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BEWILDERMENT, BEDAZZLEMENT, BEDEVILMENT
OR THE BEAUTY OF
THE INDISPENSABILITY OF HISTORY
This extends into a Chapter,
what was sourced as a Note for Ch. 7,
Suffering Scenario, Meeting Suffering Sensor,
which outgrew its space!
To refer to the various *1A sites in Ch. 7, click here and search *1A.
ON TESTING AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HISTORY,
AN INDISPENSABLE PROBE AND PRODUCTION
What the word of God says in Ephesians 3:10 gives further depth (or height) to the question. Thus in this place, Paul is discussing the fellowship, the unity in one faith, for Jew and Gentile. It consists in this, that each must come to ONE Lord, ONE Messiah, the SAME one and the foretold one. Thus Jew and Gentile Christian are to have a fellowship in the SAME body, even 'the Israel of God' (Galatians 6 - not a substitution for the promises to that nation, but a fulfilment of another part of what was predicted to Abraham - Genesis 12) with the vastly significant Jewish component. This Jew-Gentile fellowship in Christ, says Paul, was not revealed in former scriptures, in the former historical and prophetic scriptures to the extent that it is NOW to be found.
It was assuredly there, but NOT to this extent. The reality is surpassing, amazing, now that its full flower is seen. That is the startling message here.
Of course, there was a very tidy revelation of this fellowshipfact; but it was not in the present scope, not to the present extent. It was introductory, not consummative.
Thus Jeremiah 16 makes it clear that the Gentiles will come to the great God of Israel. In this passage (16:14ff.), God indicates that Israel has many iniquities, and that He will discipline them; but that for all that, in His great, profound mercy He will bring them back to their land (one of the disciples foretold in Leviticus 26 was this, that they would be extruded, removed from it!)/ With this divine mercy on Israel as here depicted, there is a great tenderness (as in Jeremiah 31:18-20). The Lord undertakes to send 'fishermen' - very much in the sense of Christ making of His disciples 'fishers of men - to bring them back, back to their land.
In view of this inveterate kindness on the part of the Lord, always seeking the very best for His people, we are not left with the view that it is only toward Israel that He is thus so kindly disposed. Indeed in Titus 2 and 3 we are told of His great kindness to mankind in sending the Gospel.
Thus, on the contrary, in the midst of this repudiation of any relaxation of the need for righteousness on the part of Israel, so that truly repentant hearts and realistic spirits and a real seeking of the Lord is required (17:17), there is emphasis on a unity and community with the Gentile in the reception of such mercy.
Thus there is this expansion of divine grace, just as in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, which comes to the Gentiles. Let us then see first the tenderness in Jeremiah 31, and then the expansion of this grace to the Gentiles, in terms of the awesome fear, the purity of God, and the seeking and the finding of Him, not only by the disciplined and pardoned Jew, but by the Gentiles.
"I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained bull;
Restore me, and I will return,
For You are
the Lord my God.
"Surely, after my turning, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh;
I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated,
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
"Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a pleasant child?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still;
"Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord."
With this, on the Gentile part, is firstly Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, and then Jeremiah 16, the last as follows.
"O Lord, my strength and my fortress,
My refuge in the day of affliction,
The Gentiles shall come to You
From the ends of the earth and say,
'Surely our fathers have inherited lies,
Worthlessness and unprofitable things.'
"Will a man make gods for himself,
Which are not gods?
Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know,
I will cause them to know
My hand and My might;
And they shall know that My name is the Lord."
Indeed, in Isaiah 11:10, we read this:
"And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious."
The Messiah is that resting place (Isaiah 11:1, 4:6, 32:1-4). Compare with this, Isaiah 63:14, where the rest is supplied for Israel:
"As a beast goes down into the valley,
And the Spirit of the Lord causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people,
To make Yourself a glorious name."
(Bold in the cases above, is added.)
Thus there was indeed some crucial revelation of the coming fellowship between Jew and Gentile, but it was not to the point that each would be inhabited by One Spirit in One body with One Faith, based on the One Messiah, whose One Gospel brought them, each one, by repentance and explosive faith, so that Christ actually lived IN THEM, each one (Colossians 1:27), into the ONE Kingdom.
It was NOT, says Paul, revealed in other ages AS it is now revealed. There was the bud, but here is the bloom.
Now this vast gulf is closed, this abyss is spanned. In fact, says Paul (in Ephesians 3:8), he himself even has an apostolate, and in this he is to preach the Gospel TO THE GENTILES. In other words, he a Jew, is commissioned by the Christ to preach the one Gospel of repentance into faith and salvation by grace alone (Ephesians 2:5-8) to the Gentiles as his SPECIAL FIELD! Indeed, and further, we find in Romans 10 that WHILE he is doing this for the Gentiles, his own people are in a general thrust, Israel the nation, so preoccupied with establishing their own righteousness that that of faith is being forfeited. It is in Romans 11 that we find, as earlier predicted, that the remnant of Israel will itself return, as if a matter of life from the dead, to the Lord in a vast swathe.
Now such an amazing and wonderful irenic, such a consummation, this is a startling revelation of the wonderful, all-embracive wisdom of God (on which Paul speaks in Romans 11:28-35). As such, it is a wonderful testimony. Men can see it and marvel.
It is not here alone however that it has its impact. All are to see this. Indeed (Ephesians 3:10), "the principalities and powers in the heavenly places" are to have this reality made known to them; and this is part of the "eternal purpose" which has been accomplished by God in His servant, His fellow (both terms are used in the Old Testament), that is, by God the Son as in Psalm 45, 2, Isaiah 48:16, Jesus Christ.
How was this accomplished!
Thus there is a test in the first place. Christ by His purity of life and death in vicarious atonement for all who would believe, has ACCOMPLISHED this. HE was tested (cf. Hebrews 5:7, Luke 22:42-46), and the result, in a way like the winning of an Olympic Games medal, was a resurgent power of the sinless beauty of the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26). It happened. It came in event form; but its basis was spiritual. This triumph has to be reported, brought to the very faces and hearts of those in heavenly places, not just saints in heaven, but those powers (some of which rebelled in heaven and were cast out so showing the significance of this area of testimony - Rev. 12), those principalities which form part of the spiritual kingdom, or had inhabited it, or to those sites where they had been. The Church would be used to do this, the historical, tested, triumphant, suffering church (Ephesians 3:10ff.).
THEY, those in the Church, are tested by this revelation; the sorts of principles and probes or other challenges or hopes that had been there, these are met. Reality, truth, fact, empirical fact, attainment, all these things, always prominent in the Christian faith, these are to be brought home to heart and mind even in the heavenly places, even to those powers within those places, authorities such as noted in Ephesians 6. This is reminiscent of the entire book of Job, where the test of Job is for testimony not only to Satan, but to all who doubt. It had to be WROUGHT out in Job (and he needed some discipline, but for all that, came clearly to the front in Job 19, concerning his need of the Redeemer, and his passionate resting in and waiting for HIM, as the basis of his faith). It was then a testimony for all time, and Satan's initial challenge was not only met, but shown up in its spiritual shabbiness and silliness (Job 1:7-10, 2:3-6).
Test and testimony are intimately linked.
God is the God of history: HE invented it, with time's creation. It speaks. He has given it voice (cf. Isaiah 44:24-45:7). There could be little more ignorant, more stultified therefore than the work in the field of education, in the South Australian Government, which for 20 years has abused the faith of the Bible believing Christians, of the Bible itself, by pretending that spiritual things, those of religion are not testable and verifiable, as if they were a thing apart. In fact, the opposite is true, to their indolent pretensions (cf. Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ). DEMONSTRABLY, the Bible's empirical statements are always verified, never falsified, not even over some 3500 years, and those of contemporary science have often to be drastically altered, even seen as ludicrous, a few decades after they are made (cf.Scientific Method, Satanic Method and the Model of Salvaation).
The error of the Government over these 20 inglorious years has been exposed, and challenged repeatedly by this author with others. Challenge has been made, but never met.
This has been a test of South Australian government, and in this both major parties have failed, each having been intimately and deeply challenged (cf. Government ), and neither having given any rational answer, or submitted to the request for a public debate on the issues, merely sidestepping and replying with irrelevancies. Small wonder they sidestep debate, for their case is hollow as a pipe (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!). So do they provoke the Lord, the Creator of land, sea, rain and atmosphere with their ostentation about man and his mini-works, and maxi-imaginations (cf. Jeremiah 2:27).
This is but one example; but when people are blessed and privileged as is Australia, then the trend all too apparent towards a metaphysically foppish naturalism which is invading the land is perilous in the extreme. It comes indeed to the point that the devil's disciples rejoice and the disciples of truth in Christ Jesus, according to His word, lament for the abuse of the minds of children which these dictatorial approaches produce, where the scientifically far superior testimony of creation is snidely hidden (but as the Lord says, the iniquity is NOT hidden - Jeremiah 16), and not allowed rational presentation in the schools. To be sure, not all realise what they are doing; some are confused: but for all that, those who ARE the devil's disciples rejoice as the matrix of a splendid religious testimony provided through many, in times past, is invaded like a tooth by bacteria. The 'pain' is manifesting itself socially, financially, in terms of water, of racial abuse - coming into the reciprocities that such miseducation breeds all too well.
Universities are often little better. History alas is not for fun. It involves test. Shameless provocations are not responded to in sudden haste; but the wisdom of God is not blind, and those who taunt are neither given the reproach of intemperant wrath, nor the immunity they imagine. The time comes, as the Amorites found out (cf. the 400 years grace shown to Abraham, before Israel's invasion of Canaan in Genesis 15:12-16). Now, however, the nearer approach of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is abundantly testified EMPIRICALLY (Matthew 24, Luke 21 cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8).
Playing with fire is attractive to children, but mere folly for the mature!
TEST is written large in history, and in principle repeatedly emphasised in the Bible. For some salient statement from that spiritual authority, consider the following.
First we may note Genesis 15, 22 (where Abraham himself is strenuously tested, and not found wanting), and Psalm 105:14-20 (the staggeringly thorough testing of Joseph 'UNTIL' the test was over, "the word of the Lord tried him").
Next look at Daniel and the three friends of this extraordinary and delightful saint of the Lord. First they are tested as to eating the gross and intoxicating nurtures of the royal house, and decline to follow this, despite real peril in doing so, as captive cadets; and they flourished instead. Again, the erection of the statue of gold, to be a rich exhibit of the godlike powers of the Babylonian governmental matrix, the imperial goddishness, was though funny in a way, deadly serious in this, that it was required of them that they worship it.
The music, it would soar into the air, as an imperial gesture, and all had to bow to the statue. It is something often repeated in other forms, even in our own century.
The case is
like that which the universities
often play in the field of organic evolution
like that of the Nazis with
their 'Heil Hitler!' nonsense.
like that of the Communists with
their unremarkable Marxism confusion, making a 'chance' universe to be
governed by laws of inexorable historical application,
like that of the Romanists (cf.
Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 14),
ALL are tested. In my own case, I WAS TESTED. Would I cling to the post, still on offer if I excised the testimony which as Lecturer I had brought as the best available in teaching scientific method, or would I insist on truth in due proportion and balance, so that students be educated, and made both aware and alert! I did not even consider the option. The Staff representative with me in the interview with the Head of the Department, or similar body, could not understand why I did not take the 'out' and stay in! There is more than money can buy in the spiritual realm, and life without truth is not life at all, but an empty mockery, a husk when the grain is gone. They can have their husk; I want the grain, the goodness of God and not the consent of man. My tongue is His and not for hire.
The tertiary body concerned was tested; and it failed.
In great wars, each contestant is tested: first, WAS IT NECESSARY ? was there an irenic alternative ? Was it pride or pomp or greatness of self-conception or vying or test of strength which led to the death in agony of multiplied thousands, the incarceration of millions of people, each one of whom has soul, providing mass means of torture when war is declared and pursued!
Some wars of defence are necessary in all purity; but what proportion are these ?
Alas both World War II and the Cold War were matters, first of racial pride and then of ideological pride, both being empty and irrational concepts as it happened; for there was not even a test of 'race' at that, MANY races adding but confusion to any concept of test in the matter. But WHO in any case created man, whose diversities often result from centuries of folly, deceit, abuse of mind and body, and of waywardness before God. As to the Communists, there grand design to enslave the world, in fact to a tirade as pompous as ridiculous (cf. refs. above and index), was wrongly if indirectly assisted by the Allies, in their endeavours to overcome Hitler, so that the test which led to their downfall in the day of Gorbachev, also found much wanting in the West as well, for which indeed the Cold War was an instalment for payment!
Vainglorious war is not infrequently found - and one case in the Bible is that of Amaziah (II Chronicles 25:17ff. (cf. ) while a fondness for the statistics of war misled even the great King David (cf. I Chronicles 21). Both were tested*1 in this, and though one made a vast error, the other a lesser one, spiritually each was found wanting at this point. It is NOT on man’s power that the man of God relies. It is not on one’s own power, even to the point of savouring it. It is God’s power alone which counts. Thine is the power and the glory! (I Chronicles 29:10-15). Thus did a wiser David speak, and it is so to the point at issue, that it is presented below.
“Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said,
‘Blessed beThou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever
Thine, O LORD, is the greatness,
and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:
for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine.
Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.
Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all;
and in thine hand is power and might;
and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
“Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious
But who am I, and what is my people,
that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort?
for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.
For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners,
as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow,
and there is none abiding.”
There is the beauty of holiness.
But alas this race is rarely in such a mind in any given nation.
Wars test the nations who make them, both as to their grounds, and the sufferings which result, both as to their ceasing such modes, often little better than infantile and their parades of 'traditional' power. Currently a test for example for Russia whether, having been delivered as so many have been in part, by help from various sources in its bankruptcy in the nineties, it is now ready to rampage and practice provocation, as in sending the Bear bombers to the coasts of Britain, and as in the heartless invasion of Georgia, a few thousand killed a mere nothing, but a matter of 'teaching them a lesson'. This peremptory action, seizing the reins, is provided instead of engaging in determined diplomacy over a period in which not pride and panache, but quietness and firmness are displayed.
Is however the passage of an oil pipeline irrelevant to the war, one through Georgia, bringing energy to the West. This in some parts of Europe, is too heavily dependent on the aggressive Russia, for this commodity, and while it builds new atomic generators to the North, it is dangerously so.
Reversion to Cold War contest is mere infamy, a despising of the human race for the sake of national power, ideological grandeur or whatever other feature is back of the thrust to make Russia 'great'. Is this the ground God gave for living, being great ? or is greatness to be found in rash acts, international expansions and the subduing of nations to some aggressive ideology! Did not Putin as recorded and reported at least, state that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was the downfall of the USSR! that great mogul of persecution, heartlessness and murder! One writer in The Australian coldly put it this way: Let us hope that the attempt to resuscitate this 'dead' empire, the Soviet Union, is not the greatest tragedy of the 21st. century (August 14, 2008).
To be sure there will be far greater tests and far greater tragedies than this in this current period, testing all, in the foothills leading to the Lord coming as a great stone to smite the earth (as in Daniel 2, Matthew 21:44, Isaiah 59), in judgment. The ultimate test will be as in Revelation 13,17, associated with the one world government, which like a neo-Babylon, will seek adulation, yes worship of its grandeur and glory. This desire for glory, national, international, human, is but one of the satanic grounds back of conflict, whether you look at the component of the inveterately and blindly selfish, self-adulation, or the peevish human thrust of its derivative status towards the heavens (cf. Moon Soon Ch. 20, II Thess. 1-2).
The substitution of this for the worship of God, to whom alone is glory, was one of the initial as it will be one of the final follies of this race, before the judgment.
ALL are tested and will be. History is not least a vast test; and the concept that God might have omitted it, and just created only the ones who would be wise ignores the point. History is used to shape, to form, to inform, to expose, to grind down folly, to show up patience, to grind in meekness, to refresh with spiritual nurture, to develop wit, to inhibit folly, to expose grandeurs of spiritual paranoia and to exhibit for all time the weakness of flesh, of man parading himself as autonomous in aweful wickedness.
Yes, to revert to Paul's words in Ephesians 3, the Church is used to make known to heavenly principalities and powers (amongst other things) the great fellowship in the Gospel of peace and of wisdom (cf. Isaiah 52-53), with the thrust of overcoming in this, that Jew and Gentile can now abide in ONE BODY. This is an EXAMPLE of the works of GOD in history. You see it further in Romans 8:17ff., where the infliction of suffering, of vanity upon this race through its sin, is seen as partly rebuke, but partly status for test as man finds IN HISTORY the power of God to let NOTHING separate from His love, EVEN IN such a test!
There is MUCH to be attested in the contests of history, and the basis is spiritual. To pass each test is not for some pride, as in a great Olympian, but for truth. In love it is necessary to SEEK the Lord SO THAT that infusion of confusion, whether through double-mindedness or self-indulgence, is avoided, and the profusion of grace is found In this way, the test is like that of walking. Walking in the Spirit, one then passes through the minefields of history, and glorifies the God of creation. Just as He is able to keep His people from falling (Jude), so He is ready to raise up those who fall, as He did David (Psalm 51), even in history, that giant wake!
*1 Other impactive cases of high test may be cited such as the following.
Psalm 11, which states that the Lord looks, sees and tries the children of men.
I Peter 1, where we learn that our faith, much more precious than gold or silver, is tried indeed by the fire.
I Peter 4 asks us not to be surprised at the fiery trials which beset us as they are also being accomplished in our brethren.
In Isaiah 32:31, we read this of Hezekiah:
"However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon,
whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land,
God withdrew from him, in order to test him,
that he might know all that was in his heart."
Keil points out that this is not an abandonment of Hezekiah, but rather a preliminary to test. There was the possibility that the miraculous victory over the Assyrians and the no less miraculous healing might have led him without perhaps realising it, to begin to think of 'my sweet life' or 'my accomplishments' and SO show the riches to the ambassadors from pagan Babylon, a huge mistake, savouring of false ecumenism which, though in his case not wantonly pursued as by many, yet was perhaps beginning to make an impact in his very greatness.
Poole points out that one possibility is that the Lord wanted HEZEKIAH to know all that was in his heart (in line with David's prayer, we might add, "Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; try me and see if there be any wicked way in me", as in Psalm 139).
As for David, so for Hezekiah, the rest of the verse here is this: "and lead me in the way everlasting." The image is a sort of exposure, under test.
Hezekiah alas fell at this point, and showing the temple treasures to pagan people was like those who worship in fellowship with those who are not believers (as forbidden in II Cor. 6:14ff.), partaking with them, or those who deviate (as forbidden in Romans 17:17ff.). The fall of Hezekiah in this matter, while not as persistent by any means as making a practice of that, yet was an horrendous laxity very soundly rebuked. Sacred things were in a sense 'shared' as in an Alpha course, with unbelievers: not as a Gospel impact, but in the communications of fellowship.
Again in I Cor. 10:13 we learn that there is NO TEST which is more than the given Christian can bear, but that with it, He "also will make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." The escape is not from the trial, the test, but from whatever might have been in it, which would make it more than could be borne in the particular case. Back of the graduation, there is the insistence that there BE these trials.