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THE ETERNAL GOD,
BEFORE ALL BEGINNINGS
ENDLESS AFTER ANY END
God, before and beyond all, is a personal Being,
infinite in wisdom and goodness,
dependent upon none, independent of all,
electing some, and with desire to bless all,
even sacrificing Himself to save man
by personal advent among His creation.
This has been accomplished by death
in their own form at their hands,
and resurrection in that identical bodily form by His power,
by this means disposing mercy to all who receive Him and His action
to save from sin, both its disruptive forces and its due judgment.
The exponent of His power, His eternal word, was Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1, John 8:58, 16:15), translated and incarnated from equality in eternity (Philippians 2), living and dying precisely as predicted up to 1000 years beforehand. This is His authorised and precise identifier on earth, His infinitely endued, eternal word and expression. It is so that as many as believe in Him, are saved, sanctified by His Spirit and given eternal life (John 3:16, I Peter 1:2).
Those who hate Him, source of life, love death (Proverbs 8:32-34), as those who avoid Him find judgment, unallayed by His free remedy. God before our time was, in His wisdom knew who were His (I Timothy 2:19, Ephesians 1:4, I Peter 2:8), not from their works or wisdom but from the divine knowledge of their willingness, before sin was, a free item before His eternal sight. As He is moved by love, so His door is never shut to those who truly seek Him.
Man is not lost because of God, but because of his large-scale refusal to receive Him even on free terms; for God will not force (John 3:19, Matthew 23:37, Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2). All power does not dictate to man and force 'him' to come, since man in His image in his own spirit is not made susceptible to it, and a mere, dragged in, similar residue of manhandled man would be an illusion, husk or anomaly. God does not deal like that, being a Spirit.
Let us look further at this side.
The eminently creative God has made an extraordinary spirit, clothed in biological body, endued with physiological marvels of manufacture, including the symbolically written commands which generate successive generations of the bodily equipment of such being, known as infants; and this is done in marvellous and conspicuous detail and ingenuous ingenuity mixed with staggering subtleties at the technical level, which even eminent human scientists marvel; for they are utterly unable to initiate such work, while struggling to comprehend it. This equipment has the great hall-mark and feature, that it works, it does the job, man is heavily enhanced at the level of person. Nor are any half measures apparent in the rocks, as if there had been earlier attempts, and God had struggled to get it right, nor do these litter the earth, its heights nor its depths, so that the simplest life on record still dwells at the heights of engineering and mathematics, if less prolific than others. Beyond all this, is the next step.
This construction is merely an implement, better than a stone axe to be sure, but an instrumentality all the same. It is partly programmatic and partly able to become subject to interference or, in the better cases, utilisation. Nor is this all; for while the body has means on this earth in this time, to limit its days of life, it does not have intrinsic immortality, there being equally a way freely to objectify eternity, as shown above. Moreover, it does not possess the capacity to prevent or exclude evil to its construction; and indeed instead, has the liberty of choice, limited by its state of mind and will. This enables it to select suicide, whether this be in the area and arena of the mental by adopting irrational ideas, or physical by cutting its throat, or moral, by ignoring its needs in acts of irresponsible outrage against its very self, or spiritual. As to that last, let us consider.
For man has something more again! His selection of ideas, actions, principles, morals, dreams, desires, his use of deliberations, plans and purposes, his imagination which can construct ludicrous or marvellous challenges to pursue, or relative inertia, his disposition or disposal of opportunities, whether in this or that phase of his penetrating abilities, is personal. It may be inclined to the logical, irrational, wilful, oblivious, hedonistic, or to the heights and depths of understanding. This, though a staggering potential splendour, becomes a trap because of the arbitrary, the uncounselled and the merely assertive spirit which may be adopted or applied; and so man is engulfed in many wars between persons, nations, ideas, ideologies, constructions of thought and aims of force.
These uncontrolled elements, these increasingly lethal potentials extend their exposure of themselves as man becomes more equipped with knowledge concerning himself and his universe. As he ages, conspicuous are signs of an ever increasing trend towards bold perversity: that is derangement of thought and idea, ideal and moral, understanding and humility, till his existence is not only acutely threatened by his brightness, but likewise it is penetrated by his follies (cf. Ezekiel 28:15-17). Chief among these is the abuse of logic and thankfulness, realism and humility, realism and integrity, through trying to imagine that nothing or anything from anywhere, somehow, is his source, in a lapse of logic truly profound. In other words, he shrugs off his Maker (cf. Ch. 15 below), and comes increasingly to make force shove away his Constructor in the minds of many, so that he becomes filled with a (very due) sense of meaninglessness, springing up from the depths, grasping at phantoms (cf. News 98, 97), a sense that sweeps readily on, as with Hitler, Stalin, Mao and many others, into all but unimaginable brutality, self-sufficiency and ambition, unbalanced by fact, all but unimpeded for a time, in act.
Thus allowing the greatest fulfilment of the definition of design visible on earth, mankind, NOT to be called it, thus ridiculing the actual, and the most rationally visible commander of all (cf. SMR, TMR, Repent or Perish Chs. 2, 7, 9), whose instructions amount to trillions of elements in any one man, these effectively integrated in endless seeming circuits and chronological encasements, with the functions of symbols embedded in the receptor structure to carry them out, to be passionately ignored, what figures amid the results of this fantasy inebriation ?
It is this. Man suffers accordingly and as usual, the results of liberated passion. Thus in nation after nation, God is not to be recognised or given authority and place as eternally adequate and necessary for all this, as man lapses into philosophical infantility (cf. Deity and Design ...), as if the only right were the wrong (cf. Isaiah 5:20). This he can do because all these facilities of choice and implementation of will became perverted by the intense desire to try God on, and find out what happens if He is disobeyed, His laws circumvented (where possible) and His ways denied. What gift has man that he can deny logic as present from the first, and yet use it to trace the supposed origins! Self-contradiction is always the eventual result of contradiction of reality.
What are these facilities of choice which man cannot create in his own creations, which directly or indirectly depend on his streaming of ideas, possibilities, ideals, resolutions, convolutions of complexity and elements of stark simplicity ? They need a name and this normatively is SPIRIT. It is the spirit of man, the chief component which has every element of choice, penetration in profundity and expression of desire at every level (cf. SMR pp. 348ff., Predestination and Freewill, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, Deliverance from Disorientation ... Ch. 8). This is astray with more and more overlays and insets of folly, as he wars himself into oblivion (as far as permitted by his Maker - cf. Matthew 24:22), at the individual, national, rational and political level.
It is the SPIRITUAL base which is abused (often verbally by decadence) and suffers abuse. This, his spirit, is the user and often the abuser of his bodily equipment, deploying the mind to do its bidding, and it is this that employs the brain for its agency; and as his spirit consigns itself in its own principles and priorities, it slaughters at will (where able) and sacrifices in love (sometimes, and indeed parentally almost normatively!). Hence there is also the spiritual choice and its consequences in the realm of the Everlasting Creator Spirit (not subject to creation, being the eternal Creator). One of these resultants at the spiritual level primarily, is eternal life, dwelt on above, and to be received, if at all, as a gift through its own gate, grace and grant (John 10:9, Romans 3:23ff., Galatians 4); and the other is eternal exclusion from the Spirit to whom our spirits return.
So profound is the intensity of desire or hostility, grasp for autonomy itself, as if a god, or the hatred of morality, reality, conditions of living, that the wonder of God and His free gift of eternal life becomes intolerable, unsustainable, to be avoided at all costs. To trash truth however in the very heartland of the spirit is far from a triumphant move, nor is its outcome glorious*1.
THE DEAD END
Where Light is Excluded
Since it cannot be borne
Hell is a site of eternal destruction (II Thessalonians 2) and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12), fitting for its ways, attained by those known in eternity by God as rejecting His grace (Acts 13:48, John 3:16-19, Ephesians 1:4, I Peter 2:8), preferring their own options to the wonders that are His. This is so, for God would have all to be saved (Colossians 1:19ff., Ezekiel 33:11, Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42, John 3:15-19,36), yet not in tyranny but in truth, being Himself the truth (John 14:6). Accordingly, He hates hypocrisy (Matthew 23, Isaiah 29:13) and does not abide with it, which makes Him seem a horror to many hypocrites, equivocators and procrastinators, Hamlets and Macbeths, a non-conformist to their thrusts and desires, or anaesthetised wanderings!
Yet He does not willingly afflict the children of men (Lamentations 3:33), so that it is apt and fitting to keep to the biblical depiction of the results of His absence through rejection BY man, and not to imagine what is not stated.
It is not He who presents from the outset to the onset, a barrier for man, but man in masses, by rejection (Proverbs 1). It is man who refusing the ransom of God, forges and forces his own woeful demise on himself (John 3:18-19, Isaiah 48:15ff.)j. God would have it otherwise, but not by mere force or pretence, His free Spirit calling to man (Proverbs 1:20ff., 8-9). To those who rely on denying or reviling or rejecting, remember this, to the truly wayward, the thought of God, and how much more the reality, is positively unendurable, and the nearer He would be, the worse it would be for such hearts.
finding acceptance in Jesus Christ, there is a joy in reality, which excels
happiness, and it has a base both earned and existential. With peace, it is
earned, however, not by man but by God (John 16-17), and then given and granted
through the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus (Galatians 5).
THE LIVELY REVIVAL
Like so many other words, this one, like Jerusalem, can have various meanings, either basic or metaphorically by extension. In all such cases, the flights of imagination, or rhetoric or the flow of meaning, is discerned by the circumstances of the usage. We do not look for extended, amended or distended usages without good reason, which tends to reek with the obvious because of the pattern and style of the writing, or on the other side, even through its being positively inimical, unakin to abnormal usage. Failure to observe this caution, normally all but automatic in understanding good writing, where the object of conveying the intended meaning is held in mind by the writer, can readily occur. Very often it is through a tilt in the DESIRE for what the meaning might be; but this trend must be carefully resisted, and each presentation given its fitting terms and depiction when it comes to meaning.
Let us take some contexts in Isaiah. You cannot readily miss the point that in 51:17-23, an earthy Jerusalem is in view, one without allegorical extension, for example. We find in this respect that her 'sons' have fainted, scarcely applicable as a general depiction of the Christian Church, which some amazingly might force it to mean, in pursuit of their purposes. These sons, we read, in a generic depiction, "lie like an antelope in a net," and this again, is scarcely to be confounded with the triumphant phalanxes guided by the resurrected Lord. Indeed, i t is not only their difficulty but its source which clinches the matter, for they are stated to be "full of the fury of the Lord." The Lord is not in such an adversarial relationship with His Church, however many may be the false prophets which seek to imitate and seduce it.
Such negativity is not fitted to the denizens of the Christian Church, equipped with the blessing of the Lord, and are not sites for the clouds of His continuing wrath and enmity. These are not netted by earth but liberated by heaven. Nor, for that matter, are these "the captive daughter of Jerusalem," as in the introductory Isaiah 52:2 (John 8:30).
Indeed, here the narrowly confined reference is to a city that once before was exalted in blessedness
It is moreover apparent that the body in question, Jerusalem, has been long in the thrall of divine wrath, in that the cup of this penalty is for a future time to be taken OUT of the hand of this same Jerusalem and set in the hand of a newly focussed body instead. That body ? It is compiled from "those who afflict you," who indeed having been characteristically given to making a negative command to Jerusalem. What command was that ? It was this: that they should "lie down that we may walk over you." This fits only one historical body, is not prone to imaginative lassoing. that That body, the referent, is the derelict, carelessly rejoicing and spiritually rebellious city of Jerusalem. At this point, Isaiah is given to point out that their persecutors are to receive their own come-uppance, suffer as Jerusalem their victim had suffered, and an entire new wonder is to approach this city.
It is the New Covenant (as foretold in Jeremiah 31:31ff), the Messianic First Movement, the wonder of Isaiah 53, in the field of Isaiah 55, and the scope of Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, where we learn of the fact that it is not ENOUGH that those chosen of the Lord in Israel be redeemed, but even those outside it will be targeted for this honour and this glory, a continuing inheritance of the city of old, so exactingly identified (51:8).
The Christian Church is not a body once IN the blessing of the Lord, then OUT of it, parted in exile, a body then in view as dispersed, defiled and evacuated, but now back as Jerusalem, the city in Isaiah 52:8-12 (and Jeremiah 33, Ezekiel 36-37 and Micah 7). Once defiled in sin and stricken in chastisement, they suffered till divine fury became a lodgement in them: then rescued, they are reminded of former blessedness! To seek to make this something else, is like fitting a size 15 foot into an infant's shoes, a worthless comedy. No, once a summit of blessedness in this bleak world, they are in thid prophecy back to their place and indeed this peak has more than just restoration to their premisses and promises.
The new Covenant as in Zechariah12 comes upon for them their restoration, for their city in the midst of wars and that glorious divine deliverance as these events reach their culmination. Now at last, the dislodged city and its associates, a branch cut off from its former place, is back in that very place, regaining what it lost (something of which NOT to be ignorant, as in Romans 11:25). So abounding, they abound the more, newly gaining what it lost in their former sacrifice of Jesus Christ, leading to both peace and protection in thisl grant of restoration. As in Ezekiel and Zechariah, it is a matter of divine faithfulness, not fitfulness, reliability according to His word (Genesis 17:7-8), not stressful rambling like that of some twenty first century executive, hardly aware of what he is doing amidst competing pressures.
Of course they will NOT and CANNOT be back to what they were spiritually, as is made more than clear, in Isaiah 30:8 and Isaiah 66:3 amid the state of their initial departure from their land for such a cause as killing the Prince of peace (Micah 5:3). It is "Jerusalem" IN "Jerusalem" as Zechariah 12:6 makes so emphatically obvious through repetition and emphasis; it is not some other "Jerusalem" invented by man or precipitated out of the imagination!
Instead, now re-instated as a nation (Jeremiah 31and 33), they will find that the Lord will comfort all their "waste places", removing them far from such former times as when the Assyrian reviled and brought disaster. Having placarded the identity of this role-reversing Jerusalem of deep and often disastrous history, comforted with a NEW spiritual liberty, the Lord in Isaiah 52-53 proceeds to exhibit the underlying marvel of that very reality. The replacement of animal sacrifices is none other than the Rock of ages in the format of man as the Redeemer brought to light in His grandeur of unexalted grief, which is the road to the exaltation of many.
In Zechariah 12, we find that the Lord will bring them as a specially afflicted people who wounded their own Messiah, to repent essentially of their piercing of Christ (Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 2). Their promised place in their lost land is back, their penalty is fulfilled (Leviticus 26:36-42 cf. Isaiah 40). God is vindicated, their crime is indicated, their sins are no more syndicated, and the "divorce" is over (Isaiah 54). Now Jerusalem's very walls will be salvation, as the metaphorical extension sets in, and its merger with divine marvels is seen in transformative vision (Isaiah 60). In that day, it may be seen as transfigured by grace into a most blessed sanctity (cf. Zephaniah 3:11-13), and things may even elevate in such context, into a glimpse into the very millenium. Indeed, in a special case, when given definition in the surrounding text as relating to all, the term 'Jerusalem', with the description 'new' however, is even usable for the wonders of eternity, all the nations participating freely. There is in the very amplitude of the coverage no possibility of error left. God is a great writer and knows precision whether in DNA, His word or His works.
Yet as with the usual case, the application of words with clear current connotation is not in meaningful writing left to whim, fancy or caprice, but constrained by context, which is not used for confusion, but at times for crystallisation of thought, impact of dramatic or challenging kind, awakening from stultified custom or enlightenment by sudden movement. What in personal contacts may be read in eye or gesture, in written material of vital and careful intent, is read in the word, the immediate context, the overall context, the relevant usages throughout the given text and the understanding inculcated by the author in his acquaintances.
Accordingly, Jerusalem, the site of His death, near that of His incarnation, of His resurrection, of His selfless humiliation, reminder of the intensity of His ignominy, having been levelled as Christ foretold, rebuilt, thus becomes an enduring, unique and inexpungeable testimony, not like those who become poetic and forget the basis of poetry, as in war poetry, but with all the energy of reality (Micah 4, Isaiah 2), He is glorified and facts do not become distorted into the mist.
Indeed, not only is the actual Jerusalem to be rebuilt after the destruction foretold by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:1ff., but its recovery from being downtrodden by the Gentiles will be a signal, a sign, an event with predictive power: when that happens, then the time of the royal return of the Redeemer, Jesus is near. This comes from His own lips. It is strange how they are so often ignored; but the results cannot be ignored, including the drama of the staggering victories against vast odds, as foretold in Zechariah 12, and attested in the Press of our own day. There is much detail associated.
Indeed, as in Micah 5 we see the babe features in the incarnation of the Lord, so in Zechariah 14, we find His feet returning to Mount Olivet, scene of such vastly significant events, in His coming, vindicated in victory, so that the earth (Habakkuk 2:14) will indeed be "covered with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." How most gracious is the Lord that even this is but a prelude, a preliminary; but as always, the Lord shows that He not only KNOWS but PERFORMS His word (Joel 2:11), plans and promises. A new heaven and a new earth await as in II Peter 3, Revelation 20. the old having its due by date in the mind of God.
As in Isaiah 62:2ff., the Lord long had set watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, so that He should have no rest in their exile, and restore the forsaken city and people, so that it might be called once more in its day, "sought out," and recognised as "a city not forsaken." So whether the scale be vast or small, in earth or in heaven, in this phase or in that, great is the Lord who magnifies His word above all His name (Psalm 138:2), and greatly to be praised. He never fails, even at the most stringent level (cf. Matthew 5:17-20). Deep are His counsels, and profound His ways.
Thus the culmination for Israel is the revelation for the Gentile, both exposed to the presence of the living God in His everlasting salvation, with the same meaning but diverse approaches to the same end. Attested in unison by Jewish apostles, exponents of the Gospel, it is conformed in character throughout as the bud to the bloom, the same scent its perpetual testimony, the same pardon its ravishing reality (Psalms 51, 32), the same mode of deliverance revealed from the first and culminated to the end in the divine consummation, that plan of salvation providing eternal rest in life which never loses either its reality, individuality or vitality.
It is not all the world which comes as one to this, for Christ did not even pray for it (John 17), and it goes its way; but this do the two phases, namely Israel and the Christian Church. Of these, the former becomes as one with the latter on the self-same basis borne home from the first, and maintained to the last (Genesis 3:15, 12:1ff., Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, with Chs. 60, 66, Romans 11, Galatians 3 and Revelation 7).
THE GIFT OF ETERNITY
Unison, Rest, Comfort,
Understanding, Intimacy with God
whose Qualities constitute the glory of eternity
On this, see for example Isaiah 66:10-13, John 11, Romans 11, II Corinthians 4:18-5:8, I Corinthians 15:42-58, I Thessalonians 4, II Peter 3:11-13, II Timothy 4:7-8, 1:12 and Revelation 7:14-17, 15:5, 21:4,9-27, 22:3-4,17.
The wonder of His comfort, the God of all comfort, and the comfort of His wonder, who only does wondrous things in the unquantifiable depths and heights and glory of His love (Ephesians 3) are more than prodigies, they are eternities, for the unharrowed home of the Eternal God, whose children each one individual, never die, nor does sin dog them, nor grief subdue. Immortal, incorruptible, unindictable (Romans 8:32ff.), they are the procured and paid for children of God, endued with everlasting consolation, and a profundity of peace natural to the supernatural God and a joy which knows no blight, for sin, lies and deception are as far as salvation is near, integral, inspiring. In this, their eternal home, they shall see God, not as natural products which can deteriorate as the genome on earth, but as joyful in glory, the cross of Christ their warranty, and their meaning the work of His love, not as fitful, but eternal, demonstrated and effectual.
One quick overview approach accordingly is this. On this earth, there is such a brilliant diversity of beauty, magnificence, creation and creativity, programmatic speech, making new bodies for man as babes, generation by generation, that the whole of man's ability is found in his own construction, mental, physical, artistic, visionary, and his source has in overarching splendour, his own personal features, far beyond his own capacities, but cognate in many ways.
On the other hand, there is no just an idle slackness, also, about things. Mosquitoes, snakes, spiders and many other carefully designed and varied items make for pain, poison, evanescence, depredation and ruin readily available, and their facility in this is notable, as is creative magnificence on the other side. They exist together, both showing a correlation and a conceptual background. There is the PROVISION of and for man and the INHIBITION, indeed as you extend the list, the CURSE for man. As extreme, however, as are these features in both direction (though the former still prevails), there is another and a matching set.
Thus amid the purposes and programs, the visions and the vitiations in man, there are things, there is conduct, there are modes of living which can be creative, constructive, elevated, designed for advance and beauty. Some of these may have an underlying motive for emulousness, envy, contention, honour and so forth, but many do not. You see this in much parentage, for example, broadly throughout conscious creation.
Take Einstein, he was imaginative and let it loose, he was constructive, and made mental things seeking to match the mental input that makes the universe the law-girt, law-revealing body that it is (as disclosed for example at a high level of order, in his so famous E=MC2). Yet when it came to the question, What to do with the resulting bomb (which required more input, but could not then have come without his own contribution duly matured), this epochal atomic devastator, he was concerned, distressed, sought action to prevent the dangers. He did not have the power, the capacity to contain what he had done. His god seems to have been more a static presence than the everlasting Creator, and it was this failure which led to his situation.
There is more to life than just using it. It is necessary for its good not only to be constructive and imaginative, and self-controlled, to be noble and far-seeing and looking for what is good for man and healing for his griefs, but to know your Maker so that you might not be like a runaway orphan, however clever, or an AWL soldier, however fair your face, conduct and aspirations otherwise.
Thus there is this other pair of elements: to creation and curse you see added another grouping. Thus there is what is found in man, the pre-eminent materially visible creation. In him, there may be found nobility and cussedness, self-sacrifice for man's good and slaughter for pride's solace or ideological satisfaction reeking with the blood of other people, the work of holiness and that of horror. The one is in the domain of the initial creation, the other in the realm of the curse on man's ludicrous distrust of his Maker. As is the external duo, so the internal. Therefore even at the impact of basics, there is this collation, and it becomes not cold but boiling hot, to scald now the mouth.
Has God forgotten to be gracious ? as the Psalmist asked. Far from it, as you continue to look about you, you find the clear and inimitable, the incomparable exhibit of the Bible, and of Jesus Christ its saving centre, His work not this time of creation but salvation, of making a free pass for heaven through repentance and faith in His divine action of self-sacrifice as a sacrifice for sin. You find this unchanging message over the millenia since He came, and for millenia before in essence, and it stands over those self-same centuries, invulnerable, the last 70 years an utter machine gun-like entry of long-range fulfilments of His words and of the prophets who predicted His coming and later events (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9).. The formal demonstration of these things is shown in such works on this site as SMR and TMR, and verification in and method is given attention in such sites as Secession from Presupposition Ch. 9, and .Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ.
Another short approach is found at SMR pp. 92ff. .
These help some who wish a swift orientation, a prelude to the formal proofs.