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We have been looking at things in vast perspectives, drawing on biblical resources, effective communication in its profundity and depth, wonder and glorious overview, and as the word of the living God, oversight.

We must avoid, in this Department of Bible and Spiritual Affairs, however, any tendency to avoid the personal in terms of the historically vast or panoramic. In this Chapter, this is done to the uttermost. Let us look at individuals in biblical terms, in what they did in history, or nearly did ... and what God did. Not only the actual, but what nearly filled that category, is of value in understanding the ways of God with man. Many imagine that God is a void spectator at most, along the truncated lines of Aristotle, a matter of logical baggage rather than foundation.

That is how they want it. He can be whatever he likes, appears to be the nuance, so long as this does not affect me. Good or evil, I will then have the stage, occupying NOT on His business till He comes, as He instructed, but on my own, including my own pleasure in being so utterly free, that I  might as well be a god for all the responsibility then felt. God rebukes this egomania clearly in Ezekiel 28:9, for the individual, however apparently potent, as for the nation, however famed among men (Ezekiel 26-32). Take Tyre, this vast, cosmopolitan maritime wonder of old is openly mocked by God as if it were itself a ship being rowed. On land they will come to behold their disaster. With dust on their heads, they will wallow in the disaster to befall that metropolis (27:30).

They will wail, "What city is like Tyre, like the destroyed one in the midst of the sea?"

"Because your heart i lifte up, and you hae said, I am a god,

I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas,  yet you are a man, and not God, though you set your heart as the heart of God."

This infinitely inaccurate finding on the part of the great power in Tyre, epitomised in its ruler and what lies behind him (Ezekiel 28:13ff.), is quite parallel in style to the denunciation of the grandeur of Egypt in its cultural self-acclaim and delusions; and that is pilloried especially in Ezekiel 29, where it has the underlying image of being a large, bloated fish in its own delta, ready to be caught and hauled to land, exposed to become food for the beasts. Just as the King of Tyre receives special attention, in the mockery of its being a ship putting out to sea, with fateful ending, so here the Pharaoh of Egypt receives no less (Ezekiel 31). Not only is this great monster to be  taken from its waters, but the Pharaoh is depicted in the evictions of hell, amid the slain masses of the  misled (32:30ff.), there taking dubious comfort in the mass of likewise evicted leaders and misled, where he has parity in utter and abysmal degradation,

For all this, there is much warning. It is remarkable moreover what many have ALMOST done which could have changed not only the course of history (though God knew all the actualities before they occurred - Isaiah 46:10, 44:24 - 45:6, 14:27, 41:21-24, 48:5-13), but the lives of those individuals involved.  After all, it is as individuals that man comes and goes, and acts, with whatever accretions and co-operations.

God is able, empirically, to predict for millenia ahead, and show the results as claimed, as a divine distinctive, unique because in reality He is in a category of one, for there is no other, alone eternal, Producer of our Time, with its history, surveyable by the Almighty as a wall-map by a General, and more, acting before it happens, as seems good amid those in His image, and in His world. God thus both knew and foreknew, and how much is it a marvel what has been done in last moment deliverance for individuals. Wise is the one who consults with Him, and seeks Him always, for many are the provisions for downfall, as for opportunity, and readily do the spiritually blind bypass the good and find the evil. Particular cases thus warrant attention, so that we may gain instruction, rather than face needless tragedies.


10 Cases shown  involve a blessed result, the eleventh,
in a category of its own, is the negative that helps sharpen the awareness
of what a profound thing a blessing really is!




1) BY ANGEL  Joseph - To divorce, but God ... Matthew 1:19

Joseph, surprised and ignorant at first, studied how to be merciful,

but in this case, it was not mercy but understanding of the truth which was needed.


A) Thomas - To decline to believe the victory over the cross, but Christ ...

John 20:26-29

Thomas on finding the eminently testable body of the resurrected Christ before him,
on offer for palpable examination, made his famous  cry concerning Him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). In Greek, this is 'The Lord of me and the God of me.'  "Reach your hand here, and put it into My side," and the finger ? into His hands. Explicit testimony required explicit response. But it was an  extreme mercy and grace that offered hand and side to the thoroughly roused Thomas, ready to take a position, but equally willing to see it refuted.

B) Jonah - To cruise away to the sea of forgetfulness, but God ...

Jonah 1:2-3

He went to flee prophetic duty, instead of fleeing for safety in the Lord and
proceeding anyway by faith (cf. Hebrews 6:19). The ironic, stormy and distressing means of arrest, used by God, spoke without words. When however Jonah was in due course, ready to go, God recommissioned him.


C) Paul - To despair of life, but God ...

II Cor. 1:3-11

Vexation of spirit in the enormous burden Paul felt for the churches and the exigencies of his amazing mission to the  Gentiles, accumulated to the point of utter despair of what he could do; and then God did it, supplying all the need in a testimony to the entire Age to come of the scope of the Lord's passion and compassion.



Jeremiah - To escape grievous  unpopularity in a thankless task, but God ...

Jeremiah 15:15-21

The conditions were clear, the call was under test, and in the interior psychic depths of the soul of Jeremiah, there could be no further counting of cost. THAT was his mission, THIS was his Lord, and as deep as life was his commitment, the commission and the course before his dedicated feet. After all (Jeremiah 20:9-11):

"Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. But His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

"For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying,

Perhaps he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him. But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble ..."

When God is your friend and your Saviour, that is a relationship that is never lost; it is only sipping that does not save, and mumbling that does not mean, postures of the will without its repentance and reception of the Lord, that does not deliver. The Lord KNOWS who are His own, and always did.






David - To exterminate Nabal, but Abigail ...

I Samuel 25:22-23

The timely arrival of one who perceived what her bucolic husband did not know,

and saw the need to appease those slighted in their kindness, stopped David in the

very path of avengement which would have marred his life as with one drunk!

Rely continually on the mercy of God, to apply it and secure it. 


The Lord Jesus  -

To go on past the potential meeting

on the Emmaus Road, but as God in human form ...

Luke 24:28-29

What do we find here ? Invitations, even keen ones, are in order when it comes to Jesus the Christ (cf. Revelation 3:30). Theologies do not alter the word of God, but deepen its understanding, through careful consideration of what He says. Nothing gainsays God.


David -  To Be Ready to Halt, but he declared his sin -

Psalm 38:17-18 cf. 32:3-5

David's sorrow is continually before him, as aspirants to secure his downfall mull and seethe. He is not perfect, and though they may torture the facts  in their hatred, he does  not fail to examine his life, report his sin, be as if put in dry dock, that he might be pleasing to the Lord, and represent Him well in testimony of word as of life. This is one way out for many, in the case of melancholia which, though it may have many a cause, may frequently lie precisely here; and here is what David found an entirely adequate response.  Confess sin to the Saviour, trust in Him, and depart from it.

Following what is good has led to many adversaries as Paul pointed out to Timothy (II Tim. 3:12); those who desire to live in a godly manner WILL suffer persecution. It is like reflected beams of light as it moves out into a forest, being assailed by the darkness. The combination of internal and external challenge may swamp some; but in Christ is our sufficiency, and His is the power, the purity and  compassion (II Cor. 3:3-5, 4:1-2,8-16).



David - To Give No Special Regard to Mephibosheth, but he remembered ...

II Samuel 9:9-13, 16:1-4, 19:24ff.

In faithfulness to the wonder of the past friendship with faithful
but now deceased Jonathan, who had probably saved David's life,
David now King, acted mercifully when he might have acted far more severely towards this offspring of Jonathan.

Jonathan had been faithful to David, though himself the son of the King
earlier persecuting David, vexed with jealousy, and in terms of the agreement
with David, at that time, the latter, now living, showed special tenderness
to the plight of the lame progeny of Jonathan, in highly suspicious circumstances. It is a great thing to be faithful to what cannot be enforced, when roles are reversed, and corrupt self-will has to be rejected by those who love the faithful God who invented them, redeemed them and walks daily in reliability with them.



David - To be ready to faint, but he believed ...

Psalm 27:13

It is evident in this Psalm, at its outset, that the state to which David recovered by faith, as depicted in this Psalm was one of exhilarating enthusiasm, and spiritual empowerment in his very soul, in the divine mercies which do not fail to His people.

How does this Psalm of testing begin:

"The LORD is my light and my salvation,
Whom shall I fear ?

"The LORD is the strength of my life,
Öf whom shall I be afraid ?...

Though an army may encamp against me {and they did},
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

"One thing I have desired of the LORD,

That will I seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple."

This shows the height to which David rose, as the Lord brought exhilaration

to the eye of faith, and comfort to the heart of reliance.


Now we come to a vast contrast.



9) Lot's  Wife - To be ready to star gaze in indecision, but God...

Genesis 19:6

Though in mercy and concern taken BY THE HAND by the angel, she yet managed to linger. Lot was active bargaining not to go too far away in the mountain of separation, and found allowance for a little place, and apparently this went further in his wife, who remained too far drawn back to their settlement in Sodom. Result: she was then set like a statue in enduring substance, an entombed witness of her own reluctance.

The Lord loves a cheerful giver (II Cor. 9:7), including the giver of his/her own life to His service. Needed for the Lord is something more active and steadfast, indeed obvious, than the degree of commitment attested by the ABC to this land, which pays it, in publishing documents that had been stolen, resulting, whatever the imagined case, in part in entanglements between two nations, already sensitively co-operating on deep issues. 

In this case, we note that the Lord to Lot and company (few joined him) was intensely merciful, the angel asking them to hurry since destruction on the sodomy and evil was then imminent, leading personally out of it, taking the hands; but when this mercy was exploited in lingering with longing, judgment ensued. Thus in this case, the Lord acted to terminate the light regard for His concern shown by the loitering wife of Lot.

There are times when mercy would need to take a stranglehold on some people, in order to rescue them; and God  directs, but but does not dictate. This does not mean that judgment is manipulated. Ignore mercy and  inherit judgment. Self-indulgence in this world is a very short step before it, and the end is long. The message has not changed; but in the case of Lot's very wife, it is given an age-long testimony in high drama, and intense sadness (cf. Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff.).

The need is not merely in terms of climate change, monstrous latitudes occurring surprisingly in weather with coasts now most vulnerable, with uncertainties and projections aplenty; nor is it only in radioactive madness by the partisans of corrupt philosophy  and physically militant religions when in power; nor is it only because even this our own nation, as if ready to join others in what biblically is the depth of decadence, is  near to becoming one of the leaders of confrontation with the God of design; nor is it even a matter of many churches taking wings to leave the Bible, as if it were a despatch aerodrome, not a testimony of truth, necessary to the awakened ear.

It is not even all of this, though it all relates.

Rather in the end, crucial is the need to ACT on the basis of truth, impending judgment ONE of its testimonies, life with and in Christ Jesus, not only the necessary but the ONLY available  access  to divine mercy and  the guarantees of God (as in John 10:9,27-28, 5:24, Acts 2). The call of wisdom and love alike is to believe in the One whose body was in truth raised  from the dead rather than held in the tomb, in Him whose word is always fulfilled, settling the sin of the heart on Him, who is ready to bear it (I Peter 2:23-24), and to rest in the faith of the soul in Him, who is trustworthy (Matthew 11:25-30).

Recent events concerning Indonesia, bring up the question of trustworthiness on BOTH sides, and it is well to realise that utter trustworthiness is found in God and in HIS word ONLY; for all men are sinners. That is the problem underlying all; and salvation is the solution offered to all. It is not an arm-chair issue, or a pondering forever point; but as Lot's wife shows, even in the very midst of mercy, there is room for calling on the Lord, heeding His intransigent truth, and receiving His immovable Gospel (Gal. 1).  

With God, there is NO ROOM for negotiation, because truth is like that, and mercy is at His offer, already set where He paid for sin, and not where  men pray for recognition outside it. He made; He acted; and  having laboured in all these dimensions, with a brilliant creativity, a lustrously gracious kindness and total effectiveness, He calls.