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The GRANDEUR of GOD’S GRACE
- The Lament of Love
- The Call to Arms (His)
- The Challenge to Listlessness
PRELIMINARY ACTIONS AND FINAL RESULTS
In Malachi we found in the first chapter of this volume, a certain enervation, disregard, indifference or slipperiness about religion, about the Lord, about His service. We did not however concentrate on one of the worst of the examples provided by this prophet in the divine rebuke to the nation.
It is found in :
· “You have wearied the Lord with your words;
· Yet you say,
o ‘In what way have we wearied Him?’
· “In that you say,
o ‘Everyone who does evil
o Is good in the sight of the Lord,
And He delights in them,’
Or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’ ”
Here is spiritual sloth epitomised. Not only have they been opining, “It is useless to serve God” () as we saw earlier, but there is this almost satirical boldness, approaching disdain. SO useless is it to serve God, SO important are the rewards of the world system current, that in picaresque daring, they ennoble the prodigal, uplift the dreadful and call evil good. “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord.” What does the Lord do ? How effective is this regime ? If it goes, if you get away with it, take it: nothing will happen. This is the manner of thought before us here.
It is however much worse. Not merely are they sardonically signalling their indifference to God, they even put a plume of impudence into this assault on His integrity. “He delights in them” – in whom ? In those who do evil. Think of putting this proposition to an earthly king concerning his reign! It is tantamount to alleging his entire corruption, moral indifference, interest in other affairs to which these, the moral, are merely subordinate so that you could not tell what the outcome might be until you found the king’s actual motives. Only this would show the moral fall-out, which has no integrity of its own. Worse, the king actually loves the evil doers, they acutely take his fancy.
Clear from the next line is this, that there is an element of protest in these propositions. They are not less for that, but it alters slightly the tone. There is a charge levelled now at God:
§ ‘WHERE ARE YOU ? there is so much injustice here that we cannot discern your presence at all.’
Like God calling to Adam in the garden of Eden, hidden because he had sinned against the Lord, so there may be here an implicit call to God to show Himself, to show His judgments, for there is such a decline and a fall into moral cess that there appears too little evidence of His activity or interest. Yes, their thrust continues, He delights in the evil doer, for look how well he does!
This seems then to be the satiric condemnation of God, the sleazy spiritual attribution of evil to Him, the careless, enervated illicit and indirect conversation with God, to make of the speakers the Judge, and of God the criminal.
God’s answer, as in Malachi 3, is to indicate that so far from this languid and dissipated talk being true, He will send a Messenger clad with authority, instilled with directives, One who meets the spiritual zenith, in whom is just delight, appointed to be Judge of men. As to Him, He is coming suddenly to His temple, and there will expose the corruption which freedom brings, when it is misused, and shame spiritual fraud in which the land has been immersed. Further, such will be His zeal and power, that He will be like a refiner’s fire, with the people the metal, and the priests will be purified. A “swift witness” will the Lord be, to expose the moral follies of the nation, with their emasculated spirituality, their deadly drives and alienated perspectives.
It is God who is here making a declaration. They have pierced His name with maundering words, piquant darts or the thrust of foul, crusading words: He will pierce their hearts with shame.
He, the Lord does not change (Malachi 3:6), and it is only because of this fact that in His mercy and truth, reliability and faithfulness He has kept this people at all, thus avoiding their entire destruction. He itemises their frank fraud on tithing for His work, a place where the people are implicated, clearly showing their indifference and lassitude (3:7ff.). With all this, in His unchanging constancy, He INVITES them, the people, to resume this part of their OWN DUTIES, and promises a reward of dramatic proportions.
In fact of course, faith is first required and the insolence of the attack on the Lord by those who break willfully His commandments, forsaking tithes for His work, penurious though far from impecunious, is really a resurgence of their own indifference, their undutiful failure. They merely reflect with His light, their own darkness, like a shadow on an X-ray screen, and have the impudence to impute that it is HIS darkness, and not their own. Why, they do not even seriously keep His word, and they complain to HIM, as if it were His inaction when it is their own unfaithfulness! “Robbers” they are, but they indict! delinquents, yet they loiter with words against Him whose work they despise, whose name they mischievously misuse.
We note as Malachi proceeds, that some, seeing the exposure of the highway to hell on which many are travelling, seek to detach themselves from this mêlée, to meet together and write a book of remembrance in fidelity to the Lord (3:16ff.). But what was the item which preceded this action. It is found in those dire words of 3:14-15, where the proud are called blessed and the futility of serving God is asserted – a normal reaction of those who, loving this world, and merely wanting a little religious lift to add to it, find that it COSTS to serve God and that material rewards and prestige are not identical with taking up your Cross.
SO does hypocrisy fleer at the Lord, who declares, “Your words have been harsh against Me!” – Malachi3:13.
This too they have said: “Those who do wickedness are raised up: they even tempt God and go free” – Malachi , we hear.
The implication here is this: that you can be arrogantly disdainful, or openly brash in rebellion against God, without, like Bernard Shaw and his challenge to God to strike him dead as he opened his watch, if he would – suffering for it. Why then worry ? is the response. What however is the exposure of motive in the critics of God in this instance ? It is this. That they WANT to be raised up, that they WANT not to suffer, that they WANT a world in which you get swift rewards or become rich and powerful, one altogether lovely in situation for them, when you do what you have to do, are paid in ready coin for being good. It is a site where you really do not WANT to be good, but use goodness purely instrumentally for your own advancement.
This appears to be their desire. What MATTERS to such people, is the reward. God and goodness are merely MEANS, for theirs seems merely instrumental religion, God like forceps for picking something up.
Now in all love, what must be said ? that if you treat people as means, it is fraud. Job as we saw is one large illustration of the utter necessity of love being sincere, of suffering being no criterion of it, and a willingness to bear it merely an expression of its reality (cf. SMR 95, 358, 373, Christ Jesus: the Wisdom of God and the Power of God Ch. 2). Christ in His love bore specifically a false charge which in turn became the opportunity to be a sacrifice for sin. What was their charge against Him ? It was one of denial of His status, place, authority, position, identity. Since this false charge was enshrined in the words and testimony from their lips, that He was NOT the Son of God, that was a slander that in itself crammed in all the sins of man, the fruit of disfaith (q.v.) and rejection of God.
You can love a photograph of someone, but if when you meet him, you slap his face, it is apparent that the reality is scorn of that person, not admiration or acceptance. So when God sent His Son, the reaction was the criterion of the brand of disfaith which lurked where faith should have been!
If God has elected to make man free, so that he CAN criticise God, if he wants to, instead of regarding the truth or reforming his own life and finding the meaning of life in the word of God; if He has given spirit to man so that, made in the divine image, he CAN follow ignorant superficiality and charge God with human sins, as if freedom meant nothing and love were absurd: then is this a crime ? Is existence as human to be deleted ? It will be, but not yet.
There is first of all a harvest (as in Matthew 24!), when the reapers will reap, and the crops are man. That is the importance of Malachi 3:16ff., where of those who dissociate themselves from this swaggering sardonism of 3:13ff., it is said: “They shall be Mine … on the day that I make them My jewels, and spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and tone who does not serve Him” – Malachi 3:17-18.
There is an end to every test, for there is a limit to the power of what is tested in all creation (cf. Isaiah 57:14-18). Let us see the divine disclosure of this.
“And one shall say,
‘Heap it up! Heap it up!
Prepare the way,
Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people.’
“For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
‘I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
“ ‘For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would fail before Me,
And the souls which I have made.
“ ‘For the iniquity of his covetousness
I was angry and struck him;
I hid and was angry,
And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.
“ ‘I have seen his ways, and will heal him;
I will also lead him,
And restore comforts to him
And to his mourners.
“ ‘I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,’
Says the Lord,
‘And I will heal him.
“ ‘But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest,
Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
“ ‘There is no peace,’
Says my God, ‘for the wicked.’ ”
You will observe in Isaiah 57:15, made bold above, that there is indeed A LIMIT to the striving with man, to the exhortations and imbuings, challenges and calls; for man is not an infinite being. There are reasons why God seems to hide Himself (following verse, above) and this included in the case in point, covetousness, and waiting for realisation. There was a distancing from the divine, and it was by no means accidental.
Yet the Lord desires peace for His people, and has ways of bringing it both by His Spirit to those receptive (as in Isaiah 63:14 in that beautiful picture of spiritual contentment and rest), and by His Son ultimately whom He sends to rectify the ledger, bear the sin and bring the cost of the covenant to zero for man, infinity to God.
This however is for FAITH, which accepts invisible things on irrefutable grounds, but in heart and openness, a receiving of the Lord without deceiving.
Certainly, the wicked are like the troubled sea as we see here in Isaiah, and as to the nature of their way, it cannot rest, whether in its sardonic spewings or mournful mewlings: it has nothing clean and its actions and atmosphere, whether in speech or in spirit, is awry, confused and slack.
In Isaiah 58, following the above citation from this prophet, you find the clarion call of the trumpet of truth to the people, to put their morals where their allegiance is, and DO the things that God prescribes, for this is the outcome of faith in the presence of divine power.
From Isaiah 58, we find, immediately following the above, these words.
“Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
“Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
“ ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
“Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
“Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness …”
That then is a fuller answer to the moral lassitude seen in Malachi. It means that human sincerity is required for divine blessing, not in terms of works to OBTAIN divine covenantal relationship (Isaiah 55:1-3, 53:6ff.), for that is by faith, but in terms of good trees bearing good fruit. If you want something real, then DO IT, and you will find that there is a SPIRITUAL peace and a spiritual presence of the Lord who, for those following Him in the first place, loves serious spiritual living in the second place. Indeed, is it not natural that those who sincerely seek Him, find Him, and that those who toy with dead deeds and complain of Him, as if they were blind to their unfaithfulness to Him, and marveled at His seeming distance from them (‘hiding’), find mere acid mouthings and specious complaints!
In Isaiah, the focus soon moves on to Isaiah 61 and the Messianic coming. In this case. It moves swiftly from the Saviour in His tenderness, to the eventual judgment, for those who want judgment, which surely comes. In Malachi, it now moves in the intense denseness of the verbal and behavioural provocation, to the revelation of judgment in Malachi 4.
“ ‘For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’
Says the Lord of hosts,
‘That will leave them neither root nor branch.
“ ‘But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.’ ”
There is the ultimate division of the sheep and the goats, the believers and disbelievers, the morally mutant sliders and the spiritually inspired children of God. It comes when the examination results are posted. The criterion is Christ; and the consequences are life, and life lives, expressive of both the divine dynamic and the faithful blessedness brought on the hearts of those who know Him. Knowing God is far more evocative and intense than knowing anyone else, for it is to know your own Creator, who understands your mind and all minds, your motives, cleans your heart as a dairy farmer cleans his milking run, and brings help to your spirit as a mother to her child, and wisdom as a father.
This then is the climate of conduct, the spiritual culture, the divine dealing with man exposed to the truth, and fewer and fewer are those in our own generation who are not so exposed! There is divine detestation of injustice and fraud, spiritual or commercial, the latter a function of the former.
§ One well remembers an acquaintance, telling one that he was approximately without sin, at which one protested that certain of his business dealings did not appear of that type! His reply:
‘Oh, that was business!’
It is as if the mere use of a name for a species of action exempts it from all morality. Why not then, take it further for some others:
Oh yes, some other person might say, certainly I killed that man, but that was part of my social living.
Man is keen to exempt himself and to implicate God in his specious and supremely selfish dealings, in masses, but it does not alter the facts.
What however of God in His love ? We have been seeing something of His misconstrued patience, and of His testings, of His sending the Messiah to be murdered for a vicarious substitute for the sinner who receives Him in faith, and of His coming in judgment when the Play reaches the final Act. What however of the love of God in the midst of all these dealings ? How does He respond to this lassitude, to this enervation, to this moral drift, and to all this continual provocation ? How much does He plead, what emotions does He exhibit, how deeply does He feel this and what is the divinely available beauty of holiness to which a man may seek ?
There is a trap for the fox, but with God is there is a bounty to the smitten ? In what ways do we see this, and what does His word say of this ?
What is the coherence of His divine passion for justice and mercy, for reality and integrity, for love and lovingkindness, with what He has done ? How is it seen in consistency in His word ?
FIRST, BEGINNINGS AND ENDS
Frequently, as in Malachi, you are seeing in the words of the prophet, a penultimate, a most developed situation, in which over many years, a spiritual lassitude, boredom, indifference and really, lack of faith in the Lord, has been wedded to outward profession of His name. Then, as in a school situation when a particular Class has been rowdy, or noisy, or lacking in order or application for some time, you find the RESULT section. This does not indicate what happened BEFORE that PHASE. IN fact, there may have been multiple rebukes, or exhortations, pleasantries and helps, kindnesses and mercies, calls and responses, before it becomes apparent that it is a heedless case and not needless is discipline.
To see only the final episode would be a grossly misleading thing, were there no record of what went before in patience and pity, thrust and response, evaluation and stimulus. It is rather like the sinking of the Titanic. Dramatic pictures of its sinking should be preceded (as they are in one of the film coverages reconstructing the situation) by an awareness of the dash and derring-do, the almost absurd self-confidence, the wrong motivation of the speed, the compromise of safety in the interests of glory and so on. It is in this setting that the moral is told.
So far, then, we have seen the capacity of mankind to come to the point of virtual execration of God, as in Malachi, charging Him with their own sins, and requiring of Him an active intervention so that life by reward might replace life by faith, and the whole history of the universe could become meaningless. Not so is it with God, who at will, may indeed hide Himself from hypocrisy, and leave to “the fruit of his doings,” a slithery heart, that seeks only its own, using spurious words of ostensible morality, when only pleasure and profit, prestige and power are the real aim. As to God, in this scenario, He becomes the sought after means.
On that basis, He is simply not available, and many might cry as they inherit the whirl-wind, having sown the wind, Where is He! The answer is not far to seek. He is found in the humble and contrite heart which believes Him, and lives for Him! (Isaiah 57:15, 66:2, Psalm 51).
It is time to look to earlier phases where the love of God for those who become obdurate, brassy and indifference, mouthing evil and priding themselves on their own pollutions is shown, is available. How often do people look to the Lord a little, with the proviso that it must be strictly profitable (in terms of money, or position, or power, or pleasure, or prestige, or pleasantness or some other substitute for God Himself), and then, degree by degree, harden themselves as they are actually unwilling to pay the cost of purity, to place the hand of simple faith in the reality of God, and walk with Him. So do they temporise, until they become frankly evil!
In fact, making use of God for your own purposes is simply a contradiction in terms: for the ultimate is prior, not posterior, and the Leader is in front, and not behind. In reality, the self-centred activist is NOT the centre of the universe, however proudly he may be that of his own fictitious copy of it.
You must find and love God for the Being that He is, for the prodigy of kindness that He provides, for the purity that is His, for His place as your Creator and His provision for your redemption, for the blessedness that is in His holiness, and above all, for the glory of HIS name, not your own. If you do not approve of His justice, His mercy, His kindness, His call, His covering of the cost of redemption, and His resurrection, so be it. That is your affair. It is then that only judgment remains. Our present interest however is before that, or should there be repentance, after it: it is in the disposition of God’s mercies and the expressions of His love over history, towards man, to people.
The end, then, as in Isaiah 1 indeed and the conditions of the call of Isaiah in Ch. 6, can be both decisive and dire. Even then (Isaiah ) there may come further appeals and offers, often disregarded. But there is a beginning, as they hear of the Lord, and the dawn is not the same as the clouded sunset.
As the way proceeds, the light of love discarded dulls, and the end being seen, the Lord may lament; just as godly people too, for the unresponsive, may lament.
THE LAMENT OF LOVE
The lament of love is seen in many ways, situations and with high drama or quiet reflection.
The Lament of Elisha
Look for example at Elisha. How often had he shown to the people of the land, a merciful kindness and a miraculous aid. You see it in the case of the school of the prophets, relative to their building program, their food; you see it with the indebted widow, with the Shunamite woman and his tender care for her, indeed the raising of her son from the dead. You witness his concern for the life of a lady who had been sincere enough to care in the first instance (II Kings 4, 6), with thoughtful righteousness seeking the agreement of her husband for a little ‘prophet’s room’ for ELisha’s help as he traveled intensively in his work, and often passed by.
find it (II Kings 5) where Naaman comes from hostile
This kindness is discovered for the grossly sinning nation, in time of dire need and distress (Dunkirk is a modern parallel), as in the prophetic recounting to the King of Israel, the disposition of the warring Syrian forces, frustrating many of their planned exploits against Israel, so that that King of that land had forces looking for Elisha, presumably to slay him! (II Kings 6:8ff.). However God blinded the Syrian soldiers, and Elisha with clever irony, took them in their sudden affliction, to the “man whom you seek”, namely himself, first leading them in their blinded state, to the King whose country they were attacking! At Elisha’s instance, they were fed and returned to their land, an example of the kindness of God, always available, as with Naaman, when humility and seeking enter in.
Now while such things were proceeding (and the provision for the Shunamite woman went to the extent of advising her of a coming famine and a divine provision for the later restoration of her lands and income to her, when it was over and she returned from abroad – II Kings 8), there came a most moving episode.
very near to God in miracles and mind, in kindness and grace, acting for Him at
His will, as a prophet of no mean empowering (cf. II Kings 2:8ff.). When however
one of the divine provisions for the end of this longstanding matter of
Israel’s defiant idolatry came near (cf. Jeremiah8:5ff., 9:12ff.), Elisha became gripped with sorrow, tears ran down his
cheeks, and he could scarcely control himself, so smitten was he with a grief
of divine origin, and human expression (II Kings 8:12). Speaking to Hazael who
was to be anointed king of
Our present point is the extremity of Elisha’s grief. Notice first that it shows complete certainty in the divinely appointed role for Hazael, for he is to be used to rebuke the nation for its intransigeance, its unfaithfulness and its failure to regard the word of its (ostensible) God, whom it served so ill, afflicting its own people and its children (cf. Psalm 106). If it was his wish, then it was orchestrated by the Lord for His own purposes, so blending freedom and His own authority.
As to God, He was simply not prepared to have such adultery of spirit (not to mention body (Hosea 7:4ff.), such misplaced trust (Jeremiah 7:11ff.), such misuse of His name, such false testimony to continue indefinitely. Long He endured it, often He protested it, sometimes remedies arose. Many a time had there been revival, often had people sought him, as in the day of Hezekiah, back further, of Jehoshaphat, and near the end for Judah before its exile, of Josiah. Yet these were but temporary spirallings in the downward thrust. Since forbearance is not another name for laxity, in the end He acted decisively. It was rather like reluctant but necessary surgery when smoking lead inveterately to cancer in the lung.
anguish in the end inseparable from chronic, defiling sin in the very face of
the Lord had to come, and it is entirely parallel to the weeping of Christ over
Yet WHEN it was beginning to be implemented, the prophet Elisha, knowing the love and compassion, the pleadings the exhibitions of deliverance already given so freely from God, KNEW that the tragedy was to be appalling. His heart could scarcely bear it; he set his face and wept. Sadness was his friend, grief like a mother.
Such is the love of God. It is not indifferent to truth, seeks for its implementation in mercy, on the truth of the Cross of Christ, from the first in view (as seen in the protevangelium, Genesis cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, TMR Ch. 3, Revelation 14:3). When however this is despised, then there is no more place for remedy (as in Proverbs 1). Yet as this dismissal of the divine remorselessly occurs, there is grief that is great: Christ wept. Let us turn from the weeping of Elisha to that of Christ.
The Lament of Christ Himself
“If,” said Christ, as He lamented, musing on the city, “you had known.” Here you see deity dealing with knowledge. It is clear that He would have liked them to have the knowledge in question. He is lamenting because they did not.
There is no question of capering about with Jesuitical intricacies. If they had only known – “especially in this your day,” He continued, showing the dramatic heights to which their long history had now led them, when the Messiah Himself, the critical and crucial test, was personally present. If in many ways and days they had not known, this would be for a grief; but not to know in THIS DAY, their own day, their field day, their sports day, their day of exposure and performance relative to their God, above all other days … this was disastrous.
If they had only known, in this special and spectacularly crucial day, “the things which belong to your peace…” What then makes for peace with God ? Recognition of His being, recognition of His speech, recognition of His salvation, identification of the Saviour when He came, reception of the Lord in His humble form, cleansing through His sacrifice, faith in Him to follow Him, the grip of the New Covenant in His blood to instal them as children of God, and assure that blessed resurrection that would follow His (Daniel 12, I Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24, I Corinthians 15), in the due season when the Gospel thrust having gone through the world, the reaping takes place.
They did not know it, they did not know Him, were in fact soon to crucify Him, and indeed the history tells us that many of the Jews were crucified by the Romans outside Jerusalem when the Roman push came to take over Jerusalem (or what would be left of its sacked and salted site), just as the Jewish push had attempted to take over Christ, by summary death. It is apparent that this prospect for the city, though its authorities were to kill Him as foretold, is felt as a most grievous thing even by their intended victim, the Lord Himself. It is this which brings the weeping of lament to Christ, though the destruction of the city, already certain in His mind, had not yet happened; for here is the Good Shepherd coming to do the work Himself, as He promised in Ezekiel 34, and the people themselves rise up to kill Him!
congratulation for His compassion, care and coming! What a judgment however
this entailed, as if the
yearns that it might have been otherwise, laments because of what now must be,
despite all that He has done and is about to do! There is no slightest
intimation of any reluctance to save them, but of a sensitive passion that He might
save, and deliver. It is as in Colossians 1:19ff. (cf.
Here then is the breadth of love, of love with salvation in view: it is encompassing those about to be condemned, except for those who would believe in Him (John )! It is doing so in such a vast and embracive way that He weeps over the city! THIS, and not some exclusive love imputed wrongly to God as if love were a dictator and frustrated when its object is not found, is the biblical love of God as Luther and Wesley so clamantly remonstrated, and rightly, that it was.
To be sure their concepts of universal redemption were erroneous, for those for whom Christ bore the sins, are those healed by Him as Isaiah 53 makes exceedingly clear, and the same is found in Romans 8:32 where those for whose sins He is delivered up inherit all things. Thus, though offered like the national sacrifice in Leviticus, for all, He is redeemer, providing atonement only for those receiving it by faith (Deuteronomy 29:18-21); just as the individual sacrificer ALONE received the cover. Mere formality receives fulmination rather than blessing from the Lord (cf. Isaiah 1, Malachi 2:2!). Let not such a one think he will receive anything! as Moses declares.
Christ, in fulfilment, does not pay for the sins of ANY who do not believe, or do not come, for equally surely is it found in John , that unbelievers who do not receive Him, shall die in their sins. Their sins are not squandered uselessly on Him, since they CAN and DO take them with them. Indeed, that is ONE THING which you CAN take with you, when you go, if you have not shed them onto Christ: your sin, and this at HIS declaration! Salvation is by faith alone, its object the true and only Lord: it is faith in the Redeemer who redeems no one without it, just as those whom He does redeem have everlasting joy (Isaiah 51:11). He did not come a ransom for many in order that they should not be ransomed, or a deliverer who did not deliver, a Saviour who did not save, or a purchaser from whom goods could be stolen!
This brings to mind a whole realm of shadows. Flirting with faith can burn all hope, as if to incinerate the applicability of the remedy, and this once done to the utmost, it is indeed fatal (Hebrews 6, 10 cf. Divine agenda Ch. 9): yet to all there is the simple provision, receive the Lord by faith in repentance, as He is and for what He has done, and nothing can either prevent your entrance or ruin your relationship. His sheep HE KEEPS! He says so. What IS His, being redeemed, stays just by Him, and His sheep follow Him and to them He GIVES eternal life, and they shall never perish. How valuable is each word from the Saviour; but then it is He who is the Word of God incarnate! This is one of the illimitable verifications in its consistency and majesty, that truth always brings.
Let us however finish Christ’s lament displayed in Luke 19, in its critical thrust. IF ONLY they had known the things that belong to their peace, AT LEAST in this their day, “BUT NOW they are hidden from your eyes.” Don’t use it, lose it is a common sentence in physiology, applicable all the more as the body ages.
spiritual heart of man, that in the last resort, at the critical phase, rejects
salvation readily becomes one from whom the Lord becomes HIDDEN! Just so it was
Judas, who in isolation, hanged himself, not seeking the Lord. Christ proceeds
in Luke 19 to declare the detail of the destruction to come to
His conclusion is precise: and it gives the reason. This ? as in Jeremiah 8, it is “because you did not know the day of your visitation.” It is NOT because He was not interested AT THAT LEVEL, but rather in demonstrable fact, because so massively great was His interest: that Christ wept concerning the negative result. It was spiritually dead, morally corrupt, to life fatal, an abortion of profundity in the interests of slick superficiality. It held ruin, just as , in advance of all penalty for them, it exhibited it!
The ONLY way they could come was by faith in Him as Saviour, that is to salvation; and the ONLY thing they would not do was that. To this, the EXACT response of deity is this, that it is so lamentable and desecratory for them that, become man, so that He who sees Him has seen the Father (john 14:9): He weeps.
How sad that the children of men insist on extreme forms of contradiction of the text either
v 1 - by pretending that God is NOT really interested in saving those who in fact go to hell, recalcitrant in irrevocable rebellion, or
2 - that He has redeemed all, including those,
who being paid for, somehow manage to avoid the fact of their liberation and
get there anyway.
Is it then some inane purchase or ineffectual payment ? Heaven forbid! For those who do not believe fail to do so, not AS His sheep, but “BECAUSE you are not My sheep” . Those are His words: “You do not believe because you are not My sheep” (John ). This suffices to omit the faith. On the contrary, “MY sheep hear My voice, and they follow them and they know Me, and I give to them eternal life.” What He purchases as Redeemer is surely His own, and as to His own, they stay that way, being redeemed.
IF then, they believe, they are His sheep (John ) with eternal life; just as IF they enter, they are His sheep, removable by none, even by themselves, for they are then begotten again, and HIS seed remains in them (I John 3:9), so that they NEVER perish.
As shown above, and often before, neither of the two statements listed above, is correct. HE IS really interested to the point of being almost devastated that they do not so come in faith to Him; and HE DOES NOT cover their sin, which remains their own, with no sacrifice left.
The limited atonement is unanswerably correct (Romans merely emphasising it), and the unlimited love of God is incorrigibly so. Defiling the one to protect the other is mere philosophy at work. IN this love, then, there is a tumult of compassion, a flush of roaring waters like waterfalls dashing over the rocks in sheer elemental intensity. IN its being rejected, there is a SATING OF LOVE which does not in its very nature, require submission. There is no frustration therefore, for GOD IS LOVE, but there is much grief. This is a fuller measure of the GRACE of God that He can NOT ONLY offer Himself in human format for sin, with all the attendant losses (of face in every sense, for example), but restrain Himself from any force in the fulfilment of His love.
This is surpassingly beautiful, greater than all that man has or could be, coming from a situation of mere giving, in which the very construction of the universe is a give-away, a provision for the sharing of His wonders with His people (cf. Isaiah 51:16, and see … Immovable Faith Ch. 3). Here then is no religion of violence, seeking to contain, control or grasp the earth as from those whose it is not, as in Romanism, Islam and Communism: rather it is one of giving, seeking in love to illuminate, and in those who receive Him, to redeem from the disasters of sin to the magnificence of salvation, restoration and adoption by God Himself.
Whom, however, He redeems, He keeps, though this is wholly inapplicable to mere, wordy false claimants and derogated pretenders for whom satire can depict their hypocrisy (cf. SMR Appendix B on Peter).
same measured patience, self-control, forbearance and desire, so dedicated and
so beautiful is found in Jonah’s rebuke. The prophet, sent to warn
Jonah had to learn to be more a prophet of love, the power being merely for the outcome, not the income.
Hence we see him, in Jonah 4, hostile and hurt, complaining and almost campaigning against God because the people, who amazingly DID repent, are now not to be destroyed.
Ø “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
Ø “Then the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’
Ø “So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant.
Ø But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
Ø “Then God said to Jonah, ‘Is
it right for you to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘It is
right for me to be angry, even to death!’ But the Lord said, ‘You have had pity on the plant for which you
have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a
night. And should I not pity
God HAD PITY. He did not “willingly afflict the children of men” (Lamentations ). In love, He would do otherwise: so Christ wept, so Elisha wept, so Jeremiah wept.
Jeremiah 9: Lament in Prospect
In Jeremiah 9 you read that the prophet would fain have his head a reservoir of waters and his eyes a fountain, so that from it would flow rivers of water, a continual weeping that flooded into external dimensions: such was his lament, his grief, his inconsolable sorrow for his people whom he sees already as “slain”, so sure is the impact of the divine judgment about to come upon them.
Yet it is to no avail, however great the grief, the sincerity and the willingness of the prophet . As time progressed, burdened with the cost, Jeremiah yet realised his task afresh, and renewed by the Lord, proceeded as needed to suffer, (as when challenged, in Jeremiah -21). How pleasant to be the pleasant pastor of a contented people; but this was not his lot! (cf. Philippians 1:29). He had to be the exhorter and warner of a people, instead, of whom many of those in power were all but spiritually demented!
Hard, they would not relent. Assured, they would not repent. In Jeremiah 17, you read this other side.
“The sin of
With the point of a diamond it is engraved
On the tablet of their heart,
And on the horns of your altars,
While their children remember
Their altars and their wooden images
By the green trees on the high hills.
O My mountain in the field,
I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures,
And your high places of sin within all your borders.
Ø “And you, even yourself,
Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you;
And I will cause you to serve your enemies
In the land which you do not know;
For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever.”
This is the obverse side of Jeremiah’s lament: the national obduracy of his people, their sin set as with the engraving of a diamond. There is the love and the judgment, for in the repudiation of the Lord’s mercy, there is the necessitation of the impact of justice upon the delinquent. God is not about to destroy heaven in order to accommodate sin. He rather allows Christ to be crucified, so that He may redeem sinners, and covered in His grace, allow them, made new, into His kingdom, and later, as the spirits of just men made perfect, fit for resurrection, to inhabit heaven. There is no iniquity there, none at all (Revelation ).
Was the prophet indifferent ? Did salvation simply not apply ? Was grace involved in apartheid ? Far from it, and the word of God is destructive entirely of any such distortion, or caricature as Spurgeon called it of the love of God. He WEPT and wanted to weep without ceasing, head a lake of water to allow eyes without cease to lament.
The Late Call before Lament: Jeremiah 17:19ff.
Small wonder then that the prophet would relish the offer and opportunity provided by the Lord as seen in Jeremiah 17:19ff.. They had now merely not to bring in loads on the day of rest, and to hallow the Sabbath in the Lord. If they would merely do this (a spiritual test in reality, but one easy for those who so love God that His day is an opportunity to rest from this world, and both to prepare for the next unmolested by toil and labour, and to work what is good without necessitation), then the beauty of Jerusalem would be preserved, its kings and its structure.
What an offer!
In fact, however, the people’s hearts were set on sin; yet this love is evocative, persistent, insistent, consistent, calling. Worse, when the people showed some willingness to release unlawful slaves, instead of carrying even this small reform package into fulfilment, they reneged – even at that. This was the work of those conscripted by their own deeds, to darkness, faithless, unbelieving, and to them then surely it came (Jeremiah 34:8ff.).
It is no
more a question either of God’s sincerity in the scope of His love so
categorically asserted, and obvious since He IS love, or of the lack of
The Truth and the Taunt
In Proverbs 8, following Chs. 1, 2, 3, and 7, where wisdom calls and a father cries for the ‘children’ to take heed, you find that there is a warmth and heartiness in the cry, an earnestness in the appeal, but where as so often there is obduracy and contempt in the reply, then instead of sharing life with the very Wisdom of God (revealed in I Corinthians 1:30 as Christ cf. Proverbs 8) whose grand arts in the work of creation were so brilliant, you find that you have a kind of flirtation with death, ending in damnation (cf. Proverbs 1).
Thus in Proverbs 8, we find this ending:
Ø “Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
For blessed are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise,
And do not disdain it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
Ø “For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the Lord;
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death.”
Does not Proverbs 15:24 add this:
“The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell beneath.”
The energy and ‘romance’ of love, to use the oft-employed biblical figure of marriage and its adventurous delight of mutual affection, from the early meetings onward, is laid out with all the divine grace imaginable; and yet the cost of the Cross is the measure of the doom, not merely impelled, but just for those whose love is darkness without the truth, or is convenience for the self, society or situation of choice, in lieu of God.
Nathan to David
David’s Lament as a Type of Christ
In II Samuel 12, you read one aspect of the love of God, of His grace, when David sins; and in II Samuel 18:29-32 you read of David’s lament when someone else sinned, and so tore himself from life, just as he could not stand moral virtue.
David, restless, had seen a beautiful woman, lusted, sinned morally and sexually both, and acted deceitfully in one large, lush field of folly that was so totally contrary to the whole man’s life, that it was like a black patch on a sea of sand. When he was rebuked (and the rest of his life held admonitory exercises to sensitise him, including domestic griefs of his own, measured but severe), then the word of God to him holds something very beautiful and material to our present topical interest.
“Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord to do evil in His sight … Now therefore the sword shall not depart from your house, because you have despised Me…”
That is the prelude to the beautiful part. Notice that this despising was an episode, and though a somewhat prolonged and multipartite one, it was not characteristic of David. Yet was it so gross that the correction had to be rather severe, though it was not in the ways of this world, severe: David was not imprisoned, killed or quartered for it. However he suffered, as a spiritual man, extensively as his own family became awry, first in one way, and then in another, just as he had misused the family of someone else, first in one way, then in another! God has His own ways of correction of those whom He loves.
Such included neither the provision for the mere continuance of breaches of holiness amounting to despising Him, nor yet merciless severity: His way with His children is meaningful, effective and wise.
Now, in this case, the Lord remonstrated with David a little before this statement, and in terms of the liberalities of His grace, which are characteristic, consider this.
· “I gave you your master’s
house … and gave you the house of
There is the prodigality, the liberality, the willingness that is divine, that is seen on the left and the right, to the unconverted in the munificence of the payment made that is sufficient for all, so that it may be received freely (Isaiah 55, Romans 3:23ff., 6:23, Ephesians 2), and to the converted in love seeking more and more of the wonder of His giving for them. There is nothing difficult about the wonder of the divine love; except for this, that so many prefer the blemished flowers of their own making, mere petals of a day.
Later on, tragedy hit David’s house. His favoured son Absolam - trying to fly too high, as if to take the kingdom from his father, guileful and deceitful as if to remind his father of his famous error in the matter of the false love-making - met his end when David’s commander killed the young man. On hearing this, the King made a lament famed for all time. The military commander had disobeyed the king’s directions in killing Absolam, but a practical man, he did not see point in continuing slaughter when the leader of the rebellion could be killed.
David’s word of lamentation here, are a type of the love of
God, a parallel to the divine in a sinner’s heart, yet a heart in which God
Himself dwelt. They evoke remembrance of Christ’s lament for
· “Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus:
o “O my son Absalom—
o my son, my son Absalom—
o if only I had died in your place!
o O Absalom my son, my son!”
Notice that Paul felt he could die for his own people, if it had been of any value (and he did die for the proclamation of the Gospel) – as seen in Romans 9:1-3. Die ? No more, he felt willing to “be accursed” for the sake of his countrymen!
So here King David could wish that instead of having the rebellion put down, with death to Absolam, against his own desire (God would have ALL men to come to the knowledge of the truth – as in I Timothy 2), he himself had died for his son.
Now as for Christ, He DID die, for it WAS valid in this case, applicable for any but applied for all who come in faith to Him! He did not merely find Himself willing (as in Psalm 40 cf. Joyful Jottings 22) to be accursed in order to redeem. He actually did it (Galatians 3:1-13); and indeed it was called for by the strength of justice, just as it was paid for, by the strength of grace. That, it is the love of Christ, and you see it here in David, as in Jeremiah. Indeed, let us look at a further example from the latter prophet.
LAMENT ON LAMENTATIONS
To do justice to Jeremiah’s lament is almost like doing justice to Raphael in art. In the book of lamentations you have such cries! Consider just three in Ch. 1.
“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by ?
Behold and see
If there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
Which has been brought on me,
Which the LORD has inflicted
In the day of His fierce anger.”
“How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
How like a widow is she,
Who was great among the nations!
The princess among the provinces
Has become a slave.”
“Her uncleanness is in her skirts;
She did not consider her destiny;
Therefore her collapse was awesome;
She had no comforter.
O Lord, behold my affliction,
For the enemy is exalted.”
Then look at the enduring confidence in the Lord. Remember it was Jeremiah who at risk to his life, and in continual obloquy had warned and pled with his people, providing hope in the Lord’s name, but they would not hear; and note that it is he who laments – whose warnings and whose person were despised! Yet does he love them, and yet does he weep for their plight.
Now consider his depth of earnestness while he seeks to be oriented to the Lord, and to hope for the future, which like the present then, has been assured to him for his people in a rebuilding.
“Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
“This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“ ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I hope in Him!’
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
“It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear
The yoke in his youth.
“Let him sit alone and keep silent,
Because God has laid it on him;
Let him put his mouth in the dust—
There may yet be hope.
“Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him,
And be full of reproach.
For the Lord will not cast off forever.
Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
“For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.
To crush under one’s feet
All the prisoners of the earth,
To turn aside the justice due a man
Before the face of the Most High,
Or subvert a man in his cause—
The Lord does not approve.
“Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?
“Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?
Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.”
So does love find the source of love, and finding the necessity of purity and even purging, look to the Lord in surrender, knowing that from Him is the purity to be found which, after all, only the most obstinate sin had so tarnished that the rupture of this people and the destruction of their city proved necessary. Indeed, where was faith at all, in such infamy as left truth fallen in the street! (Isaiah 59:14).
Alas, it was so then, and it is becoming ever more so in many a nation, now!
So does a nation fall – just as a generation died in the desert before the entry to the Promised Land with Joshua – though some, as then, within it are delivered. In that, Daniel in his own day, for example, in part paralleled Joshua of old! Faith is free access, but it must BE faith (cf. I Corinthians 10, Hebrews 4:2).
The Evangelical Call and Lament
Isaiah 55, 12, 59:13ff., 48:17ff., Ezekiel 34
PART of the grace of God is thus seen in this, that you do not pay. You are to be redeemed without price and without money says Isaiah, says Peter (Isaiah 55:1-5 with 53:4-12, I Peter 1:18ff., 2:22ff.), freely, says Paul (Romans , ). It is not only by grace that one is saved, but the very gift itself is by grace. It is free in itself as also in its administration. Indeed, Paul so loved to preach the gospel freely, that in his case, even the cost of the labourer was borne (cf. I Corinthians -18).
In stark contrast is the morally perverse, spiritually corrupted scene of Isaiah 59:13ff., so that “justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off, for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.”
Love does not love licence to lie, to commit fraud, to be proud, it ignore reality, to sacrifice truth for convenience and the integrity of God for the lie (Jeremiah 7:8-12, II Thessalonians 2). It loves what is the sinner, and seeks his elevation from the pit to the pilgrimage, and the pilgrimage to the redemption and the redemption, therefore being now covered, to heaven. It does not bring heaven down to earth, but sinners up to heaven; but the KINGDOM of heaven it makes available on earth, by the Spirit of Christ and in His name, for those who seeing it, enter (John 3).
Grace provides all of this; but it is no part of the work of grace to defile the only lasting beauty there is, to prostitute truth or to abash equity. Hence there is only one way, and that is the Redeemer, who lives and operates in the hearts of His chosen people, moving them to become not frigid pictures, but a limned portrait, a living letter from the Lord (II Corinthians 3:2-3, cf. To Know God … Ch. 1).
In Isaiah 48:18, you see the divine lament, and in this passage (vv. 17-20), the practical call. The past is lamentable; the future requires action by faith, and at once.
When truth has come, then in Old as in New Testament, these with joy draw water form the well of salvation (John 4, Isaiah 12), one more illustration of the coherence of both Testaments, and further, of the bud in one becoming the bloom in another, the former taken up with intimate precision by Christ in the work of actual salvation on particular persons, even in Samaria, where the glory shone! It is free since, having penetrated fraud, God Himself came to do the true work of a Shepherd, as He foretold (in Ezekiel 34 in categorical terms!). The deity does not charge for His salvation. How He protests light amid darkness (Isaiah 59:1-2), His practical willingness in the place of pollution, and in correlation, laments at their uptight pretension in the midst of fragmentation of their very spirits.
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of
‘I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
‘Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
Nor destroyed from before Me.’ ”
Then in the next verse or so: GET OUT OF BABYLON, that is that religious syncretistic, multiple- godded palace of iniquity, itself to be doomed in a little! The prototype of the World Council of Churches and of many a fallen denomination in this century, it provided to the unchaste, an opportunity for immediate declaration of intent for purity, reformation and relief!
In all this, the untruncated love of God, His outthrusting of grace, like solar flares from the sun, moves in the intensity of His heart and the purity of His passion. Its summit on the Cross interprets it, displays and implements it, for without exception, those who receive THIS redeemer, will require no further lamentation, but rather discipline only, upbringing and moulding in the way of light, life and truth.
The Duality in Isaiah 61:1-3
once more, we find the very passage read by Christ at
Ø “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
In the 4th couplet, he stops before adding the words, “and the day of vengeance of our God” (so that these read words are here italicised for easy recognition).
Doubtless, this follows from the fact that, as He told them in the recorded meeting in Luke 24, that they should have realised that there was to be FIRST suffering and ONLY THEN, glory to follow. His Gospel mission was then starting, but it would be long before the other half, the glory to come, would proceed. This was not in His present domain, and it was omitted in that savour of the Gospel opportunity, when He read the then relevant part in the synagogue.
God does not delight in sorrow, insists in bearing grief Himself if by any means any should receive Him (and of course knows His own who will do so, pays for them, and conducts them, receipted, sealed and adopted, to His own side where He has prepared a place for them – John 14, Ephesians 1). When He came, it was like the first part of Isaiah, in the verses actually read in Isaiah 61:1-2. It was if to say:
I LOVE YOU AND PAY ENOUGH FOR ANY OF YOU. Enter this ark.
The meaning of the Isaianic passage, dropped in the middle of our verse, does however continue, as if to say:
But if you will not, it is because of the realities of life, which accrue to those who love not its Founder, its nature or its rock; and these being impelled by their contempt, will receive their due reproof.
The emphasis from the Lord at
This would appear clearly to be the point: so He left that part of Isaiah out for the time. It is like heavy rain: Put on your coats! comes the call. Is there need yet to add: If you do not, you will be drenched! Those at Nazareth, for their part, nevertheless were not slow to show that the meaning continues, as seen in their murderous thoughts, in the hearts of some, seeking His destruction if it were in their power! To this, they were impelled, not by the Lord in His ceaseless grace, but by the depths of their own hearts.
v Thus Christ omitted, further words from the delicious provision in Isaiah 61, at this point.
v Yet He did not, in the grace of God, leave out His OWN payment, simply not exacting love of any, and intercepting justice in Himself, for all who would call on His name in faith, even that of the Messiah Jesus Christ.
God knows what He is doing, and does not have another notation or address, let alone several other sobriquets. He is one Being, not a gallery, shown by His Son, revealed by His Spirit, constant in His Gospel, consistent in His grace, enemy of duplicity, pomp and pretence, seeking for man, not by works of attainment to impress from some one or other, but by consignment to grace, from grace, so that in love the redemption would be applied, and the entire transformation of status and strength, performed. He is not like Lucy, a comic character of extraordinary mutations! He is God, the Creator of all created minds, incorruptible, immutable, beautiful in holes, triumphant in grace!
His word so portrays Him without cease, filled with a love which is tenacious, but pure, incapable of seduction, willing for any price that is pain and suffering, which brings man to His side but unwilling to grasp by mere power. His Son has portrayed Him so no less, and in these millennia, so has His word continued in those whose faith is in Him ONLY, and not in flesh, the feebleness of philosophy or the rule of culture.
Lessons on Lassitude and the Limitless Profundity of Love
The Position in Principle
The love of God, the grace of God, the exuberant kindness of God, the wise provisions of God, the pure procedures of God, the exceedingly great liberality of God, all this is shown in its concerted consistency. When refusal makes the ultimate refusnik into a sort of spiritual refuse, this is the intrinsic nature of the case (cf. Mark 9). Leave to God the nature of time in this reprobate case, but do not ignore the nature of spirit. However, one of the great beauties of predestination is this (Romans 8:29ff.), that in His eternal knowledge and foreknowledge (cf. Ephesians 1:4) God misses nothing. Love neither SEIZES its own, to lacerate their reality as in God’s image, nor does He leave it to tide and turn of events. He knows His own and secures them (cf. John 6:65), infallibly, resourcefully, graciously.
Indeed, the divine yearning comes to the fore in those intimately glorious invitations as in John 7:37-38. Again comes the liberality, for love is not secretive and selfish. Those who drink being thirsty, these will not only have their thirst beautifully quenched, but issuing from within them will be STREAMS of living water, we read: fresh and abundant, as if drenching the pastures about.
This is a love which insists on purity and is willing to give it away at cost, provided only that it gets to its target. This is the love of God. It relents when its necessary quality is dismissed. Yet this only with grief, the measure of which is that of Christ’s willingness to bear it, in order to dismiss it – as a door thus freely open.
You cannot escape the love of God, therefore, except in dismissing Christ’s love in practice, at the Cross. Then there is nothing left of love to give you: its whole entire concentrate, despised, it leaves the one who loves love’s loss, with the very loss he seeks.
Grace spurned at its sublime height, love despised in sin’s sterile depths, this is the formula to make the soul become an eternal absentee from these things, coiled in its own contempt. Daniel 12 speaks of this.
Ø Perhaps you lament ? Christ lamented.
Ø You are in anguish: so was the Lord.
Ø You are alone, so was He, crying,
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!”
precisely as predicted (Psalm 22, Joyful Jottings 25); for sin separates, whether it be your own or that which He bore, and His cry is its attestation.
Ø You are misunderstood, He the more.
Ø You are slated to die: so was He.
Ø Grief is your companion ? so was it His (Isaiah 53:3, Luke 22:39ff., Hebrews 5:7).
God’s grace is greater. Why ?
He did not have to do it. Love chauffered His visit to earth. Power erupted in His breach of death. Mercy showed His face before it was systematically marred – a face HE did not have to take. Great as is human suffering, God suffered more. Man is found in circumstances that impel; God had no compulsion but freely created and then came. Further, in coming, instead of spoiling man of his opportunities, He offered eternal life as a child of God, not some mere probation. That, it is grace of the purest notation, kindness not personified, for it gains its name from Him, but in its very source.
Man is set in creation, and has grief; God made the creation and freely took that grief, the black gusher from sin. Worse in impact on Him, He took what man created, sin, a spoliation of the creation, and did so as Creator! What however of the person who still wishes to be grievous and retain the ground of grief without the Giver of respite ? What of the one who despises deliverance through redemption already paid, enough to be able to cover all, but applied to His own ? In his or her intemperate heart, is there yet a cleavage ? In such a case, it is not to suffer so much as to caterwaul, rebelling like a playful pup pursuing well-clawed cats. There is really no need. This is not where you belong.