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CHAPTER 8
 

LICENCE TO BE STILL

There is not need to hurry, flurry, scurry and worry. It is a pathological procession.

To be quick ? This may be necessary, even exhilarating. You watch little birds fly as if bombs would hurry to catch them, flying at amazing angles as if disaster were one second away, but moving with a precision and incisiveness which is beautiful for the appearance of effortless decision, unhurried tempo, natural brio. If you want delay and self-inflicted doubts, ask Hamlet.

Many creatures are inherently decisive, their programs for different wing speeds, even in some cases of insects, evidently being set to provide item a or b or c, as the case best fits, in some cases.

Some are studied, like the tortoise, but they live long...

But that particular type of speed which includes a flustered or confused, a flighty or a turbulent dis-ease, a strangulation of the mental processes by spiritual anemia, giving too little needed oxygen, to pursue the figure, so that the whole whirls in a dizzy, or frazzled, an uncouth incohesion: this is mere folly.

One watches King David of Jewish fame, and Jonathan with his armour-bearer, for that matter, when the latter attacked the Philistine army as a mere duo, while with no less joy, one perceives the former in his assured marches as he waited on the Lord, his exultations of the Lord's delivering power and ordaining direction: and there is neither frazzled dazzlement, nor whirring rush. There is first the still.

There is, in the Lord, a licence to be still. Indeed, there comes a time when it is a COMMAND:
 

"Be still and know that I am God,
 will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge" - Psalm 46:10.


The author had to learn this passage at about 11 years of age, and it never left him! There is simply no substitute in education for such memorising. The fruit of it works, and its sublimity speaks in the heart, coaxes the spirit, brings ponderings to the mind, before ever it is the Lord's.
 

What then is this still ? which is no substitute for action, but its very basis ?

It is not mere quiescence, as if life were to be re-routed to some abyss.

Nor is it some question of enervation, or immolation into intellectual neutrality, psychic inertia or spiritual entropy.

It is an awareness of something profound, like a driver if you were a racing car.

There is a major difference: THIS driver is pre-eminent in skill, never misuses the gears, has an intelligence that makes the brimming lake and surging stream seem trivial, is constructive in enterprise, endearing in solicitude, glorious in conclusions, unwearying in attention, precise in detail, never precisionist in flamboyance, always delightful, sometimes exacting, but what exactly is one for, if the specifications are never used!

His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is humble in heart - unlike the papacy with its hideous claim of being "greater than man" (Pope Innocent III, at his coronation, in accompanying sermon, SMR p. 915). Indeed, He is altogether obliterative of His external glory, in becoming like a "root out of a dry ground" (Isaiah 53:2), not aspiring to become "God Almighty on earth" as the pope claims in the New York Catechism, SMR  loc. cit.). Here is excellence in humble expression, regality in a surrendered manifestation of its beauty, without the fanfare.

There is nowhere to GO when you are already there: and this is the rest of the Lord. You are settled in HIM, so that the place of power, adequacy, insight, understanding, wisdom, peace: it is all one. It is the ONE STOP LORD. And when you come to Him, it is time to stop and look and listen, and grasp the meaning of things, and find His will for you, and learn His will for man, and absorb His specifications for vitality, spirituality and godliness, for virtue and life, and practise them.

People practise sport and earn much money; but it is better far to practise the spiritual depths and wonders God lays down for man - as in Matthew 5-7, in the Sermon on the Mount for example, where Christ tells us near the end of it, that there will be a whole multitude of people who will come to Him at the end, when judgment is in its throes, and lay claim to great works done in His name. He is not on record as stating that He will deny that they are His, that indeed HE EVER EVEN KNEW THEM! It is just that many who have not bothered to find and so do the will of God will find also this, that doing your own will in the name of the Lord is scarcely an improvement on doing it in your own name. It is, in addition, a misuse of the divine name! Depart from Me, He declares, I never KNEW you.

In fact, He says more:

Being a law to yourself IS lawlessness! being your own arbiter of morals, IS lawlessness, since alas, YOU are not the legislator, and to arrogate that post is to dismiss the Lord. Of course, then, he would not know you.

It is interesting that statement, indeed that prediction of Christ concerning judgment day.

When one sees someone who had appeared a Christian, but who fell, and then again, and then got into a flurry, an avalanche of surging and suffocating snow of mind and spirit, moving on from one evil to another, and THEN refuses to repent, one can understand the matter. WHAT precisely is activating such a person ? WHAT are the motivations, behind the motions ? One does not know, can surmise, but notices the wrestling instead of rest, the indecorous clamour, but not the peaceable wisdom. It becomes IMPOSSIBLE to know this person. The environs are spiritual and godless, are virtuous and indecent. They add to nothing; there is no equation, no principle, but confusion. There comes the time, when humanly, there is NOTHING TO KNOW, any more and the tragedy is poignant.

The PERSON, in some cases, appears not to be there any more. A weft, a tartan of peculiar colours mixed in strange ways, as if the colours of  7 Scotch clans were mixed aimlessly, with strange designs on design, and this then becomes the appearance. The spirit strives, or writhes or contrives, but the person ? the life ? where is it ?

An Old Master can be restored; but there surely comes a time when defacement can defy any restoration, when countless attempts by various restorers have left the thing a defilement and a disaster. So one reads of the conscience being seared as with a hot iron (I Timothy 4:2), and again from Genesis 6, that God will not always strive with man

Leave all that. Come to the place of peace. Be still, and know that the LORD is GOD, as it was put in the days of Elijah (I Kings 17ff.).

"The Lord is in His holy temple,
Let all the earth keep silence before Him", declares Habakkuk in 2:20.
But WHY should all the earth be still, the LORD being in the Holy Temple of His own design ?
VIOLENCE! says the prophet in Ch. 1, this afflicts the earth, invades its peace, pollutes its inheritance, afflicts its people, soils the spirit of man! WHY!

The LORD unveils some of His plans for deliverance of His people, rebuke of evil and long-term judgment when the life of liberty is supplanted by the Lord of Freedom, whose liberties are not in riotous relish of subversive lusts of mind, body and spirit, coveting and conquering by force, but in the fealty of faith, arising like a stream that never ends, running down from the hills of abundance, and the mountains of righteousness (Habakkuk 1:5-11, 2:2-6,14, 3:1-16).

In view of such multiple provisions, there was to be faith in the all-prevailing, and wholly covering power of God: an enemy would soon come to expose the wickedness of the land by invasion, and meanwhile a faith without works, one that does not rest on one's own accomplishments, is proclaimed, one which is to fashion the hearts of the faithful, as even then it was called for and required in the prophet, for it was the only way from Abraham (Romans 4). Then there would be a coming of the LORD in person, with His Messiah, to remedy, rule and overcome, when the curtains are down and the last Act is over (3:13).  In all this, it is the LORD who provides, and not another, be it oneself or one's neighbour, friend or enemy.

Such is the teaching of the prophet Habakkuk, derived also from one source only, the LORD who so declared what he was called on to utter in the divine name. The woefully weak and self-willed works of the flesh are contrasted (Habakkuk 2) where in mind, spirit or flesh, one fashions one's spiritual craft and does not follow the work of the Lord, receiving His provisions by faith.

FAITH is required in the Lord's dealings, sometimes of a grand scale, and is contrasted with the suppurative folly, oozing from the covetous heart of man, by which he simply seeks to acquire, force and compel, find and gloat, invent and follow his nostrums or preferences, giving glory to himself and/or his own ways (2:1-16).
 


THE LIVELY STILL OF FAITH

Believing this is not the way TAKES faith, and disregarding the temporary rewards of unrighteousness REQUIRES faith; but the wonder of the Lord has plans in process, and the work of the Lord is of this character, even in His Messiah by whom all is to be wrought (cf. Psalm 73, Isaiah 11, Habakkuk 3:13), the One Appointed for the task at the end, in whom faith is required from the first, yes even from Eden (Genesis 3:15, cf. Numbers 24:17, Psalm 2, 22, see Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17Joyful Jottings 21, 22, 23, 25).

NOT in mere continuance, while nation is used to punish nation (Habakkuk 1:5ff.), and wicked ways are exposed in surges of reproof (2:3ff.), but in FAITH in the ONE who rebukes (2:4ff.), exposes and brings His entire blessed work of opportunity, liberty and operations celestial in the very midst of the terrestrial, to be consummated in the Messiah both in salvation and judgment: in this is the way. This is the marvellous work and a wonder of Isaiah 28-29.

It is NOT in the way the things of the sordid splendours of this world go, that you are to believe, but in the One who ordains the trial, manufactures the plot of the pilgrimage, overcomes in answer to believing prayer and brings peace to the hearts of His people as the complex drama unfolds.

It is NOT that all works well, for sin is like gravel in the throat; but that HE works it in His own planning authority, and His own programs of interventions, judgments and mercies, goodness and gospel, so that to BELIEVE HIM becomes the ultimate resource, since He is the ultimate recourse, and there is NOTHING in the world, or its ways, that is to be trusted, but ONLY the ONE whose government tries the heart and gives grants to the soul of those who are His. It is ONLY the ONE whose government tries the heart and gives grants to the soul of those who are His: it is only He who is to be trusted, to whom ones life can wisely be entrusted, in whom trust is wholly justified and divinely required.

It is NOT His faithfulness in some status quo, spiritual or other, but FAITH in HIS presence (Romans 1;17), knowledge and power, provisions and spiritual beauty which is called for, so that by this, one may conquer: for THIS is the victory which overcomes the world, even your faith (I John 5:4). It is something which is to issue in a dénouement correlative to the vigour of this world, and overturning it, to subdue the indomitable and to overturn the inexorable; for with GOD NOTHING is impossible! It is to die daily, to endure and believe, which is required, not some this-worldly assurance that "all is well", and that the thing will work out.

It is to be an operation of faith despite griefs (cf. Romans 8:31-39), of vision despite the lampoonings of lusty this-worldliness, exercising its dusty prerogatives to abuse truth and use the gifts of nature and mind, spirit and life, ones own and those of others. It is an issue of seeing what is to come, realising why it is so, knowing by faith that it will be so, and so resting in this assurance of acceptance in God, whose work provides and whose ways embrace, requiring no addition of querulousness or complaint, but operational action in the midst of a rest which comes by faith. How closely Habakkuk parallels Hebrews 4:4-11): "be diligent to enter into that rest"!

It is a matter of holding fast by faith in the word and works of God, in the very midst of a profusion of confusion, as the rampaging bulls roar on by, to their doom, a testimony to men and to angels, as is the faith likewise which can rest in the Lord (Ephesians 3:9-10), unarrested by this proclamation of rebellion, working in faith that keeps to the word, like a weasel to what it bites.

The thing will never work out by any natural process:  the prince of this world has NOTHING in Christ (John 14:30), and the ways of what works its passage are defiant of solution, indomitable before resolution; for the cancer is inoperable, and faith in the One who works it out His way, is requisite. Working by faith and not by sight, and knowing that the sight shows His word working according to stated plan, not in the paths of progress or the joys of this world or the perfected operations of its wickedness, or some improvement in its holocausts, it is this which is operational, the spiritual felicity and the merit for it is in One, in Christ the word of God, in God the sender and the Lord who applies His salvation to the heart freely by grace (Ephesians 2).

It is here that  hope is  to be found. The worst is yet to come. The final mile awaits; but now, it seems more and more to be a matter more of yards than miles! It is near (Answers to Questions 5). It is as Paul says, nearer than when we first believed; and now that the prophetic splendour adorns the night, like a flush of stars, and all is ready, it is very near (II Peter 1:19, Romans 13:11, Luke 21:28). .

The holocaust for the whole world is fast arriving (Habakkuk 3), and this is a matter of judgment. It is the VISION which is the criterion (2:3), and this is the rebuke of unrighteousness and the consummation in a battle of the grossest proportions, when an invaded earth finds what it has meant to invade the souls of men, the world of creation and the spirit of peace with the weapons of violence and the creed of greed. It is then that power, after opportunity, arrives in its manifest splendour (Micah 7, Zechariah 14, I Thess. 3:13, II Thess. 2:6ff.).

TO BELIEVE this is the point, NOT to believe that it is all working out. To believe IN HIM, who so does, and to trust that He will do as He states, it is crucial.

It is the ONE who WORKS it who has to be the focus, and NOT TO BELIEVE HIS WORD is the overthrow total and unutterable in inconsolable shame and confusion: this is the way to be exposed in the terminus, when the train of life has run to the end of its stations, and the way of opportunity is quenched like a fire, and the cold certainties of guilt remain like ashes, bitter and still. NOW is the time to be still, not in the Chernobyl like desolations to come (John 3:19-26)*1.

Why then should all the earth be still as Habakkuk tells us from the Lord ? It is because of these things: so that the inventions of violence are not the wonders of the Lord, but the occasion of rebuke and in the end, a complete overturning of all further opportunity to exercise amiss the will of man whether it be in the reckless wrecking of things or the subversion of persons, towards the creation of what ? It is of this: the ruined wraiths and wreckage of the human games of vainglory and vice. Insufferable pride, unrealism in spirit, is the code for the key: ruin.

It is time to be still, to wait and learn, to believe and receive the faith which is functional, not formal, and the power which is propulsive in godliness in the very midst of the vortices of passion and folly, so that one is never touched, though the passions rage, and compassion continues to operate, till the day comes when the match is over, and the score is read out (Matthew 25, first to last).
 
 

A TIME TO BE STILL

When Elijah made the point that when you come to a god, it is important that its presence be not confused with its absence (I Kings 18), and that when you come to God, there is but One, the LORD, the revealed, the revelatory, the declared God: it was in a time of commotion. Hundreds were later killed for their mortal and fatal offence of misleading the people of God, in the very face of a clear revelation, by propounding idiocies of their own invention, things with neither power nor testimony, the projections of lust, the propulsions of mind scurrying into imaginary constructions, and thinking them engineering events! The true God acted as requested when Elijah, commissioned prophet, sought His self-declaration in the midst of the fallen people who bore His name; the others touted by false prophets failed to act.

But what would one expect ? That was a reasonable result for anything that is not there, like the NOTHING of Professor Davies' description, the INNOCENTS OF NON-INVENTION in the evolutionary dream, and like the PLACE OF PEACE in the forget it all when you die, concept, as if God abdicated every time one of these princes of invention arrived at the death-bed!
(cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega - Jesus Christ Ch. 8, A Spiritual Potpourri  1-3, 7).

BEFORE THEN, it is necessary to be still. One does not need to invent life; it is given. One does not do well to invent one's purpose in life, it is a matter for the Maker of it. EVERY life which does not even consult with God, beyond all personal desire, is already set in the maze of confusion, with self, a mere item in the itinerary, a god, a director, a determinant in desire.

STILLNESS is a gift; for if wrought in faith, in the face of the fact, the God who IS, and therefore the provisions of His word,  it means that :


You look (Isaiah 44:22-23, 45:22-23), and take from Him, the rest of spirit (Isaiah 63:14, Matthew 11:27ff.), the donations of understanding, the perceptions of perspective (Ephesians 1:17ff.), the enduements with whatever power is required (Eph. 1:19), the inculcations of patience (Romans 5:1-5), the peaceable provisions of longsuffering, and assurance (Romans 5:6-11, 8:16, 8:29ff.) and wait for Him.

That is why you find this in Isaiah 40, that

"...those who wait upon the Lord,
Shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."
There is perhaps a seeming paradox for some. HOW could you be still, if ALL THAT is going on ?

The other day, visiting a fellow minister in a far off place with the family, I was able to walk for a time on a beach. Resting a little, I saw a man with his German Shepherd coming along the sandy beauties of this tranquil scene. The little shells in their millions went by him as he traversed the shore. When he arrived, I asked him about the fish in the ocean, and swimming, and he introduced his dog. It was delightful. I knelt down before this massive creature with his power to rip out my throat, and enjoyed rubbing his neck and telling him what (good things) I thought of him! What a delightfully peaceable, powerful, tranquil, understanding, affectionate dog!

Now from the dog's point of view, all this apparently was a happy experience. I am told that he licked my leg, though I did not know it at the time. His ears and head were so attractive. HE might have found it a peaceful experience, being so young and strong, so that all this activity was a sort of release and relaxation, and appreciation and a care for him. From the point of view of an ant, nearby, it might have seemed such a rush of events would almost constitute a riot...

Being still in the presence of the Lord does not necessarily mean that HE is still! He may be very active in inculcating, speaking, drawing out this and moving intimately into that facet or phase of one's life. It is being in the hands of the expert with this unspeakably excellent addition, that He is also one's CREATOR! That is the point. When your Creator is with you, it is entirely different from the case with anybody else. His understanding of one's heart and life is greater than one's own! His motives are of an incandescence of purity which snow crystals suggest, the ice waters from the mountains declaim and air from the ocean imbues into the depths of one's lungs. There is no need for communication technology; HE KNOWS. Further, it is pleasant to speak to such a Being and to have the inimitable capacities of the Almighty graciously disposed to dealing with so minor a thing as a man! (Psalm 8).

The other point of course is that the love of God majoring on minors, makes major transformations in the configurations of the heart, and involving Himself in little things, advances spiritual graces by impartation from his own, as if the vision as Paul puts it in II Cor. 3:18, were so impelling that one is simply moved into likeness to Him more and more, as one who gazes on an admired performer. Some tend towards what they devotedly admire.  As to the heart of a man, before his God, the work of the Holy Spirit enables someone so occupied to come to be more like that One; and here there is no limit. God is the FITTING object of adoration and the DESIGNER in action, when it comes to development. It is according to design to be more like the designer in this case, for that is, for man, his design! It is far more: it is the One who intrinsically is WONDERFUL (Isaiah 9, Judges 13:18).

In all this, then, it is possible to be still. Even a barber in his activities may require this of one, that one be still, and indeed, turning the head this way or that in their strange way, they may make the cut just as they wish it.

In reality, the power of the Lord impels, His vision entices, His glory engraces (Ephesians 1:6), His peace enshrouds and His uplift, like hot currents from black patches, for a graceful glider, makes one soar like an eagle, even when the outward man perishes, when the surges of evil about are like intense traffic on a hot day, with horns blaring out their impatience, and vicious tricks of the trade, enticing accidents. Where walking seemed too much, running is suddenly endued from the presence of the Lord; where patience seemed irrelevant, vision impels the feet to walk. The case is reminiscent of times in a swimming pool rather too cold, but as one lifted one's eyes to the magnificent view through the lattice work, down the hills to the sea, and to the lights of the clouds and the patterns and configurations in the sky, the way seems easy and behold! one is in... !

So those who wait on the Lord do in fact, in verificatory, empirical fact, renew their strength, and their impotence becomes the basis of His power, as Paul says: "When I am weak, then am I strong!" (II Corinthians 12:10).This is not a moral diatribe; it is a laboratory fact, and the experiment is repeated interminably, and so one goes when there is no way; but behold, the way is there, for He is the way, and in holiness there is answer, for in that way even a fool knows what to do (Isaiah 35:8). Its defences are indefeasible, its deployments of power are impervious and its delight is incomparable.

As Isaiah puts it:

"He will be on high,
His place of defence will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water is sure.
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
They will see the land that is very far off" - 33:16-17.


WHAT IS NOT STILL,
IS NOT THE ONLY AGENT IN ITS ACTIVITIES!

This is right; but alas, wrong is the song of the multitude, grasping for power, receiving rebuke, skilled in self-service, whether nobly contrived or obviously base, shrouding the self in sovereign rights, playing the game in oblivion of the rules, or making them up selectively as one goes. There are results of this restless ambition, this futile empowerment from self. They are not happy. This too is verification. In the large canvass of the nations, you see it stretch, for the history is composed and readable!

If you now read Jeremiah 47:6-7, you find therefore  another sort of action for the activist, than the peace which he rejects, because it is found in the One whom he does not care to know:

"O you sword of the LORD,
How long until you are quiet ?
Put yourself up into your scabbard,
Rest and be still!

"How can it be quiet,
Seeing the LORD has given it a charge
Against Ashkelon and against the seashore ?
There He has appointed it."

The LORD may have programs of rebuke and deflation of pride, detergents for the unwholesomely adventurous, the wilfully polluted. How would this and that person, company or nation desire with the prophet's words, that the appointed actions be stilled. Alas, the pre-conditions are missing! Activists meet action!

It is not that action is bad, but it is bad to take off without a map, without an order, without a mechanical check, without concern for regulations or for the correct consideration of purpose... without the DIVINE ones!  That is activism as well as action, and the world is full of it.

It can proceed until the divine direction of history reaches a massive rebuke, as you see so classically expressed in Jeremiah 25, as the wine cups of fury are handed out to the recipients, dull of heart but too active in spirit! Look however at the later prophet, his life immersed in a slightly more advanced stage of proceedings, in Ezekiel 21:9, and 16-17:
 

"A sword, a sword is sharpened
And also polished!
Sharpened to make a dreadful slaughter,
Polished to flash like lightning!
Should we then make mirth ?

"It despises the sceptre of My son,
As it does all wood...."

The very nation of God's choice, Israel, had so abominably, chronically and unrepentantly turned their role of show case of divine blessing (as in Isaiah 43:21) into side-show of spiritual disaster and sleazy degeneracy of spirit in false and fierce religions, that a result had been obtained. What was that ? It was that judgment settled on them like ice on the sides of an  Arctic vessel. It was heavy, it was slippery, it was perilous and it mounted as time went by, and the sides were not considered! Even their king would be humiliated!

Hence you see the son - Israel -  whose sceptre both in the person of the king and in the freedom of the kingdom, is removed; thus you observe the nation whose king indeed is to be defiled (his eyes were put out by his conqueror). So in this case it has arrived, judgment is at work: he who defiled will be defied, and what has been deified, will be shorn of spurious glory! Only God remains, and those who remain without Him, remain alone.

Thus the incitation of Ezekiel 21 mounts to verses 16ff.:

"Swords at the ready!
Thrust right!
Set your blade!
Thrust left -
Wherever your edge is ordered!

"I also will beat My fists together,
And I will cause My fury to rest!
I, the LORD, have spoken."


Depicting vividly the catastrophe to come, the Lord speaks of rest; but what rest is this ? It is the rest of fury on the rebellious, the reactionary recalcitrants, on the idol inventors, on the false prophet premises of autonomy (cf. Jeremiah 23 and the tragic misuse of divine grace through miscreancy and false mission of false teachers in the pride of flesh, abominably daring to use God's name for their own thoughts, confused or not, astray and presumptuous).

What then results in the end of such depraved degradations ? This, that He declares

It sits like the wrath of God inherited, as shown in John 3:36, by those who reject the mercy of salvation, so precious in its provision, so loving in its sending, so effectual in its results for the impenitent: each one of them who so remains


What then results in the end of such depraved degradations ? This, that He

That was then, in the 6th century B.C.. This is now.

The parallel is close to that of two railway lines, running together like one track. The Jewish experience is being mimicked by a similar Gentile pathology, different in detail, alike in heart.

Now there is the restlessness of ignominy, as the world's great announce their gracious words of emptiness in the UN, and in various peace conferences which say Peace, Peace! but there is no peace. People even eat each other, as reputedly the case in 'Stalingrad' of Word War II fame, and in hatred in Yugoslavia in the invasion of that time, when Nazis and certain Roman Catholic priests seemed like some kind of evil team of butchery (cf. SMR pp. 920, 951-952). The writing of the day did not fail to reflect it, speaking of bullets for sermons in a rampage of ill-directed religious violence, of compulsion for the territorial power the pope claims, in his pretended rule over princes (cf. SMR pp. 906, 951*3).
 
 

THIS SO ACTIVE WORLD IS
THE ONE PREDICTED, WHICH MOVES IN VAIN

The African tribes, Hutu and Tutsi, the Islam insurgencies in Afghanistan, the invasive rule in Iran that led to such internecine struggles with Iraq, the Middle East with its calamities as assured as morning breakfast, often missed in the clashes of growingly impoverished Africa, and the biological clangors of AIDS, making such a percentage of life in South Africa, Japan by report, South-East Asia, these tragedies proceed; while Russia shows its strength in exterminatory policies in the Arctic with radioactive waste, in inadequate provisions for its containment in Chernobyl and following the rigours of simply allowing slow death in Siberia before World War II, now in Chechnya, where the will must be done, the will of the Kremlin. If this is supported by World Bank money, while yet itself supporting insurrectionary regimes in North Korea, which impoverishes the people in its luxury of philosophy, to the point of ruin, and in Iran, with its false prophet firing into various enormous splashes that look like blood, it is but part of the folies of folly.

The world is not still. It is inventing false prophets, seeking false profits, not by duty but as booty very often, subordinating man to desire, and desire to lust, and lust to loveless selfishness, as inane as if a finger were to play heart, so playing the navel of the universe, by imagination, while the body rots.

The world is not quiet, but its interminable self-terminations, as wild as if inmates of a block of flats were casting themselves out of 5th story windows, for something to do, proceed. Food becomes short, tempers likewise, and false leaders with false visions that simply do not work, inspire millions to be militant, while others seek loot, despise order, replacing virtue with viciousness, and death with life. Mutant morals without foundation vie with amoral doggedness and dynamic, thrust and parry, while immutable morality is not heeded, nor its source, in the myriad squalors that begin in heart, are nursed in spirit and proliferate in action.

It is just as in Revelation 6, where killing is the concentrated phase to come, in one 'seal' or phase, and then death and hell, in a later one, as if the very sight of death would inspire men to more manias of manacles and machine, a virtual worship of the end, unhallowed hails to death, moribund hypnosis, and this by merciless means, inanely indifferent, fired by folly. So it was to be as predicted; so it is as observed.

"BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD," says God in Psalm 46. It is HE who will make wars to cease, as He there declares. It is HE who needs to be known. It is HE who laughs at the current, the contemporary climate of God rejection, moving far from the word of God written, just as in the days of the Lord's incarnation, they were far from the word of God smitten, crucified in contempt
(Psalm 2, cf. Joyful Jottings 21).

Yet it is not still. I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE HEATHEN, we read in the same Psalm. It is going to happen. The activism of inanity will be replaced by the action of judgment, and the restoration of order, before this world, being farewelled to NO PLACE, for no place could be found, says the prophecy of John (Revelation 20:11), is burnt up with all the evil works (II Peter 3:10,12).

It is a simple fact that the world does not work without Christ; and that having despatched Him physically, its notions and nostrums, its podia and people, its leaders and led, alike, blinded with a light that is darkness, an image of death, CANNOT FIND any formula, any form, any ideal, any way, any consensus, except by the writhings and contrivings of FORCE. The reason is simple: there IS NOT ANY THERE. They look in vain where it is not to be found. They are like miners who, ostensibly seeking gold, look only where all geology cries out loudly, Not there!

The solution is not where it is sought; and where it is, it is not found, since that territory is banned. Sin erects great signs, and where these do not work, false prophets have a time of pseudo-glory, where anything other than truth is the fatal requisite. The nations stew in soporific seductions, slavery increases, children kidnapped especially for it, while heartlessness seems far more striking as the disease of the moment, than other forms of physically fading, cardiac arrest.

So the world goes on looking, as if to add impudence to the impertinence of seizing the earth as a plaything, as an equipment for development, forgetting entirely the PRICE.

Is it to be bought which man has not made ? or is it to be stolen, which with man is a creation! Very well, but in truth the lie will not work, does not work, cannot work; for there is no work for man to act as Creator, not even when crazed with pride and congealed with blindness, he thinks to do so, while using  the power latent in the construction of the universe, as it slowly runs down. It advances downward with the residual dynamic, designed and meant for advances upward. The quality in fact is always down, as if any part of life not yet seduced must be found, in order that interference and pride should further attenuate man's hold on the globe, man who not having dominion over himself, in flight from the Lord, can have only progressively less and less,  over the earth provided. His knowledge inflates; its usages deflate. The hoisting and hissing proceeds, like someone forever blowing up a flat tyre.

Man has interfered with laxity and licence with the fodder of his cows, with a madness now even strictly so called; and now he aspires to make more modellings on the embryoes with his test tubes, his genetic engineering, his genome discoveries and his bright ideas, always knowledgeable, never knowing enough; for without the knowledge of God as criterion, the use of His creation can only end in abuse.

Radioactivity grins in its thousand years of pollution, at the enquiring spirit of restless man. It is spreading like AIDS. Its empire grows, the prize for autonomy, the reward of unrighteousness, the laurel crown for running so well, that God is forgotten. What is it like ? It is like an employee who does not know if there is a boss, or if there be one, who it is, or if identity is known, studiously avoids contact, or if contact be met, then carefully avoids the eye, or if seized, scrupulously keeps his mind occupied on other things, perchance trying to read a novel, about how to make the world!

Thus the entire Biblical perspective continues to pour out its strength in the midst of weakness, effortlessly depicting what comes, assigning its causes, and adorning its consequences with detailed descriptions, before they come, like some oncologist who, finding a person with cancer and warning of the results of ignoring it, in detail depicts the consequences and conclusions, only to be a guide for the patient who would not be patient, and would not be still enough to ALLOW THE NECESSARY ACTION!

As noted, when WE are still, God is not necessarily inactive on us! When we are active instead of receiving our orders, our assignments, our mission review from God Almighty, like World War II pilots being commissioned and lectured on their next flight over Europe and merely flinging off in the nearest plane as if demented, then the results are notable in three respects
 


Now we see them, as in 1) and 2). In 3) it is becoming cumulative. For some 2 to 3 millenia their nature has been depicted. They descend like locusts, they ascend like flames.
 
 

IT IS BETTER TO BE STILL:
YOU HAVE LICENCE FOR IT

It would have been better to have been still.

Even now, it is still better to be still. Be still and know that I am God; wait upon the Lord: there is the source of light who prepares the heart for peace and service. Who then is better to be served ? the irrationalisms of impossible dreams, that do not come true because they are not made of the stuff of reality, and ignore what they treat!  or the Maker of man's own inventive capacity, the Lord of creation, the God of redemption, the Saviour of man, who MUST be found, so that:


But no ? Then as now, the authority structure, whether Israel of yore or the nations of today, replies without repentance, so that we read this:

The principle is perspicuous. The more you try by activism to ignore the source of DUE action, the more the activism will be prelude for, and part of an action which divorces you from peace.

The practice in the world, as its rebellion mounts, the British Empire with its ostensible commitment to Christianity receding, the churches more and more as predicted (SMR Ch. 8), returning to dabbling and dealings with unseen powers and seen desires, both of these alien to the word of God, in such cases used at most as a spring-board from which devious dives are made with flamboyant disregard. Unprofitable for spiritual peace, rational truth or moral righteousness, they leap into the dark. What however is the nature of such flings and flippancy, spiritual frippery ?

It is this. It creates division, disruption, corruption, feeds on pride, rejoices in vanity, seizes what is not there with both arms, and hugging it, falls blind into the abyss.

From this arising from time to time, from various ledges, it invents follies of substitution for the simple spirituality of actually knowing God, through His Son Jesus Christ whom He sent DIRECTLY and PERSONALLY for the purpose, costly as the cross, dynamic as the resurrection, until the time comes, as He stated, when HE comes, blazing in beauty and filled with majesty, and gathers the elect like grain to the barns and the weeds to their due place.

The world is beginning to rot, first spiritually, then morally, then physically. It plays with ethics in euthanasia, confusing itself often with God, in politics, wanting the place of God for the State, in churches, these often wanting them to serve sin instead of introducing the Saviour to deliver from it; and as its power grows with technical knowledge, so its defilements, sometimes indelible in the earth as in the spirit of unredeemed man, proceed like a mob of angry cattle or buffalo, surging and angry, tireless and free, caring for no man; for when man ceases to care for his Creator, then he has condemned himself.

His own hangman, he hangs like a small tree projecting into the abyss, from near the top of the cliff, deploring the height, the likeness in image to God, and wanting only to fall, down, down and down, where the rest is ruin and the desolation is eternal. In moments of sobriety, he seeks some reprieve, but then like a drunkard, he is filled with the poetry of motion again, motion from God, and his techniques are so troublesome, for the more he finds out with the mind granted for good, the more his evil mocks his ignorance, for he cannot manage: simply cannot, even himself!

Yet there is LICENCE TO BE STILL, and to find rest in the realised righteousness of Christ, in the redemption from sin which He achieved. Men rush for new influenza vaccines, but of the life which begot them, they remain aloof in knowledge, seeking to seize its levers, ignorings its light; and in darkness there are always accidents, while things seem more a cadenza of clumsiness, noise and action, than equipped with point and progress as the order of the day.

There is a stillness of beauty, like a calm sea with a quiet shore, where the ripples lap and the sand is an invitation, where the little prongs of sand creep into the happy shallows, and the birds move in an open sky. What does it say of those who knowing God, are still, and know that HE IS God;  that HIS is salvation; that Christ is the identified ONE from whom it comes, who went to secure it, and paying the ransom for all who come to Him, broke death by bearing it - what does it say of such as these ?

This:

"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
They will see the land that is very far off.

"Your heart will meditate on terror -

'Where is the scribe ?
Where is he who weighs?
Where is he who counts the towers ?'
 

"You will not see a fierce people.
A people of obscure speech, beyond perception,
Of a stammering tongue that you cannot understand.

"Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feats;
Your eyes will see Jerusalem a quiet home,
A tabernacle that will not be taken down;
Not one of its stakes will ever be removed,
Nor will any of its cords be broken:
 

"But there the majestic LORD will be for us,
A place of broad rivers and streams,
In which no galley with oars will sail,
Nor majestic ships pass by:
 

"For the LORD is our Judge,
The LORD is our Lawigver,
The LORD is our King;
He will save us..." (Isaiah 33:17ff.).


There is a commission to be still. It leads to action.

There is a place of quietness; it is found through coming.

There is a peace of resolution; it is discovered through the solution of salvation, the restoration of redemption and the purity of the crucifixion where He, the just died for the unjust (I Peter 3:18):

It was Christ who did it. He paid. His death was the instrument of destruction for death, His resurrection the testimony of truth. His was the power to feed the 5000 thousand, raise Lazarus, and never state a healing without performing it, most dramatically exposing Himself to so searching a test as He lived those messianic years,  and this crucially in Mark 2:8ff.. Neither His word nor His work could be broken. Death was the only way to avoid Him, but even it did not work: for His was the identity which meant that having borne sin, and being untouchable in guilt, death was as butter to the butter knife, for it could only yield.

Indeed "being delivered up for our offences, He was raised for our justification" Romans 4:25. In this there was nothing for us to do, but accept, believe, receive and coming find, and finding know, and knowing kneel before so great a Lord and Master (John 20:27-29). It is then that you are sent, after being still.

HE was still at Calvary. WE must be still, in Him, that sin being crucified with Christ, His life might enliven us like streams of icy water in mid-Summer, like a rose garden with wistarias blooming, very near to a tip, but hidden on a hill, on the far side (Galatians 2:20, Psalm 96, 145).

When we are still, then it is safe to move.
 
 

NOTES

*1

On this, see Barbs, Arrows and Balms 21, on the positive side, and op. cit.    22 on the negative.

As to the latter: Dreams are cold and vacant things when they merely mock the mind and have no legs.

*2

In this translation, one has taken the unusual course of giving in the one short passage two different renderings for the same word. It is transliterated sheol, but it can be used as grave in one sense, but also as the place of devouring interrogation, perhaps from its root, the grasping hand of ruin in death, or hell (cf. Psalm 9:17). What is here in view thus allows both elements, and since the correlative English word does not, the double sense is brought out in this way in translation. However with this, one has to add the explanation, while providing the richness of the sense.
 

*3 Some words from this source may help here:
 

1) We recall the words of Boniface VIII about having no fear to proceed against a worm (some prince or other, like the King of France, perhaps), and that 'he alone is most high over princes'. With such a background, the observable atmosphere is not hard to understand.

 2) After all, pope Boniface VIII amplified things a little with his two swords: the Pope's and the State's. Of these swords, he says this:

"the latter to be used for the Church, the former by the Church; the former in the hand of the priest, the latter by the hand of princes and kings, but at the nod and sufferance of the priest... "

This quotation is to be found in the famed Unam Sanctam, which has much more of this kind.