremiah lampoons such (Jeremiah 10:11). Hezekiah to the contrary, with many of his people, were sincerely bent on worshipping the one and only God, alone source of verifiable and validatable truth*7. Hence Sennacherib was taking God on, to use the vernacular, and not just Hezekiah.
This is sure to have unfortunate consequences, for though patience and mercy can be toyed with ... yet God is not a toy, nor does He toy with things, love and mercy being something entirely different, with beneficence in view.
Yet He does act, yes He does, as He did after the crucifixion, giving Israel a generation for their time, on Jerusalem. That was to come later. Back in the day of haunted, hunted Sennacherib, to be murdered at the last, however, there is to be heard from him, this taunt, this vaunting, dauntless defiance of God! The case did not fit well: the Lord of Israel was at that time, in them being served, and the Lord saw fit to answer in two ways. He was resolved both to deliver Jerusalem, which Sennacherib for all the propaganda, never took, and proceed even to give reason for the withdrawal of the forces of that King, in the form of a vast reduction in the size of his army! The bull was indeed led back through a hook in its nostrils, as Isaiah in the name of the Lord had foretold, in answer to the subversive propaganda and intimidatory threatenings of the thundering King.
It was Dunkirk with a difference: the army of Britain was then rescued, one way; but with Sennacherib on the threshold of Jerusalem, it was his own invasive army which was reduced. It could be done either way - increase the one, or reduce the other. For the Assyrian, it was like some of the much advertised weight loss procedures; but his imperial weight was reduced suddenly, a thing the strategists so often forget, when dealing with the territory being moved by Him who is divine (II Kings 19:35-37). The funeral of ambition is so briefly noted there. It can yet have many echoes!
But had Hezekiah REALLY reduced the places of worship of the Lord in the land, and so insulted the Lord as Rabshakeh declared ? Far from it.
In fact, Hezekiah had REMOVED FALSE AND UNAUTHORISED places of worship, Israel having one temple site and centre for this ceremonial task and opportunity*8 (cf. II Chronicles 29ff., esp. 31). The preceding King Ahaz, a veritable wonder of equivocation and subtle unspirituality, clad in religious terms (as in Isaiah 7), while idols were imported and such even used to violate the sanctity of the temple, had left much to be stricken out, destroyed, much paganism. This was done in a vital work of reformation on the part of the new King, Hezekiah. In this, he was most vigorous on accession, acting decisively to purge these pollutions. It was a remarkable effort. Thus Sennacherib's jibe was not only wrong; it focussed on a strength as if it were a weakness! It showed up his ignorance, cynicism and carelessness.
As to the actual religious work in this field, on the part of Hezekiah, instead of offering insult to the one GOD whom they served, it was the exact opposite. This was purging pollution, axing arrogance, depleting departure, working revival and reformation, not insult to the deity! Assyria got it wrong, the secular-mysticism of erratic rant coming like a blast of desert wind, into the Rock of Israel, which through this King was being honoured indeed. Thus the rant of Rabshakeh, that their god would not help them, in THAT case, was precisely wrong. Rather, for this cleansing from ecclesiastical sin, He would help them all the more; and He did! Righteousness DOES exalt a nation.
Not only so, God did two opposite things for two opposite cases, and each was apposite. He led Samaria with its idolatries be strewn through the nations, in ruin and exile; while He delivered Judah, having revival in the land of the Temple, to the South: and both of these national events came through that very same monarch, that very same junta. Not only so, the Lord did so having predicted the same (as in Isaiah 10), and declared what He would do direct to the Assyrian forces (Isaiah 37), through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah. Nor is this all, moreover, for He even indicated the drab defeat that would come, the suddenness, the humiliation!
We move on. That is past. NOW time has passed, over a century. Judah comes into a very different scene, having had in Manasseh, who followed King Hezekiah, one of the most atrocious seducers from spirituality one could imagine: he seemed to make an art form, an artistry of prodigies, in his decline and fall (II Chronicles 33). After him, King Josiah had come into his blessed revival and reformation (II Chronicles 34); but the descent was now established.
The Lord showed this great King, Josiah, a deep mercy: astonishingly it came through an early death in battle, so that he would never see the shame and shambles to come to his nation (II Chronicles 34:15-27, 35:20ff.). The nation however lurched into swift-moving follies, weak and willowy; and wanton and foolish kings followed as if to operatic cue. Isaiah had warned of what would follow (Isaiah 13); and although this work of Babylon, which would both destroy what remained of Assyria and ruin Judah, would itself be followed by Babylon's OWN ruin at the hands of Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13:17ff., as in Daniel 8): yet Judah had now to face desolation.
That was by this time, after so much mercy, such profound defence, such marvels of power, the awesome fact.
Jeremiah pled and pleaded anew with them as in Jeremiah 1-17, offering mercies so tender, making provisions in the name of the Lord so spectacular (as in the call to the monarch to repent in time - Jeremiah 13:15ff., as in the Sabbath offer of Jeremiah 17), that it was as if Jerusalem was deafened by the din of its illicit desires. It was as if it could hear NOTHING, however explosive. Alas, when this happens, it is often what is in literal fact explosive, that follows! How many are the nations which have the grace of God given in prodigious measure, as in Britain, the USA, parts of Europe, which then MUST carry on as if witless, woefully serving or being seduced by or showing 'respect' for what defiles, till the Berlin Bunker episode awaits their desolation, or an upside-down slain Mussolini, or a Twin Tower desolation, or a smitten London; and how sad it all is. It is rebellion which as shown in Ch. 1 above, is like taking whiskey for an ulcer, and slitting the wrists for more strength, while in combat!
Thus had Judah come to its time. There was no more deliverance. It WOULD not listen! (cf. Isaiah 6). The Northern kingdom, Israel as now so-named, had received its 'reward', and now the South, Judah, was waiting for ... recognition of its spiritual atrocities. Indeed, they were not spiritual only, but included all that such prophets as Zephaniah declared (Zeph. 1 and 3).
Look just for a peek:
"Her princes in her midst are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves,
that leave not a bone to morning.
Her prophets are treacherous, insolent people;
her priests have polluted the sanctuary.
They have done violence to the law."
How like so many nowadays, is this trend to those who do violence to the word of God, to justice and to equity! In Amos 2:6ff., you see the extravagant ethical and social corruption for Israel, and alas, as described in Ezekiel 20, you find that Judah at length seemed almost to want to EXCEL the fallen Samaria, to the North, in its corruption.
The end had to come; and it did. Alas for Judah, it was not only corrupt; it also disfigured the testimony of truth for which all of Israel had in the first place been brought to its land!
We see in Ezekiel 21 a most revealing scene. It is almost like a Shakespearean soliloquy, except for this, that it is a sight to which we are given access, rather than words. We now see the Babylonian killer-bee, Nebuchadnezzar, the next axe appointed for a divine use, and he is considering whether to attack one country or another. The other ... it is Israel. There he is at the cross-roads. Can you see him ?
What will he do ? Keil, in the remarkably scholarly Old Testament Commentary series of Keil and Delitzsch, gives a quite fascinating account of the various means of divination, the auguries, the canny ways of conducting sacrificial and lottery type approaches before taking a large decision.
There is the army, there is the sovereign, there are his thoughts. Ezekiel, made privy to the scene, is instructed by the Lord to make a little visual aid, displaying the two ways that the King of Babylon might take. As the Lord reveals to the prophet things shortly to come, wee Nebuchadnezzar, the latest in tyrants, the choices before him, as he moves to terrorise territory. It is in the normal mode of rambunctious folly, so frequently followed, as the earth trembles in its wake, not at the power, but at the ruin. Look! in his right hand we see from the words of Ezekiel, there is an indication ? What does it say ? Has he drawn a directive to attack one nation or another ? Why look, it is to attack Jerusalem!
But will he do it ? that is the question. He is reluctant at first.
Were there not sacred vows of restraint, did he not himself appoint a certain King over a smitten Judah, some time before, and was this not a treaty ? Surely he could not attack vassalised Judah ? But yes he could! You can almost hear the mental machine moving its parts, as the idea leaps to the mind. Had not this same King of Judah (at that time Zedekiah) BROKEN the covenant, and had he not been treacherous (as in II Kings 24:20)! Surely it was no false divination that showed them that they should take Jerusalem! Far from it! Off we go then!
It is a picturesque little scene; but not picturesque was the consequence. Jerusalem was ruined, just as Jeremiah had sought to prevent; for its unrepentance was astonishing, and its immovable heart of stone was to meet its crushing. The Lamentations of Jeremiah shows just how much it was smitten, and preaches once and for all to the world, of the folly of faithlessness. It is not that some king is telling us to do this and that, in some imperious nonsense, for this, rather, is the result of folly. It is against God Himself that the immoral, the inequitable, the unethical, the lustful and the adulterous, the fornicatory and the unnatural, the insidious if imaginative unspirituality, the sheer ungodliness is brought to bear!
Whatever else would one expect, then, in the end, when even mercy is spent and the divine face gets spittle or indifference! Look at the words of Jude, esp. v. 15, as the perspective is brought to mind, for considering such things. Listen:
"Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these man also, saying,
'Behold the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,
to execute judgment on all,
to convict all who are ungodly among them
of all their ungodly deeds
which they have committed in an ungodly way,
and of all the harsh things
which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.' "
Nebuchadnezzar had a riot, that is, a time to satisfy the most elaborate notions of grandeur! He first starved and then ruined Jerusalem. He took Jewish cadets of intelligence from Judah to Babylon, to adorn and fortify his regime. He wallowed in triumph. However, both mercy and judgment once more strode into the imperial camp.
Daniel, the youth now in exile, undergoing training, grew wise, as he waited on the Lord. He learned to fear the Lord with zeal, to attend to Him in prayer with zest, to live with grace. He became outstanding so that when the all-prevailing (or so it might almost have seemed) master Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, and in a furious contempt for all his various wise men, sorceries and interpreters of 'things', he determined that they should show him what it meant, opportunity came. The Lord used Daniel. Let none be afraid when things seem to quiet in serving the Lord; wait on Him, wait again on Him, and He is the One who acts for the one who waits for Him (Isaiah 64:5).
What then happened to Daniel, when this opportunity came ? First we see that it did not come with flowers, but with the offer of immediate death. Opportunity has its ways. The wise tribe, the specialists in wisdom, they would be deleted from the earth if the dream were not known and interpreted.
Thus there was a proviso, about SEEING that the interpretation of the monarch's dream would be a true one and not mere self-serving squawk-talk from the pedants. They had to find out what it was BEFORE they interpreted it, and HE, for his part, the King, he was not saying.
Certainly, it was a stringent test. If they were so wise, if they had contact - to his mind - with the gods, then let them SHOW it so, that he might know it experimentally, and not just be the dupe of a religious ravagement, like some territory of his own, which he subdued in military style. A commander of men had spoken. Let them show the dream AND its meaning!
You get this sort of thing, one finds, from the paranoid mind, this intemperance, this suddenness, this unreasonableness; yet in his case, there was not lacking SOME ground for frustration, since in fact, his wise men were not wise, and did not know the actual source of wisdom, the Lord. But Daniel did. The young cadet had this infinite difference from the Chaldeans: he DID know God. It is not just that this counts: it overcomes, overthrows all counting. HIS understanding is infinite (Psalm 145:4ff., 147:5.
Hence, calling on the Lord with his friends, being warned by a friendly official of the death penalty just near, if these cadets and the cadre of wise men failed, Daniel was shown mercy where it counts, from God, and with it, both the dream which the King had had, and its interpretation. It was a great moment in the history of the world, as indeed had been that of the devastation of the army of frustrated and humiliated Sennacherib and the deliverance of Judah, so that it might continue its testimony right on till the time when the Messiah came to His prepared nest, and even in the end, to that Jerusalem which slew Him! and this ... all according to the prophetic plan (Isaiah 49-55). God is very wonderful and it is great to know Him (cf. John 14).
There is, however, as these monarchs could learn, only one way to do this, that is, by finding Him WHERE He is and HOW He declares. Is it so surprising ? is not even the Queen of England available WHERE she is and HOW she declares ? Is the fact that God is infinitely wise, and has power as shown in our DNA and minds and spirits, so prodigious that we by contrast seem almost as infants*9, 4A, not able to penetrate! To know God is the acme of privilege and the content of joy.
Daniel knew Him, and told the King the dream and its meaning, and he did this for one salient reason. GOD first told it to him, being careful of his prayerful saints, Daniel and his friends in exile. The young cadet was careful to ascribe such knowledge and wisdom to the operation of the only God! (Daniel 2), and not to any wisdom of his own. What then was the content of this troublesome dream of the King ?
The young prophet related it. It concerned a succession of empires*1, which Daniel was enabled to specify even further later (as in Daniel 7-9), leading on to the Messiah. Nebuchadnezzar, in this almost scientific, was willing to listen to the evidence, a thing one could wish for many in this our own century, when it comes to the Bible and logic.
However, pride will out, if it is not surrendered; and soon the same monarch built a huge golden statue of State, and all had to worship there. The friends of Daniel, at that time brought into focus, refused and were to be incinerated, but the fires did not work their purpose out as the King desired, since once more, the Lord, faithful even in the exile of His people, was resolute in action. Thus a further revelation met the astonished eyes of the misled monarch (Daniel 3). This further marvel also amazed the King and he honoured the God of these three.
Alas, it is so poignant. One hopes for better things, but behold, worse. Will he really learn ? Did HE make the most of his own new opportunity for faith and realism, to find his own mercy, where it was needed, within his heart, put there by God, as was the dream for Daniel; for God is not limited ? No, it was not to be so; for he mused on his own greatness.
Let us see it happening. Nebuchadnezzar now has another dream. This one is personal. Going to his trusted spiritual resource for wisdom, to Daniel, set it seems as a sort of spiritual ambassador by the Lord, to help the devastating (and soon to be devastated) Babylon to its senses, the King now receives a personal warning before a time of judgment. It was in type, as in the case where Jeremiah spoken to the King of Israel (Jeremiah 13), if only he would listen in time, and give glory to the Lord before darkness would come (as it literally did for that king).
This time Daniel simply is enabled to find from the hand of the Lord, the meaning of the King's own dream (Daniel 4).
A great, flourishing tree, one that could hold and give shade to much as to many, is cut down. Its denizens, animal and bird, areno more able to use its shelter. The stump of it, however, is to be left in place.
This is then seen to symbolise a person. This being is to become almost like a beast, and in utter humiliation will for a period, eat grass like a beast, so that he might realise "that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the basest of men." The one ? you have it: it is the King himself, giving to Daniel a somewhat delicate diplomatic task, to interpret it. But in his usual truthful fashion, meek (in manner) yet bold (in substance) , he tells it.
Men being in sin, inherit it, and God being over all, can direct the way it moves, to help people wake up, and realise, and seek Him. There is no glory at all in flesh, in its presumption, arrogances and imaginations, drifting like lost wood in the oceanic storms, far from the Lord. Thus the perspective becomes more apparent.
The pagan King, Nebuchadnezzar listened. Here was a new heraldic: it was not to glory, or for it, but toward ignominy. Daniel advised wisdom to the king, in his conduct, for the prolongation of his peace.
Again, it was not to be so; but the contrary occurred. After a time (perhaps to allow repentance), there was Nebuchadnezzar, strutting about in Babylon, contentedly telling himself of all his own might, works, accomplishments. Then the stroke fell. Then the animal-like humiliation came to him, and indeed he ate grass, till the period set was over, at which, as in the dream, he resumed his kingly role, and what a testimony to the Lord he gave (Daniel 4:34ff.). His mind went, his knees bent, and he stooped as if a mere animal. Then his reason was restored and he made no small testimony to the God of Daniel! (Daniel 4:34ff.).
It was a little later, in the days of a later King, Belshazzar, that the Kingdom fell as foretold by Daniel, to the Medes and Persians, as likewise predicted by this prophet (Ch. 8). Indeed, it was as predicted by Isaiah, for the Medes indeed felled the Babylonian of might.
In all this, as to be expected from the Most Wise and Only God, what was stated, for the reasons stated, happened: the mighty were used, and fell, and Israel, for all its sins, seemingly in an impossible position, tried, punished, appealed to, hardened, suffering, exiled, smitten: being restored, continued.
It was because God had a purpose for it, as stated, that it did so; and so as it was to be, it came to be. So did Israel even in exile find use from the Lord, and it continued till the Christ came. Indeed, when as predicted no less, Christ did come, He gave further instruction. As He showed, Israel would indeed not depart till all the things predicted had happened. Indeed, Jerusalem after His own death, would be ruined (Matthew 24 - as it was by Rome), but this was by no means the end for that nation. Jew on cue would be the reality: back to Jerusalem would they come after the destruction so intense from Rome (as in Matthew 24:1ff., Luke 19:42ff., 21:24). it was WHEN this last happened, its eve.ntual return, that the entire Age of the Nations, that of the Gentiles, would be coming to its end.
That is now. Like the chiming of the midnight hour, it has come with solemn tones. The Jews buy land (often statedly at huge prices) from Arabs without much interest in it, develop it, come to be a majority in Jerusalem, there is war, they as obviously finished as before Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, and as clearly are not left dead after all, and even win in 1948, and in 1967, till Jerusalem IS theirs and they ARE back. This was the other option: Hitler meant, with no small might, to exterminate them, as one might cockroaches. However, though having an A for effort, he had a zero for pride and cruelty of extraordinary proportions, and the time of Jacob's sorrow, foretold by Jeremiah in 30-31, passed; but the people did not pass.
There they are now in Jerusalem, and strange are those nations which now seek to lessen still further their land, and increase still more the treachery to the solemn and international agreement made in the Balfour Declaration, at first just British, but then transformed by the victorious nations as the 1920's came into being. It is dangerous to toy with divine business (cf. Zechariah 12); but some, they WILL not learn, and sorry indeed*10 is one to see which nations now seem almost inclined to dictate to Jerusalem*11.
A WARNING IN ALL GOOD WILL
Indeed, there must be a warning to such as the Madrid Quartet, to Europe and the USA, to Australia, in different manners for their policies on the Middle East, in dedicated directions to Israel, made perhaps without wishing to appear quite dictatorial, indications of their desires in the flagrant fashion which uninformed propaganda entrepreneurs can develop, influencing many.
There are many who have taken it upon themselves to ignore God, banish the Bible, obscure or virtually obliterate the clearest of destinies as defined in that Bible, mock at the revealed will of God, ignoring the historical statistics of occupancy of Jerusalem as well; and many have been the jaws that have broken on this nut. A world of humanistic ideas, melded with convenience, devoid of the God who made thought possible, morals mandatory, human life more than a dream without a dreamer, is merely one throwing rockets not just as at the innocent, or blasting buses of school-children with sovereign indifferent: it is one in contest with the Almighty.
Why then should its people suffer by
re-writing history, ignoring the Maker of ALL lands, and sponsoring the
terrorist brigade, who want Israel to have even less of the Palestine
grant made by the League of Nations, for a homeland, than now they have,
desiring by their own power, in effect, to invade Jerusalem once more with
manacles of international pressure, and to make fools of the people they
represent. Such follies will not prevail, but one is saddened to see such
movements, which are not likely to escape the divine reward for their
presumption, making more nations in the assembly of the reconstructionists.
RESUMING OUR THREESOME, AMONG KINGS
We have, then, seen two mighty tyrants from ancient history, and their efforts in war on Israel; and covered them as prototypes and non-exemplars for others, so that they might not follow them: and this, not only out of concern for Israel, or even simply out of pity for its oppressive, aggressors, be they diplomatic or military direct (cf. Jeremiah 30:35-36). In 30:7-9, meanwhile, we see a divine undertaking, as in Isaiah 51:21-23, just before the famed Messianic passage to follow, just as we see outcomes in Micah 7 and Deuteronomy 32. For these outcomes, there are two participants, Israel and the nations; and among the latter, those who meddle and those who do not do so (Zechariah 12:1-6).
As to Israel, it is the land of those who will look upon the Lord, indeed as HE puts it, "on Me whom they pierced." We did not do that in Australia or England. It is important not to breed confusion by airy dreams, but to understand the context, of those defined within it, in all scripture as here.
Israel then comes once more into focus, in these "times of the Gentiles", terminating with Israel's restoration to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24). Meddling pompously in confused presumption in this arena is for those who desire rebuke. Let the arrogant inherit it, and the humble beware.
But first let us go to the greatest of all these things, by an incomparable margin, to the King whose mercy is endemic, whose grace is interminable and whose faithfulness is never slackened, Jesus Christ, and His sojourn on this our globe. Here it the THIRD king, One very different, to whom we must relate as we move historically onwards in this theme.
THREE - THE QUINTESSENCE OF CONCERN IN CHRIST JESUS
A new sort of sovereign came to this earth of ours. It was not without some prelude, since good kings had come before, though imperfect and limited, such as King David, Hezekiah and Josiah. It was however a totally new situation in these respects:
1) The New King was eternal, before
time (Micah 5:1-3, John 8:58).
2) His advent on earth was not his
3) His coming was for a vicarious
sacrifice, and bodily resurrection,
4) He would not promote His kingdom
by violence and oppression (John 18:36,
5) He would so display the love of
6) Though sent first to Israel, His
mission field was the world (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6).
7) He would be, as God is, without
sin (Isaiah 50, 48:16ff.).
8) His power to heal would be
notable rather than notorious,
9) His words would have power,
executive format for the works of God
10) In Him would reside the
opportunity of a sort of rest
11) Having come to save, He would at
a later stage,
This world, at least much of it, still loves Handel's Messiah at Christmas (and it is difficult to know why the one who assembled the scriptures back of it is so very much less famous for this than is Handel, though admittedly the music of the latter is a glorious thing indeed: nevertheless, the words are a simply splendid selection from the Bible!). The spirit of Christmas, that is of love and giving and kindness and renewed sensitivities to need and so forth is still given a substantial exposure in many lands. The association with Christ in this, for example, is one formality which remains, leaving all other past behind for the day.
The world of today still tends, in many parts, to relish what Christ is, whether or not (as with Ghandi), following Him. For many who are not Christian, here is a vision glorious, though the cost is for them too high: it was not so however for Christ. He PAID it.
What ? The sentence on sin is simple: its wages ? death! (Romans 6:2;3, Leviticus). However death has its approaches, its causes, its whirls and eddies in the waters leading to it. Wickedness, as we have just been seeing, is one of the most rampant of these. It can even fall to such depravity that the fear of death may be used to induce wickedness so intense that only death can meet it, and thankfully extinguish its lusts (cf. I Timothy 1).
ALL this sin Christ has gathered up, as a farmer gathers his crops; but while He vicariously bears this crop, which is a plague infested with verminous 'life', it is not done for those who wish to keep it. While He offers for all (I John 2:1ff.), as did the former High Priest in the Day of Atonement, by no means if the offer effectually received, to activate, apply and transfer its content to actuality (cf. I Timothy 4:10 with Romans 8:32). His being delivered up can affect all, be effectual for many, but not for those who reject Him, whose sin remains where it was, right (or rather wrong!) within themselves (John 8:24).
Christ does not search and destroy for all. It is offered for all, adequate for all, apt for all, but taken by only some. Thus again and again, we find His ransom, the New Covenant in His blood, is for many (Matthew 26:28ff., Daniel 12, Isaiah 53:11). It is many whom He will justify, for the justification is by faith (Romans 5:1), and by NOTHING else (Galatians 1, 5); just as it is through grace, just as the tendering miracle is compassion (Ephesians 2), and from love as the motivational instrument (as in Micah 7:19ff., John 3:16-19, I John 4:7ff.) does it come.
It is exclusively those who are HEALED, who constitute the persons of whom it is said in Isaiah 53, "on Him was laid the iniquity of us all." These are the "we" group in that Chapter. As for the group that would not have Him save them, they will be those of whom He stated this, "you will die in your sins," giving the reason, that these "do not believe in Me" (John 8:24).
THIS King came thus and for such reasons as these. It was this, that "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world," as in I John 4:14), so that "God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." The motivation, purpose and content of sending is for God most clear. It is decisively NOT to condemn anyone; but quite to the contrary. He WOULD (as in Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.), save all (as in Colossians 1:19ff.), in order to extend as far as might be within the purity of His Being, and so bring reconciliation to all things, whether in heaven or on earth.
However, not breaking the image of God in man, as love is not a Sennacherib or Nebuchadnezzar, and His purpose in Christ is rather for the reconciling of the world (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), He even here does not force. He does not, if you will, send a spiritual ambulance and force people inside by means of quick jab to the arm, which may have been used in the Russian submarine foundering case, with one of the relatives appearing to be so caught on camera!
He deals with the heart, and His intensity of love is such that not only does His kingdom not at all rely on force, as Christ instructed Pilate (John 18:36), but in His foreknowledge of the entire nexus and history of this world (Isaiah 46:8), its Alpha and Omega, He has ensured that with this His stated intent, there is to be no impediment.
What might be saved, will be; for God is both sovereign and omnipotent, and the love which was adequate so to sacrifice the Christ for mere sinners, such as dear reader, are you and I, is one which also did not baulk at losing NONE of those so found. When God is concerned NOTHING can stop Him, and what is His, that to which His love and desire for salvation may reach without breach of truth and love itself in mere acquisition, He gains. The Lord KNOWS who are His (II Timothy 2:19), a fact which Paul shows is parallel to avoiding iniquity on the part of those who are so, or claim so to be!
It is delicious that you do not need to be specially talented; and that your talents are not the criterion, though how you use them relates; but even this, it is not the criterion. That is a product, and it is not this which is the criterion of acceptance (Titus 3:3-7). It is the heart of the producer which is in point, of the one in question, each one at a time. Is this one to be received ?
It is a question of whether or not he or she RECEIVES REDEMPTION from HIS hand, who paid entirely for it, and this, not from that of a priest or potentate, philosopher or religious guru. So intense is this, that you must personally acquire His salvation with an individuality and faith as real as eating (John 6:50ff.). This is not in some idolatrous way, which would make of the Last Supper a suicide, as if He BECAME the bread broken; but in MEAT and MEANING. He is GIVEN on the Cross and is to be received by faith for what HE did there in person and in body and in Spirit and in mind, as Saviour.
What a King! HE gives, does not possess by invasion, does not purge by drastic desire, but where He is received; and while it is He Himself who grants repentance (Acts 11:18), yet this as a mode of approach to salvation, is a grant based on knowledge, on foreknowledge, on truth and reality, on knowing who are His, found as sought, amid ALL, in the divine mode and DETERMINATION of action in Christ that ALL might be reconciled, though relatively few in fact will be (Colossians 1:19ff., Matthew 7:15ff.).
On the other hand, those who clamour to APPEAR accepted, whether to impress themselves, the world or their own conscience, and do not receive Him, are subject of divine contempt (Matthew 7:21ff.). Imagine telling a doctor or his staff you are willing for an operation and then not actually arriving for it; and this is the more so, if it involved the death of the doctor, as part of it, and his resurrection after becoming accursed to perform the cure, was in train as a glorious resultant. Small indeed would be the trickster in such a case.
As to Israel, that geographical centre for symbolic, divinely illustrative purposes and historical action, it lost when it did not heed the cry of the prophets such as Hosea before its North fell, lost again when it did not heed prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, not to say Ezekiel, before Judah fell, and this we have seen. Now we regard the horrifying reality that it suffered yet again, a third time, showing just why it was that the itinerary for sin, stretched out before our eyes in Leviticus 26, is so long.
When was this, and when did this third time, this untriumphant, this desolatory last unit of the sad trio come ? It was at Calvary and its precursors.
Of sorrow of heart, is the story for Israel here. it came when its authorities, its powers-that-be, now only those who have been, took the nation to its own horrors once more and murdered the mercy of God, the Messiah! Utterly lamentable for weeping is this, as Jeremiah discerned beforehand for his own day (Jeremiah 9), for its prelude; and as Christ showed when in solemn tears over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37), it was because, once more, of hardness of heart that the result came, not from oppression indeed, BY a king, but OF The King. It came to mean a devastated land, evil powers once more being given opportunity through lack of protection (Luke 19:42ff.): yet there is a side not only comforting but splendid.
Firstly, Israel was scheduled to return (as in Ezekiel 36-39, Micah 7, Isaiah 42,49, Zechariah 14), so that it was not abolished for ever as a nation, as Christ predicted (Matthew 24:34). The seed of Israel was not for extinction. At the eschatological roll call, it would be there.
God could and did protect it from extinction, as He stated. That it was a thing which Hitler, with many others, could not do, for their part, for their plan. Seeking to violate, to remove the people themselves, they could not. God sought to keep them, and He did. As so often, when it looked impossible for the constantly-being-exterminated people, in WW II, to come again to their land, so it became historical fact that they did so. God had said; and He did. It is His way.
Secondly, Israel that now is, IS set up for a great spiritual convulsion which is not to death, but to life as in a birth (Zechariah 12:10-13:1, Ezekiel 37). Thirdly ... is there more ? yes there is, for the sad part being long, so is the glad portion! It will become a centre, even Jerusalem, for the return of Christ with His saints after He has collected them (Matthew 24:45ff., I Thessalonians 4, Zechariah 14:5, Micah 4, Isaiah 2, Revelation 19-20). While not at all a place for posturing, as if Israel would become lord (Isaiah 19:22-25), yet it WILL be a place for them to HAVE, and its capital, Jerusalem, will not be for purposes such as the Madrid Quartet assign, but as God has already consigned!
How valueless are the skirmishings of men (as in Psalm 2's WARNING!), whether from Assyria, past or present version, or from Washington or Madrid, or Geneva, from United Nations or from disunited ones! They propose, God disposes. In this case, He has prophetically done so already, and it is thus for THIS PRESENT WORLD, what it was earlier for Israel. AS it seeks in vain far from the will, word and ways of the Lord to IMPOSE its will, so God will DISPOSE of these, its endeavours, though the world clap and applaud, and the bulls of this day roar in concord. Sennacheribs, if not precisely two a penny, are worth no more in the final account. They rampage; God acts. The good Lord has His will in the end, having allowed the saga of history, duly predicted, to run its teaching lessons and lectures extraordinary, that to one and to all, higher powers and lower, the truth be made known.
But see with the pathos and the poignancy, this: that at LAST, when THIS return to the LORD DOES come in so much of Israel, then will be fulfilled all the long hopes of Hosea (3, 5) and Jeremiah (23:5), and those who being His people, who were divorced to be "not My people" will indeed once again be "My people". They will even - as Zechariah 12 foretold half a millenium before Christ even died! looking on "Me whom they pierced", and great for Israel are the predicted results. Put differently, as in Romans 11, it is then that they are regrafted back into the tree of faith from which they were temporarily cut out.
Hosea's vision thus will become reality (Hosea 1 and 3, Romans 9:25). Thus will be fulfilled the parable of the olive tree (Romans 11); for as Paul declares from the Lord, if the departure of Israel was a way for an opening for the world to be taken to the point of reconciliation - as a replacement branch put in where Israel was excised, what will the regrafting be, that of Israel back into the tree of biblical faith, except as LIFE FROM THE DEAD! (Romans 11:15).
*1 EXCURSION ON HISTORY, HAPPENINGS AND HAPPINESS
There is in the Bible, a sequential image for history, a figure for portraying coming history in four Empires. It is found in Daniel Ch. 2, in the image with the head of gold, chest and arms of silver, middle and thighs of bronze, feet of iron and clay.
It is that of a man whose feet, the end of the matter as you go decidedly down in history, represent the last of the four empires traced from Babylon on, that domain the first, the head of gold, Traced through Daniel in his Babylonian exile, this series of Empires ends in those feet which are smitten by a great stone. This not only smashes it, so that the whole apparatus is displaced and comes to be crushed, but abounds to become a mountain to fill the earth.
In Daniel 7-8, as in Highway of Holiness esp. Chs. 8 and 10, you see a new imagery on the same theme, the same because history on this earth is one. It is this time one of successive beasts with thrusting power, the last "dreadful and terrible" which develops a 'little horn' with a big mouth of pompous pretension (Biblical Blessings Ch. 2), and an essentialising of evil so vast, that its domain continues till the God who made liberty and presented love, brings judgment to its pretensions, and His kingdom rules through the Messiah (Daniel 7:13-14), whose dominion is unique.
In what way ? In various ways. First, it never ends, being the antithesis of sequence (Daniel 7:25). Secondly, it is appointed in glory and proceeds as an everlasting dominion (Daniel 7:13-14), and to the point, includes the resurrection, to which all who belong to the Lord come in an appointment that is sure (Daniel 12:13, Isaiah 26:19, 51:11, 11:10). It envelops the last times of this earth and universe's domain, and continues in a new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65, Revelation 20, II Peter 3), being the terminus of history for this earth, despite any counter move (as in Revelation 20), and the advent dynamic for what is to come. This has this glorious rest, that He in whom His people find rest (Isaiah 11:10, Matthew 28ff.), having stripped insincerity and inglorious dynamics of their delusive pretension, rules amid a peace which nothing can breach, where evil has no place, where its very echoes dull like the distance to the roar of a passing train, when it is done (Revelation 21:4, 8).
History thus happens because God oversees it to the extent that He points out its eminences at will, its times at His pleasure, its sequences and even its details. Accordingly, in Daniel 9, the Lord who so dramatically and repeatedly inspires this Babylonian exile of His love (Daniel 10), decisively dates what was then a time centuries distant, that of the setting at nought of the Messiah ('there is nothing for Him'), This is as in His new covenant (as in Jeremiah 31:31ff.), in His substitutionary atonement (as in Isaiah 53), in His sacrificial offering (as in Psalm 2), to become through unspeakable debasement voluntarily received (Psalm 40), the path for glory for many. From His own resurrection (Isaiah 26:19, Psalm 16), there comes by that same power the path for the resurrection of His people; for He is not only no more set at nought, but ruler of all things (as in Daniel 7, Isaiah 11, Psalm 73). From glory (Micah 5:1-3, Philippians 2), He has abased Himself to raise many (Hosea 13:14, Psalm 2, 16, 22, 40, Isaiah 50-55), that liberty might be actual, love sincere, truth delighted in and life abundant.
Thus many are brought to glory on His Road of Redemption (Hebrews 2), for He who was set at nought, has become the source of salvation (Revelation 11:15), and the centre and ground for all good things for His own children, adopted by grace (Romans 8:32), bought by sacrifice (Matthew 20:28), none dragooned (Matthews 23:37, Luke 19:42ff.), all through love shown the way.
It is not simply that the wheel turns. Rather is it that the whole rubbish of the unruly elements of successive empires, beasts, parts of a statue destined for destitution and devastation, having had their day and say, and having been shown as the by-products of devilry in much of that latent spirit which fires so much in them (Revelation 13:11ff.), virtual imperial bounders unbound, is doomed. It grows, matures, has its final revelation of its kind, seizes whole segments of the earth, and then at last, seeks entire dominion over the whole earth, only to be replaced by that of God, who smites as a sanctified and sent stone hits the vulnerable imperial feet of this world's power in its time. This brings a chastened earth to its senses, for a time, while He Himself rules with His saints (Zechariah 14, I Thessalonians 3:13, Revelation 19-20).
Thus is a very different spectacle seen for a liberty which love has produced man in creation, redeemed through the appointed Cross in the way and at the date long appointed for men to behold, for the good pleasure of the Father who would have all to be reconciled: it is He who takes whosoever comes to His way, His truth, His life (cf. I John 1:1-4), foreknown to Himself. These have long before, even anterior to time as we know it, time itself, been seen as His own, chosen in Christ (Ephesians 1:4), and nothing is by any means able to achieve any divorce! (cf. Romans 8:37-39), of what was from the first appointed (II Timothy 1:8ff., Romans 8:29ff.).
Liberty has then done its work, both glorious and inglorious the results, themes have been pursued, outcomes have been digested, the infantility and absurdity of devilry has been shown for all time, and beyond it; the imperious imperials have been exposed for what they are worth, the sufferings of the saints have become precious exhibits beyond pleasure and pain, of loyalty and truth, and man in his heights in the redemption in Christ has been illuminated in His glorious grace, as well as the race exposed in its lowest enterprises, its most hypocritical cant, both in secular absurdities and debased hypocrisies.
Here is the answer to the devil's cynical degradation (Job 1:6-12), in his taunting talk suggesting that worship is a way of getting something, having no reality, and it is complete. If death and wounds and detestation and inequity are things to be desired, yes the saints have got something, got some persecution, some robbery of name and property, for their pains. But as in Job 19, beyond the lurches of flesh and the vampires of evil dominion, they love the Lord because He is good, a reliable and faithful, a loving and merciful, a righteous and just God, the beginning of all and the end for any who insist on running foul of truth, which bends for none. Nay, it is mercy which bends judgment onto Christ Himself as Saviour, and for this He has a bent which is straightforward, being a proclivity of the heart and not a turning from truth!
This last is made a feature in Isaiah 44-45, where over a century before the Medes come into power, as predicted in Daniel 8 and Isaiah 13, following the Babylonian Empire, God is at pains to NAME the ruler who will release Israel, namely Cyrus. now famed archeologically in the Cyrus Cylinder. From what was he to release Israel ? Why, from the captivity to come: from the day of Isaiah, then a future thing, that of Judah by Babylon as the Lord had in detail predicted both here and elsewhere.
Since the Babylonian Empire was the starting point, the head in Daniel 2, of the statue, and the rule of the Medes and Persians is marked next in Isaiah and Daniel 8, the Greek or Macedonian Empire the next, that which follows is manifestly that of Rome, identified in Revelation 17 by its seven hills, as by its character in Daniel 2,. There it was seen to have two eminent features (as the 'feet' of the image), namely the unyielding strength of iron, and the feeble fragility of clay, MIXED.
This is precisely what happened in the Roman Empire, for a time all but a model of imperial discipline, yet becoming weaker and more indulgent over time, till its culture and power growing almost mythical, its decline and ruin became a study in folly. This proceeded until indeed its Emperors came to desire fealty to themselves, as to the divine, and refused Christians liberty to worship the God who is there! Vast was the persecution before Rome was held by an Emperor who himself professed Christ.
This inveterate and ghastly imperial pride is inhabited by a spirit, one of self-elevating vaunting; and it is very much as is happening in many nations in the world today, in various pseudo-religious regimes, doing violence to women, to liberty, to evidence, to grounds and in fact, to God. He, however, having come in the flesh in Jesus Christ, and shown His reality and power through both the Bible and His Son, only begotten for this vast work of salvation and redemption for those called out of ANY empire to His own kingdom, is no more available for murder. They killed the Lord, as by a gracious divine appointment, this being the sacrifice He offered, but they cannot kill Him now, since it is He who was dead and now is alive forevermore (Revelation 1:19). Frustrating as this is, the evil turns its hand to persecuting His saints (as in Revelation 12, in its magnificently simple and simply magnificent coverage of the scope of things).
Man is now playing with the day of the stone which grows to become a mountain; and the Twin Towers are but a small prelude to its power, as was the Atomic Bomb in Japan, the destitution of communistically imperial USSR and is the plague of death-dynamc, fulfilling Revelation 6 in its predictions, now spreading through militant Islam, just one of the plagues foretold.
Meanwhile, the efforts of Britain and the USA in particular, to distance themselves from their glorious heritage, the one by national adoption of Christianity in its Church (however mistaken the mode), the other through the godly USE first made by many, of their desired liberty, amount only to a beckoning to the stone which will strike. You can loose morals, glorify and praise false prophets, whether through a Prince in England or a President in the USA; but there is only one result, whether it first be an oily befoulment, or a European disaster, where even the chunnel is not needed to enable the invasion of Europe into those British Isles, which meekly await the cultural dominion to come.
See on this topic:
SMR pp. 886ff.,
Highway of Holiness
3-4, 7-9, with emphasis on
BB 1, cf. DEIDES 2 as marked. BB 2
Highway of Holiness
Chs. 2-10 (esp.
covers much in 9 chapters of the prophecy;
a further assemblage on Daniel is found in AGGG 1-5
For more on the development of the 4th Empire, that of Rome, see:
SMR pp. 902ff., and Highway of Holiness Ch. 10.
See also EMPIRE in Index.
On Micah relative to these matters, see Possess Your Possessions Ch. 1, and Galloping Events Ch. 8.
See TMR Ch. 8 with Beauty for Ashes Ch. 3. See also The gods of naturalism have no go!
See for example Volume 3 of Possess Your Possessions, Ch. 4.
See Revelation 20:1-10.
In general terms, on Gentiles and Christianity, see News 121, 122. Presbyterian and other movements have been given no little attention (cf. Let God be God! Ch. 12 and index). Something of the Uniting Church position has been regarded, in this connection, in the Sermon, Joshua Life 2.
On this occasion, there has been Anglican movement which contributes to the overall atmosphere amid Gentiles and religious testimony, as a signal for spiritual alertness and willingness to act, in our times.
The following is an extract from an article, at the time of the Anglican alternative meeting in Jerusalem, before the coming English grouping of that body, was given this coverage in news. Jensen of Sydney has been the subject, in his official actions in that denomination, of concern earlier (cf. Light of Dawn Ch. 2). When the Bible states directly, as in I Corinthians 4-5, what to do when these sexual issues, for example, among the commandments, are routinely violated, and this involves stated separation, it is so far from schism to DO what you are TOLD, that the term becomes ludicrous. It is schism from Christ's words NOT so to act! Ruth Gledhill is listed as the religion correspondent of the Sunday Times, and the events below were subject to much news reporting in June 2008.
Anglican Church schism
recedes over gay issue with African leaders
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent in Jerusalem
The Church of England's leading conservative bishop told Anglicans meeting in Jerusalem tonight that the greatest challenge facing the Church is not homosexuality but "militant secularism".
The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, warned that the West was losing its religion at the very time it needed it most.
Issuing a rallying cry for the West to recover its "Christian nerve", Dr Nazir-Ali challenged the conservative wing of worldwide Anglicanism to rise to the challenge of bringing a renewal of Christianity to modern society.
It proceeds after link provision.
Making no apology for having stated in the past that he wanted to convert Muslims, he joked: "That's not all I want to do with Muslims."
The Pakistani-born bishop was speaking to 1,100 bishops, clergy and laity at the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem, set up to discuss how to move forward in the wake of the wider Anglican church's progressive attitudes on Scripture, and in particular homosexuality.
Many of the 300 Anglican bishops in Jerusalem, including the diocese of Sydney and the province of Nigeria, are boycotting next month's Lambeth Conference in protest at the liberal agenda.
But the prospect of schism has receded as African leaders at the meeting stepped back from the brink and declared they are not seeking to start a new church.
Later it proceeds:
In a recent interview in the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Jensen said it would be legally impossible to engineer schism. The Episcopal Church of the US has already launched a number of legal actions against breakaway parishes and bishops. Dr Jensen said: "I'm part of a constitution, which is virtually unchangeable, of the Australian church. I wouldn't want to. I love the church. It would be bad for Christianity, bad for the gospel." He continued: "I think there is going to be an evolution in the Anglican Communion. It has occurred. And what the Future Conference is going to work out is how to live best within that evolution. That's its business."
Archbishop Orombi said: "What we are meeting for here is not to plan to walk away. We are meeting to renew our commitment, to renew our faith, to get a sense of direction of what we can be as Anglicans. We do not want to start a new Church."
Thus legal matters supervene spiritual ones, and what is convenient what is biblically necessary. Alas what is expedient was made all too popular long ago (John 11:48ff.). At that time, the danger as seen by the priests was this, that if they did not murder Christ, the whole world might go after Him! What a tragedy they machinated to prevent! and what a tragedy in fact they produced, for which the world has in various way suffered for millenia!
It is better to obey, as Samuel told Saul! (cf. Ch. 1 above). In fact, there was thought that this might well happen, as seen in another article from Ruth Gledhill, but the brink was passed without it!
In News of the Anglican Communion, at that time, we have further data.
Times of England: Anglican face split
by Ruth Gledhill
The Anglican Communion will be split tomorrow when conservatives representing more than half its total membership will announce the formation of a new orthodox body to be a stronghold against liberal views. It will be schism in all but name....
Later it proceeds:
One province, Nigeria, has already deleted all reference to Canterbury from its constitution.
The 300 bishops and archbishops in Jerusalem, of whom more than 100 are boycotting the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury in July, claim that they do not want to form a separate church and have no plans to "walk away" from the 80- million-strong Anglican Communion.
Instead, they insist that it is the liberals in the churches of the West who have broken unity by walking away from Biblical truths and the teachings of orthodox Christianity.
Legal structures in provinces such as England, where the Queen is Supreme Governor of the Church, and in Australia, make schism practically impossible. Any parish that chose to leave would sacrifice property and recognition.
So instead fellowship policy is to reform from within, and to attempt a take-over of the Church by evangelicals working inside existing structures.
Significantly, the new fellowship will include many churches that have split from the Anglican Communion in the past over earlier doctrinal disputes.
Note the "so instead", so that then, as long before in Jerusalem as in John 11, what is expedient at a lower level, appears to come more or less automatically into view as the ONLY alternative. In fact, sacrifice is the other, and in this case, to obey would involve sacrifice as it often does; but what is this to those who forsake all in order to follow Christ, as commanded! (Luke 14:27ff.). His own statement is this, that unless you do this, you cannot be His disciple.
THAT is the only bishop necessary, for He is the shepherd and bishop of our souls (I Peter 2:25), and the rest are brethren with only ONE Master, Peter speaking of himself as ALSO an elder, apostle though he was (I Peter 5), and it is the elders who are given supervisory power (Acts 20), without anything above but the Lord Himself. Whichever format be taken, however, the Lord is final, His word only inexcusably forsaken, and church authority is mere pretence and pretension when His word is not followed, but that of someone else or some other body, call itself what it will. Houses on sand may flourish till the tide turns (Matthew 7), but they are decidedly not recommended. Talk about this and that will never alter the fact that if you love Christ, you will OBEY Him (John 14:21ff.), and if you do not, it is rebellion, like witchcraft; for so it is written.
It is His word, and not that of elder or Christian statesman or bishop or archbishop or pope or any other, alone which has final authority and necessary submission for ALL Christians. Whatever transcends this, does not overpower it, but merely topples over to become subject to an authority it does not follow, amid the masses who have done this before. It is sad; it is lamentable; but it is common in history, often epochal in significance as here.
It is understandable how people LOVE to stay in their old denominations when these do not as one whole choose to stay in obedience to the word of God written, the Bible, and it can be both poignant and costly, in social, financial, prestigious and comfortable terms; but then, taking up your cross and following Christ has been the work of Christians for generations and millenia. Why should it seem so bad now, when they faced lions! for the pleasure of others. That too, it cost.
See Spiritual Food and Spiritual Drink Ch. 11 for a survey of many such facets and fields in created life and matter. See also Epilogue to the same volume, with The Holocaust of Morality ... Ch. 3, Sparkling Life ... Ch. 8. The machines to do what the best and most advanced computers of man find exceedingly difficult to imitate, even in principle, not merely in time, attest the requisite level of matter-moulding mind functionality needed.
Mind's attributes are never found in matter, but only in the implications of its performance; and just as you never find an author actually amid the pages of his book, a contradiction in terms since a creation by oneself CANNOT be oneself, so you never find but the results of the energy specifications, mentality originations and disciplinary constraints in such activities within the cells, and through them. The Maker is the maxi-source of the micro-resources.
They do not, because they cannot make themselves, as attested by all experiments, the nature of information and the necessity for adequate causality for all results, a fundamental principle of scientific method as well as of logic. Contradicting this would annul all argument, in its own validity. See Causes.
See also Message of the Words of God to man in the World Ch. 2 and The True God has GO... Ch. 4, on details of DNA and attributes of its different formats, on codes and encoding multiply; and Evidence and Reality ... Ch. 3, on the causal complexion of reality and the specificities of information, codes, books and command, together with Man, in Prospect, in Retrospect and in Bold Relief Ch. 2, with Waiting for Wonder Appendix, in which more recent and extensive information about information and coding in DNA is presented in its own milieu, with the multiple-use complexity contrivances which organise materials into compression with utility, miniaturising them with engineering facility, itself a work of creativity of concept, control and ingenuity.
Deity and Design, Designation and Destiny 8, presents further features of folly, in the field of this delusive excursion of modern man into using his mind to find its allies in creation, while bounding to not so bright thoughts in the mindless arenas of fantasy.
Psalm 94:8-19, 50:21-24, 11:4-5. There is an actuality which no slur can compromise, no deviation survive and no pretension overthrow. Jude glows with it, Romans 1 effulges with it. On its background, see the following which covers various aspects of the multiple alerts, reasonings, impulsions and coverages God has given to what is often an unheeding man, city, civilisation, here today, but not hearing, gone tomorrow, still not heeding.
See SMR Chs. 1, 3, 5 (which provide by contrast, reason's realisation on the one hand, and the results of its abortion, on the other, as two opposing and clear modes for man), 8-9 (the truth by verification), 10 (its confirmation by inspection of options).
On Islam's inability to meet scientific and rational criteria for verification, see:
More Marvels ... Ch. 4, esp. *4,
SMR pp. 829ff. , 1080
Dancers, Prancers, Lancers and Answers Ch. 3, *1A misconceptions about the Cross, variable and mutually conflicting, on the part of the Koran
Lord of Life Ch. 3 (and force), 1081ff. (and faith), Outrageous Outages ... Ch. 5;
His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 4; 3
Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 9,
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8 (in perspective), see also *1,
DVA 6, Highway to Hell
Divine Agenda Chs. 6, 3 (an overview of religious truancies, including Marx, Darwin and Koran);
Highway to Hell (Koran citations in both, with ideational parallels in perspective, in the former; and in the latter, futile depravities in endless ideologies such as Sudan has shown so significantly, Islam ablaze without glory),
cf. Overflight in Christ Ch. 1 (and the Koran's musings);
1493 (esp. Britain and sharia);
News 138, Beauty for Ashes Chs. 4, 7
Jesus Christ, Defaced, Unfazed... Ch. 5, Acme ... Ch. 9 , Great Execrations ... Ch. 3, SMR p. 1O88D - three major religions in some ways in concert, astray.
News 138, Beauty for Ashes Chs. 4, 7, SMR pp. 1074ff., esp. 1079, 1081ff.
(These latter show this religion, with the other three major conspiracies towards the ultimate - why conspiracies ? It is because men conspire, or breathe plans together for a control, rule or oversight not ordained by God: these are breaths of man, and the breath that matters is that of God, in and by which all scripture is inspired by Him (II Timothy 3:16, Isaiah 8:20), in the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 34:16), the Bible, and sustained and implemented by Him (Matthew 26:54ff.). Other ideas for rule are always unruly, since they always tend to use power for what neither reason nor truth compels.).
See also SMR pp. 822ff., 986ff., 1O88D.
For this, see Answers to Questions Ch. 5 with SMR Ch. 8.
See: The gods of
naturalism have no go!
*7 See here, TMR, SMR, and *6 above, together with
Deity and Design, Designation and Destiny,
Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ,
REASON, REVELATION and the REDEEMER,
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy.
*8 See SMR p.823.
See for example:
History, Review and Overview ... Ch. 5, with
ALPHA and OMEGA:
AND YOU'VE GOT A MUDDLE IN THE MIDDLE Ch.2,
and News 57.
This sorrow is for the folly of their pretensions and imperious assumptions about Israel; for it will not only not profit them, but their intimidatory, directive zeal, their knowledgeable business with God's business may bring sad results for their nations. The Maker of wits is not witless, and the creator of man is not in a coffin with the rest of man's corrosive misconceptions, but rather the Judge of all. When HE elects to create Israel as a messenger boy, an exhibit, He acts to preserve it; and even when He excoriates this messenger, yet if He elects to have an ultimate purpose in the form of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and if HE being so sent, elects to confirm that Jerusalem will revert to Israel (Luke 21:24), and if Micah and Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, Zechariah, with the Psalms and Isaiah elect to show this land utilised for for very purpose of the Messianic rule, then to endeavour to dispense with such things in terms of other interests is like a mouse trying to intimidate a lion.
If He wants to make a site His coming to rule on this earth, this same Jerusalem (Zech. 14:5), and to stress this with what appears an almost comedy of irony (in Zech. 12:6), yes, that it is really Jerusalem ("but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place - Jerusalem"), that too is His business. If some want Him to have meant, this, that Jerusalem would be inhabited NOT in its own place, that is, to take His second utterance, not in that place called Jerusalem, then they run into a tangle of anti-truth.
It could not be make clearer to a Primary School class that He is talking to a nation. Which nation ? Why it is the one formerly of two parts which is now to be as one, and to be settled, not in some other place, but in Jerusalem The repetition of the name here appears almost as if the Lord were saying - Let me spell that for you! It is this city, so set in extensive, particularistic, military context, it is this which HE will defend, and which will become a BURDEN to those nations which seek to molest it (Zech. 12:3), so that the governors of Judah will be like a fiery torch
This breed, this Jewry, this called unconditionally to their land despite all the predicted vicissitudes including exile (Leviticus 26), it will not, Christ declaimed, cease till all is fulfilled; and what that was, He spelled out in detail in Matthew 24 (cf. 24:34). The machinations of would-be invaders, violators and proponents of 'other views' can find the results of their folly, as have so many others; but it IS sad to see them do it, to inherit affliction just as they afflict. It would be better otherwise for these who puff at the word of God, and what it has ordained.
Thus you see the results from first to last, and yet, in that delicious biblical fair play, NOT so that Israel does not suffer for its OWN sins, but so that what interferes with God's own dealings is not immune either, and the overweening contempt of one, or the foolish recidivism of the other, each inherits. Consider from Genesis 12, where Abraham is made a sort of portmanteau, or if you prefer a seed bed, so that "in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Yet not only will the Lord bless those who bless this portent, this name, this original and with seed to follow, but He will curse those who curse. Who are we to indulge in such sovereign acts of judgment!
Are not all sinners ? Is the fallen emissary of the Lord, who has given us the Bible through the prophets whom God appointed in it, to become the butt of bulls, the victim of non-saints, whose overwhelming self-confidence merely masks their impotence while their own sin declares itself!
Thus in Isaiah 51:22-23, we find, on the very brink of the annunciation of the saving work of the Messiah, as part of its extensive introduction, this word: the Lord has taken the cup of judgment out of the hand of Israel, and is transferring it.
"But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, who have said to you,
'Lie down, that we may walk over you.'
And you have laid your body like the ground,
and as the street, for those who walk over.' "
The Lord is not unaware of the callous arrogance of Gentile, and those who have grown accustomed to seeing Israel in trouble for its errors, have yet to adjust their eyes to finding back in its land by divine appointment (cf. SMR Appendix A), so that now there is indeed a transfer coming more and more heavily (as in Zechariah 12:1ff.), to those who have become all but obsessed with 'managing' Israel.
In Jeremiah 30:16-17, in that very chapter leading to the next, where the New Covenant is announced, and where the Messiah is seen emerging as Governor (30:21, cf. Isaiah 11, Jeremiah 23:5), there is also a provision for a tardy Israel; for the Lord has not forgotten His unconditional promises, which though they have yielded correction indeed, have also given mission. It is one to be consummated even further as in Deuteronomy 32:43 when God acts with a strenuous and vigilant vigour, to protect the entire scope of His pre-announced journeyings among mankind, and the means chosen, such as Israel: and how great it is to see here many Gentiles rejoicing WITH Israel, when He does so act (Deut. 32:43)..
What then does He state in Jeremiah 30 ? It is this:
"Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured;
and all your adversaries every one of them, shall go into captivity.
Those who plunder you shall become plunder,
and all who prey upon you, I will make a prey.
For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord,
because they called you an outcast, saying, 'This is Zion: No one seeks her."
He proceeds to the Messiah as noted. While the immediate context was historical, the principles of the Lord's intentions do not alter. The utterance is in its time, but the context covers all time, right to the rule of the Messiah as in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4. It is found, this divine intervention, also in Isaiah 59, sundering through the odium of vast sin like a surgeon's knife, as the Lord comes to Zion; for assuredly no Church that is more than a synagogue of Satan, could resemble this advance of normal iniquity, found lathering itself in 59:4-15, one of the greatest denunciations and exposés on sin ever to be seen!
Again, when we move on to the following Chapter, coming at once after the Redeemer is exposed in 59:20. Now we see a transfigured Israel, the shining of the redeemed, those who have been shunned and spurned, stricken in divine wrath (60:10), now an arboreal centre (already millions of trees are growing in vast projects). As we move into 60:18, it is apparent that this is that contingent from Israel (as in Revelation 7), now sharing the one light of the one Messiah who as Isaiah declares in 42:6 and 49:6, is by no means to be limited to Israel, but in like manner becomes a covenant to Gentiles as well. It is TOO small a thing to be limited to Israel, but a very necessary thing to visit them, fulfilling all (Micah 7:19ff., right back to Abraham, with his twofold appointment, and singularity in the centre (Genesis 12).
Yes, it is as underlined in Zechariah 12, right into the context of Israel awakening to its having pierced the Messiah, in the midst of terminal events for the Age (Zech. 14), as the text of that prophet relays the coming in power of the Lord with His saints to this earth. Indeed, it is as in Romans 11:25, when at last and suddenly, the remnant in Israel awake. Thus, this is ONE faith in ONE people who are now in conjunction with all who have salvation for their walls: a point on which Paul is used to expatiate in Romans 11:28ff..
Who but the Lord could so discipline a people, abhor their abhorrence of truth, righteousness and justice, coming like a spiritual plague upon them (Isaiah 59), moving to the depths of fatal derogation of the Messiah in Person (as predicted in Isaiah 49:7, 53, and indicated in Micah 5, and shown in the pangs of His own righteous experience in Psalm 22), and so turn to Gentiles, only to bring them back hearts and minds alike! And this, it is done amid such an impact on the people first chosen for His testimony (Isaiah 43:21), even through and despite their great travails (Jeremiah 30, 31:15ff., Leviticus 26). Then are they related once more to Him, not only as "My people" who were "not My people" (Hosea 1, Romans 9:25-26), the settlement of their grand alienation; but this is not sufficient for the grandeur and wonder of the divine will, foretold and wrought. In addition, this crop of Israel, suddenly reaped, becomes one of the great phases of entry into the kingdom of heaven. Specialised from the first, it now comes to the culmination in Christ, to become as part of the whole body of this Saviour, summit for all, in the end!
There is nothing too hard for Him; but people are constantly trying to make it 'easy' as if to change Israel into something else when the context is incompatible with something else, signifying what by the criteria given is unique (SMR Appendix A); or on the other hand, trying to squeeze some pre-eminence to Israel (despite Isaiah 30's very clear denunciation, and Isaiah 19's equally clear removal of any specialised glory, as indeed in Ezekiel 36:22, most pointedly). It is all as He has said. It is not other.
Israel was called, as in Romans 9 was mightily used: it despised its sovereign, inherited the predicted outage, was persecuted and the Lord has watched those who have hunted her, to repay, as Germany, Assyria (Isaiah 30, Micah 6), Babylon (Jeremiah 50-51), Egypt (Ezekiel 29:15)and Tyre (Joel 3:4), not to mention the former USSR, for example, have found. Then, amidst Gentile presumption at the end (as current), brings her now returned State to deliverance in the midst of statistically vastly superior foes. When it seems hopeless (Deuteronomy 32:36), then it is He who will act; and again as in Ezekiel, when she is sure to be summoned to extinction, there He will perform His great work. Indeed, so great will be this intervention that it will resemble His work of deliverance at the Exodus from Egypt (Micah 7:15), and small then will become those who are arrogantly self-assured, willing to extend for ever the impact of Gentile on Israel, as if it were some kind of divine right.
Israel My Glory in its July-August 2010 issue has record of a speech by PM Netanyahu, whose reference to Jerusalem's vast meaning and time of occupancy by Jews is surveyed. In particular he notes that the Old Testament has more than 700 references to Jerusalem, the very air they breathe, and notes the many centuries in which Israel has had the numerical majority there. When their air is none less than the Messiah, and their eyes look not to Hermon but to the greater Lord of Zion, even this same Jesus, as Zechariah predicts, then will His might be known such as at the Exodus (Micah 7:15ff.). It is good to see beginnings of biblical perspective come boldly and strenuously to the fore, as a prelude. May the Lord be praised.
It is important to realise certain developments the history of Israel since World War II, indeed with some reference back to 1917 and the conclusion of the Second World War and the League dealings as the 1920's came into being, is not without a certain generosity to its tormentors, invaders, detractors in the area, many of whom or their forbears, awaited Arab victory in 1948, and left in hope of returning in triumph.
The following will bring this to mind.
A LITTLE LOOK BACK
What was the life being led in Israel in terms of change from Auschwitz to the League, to the UN, the first and the last both inimical to her integrity ? It was not without resemblance to the harrowing of Israel, over the long centuries by many in Europe, which while not now rising to pogroms, had a similarly stripping effect. To be sure, Israel was becoming, unlike the case in Palestine in the period preceding this, very productive; but our current concern is its harassment.
In fact, the UN set for Israel as its kindly proposal, a 'land' of ludicrous bits of Palestine in 1947, scarcely joined at all, while removing Jerusalem, to be given status as an international city: and this, it was a thing ARABS would not have!
What was the follow through upon this Palestinian rejection of such bounty ? It included the UN's relentless and remorseless pursuit of the plan to carve still further from the tiny residue of Palestine called Israel, than the part it had obtained, when left by the world to meet several invasive Arab nations, in 1948, and subjected to maritime pressure in 1967.
All this, already taken by Israel in fighting a group of invasive nations and attacking elementgs, was thus to be exposed anew, subject to international, to diplomatic sundering. It assuredly bears the look of being robbed from Israel, in view of the earlier international accord of the victors in World War I that Palestine should be a homeland for it, in accord with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 (in a suitable environment to be sure - see It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls... Ch. 10).
Indeed, in that, Israel with its homeland in Palestine was to be careful to make provision for the cultural needs of those in the land, something which appears ludicrous if this 'homeland' were not to be under its jurisdiction; for who could secure such things when it had no rule ? In fact, the grant was for Palestine as site for its homeland, with the caveat, take good care of those living there, not to estrange and harass them. THIS was to be the nature of the new home for Israel, with specifications for the manner of its occupancy.
Nor was this all. As pointed out in The Australian, July 24-25, 2010, in a large article by Bren Carlill, at the Camp David meeting in the day of President Clinton, 2000, there was an offer to Palestinian Arafat which included the following: 92% of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza strip. Indeed, we find elsewhere that there was to be some extra land in the Negev. Further, not all of East Jerusalem was to be kept by Israel. Also on offer, was Islamic guardianship of key sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. Such do we find from BBC News in its History of Failed Peace Talks.
This offer was rejected categorically by Arafat.
Who then is harrying whom ? and how is it that such amazing offers as that of the UN, which gave the hideous prospect of a tiny, divided Israel, with no Jerusalem, parcels of land, and that of 2000, with all the above, were rejected, not by Israel, but by those who mocked it, derided it, sought openly for its removal! It was Israel, however, which despite these offers to Arabs, was to have the extraordinary pleasure of being the target of many suicide persons, exploding into death for themselves and others whom they added to the list of the condemned, ever so nicely, in city areas!
What then has the UN been setting itself to carve from the fractional residue of Palestine which is current Israel ? Indeed what is the goal of the Madrid Quartet ? A "Palestinian State" as if Jordan had not already been given some 77% of Palestine "illegally" if you want to use this word of contravention of an international agreement (op.cit., and Trust God ... Ch. 5). THAT was at one time to be the Palestinian State, and it got it. What now ? Is this not enough ? Is the fact that Palestinians, for some time after the affairs of 1948, could have citizenship in Jordan (hardly unexpected) of no interest ? or this, that this privilege was lost when their continued animus to Israel, then using Jordan for assault, brought near revolution to Jordan, which ceased to grant them the joy of citizenship ?
Strange is it that when it comes to questions of a tiny addition in terms of the "West Bank" for a final plan for Israel, containing what PM Sharon was once reported as deeming heartland for the Jews, in terms of Biblical history, there is furore. No the percentage to the Moslem hosts on all sides in their numerous countries, this is not yet enough! More, more and yet more ... while many such as the Pan-Islamic Conference, Iran and varied vocal assailants, call or have been calling for Israel's extradition, demise, departure into the sea, destruction.
Is it oil or is it equity, is it fear or is it justice, is it marauding or is it anti-Semitism ? Assuredly one thing is clear, it is a decadent despatch of any consideration of the word of God, the history of His actions and the necessity not to trust in man as if he were God, but in God who became man, which is basic to these manipulations, manoeuvres, threats, even the USA beginning to come close to this mode. Even among men, we find these massifs of inequality, where the CONCEPT of an Israel, forwarded by the League of Nations in FACT, is held to ransom as if its thousands of years of occupancy and long rule in the land, counted for nothing, and the international decision after World War I, counted in precisely the same way.
Moreover, it is not enough that Israel be surrounded by vast and inimical Islamic lands, itself repeatedly invaded as a sort of post-Auschwitz extravaganza, like the motor of a car which refuses to cease when the key is turned off; and that each war could theoretically spell its end! Must it also yield to the international voices of those not in this position, who want the lands of vast oil resources not to be incommoded, or upset, and certainly not to take those of similar religion to themselves, into their enormous enclaves on this earth.
Must an array not nearby help those vastly numerically superior, who are near, as they threaten and seek to intimidate ? as if only inordinate power could possibly topple the tiny Israeli State, and vast nations needed help to remove a tiny and historically and internationally notable country from its place, defensibility or even sovereignty. Cannot Islam find power to act for itself ? power that it claims ? Often enough has the issue been put to the test, from Elijah on. God's disciplines of Israel do not alter His promises. When flesh meets Rock, it is the former which suffers. When rebellion meets God, whether from Jew or Gentile, there are results. Israel has suffered for its errors for long; is it surprising if now that God has done precisely what He said, and returned that nation to its appointed place, that agreement seems spurned and peace talk spurious ? a Gentile aberration of considerable breadth!
Again, despite all the provocations, it is correct to say that Israel gave back to Egypt much of the land which she took in 1973, in addition to this allowance for the possibility at Camp David in Clinton’s day, of various allowances for the Palestinians, even in Jerusalem, which smacked of no small degree of co-operation and concession.
Yet the UN pursues the Jew in Israel, as do other international bodies, not with the acrid contempt of the Arab, but with a show of justice and a pragmatism at best, which disregards various things in due concert:
the concessions of earlier law,
the concessions made to its assailants, already by the Jew,
the small size of the currently residual Jewish State,
the necessities of defensibility,
the vast Islamic lands surrounding it,
with government or large populations of Moslems,
with religious affinity for Palestinians,
the stringency of that religion's trends in many nations,
in compulsion over their citizens,
the highly distinct and different approach to religion of Israel, and of course,
the Biblical grant as noted in this Chapter.
And that, it is merely a selection.