AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH June 19, 2011
CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
THE INDEFENSIBLE MISALLIANCES CONTRARY TO CHRIST,
AND HIS IRREPRESSIBLE GIFT AND IRREPLACEABLE POWER
Isaiah 32-34, Proverbs 14:34
Last week, we considered the background in Isaiah 31 and the message in Isaiah 32. Now we move to the second part of the survey of Isaiah 32-34.
We have been looking for Isaiah 32, at
THE MIGHTY ROCK, HIS SHADE AND SPIRIT,
THE BLESSED ASSURANCE ... Isaiah 32-34.
We now gaze at in Isaiah 33, at
THE MORAL FIRE, THE NAVAL HEADQUARTERS
AND THE COMING CONSUMMATION.
Before we move on to the core of Isaiah 33, we find at its outset a vast warning.
TREACHERY becomes an incisive warning, like a cut in the flesh before an operation reaches its height. Let there be no fumbling, rumbling, tumbling about like a young whale in the waters. This is for the heart; and it requires faithfulness both in mutual dealings and with the Lord. It is very like an operation. You do not go charging into it with cow manure and dirtied hands from milking, as if it were nothing and of course everything would be all right. You proceed in the fear of God, for "the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever."
You do not say, Ah yes, religion, one need not be too careful, conscientious or alert. On the contrary, it is with GOD that you deal, and FOR Him and if you know Him, IN Him, so that not less but far more care is required. It is not the care of self-importance, moreover, but the care of prayer and entering into His presence through nothing less than the blood of a murdered man, in this instance the Son of God, who died for sin and rose for triumph to supply that from which man has lapsed. Thus, in love, God Himself has moved in operations spectacular, selectively through faith to restore beyond the beginning, even to the place of children of God (I John 3:1ff.).
You do not LIVE ambiguously, nor act untrepidatiously, nor with the carnal competence of mere flesh; that is not the way with God. Rather, you proceed with your sufficiency from God (II Corinthians 3:1-4), not as if the grace and generative power is from yourself, but as dependent on God, so that the transmission from Him, becomes the grace in you.
This being said (Isaiah 33:1-2), and looking to the Lord in time of trouble with this basic and ongoing reality in your life, as well as the peace already aired in Isaiah 32:15-17 and considered in Ch. 4 above, we empathise with those so seeking the Lord: "Oh LORD, be gracious to us; be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble." So is the grace sought for His people, as many as trust in Him.
A time is indeed coming when those uplifting themselves against the Lord will find their abasement; for as in Micah 7, Isaiah 66 and Habakkuk 3, the Lord IS coming, and not only for His saints at the appointed time (Matthew 24, I Thessalonians 4), but for His kingdom. You see a reflection of that oft-presented picture in Isaiah 33:5-6. Invariable characteristics available for His people are also focussed with His coming rule:
"wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of Your times,
and the strength of salvation. The fear of the Lord is His treasure," Isaiah 33:6.
Whether with the presence of the Lord in troubles, or in the kingdom to come, of which the Lord's prayer speaks, THIS is one of the foci of spirituality, and norms of godliness, to be sought in His presence. Isaiah 33:6 is like an engagement ring!
Whether His times be those preliminary as now, where we all are subject to much testing, or then, when regal authority is invested in His reign on this earth filled with the glory of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea, in that great day (Isaiah 11:9): it is one God with great features, foci and gifts.
Like a teacher with eager and aligned pupils, so the Lord treasures the fear of the Lord. It is to be noted in 33:6, that the capital letters are an option, and whether they are put in or out, the spiritual message is profound. Since however the issue is the Lord Himself as in Isaiah 11, 32, this is the translation here given.
Contrasts are rife in this area. We turn now to the area of treachery, and view the diplomatic "ambassadors of peace," taking up the theme of Isaiah 31:1-3, already contemplated in Ch. 4 above. BREACH of the covenant brings only condemnation, not the athletic but the asthenic, not grace but mourning, languishing such as smites so many of the nations on earth at this time. It is not an accident. It is so in false churches and fallen peoples, seeking one unity for all but the flies on the wall (cf. News 121, 122).
Breach that covenant in Christ's blood, the just given for the unjust to bring us to God, play with fire, move about with the Egypts of this world, and that reed on which you lean, will merely pierce your hand, as many are finding out and WILL, in the coming days. It is not least to help some at least to awaken to God and truth and the issues of pardon and peace, before engulfment in calamity, that the word of God is preached, whether this be to nations or individuals, to churches astray or to followers of false prophets.
"The earth ... languishes," as in Isaiah 33:9, mirrored for our times in Luke 21 and Matthew 24. False ambassadors, political, social, religious, abound and seek mischievous misalliances to break the power of the people of God, to lead nations to forsake godly foundations, corruptive as Harpies, cacophonous amid the harps, calamitous and forsaking all blessing. So it was to be; so it is.
Alas, judgment on Zion comes first (Isaiah 33:10-13, cf. 29:1-4), as it did, and has done these near to two millenia, and it is as if hyenas were seeking the last bones; but they will fail ignominIously as in Micah 7, Isaiah 66 and 59. The Lord asks us in 33:13, to acknowledge His might, for all this He has done. In Zion, however, there arises a just fear. If they started the fall which now so many Gentiles nations have followed, the former in the theocracy, the latter often in democracy, yet there is hope as in Romans 11.The TIME WILL COME when Zion will awake (Romans 11:25ff., Ezekiel 36-37 cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 10, SMR Appendix A).
THE MORAL FIRE
The standards never vary at the conduct level, and they are levelled for the eye at Isaiah 33:14-16. Read this and rejoice. Here is THE MORAL FIRE. Where the fear and accordingly the faith which God breeds is operative, then such is a path for holiness, a highway of holiness for the redeemed as in Isaiah 35. Abiding in the word of God, the redeemed so placed will find this, despite all this world can serve. It is found by the Lord's people in spirit now, but will declare itself in glaring reality in Christ's rule which is to come (Acts 1:7, Psalm 2, Matthew 25,Isaiah 65, Micah 4).
"He will dwell on high;
His place of defence will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him.
His water will be sure."
One has in the last 50 plus years, had much opportunity to find in the midst of interminable seeming persecutions, the ineffaceable truth of these words. The Lord is indomitable, His courage irrepressible, His boldness beautiful and His grace inimitable and incomparable.
But there is more to be revealed. Paul selects from this for his epistle to the Corinthians 1:20, in proclaiming the Gospel amid the ruined ashes of the surrogates, the impostors of this world. Look, however, now at the context more expansively by reading it here.
"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
They will see the land that is very far off.
Your heat will meditate on terror:
"Where is the scribe ?
Where is he who weights?
Where is he who counts the towers?
You will not see a fierce people,
A people of obscure speech beyond perception,
Of a stammering tongue that you cannot understand."
When the Assyrian came, there was terror but a seeking of the Lord in the day of Hezekiah (Isaiah 35ff.). Not so when the kingdom comes; and even now, one is not subjected in spirit to the obscure speech of fancy false prophets, those who propound idolatry, be it spiritual or political, following fey leaders to their doom. Rather, stayed in the Lord (not staid, but spiritually alert and alive), we who are His find the perfect clarity of heaven in Him, and in His word light, obscurity for the birds, truth for the heart.
So does the prophet speak, and then in Isaiah 33:30 we come to the NAVAL HEADQUARTERS.
THE NAVAL HEADQUARTERS
Vested in an allegorical type, in Isaiah 33:20-24, we see Jerusalem with its stakes never to be removed, while it is a quiet home; for this is in part Jerusalem which is above (Galatians 4:26), the founded site of all believers for all ages, who have known the Lord and His covenants in Moses and then new, in Jesus Christ, fulfilling the former to the letter, but abounding in liberty.
When Christ returns to rule from Jerusalem in a supreme vindication of truth and fidelity, Himself the Head, not of an occupied city by aliens who lust for the land of His own appointment to Israel (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4), but by Himself, the Lord of all, who presides where He was crucified: there you will see IN HIM, a tabernacle which will not be taken down. It was taken down once, in the crucifixion (cf. John 2:19), that temple as He portrayed it then, His flesh, but not so again, for He was dead and is alive for evermore (Revelation 1:18ff.).
Its cords will not be broken, we are told. Its bindings are sure, its situation is distinct, the Gospel is inalienable (Galatians 1), the practical fruits of it appear, and not a jot or tittle of His word will fail.
There, in His reign on this earth, the Lord will indeed be "majestic ... a place of broad rivers and streams, in which no galley with oars will sail, nor majestic ships pass by."
What does this mean ? In His coming rule on this earth, the Lord will not tolerate further defilements of truth, glamorous treachery, elegant betrayers, for as in Isaiah 32:3ff., so in 33:21ff.), not pretence but reality will rule. Hypocrisy will cringe, error will bow. The roles will be reversed as in the Prisoner of War Camps in Word War II, when the troops of the Allies liberated. But this ? It is not in the power of man but the hand of God, Himself present, judging not according to appearance but reality (Isaiah 11) and concerned for poor and needy, His redemption in focus crucially (as in Psalm 72). "The LORD is our King; He will save us." The lie has now no latitude, and truth rules, we find in Isaiah 33:32.
As for the enemies that would invade, as always, as from Eden, to soil and spoil this solemn loveliness, exuberant peace and beauty of holiness, "they could not strengthen their mast," in such waters as these. "They could not spread the sail." Neither stability nor dynamic do they have. Their day is past, and their testing role is over; their lessons learnt are open to all who behold the wastelands of history, whether of the Jews as predicted for Israel (as in Leviticus 26, for example), or of the Gentiles as shown in our newspapers now, in accord with the Bible (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Chs. 8 - 9).
THE COMING CONSUMMATION
Thus many are found, and the ways of the prince of this world are confounded just as they were always confused (John 14:30, I Corinthians 2:8), for the leadership of this world has had but minute awareness of the Lord, and has had "nothing in Me," as the Lord declared. As in Isaiah 53:12, concerning this same Saviour, Jesus Christ, where "He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He has poured out His soul to death," so here, "Then is the prey of great plunder" divided.
Nor is it a matter of the survival of the fittest (as also excluded in Amos 2:15-16), always irrelevant to any advance, a mere plucking out not giving any guarantee to surviving rats or other vermin to become other, on the one hand, or effacement to those simply shown mercy on the other, who remain in any holocaust or calamity. Sparing is for repentance, not for boasting (cf. Romans 2:1ff.). Thus "the lame take the prey", for it is by the power of God that any are to be saved, preyed on by evil, but now rescued for a better thing than arrogant degradation, victim or victor. Indeed, the rescue is utterly divine in nature and result. There was never anything better for man than restoration to what was his at first, with the additive in the Gospel of eternal life, as also seen where faith worked in the Old Covenant (as in Psalm 16-17).
Now sickness is excluded from any prominence and dominance (Isaiah 33:24), and indeed, resurrection has come to the entire Christian family: Jew (cf. Zechariah 12:10-13:1) and Gentile (cf. Romans 11:29-36); and all of these who are His. They are a pardoned people, "a royal priesthood" (I Peter 2:9). Indeed, they are "a chosen generation" as in Psalm 22:30-31, for so they are "accounted to the Lord" as a generation. Indeed, THIS generation, there predicted to come and declare the Lord's righteousness to "a people who shall be born", to wit our own and those before us attesting Jesus the Christ, indeed all Christians till this very consummation, now will they shine in their God-anointed and God-anointed glory as born-again reflectors, as in Matthew 13:43, now at the summit of earthly rest.
Let those of us, therefore, who are already the Lord's , part of that chosen generation who speak of the Lord's sacrificial cover of sin and power for His people - before He comes at the consummation (Acts 3:19ff.), when He is here once more - rejoice in hope, constant in prayer, joyful in persecution, diligent in service, peaceable in disposition, fearless in testimony, working before the night comes when no man can work, in preparation for that very consummation on this earth, where evil cannot lift its sail, because its tackle is loosed.
Long has it been so in spirit; then it will be so
in visible terrain, actual world situation, and the earth will indeed be filled
with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.