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THE NEW COAT IS THREADBARE
OLD GARMENTS ARE BEAUTIFUL AS EVER
PLACED FROM ABOVE,
GRACED FROM WITHIN
It gets old so quickly. It has no internal strength. Allied with patches from
Of course, sometimes it takes a little longer, as when Anglicanism had some noble figures who helped limit the panoply of the State; yet as Bishop Ryle, that giant among so many of them, declared of some of the illicit intrusions into the Church of England in his own day, things unordained by the word of God and drifting towards Romanism, "If they continue to increase and are not checked, the end will be disestablishment, disendowment, and disruption. This at any rate is my deliberate opinion"*1.
This was discerning, as much in Ryle. However, the Church association with the rule of a State, the character and condition of which was by no means Christian, though its institutions and some of its statements were of this kind, with a body in which you could be born (the first time) without any indications, present or future of your estate, and vote in the same way: this was in itself flagrantly contrary to scripture; and this was not dwelt on! As the State's virtue and godliness declined to the uttermost, the church followed in much, like a dog on a lead. The Presbyterian insistence, at such cost of blood and suffering, impoverishment and horror, against the English State's demands on its own religious work, was neither misdirected nor in vain, and in principle as in much of its practice, constitutes one of the beautiful testimonies of grace in history.
However, neither being Statist, with Caesar intruding into the things of God, nor being (rightly) Independent of this is enough. It is necessary to FOLLOW the Lord, and His word denies the first and requires far more than the second. It is DEPENDENCE, a declaration of dependence on the Lord, as Peter Marshall, Senate Chaplain formerly in the US, so eloquently demanded, which is required. At that, the Lord who is to be followed is He whose book (Isaiah 34:16) is inviolable because it is His word and will, is the service manual, and the worship declaration, the salvation index and the girding exposure. It is enshrined in the heart where the SPEAKER lives! It is not merely a commitment or convention, but a rule which abides, because the Ruler illuminates it, and LEADS His people (John 10:27-28).
What the Bishop however DID see and here say, was just; and it applies no less in any other situation, such as the Three Self Church in China, where State intervention constitutes rendering to Caesar the things which belong to God. To ask taxes of all is one thing; to tax the faith is quite another and the answer of Peter and John is still the right one (Acts 4:19-20). It applies no less when the case is Religious Universalism which is merely an extension of the evil, with added viruses of anti-faith (cf. SMR Appendix C and D, with Stepping Out for Christ Ch.1 and It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls Ch. 11). Indeed, the principle of PERMISSION OF POLLUTION for WHATEVER reason is alien to holiness, which finds its summit in God, not man; in truth not invention; and where the Lord Himself is pleased to dwell in the heart of the believer whose life is girded and governed by Him according to HIS WORD (John 14:21-23). The beauty ? it is the Lord's. The indwelling, it is His grace. The result, it is joy in the Lord, and the joy of the Lord is then your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
In our last Chapter we were seeing something of the END of the whole matter, in HISTORY, that incubus to the outlandish, that discipline to the aerial, that direction from the governance of the Lord, that fulfilment arena where the trials of man are seen in a programmed performance, listed in advance by the word of God, the Bible. Today, we look at some of the flaming illustrations in Ezekiel, not merely in vision, but also in history, at a time in an earlier epoch, when the people of Israel served on the world the perils to be found from reckless disregard of the word of God, not least at the level of intrusive politics, invasive religions and inert lives.
The position is largely mirrored
today, but in one of those magnifying mirrors, for it is not merely national
now, but international; and if the world is by no means now a theocracy,
as Israel was then, in name, it is becoming more and more an evil demonocracy,
a rule in terms of teeming spiritual affirmations, closely hiding their
source, but increasingly demanding the RESULT that people FOLLOW them (cf.
Revelation 16:13ff.). It is, as Daniel makes so very clear in Ch. 7 and
Revelation traces in Chs. 13, 16 and 19, to become very much a PERSONAL
affair in the end, though now it hides and shrouds itself, like hiding
battle-ships of World War I, in the fog of confusion. (On this, see Epilogue,
Ch. 8, That Magnificent Rock!)
GLORY IS DEPARTING
AND WHAT ARRIVES IS INGLORIOUS AND VAINGLORIOUS
1) Its Relevance and its Impact
In Ezekiel you see stages in the departure of the glory of the Lord from this people. First is the flaming vision of holiness in its beauty and magnificence, in its practicality and in its power. This is treated separately in detail, in Biblical Blessings Ch. 4. Now we look at the stages of REMOVAL of the glorious and protective presence of the Almighty from His sinning, straying and chronically rebellious people, because it is such a parallel to our day, that to fail to consider it would be like ignoring the history of epidemiology, for kicks, when a war is on! The war IS on; it did not cease in 1945, but continues unabating and increasing in vehemence, and the objectives are the souls of men.
This we see in Ephesians 6, Revelation 18:13, in which latter case, mixed with other 'merchandise' which merchants traded with that Babylon which fixes itself as Rome (SMR pp. 946ff.), in pungent irony, are to be found "the souls of men". Added to this are "the bodies" of men! The whole thing is taken over, for Inquisition then, for Exposition now, so that the things are traded as II Peter 2 advises us will be the sort of engagement in which experts specialise as the end approaches, mirroring the work of Israel's false prophets of old (as in Jeremiah 23). As we saw in our last chapter, the WORSHIP of the beast is fundamental to its polluted yearnings, its intestinal striving, its diabolical contention and its vain inventions (Revelation 13).
The war is nearly over, but no man knows when! It is necessary in the meantime to fight a good warfare for the faith (I Timothy 6:11-16), not using violence at all in the process, but spiritual weapons of truth and peaceableness of spirit, fearlessness however of heart as truth is declared and evil exposed - as in Ephesians 5, which is against ALL uncleanness, such as covetousness and idolatry, both specifically there mentioned. One is not to PARTAKE with such (Eph. 5:7), whether these things come from the United Nations or the Unification of Religions Program, or some Uniting Ecclesiastical Drive ex-Biblical fidelity, or some political penchant, or economic 'gain' as the Common Market promised, itsself now growing, and demanding more and more of the souls of men for the profit alleged. In the end, you CANNOT serve both God and Mammon, or for that matter, God and ANY other Lord, or director or directive for your conscience, your ethics, your morals, your worship or your witness. Unless you FORSAKE ALL, you CANNOT be His disciple (Luke 14:27ff.). Why then try ? It is vain.
In fact, Paul not only directs Timothy THEN to "fight the good fight of faith", but in II Timothy 4:1-5 adds significantly, saying:
Not merely mockery (as in II Peter 3) of the flood and depletion of all concept of the creation, but formal substitutes are in mind, blaring contemporary confusions which will pour in many mixtures and make much synthetic religion, the progressive character of sin being merely an illustration of its unchanging confusion, using words or phrases, philosophy or dazes, such as existentialism, to combine beauty with the beast, liquor with yeast, and produce such fizzing splendours as only hell can comprehend, and even that, not in mind but only in regional extension!
But let us see the movement in Ezekiel, for if there is one thing that ancient history can so beautifully do, it is to give a sense of perspective by seeing others in time so very different, doing things so horrendously similar, but sufficiently differently dressed, that the impact is not so readily lost; and of course, likewise, it may provide things of note and courage, of character and truth, which chime like vast enduring bells, into the contemporary world, now for warning, now for admiration.
2) Its Detail
In the early Chapters of Ezekiel there is to be found a progressive movement; but its progress is more and more apart from the rebellious people. Indeed, about the successive, deliberate distancings of the glory of the Lord - so perspicuously revealed in the vision of Ezekiel 1, there comprehending His control over the creation and His sovereign glory beyond it, His power and its dynamic, His holiness and its outreach, but later to be seen moving away - there is a certain sense of horror. That so much should so gradually, but obviously deliberately, move away produces an impact in the mind of the reader. It is as if each barrier of inhibition, of relenting, of giving further opportunity being broken by indifference, if not more impassioned unreason and desire, each forbearance derided, the Lord therefore serenely but surely leaves them to their own devices!
It is not done in a rush, in a rash of reaction. It is a measured response, it is a deep one, and it is quite fatal to that generation.
In a short time, the city of Jersualem lay waste, its princes disgraced, its elders killed, its children oppressed, its glory inundated with slime, pagan slime, slithery unspirituality now the fare of those who despised the virtue of health of spirit and beauty of holiness.
in the uttermost eloquence based in grief, and inspired by the love of
the Lord, surveys the scene, for which that prophet in particular did so
much for so long, if by any means there might be repentance ;and Jeremiah
17:19ff. is an example of an express provision in the grace and mercy of
the Lord, ignored as if it were a DUTY to do so!... How like this generation,
they really were.
"Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead: do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house,"
Thus Ezekiel proceeded to his perilous task, of testimony for truth from the only possible source, the verified mouth of the Lord Almighty (cf. SMR Ch. 1, That Magnificent Rock Ch. 5, Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium 16).
It is not until Ezekiel 8 that we see the vision of Ezekiel being brought to witness the evils which bring forth the distancing of the Lord from the people, though they had used His name for long enough! Again he sees the vision of the glory of God, a person being gloriously revealed, the Lord exhibited to the spiritual eye of the prophet. "He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the god of Israel was there..."
The 'image' of 'jealousy' - the word for jealous has a meaning in Hebrew very close to zealous, and it indicates a purity of desire which will not brook competition from mere caprice, distribution of favour like some charity. Person to person love and worship of the living God is immiscible completely with other concerns. If even a human wife is not pleased or impressed with a diversely flitting butterfly of a husband, and she did not even create her husband, how much less is God pleased with divergent worships, favours and concerns which injure the integrity of the spirit, bruise the heart and falsify the truth in mere imagination. It is NOT some irascibility as you see in Hosea, where the all but incredible PATIENCE of the prophet with the harlot wife who represented symbolically, the people of Israel before God; it is insistence, as in the British Pharmacopoeia, on purity. It lasts long, it endures; but it does not compromise.
This image is the arrogant and presumptuous thing, the actual installation of an IDOL WITHIN the temple of the Lord; and in this, of course, it is a very close resemblance to the JBO symbolism of freemasonry, synthesising or at last combining gods in a way, since it includes the NAME of the true God (Jehovah is one representation of it ), which is shocking to the uttermost. It is like putting a photo of a paramour on the bedroom dressing table, and illuminating it with a special coloured lighting display, so that the wife (or husband) can see it, and cannot even pretend not to do so!
Small wonder then that the term 'impudent' is used of ancient Israel by the prophet, at God's mouth.
Then God asks the prophet (8:8), in the vision, to "turn again," noting that " you will see greater abominations". Inside the temple, he finds "all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. And there stood before them seventy men of the elders..." ELDERS! Precisely, this is the way it goes; subvert with a spiritual mole, and why not have it at the governing level! That is the manner of the thing. "The LORD does not see us!" they declare (cf. Psalm 50:20ff.). Yet worse is to follow, and thus between the porch and the ALTAR for sacrifice, were others facing East, worshipping the sun. "Therefore," the Lord declared, "I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity..." The time is past. And yet, as you see in Jeremiah 17, God is yearning for them, even as their human hearts, being burned and inured, move to the regions of the ultimate beyond (cf. I Timothy 4:2).
In Ezekiel 9, we find "the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple..." He instructed an angel to put a mark on the foreheads of those who were sighing and grieving for the evil state of spiritual pollution in Israel. This was a signal for mercy on such. Thus the Lord is moving from the centre of worship, to the outskirts, architecturally speaking.
That is the first stage. It is like that of a church which has "lost its first love" as in Revelation 2; but here it is a stage in a situation far beyond that (cf. Hebrews 10:31).
In Ezekiel10, we find that the servant sent by the Lord is sent to take coals from the altar, yes into his very hands, and to spread them at command over the doomed city. The cherub takes them from the holy fires of the temple, passing them from this fiery display, to the scribe whose specified task of judgment on those not marked by the holy mark of the Lord, thus proceeds. Thus there are symbolically dispersed over the city in destructive force, the fires intended for the merciful preparation of sacrifice for mercy. Since mercy and truth were rejected, its very sending becomes judgment precisely as in John 3:19,36; for the cover is despised, the screen is misused, the faith is perverted and idolatry has proliferated as in Romanism, yes even IN the Temple! as the vision of Ezekiel most dramatically displays (Ezekiel 8).
Nor is this the only application, for indeed there is more to be found ...
More poignant however, to revert to our current base in Ezekiel, is the ensuing phase. The cherubim fly further from their proper place, being so instructed. The glory of the Lord pauses on the threshold of the temple, filling the house with His glory. This is as if it were a tenderly moving and slowly acting departure, yet one which was deliberate and necessary, in leaving what was fallen and refused to arise, even at His instance, even at His insistence and with His power. It was becoming, as II Timothy 3 states of the New Testament decline period at the end (not a decline in the word of God, but in the work of false churches), a matter of "a form of godliness, without its power."
The wheels, depicted in the vision from the very first in Ch.1, the implements of action, the practicalities of performance, the created means to ends, these too were specifically DIRECTED by the word of God, one crying 'O wheel!' In all their intricacy (10:10), in that magnificence which increasingly man is finding to be within the created formats, functions and formulae and formularies of his own body for example, they all went, cherubim with them, the latter lifting up their wings, and the wheels, as was their wont, going without turning, or in other words, acting without declension or declivity, going on with their appointed tasks. If man did the same, the implication appears to be, he would do well, following the word of the Lord! (this facet appears emphasised in Ezekiel 10:17, in terms of co-ordinated action).
Then the glory of the Lord, with the cherubim and wheels went out, and stood at the threshold of the East gate. It was the removal of all intimacy, and the nearer than hands and feet closeness of God was fast becoming the distance that resembled an ... alien (cf. Ephesians 4:17-19, where man without God is considered 'alienated form the life of God').
The cherubim find the glory of the Lord, departing from the Temple, standing over them. The pathos of the depiction is intense, since here is a parent leaving a grown child, now deep in sin, seedy in spirit, rebellious in inclination, polluted in inheritance, proud in heart, deluded in self-displays and idolatrising on every side.
Long has been the patience, deep the concern, many were the messages, great and grave the opportunities for restoration; but it was not then to be so. Worse, THIS parent is more than that, for He is their Creator, the sovereign former of the earth, the Spirit who instituted all things, the writer of the book of life, the Lord of truth and the prince of peace. Devastation is now unavoidable. Then in a decisive severance, "the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight". In Ezekiel 11:23, it is extended in definition: "And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city." The denunciation of false prophets and their false peace proceeds, and the realities then thunder into action.
For us now in the New Covenant, it is not a temporary 70 year departure which is in view; for when as now, the whole earth is involved, to what should one depart ? It is the saints who depart, and then after their reunion in, with and for the Lord in heaven, it is they who come with Him (I Thessalonians 3:13, Zechariah 14:5), while the knowledge of the glory of the Lord fills the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
That, it was the preview. Wise indeed those 'virgins', in the parlance of the parable of Matthew 25, who have their lamps filled with oil, brightly burning; and what is it that hinders ? God is good, and His way is right, and the word of the Lord is truth. Abide, obey, ascend in His gift to the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) in the perspective and peace of spirit NOW, and in the reality of resurrection THEN! Knowing this, that the one who believes in Him HAS OBTAINED an inheritance in Him (Ephesians 1:11), rejoice. You are a Chrisitan ? Then Is not His SEAL on you (Ephesians 1:13), just as the seal was set on the foreheads of those whose mourning for the despoiling of sacred things in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 9:4)!)! You are not ? Then is not His invitation unlimited (John 6:37) !
But let us proceed with the
words of the prophet, following this sad scene in Ezekiel 10, depicted
FORSAKEN CITY, PERSISTENT PROMISES
After these things, the Lord shows to Ezekiel princes and administrators performing their evil COUNSEL, and making clear His inveterate plans to bring judgment on this disjointed disjunction from the divine truth, wisdom and purity, He nevertheless stoops to comfort (Ezekiel 11).
"Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.'
Ezekiel 16:60ff. and Jeremiah 31:31ff. re the New Covenant associated with
the Messiah as in Jeremiah 23:5-6, 33:15-17 with Zechariah 6:12ff., Ezekiel
17:22ff., with Isaiah 53:1ff.).
This profound strength and faithfulness to the mercies to Abraham (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4, Micah 7:19-20) and the testimony to David (II Samuel 7) shown, the Lord nevertheless for the time, proceeds to evacuate, as we find in Ezekiel 11:23, and the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city. It stood on the mountain, east of the city. Stage two is now complete. The whole people are forsaken, for the time; and what a time that is to be, a veritable prelude and trailer for the Great Tribulation coming to the Gentiles, in their end season, when the last wickets are falling, and the score is considered!
3) ITS POINT
Thus we find that there is a progressive distancing of the Lord from the people, a cumulative cause, a ready illustration of the provocation, an intemperate impudence in the all too popular revolt and rebellion, not at all the indications of ignorance, but of a choicely recalcitrant heart. It appears one oblivious of all testimony, indifferent to all restraint, doing precisely what it will, and with this, using the name of the Lord in many of its dealings, as if it were some plaything, or subject for compilation in a jig-saw puzzle, themselves the masters, He the butt of their game play. They do what they will with their Temple, in large measure, just as now so many do with that other temple, their body, and this building, their minds, and this castle, their spirits, turning the village of life into a fair of pleasure, secular profit first or mere pollution.
It was so then, symbolism being available to corrupt; it is so now, with it or without it.
That was the first innings, in the 6th century B.C., and indeed it went on further, on a restored wicket. Then they had the noble idea which led to their crucifying their own King, with suitable (for the irony) Gentile help from Pilate, courtesy of the Roman Government of the day. This of course had many more courtesies of the type to show in the so Holy Roman Empire and its various associations with papal pretension and human pollution, even of the earth with the sordid spoils of 'victories' like St Bartholmew's Day, 1573, which constitute in themselves an irony so feverish that the metal vaporises in the heat of it.
Small wonder that the saints in Rev. 5 ask HOW LONG before judgment sits; but the patient plan of the Lord is for all these things to have their way and their day to the point that their entire realities being displayed, judgment is not done in the dark, but openly before all man (Acts 17:26). What, said Christ, is of the light comes in to the light. He foremost! (cf. John 3:20-21, Isaiah 45:18-23, Matthew 25).
But let us revert to our title. The coat, the new coat of the spurious Joseph of our day, it is so very old. It is threadbare on arrival. It represents what ? It stands for institutionalised iniquity, its contrived evils, its careless misuse of the divine name, its arrogation of the divine powers as if they were for sale at a discount, or even available freely for the autonomous use of man, all this with the idols of our age, constantly dressed up like dolls, but essentially the same (cf. SMR pp. 422Eff.). So it goes, so very well-worn, even when only on display in the shops of philosophy, the premises of politics and the corridors of international noise, inset like garments in glass cases, for all to see as they tread the expensive walks, and sit on intensive committees.
The cover of the Lord, it is so far different. You see it in Isaiah 61:10, where it is the clothing of righteousness, that gift of the Lord (as in Romans 3:23ff., 6:23, 5:1-12), and it is DECKED as a bridegroom decks himself before a wedding, yet it is the Lord who arrays it on the one concerned.
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,Yes the garments of salvation are so given, for as Isaiah 55 declares,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
"For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteouenss and praise to spring forth before all the nations."
I have given Him as witness to the people.
A leader and commander for the people.
Surely you shall call a nation you do not know ..."
then, amidst all these appalling things is still to be found the beauty
It is found first, in
It is found secondly, in
This beauty, then, it is seen in Ezekiel 34, not only in the outrage at the dereliction of duty on the part of the paid performers, the mock pastors, but in the determination to come personally, to perform the deeds required for the deliverance of sinning man, even to the uttermost, despising shame and treating ignominy with triumph, being cast down but never in word or in deed, only in idly judging judicial tongue and in physical crushing as intended in His plan, a thing fitting for a sacrifice for sin.
The beauty of holiness: It is seen, therefore, in the strength and vigour of the offers in the Messiah, the certainty and in Jeremiah, even the comfort of the specification of the duration of the exile, at 70 years, this being one of the events before His coming. It is, again, exhibited in the tenderness of gracious power, as shown in Ezekiel 17, where a mere 'twig'*2, a point amplified in Isaiah 53:2, is to be the format for the Messiah, in terms of botanical metaphor. If they were cast down through inveterate sin, with rebellion dashed into the mix, He would come down, from illimitable mercy, to rescue a people who would come willingly to Him. Neither dazzling glamour nor rich setting is to make for the beauty of His holiness, that of the Messiah, but rather rejection without dejection (Isaiah 53:4ff., Matthew 17:1ff.), opposition without yielding, glory beyond all reproof and truth beyond all evasion. Such was the prophecy; such was the performance; such is the purity, such is the beauty of His holiness.
In fact, His splendour is as always spiritual, but here expressed in the person of a man, in the form of a servant, in the indictment chambers of mere flesh, amid testing fire with its futilities and utilities, lit by those looking out for number one, whether each as an individual, as perhaps in the case of Judas Iscariot, or jointly as a nation in the case of the High Priest, by those finding injustice expedient and death appropriate to planned programs. These torrid and horrid ecclesiastical plans, however, went as hideously astray in the destruction of Jerusalem soon enough afterwards in A.D. 70, as effectually, in the vile contempt presented to the Son of God by an impudence most costly. When you dump your God, you are dumped. It is only in mercy that anything more can happen, mercy and grace alone, guided by love, governed in truth.
It is not in mere power that the answer comes. It is in humility, holiness and help. If in the end there is as it were, a mechanised collection unit for the garbage, there is in the first instance, and long after all those evils of the days of Ezekiel, a garbage made up of the remnant of the sale of the Son of God Himself (cf. Zechariah 11:12, Mark 14:10-11, John 13;2), whose defacement was such that it was "more than the sons of men" (Isaiah 52:14), His face, being "marred more than any man". In this ugliness, there is beauty; for in this vulnerability, this exposure of love to the worst in man, just as there is the fearlessness of grace mixed with the vigour of integrity which nothing can break, no sin can gain, and any man may find, so there is accessibility. To CALL on His name is not to rund 100 metres in 9 seconds, or to have ten millions dollars! Not in the palaces of human power, is His brilliance and grace to be found, but in the precincts of a divine grace so profound that it came not only to the door, but to the tip! (See Galatians 3, followed by the glorious liberty of Galatians 5).
COUNSEL ... to the unconverted
In the end, there is available liberty of necessity in the truth, for nothing is hidden and all is at it is; and of necessity, none is outside it, for if voided in spirit, yet it threatens and is contrary, right and empowered with reality.
Some may not want a Saviour, preferring the seeds of sedition; these may grow into a huge tree for a time, but it is routinely felled by fact. As to the desirability of self-pretence, making one's own morals the criterion of truth and justice: it is not only illusory for what lacks truth as it is, to do so, being without it relativised into obscurity for the issues in view, but it is vain.
How could anyone judge him/herself without even access to the truth! But you have access ? outside the conditions, limitations and prejudices of your so excellent, so expert, so penetrating, and so discerning self ? Whence ? From being in yourself absolute ? Leave that to the antichrist, for this is to be his personal delusion: soon enough. From being yourself, just your little, glorious self ? Really ? But on the basis of what ? Necessary ignorance of the absolute which you do not find on its own terms, and cannot find on your own, since He is personal and has His own ways, just as you have yours; though there is a difference, as Jerusalem found out, and the world displayed in its treatment of Jesus.
Is then yours any better ? He CLAIMS but you disclaim; HE CALLS, but you do not heed; HE CRIES for forgiveness, but you do not need it, or reconstruct 'Him' so that another Jesus is your creed, one who omitted the salvation program. So in the end, you trust in your very own self ? On the grounds of its being the ultimate, the absolute, the inveterate, the eternal ? Leave that to the asylum. There is no asylum from God. There only is safety, in the truth which is His ALONE, and available to creation, to creatures like all of us, ONLY BY PERMIT. The permission is ONLY in the WORD of God, incarnate.
For the truth to be known, it has to be there, and to be found, and in the finding, found as it is, not as you would 'interpret it'. No limit must disturb it, no intrusion misalign, no preference distort, nor any perspective defile. Hence it is He who must speak, and you who must listen.
The evidence has been shown, the demonstration performed various times on this site. In competition, whoever you are, you do not even reach a score of 0%. How is this so ? His DIVINE credentials (cf. SMR Ch. 6, Barbs, Arrows and Balms Appendix IV, Repent or Perish Chs. 2, and 7) are impeccable. You as your own absolute, have NONE. There is no other book with no errors ever established which has been fulfilled to the uttermost point, predicting YOU! There is no resurrection justifying YOU. There is no eternity establishing YOU as judge in view of your have in life in yourself. God ? He is different. You come to Him as HE IS, or you stay in judgment as YOU are, for no man is perfect; and the sin of disbelief is nothing short of an ultimate rational, moral and spiritual rebellion to the uttermost.
The devil, for that matter, had quite an opinion of his own merits. That they were not justified is a suggestion to lesser 'lights'.
But what was the sin of Jerusalem of old as seen in Ezekiel 16:15ff. ? It was one like this:
"You trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it ... You have also taken your beautiful jewellery from My gold and My silver, which I had given you ... you also built for yourself a shrine, and made a high place for yourself in every street. You built your high places at the head of every road, and made your beauty to be abhorred..."No man or woman but has gifts given, whether of body, mind or spirit, of culture or training, of the love of parents or of others, of circumstances which, with whatever maladies, did not crush; for you are not crushed. If you were, you would be dead. Not one who disbelieves is without DNA in amazingly intricate symbolic contrivances and programs, with operative directors controlling, and controls beyond that, editorial work performed and architecture laid out for the next generation in millions of copies of his or her frame. No one lacks that synthetic masterpiece of body, mind and spirit which has interfaces so amazing that their mere contemplation is inspiring, leaving all human considerations not even achieving a rating by comparison, with freedom to think and contrive, to plan and to purpose all incorporated.
It would appear that it is precisely such intricate, intelligently generated, intelligence gaining units of display and assessment, like 'eyes' which are so stressed concerning both the wheels in the vision of Ezekiel and the cherubim themselves; for as to them ? "their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around" - Ezekiel 10:12. There is intelligence, perception, assessment on all sides. Wisdom has contrived and man has arrived. So it is symbolised, and so it is.
Man himself is gifted with this intensity of provision, this ingenious sequence and series and synthesis of elaborate equipment working without his knowledge within his very body, typified and surmounted with his own vision, for he also is a 'creature' or creation, like the four living creatures in Ezekiel. He is also himself able to see; and to be seen; for the angels also see, and their is NOTHING hidden from the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13): "All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
Beyond himself, man must go to find account.
But consider all these, your internal mental, spiritual and physical appointments, with their various scopes for action. THESE are your silver and gold, in terms of the above quotation from Ezekiel; and then you have taken these things, if rejecting the salvation of God in Jesus Christ, the only one available and available as a gift from the Almighty by His attested word, verified in all things for millenia: and you have exploited them.
You did it for the best of reasons ? This is the worst of grace, for the best of reasons for theft is the worst of morals. You did it to achieve merit ? Mere pride, for what do you have that you did not first receive; did you invent yourself ? You fought moral battles and won ? Good, so does the murderer who has the patience to await his victim; but the BATTLE that counts is the main one. It is the one which either rejects the crucified Christ, and so in spirit is party to the removal of this Lord from life, in your own private and possibly circumspect way, or accepts Him as the truth for man, and the eternal word of God.
reject Him ? So be it, you have lost the moral battle, evacuating the only
God who is there from the heart which is here, and disjoining, you rebel,
rebelling you irrationalise, for there is no other truth (cf. SMR
Chs. 1-3,10, That Magnificent Rock Ch.
5, Barbs, Arrows and Balms
6 and 7). Irrational, unrepentant, resistant, obstructive,
dismissive, rebellious you come innocent before
The divine answer does not change: it is found in Jeremiah.
"Yet you say, 'Because I am innocent,SIN requires PARDON, and pardon from God requires His word, and His word requires your acceptance, as it is written (John 3:36):
Surely His anger shall turn from me.'
Behold I will plead My case against you.
Because you say, 'I have not sinned.' "*3
"He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."Again, "The word which I have spoken will judge him in that day" - John 12:48.
As to making your own Christ: not only is this presumption and the realisation of idolatry, since to make what is not given by God, in the name of God, is merely to seek to duplicate God, who is as He is, infinite in understanding, and not introducible, far less traducible by man; but it is to have the case so righteously and rigorously condemned by Paul, taking ... "another Jesus whom we have not preached," or receiving "a different spirit which you have not received," and so "a different gospel which you have not accepted". In that case, declares the apostle, "you may well put up with it" ; but such a presentation comes from mere deceit, for in such things "Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light" and the presentation is the work of "false apostles, deceitful workers."
Jesus Christ if you remake 'Him' , or have him made by your imagination, by whatever presumption of philosophy or other impertinence of thought, is not real, since He is your product, while in fact you are His. He being the image of the invisible God (Hebrews 1), and rightly addressed as "God", as there shown and in Philippians 2 where equality with God was a thing rightly His, if 'made' by you, is God made : and as to that, it is the epitome of idolatry, the epitaph of presumption and the sepulchre of sin. Irrationality merely conjoins presumption. One way or another, you receive or you deceive.
Such is the "beauty" of proud flesh, not ineptly called cancer at times, and assuredly here, the cancer of the soul.
God in the beauty of holiness however, comes on time (Galatians 4:4, I Timothy 3:16, cf. SMR pp. 886ff.), leaves after performance, achieves the humanly impossible over disease and death, donates the Gospel as predicted before He came and predicted to penetrate broadly to the Gentiles as it duly does (Isaiah 52-53, 49:6), directs history according to His word, as given while He was here (SMR Ch. 8), presents no sin at any point, passes through tribulations inconceivable except with the aid of God ther Father Himself, breaks every obstruction, acts in love and overturns all confusion, even the vehemence of the learned (Luke 11:52), and the plotting of the pragmatic (John 11:48ff., I Cor. 2:7-8); and being pure, and perfect, He is now likewise patient, awaiting the entire fulfilment of the merciful program of having the gospel so saturate the earth (Matthew 24:14, II Peter 3:9), that its end and even history in its consummation, leaves nothing undone.
It is He who sends its missionaries on the Web, on foot, by air, by camel, by train to every part, to die if necessary. It is He who in the format of flesh so directed (Matthew 28:19-20), and in the power of His Spirit so enables. It all gets done. Nothing is lacking. Nothing ever is. His word is truth, His beauty is in holiness, His justice is stable, His mercy if profound, His plan is pure, His performance is complete (Hebrews 9:12-10:14).
As then to the beauty of holiness to be to seen in Jesus the Christ, it is impregnable in its beauty, the utmost of test being ineffectual to disclaim it or disclose any weakness. It is immutable in its character, the most intense pressures being felt, but flecked off in the end, like a speck from a coat. It is inviolable in its purity, its resistance being not merely to overthrow, but to expose and demolish all attacks on truth. It is inestimable in its heights, disclosing both in script, the word given, the Bible, and in the history concordant with its least intimations, a capacity both sovereign and assured, just as its incarnation showed a willingness both eager and just, merciful and decisive to deliver all who came in faith to Him (cf. Mark 1:40ff., 2:8ff., Matthew 4:23ff., 8:16).
while allowing Himself to be tested to the uttermost (Matthew 4, Hebrews
5:7), He endured with victory, and was vulnerable but victorious with vigour,
dying with compassion and rising with relish (Luke 24:17ff., 38ff.).
*1 This is cited on p. 103, John Charles Ryle, from Marcus Loane.
For the Biblical treatment of the twig
in Ezekiel, see Biblical Blessings Ch. 2, at Contrast.
Here there is an especially beautiful point, and its beauty is not merely its splendour of survey, for the Lord has all things in a magnificent oversight. It lies no less in its wonder of compassion, its wisdom of consummation and its exquisite pathos, this time turned to glory.
The Jewish people indeed inherited a seventy year exile in Babylon and its environs, because of their veritable prodigies of sin, so great indeed, that they intensively parallel the exploits of the falling Gentile world of today. How great that is, is found simply in seeing a State which recognises perversion in the form of association called 'marriage' as having all the standing of that conjoining of exquisitely physically and personally matched parties - male and female - which actually is marriage and which serves for generation after generation, by generation. It is found likewise, in outlawing truth, and making it subservient to convenience.
a State does such things as these, what is the difference from Israel of
old ? Was it as
bad ? Perhaps in that level, like genius in motion backwards, it is hard to differentiate!
However, Israel for its part, was disciplined, and returned; and then fell far further and crucified Christ as a NATION (not as a race, for from the race the Church's early leadership was munificently provided!). In Romans 11 you see the thing depicted in a parable of an olive tree. The thing is natural and Israel; it is seen then as a body where Israel becomes but a branch, and is pruned off because of unbelief in its own Messiah, so long predicted, and of whom so much was predicated that it was impossible to fail to find Him, if He were sought with all the heart.
believers are then envisaged as a branch from a wild source, grafted into
this now large, standing tree. What benefits are thereby passed on (cf.
Romans 9:1ff.)! The Jews in large measure are to return to the Lord, for
their 'blindness' is only 'until' the time comes for sight (Romans 11:25).
It is then that there is a rejoicing of the utmost grandeur in their recovery
(Romans 11:12,24ff.). Joy is exquisite in this consummation.
We have considered some of these matters at some length in SMR pp. 1175ff., together with the fact that there was no violence to FAITH in the invasion, but there was rather plan to extirpate the corrupted people in a divine judgment on their MORALS and wickedness. Israel did this and failed, in the end, to be a faithful servant HERSELF! What a provocation! God sent them as a judicial force to replace and testify to the earth that judgment is true, righteousness is required, that sin has penalty, and that patience, though much prolonged, is not the same as either weakness or tolerance of rebellious impurity, and autonomous pretence for ever! They were themselves to be a display unit (Isaiah 43:21).
They failed; you see the tracing of the overview in such Psalms as 78 and 106. They themselves, though covered by covenant in terms of the coming of the Messiah for all, through them, and in their eventual placement back in their land (cf. SMR Ch. 9, Appendix A, and Galloping Events), were not immune to discipline. In fact, in Deuteronomy 32 you see the outline from the first, of things for them to the last, quoted by Paul in Romans 15:9ff., and extended in amazing and accurate predictive detail in Leviticus 26's roll call of events, before they came to be.
They were to suffer in extended exile, one and again much longer (cf. Isaiah 11:10), sent about the world, without a homeland, visited with contempt and mockery, purged and subjects of decimation (Leviticus 26:27ff., Deuteronomy 32:36, Ezekiel 5:15, 22:5, 36:15,21-23 - Jeremiah 30 continues this); they were to be broken to their power was gone, and THEN the Lord would arise, take pity, fulfil His original undertakings and the glory of His deliverance would be total and final for those who were HIS people (Ezekiel 37:23ff.). Zechariah 12-14 details much of the amazing victories a returned Israel would find in its homeland to which they would return, as Luke 21:24 also indicated.
Now let us consider this further. Currently Arabs, often but not of course always, with an Islam whose idolatrous non-god is presented as if the Almighty (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 30, and Index on Moslem in SMR, including pp. 50ff., 91, 988ff.); and they possess the Temple site. Indeed on or near it stands their mosque, a work of abomination in Biblical terms, just such as the people of Israel, with their elders, as we have seen in Ezekiel, did WILLINGLY for their own part, in those days. Indeed, they killed the only legitimate TEMPLE which is the Lord Himself, the One who replaced the whole paraphernalia as in Isaiah 22:20-25, 52-53, 66:1-4 and Hebrews 7-10, and how ? HE became the Temple in which the sacrifice was made, being cast out of the city, outside the gate; HE became the sacrifice, being crucified, and bearing the sin of all who should be His, offering to all (Isaiah 53:5-6); HE became the high priest, by bringing His OWN BLOOD to the Holy Place, now in heaven, where the site is permanent and spiritual, as in Hebrews 9:14, 6:17ff.. HIS was the purging and HIS the suffering, HIS the plan and HIS the performance, as the sent Saviour (as in Isaiah 48:16, I John 4).
Thus the Arabs are allowed their masterpiece of provocation, since Israel has performed their own masterpiece in killing the Messiah. The surroundings of the temple are irrelevant to salvation now, in terms of redemption, being a geographical thing of the past. But they are disadorned by this "abomination" of an idolatrous temple, as it assuredly is, in Biblical terms: an irony and a reminder, that GOD IS NOT MOCKED, and can mock the mockers! In this, at the crucial level, Islam does not mock him, any more than a man might mock another by attacking his Primary school, to which he formerly went.
act of erecting a Temple to an alien invented god, it merely shows
the irrelevance of the geographical site of symbolism, now the substance
of the Saviour has come (to use the terminology of Hebrews 10:1ff.). In
this, of course, it shows up Israel as well as Arabs: the former since
it demonstrates their failure to comprehend and believe indeed in their
now sacrificed Messiah; and the Arabs for being ignorant entirely of the
place of action in Christ, and erecting a Mosque declaring God has no son,
ignoring the Messiah as Saviour, and inventing a works related religion
of their own, as if to persuade the Almighty to ignore His own long verified
Is there then no deliverance ? It comes as in Zechariah 12:10, as the next step, in the only conceivable terms, namely, that Israel the nation, sent as a judicial entrant to a corrupt land and now spiritually corrupted because of the slain Messiah, repents and returns to the Lord who first sent her, then sent the Messiah, so that ALL judgment might be upon Him, but who, being rejected, has rather brought to pass this cauldron of judgment, from which HIS mercy alone, now as always, can bring deliverance. Deliverance ? Yes to Israel for one; to all who come to Him for others; for the whole land is becoming a parable in itself. As there is no peace without Christ in the heart, no heaven and no haven without His comfort and His Cross, so in this land where all major players are without Christ, nationally speaking, then nationally again, there is no peace, and body by body they suffer, nation by nation they are in alarms. As long declared, yes for millenia, the only PURGE of sin, is that which is ON the Lord, and this as ALREADY executed in His execution: this is the only remedy, perforce.
Without it, FORCE is the only indication, and SUFFERING is the crude substitute for the plenteousness of mercy in the sunshine of truth (cf. Malachi 3:16-4:2, Isaiah 53:6). It is still however dark, very dark.
The light is near. It is so near that it requires no atomic weapons. However without it, who can tell what will be the forces employed, so suggestively touched in Ezekiel 38-39, and in Micah 7:15-17, Revelation 14:20. Indeed, as before in Ezekiel's day, so now: then the scribe sent in the vision, to get the coals from the sacrificial fires, being given them, scattered them at command over Jerusalem.
This time, the same remedy decried by the world, it is the world over which these fires are to be sent; for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29), and while in the most tender of mercies and intense measures of loving concern and compassion, He has even destroyed the penalty of death itself, by enduring it AS a man (Hosea 13:14, II Cor. 5:17-21, Galataians 3), there is no compromise on the holiness which shines, and shines fiercely to the guilty and wilfully unpardoned soul: it was so then, it is so now. Heaven is not to be consumed because of sin; sin is to be consumed because of heaven.
The beauty of it is this, that Micah 7:15-17 in its stern realities of judgment, due to this earth in impending strength as the culmination draws near (Answers to Questions Ch. 5), is just next door to Micah 7:19-20. In this latter is shown in its exquisite tendernesses, in the beauty of holiness, the divine DELIGHT in showing mercy, and faithful INSISTENCE on the fulfilment of all promised to Abraham. It is to the world via the 'seed' from above, Christ, to Israel in its national parade and parable, exemplification both of judgment and of mercy, of faithfulness and of power; and to all in its dower of understanding. Understand ? then it is time to act: for understanding that does not act is like a geyser that does not erupt, an earthquake that does not shake, an ocean minus water.
It is to one and to all; and as to that signification of the land, the illustration of divine faithfulness and specificity of meaning, it will pass with all the rest of the earth (Isaiah 51:6, II Peter 3, Matthew 24:35. Be it Israel or another, its tenure is temporary, for its fulfilment comes when, all promises complete and lessons learned, heaven and earth SHALL pass away, as Christ so frankly and simply stated it.
Meanwhile ? The case is this.
has suffered. It is not alone in the books.
this it will come.
And that ? A gigantic divine action is scheduled, just as in the same time frame, is a vast repentance of israel: Micah 7:15 and Deuteronomy 32:21.
Inventions and futilities, vanities instead of realities: they do not serve, but as abominations before the Lord, then as now.
These mental and spiritual contrivances, these inventions of man, they are composed of what God calls futility and lying divinations, things that are not (Ezekiel 13:6,9,23), decidedly unattested, unverified and callow by comparison with the word of God, itself verified in all, fulfilled in Christ, and still fulfilled in terms of His own words. What is the other option, the free will option then called ? By Jeremiah, it has another name, closely parallel: it is deemed vanities (Jeremiah 8:5,10, 10:8,15, 14:22, 51:18), things of no account, nothings, incompetencies indistinguishable in power from what simply is not there at all (Deuteronomy 32:21), upstart arrivals, ungrounded, unfounded, religious foundlings, irreligious pretensions smuggling in some god or other, like Communism, a motley assortment, unattached to reality. Yes, for Israel or any other, these are the "vanities of the nations" (Jeremiah 14:22).
Such is the divine scorn, and not unexpected, when you consider this, that hanging in thin air when a parachute is available, this is carrying vanity too far. You need not nothing, but what is operative; not a dream but a reality; not a word of man, from an idol set up in the heart as in Ezekiel 14:7, but the word of God from the power that prevails (cf. I Timothy 3 as to the pathology).
It is not to Israel alone that this applies, for as Jeremiah 16:19-20 declares,
"O Lord, my strength and my fortress,
My refuge in the day of affliction,
The Gentiles shall come to You
From the ends of the earth and say,
'Surely our fathers have inherited lies,
Worthlessness and unprofitable things.'
"Will a man make gods for himself,
Which are not gods ?
"Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know,
I will cause them to know,
My hand and My might;
And they shall know that My name is the LORD."
It is to one and to all as you specifically see in Ezekiel 37:28,
"The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst evermore,"and again,
"Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate, I the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it" -Ezekiel 36:36.
Moreover in Ezekiel 39:27-28, after the divine rebuke to the aggressor nations in its full force and fury is accomplished, we read:
"When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land..."
After all, as in Psalm 67, it is THIS GOD, and not some newly arising ones, as Moses said from the first, who will rule the earth:
"Let the peoples praise You, O God:HOW He will rule, when the time has come, this has the same sensitivity and sensibility as shown in His life on earth (cf. Psalm 72).
Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously,
And govern the nations on earth... all the ends of the earth shall fear Him."
It is He of course who eventually is seen in Revelation 19, the Lord Jesus Christ, He who was dead and is alive for evermore (Revelation 1:18), and has the keys of death and hell, who comes to judge. to His only salvation as in Acts 4:11-12, it is to this all must come. In the Middle East, it is a sad and gruesome thing of shame, that there is this contest. Israel has had much to learn. The world has much to learn. The laboratory is ready. It is better to trust in the Lord than in lying vanities, or to set up idols in the heart; whether that heart be Jewish or Arab or British or American or Russian. Thus it was, is and is to be. Idols are air (Psalm 96:5). God made the air, and all else besides (cf. That Magnificent Rock, Chs. 1, 8, A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 1-9, Stepping out for Christ, Wake up World! Your Creator is Coming..., SMR Ch. 2).
So the land once judicially invaded in divine exposure of iniquity by a designated national agent, not to alter faith but to bring judgment, was then itself lacerated as that nation persistently and indeed chronically failed to pursue what it was sent to be and to do. It was not just for itself, for it was on mission for the glory of God, His praise and His revelation, to know it, show it and apply it. The land was taken by pagans in their inventions, very proud in their capture of the former mount of the temple, now just the mount where it had been. They destroyed or built, at will: they even eventually duplicated in their own way, the 'image of jealousy', flamboyant in thrust, if belated in their insult, since the temple was by that time an anachronism.
The futilities of Israel, its vanities, its idols in the heart or hearth, these were exhibited; and now this people are returned to their land through the abilities of the true God, whom they served, and to whom, having rebelled, they now must return (SMR Appendix A). Meanwhile, sometimes almost looking like wolves licking their chops, other nations with other vanities, these lay siege with this and that means, by armies, by ships, by canal restrictions, by multi-national forces, by law, by the United Nations.
God has taken step one: Israel back as so often insisted He would do, despite
their continuing unbelief, in His OWN TIME (Ezekiel 36:21ff., Romans 11);
and the nations and the world are taking their steps, as indicated, in
vigorous contest (as in Zechariah 12:1ff.). Burdensome indeed is the stone
of Jerusalem to those who afflict her, and seek to determine her (Zech.
So it was to be; and so it is.
As to the Jews who were a judicial force into Canaan, they have suffered a vicious assault from Hitler, his atrocities merely the coping stone of much European persecution, inquisitorial folly and intolerance over centuries. Israel is under multiple and cunning assault to the present day.
They have done their mighty victories, as predicted. The word of God in this, as in all things, stands fulfilled.
The turmoil continues as predicted. The ancient judging force has been judged. Her judges have been resplendent in glory. Now the judges await a judgment which nothing seems to incline them to avoid; they continue like roaring bulls, full of energy (oil) and of bellowing (vanities, futilities, various non-gods of the Gentiles, in Biblical terms).
The only peace to come is that which was from the first, the people serving God in truth and in His divine mercy. The approaches have been historically diverse; that to which the approach however is to be made, this never varies. There was no peace without Him; there has been no peace without Him; there will be none without Him. As it was in the beginning of this dramatic series, so it is to the end. It is His kingdom which is the one which will not end, as in Daniel 7:14,27, Revelation 22); the rest are like chaff, or powder (as in Daniel 2:44-45).
There they are told this:
The passion goes on; the Gentile rebuke is coming; the end is near. Those of Israel in large numbers are to return, each for his/her own part, spiritually to the Lord. Many others will learn the same lessons, however, in futile idolatries, complex connivances with what is NOT GOD; and as to them, they will find the meaning of living without the mercy of God. So the amazing drama, with its various parties and roles, continues in its apparent complexity, its actual perplexity to those who do not comprehend, being set in unrelieved darkness (for vanities give no light, it is the Lord who is the light of the world, seeing that it is His!), and in its real and elegant boldness of design.
But as to the LORD, as for the last two millenia, so to this day, in the beauty of His holiness, with the passion for mercy which is beyond all human passion, but which was vested in the heart of one in human format, the LORD Himself (Isaiah 48:16): He is still available. He does not depart from the call of the one who seeks Him. He is not distant from the human and contrite heart, Jewish, Arab or other (Psalm 34:18). His is mercy and He loves to show it. It is for man to receive it where it may be found (Isaiah 55:6ff.).
WHY WILL YOU DIE! continues the divine remonstrance (Ezekiel 33:11, cf. Acts 13:41,46ff., Isaiah 65:13-15, Revelation 22:17).
Micah 7:18-19 is surely one of the most appealingly evocative indexes of divine grace. Listen to it now - but first discern from Micah 1, the necessary preliminary of justice and truth, purity that is glorious, and glory that is pure - that should lead to repentance:
God is jealous, and the Lord avenges;
The Lord avenges and is furious.
The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.
Now the finale, in the beauties of divine holiness, and may it be the finale of many who read here:
Who is a God like You,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
Yet hear too Nahum 1:7:
The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him."
WHO MAY find Him thus ?
WHOEVER calls on His name (Acts 2:21, Isaiah 49:6, Acts 4:11-12),
and receiving Him as from the dead, raised in body, pure in Spirit (Romans 10:9, I Cor. 15:14),
is thus both cleansed by His blood and empowered by His grace (I John 1:7ff.).
WHY WILL YOU DIE! is that expostulatory appeal from Ezekiel 33:11, mirrored in Matthew 23:37, and met in John 3:16 with the affirmative answer, not to death, but to life.
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