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THE STRENGTH OF LOVE
WHEN IT IS DIVINE
Love IS Ultimately Divine
It is not only that love is stronger than death; and it is - for the love of God in Christ went to the point not only of being willing to die for sinners, but to live after death, by resurrection for sinners, and He now makes intercession for them, will shortly return to rule this earth, but does not use the power of arm or army as He offers love to man. He is not daft in dealing dynamically by brute force with questions of love; and the greatest thrust for man is just that, love.
Love of truth, love of God, love of peace, love of righteousness, love of redemption, love of wisdom, love of knowledge, love of perspective by which to ascertain, regard and apply truth: these are things without which man is no more man, but mere cultivated beast. The spirit of man and the realities of God are inseparable, as in a far lesser but discernible sense, are the acumen of the car designer-manufacturer and the performance and meaning of the car. The meaning ? it is really what the manufacturer had in mind. It is as simple as that.
The meaning of man is as simple as what God had in mind. Of course, you COULD use a car to make a sort of clumsy plough driver, but that it not is meaning, merely a utility you COULD derive from it, with little wisdom. So with man, the category of being created makes for him a significance derived from what was the purpose of that creation. He CAN be used to disregard this truth, to contest it, to infest his life like some crazy farmer using his new Cadillac to draw a plough; that is the part of his created state known as freedom, one of the greatest of all creations, for which man as creator has not the slightest aptitude whatever. He can merely interfere or otherwise with its use, not create it. For that he has no knowledge or understanding.
If man should make a program which enables something with a SET purpose, however indirect, to gauge what helps that purpose, and so apply this statistical background in any given situation, to the more and more refined application, to get it working to such ends more adroitly, this is not in the least even relevant to freedom. The PURPOSE to start with is set, in this or that more or less secure way: the object is not made in order to do what it wants, since desire is in the heart of the maker, not the device. If it does HIS desire better and better, so be it; his mathematics inbuilt into its ways, enables this, but the desire itself is his. The mathematics is his. The means to apply it are his.
For purpose, you need understanding, and for that mind, and with that, more than instinct, which is pre-set purpose, which to that extent, is somebody else's, and not yours. You need the capacity to revolve possibility, the imagination to conceive it, the cogitation to survey it. For personal purpose you need indeed persons, whose distinct identity is so conceived that the nature of the person is not the control, but the spirit, the roving, ramifying, estimating, value-embracive and constructive, imaginative spirit. For intelligent personal purpose you need also the capacity to REALISE reality. This is not pleonasm but necessity. To realise is interesting, as when you realise it is a fine morning; but to realise reality is to ensure that what actually is the case, not merely what you estimate it to be, is within your grasp to find; and to find it.
If you do not find it, then you are merely reacting, not responding, to that extent. You are to that extent the thing of your programs, the resultant of your obscurities, the device of your design, and lack liberty. You may have SOME in so far as that tradition from others who DID realise reality, may influence you, or the obvious with all its implications may affect you, despite that spiritual dulnesswhich is the byproduct of sin. Yet if you lack the realisation of the actual, then you are to that degree blind, sightless, seeing dreams in your assessive constructions, mirages in your overview.
Thus if you seek to KEEP your life, as Christ declared, you will lose it. It is simply a fact. You un-man yourself in such action as that.
How does this work ? Like this... If you are so interested in yourself that you
quash the implications of your design,
ignore the meaning of your being,
declare war on God or on any clear knowledge of Him,
declaim indifference or simply have
it (practically much the same, since it all divorces you from your handbook and
leaves you in practice alone, a code book without key),
being atheist or agnostic, formalist in religion, it is in this all one:
then what follows ?
It is this: then you are bereft and so devoid of information concerning yourself, that you misuse yourself. Meaningfully or otherwise, you fail to find the meaning, illusory in understanding, you are elusive in spirit, floating like dreams, whatever may be the concrete outcome of such confusion, such abuse, such dereliction. You are the farmer using the Cadillac as a plough, or perhaps as a generator for electricity, in a system of which it is a component merely. You devise means for what you cannot understand, and imagine or devise meaning for what is only to be found for significance, in the mind of the Maker.
Hence life for such a person becomes a mere use-object, not a fulfilment of its design and hence of its destiny. Destiny itself must enter, since a designed article which is used contrary to purpose is junk in the end. Clever may be the contrivances of misuse; but deadly is the failure to realise the reality, the actuality, the situation as it in fact is. Some people with Christian background, but not foreground, thus, may imagine that they are meaningful and significant, and do all sorts of moral works, and have a clear sense of duty to themselves and their moral code, which may have a few commandments added and subtracted from the word of the Maker, and think this: "I could not possibly fail to be pleasing or at least acceptable to Whoever It Is."
Far is this from the truth. If you do not ascertain from that Maker the PURPOSE, and then effect it, you are using the amazing gift of liberty, of freedom in order to perform an impertinence of prodigious proportions: to fashion your own 'godhead' for your own creatureliness: and this is rank rebellion, gross obscurantism and incredible arrogance. It is well to be clear. If you keep your life, you will lose it: it is simply a fact. Christ stated it, and it is so: spiritually it is so from His lips; logically it is so from your condition. He speaks the truth and is it (John 14:6, Matthew 16).
There is no other truth given to man, no other way*1which attests an awareness of the purpose of the Maker, by true and due use of His power, His prophecies, and in making prophecies, in treating history as His own domain and wickedness as a mere stepping stone for His own PRE-STATED and pre-dated plans. The world does not contain such another, never has been and never will be so provided. Of gods, there is one, the Lord who shows who He is but what He does and says; and were there more, then their very system would require its creator, so that God being God, all the 'gods' would turn out to be mere creatures after all. Hence there neither is not can be any competitor, logically, and such is the case empirically in His attestation.
God has spoken to man, His product, not merely in a Manual, so that the liberty of man might be applied to the wisdom of God with the glory of being children of God available; but He has spoken also in a Man, so that as man God could and would and DID show His will, His ways and His personal nature precisely.
In this man is love,
love in sacrifice,
love in healing,
love in revealing,
love in personal friendship,
in passion to save from delusion, destruction, deviance from righteousness,
dalliance in folly, drowning in the shallow deeps of mocking cultural lore,
love in meeting and beating death,
love in providing remedy in His own crucifixion,
love in exhibiting power in healing
yes, but in His own resurrection.
In LOVE then there is power; in the love of God there is personal power for His creation. He does not however abolish freedom; He did not make it for that purpose. Beyond man, He yet appeals to man; knowing man, He is able to find Him without rupture of man's reality, and to deliver him without violence to his will (cf. Predestination trilogy, and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4). In this, the arbiter and Maker of freedom, does not evacuate but rather consummates it, giving meaning to His many protestations and entreaties on the one hand, and to the dire results of skimping pardon and scamping grace on the other (cf. John 3, Jeremiah 9, 17, Isaiah 48:16-18).
His love does not deny love, but fulfils it; but man has many inventions of spirit, many imaginations from his own warped liberties, and often, indeed very often indeed, prefers to be skewed even if he is to be skewered by his own mutual antagonisms, which result from antagonism to the truth, and will NEVER, ever be healed without that balm! Like iodine, it stings; but like that blessed potion, it heals also.
Let us then consider some of the grand cases in the Bible showing what love has done, what amazingly central realities have come to be, in terms of the exhibition of love in times past. Love not only, in the imagery of the saw, makes the world go around; it makes the world a world at all. It is for that reason that when the tests are complete, the opportunities are over, the Gospel has finished its work, that this world, this testing ground, this realm of scope and open doors will go. When the tests are over, you can deploy the rockets without any more test.
When the Age of the Gospel is
over, man will need, that is, those will do so who are with God:
a new creation to inhabit, both as to body and as to haven - in this case, one letter on, heaven. It is the ultimate haven, because it is holy, not in word merely, but in reality.
Meanwhile let us now look back on
the power of love, when it is that personal love of God which has meaning for
man, in man and through mankind (when he is not so spiritually daft or dead as
to refuse it).
Let us see what history can tell us here, in making huge contributions to our welfare as a race, by these means.
GRAND HUMAN CASES
OF THE MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS OF LOVE
Love as a robot, or programmatic device ? It is mere implementation of the desire of the designer, whether for delight or for trickery. It is his pleasure. Love in liberty alone is love; and without liberty, there is no love. That is one reason why divorce rates are now so ludicrously high that society is splitting at the seams, delinquency and roving youth groups, dissidence and impotence in society gush like a stark, black moving stream of heated lava.
People, imagining themselves NOT persons with meaning, but things with power, do what comes naturally, grab a partner (dial a partner ?), consider the net pleasure or fulfilment involved (for the time being, subject to change in changed circumstances, for example richer or poorer, better or worse), disengage when the equations fail to meet expectation, try again, reproduce as desired, abandon the byproducts (children in this scenario's brilliance!), or keep them, or contest them, multiply them, synthesise bits of family, consider various pseudo-spouses and so forth.
With such designs on their design, like the foolish farmer, they abuse love, confuse mission, despise meaning and to pursue the analogy, rust. This weakens, and looks bad; and for that matter, feels bad.
The principles of the creativity being abused, their master plans as gods lead to the ruin which is always the ultimate result of collision with reality.
This has not always been so to this extent; and now it is not entirely so, but the trend is unmistakable. Even in Australia (October 31, 2003, The Advertiser), the PM has very recently been lambasting the parents of dissident, wandering, vagrant youth, deeming irresponsible their apparent aptitude for indifference as their youngsters at night amalgamate into teams, gangs and inflict ‘grievous bodily harm’ if not death in their neighourhood, as an asinine antic of supposed fulfilment, competing with corruption, as a prize. Yet if parents waylay pleasure for profit, not responsibility for due and duty, is it so strange that their offspring pursue with little restraint, their own inclinations! And this, it is in a land of comparative restraint, substantial religious past and gifted from former times, with monumental institutions of law.
Man is being liberated into oppression, freed into folly and activated into the asinine. He loves his new wisdom and watches his world dissolve under the dynamics of his brilliance. He is becoming more and more like one bemused, then besotted, and many take to the violence, vileness and vices of power lust, disguised as religion, spouting supremacy and other religious delusions, as acne covers the diseased body. Is it so odd that what is not even with the truth, is losing its life ?
Let us look at some of the great converses, at some who for love of God, or in God of others, have shown the lustre of the divine love, and had amazingly potent results for the benefit of mankind in a way that lasts.
1) Jonah and his God
Now you may say, Oh Jonah! the fellow who tried to turn a commission into a vacation, and ran away from the pure line of duty! Love! Are you dreaming ?
Not at all. He is also the prophet who
a) knew the Lord.
b) knew how compassionate the
c) listened to the Lord.
d) ran away BECAUSE he was
afraid the Lord's kindness would make him look ridiculous.
e) was arrested in motion,
through a danger to the ship he had taken, in a storm which
f) admitted freely and frankly
his error to those whose lives he thus endangered,
g) offered to be thrown overboard and kept to it, despite the pity for him of the sailors, and
h) was thus honest, kind and
concerned, facing reality, including his own sins.
i) was picked up by a large
fish, such as maybe a whale-shark which can reach 70 feet
j) thus illustrated what becomes
of man when he insists on sinning in a quasi-comic fashion,
k) provided an allegory of the
Lord, who for sinners was thrown away,
l) was vomited out, as is the
way of that beast, evidently, to rid itself in shallower waters of garbage
when it grows.
m) in so doing, provided another
allegory, for as Jonah beat death and left the 'tomb' of the fish
n) was approached by the Lord
again on the sensitive topic of going where he had been told to go before,
the vast metropolis of reigning Nineveh, and went.
o) preached to Nineveh with such
divine companionship and no doubt amazing testimony that they repented and were delivered for over a
century from the destruction they at first,
p) hence provided a vast
breathing space in case the city should relent of its cruelties, avoid its
arrogance, return to its Maker and be filled with redeemed persons, a
q) was frank with his Father,
concerned that the awesome splendour of God was aborted,
r) felt humiliated.
taught a lesson through the removal of a quick-growing desert plant which at
It is in this 'far more' that we are especially now interested in our overflight today in Christ.
There in the days of massive strife in Israel, as ignoring its Founder, Maker and Creator, it strayed, unmindful as the prophet declares, of the Rock from which it was begotten, was a message beyond their own national failings. Survival was not to the point at all.
Rather the case was this. Assyria, with its capital Nineveh, was a great enemy to Israel; but this fact was not here relevant. As Christ declared, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, and here in the Old Testament time, you see that principle in action from the unchanging God of creation and salvation (cf. Malachi 3:6, Micah 7:19ff., Ezekiel 33:11).
What it would cost to secure the continuation in existence of such a nation, was not to the point at all. It was a matter of man and God; of life before God or death, and worse, damnation; of rescue from pre-occupation with follies and flesh to the work of design and divine purpose in companionship with Himself. It was a question of children and cattle, of lives and sensitivities, of deliverance and benevolence from God towards ANY people, EVEN Assyria, renowned for cruelty and arrogance, to ANY city, even Nineveh in its ferocities, a love consummated in repentance and fruitful in faith.
Here lay a testimony of divine love to all peoples, to all generations.
It was a matter of seeking the Lord (as they did), in repentance (as evidently they did), and finding the mercy He is so delighted to provide in ALL such cases (Colossians 1:19ff., Isaiah 55, Jeremiah 16:19ff., Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Psalm 67, 100); and of showing all this to a foreign land during Old Testament times. Moreover it was a matter of showing it with PERSONAL PERIL on the part of the prophet; not with majestic power but with humiliating discipline and correction from God for HIS OWN errors, while preaching to others of the same mercy which he, as a failure taking a trip, had needed first to obtain for himself.
It was an object lesson, a gospel lesson, a mercy lesson, a universal proclamation in the site of that hideously cruel Nineveh, just as Paul would become such a testimony far later, in view of his own rescue from persecution of Christians, so that he might become the persecuted with power, the humiliated with holiness, the ambassador of Christ to the lost Gentiles (Acts 21:22, 14:26-27, Galatians 2:1,9).
Now in all this, there is one major point for our overflight. It is this. God used Jonah who loved Him enough to KNOW Him in the first place, to LISTEN to Him in the second, to CONFESS in love for others his own sin for the third, to be ready to be offered as a sacrifice for their deliverance for a fourth, to GO to that horrendous metropolis with the message of judgment unless they repented, and to HEED God when he was corrected for failing to have enough compassion at the last. How did God use him ?
The Lord showed in Jonah, dramatically, categorically, in ancient times, via one nation to its possible oppressor (and actual, often enough), the way of mercy, the desire that it be obtained, the lengths to which He would go to provide it. Jonah, even to enemies (just as Christ did to the Lord's own enemies in scurrilous sin), showed God's love; and with this, he evidenced His international pity. Indeed, he did so on ONE DIVINE program, the Lord's OWN.
Christ embodied it; Jonah displayed it. Christ wrought it, Jonah exhibited it. Jonah showed it in word and image; Christ showed it in the command of power to heal, and in the command of history to rebuke death, using His own to achieve this purpose as sinless and eternal (Psalm 102, Isaiah 53).
What then was the will of the Lord in this case ? It was to SPREAD this proclaimed pardon, this indefeasible truth, this decisive opportunity, this divine willingness to save through sacrifice and compassion, to the worst on earth, BY HIS OWN child, Jonah.
One Lord, to Israel or through them at this time, He evinced in this way His willingness to sacrifice for deliverance of the foolish, and with this, His profound determination so to do, using His divine power freely. Further, He showed that even when people are His own prized possession, as Father, persons like Jonah, yet they in HIS love are willing and able to provide knowledge of HIS DESIGN for man, including His panel-beating operation for his restoration (Titus 3:4-7, Jeremiah 31:31ff., Ezekiel 18:31ff., 36:26), when he is all smashed up, as was IN SPIRIT was Nineveh then, and as in spirit and domain, the world is now.
God so loved THE WORLD, and would even use ISRAEL despite its vulnerability to show it, so that it might KNOW it. THIS is what the love of Jonah, through divine enablement and direction was used to SHOW. It is a magnificent principle and a testimony both in practical historical terms and in allegorical splendour, to the salvation of God. Moreover, it shows the judgment due to man, through the fact that in a latter time, Nineveh being again unrepentant as it had been before Jonah, had eventually to be destroyed, leaving its ruins for centuries hidden in the dust (a devastation in time, duly predicted by the all-knowing God). That too carries a message of the coming judgment of this world (cf. Isaiah 24, 51:6, Matthew 24:38ff., 12:41ff.).
Indeed, all of this is a practical, pre-incarnation testimony very like that in the first case, to be found in John 3:15-17, and then in John 3:19-36, especially 3:16 and 3:36, those two verses, the two borders!
What a work LOVE did, that of God, and in doing it, He used that, however imperfect, that of man, in this case, of Jonah. What passion is deployed and what compassion is attested, not only to some, but toward all (as in Romans 5:18). TO be sure this love is provided for all, but its results accrue only to those who are repentant and believe, as in Romans 5:17,19, 8:8ff.).
That too Nineveh showed, both in the prodigy of divine mercy at the first, and in the categorical judgment at the last.
2) Paul and his Saviour
This apostle of the New Covenant, similarly, was astray, persecuted the church, was arrested on the road to Damascus as was Jonah on his trip to Tarshish (or rather towards it!). In the Lord's love to him, the apostle found grace, salvation, deliverance, comfort, truth, knowledge, understanding of life, comprehension of how to find its purpose, the provision of specialised and specific purpose for himself within that general purpose for mankind, and applied it, preaching with effect in many nations, and advancing the church of Christ to vast international blaze.
In his own love to Christ (cf. I Corinthians 15:22), he could see that to refuse it is to become accursed. Why ? It is because He is the truth, and to avoid the Maker is to void His purpose, which is to become junk. But one may say, What if I do not in fact love Him ? How could I invent a love which I do not feel ? You cannot. It is only by the grace of God that you can be made to realise that
1) you are a creature.
2) you are a sinner, ignorant of your work and point and value.
3) you need to repent of your wilfulness and surrender completely to the Maker.
4) His love toward you is well attested in His death for you (but in your place, only when you find His place and yours in Him, since sin is not covered which is retained - John 8:24).
5) His power is that of your Maker, with no limit from His creation, whose very existence is on His terms
6) His truth is avoidable but not voidable, so that when you leave Him, you leave it, and so become a liar (I John 2:20-22, I John 5:10), while implying that God is a liar, which is mere sin against the truth of reality, beguiling yourself by futile imagination.
7) your talent is His production, and its due and true use is His desire, who being the Father by creation, would become also that by redemption, so that doubly created by Him, in physical reality and in spiritual restoration, you could be imbued with His love.
Yet you say, I DO not love Him. SO be it: how COULD you unless you were His, had abandoned the sin which controls your spirit, and were so liberated into the love which God is, being its source, meaning and only ultimate reality.
Thus you love Him or you do not love. If you do not love, you are exempted from life, mere continuation of structure until the judgment of truth.
In this love, Paul sought to win people to God (II Corinthians 5:14 in context 5:9-21). The "love of God constrains us". He judges that if Christ died for all, then all died. That is, you do not die for what is not facing death, and bear their sin IN death unless this was their penalty. Death is not good, love does not desire it, mercy has provided to avoid it, and in love Paul so acted in preaching the way home.
This love (Ephesians 3:17ff.), has more than mere length and breadth and depth, though to the understanding it has all these, for it "passes knowledge". Like the love of the mother, it is a marvel which shows itself in abundance like a waterfall; but this love is that of the Creator which passes comprehension in this, that it is a reality to which one must be introduced, yes and find, experience, apprehend in awe, watch in wonder, teaching, instilling, inspiring. It is a love which teaches to love, for God is love, and Paul's instruction (I Cor. 16:11) is this: "Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you."
Does this however mean, that like Paul prior to his conversion, you live with heresy, practice rebellion by NOT avoiding what avoids and distorts the word of God, contrary to Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10, or II Corinthians 6, whether the case be false brethren who masquerade but merely mock and imitate the truth, or unbelievers more obviously ? Of course not, for if you are His, you are in your new nature and in His supernatural presence (II Cor. 5:17ff., Col. 1:27), inclined to love in the truth, and so follow His word, and work with those who do so. As to that, read Matthew 23's record of Christ's denunication of religious pretence, in order to find there, and in this manner, the Master's own purity of purpose and insistence on truth!
The God of love is the truth, and what masquerades in His name has always had His inveterate detestation (cf. Jeremiah 23); like arsenic in antiseptic, like poison in perfume. This, the zeal of love for the welfare of His people, free from quackery, is correlative to His zeal for the divine word (Matthew 5:17ff.), summed up in Himself, to which He is bound in liberty, being Himself the personal expression of God (Hebrews 1), freely communicating, for ever Himself the word of God, never deviating from the truth which it is.
Paul then, in the love of God, and loving God, hence enduring all things, provided by the inspiration of God a large part of the New Testament, a vast outreach for the early church, a testimony of the power and love of God in his many humiliations, like Jonah, and in his willingness to DO WHAT HE WAS TOLD (John 12:48ff.). This He did, not as an automaton, a robot with legs and teeth, but because he loved the truth, the mercy of God, and his fellow man enough to provide this enduring testimony and contribution to the foundational things of Christianity, of the ways of divine mercy for all (who receive it!). But it is there, on offer and immensely, intensely and intensively clear.
The love of God used the devotion of Paul to proclaim pardon, on a basis settled, sure and eternal (cf. Galatians 1, 3, 5).
3) Thomas and his Lord
What! you may say, do you have some sort of passion for failures, that you mention Thomas ? Not at all. Thomas, like Jonah, was a great example. The fact that his imperfection happens to be focussed and featured (and who of us is entirely without sin - I John 1:7ff., only someone duped, and that gives a condition of double sin, to have it and imagine it absent) does nothing to remove the actual qualities of the man.
Thomas was a tireless researcher, a
decisive proponent of evidential truth, one insisting on personal involvement
and not hearsay, even if he had heard it from the reliable. If direct evidence
was available, then he HAD to KNOW FOR
In so doing, he assuredly could have shown more faith, for after all, the decisive testimony of Christ had been overwhelmingly provided already (cf. John 14:11, Luke 7:22, Matthew 15:31). That is so, and this was a lack. However, his intense sincerity, his readiness to follow what was shown, his insistence that purity required personal knowledge, these things, though not entirely directed as they might have been beforehand, were conspicuous to the last.
In this, he has provided a pristine testimony for all, in that his own passion was divinely met when Christ allowed him to poke the holes and test the holes in His body, if he would, so producing a profound repentance and faith indeed (John 20:27-29)..
From Thomas' insistence on evidence, the evidential are met, scientific method is followed, the slow are delivered, the unsure are uplifted and the tenderness of the love of God is demonstrated.
Further, this has led to a profound and fundamental principal, articulated by Christ when Thomas finally saw the wounds and thus the light.
YOU, Christ told him,
when he acknowledged Him as both Lord and God (literally, 'the God of me'),
have seen and believed.
"Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed."
What then is this ? Here is a criterion of the Christian faith, to believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, not presented as a mere ultimatum, but a divinely necessary ultimacy for faith, to rest on the divine power of Christ, firstly to raise the dead, as with Lazarus (John 11), and then to be raised by the Spirit of God Himself (Romans 1:4). The power of death is a facet of deity, an inability in man, and Christ used it marvellously as an index, a gift and a grace, all three.
Thus when, a little before His crucifixion, He deliberately delayed when His friend was sick, so did He glorify God not only in the final outcome of Lazarus' raising from the dead, but also in His defeating death in principle and person, in His own body. Thus as well as in performance and kindness to others, did He show His love, as in His power to break death, and break its very teeth when they entered into His own body, breaking its brittle power in His own sinlessness when dying for sin. He could not be held by it. Thus was the victorious power for Lazarus, the preliminary to the vicarious power for all who receive Christ, Himself directly raised without any human intervention at all.
So does the love of God, in being patient and kind to Thomas, give this stark reminder, this blessed simplicity (cf. Romans 10:9, cf. I Corinthians 15:1-4), and in Thomas' thrust, find more to provide peace for man - as it did indeed for Thomas, whose godly love for his Lord needed that Lord Himself, and not anything less. To all, then, he tends to act as a lighthouse, when the dark storms of human sin and passion obscure the light which enlightens the very sky from Christ.
Moreover, in Thomas you find once more, someone who was willing to LISTEN to the Lord, and ACT on it, a matter so rare in this twenty first century, amongst the milling millions and minions of minimalisation of truth, even its dismissal, as if God would come because man has gone.
It is not at all like that!
If you would that God draw near to you, then draw near to Him (James 4).
4) RUTH and Naomi
Here is one of those extremes, like that of Daniel, which are like gleaming drops of dew on a branch in the newly returned sunshine.
Married to one of the two sons of an Israeli emigrant, in difficult times, in the land of Moab, upon the tragic eventuation that both the sons were dead, Ruth was not bitter, soured or free-lancing. Her husband's death did not sour her spirit. Not at all, for when here mother-in-law decided it was now time to return to her own land, to Israel - another potential loss for widowed Ruth - this young lady was heartily ready for the occasion. She did not mope, but resolved as the rains in the pregnant skies, to fall. But she, she arose.
Instead of weakness and woebegone willowliness, Ruth acted. Despite the sober reminders of her mother-in-law, Naomi, of the cost of coming to a new land if she returned to Israel with her, Ruth was firm, and in a positive and delightful way, intransigeant. She would not leave her mother-in-law, but whether it be a new land, or life or death or burial, she would stay by her.
The statuesque dignity and
cordiality of heart alike with which she insisted on continuing, though her
husband was dead, with his mother is justly famed (Ruth 1):
"Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
"Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me."
The words are fine, eloquent, dynamic, clear. What accompanied them was so no less. Ruth went to her new land, not with husband but mother in law; she asked Naomi her way, received instruction, humbled herself to glean, taking the left-over items of the crop for food, was treated kindly, consulted freely with her mother in law, met a kinsman of her own relative, again followed instructions, married him and became progenitress of King David.
Her devotion to duty, to wisdom, her humility, hope were constant, and she did not waver.
This love in her was used by God in making her a grand-mother of Jesse, great-grand-mother of King David, yes she who even came from another race, an import into Israel. While her body and race were somewhat different, yet her love for her Jewish mother in law was very much the same as the love of Paul, of David, of Jonah, of Esther. It was practical, fervent, used by God, making a contribution of continuing beauty to the people of the Lord, in her case as forebear of Christ.
How much better is this than racial war: spiritual harmony in the only Lord and God of all creation! Here lay celestial grace in truth and mercy, for one, for all, to follow the ways of the God of Moses, Abraham, of truth; and peace in this truth, the path of love, brought loveliness and strength from God Himself, who is love, and who traced the results of this love, through the offspring, Obed, to Jesse to David, the King to come! It was thence ... through Mary in the house of David, in generations to come, God brought from His side, the Messiah to the format of man, to cover man, as many as would receive Him (John 1:12-14)!
5) JONATHAN and David
Jonathan! Here is a young man, son of a rebellious and heart-stricken king whose way had clashed with the Lord. Jonathan's father, headstrong and vain, had attacked his musician David, who came to comfort him; but this very young man, being greatly praised by the people in his military works and acts of courage, soon evoked the jealousy in the King.
Jonathan loved David as his own life, and when they eventually had to part, they kissed and wept, and David the more was held in grief. Greatly admiring each, the courage, fidelity, heartiness and grace of heart of the other, no doubt, they were drawn as two strings on a violin which sounded well together.
Jonathan warned David of developments in the jealousy of his father for him, and risked his own life in seeking deliverance for David, a spear being thrown at him, just as a javelin had been tossed 'meaningfully' at young David, in the house. David who had defeated the giant Goliath, while a youth, not daring to have the name of the Lord so mocked as the giant had done, and who had, after this, slain many of the enemy, was protected by this love of a peer, one man of great character and courage, who also, like David, slew many of the enemy, and in one case, merely with his armour bearer, created a massacre of the foreign oppressors. That, it was indeed Jonathan whose name shines yet.
When the anger of Saul the King was at its height against David, Jonathan and he entered into a covenant concerning each other and the future, and Jonathan asked David in his distress, what he wanted him to do for him. His words have an awesome simplicity, reminding one of the love of Christ for His church, when He said,
"Until now, you have asked nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24), and again,
"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."
Jonathan's words to David were these, as shown in I Samuel 20:4:
"So Jonathan said to David, 'Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.' "
The beauty of simplicity and devotion shown by Jonathan is seen when David who had already been chosen by God to become king in His time, and who was being sought for execution by the young man's father, was protected with a kindness that still lives. David, whose cause was lowly and whose state was desperate, met by one who might himself have become king, in such a speech of kindness as this, is like one of the stained-glass windows on which the sun suddenly shines, windows stained red with the beauty of holiness, of history.
What honour must be given to a man of such courage, character and power, in his youth, when the object of his concern could so easily have been left to die, and that without effort, merely by not endangering his own life: and that life, it was that of the king's son whom the father greatly desired to be great after himself!
In this love, so liberally and courageously shown, came the deliverance of David, the kindness a balm to his persecuted and distressed soul, the loyalty a lead for his own life, the simplicity a signal of an uncomplicated dutifulness to the Lord, who had chosen David, and a departure from all contrivance which stands for all time. This unselfish love of Jonathan has helped to produce the continuation of the King chosen by God, David, whose descendant would, on the mother's side, be contributor of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even then, Jonathan, still seeking loyalty where it should be, did not fail to fight with his father jointly against the nation's common enemy, and in this was killed; but his name is not dead!
How does love produce power, how is it blessed, and how do its way dignify and beautify man, until the follies of reductionism appear as base as they are, as blind and as destructive!
6) DANIEL - and his three friends
HOW the Lord loved Daniel (Daniel 10:11), and how Daniel loved the Lord. You can show love in sacrifice, in constancy, in purity, in dutifulness, but also through the flair and assurance of it, the sincerity and light of it, the meaning and method of life.
Daniel did not mourn because he had been captured from Judah by a marauding and secular power, Babylon (if you can call 'secular', a nation which abounded with meaningless gods and godlets, but then when they do not exist exist in the mind of their human creators, such a nation is actually without ... GOD! however many substitutes it may inanely propose, in a case parallel to that medically, of placebos!). The young man, Daniel, did not sulk or rebel. He accepted the position, accepted the foreign training provided, but not supinely. When a question of food arose, he chose to seek a diet not likely to disturb thought or to impress with irrelevance to his duty to God, to serve Him well WHEREVER that might be. In this there had to be character, self-control and prudence; but he succeeded. Indeed Daniel tended to generate a great liking for his comely carefulness, studious sincerity and purity of motive.
That helped. Therefore he was warned when the king was about to destroy all the 'wise men', including the numerous, bogus wiseman-ettes, of Babylon. Cadet or maestro, it was one: they would go. The King had had enough of them. However, it was not an unconditional death warrant. ALL the king wanted was someone to interpret his dream, in such a way that he could be sure the answer was true and realistic, drawn from the source of true knowledge, not lawyer's sophistication.
In order to be sure, however, he devised the plan that if the person had real wisdom, a wisdom that reached where power and reality belonged, then he would have to TELL him his what his dream had been, before interpreting it. Since that required a miracle from the supernatural, from the divine, from God Himself, the King was in effect protecting himself against theological quackery.
He had a point. However the choice of method had its problems for others, notably the 'wise men' and with them, Daniel and his three co-cadets. They did what anyone ought to do in times of dilemma, distress and apparent impossibility. Indeed it is the very impossibility in human terms, of doing something which you have to do for God, which makes it incredibly interesting.
When ONLY GOD can do it,
and you have to get it done, then if a person of faith by Jesus Christ in the living God,
that access to and exact image of His person (Hebrews 1), equally God Himself (Micah 5:1-3, John 8:58),
trusting in One so high,
you have a marvellous and a wonderful opportunity. What then ? Then you are going to see God working! Far beyond the Rocky Mountains in elevation, Niagara Falls in profundity, space in grandeur, God the Creator of all that is made, would Himself act! If the work is to be done and you are to do it, HE is most able to act! What could be more inspiring, than to have your best Friend act for you, as Jonathan did for David, and Ruth did for Naomi, not leaving her or forsaking her in her old age!
Daniel was given, after the prayer of his group of Jewish believers, cadets in Babylon, both the dream and its meaning, for God expressly revealed these things to Daniel. He had a work to do for his people and indeed for all generations through the word of the living God which would be given to Him; here lay a humanly insuperable barrier: very well. Prayer first, barrier down second, work completed third: that is the way. Yet for all that, it is always amazing to see the Lord so act! It is so delightful, gracious and inimitable when He does this!
Thus Daniel's thankfulness can be felt to this present hour, in its articulate delight, its ravished joy at the splendour of the God who ACTS for those who WAIT for Him (Isaiah 64:5). Let us hear it, from Daniel 2:20-23:
"Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
knowledge to those who have understanding.
"He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.
"I thank You and praise You,
O God of my fathers;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s demand."
Thus equipped, he managed to arrest
the slaughter of the wise men, thus becoming a deliverer for them as well, tell
the king and with the utmost discretion, show him the purport of the dream. The
king, delighted beyond belief, attested the power and majesty of the God of
Daniel, whom he called "the God of gods", so being
given royal witness, and making one; and made Daniel a chief ruler, to which,
through Daniel's loyal request, he added under him, his three co-cadets who
would shortly also distinguish themselves. Indeed, it was they who were
confronted with the need to fall down and worship the golden image of the King
(rather like the Japanese case, with Christian missionaries, before World War
II), it was they who declined, and when confronted by the King, again declined, responding in
memorable words (Daniel 2).
"So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them,
'Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?'
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king,
'O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.
If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace,
and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.
But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."
The point was this: GOD COULD deliver them from the furnace; He WOULD deliver them from Nebuchadnezzar whom He would not suffer to make them into aliens from Himself; and even if it meant their death by fire, so be it. That too was deliverance: they would not because they could not budge, move, compromise or quaver. The lines were set as in World War I, in trench-warfare. Each side was at his place, and the victory or defeat would ensue, as canon belched, more or less quickly.
Here it was more quickly! Faced with this defiance, albeit soundly delivered without personal rancour, the King raged, so did the fire, and in the midst of the inferno, which slew people who threw the three men into its super-heated flames, there was discernible a fourth, like the Son of God. They knew ONLY ONE God, and it was He, in human format who was thus seen, their Saviour.
The King again impressed, even declared in royal awe, these words ... "they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God." Thereon he came close to establishing this worship above all for his realm, under pain of execution, which however, as always in such cases, is not to the point. Force never creates faith, something neither the Romanists nor the Communists nor the Muslims appear to have learned, though an entire millenium has been available for two of them, and a century for the other. What on earth does the capacity to impart acceleration to a particle have with the personal conviction of spirit based on understanding, vision and truth!
The point for us however is clear: this action distinguished the reality of God with power from the unreality of idols, and showed in courage and character a clear attestation of what it is to know Him, to all the court, to the King and to all posterity. It was not only power; it was personal faith; nor was it faith alone, but faith in the due and correct object of faith, in the living God whose word has circled the earth for millenia, not some parvenu, not some idolatrous revisionism, not some subtle substitute for God with all perquisites provided, from nowhere: no, not any of these, not the gods of the forceful three, but the God of creation, regeneration and judgment, of truth and pardon.
Meanwhile, the Medes and Persians overpowered Babylon, and once more in imagery as in historical fact, Daniel continued beyond the 'irresistible' power of one empire, into the pretensions of the next. He did not discontinue! The Lord, as Daniel was given to write in 7:25, has a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and these are some of the indexes pointing these things to come. It has already outlasted all others, the King of Abraham being that of Moses, and and John, Peter and Paul, well over three millenia of word and dead in perfect parallel attesting it.
In his own case, when the new Empire had installed itself in Babylon, Daniel was caught, as indeed was the new King, in a trap from jealous rogues, who did not like his eminence and sought more of that commodity for themselves. Asked to sign a decree that none should be allowed to pray to any but to him, for a period of time, the King, perhaps flattered and sensing the awesome appearance of such a thing as a plus for Babylon, now under that new empire, did so. In this Empire, the decree COULD NOT be altered by law, so when this law was made by the command of the King, the King was not he who could change it!
Daniel of course WOULD not obey it, not hiding, but openly praying to his own god continually, so that the King was by law forced to bring in the penalty on Daniel, death by lion's claw and maw.
Evidently the new King loved the integrity and light of Daniel, which was for so long so widely recognised, but powerless to intervene, he was disturbed all night for Daniel, actually fasting! and he came early in the morning, as the women did to the tomb of Christ. He came to see whether this man who refused to cease praying openly to his God, this Daniel had in some miraculous way been delivered, hoping fervently that he had been! After all, they had become to some extent by now, accustomed to the light which went with the believing trio of Daniel and his friends.
In fact, God again intervened for his cadet, his chosen man, who had been faithful to him, and having resolved to save his life also, simply blocked the ferocity of the lions in this case, so that they did not feel moved to devour Daniel, and he, freed from the den (the forerunner, allegorically of Christ's tomb, but real enough when teeth are about), showed in his own person the answer to the king's early morning question, concerning his safety.
Daniel had stood firm in the faith, fearless, without compromise, bargain or combination with error. It is this which Christians must always do, whether it means losing a pastorate, or a lectureship, or a high salary, or whatever, each of which eventualities has been the lot of the present author. Nor should any do less, as the occasion demands. It allows God the scope to illustrate His power in His own way.
HAS your God, whom you serve continually, been ABLE to deliver you ? the King asked.
Daniel attested in quiet and lustrous humility and faith, that He had done so. Then the King made a decree that in every domain, men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, who was scarcely unknown, since it was He who had conspicuously wrought in the presence of the great Empire of Egypt at one of the pinnacles of its history, in leading plagues in, to loosen the grip of the King on his Israeli slaves, and leading them out, that they might inherit the land He had designated for them.
Yes that powerful past in the day of Moses had now a new and contemporary statement fro Daniel, and from him, one which our own generation can also see expanded yet again, as we see the might power of God briniging to pass before our very eyes, all that He has written (Cf. SMR Chs. 8 - 9, Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
In passing, let us note that this way in which God made it clear that He neither changed nor would allow His plans to be remade by man, applies where He also is committed to delivering Israel now. Foolish is the grouping of nations which will put Him once more to the test! and that, following His unique performance of the preliminaries with such adroit and insuperable power, by so many means at His will and pleasure.
On the other hand, foolish indeed is Israel is it does not turn back to its ancient, indeed Eternal God, who having come on time (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), in the form of Christ, needs to be worshipped in awe on THEIR OWN PART! How Moses foresaw it all. When, with what triumphant insight and yet pathetic zeal, feeling to the uttermost for them, that ancient prophet foretold the outline of whole history of the people in Deuteronomy 32, with Leviticus 26, he spoke in the compassions but under the control of the Lord, whose work in history has followed those words as a blood-hound a clear trail! (Ephesians 1:11).
What then do we now read in Deuteronomy 32:36ff. ? This, that when their strength is gone, and they are back in their land, with foes a plenty, God will deliver them mightily as in Micah 7, Isaiah 59,66, Joel 3, Habakkuk 3, and of course in Ezekiel 36ff., and Romans (cf. Great Execrations ... Ch. 4, Red Heart Ch. 10, More Marvels ... Ch. 3, Galloping Events Ch. 4, SMR Appendix A).
Daniel in his generation, tried, troubled but eventually through the remnant returning to their homeland, in travail leading to triumph, was a precursor in such demonstration of the power of God, and the piercing sharpness of His word, of what has come and will come again for this generation of ours. He has made to echo through the tormented labyrinths of this world the sound of His grace, of light, of truth, in the personal God whose power made us, can save us, for whom we suffer and in whom we find the source of love which flows like a cascade.
As to Daniel's friends, these fortified his demonstration, and together in their mutual loyalty, they illustrated practical love in the service of the God of love, to all people for all time. He showed the precision of God, speaking at the mouth of the Lord (Daniel 9, SMR pp. 886ff.), to forecast the date of the Messiah's death, no less than the series of the empires then to come, and now come, and the nature of the treatment to come for the Messiah! He showed that the God of this wisdom and understanding is even available to man if needed, and that the power of God is perfectly adequate for the completion of your divinely given task (cf. Romans 8:28ff.).
We see also, that concerning the wisdom of God, there is nothing can penetrate to it to overthrow, touch or twist, wrangle it into submission or tangle it to confusion.
It is clear, pure and powerful, as becomes the infinite One, on whom all creation leans, to whom it can do nothing except at His will, for the every moment of creation's own history is determinate in His mercy in this, that it continue at all (cf. Revelation 4:11, Hebrews 1:1-3, 12:22-28, Isaiah 44:24ff., 51:6). Indeed, for His wisdom, there is nothing which can withstand its survey and impact, or lure Him to withhold His pity and plan; for God is interested in man to the point of using his format in humility, to deliver him.
This He did, and in this He has acted, leaving the world with an acclaim nothing can dim, a record nothing can subdue, a testimony so clear, so simple, unique to the uttermost, incomparable and unparalleled in the most simple empirical fact, that vast swathes of the earth, in witless folly twisting the testimony, or in glorious faith following it, yet one and all are arrested by this name of Jesus the Messiah. His words hold over millenia; God's words held over preceding millenia concerning His coming.
It is all perfect. In this earth's history, nothing else is.
So we have considered Daniel, a type of Christ, not deity like Christ, but godly; not resurrected like Christ, but delivered from death in the den in a way of the utmost parallel in many features; not full of all wisdom like Christ, but endued with a vast understanding from the Spirit of God, and proclaiming in many things in detail, the coming of the Messiah.
It is in this way, as in the allegory to be derived from the reality of the lion's den and its aftermath for Daniel, that that prophet showed a foretaste of Christ's resurrection fittingly, amidst a fearless faith and a love for God that would not sully His ways with the mere commands of godless man. With this, he showed a love for his comrades that is exceptional, and unexceptionable. SO in love has come love; in love has come knowledge and wisdom and truth; and from love has come a triumphant testimony for all generations.
We move to our next illustration.
7) ESTHER and her Uncle, Mordecai
Esther is a delightful book, for in it you see classic courage, amazing loyalty reminiscent of that of Ruth, strategic insight and fearless composure, not only on her part, though she is the most active, but in the case of her uncle. Again you see the duo, the love between comrades in the love for the one God on the part of all. Again great results accrue for all!
Thus it is to be noted how in these cases, not only is the love and companionship of God to be seen, but very often there is a major inter-relationship of fidelity and love at the human level also. This is naturally, or if you prefer, supernaturally, towards God; but it is also towards some other human being or group of the faithful.
With Esther, this other human being is Mordecai, the Uncle who brought her up tenderly, under whose jurisdiction she had been; and it was she who, when selected by the tempestuous king for Queen, in a protracted contest to replace his dismissed wife, maintained discrete contact with her Uncle, though she hid the fact that she was a Jewess.
Mordecai for his part, annoyed a Prime Ministerial type of person, Haman, whose name is in English rather close in sound to 'hangman', which for Mordecai, he endeavoured to be! This arose at first from some trifling affair that the Jew did not feel free to bow to the 'lord Haman', perhaps because of religious scruples in the god-rich city of Babylon. Disdaining to attack the man who would not bow to him, in such a case, Haman conceived the idea, which Hitler and some Islamic powers more recently seem to have conceived likewise, of exterminating the people of Mordecai, that is, the Jews: though in his case, it was not merely those in Israel, the site then being Babylon, but those in the vast dominions of imperial Babylon.
Securing the king's unwitting consent, Haman set about his exterminatory program, as have so many others, each in his time.
Dressed in sackcloth, he appeared relentlessly before the gate of the palace, where one reminds the reader, Esther was not known to be a Jewess! At length, securing in this way, her attention, he remitted the message of the exterminatory program afoot. Esther replied that the King, to whom she would need to go if her people were to be rescued, had for quite some time not called her, and that if she went uncalled, she risked death for daring to 'intrude' into the royal presence. Reminding her that she might have been SENT to the palace to preserve her people in just such a time as this, Mordecai asked her to take the risk, which, on condition of prayer and fasting, she did, and was rewarded by a gracious royal reception.
Asked in fulness of royal joy at her, what she wanted, she made it clear a banquet would do, and that at this she would like Mordecai also to be present. When this occurred, she asked for a repeat, and the conditions being now familiar, she yielded to the king's request to know what the trouble was, by denouncing Mordecai as seeking to exterminate her race. Here was courage, character, self-discipline and fearlessness. He sought, while the king went privately to fume, to seek mercy from the Queen, and being misinterpreted in his actions as if they were lustful, by the King, he was hanged on his own high gallows, which he had constructed with relish for the fate of Mordecai! Here for all the world is a case of digging a pit for the Lord's saints, and falling into it yourself!
In this, Esther provides likewise allegory of Christ,
being the ONE in a place to help (Christ became incarnate
in order to be so),
being willing to help (Christ went willingly to the Cross, not merely risking but giving His life cf. Psalm 40:1ff, Matthew 26:43ff.), having been called upon for the deliverance of His people (ALL of any race who would come to Him as Saviour and Lord, all of the HUMAN race who would).
Moreover, she used strategy, as He did. Just as she exposed Haman in the close quarter is a banquet, so Christ exposed the Jewish religious leaders in their obvious fraudulence, not only in word and deed repeatedly, healing while they were furious, raising the dead while they lamented His power, but by using the Cross as a sacrificial pyre for the fires of sin, to consume Himself in the deliverance of His people, as a substitionary atonement for all who so received Him, as a prelude to the absenting of His body form the realms of exhibit, to that of teacher in the midst.
Nor is this all. When Esther was
delivered from Haman, there was another difficulty which she met with wit and
wisdom. The laws in that kingdom, given by the King, as noted above with Daniel,
could not be changed even by the King. Now the King had already by Haman been
persuaded to issue a decree allowing people to slaughter the Jewish race. What
then could he now do ?
Esther therefore proposed another LAW allowing the Jews to defend themselves when on the appointed day (Esther 8:1-5), their slaughter as a race had been proposed. Seeing that the King was behind this change, this new decree favouring the Jews, even though it did not revoke the earlier one, many were wary, many helped the Jews; their race prevailed, many enemies being killed in the contest, indeed a very large number.
This likewise, such is the richness of the word of God and the intimacy of truth with love, led to another element of the allegory which accompanied these historical deeds. Consider this instructive parallel.
Thus God's law is broken, and as to this, it cannot be removed; but the love of Christ fought back and overcame the law, not by abolishing it, as He declared (Matthew 5:17ff.), but by implementing it ... ON HIMSELF!
Further, the feast of Purim then became by edict a festival for the Jews, and has long remained, to remind them over the centuries, of the Lord's deliverance of them, before they, alas, as a nation, delivered up their own Saviour and so sent mercy to the gallows.
Nevertheless, God in His wit and wisdom, power and beauty of holiness, stands ready to forgive them, and will so act, as He has declared, for that large number who, delivered not by Esther but by Christ, are soon to come in repentance to Him, as Zechariah and Ezekiel have made so plain (cf. Zechariah 12:1-13:1, His Time is Near, Chs. 4, 10).
Thus has the world received the opportunity to repent into pure divine pardon, through the Messiah incarnate as Jew, a thing for which preparation was to be seen in such sacrificial acts, loyalty, devotion and courage, foreshadowing His coming, and with Jonathan and Daniel, protecting the race in WHICH He was to come, and did. These actual historical deliverances are added to other features, indeed, for not only in arithmetical exercises such as those of Daniel, but in affairs of heart in Esther, as indeed no less in Daniel also, there is to be seen the acuity of a mind devoted, and the beauty of a heart dedicated, fitting preludes.
Moreover (Esther 9:22), as in the resurrection of Christ, killed and risen, so with the deliverance of the Jews, about to be killed but delivered, there is a profound parallel of peril becoming safety, and grief becoming a jubilation that rouses the heart to delight.
Thus in the day of Esther's deliverance, through the power of the God worshipped, and feared, there was a turning of "sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday, that they should make them days of feasting ..." So, again in parallel, is that feast, the Lord's Supper instituted as a continual remembrance of His sacrifice and of His coming, and so is His rest glorious as Isaiah foretold (Isaiah 11:10) and given (Matthew 11:28-30).
That some should turn that remembrance into some illusory further sacrifice is in the highest degree outrageous, for as Christ declared, DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME, and as Paul noted, UNTIL HE COME. It is all about Christ, not priests, so that Christ declared in advance, that one avoid involvement with those who declare before His glorious coming, saying that He IS in the chamber or in some room, as in Mass (Matthew 24:23ff.).
Nothing could be clearer: when the Son of Man actually comes to this world again (for He is received up into heaven UNTIL the restoration of all things - Acts 3:19ff. declaring this), it will not be in mystic oddities, but in a sweep of majesty, a glorious advent, a staggering display that none could possibly pass by, as real as creation, as sure as the flood, as decisive as Joshua's long day.
To what would we compare such a spurious repetition of the unrepeatable ? It is as if Esther's action should be 're-done' by later Jews, an iniquitous suggestion! What she did, she did and she only took her own role.
As Christ put it,
"I lay down my life that I
may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.
HIS command and His work is His own, and no one can do it for Him, in overplay or replay, let alone in re-enactment as real, as Rome declares, as was the historical act of Christ Himself!
Far from true is it that this is the substitute for
the obedience which does THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. The word is clear, the call,
the command and WHO received it! It was the Lord. Let the Lord be Lord and man
be man, and brothers acknowledge as Christ insisted, that of Masters and
fathers, there is but ONE! That is what He said; and that is how we know that
this is what He MEANT!
Leave to the Saviour His own work, for salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9, Psalm 3:8, 68:20), and dabbling where His blood is shed is intensely sacrilegious (cf. SMR pp. 1042 -1088H). When God acts, let not man limp in ludicrous pretension. Deity is deity, and man is man, and bearing sin is from an offering made once, without repetition, with blood. Nothing could be further from the ruinous pretensions of Romanism. Small wonder many died rather than acquisce in such proceedings, and that many were killed by those so deluded; again, as if force could create faith, intimidating, ruling, ordering; and such is not the work of that ONE MASTER, who did not kill, but ... died!
For holding fearlessly to this, many thousands have died in the Inquisition, in principle, their blood the attestation no less than with Esther, of courage, character and conviction, in purity relying only on the Lord, our Great High Priest, only Saviour and Master (Matthew 23:8-10, Hebrews 4, 7ff., Isaiah 43:10-11, Acts 4:11ff.).
8-10) Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah
What more need be said ? We must not fail to be concerned with Hosea, who willingly married a harlot in order, at divine request, to illustrate to what Israel had fallen in RELIGIOUS affairs, being like a courtesan to gods innumerable, unspeakable, and then to illustrate again, the divine wisdom and willingness to redeem people, by having Hosea buy his vagrant wife back again, when she left him and came into servitude. In this way the ransom which the Lord provided, available to al peoples, was dramatised in advance, by colossal sacrifice of the prophet.
Accordingly, in Hosea 13:14 you find the explicit application of this thing, that the LORD HIMSELF would be the destruction of death and in His OWN PERSON would pay the ransom, what justice demanded of sinners that truth might stand (cf. Romans 3:23ff., Galatians 3). This He did, in that Christ, member of the trinity which is deity, came and did it, and just as there is no other Saviour but God (Isaiah 43:10-11), and it is to HIM that man must look for salvation (Isaiah 45:22ff.), so there is no other name by which they must be saved but that of the incarnate Deity, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:11-12), who has delivered by salvation in HIMSELF (Isaiah 53:6-11), those who by faith come to Him as HE IS and for WHAT HE HAS DONE, to receive Him.
Nor could Isaiah be ignored, who called to GO FOR ME, by the Lord, had his sins purged and his life committed, his lips cleared for divine deliverance through him of the word of God. Thus, fearlessly speaking to king and commoner, revealing in the greatest detail the love of God and the sacrificial action by which He would invite all and deliver those who received Him, he left words to last from generation to generation (Isaiah 6, 59:21). Just as, in his prophecies, the objects specified would not merely come to be, but co-exist in the way predictively prescribed (Isaiah 34:16), so did the words of God agreeable to these coming events, sit together and direct history.
Revealed in Isaiah 49-55 with vast variety, intimate detail and spiritual joy was the way the Lord would bring people to Himself in a way both sure and certain, sacred and infinitely costly to Himself. The way to "make peace with Me" was revealed (Isaiah 27:5), based on the peace proffered, published in the Messiah and secured by him and available to the one who believed in Him (Isaiah 53:1), whether king or commoner (Isaiah 52:13ff.), a peace to be both personal, and in time yet to come, universal, till this world finished (Isaiah 51:6), it went, while with it went in judgment (Isaiah 66:24), those too proud to humble themselves before truth, and receive God as man Himself, as the sacrifice for sin (Isaiah 2, 66:2).
As to the prophet himself, through whom this salient and amazing message was delivered (cf. 28:9ff., 29:14ff., 28:16), focussed on the one Messiah of the one God who in one act, by one incarnation, in one only way brought one peace, His won to man, he had to continue his message of rebuke and appeal, and although they would scarcely hear (Isaiah 6:10ff.), and he knew it in advance, yet he continued fearless and faithful, loyal and dedicated, in this way. After all, some would come to this Messiah (Isaiah 8:18, 51:11), and to these would come quietness and assurance for ever (Isaiah 32:16-17), through that man who was to come, and has come, the "almighty God" (Isaiah 9:7, 10:21), that prince whose peace could not be broken, whose joy is eternal (cf. John 14:27, 16:22), who as the only Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11) would be the Saviour (53:6-10), marred in the procuring of this peace, beyond the nature of man, in the savagery of sin, settling on Him like so many clamorous vultures (cf. Psalm 22:12ff., 2:1ff., Isaiah 52:13ff.).
In His righteousness would justice bloom, for sin is covered by vicarious sacrifice, and in Him is wisdom and stability (Isaiah 33:6), the fear of the Lord the treasure of the one who resides in Him (Isaiah 4:6, 32:1ff.).
With this publication of peace, not in a 'road map', but a God-map, the amazing gift of grace is presented in all its rigour and reality, its realism indeed and its awesome grandeur, mixed with staggering divine willingness to suffer, the prophet persevered. In this life crusade in the divine call and will, with the heavenly word, he continued on the "highway of holiness" (Isaiah 35), his love to God leading on to a loveliness of diction, a purity of tone, a detail of atonement which is one of the chief prodigies which the Lord has wrought on earth for man.
In citing in such detail what as going to be, for the Christ, Isaiah, known as the evangelical prophet, has given testimony in the most elaborate fashion of the truth, so that when it came to pass, as in the case of the death date of Christ for Daniel, all was fulfilled; so that those who willed to do the will of God, being convinced and converted, might readily find that unexceptionable and incomparable place as children of God. Kings have children called princes, but what is that, compared with the comfort and delight of being a CHILD OF GOD (cf. I John 3, Isaiah 8, 53:10 cf. Bible Translations No. 8).
To these things, Isaiah bore
wonderful testimony, inspired by the Spirit of God, who used His loyal love to
this amazing point, and left an enduring testimony to all generations (cf. Isaiah
59:21), just as the Lord said would be the case. It is amazing how often people
will take it for granted that EVERY LAST WORD, like that one, which could
failed, will come true, as is the case when it is the word of God, and still not
realise what they are seeing. Yet should it fail
in one little thing, it would not be the word of the eternal God (cf. Matthew
5:17ff.). They fail to believe because duped by this world, enticed by sin, they
abandon scientific method, ignore logic, and grind their chains as they move in
the dungeons of darkness which they mistake somehow for life.
Love however has spoken, and in company with many, the Lord has done His own work, using love as a testimony to love, and producing results, like children, in works which show the open door to His own love for any who come through it. Just as in love the husband and wife may beget children, so in love the Lord and those who love Him, and in Him find love for others so that they are willing to sacrifice to serve Him, beget what lives, and in this case, continues in its youthful beauty for all generations. The word of God lives forever (I Peter 1:22-25), as do His people (Isaiah 51:11, I Peter 1:5-6).
But what of Jeremiah whose tears were in heart, a matter of something like eternity, as he beheld in sad love the devastations to come onto a rebellious people. Again and again, he provided new hope, only to have it removed by heartless faithlessness (cf. the staggeringly generous offer in Jeremiah 17, concerning the day of rest - something which could be done only if the Lord opened the door of love in your heart, and entered, so that instead of being a barren time, it became a rest day of riches in Him). .
In Jeremiah 9, we read his love in its consuming zeal:
"Oh, that my head were waters,
And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night
For the slain of the daughter of my people!
Oh, that I had in the wilderness
A lodging place for travelers;
That I might leave my people,
And go from them!
For they are all adulterers,
An assembly of treacherous men."
He would like to move right away, far from the grief of heart that produced such a sense of prodigious weeping for the needless slaughter to come in judgment impending on the rebellious nation.
So did this prophet in the love of God, stay and not leave the people, and so under judgment did he enter into the pit in stinking air, and sinking soil, so that he was in danger of suffocation, until a eunuch of blessed heart, sought and obtained his deliverance (Jeremiah 38). When the Babylonians actually came, as predicted (Jeremiah 25) amidst the prophet's many appeals in God's name for them to repent and seek mercy instead of face judgment, appeals not followed by the people as a nation: then Jeremiah was offered liberty.
Amazingly, he did not however take this prize, since it was the people whom he had at heart, and not himself; and so he remained and proclaimed to them the word of God, which however event then, they continually aborted in their lives, with a shabby show of mock grandeur, wilful and eclectic, indeed idolatrous to the end (cf. Jeremiah 44). We "will certainly do," said the rebellious people even after Jerusalem's fall, "whatever has gone out of our own mouth" - (44:17). As in this generation, they generated their own doom as if a spiritual lunacy possessed them (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10), which because of sad neglect, wild rebellion and inane substitutes for truth, it has largely come to do.
Yet that is only one side. What of the other ?
Similarly, to this day does the love of God and the pardon of Christ remain available for those who call upon the name of the Lord (Acts 2:21,38-39), and not on what goes out of their own mouths, to do it; for not yet has the final fall and fire of 'Babylon' come which is to be (the ;harlotries; of spirit from of old, resting in Romanism which then itself falls (Revelation 17:5,16, 18:1ff. cf. SMR pp. 946ff., 729ff.), a prelude to the amazing development which the Age, like some rampant disease, will end.
And this, following that ending phase of Romanism, which as in Revelation 17 is to fall, is something which yields to the International Dragon, that geyser of humanism and mystic folly to come, speaking pompous words (II Thessalonians 2:4, Daniel 7:11), and for a short time to govern the world, while a foul and devilish work of imperial folly rebukes this earth for its unbelief.
Jeremiah however teaches us, not only of the coming of the Messiah who duly came (Jeremiah 23:6ff.), and of the false prophets, the inane proclaiming of spurious spirituality to be perfected as the Age yields to the coming of the Messiah (Jeremiah 23, with 23:20 and 31:31ff.), but of that divine love which continually seeks, even to this hour, and continually stands ready, even in this end of the Age, for those who will come to Him. God is love*2, and His love will remain forever.
THE FOCUS ON THE
WHICH FEATURES POWER AND PROVIDES COMFORT
Since God is love, it is a love that lasts, that is true, that is not merely romantic but realistic (and romance can abide in reality when the love is pure in the heart that knows God, for God made both man, woman and family). This pure love of His, attests Him, and advances His work where it is found. Indeed, as you would expect, some who have loved greatly have in God, left great realities for man, not relics, far less relicts, but forwarded on to coming generations, they have left principles, works and attestations which have transformed what man has to find, when he seeks for God, truth and reality.
of Ruth leading to the provision
of format for the Redeemer, through one of her descendants, Mary;
of Jonah in giving acute
testimony of the universal love of God in its actuating wonder, of Jonathan
in giving room for David to become King and so likewise provide for the
format of the coming Redeemer through one of His descendants;
of Thomas in seeking personal
involvement to the uttermost point possible, so leading to Christ's
declaration of a saving principle of simplicity for mankind;
of Jeremiah in showing that God
is decisive but unutterably compassionate, never turning away
of Esther in moving the power of
a kingdom and so providing scope for the continuance of Israel
of Paul in becoming a testimony
to the hopeless and an example to the powerless,
of Daniel in so loving that God
from whom he would not move one inch,
these things are glorious evocations of the divine love and its fruits through man. They provide consequences in principle, in practice, in results for man, that match the wonder that the God who IS love, bestows. In love of God, is love indeed; and in love is deliverance for man, and nowhere else is it to be found but in Him whose it is, and who has so divinely bestowed it.
See also The Power of Christ's Resurrection ... Ch. 7, Spiritual Refreshings ... Chs. 9-12.
DISCURSIVE NOTE ON LOVE, LIBERTY AND SPIRIT
This awareness, which includes consciousness, evaluation, survey capacity, analysis without mere interaction, cognisance of interactions in contrast to surmising and devising power, is not makeable by man, for the simple reason that man HAS a spirit, but IS not a spirit, so that His devising power is limited by what IS within his frame of reference for action. It is not opened to the institution prowess, for what he is. He has it; he cannot make it.
His limits are not to make himself, now or ever, but to act as made. It is the wonder that with a spirit, he is made able to desire, surmise or be wise; or to seek the impossible, to act as if he were God, and spend himself in mere illusion that becomes before too long, delusion. His spirit is meaningful only when its stanchions are seen, its basis in truth is discerned, its nature is known, its source is realised, its purpose is construed. It is not a naked flame, but burns in a grate; it is not a god, but a construction of Him who is. Enabled to have fellowship with God, it is not gifted with power to BE God and so make spirits whose realm is the Father who made them. To do that, man would need to be God in the beginning, which is not the lot of the delimited, the born and the dying, in nature a participant!
However, man falls. The wonder of man's gifts then becomes the thunder of folly, as he seeks to use what he is, meaningful only in the Lord who is the summit and the significance for his being, to make what he is. It becomes a mere contradiction in terms: the formulated seeking to formulate himself with the powers by which he is constituted. All he makes is mess, which is predictable, predicted (Isaiah 2) and personal.
Even in the physical realm, he merely transmits.
In spirit, such is the gift of God to him, man is dowered with what cannot even be itemised, codified, or for that matter, presented in particles for which the mind of man is apt.
Not in particulate properties, but in integrable understanding does the spirit of man work. No more the reality of man is his DNA, than is the cassette tape the reality of the opera singer is the spirit of man. The tape, the code in general, presents the outer aspects of the recordable framework, not the inner drive of what makes things worthy of record. That is the difference.
Spirit delves into programs, but is not one; and hence love delves into matters, but is not so constrained in the last analysis. It is not a BECAUSE of this and that; it registers such things, and is aware of their moral and ethical, their aesthetic and their visionary aspects, but its thrust is not merely deducible. Some may be delighted in someone like themselves; some could not bear this. Some like the courageous, ambitious, knight errant; some the steady and reliable tortoise, and marvel at the continuity of the way in which he moves his metaphorical legs. It is not just taste: it is a total involvement of the spirit of man in another spirit.
Where it is less, it is not love, merely an emotional dissertation, a physical pre-occupation, or a sentimental activation. Love is from what is a PERSON, and to a person, so that what is less is not love, merely a sidetracking of the most wonderful gift, a reduction of it to straits of Gibraltar in order to get into some sea or other, some scene or scenario.
Love is an attribute, for persons, of person; and it is found towards persons It founders when it is less, or shrinks and shrivels until the very word has scarcely any meaning, in some of the worst pathological cases, of which there are perhaps many millions in this present world. That again, it is why so much psychological 'research' is no vain. How could you tell what a thing is when you are investigating its misuse and do not realise this.
How can you tell peace when war is your domain ? Statistically it may be so rare, relatively, that you would think it merely an anomaly! Man is disturbed, you can see it in the news of the world any day. He is misconceived or foolishly construed as mere method of work, or a means of this or that imagined motive, or actual pathological reduction of his capacities to various ephemeral or base ideas.
There is the man himself who IS able to use methods; there is the design, which whatever its functions and facilities, has integral power as such, and is inundatable by folly as well as able to be restored so that he may sail in wisdom on the lake of peace that God made, and to know it. Sin has designs on man's design, but unless the Designer is known, the map is muddled, the life is muddied, the point is lost and the part of man is confused with the relics of his stature, like the broken pieces of the statue of David, were it to be smashed. Not knowing the whole, he becomes lost in the parts, and his philosophies become a toiling over the pit of rubbish, looking vainly for this or that, and finding nothing; at which some become cynics or worse. Lost, they preach the lostness of the lost.
This is a mere statistical exercise, void of any point, except for those who like dumps.
Losing the meaning of life, man thus loses the point of his freedom, and becomes more and more pathetic fiasco.
As for love, it is however a natural correlate of freedom, and without freedom you cannot love. You merely react, and indeed, it is then not really you, for 'you' are not a person without freedom. You may be a sort of El Greco slanted object, resembling a person, with some freedom; but without a deliverance from the distorting influence of compulsions of flesh, mind or spirit, surging into this or that, you are at best of a compromised quality, tossed in storms and without the tranquillity which provides vision, where the waters of the spirit reflect accurately. Further, without the knowledge of God, your spirit is whether so recognised or not, adrift, unbased, unfounded, ready to be confounded at last (cf. SMR Ch.3, Little Things Ch. 5, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9).
On the other hand, the spirit of a man is merely that correlative to God, who IS Spirit, which like a boat, floats on the face of the waters it did not make, since they are its basis. It means in God, because made by God for God, and without Him, known and indwelling, it is forlorn, an orphan, writing psychological novels on its state, or philosophical treatises on its fate, or political manifestos on insane ambitions to float on dreams. Many, revolted by the endless failure and internal contradictions of such follies, believe in nothing, or more accurately themselves, since it is their own decision. Disgusted with man, they trust one of them, scarcely the work of wisdom!
Meanwhile, material things depending on programs and codes and instituted orders or confines, dependent on the actual cause of such things, since neither law nor lord come by chance, are of their own order. They are made to minister to man, as is his spirit and mind; and this little trilogy is made so that God may minister to it, as a Father to a child; but when it is wilful, it becomes a psychological sedition, a spiritual farce and an intellectual fraud (cf. SMR Chs. 10, 5).
What is not composed, alone, is without composing cause and suffers the consequences of this wild omission; for magic does not work composition. Only what is adequate to the integral and purposive task of designing and then designating what constitutes the integrity of the creation concerned, here man, does this. Forsake that, and you are pages of a book, strewn on a lake, which of course in due course becomes itself, polluted. So is the sea of humanity. But what of the logical reality ? what of the thing that should be because it relates to what is ?
unconstrained, without intrusion,
source of all that is, the constrained, delimited creation, itself equipped with
such designated liberties as He sees fit:
has the facility to make spirits, being Himself, unlike us,
As He is, so He can make, and does make: the source in infinity, personal, profound and brilliant, constructing the course for the finite, material, mental or spiritual, each one, as the case may be: or with man, all three in a synthesis of exquisite delicacy.
When He makes spirit, what then ? For man, He has set these created and powerful functions, invisible to the eye but not to the Lord, in bodies with minds to deploy: and thus is He is able readily to make freedom, that delightfully unprogrammed disposition of the person to this or that, to hatred or love, to surrender or warfare, to integrity or lie, using the equipment provided as it wills.
For this, consciousness is merely one minor attribute; cognition is another; imagination is a further one, equipped in our own case with the attribute again, of logical analysis and surveyable discovery, categorisable apprehensions and investigable fields to which our thought is not alien.
While to be sure, our own spirits when without the Redeemer, because of misuse, are constantly in sin, in sundering relationships with God, so they are prone to alien and inept control, which then in turn leads to inane psychological theories about man, instead of surveying the psychic pathology afflicting him. The disease however is not God. It is merely affliction wrought by will, occasioned by desire in the framework created free, now divested by its own actions of liberty, and even understanding (cf. Romans 1:17ff., Ephesians 2, 4:17ff.).
The nature of the car when the mud is removed, and it is clean, is scarcely comparable with the caked relic of automobile which arrives from the bush (cf. Isaiah 1:18, Jeremiah 14:27). Statistical exercises on what the actual cars on the road are like, including those malodorous and malignant exhausts which sometimes belch oil, the knocking engines, the polluted valves, the dying engines, the appalling ducos, sun-bleached, rust-ridden, this is not the way to understand cars, except in their weaknesses. You need to see them new, and better, the designer’s manual and specifications.
Then you can the more construe their intended performance, departures from it and remedies for it. What becomes polluted, aged, misused, abused, in general, this is not the criterion. It is the original, as made.
So it is with man. While sundered with ignorance and shameful lack of awareness of God, without even consciousness of Him, man is prone to every wind and flurry, conceit or self-love, self-acclaim or self-distress one can imagine (cf. Ephesians 4:14). This tends to reduce his thought about himself to absurd and irrational warpings and aggressive misconceptions, as shame and guilt drive his lack of knowledge deeper into the abyss of alogisms, as with Kant, or Sartre, though each in very different ways: one ponderously without understanding, the other flying into imponderables, but without rational basis.
Hence in all philosophy, as ignoring the actualities of his Maker, man revolves in this or that mental and psychic orbit, turning dizzily to inadequate conceptions, and arguing frequently from the opposite corners to which omissions of one kind or another, consign the contestants. Naturally this is an abortion of liberty, a fever of freedom, like breaking a leg, or injuring an eye, resulting in dysfunction where his very height would have given him far otherwise, incomparably better.
It is alas, a procedure quite vain, empty and futile, the embarrassments perpetually found in mere secular or carelessly religious philosophy leading to misconceptions of the irresolvable, or some new fad about irrationality continually; and there is never peace, because there is never truth. When however, as is shown in the Bible, and presented here with the special emphasis on reason which it authorises (I Peter 3:15), truth is seen where reason drives and demands, in God, and found in His word, the Bible, His manual, then there is a change of the utmost magnitude. Then ? then gone are all logical problems, while all chronic marshes of thought evaporate, leaving the shining gold harvest of divine truth, suitable for all, covering all things, unique in its glory (cf. SMR Ch. 5, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Barbs ... 6 -7).
Love in particular
in liberty then finds its meaning, and
in spirit comes the dimension which is its own:
just as God, who IS love, is the basis for its action
in that discernment, understanding and knowledge, that liberty which is its native realm.
God is love (I John 4:7ff.). Jesus said this, "I am the way, the life and the truth." This does not mean in either instance, that He is nothing else! He is love, way, truth and life, for example. This is no stated exclusion zone.
However it must mean that there is nothing contrary to this divine love in Him, nor to the true way or the full and abundant life or the irrepressible truth. If He hates sin, so may a doctor hate pneumonia. It is not a hatred of someone as such, but of evil, of sin and folly. These things destroy His creation. He hates them. Those who involve themselves irreparably past all mercy (as in Hebrews 6 and 10), in folly to the point of murdering their own mercy, fatefully and finally, no more seeking Him, these become so consolidated in sin that the divine hatred of sin can become a hatred of their own lost positions.
Thus God WOULD HAVE all men to be saved, and through the death of Christ ALL to come to reconciliation, and says so (I Timothy 2, Colossians 1); but when this embracive love is despised, this mercy is smitten, this pardon is denigrated, and darkness is yet the preference despite all, then He who has known all from eternity (Ephesians 1:4), and knows the heart of man better than he knows it himself, may indeed hate 'Esau' as in Romans 9. How is this ? It is because this is not mere sin, but consolidated conclusion outside the only hope for man. It is odious, hateful, but GOD DID NOT FORCE THAT, but suffered it rather than abuse the freedom which He created in man, and which He insists in re-creating; for the "new man" is renewed as at the creation (Colossians 3:10).
Suffered ? He Himself suffered in the ransom sacrifice, rather than have this; and paid all, thus attesting the sublimity of His sovereignty and the unique wonder of His love. Love however does not force, and when it is finally rejected in reality, then outside its domain is rejection, a darkness, an odium which is self-generated, even though Jesus wept (Luke 19:42ff.). That is the nature of love: it does not force, and what will not have it, lacks it.