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SPIRITUAL SLAVERY OF ISRAEL
WHOM THE LORD
BY ONE GRACE, EACH IN PLACE
A HOME BORN SLAVE ?
"Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?
The young lions roared upon him, and yelled,
and they made his land waste:
his cities are burned without inhabitant.
Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes
have broken the crown of your head.
"Have you not procured this to yourself,
in that you have forsaken the LORD your God,
when He led you by the way?
And now what have you to do
in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?
or what have you to do in the way of Assyria,
to drink the waters of the river?
Your own wickedness shall correct you,
and your backslidings shall reprove you:
know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter,
that you have forsaken the LORD your God,
and that My fear is not in you, says the Lord GOD of hosts.
"For of old time I have broken your yoke, and burst your bands;
and you said, I will not transgress;
when upon every high hill and under every green tree
you wander, playing the harlot.
"Yet I had planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed:
how then are you turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine to me?
For though you wash with nitre, and take much soap,
yet your iniquity is marked before Me, says the Lord GOD."
You can see here in the early words of Jeremiah from the Lord, His love for Israel, His horror at her decline, the sense of nobility lost, wonder aborted, and that the necessity for restoration is no mere accommodation! It cries to occur; but where are the ears ?
That was for the period then impending, for some of which Jeremiah was placed in a prison, so slight was the nation's official response to such arresting words from the Lord as these, not to mention those most poignant, as in Jeremiah 2: 13 -
"For My people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken Me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewn themselves cisterns -
broken cisterns that can hold no water."
It is from this dictum that the reference to Israel comes, asking if it be a homeborn slave! Think of it: born in the very place where slavery rules, what a heritage, when liberty in the Lord in His majesty and strength had been not only on offer, but operative! What a fall is this and what a tragedy and what earthly battle can compare with this devastation of spirit!
It is not good to be a slave when liberty is available, and with Israel, the Lord is pointing out, this is a voluntary subjection, a horrific loss. How many were the offers (as late as Jeremiah 17, as high in the regal line as in Jeremiah 38:17ff., where a reeking tragedy could have been avoided, not only for one, but for the land); but they were not taken up by the people. It was the same in the day of the Lord's incarnate ambassadorship as man, for He expostulated (Matthew 23:37):
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets
and stones those who are sent to her!
How often I wanted to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
but you were not willing.
"See your house is left to you desolate; for I tell you,
you will see Me no more till you say,
'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' "
What they HAD said on what is now called Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:9ff.), the arid religionists trying in vain to rebuke the ascription of deity to Christ, they would one day as a people, once more say, for the time of His return and restoration would occur, not as humbled to redeem, but royally to rule, with an inherent majesty as LORD (John 8:58).
Indeed, in effect you see this movement in Zechariah 12:10ff., to start, as the entire Age comes to a close and the Lord draws near to actual return to Jerusalem as here portended, in Zechariah 14, Micah 4, Isaiah 59:20, and it is no lullaby of the Lord when He comes as you see in Isaiah 66, Deuteronomy 32, Micah 7. Nor is Israel forgotten as there shown, nor does He fail to judge as in Matthew 25, as in Psalm 2, as in Psalm 110, as in Ezekiel 38ff., on earth, nor in His time as in Revelation 19-20 also in His final dispensation of justice and mercy.
The basis does not change. The Gospel is not altered, foretold of the Messiah, centralised in the work of the cross (Galatians 6:14), applied by the Spirit, it leads to the Book of Life for the pardoned children of God, and of works for those who trusted in their own (Romans 10:1-5), rather than in the Lord as in Romans 10:9. It is Christ who will dispense these things (Acts 17:31), and who better than He who became man, being in that very format, suffering those very things, yet as God without sin, that He might become sin (the sin offering) for those who sought Him and resided in Him, Lord, Saviour, Truth, indeed God AS man, incarnate, coming, come, and to come as King.
Palm Sunday! indeed they cried from Psalm 118, the words of acknowledgement, a week before in the very eyes of the populace, they crucified Him! But return a moment to Palm Sunday, the acme of current popularity.
Christ had declared on that notable Sunday, if these did not cry out, if those acknowledging Him as the coming Messiah did not put up so spirited a recognition (in acknowledgement of His divine role as in Psalm 118:26), then the very stones would do so! If hearts of stone did not respond to this prodigious and humbling mercy of God, then the masonry would do it, the inanimate would attend to it: and it did! For the speakers said little when He died through wicked hands as Peter declared, and the temple, stone by stone, as if in architectural agony, DID cry out to any eye that saw it. Here in this destruction was a disassemblage of doom, a symbol of shame, a result of ignoring the foundation and Lord of Israel. If the body would go, so would the symbol; if they refused the Lord, so would they lose their equipment, if they denied the truth, they would lose the temple also.
In one sense, then, that was fulfilled soon, when their trauma if you will, was to be dismantled and their architecture destroyed by the Roman imperial forces. The meaning is deeper, but not less so than this! IN their lethal and mortal rejection of Christ, they also were providing as in I Corinthians 2:7-8, a sacrifice for sin which would render obsolete the temple sacrifices, which were a prelude and a preparation for this act of mercy in the very incarnate Person of God, Saviour, wrought into flesh as the only begotten Son of the Father (John 3, I John passim).
The temple's destruction was only a beginning, for Israel was dispersed and a mosque was built in it, the city awaiting worse (II Thess. 2:4-10). Since the time for symbolic sacrifice was past, and Israel had failed as a nation, the very site became an abomination of desolation, a subjugation of truth, the vessel of what was not vassal to Christ the truth, and those came of another religion which disowned His entire Messianic mission in favour of a prophet without proof, who re-wrote the script for Christ, 600 years later, and tried to incorporate a christ in their machinations, who was not God!*1 This they did just as liberal theologians did among others of the Gentiles, some 1900 years later, creating a christ at an even greater distance of time, out of their own hearts, deploying this time their productions from the air, without warrant except that of false prophets, duly condemned as in II Corinthians 10:12 - 11:16! Man is like that, turning aside to other gods*1, that do not show mercy, who use force in the very arena of salvation, who clamour and kill abundantly, who invent new gods, new bibles, news of their own, as foretold (I Timothy 4, II Timothy 3, 4, II Peter 2:1ff., Matthew 24:24).
In Isaiah 66 we find the time when the Lord, whose rejection as in Micah 5:1-3, led to the exile of Israel, would rebuild Jerusalem and defend her. That His mercy could reach so far, forgiving and seeking forgiveness for them when ON the Cross, and then returning thebanished nation by long-term mercy, is a garden of beauty of holiness and grace. And now He has done it. And how the nations rage, and how many religionists would obfuscate once more; but as He said, He has done, as is His way. He IS the truth (John 14:6).
Thus, In Isaiah 66:5-9, we find those addressed who had been cast out by their brethren, in an earlier time, representatives of those who believed in Israel, who ironically and caustically had derided the believers. Indeed, Isaiah rehearses it. As they brought much evil to these believers, in the time of their power in crucifixion days and wherever else, they would say,
"Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy!"
That is a cosy little pieceof contempt for the God of the Christians, even among their own brethren, thus rejected and persecuted.
This was to add verbal blast the physical, for Israel's authorities DID persecute the Christians not a little as Acts shows, and I Thessalonians 2:14-16, for example. What scorn was shown as the early Christians suffered from a tradition and culture bound society, pervcerting the word of God by the addition of their own words (Mark 7:7ff.)! a practice common to this day amongst the Gentiles!
However, just as early Christian Jews suffered much from those who had peremptorily rejected Jesus the Christ, so the Lord Himself DID acknowledge them, and in Isaiah 66 here in empathy with them, the Lord indicates that those who so treated them in the nation, would in His time of appointment, be ashamed! Indeed, there was predicted to be an entire reconstruction of the very nation of Israel, which was dispersed in shame, because it had forsaken the fountain of living waters. Long it would be gone (cf. Hosea, II Peter 3:9), but it would return (Isaiah 59:20, Ezekiel 36-37, Zephaniah 3, Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32 to its place, and He to it (as in Micah 4, Matthew 23:34-39, Zechariah 14, for example).
Indeed, the reference in Isaiah 66:5ff.is not referring to the Christian Church rejecting people, for it is not given a second building to replace the first, for there WAS no first glory for it, for their prelude was to be WITHOUT Christ, Covenant, without God! (Ephesians 2:12). The Temple was Old Covenant. Its loss portended the loss of the preliminary work of the prophets of Israel, in the time of that Covenant, though they forecast the coming of the New in great force and clarity (cf. Jeremiah 31:31ff.). If the Church were in mind, not Israel as so often declared in its definitive and unique context, then those following the Lord since that would be excluded Christians, and where is the return from that status! Such thought is merely to invent what does not fit, defies context and defies logic. It involves a symbolic reference to the actuality of the Church, where no such rejection occurred for restoration, let alone by such means as then follow (Isaiah 66:14-16, cf. Micah 7:15ff.).
SHAME IS FOR SHAM, TRUTH FOR JOY
The point is transition from sacrifice to non-sacrifice, since it was done (Isaiah 53, 66:3), and the persecutory body in that case was the Jewish authority, and these were the 'brethren' who rejected their brethren, acting in the name of the nation of Israel. We are not here dealing with some concept of a merger from the essence of Israel in the Lord, to the essence of the Lord in the Church, in some kind of rarefied continuity of concept, abortive here, since THAT Israel was dispossessed in the spiritual sense, as so notable in the preceding Chapter of Isaiah (Isaiah 65:13-15), and it is good to keep aware of the context in interpreting a passage. It simply was disinherited of its evangelical mission as in Romans 11, not to say its land, and had no continuity except in the words formerly given, and the works formerly done; the essence was gone (Zechariah 11), the staff broken. It was the word of God which went on, until the branch cut off should be regrafted as in Romans 11; and THEN it was BACK where it came from, but into the fulfilled glory of it all.
It was not continuity which is here in mind, but discontinuity, disruption, judgment, and the nascency of what replaces it from the Lord, relative to that discontinuity, namely Israel restored in Him, in its place: as it says,
"As one whom
his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;
That is the capital and that is the continuity, the replacement of which will bring joy to those mourning for her (66:10). Why ? It was because of the desolations she suffered, and the joy was because of the restoration shown to this desolated and lapsed body, not to something else which had not so lapsed.
From a rejected Israel, at the spiritual level, ostentatiously so, there is no such transition. Her spiritual side is rendered utterly and irretrievably lost, in that it has removed from its Author, and removed its Saviour.
It is desolation on the one hand, both of the city, and of its original spiritual office; and now, a new nation is to come, restored to its place (Zephaniah 3, Zechariah 12:6, "even Jerusalem", and "in that day I will seek to destroy all the nations which come against Jerusalem." Indeed, the city will be divided at war (Zechariah 14:1ff.), and the very parts of Israel affected by the restoration in spirit, will individually seek the Lord (Zech. 12:11ff.).
It is return to the core, to war, to judgment, to the long promised restoration flowering in Micah 4, Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Isaiah 65, Isaiah 2, Jeremiah 30-33, and God has put His name to it, and His word permits no disjunctions, just as His body permitted no dissolution, instead being resurrected itself, as promised (Psalm 16,22, Isaiah 26:19, Acts 2). Indeed as with the resurrection of the body of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, so with that of the people as in Isaiah 66:7ff.. It was able to come suddenly, completely, precisely, because it was the work of God, not a subject of poetic dyspepsia, but of what was good nourishing doctrine.
Suddenly the nation was to be reborn, the one called, foolish, rejected, restored; and there is no other such. Suddenly, too, those as a people or party rejected formerly by that same Israel, would put the doctrine and works of those who had plagued their fellow believers, their persecutors, who had resisted the Christ and attacked them, to shame. The Church did not so reject the believing brethren, but the nation did so.
It is a complex and historic setting, and to abort it is to take up with some other family, than that to which the context refers, is fiddling. It does not change course to deny its elements; but fulfils them. It is not a circus of concepts, clanging in contradiction, but a development from the poignancy of the past to the rejoicing of the present. It does not merge what is rejected as a basis for what is accepted, but wholly rejects the spiritual life of the one, in order to bring to life that of the restoration. What is restored is what rejected!
We are speaking of the topic in hand, Israel, known, received, responsive, rebellious, left to its traditions when it left the Lord at the crucial juncture, rejecting the Christians, and yet in continuity of theme, now suddenly by nothing but divine mercy, as a nation restored. In this, the rejected brethren of yore, the Christians, who suffered so much, and at the first through the unconverted Saul, to become Paul, and have suffered since, are to be vindicated. The entire nation is to be changed; but they are confirmed! The derelicts of society, dismembered by the nation, are now shown to have been messengers of the truth, the defilement of which had led to such suffering for the misled nation!
So the city which so acted, is restored, the nation gone is back, it is back as in a moment, it is like an accelerated Spring: that is quick, but this is quicker. Born at once ? put back in its own place, as in Zechariah, even Jerusalem itself, the noted one, this! Who has heard of such a thing as the way this is to be done ? What was aborted is to be rebuilt! Not only so,
"Before she was in labour, she gave birth," for indeed,
"shall a nation be born at once,
for as soon as she was in labour, she gave birth to her children!"
To be sure, it then becomes a part of the Christian Church at the spiritual level, a nation with its own complex history (as indeed specifically shown in Romans 11); but it has its own tributary in view, it came from and to its own place; and it followed its own trooping trajectory to land in the way. Back at last, back in the former glory!
Indeed, it is then as in Isaiah 66:18ff., we see the merging of the former outreach ways to the present, Jew and Gentile in missionary harmony. We ALSO see the method by which this institution of the restored city, with shame to the former persecutors of Jewish Christians, occurred. It is by divinely directed militarily conceived might! Isaiah 66:14-16. The gospel does not so proceed; but the Judge will so act at His own discretion, when the time is ripe... as in Genesis 15, but this time, it is not for the judgment of a nation, as with the Amorites, but of the world.
The anger of God in fury is to be shown (Isaiah 66:15), His rebuke with fire and the sword. Not a kindly one for contentment, comfort to the contrite, but fone of wrath for the contenders, judgment, many in this conflict being slain as a result of wrath.
This is no evangelical crusade, where comfort comes to those freely brought home to peace; it is a judgmental thrust bringing disaster to many, as a result of unleased fury. It is as in Micah 7, a smashing assault on the nations resisting the way of the Lord for His people. In this, the resisting nations will see and be ashamed of all their might, being smitten into subjugation, like snakes in their holes (as in Isaiah 2:10-21). Here in this war is no rejoicing, no rest, but disruption of a furious resistance by the overcoming power of God. It is just part of the resistance to the end of the evil, being overcome in judgment as the Age ends (cf. Daniel 7:21-22), and that by GOD Himself. The evil holds sway in godlessness UNTIL God comes in judgment, to overthrow the evil and desolate its afflictions, as also in II Thessalonians 2.
It was GOD ONLY who created (Isaiah 44:24, Romans 11:36, Colossians 1), who saved ALONE (Isaiah 43:10-11), whether Israel from Egypt, or repentant, believing sinners from sin; and the world form evil, by the heel of the Messiah, who is quite distinct from man, far beyond the difference between heaven and earth, in that between Creator and creature. He does it all. Man receives or not; and then lives for Him, if he does receive Him, being changed and indwelt by the very Spirit of God (Titus 2-3, Colossians 1:27, Ephesians 5). God does it all.
Yes a city WAS born at once, in May 1948. Destroyed because "when I spoke, they did not hear," Isaiah 66:4; and their believing element, who did hear, are to be vindicated, especially in view of the patronising and scarifying contempt of their persecutors at that time (66:5). The Lord then comes who will "fully repay His enemies," 66:6.
But what is the scope of this ? Even that which was destroyed, its people needing comforting, and about to get it, is to be rebuilt, the nation which was sent away, is back, but ah! it is one which brings rejoicing, and "you will be comforted in Jerusalem," where the assassination of Christ occurred, where they will indeed say again, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!", as divinely required and noted by Christ as to come.
They had chosen their own ways (66:3), but God has also chosen what HE will do, and rebuilding in a moment, a nation is one of them. The war was fearsome, but the gain was glorious. The horror like sin in its various paths was humbling, but the achievement of these wars was to exult in and exalt the Lord. The birth was in war, but the result in the end is in peace. The challenge was fearsome, but the operation was fearless, and the gift of restoration, first physically and then spiritually (as in Ezekiel 37), is munificent. Now there can be comfort in Jerusalem, at last. The fruit of this war is not, as with Britain, a temporary turning to socialism; it is a permanent turning to the Lord HIMSELF. So will there be comfort where there had been pain, restoration where there had been dispersion, and tenderness where there had been trauma, light where darkness, fulfulment where fraud.
Let us share in their
rejoicing (Deuteronomy 32:43), though for now the matter is only half
done. When at first some Christians were slain by that nation, and the Christ
Himself was so treated also, they were the outcasts. Now the tables are turned.
The very city is to be rebuilt by the mercy of God; then what had been outcast,
becomes central in the Lord who also being outcast, resumes AS Lord (Psalm 2,
Micah 4, Psalm 72, Jeremiah 23:5-7, Isaiah 59:20, Zechariah 14:5, Zephaniah
3:14-20, Isaiah 11, Ezekiel 37:21-25). He does so in that very place where
NOW they do again cry, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! It is in
this like a play, The Merchant of Jerusalem, deadly in concept, but ending with
SLAVES NO MORE
It is THEN that Israel will no longer be in a spiritual condition akin to that of slavery; for in rejoicing it comes to the Lord and He to them, first in spirit and then in Person, returning in like manner as He left. Just as they come first physically to the nation (as in Ezekiel 37), as bones returned, so NEXT - YET TO BE - they come then spiritually, as breath given. they come to Him who comes to them as King, and not for them only, but now over all the earth. In the land given to their fathers (Psalm 72, 67:5-7,Micah 7:20)..There in fulfilment of promise, unconditional (Genesis 17:7-8), they dwell glorifying the faithfulness and vigour of the Lord.
There are they placed, in their own place, even with their own Jerusalem, a contingent extraordinary of the Christian Church; , for as the nation expelled in shame those who believed in the Lord who came, as He had promised them, so now the nation itself is rebuilt, and what it disowned, owns it, even the Lord of glory, who came to die that many might live; and these are some of those. Now Israel the nation comes to its best inheritance, and becomes Christian in character, so that instead of being a majority to do evil to the Lord and to Christians, it is changed itself, while the believers do NOT change.
How profound is the wisdom of God, and how greatly the Christian should rejoice as this splendour and magnitude, indeed magnificence of mercy and fulfilling promise comes, not as illusion, but as reality, not as dream, but as history, like all the other great deliverance, from Exodus on. Indeed, this one is specifically likened to that in Exodus in Micah 7:15. It is in that category of power and overwhelming might in the very face of vigilant, vigorous, implacable enemies who are smitten, the very power of evil exposed and broken. The nations shall even be ASHAMED of all their might, being overcome in direct confrontation, many slain, many like snakes crawling out of sight. Such it has begun to be; but there is coming the exhibit to parallel Exodus, the overthrow of the bastions themselves of evil power, by the militant fury of the Lord.
How great is such an impetus to Christians, for as this WORLD has become unbelieving and persecutes Christians, so it will be judged, its power dispersed, the Lord will come as He first came, this time Regal and Governor. In the millenium, IT will be changed, but the Christians will not be moved! Israel is a prelude; the international completion comes quickly. The day of the Lord is not comfort and mercy; it is judgment and furyt. Long enough has the evil one travailed in ever new manifestations of abiding wickedness; now the power itself is broken, the base fractured, the evidence total, international the rebuke.
That is the same picture as for Israel in part, but more fully still, and on a larger scale. That has a millenium expressly spelled out, for its lustre. How long ? is this a precise figure ? That is unimportant in this level; it is long enough to allow all the foretold characterised of this reign to appear (as in isaiah 11, Psalm 72), and in God do the saints all rejoice. The epoch ends; the epic is done; the glory which departed has come back, and many with it. The earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. That is not poetry instead of truth, but exultant truth with imagery added, and come it will, as Christ came in the first place, not in some poetic mirage, but as a babe. It grew. So will His kingdom, and it will not end, even when earth, like a stage, is disassembled, indeed vanishes for no place is found for it as in Revelation 20:11.
We have been using a time telescope from the word of the Lord in its prophecy. But what of the present, of this very day, now!
Until then, till Israel returns to the Lord, it remains in the spiritual sense, as a total nation, as Jeremiah depicted, a home-born slave.
Marvellous are so many of its works, and persecuted almost to oblivion as it is, yet in SPIRIT, it is asking for it (not that this gives its enemies grounds! Isaiah 51:22-23). Often people do not realise, even a nation may not know what it is doing; and how apt was Christ's most gracious word seeking forgiveness even for those at work crucifying Him in their hateful and misled enthusiasm, crying, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!" (Luke 23:34). It is often so. The same can occur in many a nation, including this one of Australia!
How much does the Lord do and how far does He go to deliver people first and foremost of that inward slavery of the soul, where it serves sin, and in delusion, may be so mastered that it does not even realise this at all, but sets its energies amiss, like Saul of Tarsus!
How far He, the Lord, has gone with Israel, and much of the present marvels is documented in SMR Ch. 9, for example. How often does He present the issue, in its basis and past and future! Thus in Isaiah 49:7, He challenges the hearts of the people for whom the Messiah is ABHORRED, noting that even KINGS would arise to worship that same abhorred One! He will say to the prisoners, "Go forth!" and to those in darkness, "Show yourselves," Isaiah 49:9. He comes to liberate slaves, educate the lost, rehabilitate the confused.
ZION, just as in Micah 7, Israel the nation, but more particularly believers in Christ Jesus, within it, however is shaking its national head, saying "The LORD has forsaken me," (Isaiah 49:14); but this not really so. It may appear that Israel, bearing the name of the Lord, and having killed its King, is forsaken in its predicted exile (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 29-32): but the Lord has other plans for this singular body with its unique history (cf. Jeremiah 31:18-20). A mother, unlikely as that is, may forsake a child, but never will He forsake Israel; that is the message. The love, even of a mother, is human; but this is divine. Indeed, as occurred quite literally,
"I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands,"
"your walls are continually before Me," 49:16.
It took no less than that, crucifixion, to deliver not only Jew but repentant Gentile as well, and this love is fundamental with the Lord, who is even described by that name! (I John 4:7ff.)
Here concerning Israel, as in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, this is a love for the formerly known, the forsaken and the enduringly sought, who will in singular measure be restored (Isaiah 49:18). It target first here is Israel sent, secured, rebellious, smitten and brought back. "Your sons will make haste, your destroyers and those who made you waste, shall go away from you," Isaiah 49:17.
DEAF BELIEVERS ?
THESE ARE THE VERY CRITERION OF UNHEARING EARS
Indeed, as in parallel in Isaiah 42, He asks the deaf people to hear (Christians as such, those actually saved, conceived spiritually are not deaf, for the difference is precisely here! in terms of opened eyes and light received)! It is a matter of form without fact, of being named by His name (in some traditional sense), but not being even alert or alive to Him. again, in its time, the blind people are to see (just as those to whom He addressed parables were often blind, thus requiring the parables). He goes further. Those whom He calls blind are categorically, astoundingly blind. "WHO IS BLIND BUT MY SERVANT!"
Here is the definitive blindness, the archetype! (Isaiah 49:19). Blind and a servant! It is unique, it is Israel, servant in name, blind in fact, at this crucial level, as a nation; though we never forget it was PEOPLE IN ISRAEL through whom God formed the Christian Church at the start, and the apostles were all from it, though it did not acknowledge them then.
What then must this so singular people do ? They need to know of the giant restoration to come, whereby, in what will be terms of precisely what they once rejected, He leads them back as in Ezekiel 37. The Lord undertakes in Isaiah 42:14ff., to take extraordinary actions to return this people, so that though they be then still not enlightened,
"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know,
I will lead them in paths they have no known,
I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them, and not forsake them."
What grace is this so to revive, restore and sanctify the recalcitrants, the very emblems of blindness, who alas, now in the Gentile world are finding their exact counterparts! All are condemned that any from many may find the Lord. Thus the Lord indicated His plans in due course, to act (Isaiah 42:14), having waited "a long time." What marvels does He perform on those being led as blind, and being delivered though bearing a label as "perfect" (Isaiah 49:19). What a situation: those misled into believing their darkness light, their captivity freedom, while still in this state, are given bounties exceptional, and led back precisely to where they were, in the city where they will be comforted, that Jerusalem which was destroyed, but rebuilt, where they anathematised the Lord, but now say,
"Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
It is not the criterion, but its King is, and there is this difference from visiting a cemetery where it is, THIS KING walked out on His grave, breaking not only death in others, but in Himself (cf. Christ's prediction in John 2:19, Matthew 17:22-23). Nor is Israel to glory in itself (Isaiah 19), but in the Lord, which is the way with the people of the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
How wise for those OF ANY RACE who are
equally slaves to
equally to repent (cf. Zechariah 12:10ff., Jeremiah 31:18ff.).
To many, He shows His love in one Gospel: to this and that body, people, person, as He will, in one surgery and recovery of regeneration (Titus 3:3-7), in one mercy, for one peace, for each and all who come. The Gentiles spume in their own furies; but this is nothing compared with the fury of divine wrath both for their diligent assaults on Israel (already punished by God, and heir to restoration and renewal sublime in their place in the one Gospel applicable to the hearts of all), and for sin more generally. Things are righted. Promises fulfilled, the overall promise of the Messiah and His deliverance available to man, offered to the human race, avails. Wickedness is made to appear so; powerful assailants disappear, whether to cover the earth, or the cross; and the ways of the Lord fill an earth as waves the sea.
JOY ABOUNDING IN DELIVERANCE ASTOUNDING,
FOR ALL BELIEVERS
Best of all, when this earth is put into retirement, rather vigorously it is true (Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35), according to the enduring word of God, which is not rescinded but fulfilled to the last jot and tittle (Revelation 20:11ff., Matthew 5:17ff.); indeed when it has this said of it, that it "fled away," together with its heavenly mantle, since "there was found no place for them," and judgment comes and goes: then mercy smiles in the face of judgment. How is this so ? it so because the cover of Christ which in mercy was paid for, avails to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25,8-10). "Who is He who condemns ?" expostulates Paul. "It is Christ who died, and furthermore is risen," Romans 8:34.
Best of all, then, is the harmonious peace-filled nearness to God of the redeemed, glorying in Him whose faithfulness so heavily contrasted with the unfaithfulness of this race, whose mercy so contrasted with such much vile violence on the part of this race, whose salvation contrasts so utterly with the furious, spurious wastages of man, when riled by his own foolish desires, he goes alone in the universe, proclaiming his loneliness in ferocities unthinkable, and hypocrisies unlovely.
Glory (Isaiah 2:17, Revelation 4:10-11, 5:9-10) ? it is from God, not man. Freedom, it is in the Lord who made us, not in reconstitutions and abortions, grand plans of nil wisdom, in the sea of uncomprehending presumption. It is so for Israel, given back its place, no more like a home-born slave, as on the other hand, is the sort of horror awaiting any who ignoring the Christ, circulate in their own pre-occupied visions without authenticity, and desires without deity.
It is so for one and for all. It is great NOT to be a slave, and freely and with enthusiasm to worship the Christ with the Father and Spirit, who so acted (Isaiah 48:15ff., John 3, 8, Titus 2-3, Romans 5, 8, Philippians 2) who set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1).
The ways of the Lord are sure; and they are eternal (Habakkuk 3:6, Psalm 111:7-8, 119:7). Failure to believe the Lord, and so enjoy the beauty of freedom available to man in the Spirit of Truth, will not alter history; except for the one who so fails.
See News 121, 122, More Marvels Ch. 4, RELIGION, RELIGIOSITY AND REALITY IN CHRIST for example.