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JOYFUL JOTTINGS 17
LORD, TWO HISTORIC PATHS TO
Do you see this colour ? It is almost brown, almost dark red and almost dark magenta. At least this is to my eye.
Now similarly, there is an approach to the ways of the Lord in the Old and New Testament which is almost national to Israel - in the first instance, but not essentially and not quite; which is almost as if to ignore that nation in the second instance, but not really; which is almost as if to remove all distinction, again, but not in every respect; and which again, is what it is, an underlying total sameness to all and both, as members of the human race to whom their Creator has love and to whom He extends a hope in their end, a counsel and a way. It is the same way. Let us elucidate from the word of God.
In Psalms 93-100, 65-67, 86 and 117 you see much of this quite simply. Thus in Psalm 95 ISRAEL IS WARNED NOT TO DILLY-DALLY, SHILLY-SHALLY, not to harden the heart and so miss the ACTUAL OPPORTUNITY given and proffered indeed, to it. This is just what they had done, when failing at first to enter the promised land, under Moses. It is used here to them, as a contemporary challenge, by the Psalmist.
The case when, after
amazing troubles and miracles, both, they escaped from the imperial purple
Consider them as slaves
under Pharaoh, these erstwhile welcome guests in the land. See how they suffered
not only in body. The oppressive calumniation as if they would usurp the
land from the Egyptians, the dextrous travesty
by which they were turned from guests into slaves, the divine intervention,
the use of a victim, Moses (duly delivered by an Egyptian Princess, from the
basket in the bulrushes, where the child was hidden from the slaughterous concepts of the Egyptian social planners),
the confrontation through this same Moses. He was indeed a man of courage, MADE SO BY THE LORD; for he
needed much confirmation from the Lord and His power before he would undertake
the lonely mission (Exodus Chs.3-4) : yet the Lord was with him - to
affront, confront and conquer the Pharaoh, in his land! Look at the miracles
which brought the whole body of
With victories and mercies of an ultimate kind, they REACH THE LAND. What then ? Is there glorious rejoicing ? Is there relief and wonder, admiration of the Lord's kindness and honest resolve to respond in faith ? Not at all.
Rather this: COURAGE FAILS (though it had not failed for Moses when HE HAD TO CONFRONT PHARAOH), and they WILL NOT GO IN. It seems incredible, but so do many cases where one, today, presents the Gospel and someone WILL NOT COME, or some professing Christian WILL NOT DO WHAT THE WORD OF GOD SAYS. As someone said, it is ONE THING to know what the will of God is for oneself, it is ANOTHER to do it! Ah but, it is a wonder even to know it; so knowing it, make haste and do it, and count your greatest cost a mere nothing, compared with the inestimable wonder of being permitted both to KNOW and to DO of His good pleasure, as Paul puts it. Is is then written ?
What then ? We need to realise
to the full that the word of God is the word of GOD; that it is HE, who is
alive, present and personal, WHOSE WORD IT
IS. If He says it, jump to it, and be thankful He has spoken! Just because
this will of God, it is ALSO WRITTEN does not make it in some way a mysterious
blueprint from of old. God is eternal and His knowledge if comprehensive,
sure and overall. There is nothing hidden from Him with whom we have to do.
Written ? marvellous, then it is not subject to reception
problems. It is, quite simply, what God has to say to us. It is never revoked,
only fulfilled (Matthew -19). He can give wisdom,
certainly, and frequently does; but this, it is a matter of standing orders.
When God speaks, all the wisdom of the King of Eternity is present; all the
knowledge of the One whose oversight of history is so profound that it is
under His divine control, so that He can and in multiplied instances, does
predict in detail what is to be, is active. When man refuses it, it is in
a sense, like the nation of
"Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and not do the things that I say."
And Matthew 7:21:
'Not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.'
It is not that one has to get their through the merits of works of obedience, for Christ is precisely a ransom to cover (Matthew , Galatians 3:1-13). It IS that hypocrisy, calling that faith which is merely opinion or opportunism, is not acceptable to God (Hebrews 11:6, James -20). FAITH is never dead. It is only a dead misnomer. It is corpse, be it ever so corpulent with cathedral windows, choirs and self-will. Faith lives with the living God and acts with Him. One may need punishment, chastening or even chastisement at times; but as a Christian, only to teach (Hebrews 12). It is necessary to learn; but as to justice, judgment, for the Christian, it is already met (Romans -26).
Thus partial obedience is not an option, any more than is total rejection. This is damnable divorce. I speak literally. To tell God, Well, I do not really want to do the will of God, is rather like the wind that one is not really interested in its ministrations. It does not alter ... the wind!
Perfection is not an attainment either; but we as sinners, by faith through grace saved (Ephesians 2:8-10) are "His workmanship", and what God does, works. As noted in SMR:
We are saved without works, but not without faith, and faith works.
This invitation is to the promised land of Jesus Christ, THAT REST which is now found directly and without any mediation, in HIM! (I Timothy 2:1ff., Hebrews 4:1-12, 9:1-15, Matthew 11:28-30), that bond, that indwelling marvel which even accompanies us as we walk with Him in His kingdom, a plane and path in which one may live, today, from the same God. It is real now; it will be territorially expressed later, but not with puny potentates: it will be the earth which will be filled with the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk ). What then is the position for all men now ? Hardening of the heart today is just as possible now as it was then. It is, again, perfectly true that once saved, always one is saved (Romans 5:1-11, 8:29ff.).
However, WHO is saved ? Every churchgoer ? Certainly not. Indeed, in I Cor.10 we see that but few of Israel were saved, as in Matthew 7, where few enter the narrow way which leads to life everlasting, and this from the lips of Christ, who as Saviour, really KNOWS! To the Jew then, to all now: this is the way, the open door, the opportunity, the Saviour in one, and in no other, with no other, for none manipulable, by none reconstructable.
THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE, JEW OR GENTILE IN THIS: we are all made by, accountable before and to operate in the name of the same God (Isaiah 45:22-25, Philippians 2:10-11, Ephesians 4:4-6, -15; Romans 3:23, Galatians 3:27-28, I Peter 3:21, I Cor. 12:13). God has always provided for man. He used the Jews in the first covenantal innings, and uses people of any nation or race, just any in the second one (cf. Matthew 22:1-11, esp. v.9).
Thus in Psalm 94, we find that He not only chastised Israel (as we saw in the 40 years in the wilderness for example, painful patience-requiring penalty for a nation which WOULD NOT ENTER THE PROMISE WHEN IT WAS AN OPEN DOOR BEFORE THEM - Numbers 14). He ALSO CHASTISES THE HEATHEN (literally, 'the nations', the Gentiles - that is the other peoples of the earth, whose was not the covenant which Israel had, a covenant in which others might come). See for this Psalm 94:10. :"He who chastises the nations" - and the obvious is rehearsed:
PLANTED THE EAR,
SHALL HE NOT HEAR ?
FORMED THE EYE,
SHALL HE NOT SEE ?"
THEN comes the word: He who chastises the nations, shall He no correct ?
"WHO," He asks, "will rise up for Me against the evil-doers ?" It is to one and to all. I have found it a very expensive task, but one in which suffering is an honour, and abasement a privilege. For such as HE, to sweep the earth is blessed: HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING, and there is none within an infinitude of being His equal. To be with Him, and in Him, and to find oneself used through Him, for Him, why this, is it not better than the earth!
Now notice this: "Shall
the throne of iniquity have fellowship with You
- who frames mischief by a law?" THAT throne has NOTHING to
do with God (Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 96:13,
97:12, 145:17). It does not matter whether the error be from Jew (cf. Amos
9:7-10), or Gentile (Romans ). THAT is why separation
is necessary (cf. Numbers 16, Jude) in and for Christ (see The Kingdom
Thus with Jew or Gentile,
it is one God with
From the Old Covenant to the New, the loving, living God has been both holy and faithful, merciful and mighty (Psalm 96:2-10,13, 102:25-28, 100).
As to the NATIONS,
we find in the Psalms:
awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer
O God of our salvation,
You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
And of the far-off seas" - Psalm 65:5;
"Let all the peoples praise You" - Psalm 67:5;
the earth shall worship You and sing praises to
They shall sing praises to Your name" -
Psalm 66:4 (emphasis added).
In Psalm 72 as in 102, we see the extent of His merciful involvement, even redemption, to His people from all sources, all sinners (Psalm 72:17-19, 102:18-22), who will acknowledge Him and serve Him (Psalm 72:8-11).
"He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; From heaven the Lord viewed the earth," looking to the time -
the peoples are gathered together,
And the kingdoms to serve the Lord" - Psalm 102:19,22.
we see that in a later generation than that of the Psalmist, the Lord would
personally LOOK DOWN to HEAR the groaning of the prisoner, to LOOSE those
appointed to death, and the DECLARE the name of the Lord. On what would He
look down ? THE EARTH.
This is brought into the concretely messianic in Isaiah 61, which expands
it, as it is likewise in Ezekiel 34. But for the moment we are simply looking
a little intensively at ONE SMALL BODY OF THE PSALMS, to attest its taste,
its flavour, its universal, world-wide savour.
The Jew then was not a special favourite, though the Lord had an intimate love, from Abraham on (Deuteronomy 7:6-8), and a covenant faithfulness. THIS DID NOT GIVE LIBERTY however for ungodly conduct, as we have seen in observing what God says about the throne of iniquity, and as later we have noted in the entire predicted history of the Jewish race, as it has undoubtedly and in precise detail been fulfilled, as shown in detail in SMR Ch.9. Nor does it give liberty to non-Jews as it were, to lord it over them, as if they were the basest, for as Paul says in Romans 11, it was lack of faith on their part; and if there be lack of faith on the part of any Gentiles, if they alike reject and refuse and abuse the Lord's way and will and gospel, then is not the paradigm established, the example in the Jews ? God is indeed no respecter of persons, to sell out as some firms or persons may do, this or that character, characteristic, ethic, nobility, for some real or imagined gain! It is ALL HIS anyway (Psalm 50:10, and notice with this, vv.14-16).
What then ? At all times
shown in forms and patterns,
but for all that with fundamental principles
clear in mercy and justice, sin and sacrifice, substitutionary redemption available to all but effectual for those only to whom it is disbursed and dispensed, through faith (cf. Deuteronomy 29:18-20, Genesis 15:6 and Psalm 95 with 51, Romans 8:32ff.); and
As the Jew was used in the former case, the first innings of the match of salvation, so now are despatched in His gospel service, many Gentiles of the earth. It is this whole world on which the Lord has, as the Jewish prophet predicted (Psalm 102, John 3), looked down that He might delivce and loose many (Isaiah 53:11, Matthew 26:28), not only from the race of the Jew (as in Egypt we saw), but from the races of ALL THE NATIONS (cf. Psallm 67:2,7, Isaiah 52:10, 49:6)..To these indeed the Jew was commissioned of old, in former times, to declare His greatness and His power, His righteousness and His salvation.(Cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, pp. 756-763, 792-793, 1108-1111).
Now it is to one, to all; and from all to all, that those called might reach some.
Two procedures have come. One remains. In either case at either time, it is the same. Neither may presume. To both it is a gift. For each is the love of god, the same love, the same grace, the same sacrifice, whether prefigured and foreseen, or delivered and consummated. It is one. He is one. There is only one.
Let us not however imagine that for this reason what has happened, has not happened.
When God made the unconditional promise to Abraham (Genesis 15), He was not speaking in riddles. He was clear and just, faithful and true. How any can imagine that the Lord whose faithfulness is one of the most prominent features of His entire revealed testimony, on which is built the entire covenantal structure, could renege on what He said to Abraham, is virtually staggering. However, it IS less amazing only when one reflects on this whole common business of imagining that because it is GOD, it is with HIM that we are dealing, then, He is not - well, entirely reliable.
Such is the shabby folly of 'religion in the 20th century', that century of multiplied horror, in which murder and defamation vie with absurd laws which would throttle freedom,
to form from moral midgets, a criterion of truth or acceptabilty; declaiming what they do not do, and doing what they only sometimes dare (as with Hitler) to declaim.
Oh! put it differently ... God may not mean what He says,
perhaps they intone. If anything was made clear by Christ it was this: to
the jot and tittle (Matthew 5), HE WILL PERFORM.
He will not say one thing and perform another. THAT is made clear in Isaiah
41,43,48. He will DO EXACTLY what He says. Of
course He will do MUCH MORE (cf. Ephesians 3:20). THAT is another issue, that He is intensively, immensely liberal and
gracious (cf. His word to David in rebuke, in II Samuel 12:8). He will however
in His faithfulness do what He says. Hence the Jews have been mocked, dispersed,
restored, even to
FOR YOUR SAKES DO I THIS, SAYS THE LORD GOD, BE IT KNOWN TO YOU; BE ASHAMED
AND CONFOUNDED FOR YOUR OWN WAYS, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL," He notes. "But
I had pity for mine holy name..." (Ezekiel 36:32,21). SO He returns them at His pleasure, to that time
when they will follow idols no more (Ezekiel 36-37), imminently sitting on
their retun as a major characteristic by which
it would be contrary to their former conduct. This for their return, in its
consolidation, its mutation geographically, the Gentiles would find on inspection
to become a new phase and a new thing (cf. Isaiah 62:1-3), for indeed, it
is to yield to the New Covenant on the part of many of the Jewish people as
Just as He miraculously HAS
BROUGHT THEM BACK
JUST AS HE SAID HE WOULD,
BEFORE OUR VERY EYES IN THIS GENERATION,
even allowing them to fight their prodigiously successful wars against overwhelming seeming odds, because so He said (Zechariah 12-14, which shows war and in its midst, realisation of their former crucifixion of the Messiah, cf. SMR Ch.9),
SO has He meant, and so in
grace has He provided yet again the testimony of truth,
even to those with eyes
bunged up with unbelief. SO ALSO will He put His Spirit upon them (Zechariah
12:10-13:1), and as always for those who come to Him (Romans 8:10-11),
SO will they repent concerning their works against the Messiah,
and SO will a fountain be opened in Jerusalem,
even in JERUSALEM (Zechariah 13:1, 12:6),
as the delightful repetition in 12:6 so buoyantly affirms,
even to the point of proper equitability amidst the interstices of the people (12:7).
This, says Zechariah in
unison, is what is coming to the people who were the Lord’s (12:1ff.), who
betrayed Him, who were dispersed, whom He recovers, to whom He gives, at the
end of the Age, the spirit of grace and of supplications, on whom He pours
out His spirit at that time (cf. Romans 11:25ff.), whose blindness as a
NATION is thus at the end, for so many resolved in one epochal alteration,
bringing to them light for their darkness and absolution for their sin.
|What He says, He does. He is WHOLLY FAITHFUL, and HOLY. That is the testimony of logic (SMR Ch.1); of His words, in the Bible in its impact on history and history’s servility to it; and that therefore is the testimony of the evidence.|
Israel comes as ONE of the kingdoms (Isaiah 19), and as even required to come WITH A NEW NAME (Isaiah 62, 65:13-15), to join the OTHER SERVANTS of the Lord, having lost its own post as testimony and exemplar (Isaiah 43:21, 42:6-10 - the post and the relay station for Israel of old, both are there also).
This does not mean
It does however mean that it will by no means have a place as a Jewish model and triumph. Rather it will be the ONE exhibition in ONE place of the ONE power of that ONE God who gave to the Jews a place, and thrust them to attest the Lord to the nations in holiness, word, deed, purity, in the power which comes with holiness; though they failed; and then restored them in faithfulness, to the ONE Gospel of the ONE grace of the Lord, who is just, equitable and profound, and has His ways, His plans and His perfections. He is no respecter of persons, but a vast respecter of His word, of His promises. It is intensely perfect, passionately necessary that His word be done (cf. Isaiah 44:25-26, 45:22ff.), because it is His.
It is not at all like the puny pomp of petty people and nations which want to TRY TO SHOW THEIR SUPERIORITY by some sort of code which is a pride. It is that God IS HONOURABLE and hence so acts, and any thought of being anything else is like marking a perfect, magnificent, perfumed rose with tar and feathers. It is unthinkable, a lost folly, the work of a simpleton. Hence He keeps His word: that is what He is like: adorably honest and honourable, who would as it were, swear to His own hurt and yet perform; except that with the Lord, the end being known from the beginning, it is not a surprise. Yet it CAN STILL HURT, as did the nails at the cross; and Christ did not, as God-the-sent, hide from shame and folly (Isaiah 50:6). HE KNOWS what cost means in OUR TERMS!
faithfulness and THIS willingness to suffer, this integrity, this absence
of all iniquity and presence of all comfort: it is a cause of joy. There is
SOMEONE absolutely trustworthy, honourable, delightful,
without erosion, beyond supposition, invariable but personal, in flaming
purity and yet with lambent love: that is worthy not only of praise, but
of singing, Worthy is the Lamb! To Him and to
the Father forever, the blessed trinity, to that One and only God, does not
all worship belong, all relief and all faith ?
What does our Psalm 96 (vv.6-13) then say:
For a fuller look at such things, here taken merely in microcosm to see how wonderfully it is present even in a small section of the Psalms - the glory and majesty, the faithfulness and honour, the interest in plan and people, the proclaimed and continual concern for the whole world, the task for the Jews in their day, as for us all who are Christians in our day, universal in scope, eternal in nature: