W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for this Volume What is New
THE GLORY OF SPIRITUAL THINGS
SEEN IN NEW AND OLD TESTAMENT PERSPECTIVE
A Profound Parallel in the Work of the Holy Spirit
THE WITNESS OF CHRIST AND THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT
Having no part dark! That is the criterion for desire, the quest for sanctity, the realm for spiritual liberty, the site for savour and the strength for spirit. No part dark is the prescription but it is one based on a pre-condition: BE FULL OF LIGHT! (Luke 6:33ff.). Take heed, moreover, Christ made a proclaimation about your light! Being full of light is the aim, but a method of protection is this: Be careful that the light which is in you is not darkness!
Many are full of light, no doubt, in their own eyes. The UN is a good example: they are so full of 'light' that they go about doing good ... but without God, what is the good of 'good', for it is then a human definition, prescription and even invention, not based on our own basis or directed by God, and hence merely a sub-variety of darkness. Small wonder therefore that a top official's son is attested by some as receiving vast sums through misuse of his position, that many nations and groups are overlooked, while others are exalted, some are touted, some are flouted, Moslems may appear as 'brothers', while others need dispossession, even by and on behalf of, their enemies!*1
It is not only national or international, this phenomenon. Many are they who, trusting in themselves, their own prejudices, passions, or alleged dispassion, are as reliable as drawn swords, as serpent's poison and go about doing good in their own eyes with all the blessedness of acid poured on flowers or pride poured out on meekness (cf. Mystery of Iniquity, TMR Ch. 8, y.html).
To be full of light is to be full of the Spirit of God, as a result of being adopted into the family of God, so that not only are you sealed by the Spirit, but assured by grace and through the word of God, of your 'inheritance (Ephesians 1:11 in the context of Ch. 1). You are filled with goodness when you are filled with God (Galatians 5:22), not with some occupant of a culturally manufactured pantheon.
When you resound to the word and presence of the God of glory, of testimony, of truth, of the Bible, the Father of Jesus Christ, being able to find the validly verified, the irrepressibly attested: then you are open to an enduring work of God. It is when you are invested with Him that you are open to being filled with the very Spirit of God. As David puts it in Psalm 143:10-11:
"Teach me to do your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness,
Receive me O LORD, for your name's sake,
For Your righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble..."
Good ... God's SPIRIT is good! In God is no iniquity at all (Deuteronomy 32:4).
It is only when you realise and know truly that you are dealing with God, and not some other, that the question of goodness arises; but when you are, in the name of the world's only Saviour, Jesus Christ, doing so, then being filled with His Spirit, who is good, led into the land of uprightness, which is a righteous framework and name and power for good moving in you in a domain of citizens who are His, not in some geographical arena, but in a spiritual field: what then ? It is then that being filled with light becomes a need that zeal savours. It is a target its passion desires (cf. Philippians 2:12-13).
It is possible instead to have a 'spirit of infirmity' such as did that poor woman who for 18 years had been so bent over that she simply could not straighten her spine and stand erect. In this instance (Luke 13), Jesus did not, apparently, wait to be asked. SEEING HER, He called to her and declared, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity! When the impassioned formalists tried to accuse Him of Sabbath-breaking, He accused them of hypocrisy, indicating that even they would loose a caught animal on the Sabbath, and here, look, He announced, here is a person caught for 18 YEARS!
There is a spirit of helpfulness and perception, of understanding in the fear of the Lord, neither wilfully ignoring the day of rest, nor ignoring the need of man, but selecting what in an opportunity demanded of love, help. It uses this case without disrupting the whole concept of rest, which after all, in the end makes men more useful, more usable!
Thus we find a SPIRIT of infirmity. This is another option to being filled with the Spirit of God. It is something which oppresses. Physical disease may have many causes and manifestations, but this one was related to a certain kind of SPIRIT. There is a spirit of joy and triumph, of delight and yieldedness to God, and one of weakness and despair. As for Christ Himself, we read in Luke 10:21 that Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit, and this was in a perception and performance combined: His perception and the performance of the disciples who had been sent by Him, in His name, to do the works of the kingdom and preach the Gospel, even 70 of them, led to this divine exultation.
The 'wise', the professedly scholarly having failed in their due task (as in Luke 11:52), as a class or group characteristically not only went for the 'key of knowledge', but so misused it that they tended to withdraw it from popular circulation; and on top of that, they hindered those who were entering the kingdom, not having entered themselves: Jesus, however, was most happy about a workable option. It was this. The disciples in HIS name had wrought and taught by His power, and in His name likewise, many were those blessed. Here was the prototype of the Church of Jesus Christ, not of latter day saints, but of contemporary saints, the sort of people who being filled with the Holy Spirit, walked in holiness, abiding in Him, in His word, in His walk, witness and way.
Babes, they were, as in the world's eyes, but for all that, things hidden from the 'wise' were revealed to them; and this was illustrative of that great principle which Christ then revealed in Luke 10:22: ALL THINGS have been delivered to ME by My Father; ONLY the Father knows who the Son is, and no one knows who is the Father except the Son.
There is one more facet of this revelation, which the word of God here shows. It is this. While the the Father uniquely knows the Son, the infinite intimacy of His own Son, the Son categorically and uniquely knows the Father, this knowledge is shared on a specific basis: as to the OTHERS who are to know who the Father is, these are a group. They are those to whom the SON WILLS to reveal them. It is singularly unfortunate that the AV has 'will reveal' for 'wills to reveal', but whatever the reason, linguistic or other, the result is the same. The Greek text in modern English, is rendered past the slightest doubt, 'wills to reveal'. Here is a rare parallel to John 2:19:
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
This, we learn, was a reference to the well-known but not always realised fact that (as in John 1:29), He was the Lamb of God (and as having accomplished His mission, still is) who takes away the sin of the world! This, John the Baptist announced as part of his own prophetic mission as given to his father, Zacharias, from the start (Luke 1), with the coming birth, by divine announcement. That was the ultimate declaration concerning Jesus, at the outset!
AS the SON, He is in the Messianic role, part, a servant (Isaiah 42:1): but in reality, He is the One who being in the form of God, did not think it robbery or a thing to be snatched for, to be equal to God (Philippians 2), but for His mission (as in Psalm 40), He humbled Himself to this servant's role. In this, He healed, being filled with goodness, with the Spirit, being the Word of God incarnate, having the power such as was His at the creation, long before the incarnation, to SPEAK so that it was DONE (as in Genesis 1). In the role of servant, ultimately to serve in salvation, providing a ransom for many (cf. Matthew 20:28, 26:28).
Now, as in II Corinthians 4:6, incarnate on earth, He commanded a different light into a different situation, even into the heart of man, and on the way, revealed His Father to those who were granted eternal life (as in John 6).
As the LORD, HE would raise up His body, though it should be destroyed. How this rings with a resonance when compared with the words of Job in Job 19, Though after the flesh, this body be destroyed, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom my eyes shall behold, and not another.
Christ spoke as the Redeemer here, while Job there, asserted his faith as one of the redeemed, declaring that in the latter days, his Redeemer would stand upon the earth. Christ did that, and in the approaching terminus of prophecy, will again so stand, even on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:5), and on this earth which will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11, Habakkuk 2:14).
That is to come. In His own day on earth, however, at which we are looking in terms of spirit, Christ rejoiced IN THE SPIRIT, and acted in such ways as to release a woman from a SPIRIT OF INFIRMITY, and indicated that He cast out demons by the FINGER OF GOD, identified as the HOLY SPIRIT (Matthew 12:28, Luke 11:20), that fountain of goodness which it is most unwise to blaspheme! (Matthew 12:31-32). It is most fortunate that God is love, who does not seek to ensnare, but to dis-entrap. He is not a lawyer seeking occasion against us wilfully (as did the spiritual lawyers of the day, against Him as in Luke 11:52ff., 20:27), but One seeking to RELEASE from a spirit of infirmity, of spiritual weakness, declivity, fear and mere fashion, where the spiritually deluded can dance like a doll, instead of walk like a disciple!
This is goodness, and unless it is seen and REALISED that it is from GOD as such, not from someone or something else, it is of no value; for it leads merely to confusion. Thus when Christ was called GOOD MASTER, and asked WHY do you call Me good ? it was to clarify this point. It is not enough, even with Christ 'in the flesh', to call Him in some patronising way, 'good', as if He were of a kind of teacher, in the 'good' box.
It is, instead, necessary to realise that it is as the SON of GOD, that He has goodness, and only in this recognition, can He bring blessing (as in Matthew 16:13ff.), making the illustration through Peter. That HE is the SON of the LIVING GOD, is the necessity for recognition, and hence even introduction, for that is His name and status; and not to see it, is merely to make of a human being (seen by unbelief as such), an idol. ONLY when He is seen for WHO He is, is He able to liberate fully, for otherwise an idolatrous spirit of infirmity rests in the mind of the blind! as in Matthew 13 - where they have 'closed their eyes' and this 'lest they should see'!
If, He declared, you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins (John 8:24); and as to Him (John 8:58), before Abraham was, I am. Time does not contain Him, but He it, a creation of His own (John 1:3, Romans 8:38-39).
Thus this same SPIRIT of infirmity, this time in the mind, was at work ASKING Him for a SIGN, when He spread signs like Autumn leaves, about the place, in this healing, in that raising from the dead, in this remarkable rebuttal of error, in that test situation, as in Mark 2, where on express CHALLENGE as to His right to declare someone pardoned from his sins, He responded by moving that the OBVIOUS be observed.
What was this so obvious test to discomfort professional doubters, and expose His own manifest power ? It was this. If the invisible right to pardon were under challenge, by those who said He could not do it, and should not so speak, then what about seeing the visible, distinct drama, ocular, therapeutic, with continuing attestation over time, that of someone being healed! What if, then, by this same word with which He, speaking, pardoned, He healed. What indeed if He healed a person who had long been paralysed, and did so, at that very moment.
Nor was this all. What if He not only healed one long paralysed, but did this in such brio and exuberance that the person healed would at once pick up his bed of weakness, and in strength carry the very symbol of weakness, that bed! He proposed the challenge in answer to their challenge, and did it. One slip would have ended His career, His testimony, His claims; but truth is ever unafraid. It has what it takes and acts on it.
It was not only the power, but the timing of its deployment which tossed the drama to the eyes of the unbelieving critics. Thus, it is not only the power to run which makes the triumphant athlete, but the power to perform under test. Similarly, it is the power of God to perform ALWAYS under ALL tests by ALL people that attests the truth; and assuredly, had Christ but given the WORD once, and failed, He would have been mocked and silenced in a way more effective than murder could do; for that murder, which was soon to come, yielded to the predicted resurrection (you simply COULD not get rid of the man, for God is like that, when as a man, He gives His goodness). On the other hand, it would only have taken one simple, single failure BY Christ, when He declared otherwise, and this would have made nonsense at once of so vast a claim as His.
What was that claim ?
It was this. Not only did He claim to BE the Son of God, but the EXCLUSIVE CHANNEL through whom you could know God (John 14:6, Luke 10:22), since He is the ONLY and the predicted Saviour, predicated as such, sent as such, with the unique authority of the God of creation, to relieve the desecrated remnants of sin called modern man (then, as now)!
Thus when they asked Him for a 'sign' (as in Luke 11:29), He told their evidently hardened and unspiritual ears, set before their closed and unspiritual eyes, which could not LOOK at what was CONSTANTLY and CONSISTENTLY happening in front of them (cf. Matthew 11:5), this: NO SIGN would be given except that of His resurrection! This was set forth in the imagery of Jonah, but with a clarity that was as distilled Jew. As Jonah was for three days in the mouth of doom, in a fish's receptacle, so would He be held and delivered (Luke 11:29-32); and in His case, dead, He would rise three days later (Matthew 12:40).
THEY would stoop, He knew, to His murder, but HE would arise, as the sent Saviour and Redeemer, not a participant of death to disclose its power, but of life to envelop death with innocence and remedy its ruin with justice, in His own sinless case (I Peter 2:22ff.), and to pass this on to those to be saved in His name, because of the One who He was and is (for He does not change - Hebrews 13:8).
Thus, the way in which He announced THIS sign, was in terms of the prophet Jonah. Let us explore it a little further.
He disclosed that this prophet, for three days and nights in the large fish (perhaps, suitably, a whale-shark, which is equipped for such a voyage, and some such fish is reported at various times to have carried others), was the relevant sign.
What was the point ? It was this. HE would be in such a state of horror and enclosure for such a period, and thus fulfil what the sign of Jonah portended, implied, signalised, symbolised and in image, foretold. HE would be taken one night and buried in injustice, afflicted, tormented, tortured, as if the very bars of hell were about Him, disbelieved, and formally discredited as unfit to live, condemned, killed, buried, and after the three days and nights, arise, as Jonah escaped his format of death. Thus did the often predicted 'three days' as in Matthew 16:21ff., Luke 18:31ff.) become three days and three nights.
What Jonah did in symbol, Christ would do, as He did, in fact. THAT was the sign. As He had already noted, even that would not make the unanointed, the unappointed, the categorically and chronically disbelieving persons, equipped with a spirit of slumber (as in Matthew 13), to believe. Rising from the dead, even as predicted, when predicted, after a death the mode and model of which was predicted, not only by Him but in the prophets for a millenium, even when the power of God defeated the malignity of the priesthood and the abuse of power of Rome, and even when one Man overcame two hosts, and escaped even in death, their power and manifested life and that where test was open and free (as in John 20), even then, they would not believe. Scattered after a millenium of notice of what God would do, they still could not defeat one man! Masterful in their joint Israelite and Roman power, they were left bereft. Yet would they not believe.
Christ had NO illusions, being Himself the truth (John 14:6). Indeed, He made it painfully clear just how ludicrous and certain it was, in His parable concerning Lazarus the beggar, and the rich man, as in Luke 16:19ff., that they would not believe, would not receive, would not seize the truth and act, not though all destiny blew over them like a suffocating cloud.
He said so, and they did not believe. Instead, the ruling authorities proceeded to form themselves into a Judaistic, neo-testamental group, and have many stayed that way (Luke 16:27-31), and while the nation has become a mixed multitude, many are they who adopt this posture; and the land is still not found in Him, though some, not many, are Christians there.
If, declared Christ, they do not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead! After all, Moses had foretold the one to be placed above himself as Lord and prophet, in Deuteronomy 18 ('that prophet' to whom reference is made by John the Baptist, as in John 1:25). Isaiah had foretold the model of His death, David the mode (Psalm 22, Isaiah 50-53), Isaiah the result (Isaiah 55, 53:10ff.), Zechariah His stature as both God and condemned (Zech. 12:10), and David His status as Messiah in His eventual triumph (Psalm 45, Psalm 2, 110), just to mention a few. Thus, the evident performance of the criteria required of the Christ, the Messiah, from all the prophets, even these were visited with ornery unbelief: the point was made. As He said it would be, so it was; and indeed as Isaiah 49:7 said it would be, so it was fulfilled.
If this performance on the part of Christ, in such a high stakes arena, where the demands were such as only deity could meet, if this was not enough, would rising from the dead do more!
In Matthew 11, we find the question coming from a concerned John the Baptist, and Christ's reply is categorical.
“And said to Him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
“Jesus answered and said to them,
‘Go and show John again those things which you hear
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the
lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor
have the gospel preached to them.
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.’
“And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John,
‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what did you go out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
‘But what did you go out for to see? A prophet? yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.”
‘Verily I say unto you, Among those who are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
‘And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, who was for to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
‘But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling to their fellows, and saying,
We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
‘For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.’
“Then he started to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they did not repent:
‘Woe unto you, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
‘But I tell you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
‘And you, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
‘But I tell you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.’ ”
Indeed, in the very next Chapter of Matthew, we find that the negativity becomes so great, that even when He healed by casting out devils, the inveterate disbelievers tried to ignore the heuristic evidence, exclude the empirical facts of healing and dismissing evil, by asserting He was doing it by the devil. This ludicrous device was duly answered by the point that if a house is divided against itself, it will not stand! Our theme then leads us to the point that there comes here, in terms of the Spirit of God, a warning. Blasphemy against Him, can be fatal and final.
It was BY THE SPIRIT that He cast out demons, as by the finger of God, He declared, and such assertion of evil in the manifest presence of salvation and deliverance, pointing at the very spirit of the work, and declaiming against the work indeed of the Holy spirit, assigning it to the devil, can indicate a soul so wry and corrupt, irrational and ruthless in the face of God's mercy, that no hope may remain!
Even this, this also, is parallel to the Old Testament in its dealing with the matter of spirit, for in Isaiah 57:15-17, touching this time the human side, it declares the dangers:
"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."
There is an end to backsliding, to spiritual corruption, to coruscations of dark light, mixed motives and the machinery of decline. We shall shortly deal at more length with the parallels which attest the consistency of view, the collaboration of thought, the parallels of approach and the relationship of results in spiritual things, and meanwhile note that naturally if one is already saved and secured by Christ (as in Romans 10:9), what is to the contrary cannot become applicable, and is hence excluded from operation!
Let us however return to the concept of the sign sought, as noted in Luke 11. This arising from the dead, which was to come, to be sure, would be a sign, but there had been signals in multitudes already, and its great focus and feature was that in this was authentication of the deity whom He was (and is), in a direct and insistent manner: for even when His own body in the flesh was denied Him, it still was not denied life. Death could not hold Him, and life was restored to this same body which was buried (I Cor. 15:1ff.), by the God of truth who thus verified what Christ had said, as did His own earlier works (as in John 14:11). One of the most important things said ? it was who He is!
It was this Jesus (Acts 1:7) who would return in His own time, and who in the interim would send His Holy Spirit upon His disciples (Luke 24:46-49), whose coming is so often misnamed by Pentecostals*2, who confuse it in the most amazingly erroneous way, with Corinthianism, the use of the babble version of 'tongues' which, though it has a place if need be, is one of the most downplayed of all gifts (as in I Corinthians 14, where 5 words of wisdom surpass in public value, 10,000 of the gabble type). At Pentecost, the Spirit of God came and statedly made those of foreign speech, not Hebrew, able to understand in their OWN LANGUAGE just what Peter was saying.
It is the exact opposite to making what COULD be understood (as in Australia when those present may readily all understand English in many of the cases, yet 'tongues' incomprehensible are featured significantly), not to be understood by means of gabble. In this actual Pentecost, by contrast, what could NOT be understood, the Gospel, because of language diversities in the multi-national visitors, was made comprehensible by the explicit device of having an interpreter who made the language of origin to come to the ears of those hearing, in their own language of origin, so that they heard in their own tongue. This, the overturning of Babel (Genesis 11) as a facet and focus of the glorious truth of the Gospel, had its own symbolism of the GOODNESS of God. Here confusion became clarity, curse became blessing, outrage became acceptance, elevation of man became submission and meekness before His majesty, whose control of the situation was manifest.
It was wrought by the SPIRIT of God, who had touched each one's head, exhibiting by the actual but symbolic means of flame and sound, through His presence and the objective reality of His coming, just as the gift of virtual translation continued the impact and testimony, after that. As in the days of Christ, so now in this explosive opening for the birthday in power of the Church following Christ's ascension, the Spirit CONTINUED to work in the application and release of the Gospel (as in Acts 1:1), and wrought what could not be missed, if your eyes were open, and not shut tight. Moreover, what Christ TAUGHT was thus made clear, and what He had done was applied.
Clarity is one of the features of goodness, for this does good. There are of course very deep things which need deep digging: there is milk to use Paul's terminology (I Corinthians 3:2ff.), but there is also meat, and meat needs chewing. We do not always imbibe milk as major diet, but in due course, if all is well, come to the phase of meat. Predestination is in that category for example, though it is readily enough chewed if you have teeth, and appetite of the Lord! (cf. Ch. 5 above), avoiding with care the bare bones of party-schism and the name of some man or other, as a criterion, a strictly forbidden rite of disunity and harrowing of holiness - also condemned in I Corinthians 3.
NEVER should Calvin, or Wesley or Spurgeon or Augustine or any other, become the name that you use to designate your position. Not Paul, not Apollos - it is only the inscripturated word of God which is the criterion, and parties from such persons, all of whom have given much to the church, these are abhorrent. When the Bible comes from whomever, it is not the one who writes, but the one who gives who is crucial; and to rest a case on man is as foolish and divisive as to rest in some man, instead of in the Lord. At all events, it is forbidden, but horrendously common, and one way of ensuring that the excellent insights given to one or to some, become a limit instead of a component in the wonders and treasures of the liberal Lord, whose name alone is to be exalted (Isaiah 2).
With this caution, however, we return to our theme, the depth that is to be found in some of the grand topics of truth, and the wonder of the Lord's provisions as you follow the rules and are moved into meekness and admiration, by His Spirit with clarity (Ephesians 1:17ff.), as indeed Paul prays for those of Ephesus. Such challenges are as much a test of integrity and a scope for advance as those of Job; for often unrealised, are the challenges the Lord permits us, not for glorying in flesh, but for glorying in Him in the midst of trial, and finding truth where dust storms are wont to blow.
Blessed, said Christ to His disciples, are YOUR eyes; for many righteous men had sought long to understand what was now clearly provided for them (Matthew 13:14ff.). Indeed, on that occasion, Christ proceeded with the parable of the sower and the seed, in which it is apparent that some receive the word with joy for a season, but do not actually absorb it, being merely superficial in their insight and in their understanding, and that this merely shallow penetration, not amounting to faith and not equipped with the breaking up of hard underlying soil of the heart in repentance, is shown when any test comes!
Then, to change the figure, the attraction of the word is lost. They leave it like leopards! They bound away. The sun, to revert to the parable's terms, beats on the shallow soil and the seed of the word is extinguished from further impact on their rock hard hearts beneath. They may then show themselves as having a heart of stone, or in refiner's terms, to be 'reprobate silver' (Ezekiel 36:25-27.Jeremiah 6:28-30). The latter deserves inspection here:
"They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders:
they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.
"The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melts in vain:
for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them,
because the LORD has rejected them."
Again in Ezekiel, we see the more blessed and positive side, when the miracle of restoration is wrought, and the seed penetrates, the life is granted and faith comes:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean;
I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes,
and you will keep My judgments and do them."
We cannot but notice the 5 "I will" clauses, significant firstly of the sovereign majesty of the Lord, secondly of His intense mercy and thirdly of His intensive action. The heart is changed, the Spirit of the Lord enters their hearts (Romans 8:9), the heart of stone being removed, the tenderness of understanding can grow, and the fruit of such regenerated life appears in obedience, not as the ground, but as the growth!
Thus, in accord with such principles, power and privilege, the work of Christ, applied by the Holy Spirit, came to the disciples to continue, not now into redemption, for they themselves were redeemed, as to if achieve it which Christ had already granted: but as to pass it on. The great commission became empowered before their eyes, and its impact was vast on the multitude who heard. Thousands were converted.
Indeed, the Spirit of God had of course long worked in man, and all throughout the Old Testament, as in the New, you see His power, procedures and wonders, and these are very much the same in both Testaments, since God is One and does not change. The major difference is systematic in its environment: that is, the need for priests and programs of worship in the Temple, as a modus operandi, is removed, and each person DIRECTLY and without intervention has access in all things to God (I John 2:27) without the paraphernalia of symbolism which, though vast in its long-term advantages, was now fulfilled (as in Hebrews 8), so that continuance in it would be wilful obsession with the obsolete.
This new liberty John refers to in terms of "the anointing which you have received from Him", so that He, ONLY MASTER and TEACHER, sending forth His Spirit to anoint, needs no systematic supplement in order to understand, no other master, no other Lord! This makes the New Testament man more entirely and directly reliant on the word of God (as in John 15:7, where its blessedness is apparent); yet even in the Old Testament, and even in the case of a King, the necessity of following His word is dramatically exhibited (as in the case of Josiah, recorded in II Kings 22:11ff., a man of vast passion and tenderness towards the word of God, its inculcation and its fiery power). This does not mean that people may not MINISTER to, serve one another with this or that gift; but it does mean that this service is not that of some lord, master or ruler (I Peter 5), for the Lord Himself rules, and His Spirit gives light.
With this goes that grace towards each other which adherence to the head gives to any body, whose head is well set! and in this case, the head is the Lord, who should be heeded in His admonitions about schisms and tender-heartedness. It is into Him by one Spirit that each soul is brought on conversion (II Corinthians 13:14), and the knitting of each part in growth is the beautiful symbol of growth which Paul evokes in Ephesians 4:16, just as in Ephesians 2:20-22, he uses the figure of a building together, with Christ the foundation (as in I Corinthians 3:11, the irreplaceable, irreversible, single and singular foundation). But let us revert to the parts, the members of the body, the bricks, the lively stones as I Peter has it (I Peter 2:5).
Psalm 119 in turn both focusses and features the need of the individual spirit of a particular person, to be imbued with the word of God. Nevertheless, in the New Testament, the parallel structure of symbolism in priest and temple, having passed, becoming obsolete (as in Hebrews 8:13), and the direct glory of the Son of God, the Saviour now renders all animal and repetitive sacrifice ludicrous and a thing of the past, becoming where insisted on, mere folly! whether with actual animals or multiplied sacrificial acts, and these whether practically or notionally, as in the case of Romanism, which thus joins with Judaism in error of an essentially similar kind (as in Hebrews 9, 10 cf. SMR pp. 1088Aff.).
How deep is the wonder of the foundation in Christ, thus conveyed for so long, over so vast a breadth of time, and how high is the glory of the One who is revealed, and who reveals by His Spirit (as in Matthew 16:17), and how intimate is the relationship, infinitely infinite, between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Son shown by the Father, the Father by the Son, and the Spirit moving to open eyes and anoint!
It is also a thing of wonder as you watch the work of the Spirit of God in both Testaments, seeing the essential identity on the one hand, and the wonder of the culminating phase of the Gospel and the work of God in the Church.
THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT IN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS
Genesis, Ephesians, Matthew and Isaiah
In Genesis 1, we see the Holy Spirit brooding, or hovering over the waters of the initial phase of the creation of the universe, at the earth's aspect. Here is the sense of exhibiting in moulding, the roving, contemplating, considering, carving, conforming work, covering the event with the dynamic needed to achieve all intended, implied and following. This Spirit of course is what ALL of the creation of God is NOT, and hence as with the other persons of the Trinity (John 1:1-3), He is in essence non-material, neither delimited by material format nor function, nor hounded nor surrounded nor confoundable by any other delimitation, demarcation imposed, or denomination*3, being wholly free as God, institutor of action, not recipient of external and far less extraneous impulsion or compulsion, but working with Father and Son in autonomous love (cf. John 8:58).
In Ephesians 1:15-21, we have at the internal level of the saint, the moving, the strengthening, the bringing of resources to meet the implications of that other order, shown in II Cor. 4:6, where the God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts with the knowledge of Christ and His salvation. Accordingly, we have in Ephesians, this testimony (italics for stress on passage most relevant to our current theme, not in original):
"Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus
and your love for all the saints,
do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
the eyes of your understanding being enlightened;
that you may know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe,
according to the working of His mighty power
which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead
and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
far above all principality and power and might and dominion,
and every name that is named, not only in this age
but also in that which is to come.
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him
to be head over all things to the church,
which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."
We note at once the "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him," just as Christ attributed the opening of Peter's eyes at Caesarea Philippi, to the work of the Father, from whom the Spirit comes (John 15:26) who leads into all truth (John 16:13-14), but not on His own authority, but in the name of Christ (as also in Ephesians 3:13-17). That is, the Spirit who 'strengthens with might in the inner man' so acts
"that Christ may dwell in your hearts, through faith", and this to the result that
"you being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the width and length and depth and height -
to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge
that you may be filled with all the fulness of God."
Thus as in the creation, with that parallel expressly made by Paul in II Cor. 4, there is both the grandeur of the vastness of the wonder of the Almighty in His works, the height, the depth, the length, the breadth, and this moulding and revealing and establishing by the Spirit, that the word may be fully resident, its mandate clear, its session unfolded, its power known, its marvels of revelation applied. Whether in the universe at creation, or in the heart at the 'new creation' of a person, there is such a glorious function by the Spirit of the Lord.
This is precisely, moreover, to tie in synthesis yet more components of both testaments, the work which is epitomised and crystallised in the Messiah Himself, as revealed and foretold in Isaiah 11 (again, with the thematically most related parts in italics):
"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist."
Correlatives of this, in the blessed work of the Lord on man, have already been noted in Isaiah 57 and Ezekiel 36, and more is to be found in Isaiah 66:1ff., Isaiah 57:21, Zechariah 4 with the olive trees and Psalm 143, 51:9-13 allied to 77:3ff., ; and with these, that deliciously figurative but strongly declarative and clear word in Isaiah 33, which follows on from the work of the Spirit, in Isaiah 32:15.
Thus, to revert to Isaiah 11, what for the Christian is the "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him," in Christ Himself, is even more emphatic, so that The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." In this, a singular and sufficient might of majesty, filled with counsel, uprightness, integrity unimpugnable, discernment unwavering, justice impregnable, is that of the Messiah, and His heart is filled likewise with compassion as with truth, and with power to provide, not merely to orate.
No system can begin to replace the magnificence of this integrity, the glory of this vital, personal and penetrating truth, the incorruptibility of this compassion, the authenticity of this unwavering love, the power to perform and the depth of understanding, not in always changing postulates, but in immutably certain knowledge of all things*4; and all system is the work of God, who by delimiting, gives cause for its existence and ground for its arising. God is more irreplaceable in human affairs than the heart in the body, or the brain, and this latter organ, a mere site for mentality and organ for disposition, is itself a delimitation, albeit one in the case of man, in alliance with a spirit enabling its usage in ways which are as discretely different as is the pianist from the piano, though in this realm, without the piano, his relevant music is for the time and on this earth, stilled.
It is in the Spirit of God, and in the spirit of man, the infinite on the one hand and the finite on the other, yet for all that, the Image Maker and the image bearer: it is here that lies the facility of man that surpassing all other material creation, leaves him through its due use with his Creator, a being eminent and overlord of lesser creation. By failure from the first (Romans 5:1-12), without this use, man is left a puny potentate, a minimal midget, a deceased glory that rots while it roves, mawkish, maudlin or trivially magnificent, a very essence of culpability, inability and mortality awaiting its date.
The Lord who made man makes man again, not en bloc or in bulk, but one by one (cf. Zechariah 12, John 3 cf. Psalm 51, Colossians 1:28, Romans 10:9), by redeeming him from this state, and in bringing him back to Himself, covering his sin with salvation, regenerating his fouled condition (Titus 3:3-7), revitalising his lost spirit with life by the Spirit, thereby showing in the very contrast in what is lost and was foundering, and in what is found and is now founded, the glory of God Himself, filled with counsel, might and understanding, and well able to care for His own.
Thus does the Old Testament and the New, whether in symbol or expressly have the same work and office, might and power, inwardness and outwardness, relation of the Spirit of God to the Word of God.
It is deep, it is wise, it is revealing, revelatory indeed, and it is constant, abiding, resting in love, immovable in might.
Acts and Judges, Hebrews, Samuel
Sometimes in the Old Testament, you find that the Spirit of God comes upon someone, as in the case of Samson, just as in the case of Philip, the former for a physical work with spiritual implications, the latter for a spiritual work with spiritual implications. Thus Samson is seen in Judges 15:14, confined, bound up, ready to be mutilated by the Philistines, his own people having weakly left him bound, like those who attack the Bible while calling themselves Christians and expose their 'brethren ?' if it be permitted, to devastation in the meantime, as they stand with courage for the truth. He, abandoned, bound, left weakened to their joint foes, now has this experience. What however does the Lord do ?
the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him,
and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned as with fire,
and his bonds broke loose from his hands."
He proceeded to gain a mighty victory over the stated, idolatrous foes of Israel, even though his own people had timidly left him compromised.
In the case of Philip, in the New Testament, as parallel in much, he is in the very midst of a mightily successful evangelistic campaign, one epochal for the Samaritans indeed, when the Spirit of the Lord impels him to leave all and go to the desert where he 'comes upon' an Ethiopian official of high standing in his kingdom, and returning in his chariot to his land. Wrestling with Isaiah 53, this official has Philip, led of the Spirit, go to him and at precisely the right time, explain the meaning of the message which so few would believe, but which God would make real in its time. It was that of the substitutionary, suffering, Messiah who would be the terminal and only effectual sacrifice for sin.
Then in Isaiah's day, it was formulated, fashioned, predicted; now in Philip's day, it had been fulfilled, depiction becoming deed, and the power of God to act and deliver had been shown in this consummate form.
Believing, the Ethiopian was delivered from his bonds of unbelief, by the direct power of the Lord, using another Samson in another era, in another theme, but with the same basis. That ? What God is there like the true God, and in whatever preparatory or direct way seems good to Him, He attests His power and His mercy. If in this case, Philip merely delivered the Saviour who in purity, left Samson literally for dead, the deity Himself, yet the One whom he ministered had the Spirit without measure, as we read in John 3, and His work was without limit.
If in the case of Samson, it was to deliver the people through whom the Messiah would come, or in the case of what Philip was so singularly led to present, to deliver a people to whom the Messiah was sending, in Ethiopia. For this, the power of the Spirit, coming in express and sudden fashion, moved to accomplish through human means, the exalted task.
It must be remembered that any suddenness, which is the case when you have to run a race at an appointed time, or play as a concert pianist NOW and immediately, and continue at once till it is complete, is common in the realm of test!
Suddenness indeed is not to be confused with irrationality or the merely impromptu. Long practice, over years, precedes in these skilled cases for musician or athlete; and similarly with Samson, for all his faults, he was prophetically declared to be coming, before even conceived (Judges 13:3), and his entire life as he grew to manhood, had been regulated by a precise discipline, both symbolic and actual (Judges 13:14ff.). So with Philip, he had been chosen for the manifestation of gifts, as a deacon, and doubtless in that spiritual climate, this would have involved no small preliminaries, preparation not only of heart, but for the ‘concert’ moments which come, as they must, when things invested, are at last tested!
Again, you see the meditative side of it, perhaps expressed in utterances of praise, and over a long period, conceivably with some relevance to the later tongues outside worship. This is observable in Samuel, as Saul goes to 'get' David, and instead meets some of the 'sons of the prophets' deeply involved in worship. This is related to the exalted (because humble) prophet Samuel, and Saul for his own part, now stopped in his evil intent acts very strangely. Stripping naked, he prophesies all night (I Samuel 19).
While this is unique in form, yet as to its prolongation, we recall Paul also spoke in tongues in private quite a lot.
However, whether it was this, or some other form of giving praise, of course, what we do know is this: when King Saul was pressing into the field near Samuel in order to do evil to young David, already anointed to become king in due course, "the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went and prophesied ..." instead of 'taking' David.
They even asked "Is Saul also among the prophets ?" Presumably, in fact, it was not tongues, as it was 'prophesying' and the usage in Paul, who was acute in the Old Testament, separates these categorically and exceedingly. The one is to be sought, the other is to be minimised; and of particular gifts, ONLY prophecy is brought for seeking (I Cor. 14:19, 38-39, 12:29ff.) - the rest are simply received as God sends (I Cor. 12:6). In other words, the prophetic gift was immensely valued, just as the tongues gift is intensely devalued, but not deleted, merely controlled with an iron hand! (cf. I Cor. 14:27-32), as to amount, mode and point.
However the parallel is in the extent of the matter, in the non-formal worship setting.
Indeed, this for Saul, was the second such occurrence, for at the very outset of his move to become King, Saul was sent by Samuel and told he would become 'another man' and that "the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them, and be turned into another man" (I Samuel 9). This too occurred.
Here we find, then, that there is in this early Old Testament period, evidence of the acute conscious awareness on the part of Samuel, of the liberating power of the Holy Spirit, who would illuminate, fortify and enable expression of praise, for whatever the form of the prophesying, it is surely praise which emanates. This is like the passage in I Corinthians 12,14, where the prophets are stirred by the gift God gives to them, and all are edified, this species of prophesying being subject to mutual concern, and therefore not as in the more elemental calling of the prophets themselves. THAT was a direct sovereign declaration in the name of the Lord: this is a mutual sharing subject to review. This too is a parallel between both Testaments.
A further parallel immediately appears. Saul was moved, performed initial exploits indeed (cf. Matthew 7:21ff.) in his field of soldiering; he tasted of the heavenly gift and had some new knowledge of the world to come. He rejoiced for a season, he felt the power of God, he was imbued to some extent, like a solution on cotton wool, left for a while, but not quite penetrating. That changes the texture of the thing, if perhaps oily, but is not fully absorbed. It is different, but can be purged. Thus Saul was moved, even found some measure of change, became different, was filled with power for service, and with such power did in fact serve in battle; but giving place to jealousy, and to pride, to irksome ways and to wilful disobedience, he was exposed like Judas, as not really of the Lord, like a tree of lime stock, with orange grafted, where the graft does not take.
It is an interesting question whether in the end, Saul became a man of God, but it must be confessed that his later effort to bring up Samuel from the dead, in a way forbidden in the word of God, together with the retort from Samuel in this spiritistic situation, does little to bring hope for him! (I Samuel 28).Necromany was not encouraged (cf. Deuteronomy 18:11). That sort of thing was distinctive, we read, of the nations which at that time, Israel was called to displace and replace! It was not to be so with them, for they were instead to be "blameless" before the Lord their God.
This is very like the passages in Hebrews 6 and 10, where there is reversion after tasting, instead of swallowing, and a falling into the hands of the living God through treading under foot the very means and medium of mercy, instead of taking it to heart and so living for ever as promised in John 6:50-54, 4:14, 5:24. The danger is for some, to taste and not imbibe, to experience and, not founded, to founder, never finding the intractable anchor lodged in the Lord Himself (Hebrews 6:19), impervious to change, keeping for ever (as in Hebrews 9:12, 10:10,14).
Thus what is pure and perfect in wisdom and justice and a deep, mediating of loveliness to the soul as in Isaiah 11, may as in the New Testament, be aborted as it were, before birth, and so lead to a double death.
Accordingly, in both Testaments you have the troubling of the spirit of man, whether as in Saul in Samuel, or depicted in the book of Hebrews, where a deviation into unspirituality brings out the deficiency syndrome, coming from a heart uncontrite, the ground being hard, beneath. In both Testaments, you find an evil spirit troubling a man, whether in Luke 11:16-26, or in I Samuel 16:14ff.. In each case, similarly, this evil may be ameliorated with fatal results, or overcome, with great power and possible discipline in the process.
As well as the case of the merely superficial work, where salvation and conversion do not result, there is also that where the evil may be temporary, and merely wound a servant of God. Such was the position with David and his military numbering program, recorded in I Chronicles 21, where "Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel..."
The tone and tenor of Hebrews 6 and 10, with stark warning but for all that, stated assurance to those concerned, reminds one of the fall, discipline and restoration of David. Parallels indeed abound as one would expect in the word of the same God, whether directed to the day of theocracy, in preliminary preparation for the international directness of the Messiah, or in the day of the Christian Church which came. This is merely one of the seemingly unlimited verifications of the word of God, which may abound so readily, like carpets of flowers in the fields in Spring.
David, then, for all his great sanctity and beautiful character, failed in this area of military self-assurance, or self-regard and this led to discipline. Since he was a child of God, it was as from a Father, carefully controlled and effective.
In this case, before the actual numbering of the troops available in the nation, Joab warned David and did much which might have avoided the discipline to come for such deviation in spirit from trust. He urged the point, but was not heeded, a useful lesson in having open ears, and being the more careful when more is committed to one! The danger, then, was represented, but that was in vain.
The error therefore imperturbably proceeded, and the disciple with equal assurance, eventually came! It led to a great plea for mercy by David, yes on the people, with moving solicitude at the results of his own folly! (I Chronicles 21:17ff.). Again, as in the New Testament, so in the Old, the fatherly kindness and precision of the Lord, to His child David, king or not, was to chasten, and He even allowed the king the choice of which discipline he should have! (I Chronicles 21:11ff.).
This fatherly chastening is just as shown in Hebrews 12 in principle, and II Corinthians 1 in practice.
As in both Testaments, there is often an area of SUDDENNESS as with Peter (Matthew 16), of the instantaneous, and at the same time, this may lead on to the abiding beauty of holiness as in Samuel, as in David.
The physical power, as in healing or fighting a divinely appointed invasion, and the spiritual perception, thus are found alike, the suddenness of impact and the abiding beauty of holiness when the truth is fully received, these too are in complete parallel. The type of war is translated in the New Testament, as in Ephesians 6; but it is still deadly, the current format for the fray, now that the Christ has altogether and indeed come to Israel, and for it and for all who will come, and paid the price, so that the application of what Christ wrought in supreme power and purity, is now the theme.
Indeed, the parallel may in particular be drawn further, even in the case of Saul.
In I Samuel 19:19ff., one reads that Saul, learning of the whereabouts of David, acts so that he may fulfil his EVIL intent AGAINST David. He sends first one group of messengers, who are arrested by the Spirit, and prophesy with the other prophets near Samuel, at that time engaged in that function. So Saul sends another group, who are arrested spiritually in the same way with the same result. He then goes himself, and to him it happens also, as to the others. He is baulked and himself prophesies. This threefold series of steps, culminating in the personal coming of the king, for purposes most evil, is an exact inversion of the threefold series of steps, noted in Mark 12. There we find from the lips of Christ the brief account. First we hear of God sending prophets and then more, and then His Son (the escalation being twofold in categories at least).
Here however, the sending is with a GOOD intention, and the last step is PERSONAL on the part of God Himself, the King of Eternity, in that it is His eternal word who being incarnate, comes at the last.
Evil in three steps in the case of Saul seeking to slay the progenitor on the mother's side, of the Messiah, is seen mirrored by good in three steps from God, seeking to deliver not only one, but many, yet through the work of one. The work of Saul, alas, forms an almost perfect contrast to the work of God in the Gospel, first sending the prophets, then more, then coming Himself (as stated or implied in Hosea 13:14 and Zechariah 14, in Psalm 45 and in Isaiah 53, HE being the ONLY Saviour, as in Isaiah 43:10-11).
As the evil exemplar led to an escape of David from death, though it seemed sure with all the power of the kingdom of Israel now directed against him by King Saul, so the good exemplar has the Lord's own escape, not only when all seemed overpowering by the power of the State of Israel and the Empire of Rome, but when they had actually done their worst.
His escape, who came to break death by bearing it, in innocence having no sentence applicable, yet bearing that sentence for those who received Him, was VIA death.
David's escape was from death.
The one symbolised in a grant of deliverance, but what the other achieved, was in the breach of the penalty itself.
Just as the Spirit of God arrested Saul, and this led to prophesying or praise to God, so the Spirit of God attested Christ's resurrection for glory and praise (Romans 1:4), the former thus becoming a kind of inverted type of Christ, a marvellous teaching device by CONTRAST, and in some ways, a very exact one!
Speaking of resurrection, we find another parallel. It is in Ezekiel 37, but before we turn to this, there is an intervening period, that of Elijah, Elisha, compared where New Testament comparison figures in the work of the Spirit of God.
Moses and Elijah, Elisha and Philip, Paul and Peter
In Moses' time, this great saint had an over-burden of work, not merely in official and routine labours (which were helped by the appointment of administrators as in Exodus 18), but in the convolutions of popular revolt by a people weary of hardship, as perhaps Britain was after World War II, a time in which perhaps that nation lost the place at the helm of many things, which they had been occupying. Moses was led to appoint 70 to help, perhaps in counsel and the calling of control, and we read in Number 11:16ff., of the Lord taking of the Spirit which was ON Moses and putting it on them, as one might spread an abundance of rose plants from one heavily concentrated area, to several others.
In parallel, at a much later time, Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of the Spirit, the miraculous, counselling, comprehending, deep and dutiful, responsible working which the Spirit of God wrought. What God had given to Elijah, he wanted in very abundant, very liberal measure. He did not want to limp, lassitudinous or to faint, or feint weak and willowy instead of triumphing in the Lord's praises and completing His work: he wanted to be a man of God who DID what was needed. His desire evidently was to MEET what confronted him and WORK in the power of God, providing as he was enabled, what the fallen nation required.
For this spiritual gift, yes and specialised, specific power as a prophet of God, he had to keep his eyes on Elijah, just as he had done so zealously from the time when he realised Elijah was to go to the Lord, that his time had come. When Elijah answered this request of his assistant, Elisha, the younger man found that he was even required to see Elijah go, witness his translation to heaven! This was no mean thing, as it could happen at any time; but it spelt out a devotion to duty, and a conscientious care in preparation, in the preliminary phase as helper to Elijah. This it symbolised, an unflagging zeal to the very end of this phase, when the amazing and unique sight was granted to his watchful eyes.
He DID see Elijah go (II Kings 2), and since this was in a chariot of fire, it provided a magnificent stimulus and verification of the power already shown by the singular propeht, and in this spirit, Elisha using Elijah's mantle, then proceeded to smite and divide the river Jordan, thus proceeding on is way in the very manner that Elijah had come to that place, a little earlier! This was done by FAITH ("Where is the LORD God of Elijah ?" he cried as he so acted), and the answer was plain to see, just as is always the case when the invisible is invoked and called on by faith, in the realm of the visible, to do whatever it is that is commissioned.
In fact, the young school of prophets saw it, and were thus prepared for the place of Elisha, all things working for good. More good still, if slightly humorously, was shown when the jejune youngsters insisted on hunting for the body of Elijah, as if it were some kind of levitation, not transformation, which had occurred. Elisha, pressed, let them find out for themselves, the heuristic method of education!
Amazingly, and to our point then, Elisha had KNOWN that Elijah was to go, and had pursued him despite all negative protestations from Elijah, until the latter asked him what he wanted (II Kings 2:9), with that delightful concern and kindness which so characterised him (cf. I Kings 18:12ff.), just as it would Elisha (II Kings 4:8,13). Here was no power for glory, but glory in goodness, and power for a commission as palpable as in any city, but one working in a city which has foundations, whose builder and Maker is God!
Thus not in mere power, but by no means without it, Moses and Elijah, Elisha and Elijah showed the working of the living God, with emphasis on the function of the Spirit of God. Similarly in the New Testament, there is guidance and power available, for commission, as in the leading of Paul quite specifically and locally, both by positive and negative spiritual constraint (Acts 16), and by vision (Acts 16:9ff.)*5. The same is true of Peter, as seen in Acts 8, where even his natural inhibitions, based on a symbolic past, are removed by a combination of vision and event, including a direct order from the Lord, through the Spirit, who "told him" to proceed with the Gentiles who had come to his house, seeking him (Acts 10:19). Otherwise, a certain distaste and disinclination would have prevented his receiving them and following them to their place. So was Peter led in his vision, and so did the Spirit of the Lord TELL him to go with them (Acts 10:20).
It is in parallel clear with what assiduity the Lord kept Elisha informed. This too was by His supernatural grace, and through that 'double portion' of the spirit upon Elijah, as asked for, and so immediately illustrated when Elisha, following Elijah's mode of crossing Jordan (itself symbolic of the power of life at the juncture with death, in the Lord for His people), smote the waters with the mantle and divided them. We find this habitual counsel received by the prophet, from the Lord, clearly shown in a simple statement of Elisha.
When confronted at this time, with the Shunammite woman, who had asked for a son, being childless, from the prophet when he sought her desire in gratitude for her accommodation, he was surprised. The boy whom the Lord had given to her womb, had duly been born, but now had died and the mother was stricken. Yet was she determined that no dead son should be the gift, not after so short a time. When Elisha perceived the distress of the woman, when she at last reached him, hastening on her donkey and stopping for nothing till she came to him personally, he made a telling remark. It was this. "Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me, and has not told me."
How stale and remote this by contrast makes any bureaucracy seem! At the same time, it shows that Elisha is accustomed to such communion with the Lord that such extremes come to his mind, by the function of the Lord, who had given him so abundant an indwelling of His Spirit; and he is not normally left unprepared. This is the same kind of guidance, in extreme intimacy, as was found in Paul, as in Philip indeed, when he was sent AWAY from a triumphant and prevailing mission in the most difficult region of Samaria, into the DESERT.
It is the SPIRIT which tells Philip (Acts 8:26) to overtake the chariot of the man he finds in this desert, a high court official of the then prominent land of Ethiopia (Acts 8). The man had been pondering Isaiah 53, and Philip showed the Christ whom it portrayed. This leads to the conversion of this official, just as Elisha's response to the woman of Shunem led to the resurrection of her son. The work of the Spirit of God in both testaments thus is shown in power (unlike the unbelief shown for days near the return of Christ, in II Timothy 3:5, where a mere FORM of godliness without its power is seen), in communion, in guidance, in kindness, in helps and in wisdom.
Ezekiel and Zechariah 12
We have come again to resurrection, and now we may the more readily revert to this sublime topic, which earlier came to our minds as we were discussing young David's escape from King Saul. This was achieved through the intervention of the Spirit of God, which blocked Saul's path, and led to his prostrating himself in some sort of prophetic mode, and proceeding no further! Note was made of the parallel when the Spirit of God again was at work, in the New Testament, after Christ had not only been threatened, as David had been, but had been murdered according to plan, and then resurrected, the ultimate escape.
In the New Testament, in fact in Romans 1:4, we find this parallel of Christ, that He "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." It was of course the Spirit of God which fell upon the disciples, as in Acts 2, giving them miraculous power to speak, so that many languages were instantaneously given in translation of the apostles' testimony which publicly followed. Thus this 'declaration' was dynamic and miraculous in power, as well as propositional in content.
In all these ways, the Spirit of God has been promoting holiness, engaging in power in the work of deliverance, attesting, investing, moving, working, speaking, controlling. Restoration of what is hopeless in the flesh is by a power of eternal life, which He attests (Psalm 17, 52:6-9, 145:1, 21, 133), a life which from the first was the very life that God gave in His own name, when He made man, which was what left to yield to God, when they gave up the ghost, or breathed the end of that gift of godly life, which God first imparted to man in His image. Thus, and then, as Solomon declares in Ecclesiastes 12:7, the body returns to the dust and the spirit to God who gave it.
A body, a nation, or even a blessedness can be resurrected: the first in its own domain of flesh and bones as Christ attested and the disciples found (Luke 24:38-39, John 20:17,27ff.), the second when as foretold, all is lost and almost ludicrous (as in Deuteronomy and in 1948, 1967 in the practical sphere of bodies!), yet a nation or other entity, rescued from impending oblivion, lives; and the third in the revival of failing spiritual bodies, such as churches deviating, and needing restoration (as appears to be the case in II Corinthians 12, Galatians), which sharply arrested by the apostle, appear likely to respond, such is the depth of the calling, commission and communication, and such its expectant tenor.
Thus in this theme, in Ezekiel 37, we see figuratively, the spread of a ruined Israel throughout the globe. There is a call for these, depicted as dead bones, to be carried holus bolus to Israel, and to be set up as the skeletons of men, to become, in other words, a nation again, albeit not yet a spiritual one. Then there is a separate and sequential command (Ezekiel 37:9), in which breath is to be imparted to the bones. Just as the Lord 'breathed' into the dust and the spirit of man was thus imparted, just as moreover they breathe their last, give up their breath, or thus, the spirit which animates them, so the essential life is imparted to these dead bones, by the second command.
While, thus, the bones assembled now in Israel obviously meant physically living people, it is apparent that the significance of the 'breath' is the spirit of GOD. People, though as dead as forsaken bones, are to be transported back to Israel, yet without spiritual life, as if a graveyard assemblage, an ossiferous ecstasy! THEN in the second command, the life which through its lack, brought upon them their dispersion, is the one now gained by the 'breath', what makes them no more even metaphorically ‘dead’, but spiritually alive! That is as directly indicated in Zechariah 12:10 -13:1, when realising their sin of slaying the Messiah, and yielding to intense grief at this, in retrospect, as if in the last of an only begotten, they mourn and are then washed in the fountain for sin and uncleanness, which of course is the Messiah as base and the Spirit of God as agent (as in Titus 3:3-7), so gaining ETERNAL life. NEVER again will they lack HIM,
"I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.
My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God,
and they shall be My people.
The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel,
when My sanctuary is in their mist forevermore."
Here then the dispersed nation is restored (36:22), not for their own merit, the one scattered (Ezekiel 36:18-19) being brought back from a death consequential upon idolatry when in their land and with the Lord. Its restoration is to the Lord as their King, this their new situation, their sins being figuratively dismissed by sprinkling with water (36:25), and the King being the Lord by whose death they are to be covered (as in the earlier prophet, Isaiah, in 52-53). Indeed, then, "I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live..."
In this way, the right spirit, the spirit of knowledge an illumination in the awareness of God as in Ephesians above, is to be imparted. We know this also because of the result (Ezekiel 37:11). Now they KNOW why they left their land, why they are returned, and they KNOW THE LORD. Moreoer, just as He declares to them, "I will put My Spirit in you..." (37:14), thus leaving no doubt as to the intention, either by implication or by explication, so He makes by this very action an awareness in the foreign nations about them. They too have something to learn, that the tabernacle that the LORD now puts in Israel in the real source of her power and place, eternal, unarrestable, indestructible. Israel realises the reason for her going, they for her coming!
All of this, then, results in their understanding their sin and their Redeemer, with the provision of spiritual knowledge from the Messiah (Ezekiel 37:24), that source of the same who so vividly and quintessentially depicted it, as in Isaiah 11, who there wrote concerning Him. It is indeed this same Messiah who next appears as in Ezekiel 37:21-24, and this is to be an interminable and blessed thing (37:23-25).
What then, these things being so, and this being the focus of it all, this Messiah, this King, this cleansing, this keeping, this tabernacle - IS that tabernacle ? It is of course the same as in earlier Isaiah's words in 4:6 and 32:1-4, where a MAN is as a tabernacle, rest for the weary, refreshing, and as in Isaiah 11:10, His resting place is glorious. This man is the only one who can give rest, for in Him only is to be found the pardon (Isaiah 53) which is crucial to rest, and to Him is this assigned. THIS is the eternal tabernacle, never to be taken down, very much in the way that Hebrews 8-10 shows in its profound and precise exegesis of such things.
Despite the ruinous endeavour of Israel's enemies, reported to follow in Ezekiel 38-39, the LORD is their defence; and their security, who actually BELIEVE, is eternal. The repulse is, as also shown in Micah 7:15, phenomenal, after the order of the Lord's working in the Exodus, when the enemy nation was at that time, Egypt. Indeed, it is the Spirit of the Lord, as in Isaiah 59:19, who raises up a standard for defence, as the Lord will, and this in turn reminds us of the small scale but highly significant event, when David, the young man, was protected by the Spirit of the Lord, when a single enemy, Saul (though one equipped with an army) came to seize him!
This theme, then, is as in Zechariah 12:10, where the spirit of grace and of supplications comes upon the beleaguered people of Jerusalem, leading to solemn, pervasive and intimate repentance, for then they look upon "Me whom they pierced." Moreover, it is the LORD who is there speaking in His sovereign, majestic and autonomous style.
Accordingly, they will in fact, we find, at this time in Zechariah, and in view of this vision of their guilt and ground for pardon, both in one Lord, grieve for that Lord, whom by that time, they had both crucified and despised, as one grieves for a firstborn, the first son of the womb, the very apple of the eye, the first impartation that a family finds. That is, they will mourn this exquisitely aweful death, this loss now, and do so with a tender and deep remorse: for what they did to One so precious, they can scarcely bear, even in retrospect, to behold. Yet they DO behold it, as revealed by the Spirit of the Lord, who thus is working within the heart as well as bearing a standard of protection against extinction!
Indeed, in this name of firstborn, or indeed more particularly, ONLY SON, it is even as in Colossians 1:15ff., where Christ appears as the 'firstborn' BECAUSE He is the Creator of all: He is accorded pre-eminence within the creation, since He made it!
In Zechariah 3,4, 6, we see further the preparation for this vastly significant word concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to come on Israel, after its return and triumphant wars at that time, which is the historical locale for Zechariah 12, as they, in their place once more, after the desolations foretold in Matthew 24:37ff., Luke 19:42ff., come through these battles to the great war, that for the soul. The former battles are in much past already, in 1948, 1967, 1973, and all is fulfilled in that grandly sensational style which had Life magazine devote a special issue to one of these, that of 1967! Unique in military history was the apparent consensus, for this triumph of the midget nation against the vast wealth, lands and power of the Islamic hosts assailing it.
The earlier chapters in Zechariah provide, however, not only preliminary for this outcome, but testimony of a kind that matches our current spiritual theme. Thus in Zechariah 3, we find Joshua, High Priest, exchanging filthy robes for clean, in a symbolism of sin and salvation, but more than this. It is explicitly made a sign, a symbol of the One who will change the foul to the sublime (Zechariah 3:8-9), the “Branch” of Isaiah 11, as of Zechariah 6, the One who will “bear the glory” being as Messiah, in such fulness (cf. John 1:18, 2:24) that the former separation of the princely and priestly powers was not only unnecessary, but would be improper.
Thus, ALL power is given to Him (as in Matthew 28:19-20, cf. Isaiah 11), just as He did not have the Spirit by measure (John 3:34).
Again, in Zechariah 6, we see this same Joshua, High Priest, crowned, as symbol for the Branch, who is identified in Isaiah as the Son of David, who in Psalm 110 is identified as David’s Lord!
Thus when in Zechariah 12, they repent of piercing the Lord, we who read have been prepared by the elaborate forecast that the Messiah is to be MAN (in fact shown from the first, in Genesis 3:15), coming in that format for His great work, and it was for this reason that He COULD be pierced. Here then is background for that amazing forecast of the REPENTANCE much later, for a work of crucifixion not yet performed, and which indeed, would not be performed for several more centuries after the time in which Zechariah, the prophet, spoke.
Such is the scope of the work of the Spirit of God when He provides scripture (as in I Peter 1:10-12, II Peter 2:19-21, II Peter 3:2ff., cf. Matthew 4:4), giving the very words needed to convey these pungent declarations, these poignant understandings, this grandeur in pathos, this sublimity in spirit. It also comes as the pinnacle of power, as seen in Zechariah 14:5, on the Lord's return, when His very feet come to the Mount of Olives, seen as we find in the New Testament, of Gethsemane, where His struggle for something more than power, with great drops like blood on His brow, for readiness to consummate His sacrificial role (Hebrews 5:7), was triumphant. Without this, no other battle would be meaningful. That was thus the greatest triumph of all, that of love.
It is the Spirit which is clearly designated, moreover, in Zechariah 4, in the great imagery provided by the Lord to the prophet, of the olive trees. From these comes an oil production which drips into a receptacle, and the oil-producing branches are found to be the “two witnesses” whom we further meet in Revelation 11. They are “the anointed ones”, already signalised as Joshua, High Priest, and Zerubbabel, Governor, and which always thematic, remain so, designating there the aspects of the Church of Christ, giving the necessary testimony of two witnesses, and the necessary facets of ruling and prophetic power.
It is the Church which there is called to COME UP, and goes as Christ foretold. As Israel was called as a witness for the Lord (Isaiah 43:21), so is the Church, and so does it act, with these two aspects signalised in advance in Zechariah 4, to which John undoubtedly refers! COME UP HERE! He calls (Revelation 11:12), as in Matthew 24:40ff., and the Lord then indeed comes to call His own, that "where I am, there you may be also" (John 14). Meanwhile, to every individual, there is the call from the Spirit and the Bride (the Church as in Ephesians 5): COME! (Revelation 22:17). Let whoever wishes, drink freely! the call there appears, as indeed it came in an individual case in John 4, and was shown in general, in John 7:37ff..
Thus, in Zechariah 4, the princely and priestly powers given by God to His called people, in the theocracy shown through the relevant leaders, these are seen supplied by the OIL. This appears surely to show the Spirit of God bringing the unity noted in Psalm 133, and the peace. It has indeed been in this very Chapter 4 that we are told, and just before this vision do we find that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” that the results are achieved.
Zerubbabel is then focussed in the text, and the vision proceeds to the anointed ones. With what then are they anointed, if it be not by what it IS that the Lord has just stated, “My Spirit”; and with what are they NOT anointed, but human power and pomp, principle and procedure. It is a work of God BY His SPIRIT! The worldly powers are elsewhere symbolised not by oil, but by beasts! (as in Daniel 7, 8, and of course, as in Revelation 13, another of those intimacies of both testaments).
Thus we come from repentance and cleansing, to princely power and pre-eminence, and the work of the Spirit of God is seen in all of these things, as it is in the New Testament, whether in Revelation 11, the explicit parallel, or at the baptism of Christ, where His identity was declared, or in the Pentecostal anointing, where the work is at once implemented, whether in return to land, or in return to the Lord, whether then or now, forecast or found.
Corinthians, Zechariah 3, 4, 6 , Isaiah, Psalms, Matthew and Job
All of these elements of remorse and valuing, of tenderness and repentance, of perception and of understanding, these are conveyed by the Spirit of grace and of supplications, in which designation the Holy Spirit appears indicated, in the Old Testament, no less, in essence, than in the New. Thus one finds in II Corinthians 7:10, that "godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world produces death."
There is precisely the same thing, whether practised in measure, whether seen in principle or in predictive prophecy, the same work of the Spirit, diversified according to the preliminary situation before Christ came, but determinate and clear, according to the unchanging nature of that God whose Holy Spirit it is.
More of the gracious and abiding nature of the Spirit of God in the believer, is attested in Zechariah 4, where as we have seen, olive trees are depicted, conveying oil, and their productive branches are the two witnesses, relating to the priestly and princely powers of the nation, ultimately to be found in Christ whose are, astonishingly but in the end, necessarily, both (Zechariah 6:12-13), as the prerogative of deity, on earth. This is found in the following imagery in Ch. 6, where Joshua, the High Priest, is seen as recipient of a crown, so that in sequel we turn to the Man who is the BRANCH (defined as the Messiah in Isaiah 11:1), and shown to be so by this double office, one utterly forbidden to mere man, the sinner (as seen dramatically in the rebuke to King Uzziah, in II Chronicles 26:16ff.).
In the symbolic Temple language, all signified, and duties were appointed for one or for another, but no king became priest.
It is one or the other; and hence in Zech. 6, we find that this Branch shall BEAR THE GLORY, what glory ? That of both of king and priest, being the One to be pierced, the LORD, the One moreover to offer Himself sacrificially for sin, as implied in Hosea 13:14 and declared in Isaiah 49-55, the One in whom as in Colossians 2:8-9, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form – thus the status as Creator of ALL that is created, Saviour, eternal, for God ONLY is the Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11), and God ONLY is the Creator (Isaiah 44-46). There is no other, but He, the Lord God, who with His Spirit, sends the Lord to act, as seen in Isaiah 48:16; and what that action is, appears in bold and clear form in the succeeding chapters, 49-55, of this great evangelical prophet, Isaiah!
It is well now that we consider this revelation in Zechariah a little more fully, as we compare it with New Testament features.
HIS throne, we read in Zech. 6, shares the counsel both of priest and prince, the one to rule, the other to save, and the good Lord does both! being now not seen in symbol, but come in fact. As God He is one, and omni-competent, offering Himself as priest, as victim, and finding His role as King in the resurrection and return to come, as in Ezekiel 37, Zechariah 14, and Acts 1.
It is to this Lord, past symbol in fact, to come then, and having come now, and to come again, that the title headstone is given (as in Psalm 118, where it is He who as headstone who is nevertheless rejected, a scripture quoted of Himself by Christ - Mark 11:11, Matthew 21:42).
The SPIRIT is represented, then, in Zechariah 4's imagery, by the OIL which flows from the olive trees, which anoints the witnesses, who are different facet-functionaries in the nation, later to be phases of the rule of Christ in the Church. How fully was the Church anointed, and indeed, it is by one SPIRIT that believers are baptised into ONE body, which is Christ’s (I Corinthians 12:13), and it by this baptism that they enter, and so become Christians at all. In this Spirit, there is need to be FILLED (as in Ephesians 5), and to each of Christ’s people (Romans 8:11), it is given to be so anointed, indeed sealed (Ephesians 1). Sealed by the Spirit! is the very word of the passage!
It is He, the Lord, moreover who teaches, the ultimate high priest, and it is by His Spirit that the work is wrought, the word determinate, the work holy and beautiful (as in Matthew 5:17-20, I John 2:27).
The same concept of oil, of anointing oil, is seen in Psalm 133 as signifying the unity of spirit in the people, where it is symbolically shown as dripping from the anointed priest's head, down his bead, assigning a blessing, life for evermore (Psalm 133:3). This is what in the New Testament has the expression - maintaining "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3).
|as in the New Testament, we have the threefold
baptismal and blessing formulae
(baptising in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in Matthew 28, and blessing with the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the communion of the Holy Spirit as in II Corinthians 13:14),
|so in Isaiah
48:16, we find amidst the speech of the LORD, so designated,
that there is He who is to come, who was from the first,
and that He is sent by the Lord God and His Spirit.
This intense and immense, evocative and constraining intimacy, the Father sending the Son, the Son sending the Spirit from the Father (as in John 3, John 15), the Father revealing the Son, and the Son the Father, while the Spirit conveys the revelation as in Matthew 11 and 16, is thus in the Old Testament as in the New.
Further, just as the spirit of wisdom and power RESTS on the Lord in Isaiah 11, so does the Spirit of God rest, in the dove imagery, on Christ at the baptism, and so is He full of grace and truth, for the Father does not give the Spirit to Him by measure (as in John 3).
Moreover, just as in the Old Testament, indeed in ancient Job (19), Job is convinced that though death should remove his present body, YET with his own eyes HE WILL SEE GOD, BECAUSE his Redeemer is to come and stand on this earth, so in the New Testament Peter is seen realising that for him, this is happening already, with perhaps the additional revelation of John 14, to bring the point to the summit of comprehension, at least perceptively. There, before his very eyes is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It will of course be further implemented when, as with Job, he meets Him face to face as in Revelation 22.
It is by the SPIRIT of God that this is brought home to Peter, and in Job, we read even from Elihu, how a spiritual understanding can come (Job 32:8), so that as with Job, the vision of God may imbue one (Job 33:4 cf. Matthew 5:8). The SPIRIT of God has made Him and His breath gives him life, and more than this, from all this there can come spiritual realisation; yes and revival. Such is from Job as from John. The Redeemer who is quintessentially necessary, as the eternal Word of God, begotten into flesh, is apparent in both, in John as in Job!
The revival and realisation we see in the outpouring of the Spirit, as in Isaiah 32:15, just as it is in Romans 11:25, where the failed Jewish nation is restored to sight, or in Revelation 2:10-11, where a strengthening and illuminating message brings fresh courage and hope to the Church, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches."
As to Isaiah 32:15, there is foretold for a then rebellious Israel, the nation, a period of considerable desolation and grief "until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high...", which parallels in different ways, both Luke 24:40, and Acts 2, yes and these two with Romans 11:25 and more broadly, Ephesians 5:14-21.
"Therefore He says:
"Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light."
"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
"Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
giving thanks always for all things to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
submitting to one another in the fear of God."
Here as in Isaiah, the result of such outpouring or abiding of the Spirit is seen in wisdom, grace, spirituality of nature and disposition, thankfulness or graciousness and serviceability.
FROM FOOTHILLS TO PLATEAU TO PEAK
One Journey, One Perspective
Rising Altitude toward Heaven
There has been of course, a divine procedure in illuminating man, and preparing him for the greatest event in history, when the Author of man, became a man. In our topic, we need to consider this aspect.
For this, God elected to save some in the flood, to call one in Abraham, to make a nation, to institute a highly illuminative, and often symbolic setting of sacrifices, yet one which showed clearly the character of sin, the nature of death, the remedy to be provided. He surrounded this with the prophets, like Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah and Daniel, who as one team, separated by centuries and at times by vast distances on the earth as well, brought one message of one God with one vast intent to save, and one centre and focus for the salvation, the Messiah, to come and die at about 30 A.D. (as it is in our parlance - cf. More Marvels ... Ch. 4), so settling the sin account once and for all, in an offering sufficient for all, adapted for all, to be refused by many, but received by many.
In the interim, there was therefore a theocratic State, a conveyor belt for this coming manifestation of ultimate truth in personal format, as it had been in preparatory form given in the prophetic writings of the Old Testament, which foretold Him in so many ways, now intensely direct, now using symbols, now giving time and place location for His advent, and the powers to be deployed by Him, now speaking of the sacrifice He was to make, now of the rule He would at last institute (Isaiah 11, Micah 4, Isaiah 2, 65, 32 with 4:6; Isaiah 49-55).
This preliminary State necessarily acted like a filter, if you want to compare it with the liberty in Christ which we have now; or it worked as a preparation, if you want to see it as leading up to Him. In the first perspective, it means that the theocratic State of Israel had kings, personages who could give a vital lead as led by the Lord. Sometimes this operated at a great and substantial level, as you see in the famous event of King Hezekiah personally going into the Temple to spread out before the Lord the infamous letter, from the attacking King of Assyria (Isaiah 37:1-14, II Chronicles 32). There by himself, he could be found praying to the Lord in round and assured form.
Then the Lord delivered both the people and the king, who had been so passionately keen to restore the nation to spiritual ways, after the dereliction of duty of the king, Ahaz, who had preceded him. To be sure, it was to Isaiah he sent in its time, and from that prophet came the bold and delightfully poised word of the living God; but first Hezekiah went himself, and then he also took the initiative of seeking from the prophet. The Lord acted as He promises (Isaiah 64:5) in such a case.
Again, King David was constantly communing with the Lord, so that the theocratic fact of a KING meant a functional reality of much input from that quarter, into the spiritual life of the nation, and you see it again in the day of Josiah, when he sought with a zeal like that of Hezekiah, to remove perversion, physical, mental and spiritual from the land, and restore the worship of the God of truth and mercy to the land, in purity.
In addition, speaking in terms of filter function, that is use of categories of authority in ways which tended to focus major matters in leaders, individuals or groups, there was the entire Temple priesthood and work, including that of the High Priest. Here was a place of divine blessing, as in Psalm 133; and it is spiritual. You see this in operation to the height, in such actions as those of priest Jehoiada, who helped to remove the murderous Queen, Athaliah, and bring back to the throne the young boy king who had escaped the slaughter, Jehoash. There was a priest indeed who stood for the word of the Lord, and sought to bring spiritual guidance to the nation (II Kings 11).
The prophets were another, and thus a third spiritual filter, in the sense that to and in them there came not only inspiration and illumination, but help and immediate direction, as in the above-noted case of Isaiah speaking to Hezekiah, as he did, concerning the Lord's deliverance. In fact, he delivered to him a word from the Lord covering the case gloriously (Isaiah 37:22ff.).
To them indeed in some cases was given that formally inscripturated word of the Lord which does not pass away, and thus as we look at the times nearer to the coming of Christ, there is not only an accumulation of preludes and preparations in the word of God to man via the prophets, but there is a constant opening up for them of a brand-new vision, not in some sense of divergence, but cumulative compilation, constantly showing more the mind of God for man. This was always as one; the revelation however was growing like a tree!
In all these ways, three in all, there was a filter, or focus, a way in which the ordinary people had LESS scope of function than they would, had there been what we now have, ONE OPERATIVE LORD, ONE CHRIST, who has paid and declared as in I John 2:27, that you need not that any should teach you, for the Holy Spirit anoints. That New Testament Covenant brought the relationship between the ordinary member of the people of God closer, for now in our era, those three filters gone. They had done a wonderful work; but now it was finished.
Nor did, nor does this mean that, in the New Covenant, we do not serve one another with spiritual gifts as God ALONE appoints (I Cor. 12:6). Indeed, the one gift which alone is authorised to be sought, is prophecy in the local New Testament sense of that term here used by Paul *6, which of course is not to add to the word of God, and allows for mutual auditing and review (I Cor. 14:30-33).
Unlike the commands through the scriptural writers and apostles (I Cor. 14:37, I Cor. 2:9-13 cf.SMR Appendix D and C), to whom the word of the Lord was delivered, centring at the foundation in Christ, and providing the apostolic testimony following the incarnate and express revelation of God in Him, these counsels as at the Corinthian Church, are illuminative only, and do not require in themselves, obedience. For all that, yes, there is assuredly service in these domains, but it is not in the domain of writing scripture, or giving commands, but rather exhortation and order, edification and counsel, reliability and transmission of the truth (as in I Timothy 2:2).
The removal of the three filters noted, however, does mean that NO PROPHET, NO PASTOR, NO PRIEST and no whatever you may wish to call it, has any more power to DIRECT our doctrine or CONTROL our thoughts than is found in the completed BIBLE itself. There is NO OTHER LORD, corporate or individual (Matthew 23:8-10), but One, and His name is unique, pre-eminent and unduplicable being incomparable. His name is Jesus Christ, sinless, eternal, higher than the heavens, increate (John 1:3, Colossians 1:15), the eternal Word of God (cf. Hebrews 1:1ff., 7:16,24ff., 8:6).
There is indeed, all through these times, despite and in keeping with - both - the filters, the same God and the same love and mercy, and the same liberty ON HIS PART to commune and communicate with His people. Using many means did not mean the removal of the end and object of it all, being in the favoured friendship of the redeeming Lord! These were HELPS, and if they had an effect of preparing for the consummation in Christ, and so tended to focus functions in ways we do not now need or have, yet they were not to the detriment, but to the blessedness of those who used them.
Thus the parents of Samson, before he came, were ordinary people, but to them came the direct and manifest presence of the LORD, with introduction and instruction, concerning the son to come, whom God would use in a highly specialised manner (Judges 13). God might appoint and anoint in a most personal and individual manner, someone who as in the case of Jephthah, was even the son of a harlot (the sins of the fathers are NOT visited on the children except where they too HATE the Lord, so that mercy is exempted by will!). This is is seen in Judges 11.
Joseph and Mary were hardly royalty, certainly not rich: God appeared to, communed with, gave direction to various persons as He saw fit, and the entire structure for focussing, preserving and bringing consummation to the faith, was not in the way, even if it meant some functions being more concentrated in certain people than in others. Actually, many people were not at all in any specialised group, yet the Lord counselled with them in the most intimate and objectively substantial manner, in situations to affect one and all!
Indeed, so far was the theocratic preliminary advancing toward the day of Jesus Christ and the Church which is His, that even in Moses' own day, when it was reported to the leader that two people were prophesying in the name of the Lord, who were NOT among the 70 persons chosen for special spiritual service, Moses was far from fazed (Numbers 11:25-30). I wish, he declared, that ALL the Lord's people might so speak! He would like to have more and more people so endowed, so enabled, so functional. It was nothing at all EXCLUSIVE, therefore, just because it was structured. Intimacy of communion was of course the generic result for all, with the abiding graces so often seen in the humble such as the parents of Samson; and so the Psalms often refer to this underlying spiritual life through the Spirit of God in fact, which was in the people who actually know God.
There are always hypocrites, and 8 1/3% of Christ's team was a hypocrite, namely Judas, as we learn from John 6. He was in fact declared to be a devil, quite early (John 6:70). He too had gifts, pseudo-spiritual, and his macabre task had been foreknown and declared in the Bible from a millenium or so beforehand (cf. Psalm 55, 69 and see Joyful Jottings 22-25). Love is more important always than gifts (I Cor. 13), and gifts are not foci for personal aplomb, any more than a bomb is an item for serenity: they are to be used without display, for the functional realities of service. A proper spirit and a seemly function are available, gifts too, and service assuredly; and while some misuse the entire body of Christ, this is a pathology. It is available too.
However, that is not to the point, since we are discussing what good thing was AVAILABLE in those days. In the Psalms therefore we find in scriptural form, often from the hand of David at the mouth of the Lord (II Samuel 23:2), expositions of spiritual life available to all in the name of the Lord. In this Samuel passage, he in fact declares this, in intimacy for his own gift, sourcing it:
"The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me,
And His word was on my tongue.
The Rock of Israel spoke to me..."
In Psalm 73, accordingly, you find from Asaph a testimony to his sense of dereliction as he saw the wicked in their fatuous but flash glory, and as he moves to the resolution, we find the depth of his spiritual nearness to the Lord. It is sometimes, if you will, when disease strikes, that one the more perfectly realises or speaks of the nature of health!
"You hold me by the right hand!" he declares in v. 23,
"You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."
Indeed, as far as his mere flesh, for whatever that is worth, is concerned, he continues,
"My flesh and my heart fail," and yet to that there is the divine antidote of his life:
"But God is the strength of my hear t and my portion forever... But it is good for me to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works."
Even for a King, it is the LORD who is his Shepherd, as in the famous Psalm 23, whose gentleness and comforts, kindness and leading make life categorically in contrast with the mere residue of those who do not know the Lord!
Psalm 37 specialises not a little in the very nature of the life of any man of God, declaring this:
"Delight yourself also in the LORD, an He will give you the desires of your heart!' (v. 4),
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the LORD upholds him with His hand."
In Isaiah 63:11, we see something of the historical perspective concerning the availability of the Lord to His people, to such as knew Him. It comes in the form of an interrogation:
"Where is He who brought them up out of the sea,
With the shepherd of the flock ?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them..."
In Psalm 51, we see in the case of David, after an appalling episode, his request as a son of a father whom he has vilely concerned and grieved, with with a filial bond still intact, "Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me!" Once saved, always His (as in Ephesians 1:11, Psalm 17, Psalm 145), and forever is the extent of it! God heard, and the fact that David DID belong to the Lord, gave the paternal access, then as before. Not that this was without discipline as in I Chronicles 21, and Hebrews 12, alike: it was however without end, and with depth, a communion.
One could gloriously wallow in the wonder and wisdom of the Psalms, but our point is simple: here is the abundant testimony of the life which God provides, the intimacy He moves to create, the counsel He gives and the deliverances, to His people. It is not a pleasure-power push, but a Shepherd, who leading His sheep, attends to their needs. Sometimes great is the commotion as one suffers for Him; but then, in such a world as this, for pilgrims like diplomats abroad, this is part of the work of spiritual war with the sword of the Spirit not at all appreciated by many, while the girding with truth, not to the taste of more! It is not a question of avoiding the Cross, but taking it up. As one walks with the Lord, whether in Old Testament times or New, the work of the Lord is near, and the heart has its own communion.
It is then of interest that one may find the phrasing that the Spirit spoke to or by, that the Spirit came upon someone, or that He is IN someone in the Old Testament, as in the New. In the New Testament, moreover, there is a fascinating development, consequent upon the Lord, the second person of the Trinity, coming actually and physically and locally BESIDE them. Thus there was not, while He was present in the flesh, that same amazing liberty in consummate form, which now exists, in the sense that the three filters of the Old Covenant are now fulfilled and not operative, this being part of its obsolescence, due to fulfilment (Hebrews 8, Matthew 5: 17-20).
Accordingly, in New Testament times, if the LORD, present beside you as a man, orders, commands or communes in this or that matter, then this is already GOD HIMSELF speaking to you. Thus Christ indicated that it was expedient that He should go, because otherwise the Spirit, in the special New Covenant sense and setting, would not come (John 16:7-15). The Spirit would not act on His own authority, He went on to say, but would take of the things that are Christs, and bring them to the apostles. He pursued the theme, declaring that ALL things that the Father has are His, so that the Holy Spirit is in fact rightly said to be taking the things that are His, and bringing them to the apostles.
That was to be, and scripture was one of the results, the New Testament scriptures.
In this way, He also showed this:
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."
Notice, in terms of the infinite intimacy of the trinity, that not only does He state that He is going, but that having indicated that the Holy Spirit will come to them, He adds this, that "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." This of course is entirely consonant with what Paul declares in II Corinthians 3:17, that "the LORD is that Spirit." There is such a closeness and a calling and a co-function, that when the Spirit is so acting, He is actually bringing the Lord Himself to you. It is easy, if only an analogy, to think of the beaming of the person's face, who is in the studio, via the TV to your own hearth.
Of course, thus far, we know only in part (I Corinthians 13); but the part that we DO know is He who IS the truth. In heaven, however, we will see face to face. It is not that He did not speak the truth, but the exact opposite; for He challenged them why they wanted to kill One who told them the truth (John 8:40-45). In fact, it was predicted that they would kill Him BECAUSE He neither did violence (to protect Himself), nor lied (to pretend He was not the Messiah, and so escape death). After all, He came to die for sin.
One lifts up one's eyes to the hills and sees aright; but when by car one comes to the exact point of focus, of course one sees yet more! The land is now "very far off" (Isaiah 33:17); but we do see it, and it is clear; yet how much more manifest will it be when we live there - who are His by faith, at the resurrection.
Thus, when Christ was physically present by them, the word of God could not be clearer or nearer in precise and sure knowledge. By the same token, the free working of the Holy Spirit within them, while not absent, was limited by the presence of the word of God beside them: there is ONE Lord. It was when He left, that the Holy Spirit would then in the fullest sense be IN THEM, and to this He referred.
In fact, at Pentecost, the matter was most dramatic and poly-functional, both. Like a birthday party, it came, the sound and the fire as in Acts 2, the flame dividing itself into tongues, one on each head, and so they were anointed, and the Spirit came in its direct form, within them, conveying Christ and His power and function, through them. It was accordingly with this new power that they preached, and the miraculous quality of the words, now comprehensible for each foreigner in the swelling multitude then in Jerusalem, was that they could understand them, each man in his own language.
That was one great birthday party, leading to thousands of souls being converted. Moreover, it held a marvel and a wonder, that it was in ISRAEL and by JEWS that the Christian Church started. As Romans 11 relates, a Jewish contingent of no small magnitude, is to come in its time, when we see as in Zechariah 12-13, the nation rubs its eyes, begins to see and to mourn for their lost Lord. Thus it becomes, to use Paul's imagery, 'grafted' back into its own tree from which, says the apostle, it had been removed because of unbelief. It is then that they see through the working of the Spirit of grace and of supplications, looking to the Lord whom they had pierced.
Indeed, the Christian as in Romans 8:9, always has the Spirit, and without it, one is not a Christian. Moreover the Christian always has the Lord Jesus Christ, BY the Spirit, IN him or her, as in John 6:50-54, "and shall be IN you". Nor is this something to wait for, as if you were only partly born! John 6:51 tells us not of a continuing matter, but of an event, as does John 4:14 with the 'water' which may receive from Christ, and so NEVER thirst again.
In 6:51, if anyone should eat (not present tense, just the aorist of action), then one lives for ever. It is not merely processive, for as in the water case, you NEVER thirst again, and we are told in John 7:37ff., that in referring to the water He gives, it is to the Spirit that He alludes! Indeed, in 4:14ff., we learn that the water that He gives will be welling up to eternal life, and it is this which, once drinking, removes the necessities for frequent trips, since it is not only IN one, but WELLS UP within, for ever.
Thus in the Old Testament, you have the LORD above, and the Spirit working; and in the New Testament, while Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity is present with them, you have this same LORD (Isaiah 45, Philippians 2), but now down to earth and beside them. Nevertheless, the working of the Spirit (as in the sending of the 70 noted in Luke 10, just as He had sent out the 12, noted in Matthew 10), is through them. In Matthew 10:20, they are told of certain vicissitudes they face, and of one He declares, that when they speak in reply, "It is not not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you!" IN YOU!
Thus the principle does not change, but while Christ was physically present, the full liberty in the Spirit was for that reason, reduced in the disciples who heard Him DIRECT.
Accordingly, when He went, and the need therefore was total, then He who could always work as He willed, was not only in them but continually acting with the communion of Christ, which they shared. No more was Christ beside them in the flesh, with His word that of the Lord; and now the Spirit welling up, and functioning to each, apostle or other, as appropriate, in lavish generosity, worked His works, according to the word of God.
So is the unity of theme allied to developments of operation; but One God always works as He will, bringing to consummation the Cross, the consequence, the life within and the destiny to come.
THE TEACHING ON SCRIPTURAL INSPIRATION AND
FAITHFULNESS IN PRACTICE
Again, the doctrine of the relationship of the scripture to the Spirit is quite identical in both Testaments. Thus in Isaiah 34:16, we find that there is a collation of results for the destruction of a place named, and these include various aspects of the desolation, including birds of a kind. Each of these elements is to be there, for they are to be GATHERED BY HIS SPIRIT, the Spirit of God! Whether therefore you regard the words as being signified or the items to which they refer, the result is the same. An intelligible, verifiable, practical and precise series of events and pairings of events is to come, and the underlying words make this clear beyond contention, so that it will be visible beyond question when the time comes. That is the prediction, and this is the model of inspiration and revelation depicted with it.
There is to be, we further read in Isaiah 34, an irresolvable nature to the disposition of the word of God: there are no buts, ifs or maybes. It will be as it is stated to be, and this of course is precisely what Christ said in Matthew 5:17-20, about every jot and tittle of the law and of the prophets being fulfilled.
Again, in the Old Testament as in the New, this is not just some verbiage, a lovely dream (as negated for an approach to the word of God, in Ezekiel 33), but a practical fact and reality, a testable product of God Himself, His very word. Thus IF they do not speak in accordance with the word found in the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 8:20), there is a reason.
What then is this reason ? It is that there IS NO LIGHT IN THEM! That is the reason for such speech, so contrary call or idea or view. God is the light, and without Him, there is none, merely a series of reflections, a menagerie of imaginations.
Without this word, out of accord with it, man is
lightless, having a spiritual default, and those who are thus wordless in terms
of the word of the Lord, showing a rebellious spirit towards the words of God,
are light-free, like darkness. Thus it is on those who sat in darkness, in
anguish and grief,
on whom the light shines (Isaiah 8), which is enshrined in One, in Him of whom it is said in Isaiah 9:6-7*7:
"For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
We learn that of the increase of His government there will be no end, just as in Daniel 7:25, we find His kingdom the last, He who receives all kingdoms and power.
God works as One, word, Spirit and Father.
Thus in the Old Testament, unauthorised innovators at the level of the word of God were consumed in fire, and those who, in the New Testament likewise despise the authority of the writer of Scripture, God Himself the basis and assurance of it (as in I Corinthians 2:9-13), are in no better case (Leviticus 10, Jude, II Peter 2), and the degree of repugnance in both Testaments, is identical!
|As once more, the spiritual man is to abide in the word of God with intense desire,|
|so that the word gives life, and his soul is in pangs if the word is denied him (Psalm 119),|
|his soul breaking
with longing for the word of the Lord (Psalm 119:20),
|so in the New Testament,|
|not only is one to
abide in the Lord
|and have His word abide in one (John 15),|
|as a natural norm for genuine vine, planted by the Lord|
|(and if not,
beware - Matthew 15:13, for there is no place for fraud):
|but great is the
reward for so doing!
Indeed, founded on this word in the Lord Himself, one is on rock, not sand. And, as David
declared, Who is a rock, but our God! (II Samuel 22:22),
that Lord on whom one looks when one awakes
from the preliminary life of test and testimony here, to eternity with Him (Psalm 17).
The words of Paul about divine inspiration in I Corinthians 2:9-13, are close to those of Peter about the inspiration of the prophets of old, in the Old Testament as found in I Peter 1:8-10, II Peter 1:19-21, 3:2. In the last, as in Matthew 4:4, we find that the very ipsissima verba, words themselves, have been provided by the power of God, just as their meaning will not be lost (Psalm 111), for they are to be done, and will be fulfilled to the uttermost point (Matthew 5:17-20). Indeed, those practising and doing these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven, and those abusing the least of them, and teaching this, small!
Consider this Matthew 5 declaration of Christ!
How great then is the greatness of the word of God (cf. John 14:21-23), that so mistreating the least of His commands, in deed and teaching, makes for the least, and teaching and following them, for the greatest.
It is GOD who is great, His way is great, His word is great, the power of His Spirit is great (Zechariah 4, Ephesians 3:16), and following Him is a thing to be grateful for, as He so enables you (Philippians 2:13). It is great to be near to the fear (Psalm 19), when the fear means reverence, not doubt and distress, for perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:17ff.), whereas to faith it is given to KNOW that one has eternal life (I John 5:11ff.), and good it is to encourage the saints with this glorious privilege, when the ONLY Saviour is Christ, and not you yourself, or any other source of weakness, error of fall!
Moreover by every WORD of God, individually conceived, but of course in meaning the intent, is man to live! This is as Christ both showed and declared, when He came as man (Matthew 4:4). In both New and Old Testament, the same is implied of the status of precision and practicality, reliability and fulfilment in ALL the words of the Old Testament, and to these Peter adds Paul's words, in II Peter 3:16, as also being scripture, while Paul adds in I Cor. 2:9-13, the nature of the inspiration, both in substance and spiritual constraint over the word of expression.
A WORD ON THE WONDERS OF SPIRITUAL APPLICATION
OF REDEMPTION AT ANY TIME
The APPLICATION of this word to our spiritual calibre, moulding, quality is also clearly depicted by Paul in II Corinthians, where as by the SPIRIT OF THE LORD, we are being conformed to Him, from glory to glory. This is just as in the Old Testament, where we find first the same categorical cleansing and change depicted, as for High Priest, Joshua, in Zechariah 3:2ff., as for the individual or the people in Ezekiel 11:19-21, 36:25-26, Zechariah 13:1, Psalm 119, 143; and this resembles Titus 3:3-5!
Secondly we have in both Testaments, the call to the same continuing, abiding conforming to the Lord (as in Psalm 139:23), whilst it is the Spirit of the Lord who, being called good, is to lead into the 'land of uprightness' as in Psalm 143.
As in Ephesians 1, the WORK of redemption is done by Christ, and the sealing of it and the securing of guarantee in the heart, concerning it, is the work of application of the Spirit of God, so in the Old Testament, sin is covered in terms of the Day of Atonement, as a crux, in its redemption (Leviticus 17), the centrality of the sacrifice being clear (as in Galatians 6:14 for the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate and final sacrifice); and then the application appears.
The latter devolves uniquely and pre-eminently, on the Messiah as the Word Himself, conveying the salvation (Isaiah 61:1-3); then the application in holiness is found in such words as those of Isaiah at 32:15-17, where assurance of salvation is thus brought by the Spirit, and the very vision of the King is assured (32:17ff.), in the 'land that is very far off', these things coming home as it appears, as consequences of this same pouring forth of the Spirit, as once more, at Pentecost.
To Isaiah 32:15-17, we do well to look with care
(bold added to aid what here is the relevant impact):
"Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever."
Thus on every side, sometimes with the preliminary and preparatory, the domain of the preface or introduction, sometimes in the more developed, the consummation of the paid-up Gospel after Calvary, we find the work of the One God, and the work of His Son and His Spirit, their relationships and their work on His people, whether in the Lord, to redeem, or in His Spirit, to apply and multiply the results of the one source, one life, one Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9, Ephesians 1:10, Acts 4:11-12, Revelation 5,21-22, Daniel 7:25) and one peace.
Thus in general, there is a clear-cut and marked parallel or even identity; and the work of the Holy Spirit, of the Word of God and of His sending, of His written word and of His peace and assurance, wholeness and wholesomeness, goodness and mercy, is that of one unchanging Being. First He moves to show the individual, Noah, Abraham and many another; then the nation, then the grace for faith, then the Law for definition of sin to drive home and drive into the arms of the saving mercies of the covenantal God, and with this, there is the exposure of the once for all Saviour with the once for all Message of the once for all Gospel (cf. SMR Ch. 9, Barbs ... 17, TMR Ch. 3), the MESSIAH.
During these things, He moves on His people with strength, wisdom and understanding during their theocratic phase; then in more directness, fulfilling what was said before, but in precise accord with it, He unveils the Christ.
This, it is not a vision but a man, at this stage; and it is now for usnot a coming event, but now a past one, which as in Hebrews 9 can only with the consequences of Hebrews 6 and be fooled with, as if folly became the name of the play: Essay in Folly ...
So does the unity of the Spirit appear, not only as drawing all men together if they but follow HIS WORD AND NO OTHER WORD (Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22, Deuteronomy 12), but in its ways of ministration and blessing, and as in the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24ff.), so now, does it bring augury of rest and peace; and this is precisely the message of Isaiah 26:1-4, as of Matthew 11:27-30.
This, it is to be expected of so great and unchanging a God, just as with relish we receive the phases which have brought all things so securely, and with such unity of purpose and preliminary program equipped with prediction, to their orderly consummation. That, it is the testimony for Christian Apologetics; and the rest, as also in Isaiah 11:10, this is the testimony for personal rest beyond simple ecclesiastical blessedness.
It is a rest in Him who, being God, is both delightful and all-sufficient, whose sufficiency is practical, powerful and total (cf. Ephesians 1:6, II Corinthians 3:5-6).
Even the fact that what was at first encapsulated in a nation to show forth God's praises to a fallen world, as an integral unit, with full spiritual operating equipment in Temple and priesthood (Isaiah 43:21), would become for all the world, as it was in essence from the start, a shaft of singular spiritual beauty. This, moving thus out from one nation, to which at any time proselytes could come, went to all nations and to each person. You see this preparation in prophecy constantly, as in Psalm 67ff., Jeremiah 16:19, Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, 54:5, 72:17, 82:8, 86:9, 113:4, Deuteronomy 32:43, and as attested by Paul in Romans 15:7-12.
Indeed, as in Isaiah 11:12, in this Christ, born in Bethlehem (as in Micah 5:1-3), the Eternal God become man (as in Isaiah 48:16, Micah 5:3), recompense-payor for sin, resurrected as a pointer for His people (Isaiah 26:19), resurrected from the vicarious and sacrificial death as in Psalm 22,16, you see God. It is as in Colossians 1:15ff., John 1:1-3, for here now is the Creator, the Predicted Purveyor of Pardon, the Crucified Messiah, the Resurrected Redeemer (Colossians 1:5, John 1:3). Here is not only the CREATOR, but the one who makes of ALL things created, a CATEGORY from which He AS Creator is entirely missing. Here then is YOUR GOD, as Isaiah proclaims it in Isaiah 40:11, and it is He who indeed took up the lambs in His arms, as Isaiah foretold (cf. Mark 10:13-15).
It was then, as it is now, for one as for all, for all nations, all peoples, and for anyone at all. That, it is found in Colossians 1:19ff., John 3:15ff., I Timothy 2:1ff., Ezekiel 33:11ff.. Thus the divine lament for the ruinously, the recklessly, the impenitently lost, and His mourning and for the needlessly fallen and needlessly unredeemed, is in both Testaments, as deep as the heart of the God who is love (I John 4:8ff.; Luke 19:42ff., Jeremiah 48:36, Ezekiel 33:11, Lamentations 3:33 and all, Jeremiah 9:1ff., 17, Jeremiah 5:1ff., Proverbs 1, Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff. cf. SMR Appendix B).
It is He, who being truth, does violence to none, as if to persuade by force, and does justice to what will not receive mercy, for the judgment is with Him. Judgment is always according to truth (cf. Romans 2:1), whether the truth comes to be that one is redeemed, or that someone is not; and if redeemed, then the gift of divine righteousness being received (Romans 5:17, II Corinthians 5:17-21, Romans 3:23-27), work becomes irrelevant as a basis, for it is Christ's work which counts; works then become as in James, the indissoluble consequence of authenticity, as when - from Christ's own lips in Matthew 7 - a good tree, here a regenerated one, CANNOT fail to bring forth good fruit. The fruit is not the planting however, or the root, but the byproduct.
The Spirit of God meanwhile, whether in Isaiah 32 or Romans 8, is seen pouring out assurance, enabling one to discern the eternity of the bond to the Father, through the Redeemer, and so is peace.
Indeed, as in Zechariah 12:10ff., Isaiah 32:15ff., John 16:8ff., the Spirit of God pours out in a deep stirring to repentance upon the hearts of men. It is in one as in the other, in the Old as in the New, for the same God is ever immutable, His love beautiful, His concern dutiful, His sacrifice sufficient for all, and if applied only to some, yet not as if He did not love, but does not pay for what He does not buy! Ransom is for many (Matthew 26:26, 20:28, Isaiah 53:10-11), those indeed whose iniquities He bears specifically (Romans 8:32), and those who have not "believed the report" (Isaiah 53:1), remain as Christ confirmed in John 8:24, in their sins, these neither conveyed, covered nor atoned, neither paid for nor pardoned!
It is assuredly most sincerely, and in one deeply spiritual sense, passionately offered to all, but equally certainly, it is not gained without its results (Romans 8:32:ff.), which keep for ever the purchased possession (II Timothy 1:9), which was foreknown, predestined and never in doubt, chosen in Christ by the love which knows His own, and seeking all, lamenting for some, takes His 'portion with the great' (Isaiah 53:12). .
It is quite different indeed for those who toy with truth, flirt with salvation, merely sound and resound that He is Lord or that they are purchased; but such anomalies are the mere work of hypocrisy, and to those of this sort who, loud in their proclamations of their fidelity in great works when on earth, protest their own worthiness, He replies in heaven: I never knew you! (Matthew 7:21ff.).
God IS Spirit and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). There is no room for expert manoeuvre, careful real estate deals concerning heaven. If you repent, if you believe, if you are regenerated, if you are not a mere nominal but a phenomenal product of the Lord’s mercy, of the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:3-5), then as His child, you are sealed and guaranteed, and both of these are wrought by His Spirit (Ephesians 1 so tells us)!
He who buys and seals has not lost His ancient power, as in Psalm 51, but is the same, as He swears in Malachi 3:6, notes in Psalm 102, affirms in Hebrews 13:8. His welcome is not less kind, but most manifestly secure and secured by His being delivered up for those to whom He then gives all things (Romans 8:32ff.). One of these is eternal life, God Himself for Christians, our shield and our exceedingly great reward.
How foolish to be left out of what God provides, as if to have the body part, but not the Spirit, to have the opportunity part, but not the taking of it, to have the love, but not the response, to have the glory of integrity in the everlasting God with everlasting life, freely (as in Isaiah 55 on the one hand, and in Ephesians 2 on the other), and yet to fail!
In HIM however is no failure, and in Him who has come, none goes in vain, but His sheep, who are statedly those who ENTER BY HIM (John 10:9), simply never perish (John 10:27-28). NONE can snatch out of his hand, and indeed those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with tis lusts and affections (and for that matter, no doubt, affectations - Galatians 5:24). Having been created, and being a design, albeit a thinking one with potentials of different kinds, it is wonderful to be allowed to be re-created both by and for God, whatever one's race, place, prestige, pains, pangs, hopes, importance or unimportance.
THEN and then alone, does the word of God, as in both Testaments, consummated in the incarnation, paid for on behalf of man at Calvary, so that it is adequate for any, applicable to all, become actually, personally, and eternally APPLIED. Then, and then only, is the foreknown cost accomplishing its foreseen result, and pardon with peace becomes the most modern resultant in the new soul who comes, comes, comes to Him who came! He did it; it is time to receive Him.
Assurance for ever in Him, the Redeemer, from Job to John, from Isaiah to Ephesians, this is the restful result that results in such tireless labours of love, as you see in Paul, an example indeed, and in those who love Him.
See on the background, basis and attitude of the UN, in such terms and beyond them, in
It Bubbles ... Ch. 11, 10,
Light of Dawn Ch. 6
His Time is Near Chs. 1, 3, 10
Things Old and New Epilogue, Ch. 2
The Defining Drama Ch. 10
Overflight in Christ Ch. 6
Regal Rays of Revelation Ch. 1
Calibrating Myths, Machining Dreams and Keeping Faith Ch. 5
Sparkling Life ... Ch. 4
On this entire theme and topic, see A Question of Gifts.
See Let God be God Ch. 2.
See Worn-Out World and Coming King Ch. 2.
See on visions and guidance: A Question of Gifts, in X.
See: A Question of Gifts, Appendix II.
*7 See on this text, Bible Translations 20;
Repent or Perish Ch. 7, pp. 174ff., cf. SMR p. 773-774;
Divine Agenda Ch. 5