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Chapter 14

The Inalienable Liberties
of Life
in the Lord

for man in the mist of the universe

Conditions of Relish,
and Joy Unspeakable!
Isaiah 32-33

Reality is so restful. It is not the best of all possible worlds only because of what the creation has done; but it still is the place from which to find it. Sunday is the day to commemorate the rest; and TODAY is the day to find it!

A. The First Delights

Isaiah 32-33 is a repository of delight, if you dig. God is sometimes like that. He makes the essentials so simple a child of 4 years can and often does, receive them. The meaty things can be enough to tame lions! But they are delicious!

Here in Isaiah 32 we find, in parallel with 4:6, the hiding place, the repose, the resting place (cf. Isaiah 11:10), the cover from tempest, the shadow in a dry land, like that intense shade of a mighty rock. There it was seen in architectural terms (4:6), here it is a man, a king. So the pattern has become personal, and the real meaning of the sacred temple, as in Hebrews 8, is being exposed.

32:3 shows His miraculous intervention to bring health and healing, of heart, of mind or body, and the changes in spirit that are wrought are to be seen in verses 4-5. In Chapter 33, the theme, set once again in contrast to the work of iniquity, the Good Shepherd over against the bad ones. Verse 2 is attractive and an invitation to entry into this shade under the scorching sun: "O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for you. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble." Verse 5 takes us to an eyrie, where the true relationships of things are better seen. The goodness of the Lord and the continuity of His mercies even when provoked appear, and it is in THAT light that we now begin to see the BIBLICAL BLESSING on the head of the man whose God is the Lord, whose rock is the Messiah and whose place is peace in Him.

"Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of your times, and strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is his treasure."

Whether we confront a fallen church or a university, there is but one result. There is no answer provided us for the challenge, but they depart, spitting and cursing, or drunk with folly, but with NO REASON to defend their cause. We provide opportunity to appear in person, but they flee; in writing, but they do not send; and now? THIS was the way GOD the Lord, the majestic sovereign had it all planned. The evil desires of corrupt and corroded hearts, aided, as Peter put it in Acts 3, by wicked hands were not a great ecclesiastical mafia success after all. ALL that planning and devious dealing was not a triumph but a disaster. It was all videoed if you like, before it happened.

It was predicted in such detail by so many prophets (see SMR Chs.8-9) for so long that it was all but incredibly stupid. But then sin blinds! That too is an experimental verification. Who would have thought that with all that exposure of the thing IN ADVANCE in place in the synagogues that the Jews would fall for it, or the Romans who knew the Jews for that matter. But they did! Oh how they did! And how they suffered! That is where the deliciousness ends!

That is always sad. The lash that results from licence is never a delight! It is necessary however NOT to play with reality and ASK for it! Long did the Lord bear with the Jews and you see something of this way back in the days of Isaiah, who however also was in the Spirit in his inspired writings, so that these events in the first century were also being actively described. Listen to him then, for it is just a little before our Chs.32-33 text area which we are now examining:-


We come now to the maritime feast. Here, with the symbolic representation of the truth so fast and sure, we have streams, broad waters, lakes and shores, softness of water on which the eye can rest. Yet there is here such rest (Matthew 11:28-30, Isaiah 11:10) that the soul is quiet within. Oarsmen do not transgress into these pellucid waters, pirates find no haven, for Christ is here, in rule and in charge in the heart, greater than he who is in the world (I John 4:4). As John relates to us, we have overcome the contrary spirits. As for such worldlings and their bases, "they are of the world; therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them."

The LORD is our JUDGE, our LAWGIVER, so that no piratical attacks are of the least danger to us (Isaiah 33:22). He is indeed our KING and His deliverances are both adequate and numerous. As Paul puts it, speaking of Him: "who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver; in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us" (II Corinthians 1:10). Indeed, "the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me to his heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory for ever and ever" - II Timothy 4:18.

Then we find this: the imagined enemy ship has loosed its tacklings, it is no more prepared, its warlike potencies are at standby, their sails cannot be spread, there is no power to perform, merely apparition to dismay, and in that, nothing is near, for no 'gallant ship' can come into these waters.

The result: "then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey". As in Isaiah 53:12, "He shall divide the spoil with the strong". Christ has earned by His death and intercession, the suffering of His soul, that soul of His suffering, by His parade through the streets of iniquity and evil's parade of its powers on His back, He has earned the victory which He simply donates to His children. They may suffer; but their lives are His and the controls are in His hands and nothing can sever from His love; His presence is near, "I am continually with Thee" (Psalm 73:23); "I will never leave nor forsake you" - Hebrews 13:5. Indeed, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me" - 13:6.

The "great spoil"? For this we turn alike to Isaiah 53 and Matthew 24:28. The Son of Man comes to collect His own, and the vultures are there. The tares and the wheat, the sheep and the goats, the meat and carrion and the cargoes of Christ. They are all there. They go their ways. His are ... His own, and not one is lost.

Moving now from the sea scene to the landlubbers about, what more adorns this allegory? "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people who dwell there shall be forgiven their iniquity" - Isaiah 33:24. In what way? We recall the great work of Christ on the man who was, in the crowd and to gain His attention, lowered directly down from the roof. He was paralytic and Christ first said, "Son, your sins are forgiven you", and only then, "Arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house" - Mark 2.

This text is crucial, for it shows that Christ saw at once the sin-condition, and in His mind it was foremost. He addressed and resolved it, and only then did the actual "healing" appear; though as to the real and ultimate, the dominant and spiritual, the personality and life healing, this occurred first. He then was challenged; such words being easy simply to say.

Then He took the confrontation and said, Which is easier? Does one more easily heal a paralytic or say, Your sins are forgiven? Of course the latter, in its meaning, in what it implies, takes far more; for it cost Him His life on earth. But to the sensationalists, those with appetites for such performances as many Pentecostals put on (it is true they vary): they wanted to SEE it! Then, said He, so that you may KNOW "that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins" - He told the young man to get up physically and to take himself and his bed to his own place. This he duly did!

This in the Christian life (and how much more readily does He act when we are His already!), there is never any case where you have to SAY, I am sick! in any life relevant manner. If Christ sees fit to keep you in bed awhile, and He kept Corrie ten Boom some 5 years after a stroke, that is His wish. He COULD change it, but sometimes weakness attests strength (II Corinthians 12:9-10).

In her case, she had, after nearly certain death and staggering deliverance from one of the worst of the German death camps, been given strength for decade after decade to her eighties, to travel the world and preach forgiveness and mutual reconciliation in and through Christ. At the last, with a highly efficient secretary, she showed in weakness what for so long she had shown in strength. Many came and were blessed at the LOOK of her, the love, the eyes, the patience and gentle kindliness of which she had for so long given such a testimony in, for and through Jesus Christ.

When you have a work for Christ to do, you are quite assured of whatever health it takes to get it done. When you wait on the Lord, how often a feeling of total inability is replaced by a strength that rejoices and knows neither pitfall nor deterrence, so that in the Lord one prevails! Such is my own experience, and such is the promise, the Biblical Blessing in Isaiah 40:29-31: