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As a matter of fact, more than mere childishness, the spiritual obesity, the heavy-mindedness of so much of the human race never ceases to amaze me. I do not refer to technical slowness, but to spiritual sloth. True it is foretold, the Bible analyses it; but the extent of it is a marvel! What a confirmation of the scripture that man without Christ is dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:8, 4:19, Romans 1).
Of course the whole world, with its hundreds of millions of Moslems, Romanists and sects relating in various ways as heresies of Christianity (the Jews, according to the apostles, being also added in general terms through their rejection of their Messiah), makes an enormous percentage testimony to one God, but which ?
Except for the Jews (*1), those above do attest Jesus Christ in one way or another; indeed cannot escape Him (while the Jews for their part cannot escape the predicted consequences). As Paul says, some preach Christ out of contention: that is, their relationship is not spiritual, pure; but they still relate to and forward the name, even if by devious means.
But why did we earlier refer to 'obesity' ? Why is this term used ?
Consider one fact. Here is a human being, an infant, unfolding, yes more than that, developing machinery (but self-repairing to an extraordinary measure, as well), growing equipment before our very eyes, integrated circuits, synthesised operations; and on top of the physical marvels of minute members performing microscopic or sub-microscopic programs at supra-human levels of miniaturisation, there is the fascinating fact of learning. Impressive as are the computers, with their parameters, their 'tasks', their 'methods' of 'learning', this is dead, sterile, merely a matter of performing labour to detail and deliver someone's brain child, some conception already held in principle and programmed into fulfilment.
With human beings, learning is more, far more than this. It involves the development in mind, as automatically in body, of what was not there. Thoughts arise which are novel, parameters not implicit in earlier ones: Creation in the thought world, in fact occurs. Think of making what can create! genuinely and utterly, create! It does not create that with which it is to create, it is true; but with what it is given, it does create.
More than that! It can resist, oppose, and do so irrationally or with ostensible logic, carefully shrouded in distancing mechanisms, directed to keeping the... Maker at bay! Think of creating what did that, and did it in ways not programmed! Creative obstruction, what a testimony, what a witness to the Maker's skill with freedom, is that.
But the mechanisms, the programs, the developments decay. Behold, what had been wrapped and unwrapped, potential and then actualised if you will, now here and now there: it warps, it wanders, it runs down - but not before it has created folly and ruin, brilliance and wonder, rationalisations and woes, banes and blessings or whatever may be its line. It changes the surface of the earth, investigates and distorts or develops and exhibits; but it runs down. This it does, unless God picks it up, restoring, renewing or redeeming, as it is written, and as it is found by Christians, operationally:
But they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wing like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 - cf. Isaiah 51:6!).Just as the unwrapping revealed incredible splendour, as the babe matured, the child grew, so the wearing out exposes incredible vulnerability, sensitivity, emphasising the marvel of the balanced, self-protective procedures inbuilt, and reminding the growing adult that he or she is not a 'god' but a product; yet what a product... one that can think and oppose, even wilfully! One wonders in retrospect how it all was accomplished, whatever for good or evil the little midget human being did, after infancy, and before wearing out! That little weakling, eminently vulnerable, did this!
Have you never considered just what it does, from mushroom clouds to penetration of space... ? but then: it withers, and it is gone from the surface of the earth which it attacked, for wonders or woes, with such vigour. If you have not, it is high time to ponder.
particle, this potential,
this human property, this self-activated potentate,
this semi-automated marvel,
so precious that people may want to adopt one, bring it up, feed it and educate it, learn from it, listen to it, consult it... ?
This devastator, this procrastinator,
this aspirant to divine glories
in many cases: it dies.
It stops breathing.
You look for its place and it is not.
You consider its future, and it has departed from your sight.
You reflect on its past and look how it mounts; but now that is past.
Where did it come from, whose was it, from what did it come, whose construction was this invisibly manufactured being, this imaginative creation, this creative product, this mentality, this will, this purposeful performer!... it appeared without the noise of its construction, and wore out as it used itself, or was used, whatever was the case.
One can never cease marvelling at the blindness of man, the simple fat-heartedness, that so many do not face this simple fact, nor seek to know the One who made this manufactured being, this highest of all designs amid creations visible; nor find it a desirable, an intensely desirable thing, a consuming passion indeed, to know that Being, and to be acquainted closely with that person.
They may line up at the dead body of... Lenin, a gross murderer, or seek an audience with this or that man of fame and name; but as to the Maker of themselves, the One who thought them up, contrived them: man in millions seems urbanely indifferent, confused or simply rebellious. Why know Him ? But He is there. Why approach ? but the blind are leading more and more of them to rejoice, before they die, in their blindness; and to be 'liberated'... that is, to use the wonder of created will with which to rebel against this Maker, ignore Him, and act as if totally... mad, recklessly irresponsible.
The other striking marvel here in view, is simply this: that men despite all this, often loudly marvel that things 'don't go right' and complain, or use this to rationalise disbelief, or reject the Maker. Yet anyone should be able to see that this is just what to expect: to reject the Maker of this magnificent midget, this often prayerless and careless particle, this not quite automatic and frequently lustfully autonomous agent of antics: to do that... it must require ruin, just because He is the Maker, and He does not abdicate every time a wonderful prodigy of His creation goes berserk through will and desire.
He provides for the particle, makes concession to the person, makes communication to the communicator, man, whom He created, sends Jesus Christ for the redemption of this spoiled serviceable unit, and condemns what will not come to this same Lord Jesus Christ. (Amos 4:13, Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 2:8, 12:1, John 5:39-40.)
Indeed, are there not superabundant grounds for this. Firstly, that condemnation was what it deserved anyway, being fallen short of the standards on which alone heaven is haven - the standards of God; and because, secondly, to refuse remedy is to be unremedied, and to be unremedied- it is ruin. To reject remedy is to requisition ruin. (Cf. John 3:18-19 - notice the crux of the condemnation, its elemental principle.)
Further, there is another marvel which remains. It is this: that these persons, these pondering particles, these magnificent midgets, when they come to Christ and accept His cancellation of their conduct by the Cross on which He suffered, bearing the sins of all His own, securing the ultimate justice and providing grounds for restoration, making available to all, this remedy which is applied and active only for those who do so come: what ? then they have joy.
There is no more this other kind of marvel: the sadly unsuitable, the grossly unspiritual, the madly immoral, the intemperately trifling, the tediously self-preoccupied, the deliriously confused little midget, sad in the midst of the wonder of its creation. Instead, there is cohesion instead of confusion, confession for repression, and a beautiful code of conduct for a morass of immorality: there is relief instead of ruin, and acceptance instead of divorce ... acceptance by its maker. Not only does Romans 3:21-26, 4:25-5:1, 10:9 and John 10:9, 5:24 say so; but people find it so, as it is written.
And that involves perhaps the greatest marvel of all, of which we are reminded in Romans 10:9 and John 3:16: that God, beyond any most understandable interest in His prodigy, His fascinating but often repulsive freedom-man: God actually loved enough to take action, investing in the format of the product personally, dying for the misdeeds of those to be covered - and all are invited - and being resurrected from the dead. Not leaving the deceased body around to rot, but before the eyes of hundreds, showing Himself, He demonstrated the truth that He Himself is the Lord of Life (Acts 3:14-15, 2:23-24). Able and willing to defeat the woes, wanderings and wickedness of His creation, He does not impose the remedy by force, but provides it by favour.
Nor did the Lord stop at demonstration. Just as His Cross provided redemption through His offering of Himself as the ransom for believing sinners, so His resurrection is the foretaste of the same work to come, and for His people, it will be in keeping with His own:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21).The remaining marvel ? it is that so many, in the very presence of such love and sanity, prefer to ignore God as if He lacked the wit to speak to His wayward product, and so, implicitly dub Him an imbecile of inattention, indifference or inarticulation.
Yet many imagine that any God would
find this satisfactory. A marvellous being, man, but marvellously prone
to be... obese, spiritually obese; and such fatness kills.
God says: "I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth, I did not say to Jacob, Seek Me in vain" - Isaiah 45:19.
Having just spread out the testimony of His celestial power:
Who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth, who made it, who has established it, who formed it to be inhabited - God, talks to the people created in His image to enjoy the earth in His will, way and presence: to man. He does not live in a cave, carefully counselling some subterranean computer to leave esoteric messages for the sophisticated, and inscrutable secrets for those who make profound discoveries. Not at all.
"I have not spoken in secret"
says so much, so flatly, that it is
necessary to consider it.
For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, who declares to man what His thought is... the Lord of Hosts is His name... Amos 4:13."Not in secret" contrasts vigorously with top secret, eyes of addressee only, as may occur in government or defence. That, it is notable, is how the President and Compiler, the Creator and Controller of the universe sets about speaking to man. It is open to all.
It is applicable to all (to "man"); it is personal from God: "His thought" and not some read-out, construction or insertion by mere method. God vigorously denies any concept that His word is to be found amidst some roving philosophy such as Hinduism, or some atheistic spiritual methodology, like Buddhism.
It is clear. It is explicit. It is His, and He thinks it - it is 'His thought'! It is not some philosophical leap... rather is it a divine donation. All the 'adjustments' to the Bible from textual 'emendation' to fit ideas of what 'ought' to have been said, to philosophical 'interpretations' to mould it to what pedants would have thought - whether Barth, Brunner, Tillich, or what psychologists might have imagined: it is all simple error.
I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth,says the Almighty in Isaiah 45:19, one of our texts.
God has not spoken in secret, in dark places where you have to 'gather' His word and construe it from those who make researches from the ideas of the earth. It is from above (John 3:31, 8:32-33, 12:48-50). It is sent to those who are below. It is public. It is available; it is made available by the strength of One who is Almighty. It is very available. It is written, it is spoken, it is given publicly, it is donated divinely.
In Isaiah 45:20, God addresses those Jews, foreseen prophetically, who will escape from their dispersion among other nations. This, as we read time and again in the Bible, is because of their protracted, impacted and chronic sins of wilful, arbitrary disobedience in the very face of mercy and grace, goodness and willingness to forgive: for example in 11 Chronicles 36:35 ff., Hosea 12:10. Indeed, in the Hosea case, we read that God multiplied different forms of expression, using imagination and impact to reach an obstinate people.
God declares that His testimony of truth, His word to man is from ancient time (verse 21), and that it is God who is the only Saviour, who has done so (Isaiah 45:21, cf. 43:1). Nor is He any Saviour, depending on how you construe Him, for He has declared His thought to man. Far from saying to man, Seek Me in vain, from allowing useless scholarly 'researches' and 'analyses' to be the substitute for what He actually said, God makes clear that the thing is out, public and those who do not follow it are responsible.
Who has declared this from ancient time ? Who has told it from that time ? Have not I, the Lord ? and there is no other God besides me, a just God and a Saviour, there is none besides me (Isaiah 45:21).In a recent Time magazine, the authors of the first major article reflect on the enormous scale of the vast floods, involving hundreds of thousands in Bangladesh. Horror and death, mass executions... by Nature are apparent. Some missionaries, speaking on the radio, noted that there have indeed been other floods and catastrophes before, of such a kind in this area; but never has there been known one like this. Christ in Luke 21:25, we read, spoke of "The sea and the waves roaring". Large-scale wave action in Great Britain and now this enormous inundation from cyclone-driven waters affecting a vast numbers are but two of the events in line with this program. See Chapter 8 infra for a larger coverage of the topic, in its actual and potential fulfilments.
Now Time in its 'wisdom' observes that no reasonable being could see any moral issue in this act, which, it acknowledges, looks like an act, a judgment of God. The reason for this view, unfortunately, they do not state.
Is not Bangladesh a Moslem nation ? Is not the Moslem 'faith' official. How much freedom for the Christian faith to be preached and taught; how much heed has there been to the Christian gospel; how cordially has it been received ? How many believe? What murder of the mercy of God is continually practised by Moslems! and this by Biblical judgment, in that they repeatedly prevent, obstruct, punish or torment the preaching of the gospel by which alone may God be found, through Jesus Christ! As surely as the Bible is right, as Jesus Christ displayed evidently in it is truth, they have done this to it.
No moral ground for judgment in that! Is this not a statement that the Bible is not objectively true ? And is that not a judgment, intolerant if you like, and a setting up as an authority ? My authority is Jesus Christ, and I am perfectly explicit on the point. The rest follows from Him; but this judgment, what is its base, source and ground ? I know none! Indeed, as has been shown, the Bible is demonstrated to be the word of God. This disorder (*1) in the world, so far from being no moral judgment, is predicted moral judgment; and Moslems are by no means singled out as if they alone departed from, denied or discarded the word of God; it is an epidemic world-wide: their distinction is the zeal with which they officially, very frequently, expel it, harass it, reject it and prevent those who would display it, from doing so.
Surely this is special ground for judgment; but it is not the only one in this world, in which enormous judgments are a) predicted b) in operation and c) predicted to mount, while people, like Time the magazine, clear God out of relationship to this Christ-rejecting world, in terms of the Bible.
Let us however a little further probe the performance of the Moslem religion, in terms of Biblical exposition, drawing on its perspective and teaching. They distort the eyewitness facts of Christ, substitute the Koran for the Bible, reject Christ's redemption and subject the Son of God to Muhammad, the caravan raider!
If this is not enough to bring judgment, it is indeed impossible to know what would be! Not merely do Moslem nations tend to block the gospel in greater or less degree, they do plastic verbal surgery on Jesus Christ, their leader having reconstructed the gospel message and account some 600 years later, displacing Christ with himself by decree of a 'god' whose works Muhammad could not distinguish, whose word he could not display, so as to provide rational ground for their acceptance as divine. Further, this word fails to provide the necessary remedy for man, as we have seen in Chapter One, and will see further in Chapter Ten.
Rather do they alter the record of Christ, with all the freedom of an autobiography, so creating an imaginary Christ, subordinating this creation to Muhammad as the last word, supplanting Him in the same way, and subordinating the God of the Bible to man, rejecting the free gift of God's salvation, which, as He says in our text, was not spoken in secret.
It is useless to argue that man does not know. He has been told in so many ways, with mercy and pardon, through trial and tribulation, by fervent missionary work and by merciful and gracious pleadings that man seems almost the ultimate in deafness. God does the speaking; but man specialises in not hearing. Instead of auditory aids: here man has constructed, as far as God is concerned, in very large measure, hearing obstructers, message scramblers.
No reason for judgment! There is in fact no reason in man for the rejection of the gospel of grace and glory, but sheer heedless or wanton folly; and sheer wanton folly inherits wrath. Do not misunderstand; far am I from singling out Bangladesh for special judgments beyond all men. (Cf. Luke 13:1-5.)
Rather does the scripture make it clear that all who reject the truth, the gospel, the grace and pardon of the governing God, the Creator... (and of course, if they do not believe God made their power to think, what do they 'think' they are, to have any opinions at all, being mere metaphysical midgets in the midst and mist of confusion): all are ready for judgment. They are, as Psalm 1 advises, like chaff before the wind.
Australia is moving in its own way to outright rejection of God, the Gospel and the Creation. It does not yet entirely reject free speech on the issue, though doors appear to be closing not a little in the interests of that catholicity of taste for the divine and the devilish, which must not assert one above the other, so that one wonders if it is not asking for disasters greater than unemployment, astronomical seeming international debt and dictatorial constrictions on freedom of thought in education.
These things this country has already; to what does it then aspire ?
There is but one word to all this: Repent. The nation, and all nations, including the Jews, must repent: "For God commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). The case is not different from what it was in Elijah's day, when his nation went a-whoring after false gods with aplomb and assurance, and the King, Ahab, thought it real effrontery for this 'prophet' to dare to 'trouble Israel'. It appears that I myself have been called a trouble-maker by one of the leading elders in the S.A. Presbyterian Church, similarly... for I will not tolerate the whole act and approach whereby those who call themselves after Christ's name, for whatever 'reason', will not face, obey and execute what God says in the Bible.
If that causes 'trouble', what is that compared with the trouble of
troubling God, as Elijah showed the rebellious in his own day. What is the trouble of an operation compared with the trouble of subsequent, possible inoperable cancer!
The whole profound illusion that man, that men, that something which dares to call itself a 'church' can at will dispense with this word or amend that, or ignore the other, is precisely what makes man, when he is hit by reality, to erupt. This is what would appear to have happened with the Time writer, wondering why, why ever, God would actually allow trial, tribulation or judgment.
God as C.S. Lewis indicates, is now becoming liable to put God in the dock! God is to be liable, and man liable to judge Him! It is to be God who is on trial, or excused from existence, in view of certain disorders in a world... which virtually lives by disorder, defiance of physical design, moral law and spiritual righteousness.
God Himself, says man too often, is a trouble-maker, wanting this or that or the other rule
and faith, closely defined and clearly uttered. Very well, if man won't take the trouble to obey, and finds obedience even to the rich and gracious offer of the biblical salvation in all its terms, a trouble, and those who remind them of it, the same - then what is to be expected ? Did not the priest Amaziah tell Amos, 'Do not dribble your word here!' or as we might put it, 'Do not spout your word here!' in magnificent cheek, telling the messenger of God (Amos 7). The retort of Amos, in God's name, included judgment on that very man; and the judgment on the nation which played with reality, was very real. Christ commanded His disciples to preach the gospel to every creature, and while doing so, to be
Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you ...
And lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
"I have not spoken in secret," says the Lord. There is no excuse.
Is it therefore so astounding that... God has His ways!
But within those ways, God is very approachable. You cannot approach Melbourne by driving West within the continent of Australia, from Adelaide. Melbourne is not here to be found. No appointment or expectation made that way, will work. Why is it that many seem to expect God to be found by looking at whatever, and however they like ?
The Psalm 100:4, tells us to "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise". Very well, there are gates, there is a court; you enter by being where it is, and moving in the right and appropriate direction.
Psalm 24 speaks to the gates of the temple: "Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors..." Why ? The purpose is this, so that the "King of glory shall come in" (verse 7). But this King, without whom architecture is nothing, is Himself the gate. The temple is past, destroyed as Christ said it would be, precisely because of the sins of a rebellious people, who would not come to Him, where He could be found. What did He lament ? This:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent her! how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate! (Luke 13:3).Yes and in Matthew 24 we read specifically the fate of Jerusalem the rebel, as to temple -
Not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down (Matthew 24:2).The misused forms and ceremonies of man, whether Jewish rebellions from the Old Testament and its predicted Christ, as He said, or Moslem from the same One, making a false Christ, as predicted also in Matthew 24, or Romanist, grasping now the Christ reserved in heaven until the restitution of all things (Acts 3:19-21), saying at their Masses, 'See, here He is', or 'See, there He is', also as implicitly predicted by Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:23-26): all these are merely so many open invitations to disaster. However, there is another open invitation. It is the invitation to Christ, the door of a better temple:
Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go through them, and I will praise the Lord, this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous may enter (Psalm 118:19-20).It is the gate of the Lord which is the entrance to righteousness. And this ? It all turns on the "Stone which the builders rejected", who "has become the headstone of the corner" (Psalm 118:22). This is "this is marvellous in our eyes" - and who is it ? Why, of course, the Messiah of Isaiah 53, rejected of man, who "shall bear their iniquities".
How truly unbearable shall those iniquities be which man will bear alone, when God has said - and this not at all in secret - WHERE the bearer for sin is to be found. He is the gate: ''I am the door. By Me if any man enter, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture'' (John 10:9). This is what Christ declared. It is declared ... of Himself! There is righteousness, there is truth, there is the way, here is life, to be found by faith, through His word and by His Spirit, the desire of the nations, the quietus of quest, the object of searching ... who, gloriously is a person! and thus,
To Him shall the Gentiles seek, and His rest will be glorious (Isaiah 11:10, cf. Matthew 11:28-29).To enter, then, into righteousness, one needs to enter by the door. To pay an acceptable visit to God, you need to use the entrance. But is this so surprising ? God expects no-one to expect better things than dismissal, if any try window or some breach through which to enter:
All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers ... the thief does come except to steal, and to kill , and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep (from John 10:7-11).Secret ? Christ affirms, asseverates:
Most assuredly, I tell you, I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7).God is eminently approachable by the door ... and man is often highly reproachable for trying to use the 'window' of his own conceptions, gods or others, using indeed Jesus Christ's name, or that of an antichrist like Muhammad or the Pope, to get there.
Yet Jesus said: "Neither be called masters, for one is your master, even Christ". Again He declared: "All you are brethren" (Matthew 24:8-10). What would come before His own glorious and most manifest return (Matthew 24:24, 29-30), would be false Christ's and false prophets! (Luke 21:8, Matthew 24:11). His return, that of the Lord Jesus Christ, is to be manifest like lightning, brilliant and of universal impact (Revelation 1:7, Luke 21:27-28), though not all will be ready (Luke 19:42, Matthew 25:11, 13). He is not approachable through what He excluded, through these prophets who are the architectural equivalents of windows.
We are not, the Psalmist tells us, to enter His gates with the help of a religious locksmith, but with thanksgiving. It is not private, but public this word of God, this way, this gate. You must come to it, you must go through it. To come to it, we see, you must repent; to go through it, you must have faith, for it is a spiritual gate. You need praise as well (Psalm 100:4). Entry is to those who know the gate is there, and they will show they know by the way they go...
To this gate, there is access and invitation: "Enter into His gates", says the Psalm; "Come to Me", says the Lord (Matthew 11:28), and 'I am the door...' (John 10:9). It is a marvellous gate this one, for ... one, for ... Any who comes to this Christ, will not, ''will certainly not be cast out'' (John 6:37 - that is the force of the Greek here).
On entry, you are enveloped with salvation; in salvation you are enveloped with protection; and the quality and style of that protection relates to the heart of the One who has shown it by giving His life.
Approachable ? God has even sent His
gate to earth, and Christ died to keep it open.
What then does our text tell us of the God who gives life to those inside the gate? After directing us to be thankful to Him, and bless His name, it proceeds:
For the Lord is good: His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations (Psalm 100:4-5).You should be thankful first, because there is a gate; there is God there to open it, there is an interior available: and that in it is mercy, goodness and truth. Without mercy, you are unforgivable; without goodness, there is no point in being forgiven, a mere slave of harshness; without truth, you know nothing and are merely a confused core of a creation, a miscreant, a walking madness, a running sore without health, a hollow haplessness, a particle without personality, a reactor without reason: for then would reason be the slave of ignorance and ignorance of environment.
Not merely so: the Lord is so good that in Him is no iniquity at all. ''He is the Rock ... a God of truth and without iniquity'' (Deuteronomy 32:4, cf. Psalm 97:2), in Him is "no unrighteousness"... (1 John 1:5):
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him (Psalm 92:15).He is solid to the core, as it were, uniform to the vastest extent, in height He never dims, in depth He is never murky: "In Him is no darkness at all", as John declares. His is incalculable light (I Timothy 6:16, John 1:18).
With such utter and total goodness, unclouded by intemperance, unspoiled by sin, unmarked by misadventure, unsullied by age, there is God within the gate He has given.
His mercy is not at all for sale, as with Rome - redemption spurns payment - (1 Peter 1:18); not in exchange for mighty acts, as with the Moslems; it is everlasting (Hebrews 9:12, 15, Romans 4:13, 11:6, 29). Its case and character suffers no change, for God Himself does not change (Malachi 3). Merciful now, He is merciful then, forever. Mercy knows neither defeat nor malfeasance; neither malady nor mischief (Psalm 103:17, 89:14, Isaiah 55:5-6, Micah 7:18-20, Romans 5:8-10, John 14:1-6, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, 1 John 5:13, John 5:24). It is clear as snow, radiant as sunshine "For the Lord will arise with healing in His wings", as Malachi tells us (cf. Isaiah 1:18). It is not seasonal, but irrevocable in Christ, who is made to us redemption (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 9:15, 10:22, I Corinthians 1:30, II Timothy 1:9, Romans 8:29 ff.). It is always seasonable to seek it: "Now is the accepted time: behold now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2).
So let us live in, by and through the love which God is (I John 4:7-8), in the mercy He gives:
Love does no harm to a neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. and do this knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand (Romans 13:l0).In other words, it is not only time to enter the gate, but to go in and out and find pasture (John 10:9). This is the impact on Christians. It is time to live abundantly from the power within the gate, in doing the deeds of His mercy and truth; as sent outside it, to witness, to help and heal in the Lord. It is not secret; we do not stay as in a cave; but we go out and in, with His goodness, mercy and truth.
The world may reject it; it must still be told; the world may be (and is) cold; yet it still must be shown the warmth, that God is approachable, irreproachable; and we must demonstrate and indeed illustrate that God has been exceedingly generous in publicity. He has not spoken in secret; for thousands of years, He has witnessed, warned and invited, pleaded and promised, rebuked and rejected those who prefer windows.
Christ is the door of access; but also the door of egress. The way in and the way on; the way to receive the saving work of God and the way to perform the gracious works of God; for in the end, it is Himself who does the works. "Without me," He says, "you can do nothing!" His truth endures to all generations!
It is not Hitler today, Stalin tomorrow, Mao the next (*2), all mass murderers: It is "Jesus Christ, the same today, yesterday and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). He does not change; His truth is the reality; subject to nothing, it rules the universe. He is the truth (John 14:6, 8:40), and we must rule with it (Romans 5:17); for there is no other rule, or authority, no other grace or pity, but that of God; and as to His ? This He has "declared to man", as Amos has told us (cf. 3:7, 4:13), even His own thought, even in His own love, even personally, without the mediation of creatures, by Himself: "For God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (II Corinthians 5:19, cf. John 14:9, II Corinthians 4:6): Christ's face gives God's glory!
This thing was not done secretly; nor
has God declared His word in the dark places. It is open, not shut, released
not recherché, broadcast not withheld, manifest not mesmeric.
The positive side of the curse, then ? (cf. pp. 1174B-D and 1163A-1164 infra - The Poor Environment, and The Suffering of Creation and the Longsuffering of God). With some, the career of endless such 'vanities' as the curse contains, frustrations, limits, can stimulate the first steps towards God, and a reconciliation with Him which is of incalculable positive value (cf. II Corinthians 5:17-21, Romans 8:32) for those who receive it (Romans 5:11,19).
Man in sin harms himself, his neighbour, the lower creation and the environment: the curse is a reproach of realism, a rebuke for sin and a stimulus for restoration, one that bodes blessed relief and better things (Romans 8:19, Acts 3:21, Isaiah 60:18, 65:23-25, 11:9-10).
A second positive aspect is this. Just as adulthood can throw off some of the limitations of childhood, being prepared for long years for this responsible outcome: so in the millenium as a foretaste of glory, there is change (cf. pp. 507ff. supra, Appendix A infra; Isaiah 65:18-25, Revelation 20:2-7; Romans 8:19-22 also relates to the theme).
No more then does this systematic, specialised reminder occur, though (cf. Isaiah 26:10) evil that is 'pure' and true to its shame, despises even this mercy. If it is easy for the vast power of God to limit man specifically in the curse, it is easy for Him also to stockpile means of reproof and limitation, and to re-draft more of the harmony of heaven into the purlieus of earth. In this way, the millenium is one more phase of grace - though this too the Satanic forces reject (cf. pp. 504-505, 508-510 supra), and those with them.
What however was NOT EASY, it was the sin-bearing slaughter of Christ, which required a sense of separation from His infinite and eternal Father (Mark 15:34, cf. Hebrews 5:7, Luke 22:42-44, Galatians 3:10-13), to provide for that ultimate reconciliation and peace with God for sinning mortals - each believer: that transcends all earthly environment. (Cf. pp. Psalm 84:7, Philippians 4:6-7.)
*2 One of the 'next' predicted events relates (pp. 516 ff. supra), in thrust to the regions about the Caucasus. The current nature of the movements in this prophetically vital area is highlighted by the former Russian or U.S.S.R. Foreign Minister, Eduard Schevardnadze, now appearing as President of Georgia.
Speaking with the sort of alertness which marked his foreboding of the abortive Communist hard-line coup against Gorbachev (allegedly Schevardnadze warned the President - at that time Gorbachev - vainly but in time, of the danger), he is featured in Time magazine, October 5, 1992.
Conflicts, he is reported to have said, are raging in the former Soviet Union. Asked what these larger conflicts were, he replied that they were social ones. He indicated that there was conflict in particular in the Caucasus, discounting the view that the countries of that region would be able to rebuild their economies themselves. "Their economies are ruined," he continued, adding - "I think some bad things may follow. If it were only Georgia, it would not be disastrous for the whole world. It is impossible to say how it will take place, because it will happen spontaneously, and it will not be a long process. It may start in one republic and immediately engulf others." (Italics added.)
This concept of social unrest, regional dynamics and economic ruin, with the heady mix of unchartered religious aspiration, together with Moslem strength in the area, and what partisans might deem a provocative Jewish presence within striking distance, fortified by armaments doubtless available from past times and a certain ebullience in the liquor, from past and present strife and action: all makes an eloquent contribution from today's news to prophecy's long awaited period of dénouements, of which this is not the least - or the last. Action there surely will be. See and compare: pp. 515-519 supra ... As to Jewish ''provocation'', Zhirinovsky (Russian election, Dec. 1993) has fulminated against this people, and secured a significant following, looking not for his 6-shooter but for his 'nukes' - if they were available to him - to cover his varied foes.