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STORIES ABOUT STORIES AND FACTS ABOUT TRUTH
THE UNIVERSAL SIN ATTACK,
AND THE ONLY ANSWER, JESUS CHRIST
A TALE OF TWO PITIES
News 426, The Australian, Monday November 9, 2009
"COME AND HEAR, ALL YOU WHO FEAR GOD,
AND I WILL DECLARE WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR MY SOUL."
TIME TO CONSIDER THE TIMES
THE WONDERS, WISDOM AND WORKS OF GOD 66:1-7
Ahmadinejad has been exalting himself, his religion, his intentions, his power, his ruin prescribed for Israel, using his alleged God, this Allah (the 'one' but WHICH one!), as a ground for inane boasting, while others, such as the Taliban, that rigorist invader of women's liberties and a populace's individuality with no demonstrable ground*1 , have now made their point through a monthly online magazine.
Australia, say they, must assimilate into a Moslem unity or be overpowered by Asian powers and numbers*2 . This sort of intimidatory tactic, seeking a soft tissue in the heart and head of foolish nations in order to cajole or captivate or just capture them by degrees, as if the shadow of a great ocean liner alone, without the actual boat were to inspire fear, is not uncommon.
Psalm 68 has a word for such grasping imperialism, cloaked in religion, or mastered by false prophecy, or both.
In this Psalm, we are exhorted to make exuberant, joyful praise to God, exposing the wonder of His gracious and noble Being. It is through "the greatness of Your power," that "Your enemies will submit themselves to You" (v. 3). The whole earth is going to worship the sent One, the Messiah (as in Psalms 2, 67), the sacrificial Saviour (as in Psalm 22). It is He who will prevail in this, and not some substitute, erected without works corresponding, plying mere passing power, and lacking the testing sieve of detailed prophecy: no, nor any body eminently fulfilling the word of Christ's own prediction of many false prophets to come. It is therefore necessary to make it clear to all who rebel against the God of truth and grace, the Saviour, that there is great peril if you exalt yourself. Indeed, Psalm 66:7 declares baldly: "Let not the rebellious exalt themselves."
Interestingly, Isaiah 31, just before the Messianic rule of the Lord as exposed in Isaiah 32, specifically notes the fate of Assyria, which covered much of current Iran, with Iraq, that "through the voice of the Lord, Assyria will be beaten down," and that the breath of the Lord will be like "a stream of brimstone" kindling flame. You get a parallel message in Micah 5, following the revelation of the Messiah in Micah 5:1-3, so famously, and it is this.
"They shall waste with
the sword the land of Assyria ...
Thus He shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land,
and when he treads within our borders.
Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples, like dew from the LORD."
It is the Lord who will act. People of God do not go about seeking to subjugate the world, but to emancipate it freely in the love of God, which is full of a peace which passes all understanding because it is true! Micah 7:15 shows how it is the Lord who will deal with the assailants in a way spectacularly similar to the way He covered the Pharaoh of Egypt in the Exodus. These are things to come.
It is only fitting to warn these inflamed tongues of what is to come, for God is not mocked, and though He has waited long, He has already shown to the Islamic lust for land, something of the end of the matter, in World War I. The word of God is a warning, and it is conveyed here also, faithfully, to one and to all. It is wiser to play games for fun with radioactive equipment than to toy with the God of all truth and mercy, whose Son is the Saviour and who died as the appointed time (Daniel 9:24ff.).
At the same time, the people of the Lord should not fear the armies of this or that false prophet. The people on this earth are being tested, and tyrants from of old have had their day; and yet this is different, for it culminates in such a storm that man would annul his own life on earth unless the Lord Jesus Christ returned to it, to bring balance, and peace, and truth, and repentance to many. It is He who is to rule in the beauty of holiness before our little stage, like a home on a sheep-station, among the stars, is removed.
In Psalm 66:6, similarly, the Lord is warning those who exalt their powers, to remember what He did in the Exodus: "for He keeps our soul among the living," (v.9), and it is for us to bless Him and "make His praise to be heard." WE who believe are not reconditioned as robots, slaves of other men's visions and dreams, but called to be saints, living in truth and mercy with the Bible attesting truth that none ever can overturn, and love that does not die, and the centre of it in the Cross of Christ. The “man of sin” to come (II Thessalonians 2) has other ideas.
The horrid imaginations of mankind will come to a head in this dark luminary, that dissolving star, soon to stare death in the face and wilt, in this wilful tyrant, that vapid and rapt raper of reality, leading men like mice in a plague to their destruction. As many go on their unillustrious way (II Timothy 3.4. I Timothy 3:1ff., II Peter 2ff., Matthew 24:24,6ff.), they will mindlessly gobble the gobbledygook provided. Will such a misled multitude rising even now like a flooding river, constitute merely an account of the defamation of the human race ? Alas,not so! What the Bible has here to say is rather an accurate report before the time, by God's foreknowledge, on the inflammation of this, our race, which our eyes see grievously true.
If biological rape is not uncommon, how much more is spiritual rape, as messengers of mindless materialism, intent on gaining logical coherence in what by their own definition lacks it, try to use their own spirits to direct masses to whom they deny the active privilege of themselves using such faculties: these they both abuse and deny. If the delusion is not this racket, as in Nazism (though it had its spiritual shadings), or Communism, or in many forms of Socialism, that touting of society that kills it by making it an end in itself, when it is demonstrably a product not of itself at all, and so is blind, then it is to be found in religious rackets which riot and seek power, as in Iran. There increasing unrest is raised against the dictators by those who do not want the rigours of unwarranted grandeur.
What Christ declared, concerning MANY false prophets and christs (Matthew 24:24) is indeed pertinent; for as He foretold, so do these abound on this earth, and many seem to have some kind of obsessive compulsion to follow them, even in many cases, by literally exploding and so blighting the life before them as they depart, leaving many in acute pain for life, while they for some idea or other, think that thus they will buy their way into the good graces of their Creator, whose children suffer the while on this earth by their means!
God Himself, who made man able to find the brilliant wonder of reason, is reasonable. Thus in Isaiah 1:18, He invites people to come and reason together, providing the only sensible solution to the sins of pretence, pretension, delusion, dictatorship and the like, in offering the remedy, costly though it is shown to be (Isaiah 49-55) to man's self-manacling and disorientation. Being reasonable is one of the attributes required in the people of God (cf. I Peter 3:15), and our website has for long specialised in this feature. This however in order to be there at all, MUST as it does, both investigate and verify what reason requires, and what a friend it is found to be to one who seeks truth. It ushers one (as in SMR, TMR) into the place of God, His word and His works, His salvation and how to gain it freely.
This it is able to do not only because reason helps identify what is to be found from God, and that of course is there because God in His actual grace and mercy put it there expressly so that it MIGHT be found! One does not create a treasure when one shows how it is to be found, far less when the maps are part of the treasure and are freely available. As to Him who rules man, He is by no means infatuated with fatuity, but spreads in the Bible, the whole testimony of truth for rational investigation and verification, validation and application. There is in fact nothing else even remotely like this, and it works. All that God does works. That is just ONE reason for praising Him as does the Psalmist here in the 66th Psalm, to which we now turn as it unfolds further.
THE REFINEMENT AND PURGING OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD 66:10-15
Being a child of God is not some opportunity for blather and self-esteem! Animals can bray and fray for supremacy, but to man is given a heart that needs reconstitution as divine wisdom enables, not to continue degraded, as an object for the rich and powerful to have as a plaything for their national and international aspirations, contemptible as these normally are, have been, and continue to be. Thus of the people of God, we read in Psalm 66:10-12, that "You have tested us!"
Indeed: “You have refined us as silver is refined," so that at times we were smitten for our sins, and we "went through fire and through water". Yet is the object of the purging clear, the due use of discipline, cleansing and a liberated spirit that loves and fears nothing but God, "You brought us out to rich fulfilment." Thus proven in life, the Psalmist overflows with joy and seeks to bring to the Lord the testimony of his love, which in our time, now that the Messianic predictions are fulfilled in salvation, translates to this:
¨ "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
by whom the world is crucified to Me
and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14).
At times a slovenly spirit, a sleepy one, a clammy one can afflict the not-so-chaste heart of man; but with the purging of God's own discipline (and HIS discipline is an art form at times!), there comes to the Christian the acute and keen awareness of His presence, power and the beauty of His holiness in which the saints are to live. It rather resembles awakening from concussion and finding not only clarity, but what is clear as a magnificence in magnitude, beauty and holiness that give both energy to life and meaning, and with these, capacity to pursue it though death yawns (cf. Hebrews 12:11 in vv.2-29). .
Paul was tested, a special spur to unease troubling him in his body, and again and again he sought the Lord (II Corinthians 12), that He would remove it; but the answer was a clear no! God is not a fool who indulges His children, and while He gives great ground for the utmost exuberance of praise, He also withholds or afflicts at times. Thus we may learn that some error is profound, far more than we at first realised, or that self-will has come to be present though it seemed to be absent, or that we have been growing insensitive, when it seemed ‘just normal living’, whereas in fact it was no more bathed in the dew of heaven than is the sand in the mid-day sun in the desert.
Complacency is a dreadful disease, and worry is another. Sometimes people move to this South Pole of worry and then move to the North of complacency, like migrating birds, and so have two poles, or in some ways grow spiritually bipolar: nor is this simply a disease, for it can become a diseased attitude.
David was tested, for after his outrageous affair with Bath-Sheba (not a custom, but ONE particular fall in his life), he had to suffer not once or twice, pain and pangs in his own family circle, bringing home to him in a humbling and instructive fashion, the very enormity of having so rashly disregarded the sacred ties of godly marriage, when interfering as if a bull and not a man. Psalm 51 shows the depth of his horror at himself in a repentance without any effort at excuse; but the rest of his life shows an increasing voiding of self-will and resilience not only physically, for he was strong in heart, but spiritually; for being poor in spirit is a sublime result, and a lovable one.
His men evidently did love him as you see strongly indicated in the case when his wish, in battle mode, for water from the old supply of Bethlehem led a man to risk his life to get it for him: but he, David, he would not drink it, as if he thought himself worthy of such courage and risk for his mere personal pleasure, on the part of another. He poured that precious water on the ground, refusing to have pleasure in what could have killed the man who gained it.
So does the Lord polish us, and let us praise the Lord that He does; for if the choice is between pain and humiliation, with increasing godliness, likeness to the Lord, on the one hand, and ease and pleasure without it, on the other, then pain is the preference, for the beauty of His holiness is the very stuff of heaven.
Of course pain is not enjoyable, but the fruits of discipline in faith are desirable, being profound and holy, just and true, reaching to infinity, but designated in personality, indeed in the very Persons of the Trinity, ever blessed. Always at last, He is refreshing to those who know Him (cf. Acts 3:19ff.). Where truth is involved, and God is He, nothing else ever even begins to have a bearing by comparison. He is incomparable in wisdom, power and beauty
TIME FOR TESTIMONY 66:16-20
"Come and hear," he says, "all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul."
There is a time to testify, as I do here, of all the wonder and depth of the Lord's dealings, His mercy in awesome depth, His vision in overpowering glory, His truth in cleansing onrush, His word in fascinating delight, His deliverances like those of houses just prevented from scorching in the flames, which threatened, There is a time for rigour. His intimacies of wisdom and His enablements of self-control, and one delights in His determination that His will be done His way because it is the ultimacy and beginning of right before Him who made all in love and redeems in mercy. This beggars the thoughts and instructs the soul: for HE is the conductor, and who are we, who play in His orchestra with His inspiration, to contest what is our "reasonable service" for Him, which He appoints (cf. Romans 12:1-2), that "living sacrifice" of unqualified love of the One who IS lovely.
But what of us ?
Being a "living sacrifice" as in Romans 12, Paul exhorts us to become, is not in any way similar to making of God a carrier van for ever bigger bonuses to income, to prosperity, to influence and gain, popularity and self-importance. You do NOT sacrifice yourself by seeking your own fulfilment; and if you DO seek to save your life, let alone try to make God an accomplice in your nice little equations for self, then you will assuredly lose it (Matthew 16:26ff.); and good riddance too; for such a thing is detestable, like a form of prostitution, but this one, it is spiritual. Alas for the mindlessly dissident from deity! How much then must one do now to enhance the scope of the Gospel: not that God will fail in anything, but love must attempt anything that His grace enables.
"I cried to Him with my mouth," says the Psalmist in retrospect, and He was "extolled with my tongue." This is no parade of praise, like a salute to your C.O. (whatever you may really think of him), for
¨ "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear,"
but "certainly God has heard me! He has attended to the voice of my prayer."
There is the challenge: if you want to take God for a ride in your self-moved, wind-surf thrust and play, you are merely absurd, and your prayer will be discountenanced, as with counterfeit money. Despite the caveat, and the need to clear the motives, seek the face of the Lord (Psalm 27:7-10), when He calls, and let your ardour know no bounds.
Such appears the case with the Psalmist, and hence for him the prayer is heard. That is one of the beautiful things about God, that you do not have the misrepresentation, slander, gandering and graceless acts of distortion in which man excels; for as to Him, He KNOWS. Facts are immovable, undistortable and grace reigns. Nor should one be weighed down with guilt: if you fall, repent at once, and arising, like a child who fell in the street, put on the bandages of righteousness, the gift of God and being purged (Titus 3:5ff., Romans 5:17, I John 1:7ff.), bless God "who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me!"
See More Marvels ... Ch. 4, SMR pp. 1080ff., and Index.
The Islamic presentation was recorded in The Australian, November 6th. 2009.