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"HE FEEDS AMONG THE LILIES"
The life, continuing in such ways to the present,
is not less newsworthy now than then!
The Song of Solomon and
the 21st Century Sense of Man
Grace and Meek Magnificence
of His Holiness
Filled with Beauty, Goodness and Illimitable Truth
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THE BEAUTY OF HIS HOLINESS
Last time, we found great marvels of FAITHFULNESS not divorced from needful discipline, and RELIABILITY beyond all the puny reciprocities of self-serving trading, GOODNESS which is infallible in authenticity and has truth as its texture. It was however chiefly at the national level, in terms of the theocracy that was Israel and the results of it, the intervention of the Messiah and the overview of many such things, including the culmination of world history, that we moved.
We must now be quick to ensure that the individual aspects of these things are not lost, even for one moment from sight.
It was not least, moreover, with the desire that the lost might be found that we reasoned; but today it is important to move primarily in the realm of those already found, and found by One of whom King David said this:
"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 enquire in His temple:
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion,
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide m:
He shall set me high upon a rock" - Psalm 27:4-5.
That rock has nothing to do with the puny temporalities of papal power, for as David declares of God in Psalm 62:2, "He only is my rock and my salvation, He is my defence, I shall not be greatly moved," before going forward in His tower of strength, the Lord, to affirm vigorously,
"He only is my rock and my salvation:
He is my defence;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people.
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us."
BECAUSE HE IS God, therefore His servants by faith perceive they shall
a) not be greatly moved, even in tribulation requiring patience, being sustained,
b) not be moved, because the Rock cannot be rocked, it is impermeable, immovable, unpliable but compliant to all His promises which He has made, so that in pouring out their hearts to Him at all times, they who trust in Him do but act rationally. He is there, He loves, His is mercy, goodness suffuses His whole being, integral, delightful to Him to exercise (Micah ), to us to receive. He is not sinful; He is not temporary; He is not a beginner in time, but made it. His is all time, to know the end and to declare it. Thus, "My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish" - in John 10:27ff..
Eternal life is His (I John 1:1-4) and He gives it. His sheep are so constituted (cf. Matthew 15:13 by contrast, and I John 3:8, John 5:24); and as such theirs is no falling away who have so come (John 10:9); nor is there diminution of their status as sons of the Lord, children of God (I John 3:1, 5:12), because this is outside the realms of possibility, as if what is expressly of, for, from and born of God could be other than His (Romans 5:1-11). The thought is horrific, a clash with all the goodness and grace, the poise and power, the love and holiness, the beauty and peace of God (cf. Romans 8:29ff.). Elect before the world, His children are corrected as required (Hebrews 12), but in discipline they grow, in grace they show the goodness of the glorious God, who alone does wonders (Psalm 72).
Non-gods like popes, masquerading as God Almighty on earth and such things as exposed in SMR, these are what fail, crumble, totter; and in such things, in whichever sect or philosophy, theology apart from the Bible or political regime, thought process or spiritual aspiration, intoxication of select and individual existentialism or corporate States, there is no hope. These are not the rock, but 'new gods, new arrivals' and alas foolish idols, vanities and futilities, such as we have seen in the last chapter.
put it, speaking in personification of the people of
he forsook God who made him,
And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods;
with abomination they provoked Him to anger.
sacrificed to demons, not to God,
To gods they did not know,
To new gods, new arrivals,
That your fathers did not fear.
Rock who begot you, you are unmindful,
And have forgotten the God who fathered you.
when the LORD saw it, He spurned them...
And He said I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their latter end will be,
For they are a perverse generation,
Children in whom is o faith.
They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God,
They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols...
He then, as He declared, would move them to jealousy with a foolish people: these, since foolishness is their way, will have power over them.
In His loving zeal, God esteems no pretentious vacuities, empty symbols, arrogating pride; for the truth is not changed by words, except they be those of God, or response to Him and His work, according to truth, in which case truth rules and is in power as in the matter is befitting. Deception does not remake the universe, but merely disgraces His products, and if these be men, defaces their hearts, defiles their spirits and brings decline to their lives. The father of all that, of liars, it is the devil. His kingdom is wholly other, rocked by every tide and wind, a thing of insubstantial subsistence, a regime of nothings, glorified in passing power like a flow of water from a broken reservoir, cascading down the hills to oppress the villages below.
Perversity of flesh, in the mind, spirit and body, this is merely a signal for hiding; and when God hides His face, you get this generation*1. It is not all like that; but that it is its spirit, its flamboyance of self-expression.
Thus in one portrayal of the ten commandments, apparently planned as humorous, the writer of a newspaper article of a few years ago, implies that people find the original 10 thing, too bossy (see heading).
What was the view presented ? It seemed to be this… People increasingly now, they want to think for themselves, express themselves - not in the sense of saying what they mean, but working out what their meaning is as people, and putting this into words. It is a matter of expressing their innermost selfishness or selfhood, or both, abstractly, their diverse inclinations assiduously, their light and airy desires aptly, their aspirations in some sort of universalisable clothing, so that they might wear their own garments of 'law', and being lawless, a thing of autonomy and vacuity, vanity and contrivance, put words to what is not there, and then be it. A thing of their own construction ? a verbal unit which opines without power or propriety ?
It is not a graceful
proceeding. If it is humorous, it is starkly and grimly so. Various contrived
replacements for the 10 commandments are voiced in this article. What appears
from these ?
As to those whose thoughts they would interpret by such means, one does one find ? It is clear that they do not KNOW what they are, so that the very suggested substitutes for the 10 commandments are as diverse as Summer breezes, the sea and land breezes of a day, and their day for such ignoble scramblings for the
Why is this
? It is partly that all contrivance and congestion of thought in place
of actuality is limited by reality; and partly this, that His coming, who made
them, it is near (Answers to Questions
Ch. 5), and He whose handbook declares what is right, being the gift of governance and the anatomising of reality within them, as products of Him whose Being is glorious and immovable, He is near also. He is not mocked.
Amidst the thoughts are these, that perhaps the new lot of rules could be called "the Ten Tentative Suggestions", followed by the thought that "this is the age of personal autonomy." The sort of humour includes such points as these. Could they have, "Speak to people," "Smile at people", "Be cordial" and "Be friendly" ? Result ? "Some people resent being told to smile." Even "Smile at people" is considered as possibly an 'unfunded mandate'.
Past all the derogatory humour, which is not necessarily meant to be such, but which has this impact in view of the wild emptiness of it all, there is one point apparent. There is no substitute for truth, no way for unmeasured man, measuring himself, to invent either the significance of his measuring apparatus, or the signification of his units, in terms of truth, reality or authority (II Corinthians 10:12 cf. John 5:44-47 cf. SMR pp. 292ff.). There is nothing there, and it is precisely as in the Biblical language, a matter of futilities, vanities and emptiness.
Statistics, even if they cohered on popular versions for such things, make neither truth nor wisdom. What people do might become as 'advanced' as positively seeking for its own sake, to remake man with bionic and cloning procedures; but why ? for what ? to what ? with what mandate, understanding, policy, purpose or issuance of progress, and progress to what ! Does 'is' produce 'ought' or description, prescription, do self-taught rules make self, or does desire create actuality ?
It is easy to fiddle with Dad's Jaguar, and it is another matter entirely to make one; and still further to remake the road system for it, or to explore space with it, or to find a reason for doing any of it, or a point for its end.
In all these, and in all such things, there is no rock, but ruin; no wisdom but pride; no advance but in arrogance. It is vain. It does not agree, for it has rejected in advance what there is for agreement, the word of the Maker, the command of the King and the truth of the God who put it there, put man there, and in His word asks man to put it there, his assent. In dissent, however, there is no end, and in gambolling and gambling with potential greatness, there is no point. Given grace, is it wonder to be disgraceful ? Given strength, is it strong to waste it in oblivion of the gift!
There is in all this an ugliness and vanity that is wholly ruinous.
In contrast, there is in that holiness which is God's alone, but which He shares to those who are His, imbued with His presence, endued with His mandate, granted grace as His children, justified by faith, emplaced in The Faith, governed by goodness, led by truth, redeemed by that same ineffable glory that made them: and this He does in the lowliness of blood shed, and in the majesty of the King who subjects Himself for His vassals, that they might be His friends and share His kingdom in joy.
In this, we begin to approach something of the beauty of holiness.
It is based in what is stable as rock; it is surrounded with truth that does not quiver, waver or change; it flies in the midst of wonder, occupies itself with marvel, and omnipotence is about it, omniscience its savour, peace its joy, purity its prerogative and goodness its arteries of distribution. Thus we look at the experience of Moses, troubled because of the failure of faith in those who, having been surrounded by miracles like birds in the evening sky, FEARED to go into the promised land, as many people fear to enter His own gracious kingdom now, not KNOWING what it will be like, or what might be expected, despite His word. It is found in Exodus 33:19ff., where in Moses' mixture of distress and aspiration for grace and inspiration from the Lord, for his task amidst such depravity in the people as had just occurred, He is met on supplication, by the Lord who says,
Later, in Exodus 34:6, He declares, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering , and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty..."
It is the abundance of goodness, tenderness as in the comforting, encouragement and inspiration of Moses with character, courage and understanding in the very midst of conflict brought upon him by his vast task, that you see something of the effusive glory, and yet the pure holiness of the LORD. It is not for man to dictate to Him or to direct His thought, to give to Him counsel on those to whom He will show grace. As it is written in Matthew 11:27, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." Nevertheless, He hears His people (Exodus 33:11-14, 32:31-34). Known to Him are all things before any of them began in the time frame He created, and though He test, He knows!
Now it is part of the glory of the Lord, of its beauty, of the "glorious majesty of Your kingdom" (Psalm 145:12), its splendour and its wonder, that all things are one. There is no discord, but rather concord lives. All is in wisdom, nothing jars. There is nothing contrived or twisted about His word since there is nothing thus in Him ! (Cf. Proverbs 8:8, which so affirms of His word, and Deuteronomy 32:4, of Him.) Thus WHILE He chooses, and He alone, who are His (cf. II Timothy 2:19 with I Peter 1:24-25, Matthew 5:17ff.), there is equally a necessity not to make your own commandments. Those who are His, being regenerated, they are corrected from any such vagrancy! (Hebrews 12). Even the quality of their faith is adjusted and cleansed, in an image, like a carburettor (cf. I Peter 1:7, II Corinthians 1:8-10), yes from the highest to the lowest amongst the redeemed!
There is moreover a totally harmonious aspect of His glory, that in love He is illimitable, for HE WOULD HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED (I Timothy 2:4), a fact on which many have stumbled, just as many more stumble on the obverse, that WHOM HE WILL HE HARDENS (Romans 9). Each is gloriously true. If HE HARDENS them, then is not truth first despised (II Thessalonians 2:9ff.); and if it is despised, is it not for Him to despise the despising and bring results to the vagrant and vicious liberties, turned into the work of spiritual libertines, among men!
Does He pretend we are not in His image, or that we are our own gods! Not at all. Neither is true, and long and hard, at times harsh has been the discord from not seeing it all together. He requires and ACCEPTS NO HELP in salvation (Ephesians 2) and He requires and promotes all co-operation in sanctification (Philippians 2:12 with 3:20 which latter shows the assured result of it all, as in Ephesians 1:11).
Now all these things, they are gloriously together and in accord*2: His holiness, purity, His reliability, His essential and illimitable love, His intense and total refusal to be gulled, His monergism, so that all the work both of creation and of salvation is HIS ALONE, His tenderness where the heart is ready, His solicitude for the task, His fearless assurance in promoting people like Moses and David to amazing tasks, without IN THE LEAST glorifying them, for each had a failing or fault at one time or another, and each was great only when small; or as Paul puts it, in reflecting on the divine aid, as given (II Cor. 12:9-10):
Thus it comes from, goes to God, and it is individual, secured and sure: indeed He has SEALED against the day of judgment, those who are His (Ephesians 1:13-14) and these are 'accepted in the beloved' (Eph. 1:6). It is simple, profound and personal, and as with personal things, you need to START with the Person; and only then do you understand His word and ways. In another sense, as a preliminary to knowing Him, you follow His word TO Him (John 5:39-40), but when you know Him, then His word interprets Him WHO IS THERE, like someone to whom you are speaking while reading his letters!
What is He like ? His is the beauty of holiness!
IS nothing like it.
THERE ARE SOME FEATURES IN THIS BEAUTY
WHICH COMMAND INSTANT ATTENTION
You find a statement touching this in Philippians 2. It applies to all who are His, in a small, derivative but qualitatively essential manner.
Let us first consider the
statement itself, and proceed to Phil. 2:6. There we find that there was about
the One who came as the Christ a status and state that made Him EQUAL WITH GOD.
As His word, we see equally that He was always with His Father, at the first, indeed as Isaiah 44:6 says and Revelation 2:8 echoes of Christ, "I am the first and the last." In view of this, Christ as God can be and was sent from God (Isaiah 48:16, I John 1:1-4, Micah 5:1-3). He is His personal expression (Hebrews 1).
This signature, name and unique prerogative of God Almighty is effortlessly attributed to the Lamb, as is the essential word of Exodus 3:14 in John 8:58, and the name of God Himself is His, as in Hebrews 1:6, where the topic is GOD WHO AT VARIOUS TIMES AND IN VARIOUS WAYS spoke to the fathers, and is the subject of the sentence. A throne is not God, but a place of power; but the throne of God Himself, as in Psalm 45, is attributed to the Lamb, and both there and in Hebrews 1, the name also. The Son, we read, has this ineffable divine majesty naturally ascribed to Him; and since the Bible, as we have been emphasising, knows only one God, the rest, the stuff imperiously invented is mere emptiness and nothings, futilities without utility. Occupying distinctively the place of "Brightness of His glory", His is the expressive place of the eternal word of God (Hebrews 1, John 1).
This being so, Christ had, as we see in Phil. 2, the FORM of God. This means that the external, or if you like, the expressive realities relating to the actuality, something the WORD sums up, these were His. A man's form is not for a beast, or an aircraft. It is specifically and specially and uniquely his by definition. God's form is the same. Since He is infinite, it is infinitely surpassing all else, and suited to the infinite alone; nothing else even is in this category, and indeed it is not even a category in this, that it is but ONE! (cf. Ephesians 4:5, Isaiah 45, where this is emphasised both of the el and the elohim names, at the supernatural level).
Christ vacated this FORM. He has a purpose. It was to take the form of a man, indeed that of a servant amongst men, so that His special service - that of being obedient, not only as an example, not only in power to help and heal, but as a death-dealt victim, as a sacrifice indeed, with and through and to the account of sin, not His own, vicariously and victoriously - might proceed. It is rather like putting on a white coat in a laboratory, or a lead shield amid atomic waste, but in this case it is the reverse. He was willing to remove His shield and to be polluted in all but Spirit, so that the pollutions of man, like those at Lake Baikal, that magnificent but despoiled reservoir of fresh water, might be removed in the very midst. It is as if something could go, fluid amidst fluid, and chemically neutralise, or if you insist, atomically engulf all the waste and flurry and make the water clean again.
As man to men, from God as God, Christ came.
He did not insist on privilege. He make no declaration of His 'rights', that disgusting clamour which can verge so often in this world on the ludicrous and the self-absorbed, though justice must remain. His was a meekness which was willing to be slapped, have His very beard (Isaiah 50) ripped, His face made a mockery of human flesh (Isaiah 52:12ff.), and His back to be beaten to near deadly state, while yet they mocked, and yet they hung Him, nails His support, into the domain of death, jibing the while, and taking games to distribute His goods.
That is holiness and amidst its intense ugliness of FORM is an intensive beauty of SPIRIT! He even prays continuingly, "Father, forgive, for they do not know what they are doing!" Many would shortly receive that forgiveness, going where it is to be found (as in Isaiah 55, John 3:16).
But what does it teach to us at the level of behaviour in terms of the beauty of holiness ? First of course, it is the Lord's and anything of it is found only in Him. Here consider verse 8 of Hosea Chapter 14. This beautiful chapter concerns a garden, an allegorical garden, one which in its NATURALNESS and its prodigality, its order and its fragrance of botanical description and loving nurture, is one which GOD MADE.
Others may want to make other Edens, despite the flaming sword to exclude; but the only other Eden is the one which is to come, in heaven. Here on earth, now, there is chastening and cleansing and pilgrimage. The end comes shortly. While however the earth is to have a millenium of some dimension, even there, revolt will come before the assizes sit (Revelation 20), showing the inveterate and intractable character of sin in situ (cf. Isaiah 26:10).
Secondly, what do we find in this revelation in Philippians 2 ? It shows that self-affirmation is a sickly and weedy thing, and of course it is precisely this which is being affirmed so much in the High Schools and in the psychic denudations which pass as gardens, but merely make man naked of all loveliness, in the world's domain at present. BE yourself, MAKE your own commandments, let them be TRUE TO YOURSELF, be a SACRED SELF, and ensure that NO ONE TANGLES WITH YOU, and let them have it who would correct you.
Indeed, what more is to be found ? Such things as this: Be a god (and this is not mere mockery, for the folly is even now quite real, and is to come to consummation in the antichrist as we have seen), and make your own morals, so that then, WHO CAN CORRECT YOU. Yes be INCORRIGIBLE! and so they fall into the pit as if it were a palace, and parade naked like the Emperor, too proud to admit he had been duped, and that his wonderful 'new clothes' were but a myth, an invention, and so his nakedness was greatly 'admired' by fawning courtiers, while he was actually a deluded disgrace... nothing more.
Thirdly, it reminds us that obedience is part of holiness. Now obedience to pope or dictator in their ostentatious claims, this is folly; for when it comes to direction of one's very spirit, that is God's prerogative of grace for the Christian, and should be so owned for all; and in Him, is found man’s source and owner (Romans 11:33, 14:9). To let mere man, in one or two or a million and two, direct your life and its morals, your wisdom and its source, your ideology and its nature, this is far worse than madness. There are no spiritual asylums, but if there were, this would be paramount. A MERE CREATION to direct someone in the image of God! (Cf. With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 11, *1, and Ancient Words : Modern DeedsCh).
It is all but blasphemy to have it occur. It is sacrilege, for your spirit ought to be holy, and is here and in such a thing prostituted. What is for God, it is given to man. It is like giving pearls to swine.
DO NOT however, said Christ, cast your pearls before swine. Swine ? Not very flattering ? No but it is the SIN which is swinish, and when it wins, then it imbues its victims with its very own nature, and that is the way of it, just as in influenza of virile viciousness can reduce the great to suffering proto-corpses. Such is sin.
OBEDIENCE is to God, and to others for Him, as He directs, as with children obeying parents in the Lord, employes bearing with injustices of employers but not with invasion of spirit, and so on. It means that you take your MEANING as an individual as well as a human being, from Him; you take your training at His disposal, your profession as He indicates, without glamour, but with joy as to serve Him. HIS is the head of the body, and WE are members of His body. It is like a captain, but this One actually PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY and SPIRITUALLY MADE US. To be disposed by Him is the opposite of being disposed of; to be dispersed here and there by Him is the contrary of mere contrivance. HIS is knowledge; to HIM is WISDOM. Holiness knows this and follows Him. He is God, not man. HIS is the power, not that of any man; and His are the keys of death and hell, as to life more abundantly (Revelation , John ).
Nor is it anything in this arena merely automatic, for the absence of such as aspect as this, at the SPIRITUAL level is the essence of it. It is inter-personal (as in A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. 12). It involves exploration and confession, admiration and adoration, knowledge and intercession, His (Hebrews ), ours as we seek for those to whom His love would send us in word and deed, as He prepares us.
It involves a willingness for the crux, the uttermost, the pinnacle, the climax of challenge and this may well involve utter humiliation, as former friends marvel and the great wonder that one should humble oneself for the INVISIBLE GOD and not for the salary of the clergy, or the superannuation of the commercial, or the wealth of the entrepreneur, not for prestige or a position among the great, but for CHRIST HIMSELF. Indeed, of Christ, we read that "He made Himself of no reputation." This, all of these works of His, they were pleasing to God to the uttermost (Philippians 2:9).
Love is of the essence of holiness since God IS love (I John 4:7ff.), and without it there is no part in God (I Cor. 13, ). Love to God, love from God and love through the life as the Lord directs our works, these things are imbued from above, insoluble to what is below, and it hates it. It cannot understand it. The darkness finds it incomprehensible and always seeks an 'explanation', however contrary to all and any verification in fact (cf. Job 1 and the devil's style), to satisfy its vanity and reinforce its own delusion, though of course it deems brilliant and witty, what is empty and gritty.
Holiness sees in such a thing the PITY and has COMPASSION as Christ did on His own; but it does not for beauty's sake, make itself ugly, and appear even for one moment to ACCEPT the persons of the proud, or bow to them (as Mordecai so dramatically and productively showed! - see Esther).
Thus we find Matthew 23, and Mark 14:61-62, Acts 4:7-12, 19-20, Jude, II Peter 1. If there is one thing which this generation seems adept at swallowing, it is the concept of diplomacy, of deviousness, of almost Jesuit-like casuistry, in which you do not say what you think because you want future place or power or position, or social acceptance, or to pass a course. You sacrifice truth on your own altar and imagine you are, to be colloquial, savvy and - to be straight about it - profound in wisdom.
It is however simple dishonesty. It allows the proud to drive chariots on your walls, and to do uninterrupted commerce in their evils, knowing that the fancies of the world prove so attractive to many, that their evil speech is irrepressible, since all seem to fall before it. WHERE HOWEVER GOD PLACES YOU, you should serve Him with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, following His example who never temporised, who, if you be a Christian, actually LIVES within you. IF, as Paul declares in I Cor. 6:18ff., you are not to share your body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, with a PHYSICAL HARLOT, would you then share your spirit with a SPIRITUAL ONE! or with any pollution. Did He ? WHEN!
No, this is the beauty of holiness, that you do what is right and depend on the Rock, and sitting on Him, take the waves which lash. This is your calling, to shine as lights in dark places (I Thess. 1:8, Phil. 2:15), and not even for some delusive thought that your spirit can wait, and truth can be on hold, can you for His latter glory, sacrifice Him now. To sacrifice HIM who IS the truth (John 14:6) at any time, it is untimely, it is unholy, a defacement of beauty, a defilement of peace, an intrusion of radioactive spiritual waste into the holy waters that are heavenly. It brings earth into the heart and sin into the soul.
The beauty of holiness is obedient to GOD, not to the wit of man; but whatever of imagination, of virtue, of godliness is needed, this it loves, just as the wisdom of God loved the intricacies of His creation (Proverbs 8).
There is friendship in the beauty of holiness too, just as
there is intimate and infinite comradeship between Father and Son (John 17:1-3,
5:19ff., -23, ); and there is mutual esteem as the members of His body
co-operate but do not coagulate; for if the latter, nothing could be done
Philippians 2 goes on to exhibit such things, moving to extreme graces which in their very ordinariness and extra-ordinariness mixed, suggest beauty of holiness. Thus Paul speaks of Timothy. In prison though the apostle was, and in need of comfort and encouragement, yet in love and grace he sent this young person, like a son to him, to meet the needs of the congregation in Philippi (2:19ff.). In passing we see the self-centred corruption of the time was not little; and Timothy was distinct from it, distinctively different, in this that though "all seek their own" as a trend, yet Timothy is known for "his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel."
Now Paul could have gone on to state this: that Timothy
both from past comradeship, current exigencies and dangers in the prison, if
not indeed opportunities of gospel presentation, and his own importance as an
apostle in prison, should remain with him. On the contrary, not merely did Paul
send him but did so BECAUSE these very things made him RELIABLE for the task of
encouraging them at
Again, in the case of Epaphroditus,
there is an acute sensibility. Epaphroditus had been
so sick that he nearly had died, and God had delivered Paul from having to bear
such a death of so devoted a helper, by healing him. Now Epaphroditus
himself had been greatly grieved because he KNEW that those at
It is in the light of such things, that the glorious if not dazzling lights of the precious stones noted in Revelation 21 come beaming into our minds. Here in the depiction of the wonder of heaven, you see that the very gates were distinct pearls, one for each, while the wall was of jasper. Brilliant in light, pure in construction, unpollutable was the inheritance for the saints (cf. Ephesians ). Yet the land has a river so natural (Revelation 22:1), and it is generous, abundant and surrounded with most fruitful trees by its side. This resembles that delightful vision of Ezekiel 47 (for which, please turn to Biblical Blessings Ch. 5). Again, Christ is seen as the Bright and Morning Star, so that the wonders of creation are not without knowledge, though the supernal consummations are freed from all tarnish, while truth is displayed without intermission (Rev. 22:23,27). The Lamb IS the light of it.
Conjoined with Hosea 14, where the very nature of naturalness in its fragrances, tenderness, entwining softnesses and intimate admixture of harmonious compositions is the scene of restored holiness, these things provide the concept that the God of Creation has made natural things to be so, and if sin and curse has defiled some of them, then essentialisation removes this, once the blood of the lamb is the covering (Isaiah 4:6, 32:1-4, 53, 54); and this also, that the supernatural One who made, is the One who made the natural. So our very fashioned eternal bodies are in the heavens (II Cor. 5:1ff.), and a new heavens and earth produce more than the original, being for the children of God Himself (Revelation 21:1, II Peter -13).
The One who CAME
to this natural earth, has in His human nature declared,
"I am going to prepare a place for you … so that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3); and in coming, He brings in the beauty of holiness, those who are to His, to His place, one for each, and each with all (Rev. 2:7,17 the individuality, 7::9, 22:1-5, the mutuality in and with Him).
There we find that
the beloved one, as a bride to be, is near to sleep (a major danger in parable
format - see Matthew 25). Her beloved, his locks most with the work of the
kingdom, the service of truth, are there at the door, his hand on it, and He
knocks. Too perfect to get up, and soil herself, and not at all beautiful in
such unholiness, she in this parable, lies until it
is too late, simply in bed. It is her alleged purity which is her difficulty. Self-righteousness
may be polluting the peach of her complexion, and the needs of her own beauty
may be imperilling her peace (the extreme case for
But the young lady, the beloved ? Come when called, and come with some sense of urgency, to the door, to allow the entry of her beloved ? She does not need to do THIS! There are some things about which some Christians may at times feel so, and it is most perilous if there is call and cause.
But look! He is gone. She is distressed. This is the picture of the Christian who has slumped, slummocked, fallen in some way, or is just proud, and is suddenly awakened. She goes surging out to find her Beloved and restore the lost sense of fellowship. Where is he ? Perhaps in modern terms, it is as if she visits a psychiatrist. He is secular. That is ridiculous for a spiritual problem. It ought not to be done. It demeans Christ, and is like consulting a musician about sowing crops. It is unamenable to need, contrary to the case.
whether this query be made in sardonism or wonder, in joust or wonder, so that she replies with such an onrush of adoration that it amazes them. Yes, clear is such on passion of desire as then constitutes a clear testimony to those who ask. Out of her sincere heart, though it was distressed just now, she pours such an answer*3 to their query (5:9),
and so she proceeds, in this is an adoration of Christ, expressed in allegorical format, that is most fascinating when you take each element, such as the lips, which are "lilies, dropping sweet myrrh" (5:13). We are, you see, drawing near to the lilies of our title.
Lilies ? Pure and white, without apparent pollution, delightful, not bold and garish, but clear and distinct, and the myrrh brings thought of the resurrection, as also of the birth (Matthew 2:11, Luke 24:1), in a book in which the Messiah is the man, and the church or the individual is the woman (as in the bride of Christ, Ephesians 5, where the base for the allegory is found, and Rev. 19:8 the marriage).
So Christ was tried in a furnace of earth, but His words did not and do not, yes and will not pass away (Matthew 24:35). They continue as lovely as the lily and as fresh, being a thing INSIDE nature, FROM supernature, from God Himself.
The italicised words 'His flock' are added only to give sense. They are not in the original. HE FEEDS is the sense, but as a man would not be feeding in such meat as this, it is clear that He is giving feed to His flock. Nevertheless the omission of the object in this poetry is indicative: there is a FEEDING, a sense of communion occurring among the lilies. Beauty blends with peace, productivity with quietness, content with friendship, a holy harmony with a healed breach passed away, moves happily among the flock and towards the Shepherd, in ineffable grace, fragrance the motif, joy the product, growth the moulding increment.
Such is the beauty of holiness. There is the LORD; there is MEANING; there is AUTHORITY; there is GOODNESS; there is simultaneously LOVE, and TENDERNESS, and on the part of the redeemed, ADORATION, but it seems most natural, as amongst the lilies, and is because He who made nature in toto, also made us; and to be with Him in such a format as that which He willingly took in the depth of compassion and the uttermost gift to humiliation, raises the level of discourse and brings into most intimate beauty, the correlation of God and child of God, Creator and creation, Redeemer and redeemed, Speaker in truth and wisdom and those so addressed in understanding of heart and serenity of spirit. That He should so do, become such, be at such pains to change form for such a purpose, and bring simplicity to the thoughts of the 'wise', even adding to His words His very self, it is also, itself, part of the beauty of holiness.
That to which it led on earth was horror; but planned anguish; and what it has brought is heaven, and even now the haven of His presence (as in Psalm 91) in the light of His glory (II Cor. 3:18). Let us remember David's word:
For further on this, see Predestination and Freewill, Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 11 and News, Facts and Forecasts 112. The harmony is so great, intensive and complete that it is a specific feature and focus of Christian Apologetics.