AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH November 22, 2009
Continuing the work of the Australian Presbyterian Church (Union 1901), following
the Lord without Compromise and the Bible without Qualification, by Faith
THE LIFE OR THE LIE, THE ONLY ESCAPE FROM THE LATTER,
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
"IN RETURNING AND REST YOU SHALL BE SAVED."
ISAIAH 30 WONDERS, WOES AND WISDOM FROM GOD
A PACIFIC PARALLEL
Kevin Rudd, we read in The Australian, Monday November 16, 2009, has been speaking his mind in the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group in Singapore. He advised his colleagues, that, in the normal distortion of terms, this group "should evolve into an Asia-Pacific community that would also act as a forum for political and security co-operation". Such is the word of the newspaper also summarising Obama, as declaring himself the first Pacific President, pertinently citing the Asia-Pacific region as a key to future US trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership already existent, could become a long term stepping stone to a region-wide, free-trade pact.
Responding to the recent financial crisis, Rudd whose emphasis seems always on this world as one entity increasingly homogenised by group-think, group-action and group-morals, as in the proposed blight of the Bill of Rights, which merely makes social morals, based on philosophy without God, the criterion for conduct, had much to say. Relevant here was his applause for the East Asia summit, which to his regret, did not include as yet the USA. This he expressed hope for, in terms of a body "which is capable of handling the full scope of the agenda - political, economic and security." A body!
Australia per constitution preamble, had Stated, acting together to form one nation, that it was "humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God." Of our Source we find less and less trace in the words of our statesmen, their ethics, morals, and the liberties they assign, so that this nation becomes, all the more as more and more mergers with people of other faiths, no faith and anti-faith continue, what ? It is a people at war with Christ, many officials among those those propagating propaganda to detach others from Him.
In Bill of Rights mischiefs, in "community" concepts "evolving" with more and more political accord implied or sought, this blessed isle, large once in heart and mind and with a vast input of Christianity from the once Protestant England, is scorning its past, scoffing at its help, at the Creator and humbly relying more and more on world powers, politics and principles resolutely putting second things first, and first things into the inconvenient category.
It is not for no reason that boat loads, with the increasing mismanagement of the entire question, vastly attracted to this land, come as if drawn by a magnet. What this nation is and has been in the past, to a significant extent in its laws, balancing of powers, prudence and piety, although far from perfect, has involved a freedom based on eternal morals, godly concepts, and not the wavering weaknesses of man. The penetration of Christ into this our land, was far enough to reduce follies of grasping war and deceit to the point that there is a stability and prosperity in it which attracts many; from which departing, the schemers for the future, would make of us a vomit of confusion, like the sad zones from which so many now seek escape, where either misled powers or corruption or totalitarianism make enterprise difficult and justice bruised.
Ancient Israel had much the same idea. Why, in THEIR modern world, they wanted some kind of regional security; and naturally, it would involve some kind of community with Egypt (from which they escaped by divine intervention). HERE was their future, and naturally they looked for counsel and help to come from there, as they defiantly drifted from God. Such prosperity! While removal of poverty is good, putting pasta before principles is not, and gain by mere worldliness comes under the curse of God, who declares that seeking friendship with the world is pursuing enmity with God (James 4:4).
They "take counsel, but not of Me," they "devise plans, but not of My Spirit" (Isaiah 30:1), so that they "may add sin to sin." The cynosure of the nations becomes merely a symptom of sin. The Lord thus undertook to turn their wisdom to shame: "Therefore the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your humiliation" (30:3). Counsel from man, while they "have not asked My advice" (30:2), would lead, as it did, to vain and sad movement in affliction towards Egypt in its time.
"Go and write it before them on a tablet," the Lord tells the prophet .. "that this is a rebellious people, lying children" (30:8). The lie concept is that of what vacates truth, ignores actuality, rebels from reality, into idolatry whether of the hand or the heart (Ezekiel 14:3). It is allied to vanity, emptiness. This is uniformly contrasted with the Rock (Psalm 62:1-3), of which in His truth, peace and security, there is only one for man, as there is only one God (Isaiah 45, Ephesians 4:4) ; and He, He is not man-made, but man's Maker.
The tired old lie of evolution, misused here by Rudd, as if the developing thoughts of a group pursuing principles with intelligence related to the mythical pathway of wisdom coming from the ground up and not the heavens down, or from gross and restless conflict, with unutterable horror and not from heavenly blessedness, what is it here ? It is a contemporary replacement for the "Egypt" in which Israel trusted to its shame (cf. Jeremiah 2:27).To a stone, they would say, "You are our father!" in naturalistic folly.
The Lord reminds them of their dynamic weakness, as of their foolish false confidence; for they are "like a breach ready to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant." So are they warned, and this our land of Australia, like many others, is similarly in great and subtle danger, relying on such bodies as the UN, with its vast Islamic input and empty mouthings combined, active with many words and inactive in so many crucial sites, omitting God and making man the mandator.
RETURNING AND REST
The word of the Lord is intended to bring blessing, rest, strength and in its gift, it is beautiful in peace, lively in wisdom, godly in its goings; for NOT seeking counsel from God is merely a highway to hell. You may move smoothly on it for a time, and there are good restaurants on the way; but its end must not be ignored; for how this matter ends, it is not just for the present Age, but forever. What nations do, and the motivations evident, are often large-scale configurations of the ways of individuals and of families.
"In returning and rest you shall be saved," says the solicitous Lord; "in quietness and confidence shall be your strength, but you would not." "We will ride on swift horses," they say, "Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!" is the Lord's rejoinder. Trusting in man is madness; for the race is itself increasingly like a rushing stream, approaching precipitous falls. The one who trusts in his own heart is a fool (Proverbs 28:26), and as to trusting in man, "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes the flesh his strength."
It is not a matter of doing some one thing from the Bible, but FIRST serving and acting in Him whose it is, then being transformed by total surrender (Luke 14:27ff.), in accepting salvation, and hence under divine management, ardently out of love seeking to follow ALL the commands, not putting the second first, or the first second (cf. Matthew 22:37-38).
If a man washed up for his faithful wife, but did not trust her, it would be ludicrous to cite his "morals''. Man is personal and in whatever he proceeds, it is an interpersonal matter between him and others and above this, between himself and God: put the latter out of sight in PRACTICE, and it is like travelling by plane without a pilot. The principle lies not least in the practice: HENCE we are told to keep and teach ALL the commandments (Matthew 28:20), and part-time Christians are a menace to themselves, a peril to others. Ancient Israel was a peril to itself! But it was sought still by the Lord, as we read in Isaiah 30:18.
"Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for Him."
"He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you" (30:19). Indeed, though chastened, you may be given "the bread of adversity", yet "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it.'," as you would turn this way or that.
The God of our salvation is the true and loving God, and while He abominates that obscene rebellion which detaches from Him in function, to its own needless ruin, He entreats all to return to Him, ''And I will give you rest!" as Christ declared (Matthew 11:28ff.). Yet first you need to take upon your shoulders, His yoke, easy as it is, and to learn from Him, gracious as He is, so that your ways would not have Him as an occasional throw in, on the topic of poverty or some other, but as the mandating Messiah, your Lord and Saviour in practical reality and continual counsel.
HOW IT ENDS
One of the vast problems with Israel in Isaiah's day (a day of massive deliverance which, being ignored in the nation's continuing rebelliousness, was prelude to utter ruin) was thanklessness. This, alas in this our country of Australia, in principle is just what is being shown now as the ways of God are minimised, marginalised: it is, as if the nation could be as worldly as this world is, and yet it would not matter. How it loves to be distant from God, the God of the Bible, of creation in kind, and witlessly to trust in plans and programs based in man, acceptable to man, like drunken 'teen-agers, above the law, coming back, too young to drive, from a wild end of school festivity. Rejoice, but it will not help you, in this mode and spirit! (cf. Ecclesiastes 11:9ff.). The Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who faces facts in man, it is He who must be sought.
Thus, when at last, we see as Isaiah 30 develops, Israel is ready for the Lord (as in Isaiah 32:14-15), and His Spirit is poured out on them (as in Zechariah 12:10-13:1), and they wash in the blood of the Lamb, guilt and guile atoned and the Lord their guard (cf. Revelation 7:14), then there will be "rivers and streams of water" and then they will have a song. With gladness of heart they will go to the place of testimony, of truth, of God, and draw near not in mere emotion, nor indeed without it, to the truth of His Covenant and the realm of His power (Isaiah 30:27-30). It resembles that profound Chapter 7 of Micah, that epochal chapter 32 of Deuteronomy with vv. 32ff. and Isaiah 59:15-20 and 66:12-16. Utter is the deliverance, gracious is the Lord and He listens to the prayer of faith.
It is not Israel or, but Israel and ... It is not some novelty from the God whose Gospel never changes (Galatians 1), so that, as there, cursed is he who changes it, though he were even an apostle. Here depicted is an Israel returning to the same Lord who was crucified, whom many of the Gentiles embraced as promised (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), but from whom the Gentile nations - rather like Israel of old - increasingly then turned.
Then are the elect delivered in heart, whether from Israel or other nations, the chosen, not by imperious, impervious act, but in Gospel terms of God's own applied foreknowledge. This neither harasses the truth nor denies His love (Colossians 1:19ff.), but expresses it. Jewish and Gentile believers will be delivered from sin and its tentacular strength, and Israel as a nation in particular, from Iran and that region of current menace (as in 30:31, 31:8ff., Micah 5), and not from them alone (Ezekiel 38-39), as the Lord prepares for His return with His saints. What happens then, when the 'poetry' becomes practice, unlike the ways of many among men, and the principles become applied, not in bits, but in bulk! As with Sodom and as with the flood, precisely as Christ declared, then pandemonium suddenly replaces sleep (Matthew 24:37ff.).
He has a bit for the nations, and a bridle to disrupt their rebellion in the end (cf. Revelation 19:19ff.); for how shall a man fight with the Lord, or seek to govern in the stead of God, or to rule with this world as a partner, to abandon his own basis, or to act in alliances where no counsel rests, and where the Lord is absent! Indeed, how will man fare when his will, weight and ways are carefully assessed, and mutually applied, among the nations, with gullible gush and gusto. In their rising folly, it will be as if Christ were to executed all over again, this time on an international scale! Already man's time for mercy has come, and the Saviour has wrought His great work of wonder (John 3:15-18), then not3 to judge the world, but to save it: a mighty preparation for judgment in truth which comes at last, when mercy is derided, dismissed or ignored.
Thus we read: "Behold a king will reign in righteousness and princes will rule with justice.
A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest,
as rivers of water in a dry place." Then "the eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen. Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge,
and the tongue of the stammers will be willing to speak clearly" ( from 32:1-4).
In His first Advent, Christ so dealt and healed for some, indeed for many; but at the end, before this earth goes out of commission and is removed (Matthew 24:35), such will be the peace and the blessedness of direct rule by the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Psalm 110 72).
Indeed, as in Isaiah 11, "... with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth ... and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked."
What is happening before He comes ? In the interim, it is Europe as predicted in Daniel, which grows greatly (Daniel 2,7), now to the point that its GDP is just below that of the USA and China combined! (The Australian, November 16, 2009), for, says the Sunday Times, Europe seems more secure and united "than at any time in its blood-soaked history," as it seeks for a President and Foreign Minister (so like the developmental method in the Pacific noted above). "We can only gain weight globally if we speak in one voice," says a senior German member of the European Parliament. Prescribed are ways for it to gain its place of leadership! There is indeed to be such a leader, and as former European luminary, Henri Spaak, put it, Give us a leader, and be he god or devil, we will follow him!
As for me and my house, WE will follow the Lord, Him in whose life's salvation there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:27); and wise are they who finding in Him ONLY their Rock (Psalm 62, II Samuel 22:32), rely ONLY on Him, and not on flesh, their own, that of Europe, the Pacific or any other specific prescribed by man, whether for their nation or for their personal lives. It is Jesus Christ who is both foundation and refuge (I Corinthians 3:10, Matthew 21:44, 7:22-29, II Samuel 22:31-33,47, Philippians 2); and lovely are His ways, in humility is His majesty, and in Him, truth is not bred, but inherent, while marvellous is the freedom in His life, for and through which, before He became man for our salvation who believe, we were made.