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Dumping principles and Demonstrating Moral Nudity
The Effects of Sleep and the Blessed Dawn which will Awake!
What a stir, what a blur of disappearing morals, slighted principles, accelerating doom, as if speed and dis-sanctity, that outburst which thrusts like a dagger into the heart of the race, would remove the realities. Speed and haste, distemper and compromise, reaction and the glorification of rebellion against God, the mis-designation of the love of liberty as either sacred whatever its choice, or unimportant compared to profit and ease: these things continue like the loss of feline fur on a balding cat.
One might object that the loss of hair, moulting and a dagger go but ill together; but then a heart pierced and fur lost makes just that sort of mottled performance which greets the saddened eye that looks at the disappearing world.
Again, one may expostulate, Disappearing ? Read then Isaiah 24, and compare this terminal prophecy with the present, and see if your eyes do not reveal to you the perspective of the present in the depiction of the past, where God declared what would be. What then does Isaiah 24 tell us ? Many things, leaping from the laxity of the prophet's own time, to the end of all such guises and disguises departing from godliness, as judgment sets in like a fog, amidst the witless landing the aircraft of empty hope, smashing those that would land.
Since this prophecy cries for contemporary application, let us apply it, and may the Lord assist those who read to hear; for the objective is not sadness, but joy, not judgment but deliverance, not smooth things either, but alerted response to the reality of the times, in the presence of the Lord, so that blessing and not bane might result for those at least who awake: for the God of all comfort has never changed, nor will He. Yet those who change from Him will never succeed but in obtaining the jaded spirits, the superficial repasts of slight things that in the end poison the soul and blight the mind (Psalm 102, Malachi 3:6, Proverbs 24:21).
Isaiah 24 shows a movement from the judgment on Tyre (and how thoroughly and with what detail it is fulfilled cf. SMR p. 743), to that on the world. It begins with a salient exposť of categories for judgment.
"Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste,
Distorts its surface
And scatters abroad its inhabitants.
And it shall be:
As with the people, so with the priest;
As with the servant, so with his master;
As with the maid, so with her mistress;
As with the buyer, so with the seller;
As with the lender, so with the borrower;
As with the creditor, so with the debtor.
"The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered,
For the Lord has spoken this word.
The earth mourns and fades away,
The world languishes and fades away;
The haughty people of the earth languish.
The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,
Because they have transgressed the laws,
Changed the ordinance,
Broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore the curse has devoured the earth,
And those who dwell in it are desolate."
The time is coming when vast masses of people will be destroyed (cf. Revelation 6 and 8); currently, and since 1945, we have had the means, but not from our own means alone does it come, but apparently from asteroid and flaming agents of devastation, of which the atomic bomb is merely man's own contribution, in the torment and torrent of death (cf. Joel 2:30, which predicts its appearance, and see SMR p. 794). Social categories do not amount to much when death strikes, when devastation rockets, when judgment sits. So here in Isaiah 24 does the Lord enumerate the different conditions of men, only to declare their futility when ruin arises like a tornado. "The earth is defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws ... broken the everlasting covenant."
WHAT everlasting covenant has the
earth broken, so that "the
inhabitants of the earth are burned" ?
From the first, trust in the word of the far from speechless God, who made speech and our own powers to interpret such symbolisms, was required. Adam and Eve broke that. After the flood, God did not hide the manner of man from his ear, but as in Genesis 8:20-22, showed that the lapse of man which led to the flood, was abhorrent even though He would not again flood the earth. The same tenacity of morality, requisite of spiritual communion and agreement with the Lord of creation in His specifications for man's ways, applied. He made an everlasting covenant not again to flood, but the CONSPECTUS and the CHARGE within this, as in 8:20-21, left it clear that the provocation had led to the result, after much patience, that flood that inundated and nearly removed man from this planet. This was, as it is, as profound a consideration as ever.
LITTLE MORALS FOR SALE ? The price is high ...
Now, in our own generation, we Gentiles in our own era (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, *3 and Ch. 3, *1) are breaking morality on all sides, a deadly dynamic that may seem rather like the dog returning to its vomit, for those who have lived in some of the at least ostensible Christianity of the British Empire that was, and is not. Thus, we find in The Australian, Dec. 11, 2003, that an Australian High Court ruling has determined that perverted couples may enter this land as a special category of immigrant, in terms of persecution they might suffer if they continued in such affairs, in their own land. Some congratulate this laxity, and praise this lapse.
Is it not enough that the design of man be thwarted and his construction distorted by those who ignore the mode of reproduction that the race may continue, and so treat the Designer in this respect, without respect, within our land, that we must differentially import such! Oh but, say some, this is mercy!
Mercy, as after the flood, is indeed operative, but to trade on it is not wise. Mercy is an extenuation from pity in the face of folly, and the promotion of folly is not mercy but madness in this, that it makes the need of yet more mercy, and more, like the case of the indulged son who continually gets money from his mother, and uses it for drugs and evil works of various kinds. It is not that parental love should cease, but this, that it should not confuse permissiveness with solidity, or the greasing of the slide of evil with the promotion of goodness, or the death twitches with the deliverance of life. Life is a candle readily snuffed out on this earth; and the light of it is not darkened with evil counsel for ever.
There is a limit, there is an end, and placing the finger on the nose before the Designer, by using His very means of forwarding love in families, as a curse for acquiring wrath in its abuse, evocative of the death penalty in the Old Testament and, repentance and remedy by faith apart, of exclusion from the kingdom of heaven in the New, confirms the point abundantly! On this, see I Timothy 1:10, I Corinthians 6:9, Leviticus 18:21ff.. Indeed, in Leviticus the immediate context is excluding 'mating' with animals, as well as man mating with man! In what sense then is there a limit to love ? In this, that what excludes it in principle, by provoking wrath, ignoring sanctity, belittling design, and glories in it (cf. Romans 1:25-32), is adding ground for fury to find its just mark.
As Paul declares in the name of the Lord:
"who, knowing the righteous judgment of God
that those who practise such things are deserving of death,
not only do the same,
but also approve of those who practise them."
It is, in all simplicity, like knocking someone down in an accident, and then in haste to deliver oneself, running over him again while making desperate exit from the scene. It adds evil to evil till it is like a volcano in full flow. But is love then limited ? Its scope of payment to procure deliverance is unlimited, for the infinite God in man's form died for sin and sinners: the account has no limit. Yet when this account is ignored, and not mercy but madness in despite of God's law is practised in singular and outrageous rebellion against truth and mercy itself, then love instead of forcing the sinner to be saved, allows his due condition its final folly. It is sacred, love, not an army. If its scarred face is not to your taste, then your scarring sin is left to its work. You are not forcibly detached.
If then some nation makes so profound an error as this one, in the face of the word of God, it is well to remember that God is not mocked. If some nation desires a new independent constitution, and would like to remove the pre-amble from the present one, concerning God Almighty, and to design for itself laws for the life it neither could not did create, then scars are bound to come. Such political profligacy (laws could be made to exclude this or that) becomes a rank and unreasonable invitation for judgment! If it is not coming like the intemperate outburst of an angry teacher, but comes in its time, when the Lord in His divine mercy, being patient, yet calls a halt: it nevertheless comes, except repentance accrues.
It is in one way like bending a spring more and more, to find when it snaps. Yet with the Lord, His mercy is unaccountable, and though long He suffer, when He acts it is not from irascibility or impatience, but from truth in all reason; for the provocation becomes in the end an adventitious and irresponsible rebellion, pursuing its path like some car mowing down spectators, as the drive continues drunk in his heart.
So, as in Isaiah 24, verse 6, "the curse has devoured the earth." This is the end of the matter when it is taken to its inwardly illogical but outwardly due conclusion. This word, that "the city of confusion is broken down" (24:10) gives further attestation of the impact of judgment to the chronically 'ill', that is, ill-disposed to enjoy the life God has given as it is, and not as it is not. The time comes when a pervasive tension and stress means that for the worldling "all joy is darkened" (24:11), which rhymes well with Luke 24:25-26:
"And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars;
and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;
menís hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things
which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken."
Yet, just as in the case of the flood, they do not repent: as Revelation 9:20 so dramatically exposes in its fulfilled prediction. Leanness will come on the earth, the prophet Isaiah proceeds to show, and indeed how many millions wilt for lack of food, of vitality through Aids and the like. Yet they continue, and the conduct that promotes Aids continues for, though it alone is not the cause, sexual promiscuity and perversity in particular, nevertheless it is a grand gamble, for the odds are increased where the design is not followed, as is clearly medically pronounced. Use the wrong channel and the right protection is denied, just as the word of the One who created it all for the continuation of the race, is denied. Wander moreover, in lust, and your ignorance makes you the more vulnerable in body, just as in mind your tenor is troubled already, and in spirit your vulnerability rushes to the rapids.
Thus it is not perversity alone, but abuse in any form, fornication outside marriage continuing into the red domain of wrath, like car driven into the forbidden red zone of too many revolutions per second, a rushing disregard which brings penalty.
How beautifully man reposed in his rebellion with the wonder drugs, the antibiotics, but now as he transgresses more and more, and the mix of trial, judgment and weakness brings on devastation, and the 'escape' contingency plan fails, and drugs become too weak, and new ones are feverishly sought to accommodate not only natural disasters but unnatural pleas for more: so this repose is shattered!
Now in Isaiah 24, as we proceed, we find in vv. 14-16, one of those most select and gracious, beautiful and blessed outthrusts of divine grace. Amid the mischief comes the mercy, amid the judgment comes the Lord's own acceptance of judgment for man, for repentant believing man. We hear first from the very ends of the earth, the voice of praise, as they sing "for the majesty of the Lord", even that same Lord who as the Lord of Israel was the God of Isaiah.
But what occasions this praise ? It is this. We see One, as so placarded to our eyes in Isaiah 4, 32, 7, 9, 50-55, who acts to deliver to His own detriment, mercy being extravagant to the uttermost, in order to secure the prey from its ruin. It is the Messiah, the suffering Saviour, the sacrificial incarnation, God Himself. What is His concern ? "I am ruined, ruined!" He cries. "Woe to Me! The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously. Indeed, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously."
We have seen just HOW treacherously this acme of arrogance and abyss of rebellion came, in Isaiah 49:7 when the people abominated their own Messiah, as Isaiah forecast, and they duly did! We have seen just the style of 'ruin' in Isaiah 50 and 53, the grotesque coming like a scenario of gargoyle in army formation, invading a city. Here it is inserted in this exclamatory style, self-interpreting, as when a divorce is noted in a letter. The topic is not new, and the basic character of the claim is not far off, but very near indeed!
Thus, amid this riotous rejection of the divine mercy, which was not Israel's alone, but becomes increasingly obviously, the choice of the whole earth, in its official structures and immoral strictures, we find this comment, this prediction indeed: "Fear and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth."
Flee from the fear, you fall into the pit! Escape the pit, then find the snare! It becomes snakes with no ladders. Heaven will be the source of plague and "the foundations of the earth are shaken." This of course has been increasingly the position since the atomic bomb, which so stirred Einstein when he discerned its use and the dangers. It is likewise the status quo as man invades the divine territory of the creator, and making himself lord, makes 'morals' to fit desire, and laws to meet clamour.
No wonder the prophet shows the time, now close, when "the earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly." This is that time of which Haggai spoke (2:6) and which Hebrew cited (12:26ff.). It comes; it always comes.
But where, you may ask, is the COMFORT in that ? There is no comfort in the pit, but to escape it; and the escape is not merely in getting OUT of it, but INTO the refuge provided.
What does Isaiah say in 2:10-11 ? This:
"Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty.
The lofty looks of man shall be humbled,
The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day."
In 26:20 he describes the refuge yet more:
"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers,
and shut thy doors about thee:
hide thyself as it were for a little moment,
until the indignation is past.
For, behold, the LORD comes out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."
Again, in Isaiah 4:6 the prophet discloses that there is to be a tabernacle, a refuge, a place of shade and protection from wind and tempest, while in 32, it is made clear that this is the KING to come, the Messiah whose rule, as in Isaiah 11 is to be uniquely beneficial because wholly divine. As only GOD is saviour, so HE who saves (Isaiah 53), bearing sin, is God; and as King, His rule is that of the divine majesty.
NOW He may come in the heart; then on the land; now in the spirit with balm, then on the earth with calm. Meanwhile, the provocation continues, but there is this refuge; there is this King of the Kingdom of Heaven, there is this place of security. To be sure, Christian, you may die, as Christ made so clear, in the midst of persecution, but inviolate is your spirit, secure is your soul, clean is your mind and your heart undefiled, for such is His keeping who washes you (Revelation 1:5, I John 1:7ff.). Luke shows this divine deliverance and keeping of the spirit committed to Him, even while the world whirls to its own determinate destruction, in 21:16-17, both the woe and the wonder of it all for the lovers of the Lord.
"And you will be betrayed both by parents, and brethren,
and kinsfolk, and friends;
and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
And you will be hated of all men for my nameís sake.
But there will not an hair of your head perish.
In your patience possess your souls."
The axes of eternity are not geometrical but spiritual; and the design is not delivered to man for his tampering, but for his resolution of the ruin with the remedy proffered in Christ. Reject it and discomfort is the dynamic; find the mercy of truth and the kindness of His grace, and the tempests are but trifles, and the vile violences the music of disaster, which one has turned off, listening to another Voice altogether, the word of God, and finding in His present power and leading, the fulness of life.
There is the time to come when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14), but this is not yet; and when it does come, even then man will betray it with that inveterate malice towards the glory of the holy God, which is his endemic ruin (Revelation 20). Yes the earth will "reel to and fro like a drunkard ... it will fall and not rise again" (Isaiah 24:20) and the imperial majesty of its aspiring kings will be captured, and judgment comes. Then "the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His elders gloriously."
Such is Isaiah 24 in the context of the Book of the Lord. Such is what is to come, and in much, is already here.
But let us return to the notable developments of late.
LITTLE LIBERTY FOR SALE ? THE COST IS GREAT
Recently, also, we find the cost of whittling liberty. The Chinese nation is vast, in its Empire, and its monies are valued by many. Hence we find instead of the simple proclamation of Bush on his entry into his presidency, that Taiwan would be protected, whatever it took, now a censure. To what is this new censure directed ?
It is to none less than the President of Taiwan. What escapade, then, has this official committed that a super-power (though one much strained financially, in parallel to the ruin of USSR earlier, as to trend) should so PUBLICLY rebuke him ? He has dared to have a referendum, it appears, and thus aroused the ire or the verbal fire at least, of a protector nation, the USA. Is this then the President who declared in Australia, when some did not give him dignity but were rather abusive, that he LOVED FREE SPEECH ? Is Taiwan to be unloved in this, then ?
WHY ? Do principles move ? Does the foundation shatter ? Is it exceedingly moved ? Does it quake ? No, but the STATUS QUO (as we learn in The Australian, Dec. 11, 2003) is to be preserved. WHY ? It is convenient. The ground is unstable, the world is in trouble, one needs to be careful, cautious even, if not invading Afghanistan or Iraq, it appears. Now however worthwhile those two actions may in some ways have been, the point here is this: that they were not so cautious! Even about that time, it was intimated on this site (Cascade ... Ch. 5) that the USA ran a great risk of being over-extended leading to an effectual weakness in the international scene. That could mean desecration, diminution, efforts for manipulation by other powers. It seems this time may have come, starting rather subtly.
Thus this status quo, is that of a China which decrees that Taiwan (actually the place where the defeated armies fighting the atheistic communist scourge of liberty and degradation of man*1, proceeded) is to be regarded as a part of its ONE self. One self ? What sort of a self is this one ? It is the one which took China by aggressive force, which used the time of relative rest, while Chiang Kai-Shek fought the Japanese, to become a base for post-war assault, which drove out the lovers of freedom (not necessarily godly for that, though many loved the Lord), and enslaved the nation.
Where, Mr Bush, then is the freedom of speech you so love, there ? Is the principle then bendable ? It is well to consider such premises!
Is then the ONE China, the pawn of brigands, not freely elected, the seller of the national soul to the extent it was possible to sell it, to become the NECESSARY base for unity with the escapees ? Now to be fair, we must point out that President Bush is reported to have declared something MORE. It is noted that he stated categorically and clearly to China, at the very region of time when he was dictating to the President of Taiwan, concerning his plan, it appears, to have a referendum on independence (from brigandage in this case), that FORCE in invasion is a change of the status quo also, and that the USA would not fail to become involved if this were to be used.
Yes, this is so, and it is well said in this, that the USA is showing that its oft-repeated love of liberty is not something which it despises in the fateful arena of the Pacific where so much blood was shed in the interests of liberty. However there is a more subtle involvement, by implication, here which relates to both aspects of the reported speech of President Bush.
IF Taiwan had held its referendum (which reportedly now may simply be a question about the desirability or otherwise of having Chinese missiles pointed at the island, and such issues!), then its DECLARATION of national intent would become a democratic fact, and not an inference. Then any talk of taking it over would become a sabre-rattling practice, not merely a destabilising, but a matter of making war. Then the UN (though past record does not much help one to envisage action here in such a matter) might not like it, and might even protest. What, one more invasion of a free land! people at least might say. China, not fond of losing face, could lose a considerable amount in such a case.
What then ? Is it democratically improper for a nation to say what it wants ? Is the USA to become ONE NATION with Great Britain, perhaps, since it once was ?
Is democracy then to be gagged ? Is a take-over of proselytising and self-aggrandising Communism to be abetted by the denial of this declaration of a democracy ? Is ONE THEFT to become the righteous ground of another!
Apparently so, provided it is deftly done. Thus CHINA is not rebuked for declaring that there should be what there is not, a take-over not only of the mainland China by its tyrannies, but of the island outlet as well. That is a change of the status quo in which the USA simply protected it from Communism, being against that surreal deal. Now it is being legitimised, as earlier in the UN in one of its submissions to such tyrannies in its midst, by having a STANDING acknowledgement for national China, but not for Taiwan. What is acknowledge in principle can become what is permitted in practice rather readily in this fallen world! This is an advance for China, so that not only the UN but now the USA is in principle accepting pragmatically this take-over in China, and an agglomeration of Taiwan with it. It is thus a regression for Taiwan.
We find one writer in The Australian, often crisp in his utterance, even appearing to agree, on the ground that for Australia, one does not want to be the grass underfoot while two behemoths battle! What principle is this, however, but that of survival ? Is this the kind of help we would like if someone decided to take us over, or to declare that in principle we were actually part of them ?
Does the doctor now say,
Oh look, Mrs Smith, I was doing your operation, and felt a tremor in myself, so abandoned it, for I did not want to be the grass underfoot in the biological battle for my survival. Sorry if it caused undue trouble to your own operation ?
Does the teacher now then say this:
Sorry, Mrs Brown, for your son's condition; but the fact is that there was a pay dispute, and although his examination preparation was important, I did not want to be the grass underfoot when the powers met, but to get my way on the salary domain, so it seems he may not do as well as we would have hoped. «a va, it is the way!
Perhaps many would so act; but in such cases the service aspect is becoming dormant and not alive, for in that realm, the officer but sleeps!
Don't care was made to care, and the reason is this, that his carefree pretence is but pretension. It is necessary to care, and what you care for, if not what you care to expect of others, is mere prelude to combat, compromise and emaciation. The morals are but the start; the matter proceeds!
But let the Christian rejoice in two things. Firstly, the world is going as it is written, and what is so delicious in the midst of this cumulative sin which last time drew the flood (cf. News 1), and next time draws fire (II Peter 3), is that there is a sure word, an actual certainty, an unvarying decree, a certain everlasting covenant. Divine in origin, it is deliberate in application. Winds blow but rock stays. This word is verified, certified rock, and has been so vindicated these millenia! (cf. Jeremiah 23).
If you break it, it breaks you in the end; but the duration is long, since all the permutations and combinations of any merit are permitted their little day before, defiled and defiling, they are ejected. If however you find in its heart, the very heart of God, then the departure or otherwise (ultimately not otherwise) of this world is but a very little thing, like leaving Primary School for High School.
At the time, it is considerable, but in the event, it is joy!
The sadness in the midst of such solace (the other part of which is that the God whom we adore is the God who is soon to return, and whose stay in the midst of the certain persecutory fires is always adequate though the day be long) is surely felt. It is simply that the PEOPLE who are lost, these are not replaceable like mere worlds. They go, when recalcitrance forever is their name, to the quaking destination of gratuitous rebellion, and there their disdain can remain. That is the sadness; but even in this subject, there is a light of some gladness, for they are not forced to inhabit blessedness, for how then would it be blessed ? but their final abode is their desire, if not their desideratum.
So go the nations; so goes the world; but not so go the saints, whose Redeemer Refuge is full of comfort, whose lives are made active by the available Spirit of God, who inhabits His people, and carries them through the battle (Hebrews 13:5-6, Isaiah 44), triumphant in grace, ever tender, always true. This, His combination of truth with kindness, principle with practice, help with holiness, warmth with fidelity, leading with liberty, compassion with valour, commission with comradeship, makes of any spiritual war more than an excursion but less than a woe; for when the Lord is there, darkness flees, and light dawning at the start, startles the day.
See News 37, SMR pp. 127ff., 925ff., Divine Agenda Ch. 6, Ch. 3, Of the Earth, Earthy ... Ch. 2, News 97, 98 (Spiritual Refreshings ... Ch. 3 and 4), Repent or Perish Ch. 7.