AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH June 12, 2011
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
THE MIGHTY ROCK, HIS SHADE AND SPIRIT, THE BLESSED ASSURANCE ... Isaiah 32-34
This is not the occasion for an exposition of these three Chapters, but rather for the dwelling on the perspective and spiritual highlights. Even this, however, is likely to occupy more than one address, as we consider the impact of these prophetic words, for our own time, as we must.
THE BURDEN of the PRECEDING CHAPTER 31
In any exposition, you need to be aware of prior troop movements, of the surge of things before and to some extent afterwards. In this case, Isaiah 31 has taken us from reliance on worldly powers, a major cause of Israel's downfall (as seen in Isaiah 39).
Let us apply this to the present. Alas, reliance on bonds with godless nations, or totalitarian, repressive and tyrannical ones, has been a GREAT failure of national policy in the USA for many years past, whether it has relied on them as instruments of planning or helpers. God is never to be confused with man, nor are the witty concepts of power play the way to have the victory. World War II was lost as surely in perspective as won on the field, for in USING a giant murderer of perhaps 20 million persons, Stalin, after the war they submerged some of Europe for 40 years with untold horror, compromised both Britain and the US, and opened the door with the diligent diplomacy to entanglement in Vietnam. Here was a misconceived effort to contain Communism, fatal policy instead of unswerving confrontation. In Iraq, they sought in Hussein to make a a buffer to Iran; then they had to remove him! Again, in Egypt, some efforts were made to use Mubarak, now in revolutionary fall, while in Afghanistan, they sought affinity with the Islamic government despite its affinities with the Islamic surge, and to co-operate with Islam in Pakistan, a power engaging in devious deceits, now exposed in that divided land*1.
All this has greatly weakened the US, too wise in its secular strategies, drained in costly dynamics.
Seeking democracy for all lands is a current objective; but what if you liberate so that Islam and Sharia law can downgrade the place and value of woman, forcibly as in Iran remove opposition, or expand terrorist hostility to seek to overcome many a nation. Is that helpful ? to whom! DO NOT GO DOWN TO EGYPT was the contemporary caution of Isaiah from the Lord, do not look there but to God in whom we trust, for your deliverance. The USA needed to translate its position from its coinage to its heart in diplomacy and the way it dealt with all nations, whether in war or in peace.
Did it not make Hussein strong in Iraq, only to unmake him, pour forces into Vietnam only to withdraw and await multiplied millions of hacking and unfastidious murders from some of the most evil men of all time, throughout the South-East of Asia! Did it not pour money into Pakistan only to be betrayed, and stain the earth with its blood only to find dissimulation ? In God we trust. It was the message then, and it is so now. It needs to be followed instead of wild wallowings.
Useless to say with Obama, We are not a Christian nation! What they are is what they show; and there has been nothing nearly so impactive in US culture as Christianity. If now those who rule wish to abstract themselves from it, formally, that is a development, and if to co-operate closely with their young blood, as it flows freely, with Islam, even having their rampantly anti-Christian book, the Koran called holy by the US President as a professing Christian: then they do much more than betray Christ. They put His image on the gallows, where the Koran in image, has Him: for it is against His deity, salvation, grace, gift of eternal life, even showing confusion on whether or not He died.
So to degrade Christ, even if by implication, becomes a newly emphatic feature in the national approach of our nearest military partner in this land of Australia. We do well to watch and pray.
"Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted," says Isaiah in 31:6. It is a matter of spiritual emphasis in a democracy, and no legal chatter will alter that or the fact that righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34); whereas in our own, unrighteousness is trying us out to see how far we will bend, not only to forsake the cleanness of our Christian heritage, but to apply polluted principles with a high mind. Thus as a natural result of naturalism, sexual exploitation of the young proceeds by positively teaching children immorality as options, and alleging that almost ANY sexual preference on the part of anyone of reasonable age, is just fine, even to the point of making it a horror to express moral objection to such anti-design adventures, in effect encouraging vast misuse of the gift of reproduction by which the race is sustained (cf. (I Timothy 1:10).
EVERY defilement and removal from biblical truth and spiritual reliance on God, such as clearly stated in our own Preamble to our Constitution in Australia, by the literally mindless naturalism which is force-fed to schools, contemptibly by law excluding the best logical fit, creation*2, is one more bow to the gods adored by Communism, formerly hallowed by Russia, partner in World War II. Indeed, it is a thing mirrored by Obama in his land, where he has stressed evolution as what might be deemed a household god, that is, a cultural norm and necessity: it degrades the nation. It breaches the Bible which insists the creation was of the visible from the invisible (Hebrews 11), not from nothing, and persists in kind (Genesis 1), not in magical making of endless innovations, never found!
Is there liberty ? Those who would liberate others, are they bound!
Can students argue for creation, though disadvantaged by age relative to the academic engineers of naturalism who teach them ? Not at all: it is to have no place in an exclusivistic curriculum, in advance ruling out open testing, and insisting on a philosophy, which reaches in to control 'science', in this a mere pawn. Merely sodden with arrant philosophy is such scientistic defilement.
Such were evils in ancient Israel, not in their contemporary form, but in their vast departure from the law of the living God, with naturalism in its various forms (Jeremiah 2:27) and the gods of idolatry their friends. Moving from these alien preoccupations (it is NOTHING to do with race or skin colour: it is SIN COLOUR which is in view, the religious posture of a nation, and there IS one, make no mistake about that), Australia is close to formally changing its Constitution, in the Preamble to which it is stated that we are in reliance on Almighty God. Such was the view!
It is not more laceration of the Lordship of God and the morals of Christianity which is needed, but return to the One from whom there has been deep revolt, with FREEDOM to test all things. Return, said the Lord to Israel. It was only then that assurance is given to Israel that "Then the Assyrian will fall." That was a great and ruthless enemy, ready to demolish, ruin of the North.
The advice was not unheeded. King Hezekiah DID return massively and brought many with him. It WAS then historically, that the Assyrian DID fall! in a vast and well-attested victory. It was not by the hand of devious diplomacy, but of God Himself WHEN that King wrought a famous resurgence, and cleared out the land of its rampant follies with some zeal. It does not simply depend on one man, however; for later, even Josiah could not deliver them, for the nation by that time had become so grossly corrupted by preceding kings, such as Manasseh, that only purge at the national level would do. It was then the a humbled people had to bivouac in Babylon for 70 years of exile! From these features of orientation in the background, we proceed to Isaiah 32.
THE MIGHTY ROCK, HIS SHADE AND SPIRIT
Now we come to the eventual solution whether for this nation or any other, and for any within. We see the transition from national misrule, in Isaiah 31, to national rule in Isaiah 32, where the ruler is entirely spiritual, even the Messiah Himself. "The Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit," the Lord said in His denunciation of their wanderings, as of their seeking help from man and not God, the only God, for there is no other (Isaiah 43:10-11, and 45). Man is not to be confused about Him, for He has spoken from the first and encoded it in the only testable document telling man with the authority of God, who He is, where He is to be found, and where sits His salvation: what is to be done to be saved (cf. Isaiah 45:22-23, Acts 4:11-12).
Now in Isaiah 32, the One who IS GOD IS SHOWN. He will rule. As in Psalm 72 and Isaiah 11, we now see Him in actual national rule, which in the Psalm is exposed in its international view, as one who looks up from his street address to the city, as indeed in Isaiah 11 (11:9-10). However, of first importance is His nature and the nature of His rule. In this, since God is a Spirit, we look at spiritual matters pre-eminently.
What does He provide ? He is a hiding place, an image of which is provided most famously by the book, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. There we are told of a secret hidden place, brilliantly built into the house by an architect. Here, Jews were hidden en route to escape from a murderous Europe of that day. In Christ, there are likewise, spiritually and hence ultimately, those who have "fled for refuge" to Him (Hebrews 6:18-19), so laying hold on "the hope that is set before us." "HOW shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation!" the Lord denounces, in Hebrews 2:3.
Refuge ? it is more
than that for in Isaiah 32 we find that He gives not only
"a cover from tempest," and
"a hiding place from the wind," but does not
stop at the meteorological, for He also gives "rivers
of water in a dry place," and indeed acts as
"the shadow of a mighty rock in a weary land."
Nor is spiritual security and divine rest alone, secured in Him; for likewise, there is a surging vitality, not merely as from a well, for veritable "RIVERS of water in dry place" issue from Him (32:2,caps. added), as in John 7:37-38. In other words, the Spirit of God will be so vast in its amplitude, generous in its availability, that as in John 14:12, mighty things may be done, the dwelling place secure, the spiritual rations extensive. Indeed, "as the shadow of a mighty rock in a weary land," will He be, giving that acute sense of rest and refreshing, majesty and relief shown by Christ in His invitation to rest in Matthew 11:28-30.
Just as this is the spiritual repository of power in the name of the Messiah, so "a king shall reign in righteousness" as in Isaiah 11, even the Messiah through David, the Son sent from God (Isaiah 9:6, 48:16), who as God will bring healing to a world, before its final bout ended, it departs (Isaiah 51:6, II Peter 3). Isaiah 32:5ff. shows how quite essential in the heart of man, is to come to Him in truth by trust, so gaining new life, spiritual revelation, personal illumination, so that many will be changed. It is
as in Colossians 1:9, where Paul seeks for those of Colossae,
"that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you may walk worthy of Him, fully pleasing Him," and
in Ephesians 1:17, where the apostle seeks for that Church,
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,"
so fulfilling these things in many in the Church, before His Majesty comes, and the time for that is near (Luke 21:24). His sacrifice (Isaiah 53) brings ground for pardon and spiritual regeneration.
Christianity, in Jesus Christ, is a life as well as the way and the truth (John 14:6), and this is your life who, knowing God, find not only such things but that this King is not only the King of the Jews, but the Lord of glory for all nations (I Cor. 1, Galatians 3:23, Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). It is He who casts a shadow of envelopmental shade over the spirit of His people, and opens their minds and understanding, changing their character, for "the heart of the rash will understand knowledge and the tongue of stammers will be ready to speak plainly," Isaiah 32:4ff.. In other words here is spiritual stability, so that "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation," as in Isaiah 33:6.
HIS RULE and THE BLESSED ASSURANCE
Isaiah 32 proceeds to show the moral brilliance of the light of Christ, as when car headlights shine on a garage, brightly outlining details. In this reign of this king, we find, ghoulishness will no longer be treated as if it were godliness (32:5), for the moral divide is utter, and unholy, ungenerous, unspiritual conduct comes from unholy hearts. The day of moral majesty is coming, before this earth is going! (Revelation 20, Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Isaiah 11:9). Let us thank God for that!
Next the prophet traces the contrast between the righteous and unrighteous and assaults the complacency of those whose religion is a bagatelle, and whose lives are mere pride and self-assurance. Indeed, in the long interval before the fulfilment of this Messianic reign, there is much trouble, so that the sight of the spiritual life and what it means, is to be kept in view. It will come, but first there is derangement (Isaiah 32:14ff.),
"because the palaces will be forsaken, the bustling city will be
until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high ...
"Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness
remain in the fruitful field.
The work of righteousness will be peace and the effect of righteousness,
quietness and assurance forever.
My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings,
and in quite resting places."
Christ is Lord as well as Saviour, so that not only does His righteousness, HIS work, as in Isaiah 53, become the restful ground of our salvation, but it gives eternity to the faith which accepts Him and all that He has wrought (Titus 3:3-7, Romans 5:1-12). Thus indeed comes the assurance of eternal life, since what HE HAS DONE does not depend on our works (Ephesians 2), and what in faith receives what covers by His blood, His sacrifice, His eternal redemption, does not stagger but is kept by the power of God (I Peter 1). He stood fast and holds fast those who are His (John 5:24).
This as for His own sheep (John 10:9,27-28), brings "quietness and assurance for ever," (32:17). How not ? If He STATES that those who hear His words and believe in Him who sent Him have eternal life, does faith call Him a liar ? and if He states that we have passed from a state of death to life, is this to be controverted, or if that we do not come into condemnation, are we to condemn Him by NOT resting in assurance, as in John 5:24 ? It is void faith and attack on God, or valid faith and a resting in Him, and as it is put in Isaiah 11:10, the Gentiles will come to Him and find that "His resting place is GLORIOUS!"
Now we have the commission, that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us (and the one born of God, of him it is said that His seed remains in him I John 3:9, cf. I John 5:10-12), we shall ask what we will and it will be given to us. REST in realising His will, and SEEK to find it, while KNOCKING to have it done, giving rest to worry, anxiety and problem-pondering to the point of tension. Rather review your needs, itemise your troubles, pour out your heart to Him at all times as in Psalm 62, and bring every detail before Him, and the peace of God will garrison your hearts (Philippians 4:4-6). Faith breathes rest, and restlessness attests fraudulent or faint faith. "Work for the night is coming when no man can work," and do not rest in your work, or at the personal level, be double-minded as the nations tend to be, at best. Instead, rest in your Lord, for as Paul declares, "our sufficiency is of God," II Corinthians 3:5, for "we have such trust through Christ toward God!"
So may it be with each one of us. After all it follows, when your trust is not in yourselves, as Paul declares of them in his own day, for we are "not sufficient" in ourselves. We do not think of "anything as being of ourselves." Why not ? It is because our sufficiency is from God! If it is not of our works, but of His as in Ephesians 2, why then, trust in Him, for He has already taken all necessary steps! Believe, receive and rejoice in Him. Indeed, relish opportunity to work for Him, as an outflow from His inflow regaled with the banquet food of His love, with assurance forever in peace. On THIS basis, work as any slave, seek with love, abide in strength, and as a pilgrim, keeping to the highway of holiness, "sow beside all waters," Isaiah 32:20, freely sending out the means for the dissemination of the word of God, the Gospel of His eternal salvation.
Let each of us seek to send forth this sowing; and in this site, we seek to do just that by an electronic mission, which we ask many to water with their prayers, that the Lord may bless it to many a heart, bring relief to many minds and ingestion of the bread of life to many souls: He, crushed, triumphant over grave, the ultimate in care, the utmost in love, a prodigy of mercy, working not through fiddling but through faith, itself through grace a work of God, who has known His own before time, and finds them at His own time, who has no limits, in purity resplendent, in purpose immovable, in labours many indefatigable, in triumph illimitable.
Sow the Wind and Reap the Whirlwind
Underlining the treachery available in Pakistan-Afghanistan and the varied, disaligned policies rampant in both, is a report in The Australian newspaper today, June 11,2011.
It makes the more obvious the folly of trying to co-operate in any sense of mutuality with such Islamic nations, let alone with the degree of sharing which rose so dramatically from the type of Prayer Breakfast, Moslem moderate approach of Bush, to the kinship and adulatory approach of Obama, which has demeaned the nation, intrusively sought to define what the US actually is, which is far more than legal niceties and includes cultural foundations as well as famous elements such as its beginning Puritan element and strong Christian flavour.
In so acting, the President has eroded the approach to the Lord from that once great nation at the formal level, to something not far from zero, even if one suspends thought on treachery. With such steps, he has forwarded and the more enabled a blind-seeming entanglement, not the same as vigilant and spiritual action, with a pair of peoples, both heavily Islamic, with torturous involvements of their own in tribes, different levels of government, military, secret service or spying agency, and political voices. When the spiritual is astray, there is hardly any limit to the derivative confusions.
Thus in The Australian, June 11, 2011, we have from correspondent Greg Sheridan, inter alia, some review of a book published by Shahzad, now murdered, "Inside Al-Qa'ida and the Taliban."
In almost dizzied response, Sheridan seeks to characterise the revelations of this insider author.
"His book can make your head spin. Pakistan and Afghanistan are such a twisted rat's nest, of extremist groups, overlapping and conflicting tribal loyalties, dark institutional secrets. and everybody betraying everybody and playing all sides against the middle!"
There are wars where one is not to be; there are causes with
which one should never join; there are conflicts in which it is cowardice not to
join, and those where it is capitulation to take part. To join in ANY war where
enemies of Christ become partners, and even at the spiritual level, the enmity
is ignored or even rejected, even by a President elected not least on Christian
affiliation grounds, so that the place of Christ in the nation is for the whole
displaced, has a most fitting result. That ? it is to inhabit a very different
foundation from what the USA came in its early commencement, exhibited in much
in its notable rise, and to become ensnared not only in entangling alliances,
but debased deceits and flimsy fiascos, wheels within wheels, whorls and brawls,
betrayals and rewards for such spiritual nonchalance and debased decisions.
For those interested in the data, see SMR pp. 140ff., TMR Ch. 1, and The gods of naturalism have no go!