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SOVEREIGNTY, SINGULARITY AND THE MARVELS OF MERCY
A SIMPLE SEQUENCE AMID THE MYRIADS OF EVENTS
The 20 Format
Having looked in Chs. 10 and 12 above at creation and dissipation, the one in fact, the other in thought, it seems good to reflect for a little on sequence, as in accounts of the first and second world wars, and to see the thrust of things. Let us then consider with spiritual emphasis, major elements in the institution, destitution, means of deliverance and destiny available for mankind in his country, this present world. Through all the items, there is one spiritual eminence, one Inventor, Preceptor, Creator, one only filled with Wisdom, Capable without limitation, and Loving without shadow (cf. James 1:17, John 3, Colossians 1:19ff.).
First there was the institution of creation, its parameters,
procedures and performance criteria, in decisive steps, each giving character
for the next. The heaven and earth creation in sum, is then exhibited in two
phases, the affairs of earth in creation,and from v. 14, the celestial ones.
Man is not only created like the rest, which by means of creation came into existence, but had th especial function of being in the 'image' of God. The Spirit of God brooded over works of creation just as the Lord instituted them, and this staggering phenomenon came into place, a CREATION, with its earthly format provided FROM the earth, which in a crucial and inter-personal way related so intimately to the Creator that such a term as 'image' could be used.
Since God is the source of all made, heaven or earth, the heaven and the earth, He is not part of them, and indeed His work is to make what is NOT Himself, which has the advantage over all futile operations, of being a logical outcome of the stated Creator at work. He is sufficient to make what is not Himself, but both able to relate to Him, as an image must, and to do so in view of the fact that He is not at all part of any of His creation, whether its type of mind or matter; though since He is Spirit, that relationship is a direct kin, though of course instituted with time amid space and given access to Himself both by the nature of himself as a creation, and the will of God personally that this should be so.
Thus we have
Next comes immersion in selfhood, perversion of spirit, evasion of truth, surreptitious decline, direct disobedience with its debt-load of defiance implicit, a breach of the means of relationship to the Creator.
2) DESECRATION of man as creation, in deadly and deathly spiritual defiance, not rumbustious but sneaking.
Third there is the
3) CURSE, in which the death notice given in advance for unruly defiance of test conditions, is exacted.
With this comes
4) CORRUPTION of man's life, now no more fully provided for, but inducing labour and difficulties that in one sense remind of prison labour as distinct from being on your own farm, and with this CURTAILMENT of liberty. Physical death becomes not a spectre but a situation.
5) IMMERSION in a universal flood from which only a selection of mankind escapes, becomes the unique, unexampled and never to be repeated result of whole careers in experimental sin, deadly group dynamics and unmitigated self--affirmation on the part of man, his sin and his sovereign-seeking use of his residual liberties.
6) CALL to a select function comes to one of the descendants of the delivered group, by name Abraham, and a COVENANT is made with him (Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22) and confirmed in his descendants touching a revived relationship with God, whom he knows as a divine companion. This involves as one of its attributes, a country, to which he is to be led and his people, in due course; and this includes an IRREVOCABLE (Genesis 17:7-8) territory down the generations. The site for the covenant relates to its features, where God is to be made manifest among man, not in diffusion of vagueness, but in precise order and site, like that of a university in a city, something of known value, use and placement, not another name for wandering ideas, however much sin might later so defile a university as to make it in much, just that.
7) After tasting of the preliminaries for this (to be seen in the sketch of relevant history given to Abraham as recorded in Genesis 15:7-17, Abraham is given the TESTIMONY of coming time for living in another nation, deliverance from what then befalls with divine might and due entry into the land promised, when it inhabitants, Amorities have shown a sufficient wickedness to have a divine warrant for their replacement by a nation which as Isaiah puts it, has the purpose of praise to God. It is to be a SHOWCASE in a unified and territorially distinct manner to the entirety of the world (Isaiah 43:21).
When this time is fulfilled, and another is called (in the line of Noah, Abraham and now Moses) to fulfil a specified and great function in the spiritual work of restoring the human race, and organising its deliverance, then the specified events occur and what is now called Israel (prince of God, a name given to the spiritually labouring Jacob, as in Genesis 35), is duly delivered from what was nothing less than slavery at the hand of that nation, which was and is called Egypt.
8) In being CALLED to this work, Moses was confirmed in due course, after much of the high drama of that deliverance, a standard for divine intervention according to promise ever afterwards (as seen for example in Micah 7:15), in events called the Exodus, as specified in a book of that name. This led to what is called the Mosaic COVENANT. People talk about different ideas they may have outside the word of God, but this was a simple fact, giving functional criteria for Israel. One of these was a provision for temporary loss, even of their land if their rebellions increased and were sustained, as in Leviticus 26, though there was a distinct outcome in the end.
9) This was the RESTORATION, again by divine power as in Deuteronomy 30-33, which God would then institute, leaving as in the former case of Egypt, those who would take advantage of Israel' plight in sustained disobedience, in order to relish and repeat their desires to subject the people to mockery or dominion, in a word to submission, so enabled by Israel's sin. When the time would come (as for the Amorites negatively, so for Israel at the end, positively because of the promises), then Israel would have a divine and direct return and repentance (as specified in Zechariah 12:1-10), the means for this being supplied also by divine act.
10) Thus was to come DELIVERANCE BY DIVINE DYNAMIC and masterful and mighty victories over enemies, as Israel for its part returned to the Lord. This is specified simply in Micah, Zechariah 12, Deuteronomy, Joel for example, as in Ezekiel 38ff..
11) This brings out the MESSIANIC MERCY and its METHOD as specified so largely in Isaiah (7, 9, 12, 22,32, 48-55), so that the acute pangs suffered by Israel (as for example noted in Isaiah 51:21-23) will become the lost of her persecutors. Her case is complicated, for her continued revolt AS A NATION from the Lord is one continuing element, and the divine MERCY to come is another, so that the rebellion continues till the time comes and THEN the nation returns as in Ezekiel 36-37, to its new Covenant as in Jeremiah 31, in the wake of its Divine Deliverer as in Micah 7, whose work as in Ezekiel 39, is no less conspicuous in this case, than in the Exodus, and specifically compared to it in power and scope in Micah 7.
Now impacted on all sides, the LOVE of GOD is illustrated, demonstrated, dynamically evidenced in the sufferings that brought salvation, paying its cost for all who believe (Isaiah 53), and seeking all, and this in terms shorter and longer, to this or that party or participant, through this or that byway to the highway, even that one highway, that of holiness as in Isaiah 35, and Matthew 7:15ff., Romans 11.
12) Israel thus has, like Abraham, like Noah, like Moses, a conspicuous role under a divine mentor and wonder of mercy, and this time the work is direct without mediator, the LORD HIMSELF RETURNING to Zion as in Isaiah 59, bringing blessing to the believing remnant. Indeed, He Himself returns to rule the earth as in Psalm 67:5-7, 72, 96:13, Isaiah 9, 11, I Thessalonians 3:13, not in symbol, but in sovereignty, not in poetry but in PERSON, not in pressure but in peace
13) Now in its own place is Zion, the once blessed, the deeply cursed, the site of untold suffering, of continued rebellion, becomes as so often predicted, the site of SPIRITUAL RESTORATION as well as territorial return as a unique body, once without God, then in covenantal relationship with Him, then ousted even from their land, and then returned to it, its territories once more populous (Isaiah 49:13ff.), which had been emptied, her site of restoration not being a return to pride, but to the MESSIAH for whom not only Jew but Gentiles (Galatians 3) are the target. As to the historical methods divinely chosen, whether in the flood of water or of returning refugees to the homeland of former greatness, one so totally stripped, now so abundantly blessed (Isaiah 35), it is of the Lord, who is the COUNSELLOR, NOT THE BUTT of man's ideas in his extraordinarily wandering and woeful estate (Isaiah 40:10ff., Galatians 6:9ff.).
God has not given up to man the management of His own mercy, and what insists on that gives up its only hope of deliverance (Hebrews 2:1ff.), whether the person be Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, exalted or debased. In fact, many who are last will be first, and many first last, as Christ indicated. Man has a spiritual source and destiny and confusion of means with origins and destiny is a strangely erratic pastime of many.
14) Thus comes an INTEGRATION OF JEWISH AND GENTILE COMPONENTS, the Gentile component complementing the Jewish one, its own remnant, being as lavish in rebellion against God as was the Jewish nation, and marked to suffer its own rigors (as in Matthew 24, Luke 21). Indeed, so closely interspersed now are these streams in one river, that the merger in one Spirit with one Gospel and one Covenant, the New Covenant in the blood of the Messiah, is on display whether in Isaiah 42:6 or 49:6, 66 or 60. It is in Him who was to be, and in time was slain, in the area of what we denote as AD 30 (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4, Christ the Citadel Ch. 2). It is He, the same, who is found over time by these and those amid the nations, though as with Israel, these will have their own sustained, prolonged mutiny against truth, an international mirror for Israel.
Paul in Romans 11 expresses relish at the wisdom of God in His overall plan, diversity of approach to people, not in its spiritual basis, but in its historical mode, becoming unity both of purpose and peoples, naming a WONDER OF DIVINE WIT AND WISDOM.
15) When God has finished His divine testimony to the earth, ruling in regality, majesty and kindness, even using as in Micah 4 and Isaiah 2, Jerusalem as a singularity of focus, the place where He chose to stage the death of the Messiah, His resurrection and His once for all and once only atonement (as in Hebrews 7-10), there is more to come!
This focus on one city is part of a long-time insistence over all history on HIS REALITY, HIS UNBLURRED PARTICULARITY, He who declares, I AM WHAT I AM, a wonder even mocked by being used by some others, as if His unique position as divine, where transferable. It is precisely this sort of self-exalting aberration which makes for mayhem on earth, as if a grass-hopper began to have elevated ideas when approached by a1000 ton boulder about to rampage through it. Isaiah 40 expresses this type of monstrosity, not only provocative but foolish, a frantic dream of ultimate insubordination, as if a child imagined it made the world, and parents were its subjects.
One Messiah, one atonement, once made, one city where He died, rose, one set of dated fulfilments, as applicable, and one history with one set of destinies, this is important, yes vital. Some insist on the rightful identification and naming of chemical elements; how much more, infinitely more, the rightful, careful and correct identification of God, of His name, without diffuse aberration, as if man were to be fine on details but paranoid in substance.
16) Thus these singularities come as A REBUKE TO VAGUE BELIEFS, in that ONE GOD who ONCE sent His ONLY begotten SON here wrought the reconciliation or atonement, and while the mission goes back to eternity in concept (Ephesians 1:4), and covers vast times in implementation, yet it does not WANDER. What He does, where He does it, how He does it, why He does it, are not subjects for human determination but divine counsel (cf. Romans 8:29). It has glorious ingredients, summed up in the Person of Jesus Christ, in such ways as power, perseverance, patience, mercy, longing for all (as in Luke 19:42ff., Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33:11ff.), but it is God Himself who expresses it and shows who and what He is, and He is as He is and not another, self-defined, truth in issuance, changeless, maker of time and tryst in time.
17) This work of divine indication, vindication and publication complete, and the residual renegacy of many demonstrated still further (Revelation 20:4-10), there is a the FINAL JUDGMENT (Revelation 20:11-21:1). Notably there is to be found "NO PLACE" for the earth and the heaven, no place for reference, only God for the affirmation of those in His book of life, eternal life, and the lost cause found in the other books, the dysfunctional options, the works of man's hearts and minds and thoughts, as divorcees from God, in which some have trusted (cf. Isaiah 50).
18) REGAL REMOVAL of the heaven and earth creation as in 1) above, as II Peter 3, Isaiah 51 and Christ in Matthew 24:35 tell us, in a spectacular manner, a NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH the counterpart of spirits regenerations, bodies resurrected, even both the remnants, Jewish and Gentile, from one LORD for one REASON, the REDEMPTION. This will be instituted and ruled by the Lord (cf. II Peter 3), amid those in the kingdom of heaven, for whom the ways of the Lord are a delight, liberty a responsibility and truth an immovable reality.
19) Man loves to refer haughtily to his own new world order, as if he could contrive something sublime and lasting, good and sound, without God, or with some conveniently created god-who-fits-in, imagining that man can control his Creator, and dispense with HIS method of salvation, which involves diagnosis and characterisation of man. There is rather to come the SAME WORLD ORDERER, WHO HAVING GIVEN MAN MAGNIFICENT LIBERTIES, returns him to realities at length. History has exhibited forcibly the teaching that many will never receive: Christ the Teacher, once crucified, once resurrected, who both dies and rose that He might be Lord of all, not only formally but functionally, the Eternal Word of God.
20) Not earth but Christ is the centre of the universe, not man but God is the basis of all, beauty of anything, wonder of truth, basis of knowledge, objectivity of reality. From Him, as meant (Psalm 40), as sent (Isaiah 48:15ff.), as never bent (I Peter 2:22-25), as spent in ransom (Matthew 20:28, Hebrews 5:7) and surrendered in mission (Luke 22:42), SITE OF POWER AND SPLENDOUR OF DIVINE GLORY (Hebrews 1, Psalm 2, 90, 102), the spiritual trinity in manifestation: from HIM comes the lead as Lord, in the new heavens and new earth, for He is Lord of all, accredited from the first (cf. John 8:58) and displayed in deity to the last (Romans 14:8-9).
In His kingdom, the banner over all is love, the motivating mission for redemption was love (John 3), this love neither tainted nor tinted, but tireless and true, not subject to cunning or cavil concerning its purity (I John 1:5, Matthew 5:89, I Timothy 1:5, Titus 1:15, Deuteronomy 32:4, I Timothy 6:16, Isaiah 60:19, Ezekiel 1, Psalm 36:9, Matthew 6:22-23, John 8:12), neither subvertible nor seducible, and it is in this love that truth flourishes and a teamwork not of human imagination but divine enablement flourishes.