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HISTORY THAT HIDES A PARABLE
A PARABLE THAT REVEALS WISDOM
In the last Chapter, we proceeded to ponder the times of national and religious recession and futility in the day of Jeremiah, watching carefully the day of Jehoiakim and his boldness, cutting the word of God and then casting it into the fire. This proved a prelude to something similar happening to his own soul, except that on this earth, it took the form of his being captured and bound for transfer to Babylon, a shock to survival itself; and Jeremiah foretold he would be left to die exposed to the elements, the death of a donkey. If possible, worse was to follow for his brother, another son of the wisely honoured reformer, Josiah, namely King Zedekiah. If King Jehoiakim was blatant, then Zedekiah was latent; and if the one was kicking like an ass, the other was tricky like a fox, although a frightened one. It seems the results were not different in the end; but on the way there is much to learn.
In this series, the procedure of notes is followed, interspersed with exposition.
IV The New KING VACILLATES, DOOM ENSUES 37-38
a) Another son of Josiah, now called Zedekiah, reigns.
b) He asks Jeremiah to pray for him, but does not change his ways - 37:1-6
c) Egypt's departure from a belligerent posture is not deliverance, but merely a prelude to the destruction, which is to come from another source: Babylon 37:7-10. Therefore, do not construe mercy as toleration, far less encouragement to continue error. Be thankful and stop provocation.
d) God declares the super-circumstantial certainty of coming judgment: if circumstances began to distance, it would come in any case. In fact, this would be in a way so vivid that it deserves close study for its impact! Why wait till such a time: act in good time, when challenged! If the invading army, each one of them, lay wounded, they would still arise and come to take the corrupted kingdom of Israel as it then was -37:10.
e) Jeremiah, falsely accused, is seized, struck by the princes and imprisoned, increasingly appearing as a type of Christ – 37:13-16. It happened thus: Jeremiah had a gap in time, when Egypt went before Babylon came to continue its assault. He used it to go to claim nearby land in Benjamin. Misconstrued, this action led, with the aggrieved background of the army towards him, to his arrest, assault and imprisonment. In parallel with Christ are several points at the human level.
First, Jeremiah went out to claim property. Christ came into this world, to claim HIS property ("He came to His own and His own did not receive Him, but to those who did receive Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God" - John 1:11-13). Those receiving Him now doubly His, born not of will nor blood but of God.
Secondly, in so doing Christ was also smitten, imprisoned, falsely accused, and subjected to vileness.
Thirdly, Jeremiah's purchased property would remain intact through the occupation (Jeremiah 32:7-15), just as Christ's 'property', His children, would be intact through history till He comes!
Indeed, a New Covenant was coming (32:40ff., cf. 31:31ff.), and it has come.
f) After a prison term, he is summoned by the King, to whose enquiry - 'Is there any word from the Lord,' he replies: There is: to the King of Babylon's hand, you will be delivered. Then he expostulates concerning his wrongful imprisonment – 37:17-18. Here is fearless fidelity, later linked with continuing concern even for the King! (38-30!).
g) The King, ameliorating his treatment a little, puts him now in the prison court – 37:17-21.
h) The prophet now urges on those who hear, the doom which to come to those who stay in the besieged city – Jeremiah 38:1-3.
i) The princes seek therefore, that he be put to death -38:4.
j) The King wilts, like a Pilate later, and Jeremiah is lowered into a miry pit.
k) Ebed-Melech rescues him, by appealing to the King (he not even being a Jew, but an Ethiopian, here gives a lesson in being kind to those of another race).
l) The King seeks now a frank interview with Jeremiah - 38:14. He wants to question the prophet.
m) Jeremiah's answer is parallel, though inverse, to something Christ said, seen in Luke 22:67-68 - 38:17-18.
The prophet of the Lord declared that
answered the King, declaring the only godly answer - that he must surrender to
Babylon and accept the Lord’s discipline: would he not kill him! and
2) if he gave him advice, the King would not listen to Him.
Jesus Christ, when asked of His identity by the hostile, multipartite group in authority, the aristocrats of ecclesiastical bureaucracy, answered:
1) “If I tell you, you will by no means believe.”
2) “And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go.”
Then like a flower bursting in Spring, with exuberant force, He declared: “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” Fearless, He confronted.
The two are close, Christ paralleling rather closely the word of Jeremiah, and applying it majestically.
In point 2: If Jeremiah gave advice, which the King could not stand, since it would involve surrender: then he would not listen. In parallel, if Jesus the Christ engaged in dialogue, seeking to elicit from them, what would bring to them deliverance and salvation, they would be as if dumb, and not let Him go. They would not heed, not hear, being spiritually deaf.
Again, in point 1: If Jeremiah gave the necessary answer, which the King could not STAND, because of what it was, the entire coverage of sin, the King would kill him. In parallel, if Christ told them who He was, identifying Himself, the entire coverage of salvation, they would not receive it, this being a crucial hostility in their hearts. They would not BELIEVE in HIM. HENCE, declaring His words to be blasphemy (as they did), they would kill Him (as they did). In other words, the implication is this: that just as King Zedekiah viewed it as a national surrender to give up the city, so the priests and authorities just could not give up their lives, surrendering the city of sin, its corporate follies, together with their own hearts. To them, believing in Christ, the liberator, was intolerable: so instead they mocked Him instead as a hostile force, imperiling their nation.
Let us expand this a little.
The two are close, Christ paralleling rather closely the word of Jeremiah, and applying it majestically, as the divine Logos, come to provide salvation to a sinning race.
In point 1 for the prophet: If Jeremiah gave advice, which the King could not stand; for it involved surrender, and he would not believe him. Why ? It was because in his majesty, he COULD bring himself to to face neither the reality of his sins and their fruit, nor the nation with the results of folly (as when, oblivious of divine guidance, he had rebelled against the King of Babylon, choosing HIS time for deliverance, not the Lord's for release from their discipline). He was set in pride and stricken with fear at the same time, it seems.
To rid himself in ruthless and drastic style, cornered and corrupt, from the realities of life, Zedekiah would seek to obliterate the prophet, as Jehoiakim had sought to obliterate the word of God. Two different approaches of two different kings would thus have a parallel result, by different roads leading to the same end.
In point I, for the Lord, set out above in parallel for the response of Jesus Christ in His day on this earth, we find the Lord simply this: If I tell you, you will not believe. In fact, he went further: You will BY NO MEANS BELIEVE. In other words, their hearts were set, as was Zedekiah in his day, and nothing would move them from their passion in pollution, their career in corruption. Disbelieving, they would brand Him an imposter, not the Messiah, and hence hand out, most conveniently, the death penalty as for example in terms of Deuteronomy 13:3-5. The speed of this action is seen all too clearly in Mark 14:62-65. Let us read this.
"But He kept silent and answered nothing.
"Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him,
'Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?'
'I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand
of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."
"Then the high priest tore his clothes and said,
'What further need do we have of witnesses?
You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?'
"And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.
Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, 'Prophesy!'
And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands."
It was like a Hitleresque blitzkreig, prepared, implemented and bringing ruin with relish.
They had sown all too well (cf. Matthew 27:25). Thereafter the only escape for the people (for Jeremiah was delivered by Babylon, though choosing not to escape, just as Christ was delivered by bodily resurrection, the power that raised others raising Him) was to repent individually. In parallel, the only effectual one for the nation now in our day reaching its dénouement, is repentance that is soon to come in a large measure as explained in an earlier Chapter (Zechariah 12:10ff., Romans 11:25ff.). Nor is this so amazing; for even among the Gentile nations, without repentance for sin, there is no salvation! It is thus to become with increasing obviousness, a universal dénouement!
The authorities faced the wonders of the spiritual world with the deviousness of this one.
The stakes were high: God or NOT GOD. Not God was a name for idols, sources of false worship as in Deuteronomy 32:21. If then Christ be God, they owed Him worship, and would be required to abandon their additives, rather like those now of Roman Catholicism in the Christian realm, to leave their traditions, their corruption and their conveniences. The word of God ALONE would be in charge, and God alone would be the doctrinal authority and lively source of life.
If they did not want this, then He had to be made out to be not God, the very essence of contempt (and so the officers at once set about striking Him and spitting on Him). Hence He would be construed as a deadly sinner in need of immediate execution for His injudicious rambling. The trouble was of course, that His miracles which were not only prodigious in quality and quantity, but seemed unlimited in their majesty and compassion combined, and the entire fit of His life with that required for and indeed specified for the Messiah in Isaiah, Micah and the Psalms, as in Zechariah, down to detail, made such a rejection clearly wanton. Did that ever stop the impassioned! It did not do so this time.
Thus if Christ told them, they would not believe and HENCE would kill Him, as they did. The same is the essence with each, with Christ and with Jeremiah in the pith of the answer to point 1. Its differences lies in the ontological difference: Jeremiah was a man, Christ was as He is, God as man.
In point 2, the interpretation takes more thought for Jeremiah. However in substance, it is this: Suppose Jeremiah simply gave the King advice, personal advice such as he had sought. It would of course have to conform to the facts, and it would be that he cease the resistance and surrender. The King would not even listen to that, being fearful of his name, reputation and of mockery, or even worse. Hence he would not of course let this prophet go free, lest become like a dangerous negative propaganda machine in the interpretation of the beleaguered city. He, the King, for such an act, might be lynched! He was scared that he would be abused in some way. That is all involved in not listening! and this because of Jeremiah's peculiar status as a national prophet.
With Christ, the answer in its second point, if He asked them what was their response to HIM (not just as with Jeremiah, to a plan), they would not concur or confirm what He presented, and would not let Him go. After all, did not the High Priest Caiaphas declare that it was EXPEDIENT that one Man should die for the people! (John 11:50)!
Was this not in view of the fact that so great was the mustering of the multitude to adore, worship, love, delight in this prophet to end all Old Testament prophets, this Christ, this Messiah, this truth, this power of God, this man of peace, this extraordinary and delightful personality, this man who declared He always did what pleased His Father (John 8:29), that He and His Father were one: that if they did not act to strike Him down, it would be a terrible fate for them. What would this fate be ?
Why, in that case, they thought, "all will believe in Him", and what then ? Having the power of God and His peace, what is that compared with fears about what flesh would do! But passion tends to fashion itself, and to follow its own diatribes. And what then was the result ? Fearful things were done BY the flesh, by Rome and Russia, by Italy and Romanism, by pogroms and concentration camps. So far from murder delivering the nation, it bred masses of murders for it.
Still, that thought of Caiaphas, it is the human estimate so often found. Yet Christ knew what was in the heart of man, we read, and both His words to the priests and Jeremiah's to the King were strikingly perceptive and accurate.
n) God through Jeremiah nevertheless, in His transcendent and abundant mercy, makes an offer of deliverance for King and city, if he surrenders. In this offer to the King, there is seen the endless love of God, even when judgment is sure: for His heart has not changed, and He does not willingly afflict any (Lamentations 3:33). So even to the thief on the Cross, Christ gave pardon.
o) Zedekiah is vacillatory: he states fear of abuse, if he surrenders – perhaps mockery and torture. If delivered to the power of Babylon, and transferred to his people, those who had already left the city, he anticipates calamity. Despite reassurance to the contrary, he capitulates not to Babylon but to fear, only to be tortured by the King of Babylon when, as stated, the city IS taken. So does fear make fools out of those falling to cowardice - 38:17-23. Further, Jeremiah foretold that the King's household would also suffer, unless he surrendered. This he failed to do, despite the warning. Message, you hurt not only yourself when you become sea-sick with sin, and insist on its continuance, however ambivalently!
p) The King in shame seeks secrecy - 38:24ff.. So does what IS of the light come into it, not hiding in conventional lairs where discrepancy lurks. Light does not hide! It needs neither lairs not liars, true, manifesting truth and of God. Christ, light of this world, shone!
q) Jeremiah remains till liberated by Babylon, staying loyal to his people, even after he was set free; but the Zedekiah’s sons are slain before his eyes, which the King of Babylon then puts out. Seeing what he did not want to see - having hidden from the truth - he is now blinded so that he cannot see, if he would. It is no good playing games with God: truth in heart and spirit is crucial.
n) Zedekiah having given Jeremiah an assurance he would not have him put to death, the prophet gives to the King the assurance that IF he surrendered to the Babylonians, so taking the appointed divine judgment with mercy, for a season (in fact it would be 70 years of exile as in Jeremiah 25), then his life and that of the city would be spared. If not, great and on many would be the ruin to come: fire would take Jerusalem. Please! pled the prophet, whose tears had been so profound for the fate imperilling so many, please do as I say!
o) In this offer to the King, there is seen the endless love of God, even when judgment is sure: for His heart has not changed, and He does not willingly afflict any (Lamentations 3:33). If there WERE any repentance then there WOULD be no judgment so implacable, just necessary discipline.
o) Zedekiah is vacillatory: states fear of abuse as his ground for not taking the divine offer of grace and of mercy. His fear was that this would come if he capitulated, and the invading Babylonians delivered him up to those who had already left the city. Abuse ? Perhaps there was fear of mockery and torture if having capitulated, he should be delivered by Babylon to his people. Despite reassurance from Jeremiah, he capitulates not to Babylon but to fear, only to be tortured by the King of Babylon when, as stated, the city IS taken. So does fear make fools out of those falling to cowardice - 38:17-23. Further, Jeremiah indicated that the King's household would also suffer, unless he surrendered. He did not take this, letting the fear of man and not that of God, rule his will.
Message, you hurt not only yourself when you become sea-sick with sin, and insist on its continuance, however ambivalently.
p) The King in shame seeks secrecy - 38:24ff.. So, by contrast, does what IS of the light come into it, not hiding in conventional lairs where discrepancy lurks.
q) Jeremiah remains till liberated by Babylon, staying loyal to his people; but the Zedekiah’s sons are slain before his eyes, which the King of Babylon then puts out. Seeing what he did not want to see - having hidden from the truth - he is now blinded so that he cannot see, if he would. It is no good playing games with God: truth in heart and spirit is crucial.
V THE HIDDEN
PARABLE THAT SPEAKS OPENLY
and the IMPACT OF SUCH A THING NOW
There were once two kings, sons of the same good king, who fixed a mire and glorified God. One son was a man of action, cutting some of the word of God, and burning more (like a Liberal, in Christian history). He sought to lay hands on the one giving out the word of God, as often enough, did later Liberals those who kept it. The other king was equivocal, dancing about the word of God (like neo-orthodoxy and those whom it seizes), both imprisoning and pleading with the prophet called to write it, just as neo-orthodoxy imprisoned the minds and pled with the hearts of those who might have kept to the word of God, often illustrating Luke 11:52.
The former king was put in chains for exile, the second (actually the third, but his predecessor came to nothing and was in prison for 37 years in a foreign country) had his sons killed before his eyes, before the invading conqueror, who put out those eyes. The former died for his evil in presumptuous action; but the latter was literally blinded through inaction.
This is a parable for history and its principle is clear. Neither of these 2 kings obeyed the word of God. There are many ways of disobeying: but only one way exists, to obey. One of them was precipitate, one was vacillatory: but deliverance is not through man, this mode or that, but through God only, not in wise manoeuvring, but in grace and humility, in the love of the Lord and zeal for His glory who IS glorious. Their father held to that way, a brilliant reformer (by name, Josiah), whom God took before the evils of his nation could bring grief to his exuberant, disciplined and fatherly heart (as in Isaiah 57:1-2, II Kings 22:16-20).
The Father of spirits loved the father of the 2 kings, who fathered his nation, and gladly gave his life in its defence (II Kings 22:18-20, 23:28-30). The last of the sons saw no more, but was bound for Babylon, the type to the end of the Bible in Revelation 17, of all who toy with truth, and see nothing.
What then, of that father of the two Kings, the zealous, the spiritual, the spirited, the royal non-renegade, he who sought at every turn to fulfil the word of God as he removed the instruments, the cultural features of evil in his land, not only in things moral, but symbolic, and to restore the people to the Lord in whom ALONE is safety ? What of him ?
He was removed before very old from the desecratory residue, the polluted matrix which still boomed in the country, if in his reforming day, more in secret. The land despite its time of reformation, became something that lapsed, like Ireland, now in the power of such pollution from the misuse of children by Roman hierarchy, that even a secular article is asking the question: Will Romanism have moral standing left in that land!
Nor is it in Ireland alone that the declivity after Reformation is occurring, nor in the South alone. In England also (as seen in Wake Up World! Your Creator is Coming Ch. 3). Indeed, few are the lands that do not play with the insidious, the invidious, the mass of methods extraordinary and some ornery, engaging in sexual promiscuity, as in unnatural sex, while promoting the rule of hideous strength or the submission to hideous morals, or often, both. As the Gentile word is coming to its just conclusion, from many befouling tributaries, a thing which alas is justice, and as it shrinks from the mercy of God as did those two Kings in ancient Israel of which we have given some outline, the brashly bold and the insidiously spiritual sedated: so the parallel might be extended.
In what way ?
In this: as the evil degradations soar, so there is a REMNANT which remains stable (cf. Isaiah 33:6). And these ? They are those who still believe, those to whom the call is to come:
"COME UP HERE!"
as we see in Revelation 11 (see Alpha,
Acme and Omega: Jesus Christ, Ch. 5).
Indeed, there is another and apposite but still apposite call found in Revelation 18, concerning the religion of Rome in the last days, as the return of Christ (Revelation 19) draws near: it is
"COME OUT OF HER!"
But that is the ultimate face of Rome!*1
The very MYSTERY OF BABYLON (as in Revelation 17, and as symbolised in Zechariah 6) involves not only the face of the finale of the affair, Romanism itself, the death mask of the entire corruption of truth into mixed baskets, but all those of any kind, shape, size or pattern, who having dabbled in religion, becoming aware of truth enough to define apostasy, bring in the terrible fruits of endless, almost hypnotic syncretism. These join this and that, one God with many faces, all terribly different, pretended to mean something as truth is disregarded and lies fallen in the street.*2
Indeed, this is precisely the depiction in Isaiah 59 which at the end of the prophetic analysis of this last time to come, speaks of the surging into the scene of the Messiah. It is He who very much as in Revelation 19, will
"put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head".
On Him with be placed "the garments of vengeance for clothing": and He is covered "with zeal as a cloak." What then ? This:
"According to their deeds, He will repay, recompense to His enemies,
the coastlands He will fully repay."
Power ? It will be amply sufficient; for
"when the enemy comes in like a flood,
Whatever interims occur, this is to come; and whatever is to follow, yet this is to arrive in its day, close to the temporal end, the finality of this Age. The times of the Gentiles, that second innings after Israel had the first one, it is already clearly announced as fulfilled, as we have seen earlier in this volume, in the restoration of Jerusalem to Israel (Luke 21:24). This, ah! it was after so long a time, once in the end! It is not mistakable, it does not happen more often than approximately once in two millenia, or if you wish, 1900 years.
The TIME IS UP! for the Gentile world. Its persecution of Israel and its day of judgment alike are coming apace to provide for many, their come-uppance.
But Israel! It can ONLY be a part of the Christian Church, the body of Christ: for NO body will be exalted in the day of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 2, which says so). It will be one of several in its place (as in Isaiah 19). Yet its MISSION is not lost, and its PLACE is history is not overlooked; its early commission is not abrogated, merely its earlier form. It comes to that same Jesus whom it crucified, and to whom its prophets gave such abundant testimony in righteousness and truth. There is no other way (Isaiah 49-55), and in Him only is the everlasting mercy, which like the mountains, yea and beyond them, will never be moved. But what is to be found in Isaiah 42:6: "I will not give My glory to another!"
And where are the others ? (Isaiah 41:26ff.). There ARE no others, but He who AS GOD is yet sent (Isaiah 48:16), and whose is the throne of God (Psalm 45), who IS the Lord (Zechariah 12:10), to whom every knee will bow (as in Isaiah 45:23). It is HE who pays (Isaiah 53:5 -11) AS Redeemer, sent to do so; and apart from the Lord there is NO SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:10-11).
People may want one unit God, some abstraction of mathematics; but the God who is there, alive, able and willing did not find first fellowship in man, but has always had it in Himself. He did not invent what He lacked, but not lacking, invented for man what He already had, and so man was made in His image. Even in man, one can commune within oneself, but with God, there is a distinguishable PERSON, and SPIRIT, and these three, as ONE in nature, in heart, in mind, yet move in a trinity which is far from trilogy, for these are inseparable but not confused, neither mere phases, but all at once and altogether, eternal in nature and nurture, in fellowship and unity that surpasses synthesis or amalgamation, being primary like life itself, built by Him.
Thus was He able to send His Son, His word, to die to deliver, while yet in heaven, and that Son in the very bosom of the Father; and thus could He become man, and yet remain in everlasting sovereign control, send forth His Spirit and yet remain in heaven. Thus it behoves man to learn of magnificence, and not to have one more fit of his basement pre-occupation, that of reductionism, this time applied even to God, so making one more idol.
THIS CHRIST, He IS God and foolish is he or she who would worship any less than that! for ONLY HIM will you worship; and yet, do not reject Him because He is glorious, and insist on worshipping your mathematical postulation, built on ignorance, untested, untrue, unfounded, a work of fashioning the fabulous in yet one more fable, as is the work of many, including the Moslem religion, and many another Christian sect.
Israel is no different in this, that it is to HIM, that they must come. It is useless to strangle the love of God, whatever may be the mistaken intention: He loves just the same. It is fain to crucify the Son, He is resurrected just the same. It is valueless to omit the deity of the Saviour, for nothing less than deity is required to cover the entire ignominy of sin, and reverse judgment for ever, but the being who IS for ever, and in one masterful stroke, in one day and in one way, removed the iniquity of those who having sought Him, find Him ... soon or at last! (cf. Zechariah 3:9, Hebrews 9-10).
To Him, at last it comes; but SO MUST those of any and every nation. It betrayed Christ; but so have many of the nations, not excluding the one which became Communist for more than 70 hideously inglorious, utterly inhuman years (cf. SMR pp. 971-972*3).
The word of God will have its effect in every jot and tittle, and in everything, said Jesus Christ, who has given HIS name to Christianity: to this degree of accuracy and completeness, it will be fulfilled. Israel is back on appointment, its wars are fulfilled on divine power, plugged in, according to promise. Its evil errors of unbelief when facing the very criterion of its own God, the prophet who was to come (Deuteronomy 18) is explicitly not the national infale, for they are to come, in great measure, back to Him, and this not merely in dribbles, but in a strong national turning, a thing of characterisable significance for the people (Romans 11:25ff., Zechariah 12:10ff.).
Their failure has fashioned their dramas; but it is the divine triumph which gives option and opportunity, and in the end, substance to their deliverance, not in nationalistic pride, not in State glory, but in the return of the wandering to the Wonder of the Lord, who has not changed at all, in compassion and pity, for all their wanderings. It is He who receives them back on the same terms as for any other (Acts 2:38ff.), yet with particular results such as the use of Jerusalem as a site for government (Micah 4) after humbling the nations who, like Israel, have for so long left what is so necessary, not pride but repentance and not fiascos but faith, and that not in some rendition of man, but in God as Redeemer, long since sent, now beheld as King, the Messiah vindicated, just as many continued to hope, but in vain, that the post was vacated.
How long is this reign ?, as long as He sees fit, till the earth know and see before it, what it has missed. Then it is over for this realm, and more glorious ones are to hand. (Revelation 20-22, II Peter 3). The criterion is, remains and will ever be Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, His everlasting expression, Redeemer (Revelation 5, 21-22, Ephesians 1:10, Hebrews 13:8).
But let us revert to Israel as the time of the Messiah draws near - not this time the suffering but the sovereignty. The point (Ezekiel 36:22), it is not to vindicate Israel, which for all its good points has long been absent from the table of the Lord, but in divine faithfulness to the Regal Promise of His Righteousness, to fulfil His word. He exalts this above all His name (Psalm 138). Indeed, we read that He has "pity on His name" and DOES what He definably said, He would (cf. SMR Appendix A).. Hence they have come back to their land ALREADY, and SO will the rest occur, all in its good time, as seem wise to the good counsel of the Lord. It is He who works all things after the counsel of His own will. It is as useless to seek to short-circuit anything He plans to do, as to fail to see what He means.
The time is coming for dénouement, when, in the very midst of Gentile disestablishment and horror, which mounts constantly, with new follies of philosophic frenzy inhabiting various nations, such as Iran and North Korea, to bring on
the Muslim bomb (?) which many have long feared, or
the Communist one without restraint, or even
worse as result accrue and high risk actions are taken in fear or terror of both, or even in braggadocio.
There is worse, and Revelation 6ff. gives some of the scope which spiritual transformationism can and will bring. Man is man and not god, to worship God and not invent his own.
But what of Israel in these giant movements, little Israel ? The very many who as in Romans 11:25 and Zechariah 12:10-13:1 are to come, making this, their sudden appearance and conversion a characterisable change in the very nation, they have their day. Great will be the joy in heaven as these myriads of souls are brought home, and the rejoicing amid the angels as not one, but a multitude on earth in Israel, are suddenly saved.
Redeemed at last, they do business with the ONLY Saviour and ONLY Redeemer, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:11-12) who AS the word of God, working in the triune deity, is the ONLY Creator. It is He who has declared Himself both in scripture, in writing, and in blood, in fighting evil, and becoming atonement for sin, so that the way home is free. It is not only geographic, a freely guaranteed return, now fulfilled since 1948, more so since 1967 with Jerusalem's liberation, and more still since 1980 with its formal declaration as the Capital of Israel: it is all this which is fulfilled, but much more that is coming. The vast cycle traced in Hosea is nearing its conclusion. The times of the Gentiles being fulfilled, THIS time of the filling up the communion cup, if you will, or the completion of the re-grafting into the Olive Tree if you prefer (Romans 11), it also, it arrives.
Thus, the Lord's honouring of His word to Israel as to return as a nation, this is manifestly already performed; but the massive completion of the picture, this is spiritual, and its time hastens in the fulfilment to come of the reaping of many in that land, in heart and in spirit (Isaiah 59, Micah 7, Isaiah 66, Zechariah 12-13, Hosea 1, Ezekiel 37).
But Israel ? O Israel, when shall it be ? Remember Jeremiah 13:27, how it ends ?
"Woe to you, Jerusalem!
Will you not be made clean ?
When shall it once be ?"
There is little more poignant in literature, than this appeal. There is no need for more woe, and it will be replaced by blessing which, however much suffering it may encompass, will be a work of joy and radiance and peace of heart, in the Lord.
IT IS COMING, this valiant release from sin for a mass of souls in Jerusalem, as well as for a nation oppressed as if by the divine right of kings, by Gentile kings and conceptions, for so long! It is only because as a nation, Israel has left behind the word of God fulfilled in the day of divine choice as foretold (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4,Christ the Citadel ... Ch. 2) in the way of divine choice as foretold (cf. SMR Ch. 9) for the reasons of divine mind as stated (Ezekiel 33:11, Lamentations 33:11, Isaiah 43:21), that it has fallen into such a bifurcation, like contrary whirl-pools, divine help and divine censure both mixed.
There is a better way. WHEN shall it once be! It comes apace, even to Israel, when WOE becomes GLOW and then GO in the name of this same Jesus, go in peace when at last reconciliation with Him is to be found, and is received!
Did not Christ weep over Jerusalem! there
is no lack of love.
Did He not die in the city's environs ? there
is no lack of action, atonement.
Did He not come to this earth ? there is no
lack of practicality and involvement.
Did He not bear sin for all who receive Him
as He is offered ?
But it must be received! This, it does not denature Israel, but completes it, to come back as in Hosea, after many days, to Him who founded it, to come back as the one who first of all was taken in impurity, and then cleansed, but who EVEN THEN wandered off and had to be redeemed for a PRICE! (Hosea 1-3).
What does it say, in Isaiah 51, as it proceeds to identify and exhibit the coming Messiah, who has now come and done all precisely as prophetically prescribed ?
It says this (bold added):
"Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness,
You who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father,
And to Sarah who bore you;
For I called him alone,
And blessed him and increased him.
"For the Lord will comfort Zion,
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
"Listen to Me, My people;
And give ear to Me, O My nation:
For law will proceed from Me,
And I will make My justice rest
As a light of the peoples.
My righteousness is near,
My salvation has gone forth,
And My arms will judge the peoples;
The coastlands will wait upon Me,
And on My arm they will trust.
"Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished.
"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
You people in whose heart is My law:
Do not fear the reproach of men,
Nor be afraid of their insults.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
And the worm will eat them like wool;
But My righteousness will be forever,
And My salvation from generation to generation."
So does the Lord weave the stanzas of beauty and emphasise the eternity of salvation based on HIS righteousness alone (as in Psalm 71:15, Psalms 32 and 51).
The day is coming when Israel will have another role to play, not for taunting, and beyond even military victory and divine sustaining according to promise FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE, as in Ezekiel 36:22. To be sure, it will not glorify Israel; nor will it shed glory on any other people, but the glory of the Lord Himself, it is this which will shine about ALL His people, who now have a NEW NAME (as in Isaiah 62:2, subordinated as must all be, to Christ, the name of Christians). This assuredly is not that of the fearful syncretic horror which has by so many for so long been masquerading as if relevant to Jesus Christ.
Far from this, it is, from any union with this world (James 4:4, John 14:30). This name is borne simply by those who having been redeemed by the Lord, seek to walk in His way and obey His word, saved by grace through faith without works (Ephesians 2, Romans 3, 5). Indeed, these are those saved perpetually by grace, in the way which has always been that of the Lord for sinners of whatever kind, clime, nation or place. These have ALREADY obtained an inheritance in glory (Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:36ff.). It does NOT AT ALL depend on them, though these, having faith, they depend ON HIM! (cf. I Peter 1:1-8) and KNOW Him! (cf. John 10:9,27-28).
What then of particulars, of Jerusalem where Christ died, and rose again, making this universe still habitable and life still available, what of that ? It will become that site of the Lord of glory taken in the hand of man and spat on, the place of salvation, not because of which nation it is that has it, but because THERE HE DIED. Nevertheless, this will fulfil His ancient promise and not only will it be a removal of the competing clamours of false prophets with worldly wealth and intimidatory tactics, seeking continually submission to their foreign imaginations (for all the gods of the nations are idols, as Psalm 96 announces once and for all).
It will be the site of His magnificence as the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). It will be as in Isaiah 2, 11, Micah 4. It is not forever so; for the whole earth is to go (Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35). It is the word of the Lord which stays. In this as in every jot and tittle, it is to be fulfilled; for why, it is the thought of the Most High which it enshrines, and as to Him, He is immutable, beautiful in holiness and knows all things. It is this fact that leads to the inscrutability to mutation, the immutability of His word. HE knows what He is talking about; and talking about it, DOES IT! (cf. Habakkuk 2:3, 3:6, Joel 2:11, Isaiah 34:16, 55:11. 59:21, Jeremiah 1:12, Matthew 5:17ff., 24:35).
Wise is the Jew, the Gentile, the follower of false prophets of which there are many (as Christ foretold, Matthew 24:12, 24:24), who forsaking all other claim and clamour, rests his case and finds his place in Christ, who IS the case for the track of truth, being truth, and the meadows of mercy, for He purchased them for His people to dwell in (as in John 10:9,27-28, Revelation 7:13-17). It is here, in Him that there lies the confidence of salvation (Isaiah 33:6, Psalm 121, II Timothy 1:9ff.).
Now, however, having made the application in this particular fashion, let us find from the case of the two kings, a general message for one and for all, in a manner more general; for past all the specificities of divine action, there is the singularity of the divine mercy and truth, in its ways for anyone, anywhere, any time.
VI THE GENERAL MESSAGE
1) Stop sin. The red light is now showing.
2) Don't dally, fear and merely fulminate.
3) Nor dally, fear and equivocate. ACT.
4) Don't try to cut out the bits of the word of God you don't like.
5) Heed what it says on each occasion you hear, not on none!
6) Grab the hand that helps to do the will of God,
and do not fear man's ridicule.
7) Hold fast to your illicit loves, and be blinded by them, or cut and seeing, lose them.
8) SEPARATE from the lust of the flesh, the pride of life and the world in its vain inanities. This includes Churches which bridle at any part of the word of God, change it or add to it. What God says is OPERATIVE: illustrated by flying an aircraft, according to instructions. Don't imagine it ... as if it were just words. God gives His word most assuredly ( I Corinthians 2:9-13): therefore do not strive with HIM! Don't fidget with oddities: fly by the word of the Maker.
9) Therefore separate from known sin,
from the fear of man,
from those who mislead.
10) NEVER just sit still without vital action when evil is said and done, in the house of the Lord.
To PROTEST is not enough. It must be corrected, and if not, and evil is flouted, then at last you need to separate from rebellion, as did the people from the sons of Korah (Numbers 16). Note the COMMAND there, and the result. Note the flow of action! People were killed because they did not separate: their immersion in the immense rivers of revolt was nothing to the point, if salvation is in view. THOSE waters are not for all, but for the people of pollution! It is not good to bathe where the poisons are.
Apply the point. Consider o) above. Remember what became of Zedekiah's servants, the blind misled by the blind! It is neither loving nor necessary voluntarily to dwell where rivers of poison flow: Evil company corrupts good character (I Corinthians 15:33).
You do not become a good doctor by being wilfully infected, living in the very site of disease. You enter the sites of sorrow with care, prayer, for they are not yours; you enter with salvation on your head, the breastplate of truth on your breast, the fear of God in your heart to SNATCH OUT whom you may (as in Jude). You do not abide in that fire! SEPARATE YOURSELVES! comes the cry in Numbers 16 from the revolt against the changeless authority of God by His word! Those who did not were simply and for us, symbolically also, swallowed up. Obedience is not an option (Ephesians 5, I Corinthians 5-6, Romans 16:17) and pragmatic expediency is not for the pathways of love of the Lord (cf. John 14:21-23).
11) Don't indulge in false hopes, built on imagination, not the word of God: remember Jeremiah 37:10. EVEN IF the invading soldiers all lay wounded as they sought to invade Jerusalem, they STILL would rise each one and triumph. Apparently innocuous, because of their mission of condign judgment on the recalcitrant city, they would yet arise as if healthy, and conquer the city! God is author of circumstances, inspirer of hearts, and the worst can be overcome in Him; and the best prove hopeless yet!
Love the Lord, heed His prophets who wrote the word of the Lord, seek mercy in His work of redemption, which Jeremiah could not perform, and rejoice in serving Him who could and did perform it.
Judgment comes, but we who are IN the Lord, by faith in HIS works and redemption, find this:
“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord:
His going forth is prepared as the morning;
and He will come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth.”
See SMR pp. 946ff..
See Zechariah 5:5-11, a very marvel of miniaturisation in symbolic testimony!
See also Isaiah 59, and in particular 59:4-8 and 13-15, and do not omit Isaiah 59:20-21. This is the state leading to fate, and the faithlessness leading to judgment, and in this judgment, the Lord delivers as well as brings desolation where it fits the aridity to which it belongs. It is the Redeemer Himself who comes and His rule is sure (as in Psalm 72, Isaiah 11, Revelation 20:6-8.
On Communism, see for example:
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8;
The Grating Grandeur ... Ch. 2; SMR pp. 925ff., 971-972;
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6
(and Hong Kong, and the movement of nations in the last century a concern),
with News 98, News 37.
A useful larger selection:
Aviary of Idolatry, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 5,
News 37. 44, 69, 97 (the exploiters, the fanciful,
the Communists, the de-godders and the realities),
News 150 - Taiwan,
The Grating Grandeur and Aggrandisement of Man,
and the Meekness of the Majestic Messiah Ch. 2
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6 (and Hong Kong, and the movement of nations in the last century a concern),
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8;
SMR pp. 925ff., 971-972;
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 3
(war and force, rising downwards, Tiananmen and truth),
(liberty, Tiananmen, worship and its direction in time, its terms and code of truth);
History, Review and Overview Ch. 1,
Impossible to Men, Open to God Ch. 5
See also Lord of Life Ch. 8.