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BEWILDERMENT, BEDAZZLEMENT, BEDEVILMENT
OR THE BEAUTY OF
Inspection of the Suffering Connection
Dialogue with Inspection Connection
Imagine, I thought, a case where there was no tempting of the heart, no drawing away of the spirit to some luxury of indulgence, or consummation of thought, awareness of soul, tittilation of psyche, or some grandeur of composure, some vision of life; and it was simply the case that ALL were good, incapable of being tempted, seeing everything with automatic, robotic-kind perception, as free as a prior construction within goodness alone would permit, insusceptible to any of the proud flesh which is one of the major interests of humanity.
Yes, my dear sir, but this imagination is merely specious.
Ignoring the fact that I had not been introduced to my somewhat critical seeming interlocutor, I could not help replying with a modicum of zest, MY dear sir, this is precisely the tenor of my own thought. By the way, I do not think we are introduced.
THAT, he cried, is a very old-fashioned way of speaking. Why not 'we have been introduced' ?
You seriously want to know the answer to that question ?
Do YOU, my dear chap (a fall from his grace, or what was left of it), imagine that I would not seriously do ANYTHING ?
I am, I responded, beginning to wonder.
With these initial remarks, we seemed to have been introduced. However, remembering that grace should be poured on the lips, and there is one who speaks like the sharp wounding of the sword, and having no ambitions in that respect, I decided to show a pleasantness to which, it is possible, what appeared at least, an almost robotically self-entranced figure might respond.
Your name, my good sir, is of interest to me.
That is interesting, he replied.
You perhaps have a name ? I asked smiling with every appearance of grace.
Oh yes, I believe so, he replied.
By this time, I had options, I could be vexed and become vexatious, be honey-sweet with implicit patronage or simply ask him his business. I resolved on the last.
I wonder if one could be apprised of your name, concern and reason for addressing me; and if so, I continued, whether something of profit might be discovered for any future conversation ?
It is good to wonder sometimes, he said. I do continually. For example, I have been wondering much about what you call the .... what was it, necessity of history ?
Ignoring this provocative-seeming ignoring of my question, I answered to the point. No, I replied, the indispensability of history. That is the term which I used.
Is there a difference ? he asked.
Certainly, I replied. The 'necessity of history' is first of all an ambiguity phrase.
It could be interpreted
superficially at least to mean 'history has to be what it is'.
That in turn
could mean that it is subjected to some internal law*1, like the growth of a tree,
or that it is subjected to the over-arching control of God,
or even that it is subjected to the over-arching control of God,
This in turn could be a liberty indeed at first delimited as befits a creation, and then limited as befits a trial, a test, and then soiled and spoiled, as with those who even question the creator of validity for their thoughts. Thus man acts with deliberation and/or passion, ruinous vengeance, disproportionate rigors of alleged 'justice', fanciful obliteration of demonstrable truth, and so has a liberty to indulge wilful ignorance or spite; but in some cases, he also acts with exquisite mercy and justice, equity and peaceableness, kindness and compassion, self-control and dedication to the Creator and some enjoy the piety of precision, the word of God, saved for a liberty adjusted to reality, but as true as the knowledge of God, imperfect though they be.
As to such declarations, it is a thing presupposing truth in existence beyond them without unattainability, but in fact atttainable, so that the term could then be used of the result of the failure in man, set as one of the limits now imposed upon him. In this last case, it could mean that this is the nature of the case when man's sins mount like billowing waves, and the result comes crashing down, leaving him no liberty. This could then be contrasted with the degree of freedom he has when his sins do NOT mount in this way.
Sin ? what is sin ?
It is failure to live according to design, and in man's case, to attain to the God whose word is truth and whose work is so profound that it permits obstruction, construction or destruction, even by man whom He made. You see something of this aspect in Job 34-35.
I suppose I should really cease trifling with you. I am the Inspection-Connection, sometimes called the Suffering-Connection, but I prefer the former. . Forgive my somewhat cheeky behaviour, but it was a form of inspection of your psyche by indirect means: watching it work.
I see, Inspection-Connection. May I call you IC ? this would contrast with OC and of course with CEO, whilst perhaps suggesting this, without being flattering. It would also keep in memory the manner of our meeting: now I see what you are about.
Smiling, he shook hands, though I could not help feeling that his 'hand' was something of an illusion, but there, one can ask too much sometimes.
You see, he continued, if you had become crabby, and irritable, and exasperated, this might have suggested that you were egotistical and vain, a man more interested in the manner of his reception than in the nature of what is happening, a self-pro-occupied priggish sort of a fellow.
Since you passed that test, I thought it good to see if your love of thought was greater than your love of self. You passed that too.
You have, perhaps, I indicated, some type of credentials to make your judgment in these connections to be ... valid and secure, creditable in the sense of earning respect ?
No, I just throw my thoughts about and give reasons. It serves as an initial check.
Was there anything in particular that you wished to throw a thought at ?
Yes. Now take your concept of history as a site for the exhibition of splendour, gravitas, the comic, the astute, the foxy, the foul ...
You seem to have been taking my concepts a long way ...
Yes, but I do not only mean your most recent thought.
WHY is it so good in the interests of truth and life, to have such an exhibition site, as this ?
You mean man. It unravels the merely contrived, searches the merely superficial, makes an ogling point of the hidden, as the Lord tries, and His eyelids open upon the children of men as in Psalm 11.
Good. I thought so. But is there merit in the experiential side of it, I mean in the way the things being tested respond, in character, in its development, and not merely in its resultant ? Is the progress of process of valid importance ?
For what ?
For revealing truth, enriching life, giving more meaning to man, more educational power to the work of God in this race, more awareness of what we are, whose we are, what our psyches are, of the fragility of our pretensions and the sincerity of God's promises ?
Well said: yes there is. Thus take Hezekiah*2, since you refer to the Lord. First, how noble a king, how serviceable a royal, how moral a man of might, how endorsed his ways, how comfortable his conditions, how clean his clearing out of the filth of his father, in his religious vagrancies, how blessed he was of the Lord, how happy his heart, how did integrity work in him like a chemical agent, but one personal, glad and free.
It is good, certainly to be able to SEE the realities of these things in operation, and not merely in thought. History has that point.
Moreover, when the test came, it was as grand in scale as was his own merciful and gracious behaviour regal in conception.
You speak of a certain correlativity ?
Yes, but on the other hand, there was to come a certain disparity.
How was that ?
He was faced not with two relatively little nations, as was his father, Ahaz*3, but with one imposingly obliterative empire! Assyria*4. It is like the case of Putin *5- or is it Medvedev ? in any case the government of Russia. Here comes the military machine of this vast, rollicking nation, with its gas control for some of Europe, by virtue of supply, its atomic past in its parading present, its Machiavellian-seeming restoration of Cold-War mentality, now that it is safely rescued from some of the results of its Communist follies. And what is it doing ? It is invading little Georgia, formerly subjected to it via its cluster bomb directed to humanity, the USSR*5.
In so doing, I continued, it is expressly seeking to destroy the military capabilities of that little land, and perhaps some of its commercial power as well, making peace after Europe protests, and then seemingly carrying on anyway, rolling on with its tanks. Indeed, according to the Georgian PM, Lado Gurgenidze, theirs was the responsibility for blowing up a crucial bridge in the land (whether direct or indirect), as if words of peace had no meaning, and works of deception were the order of the day.
Whatever the fact about the bridge, it is incontestable that Russian troops and their allies have ruined farms, villages, shot many of the young, ravaged much of peaceable lands and inflicted visits to arms depots, even a naval base, evidently with the fulfilment of the stated intention of removing Georgian power to harass, making it a sort of pseudo-independent pulp, ready for menace and threat, indirect direction at least. Instead of judicious enterprise to protect anything legitimate in ANOTHER COUNTRY, the Russian power to harass is in mind.
Who cares about morals ? he cried, evidently acting more in the frame of his other name, Suffering Connection. Have them make peace and then continue the war relatively unobstructed! The breach of cease fire arrangements, or at least their gargantuan extension in thrust, has a ruinous look for any attempt to impose anything but force, with anything but deception.
It certainly appears that way, I responded. Let us hope sobriety seizes them before a vast catastrophe attends their boldness. Meanwhile, in the angry words of Putin and the foolish comparison with the Iraq case, where a total national result is sought by the US, not a divisive and ruinous one by all appearance, as by Russia for the entire land of Georgia, so making it mouldable ...
I can only agree, he responded, pondering.
It seemed the IC could stand more, so I proceeded in this way. Here is the bedazzlement of pride and power, such as seemed to grip Germany in the day of the Kaiser and in another fashion, that of Hitler, Assyria in that of Sennacherib and Babylon in its martial parades and pomposity*6. God never appreciates the taunting of human power, and brings it down in the end. Indeed, this being bedazzled by one's country, its 'destiny' or imagined deserts, as in the above cases, by one's poetic but irrational ideas, as in naturalism and its infection of organic evolution, in this case, a daze from humanism and human racism, as by any other hallucinatory drug, what is it doing ? It is bringing man fast, but very fast, to his non-idyllic reward for an impoverished mind, a swollen head and a ravaging arm.
As to Russia in this new burst of folly, it may, or they may find their own ways investigated as were those of Germany, when the USA and Britain foolishly joined forces with them to beat Hitler. God has His own ironies, the Cold War itself one of them, it seems, since here the 'gain' of help with Hitler went far to destroying Europe ONCE AGAIN! There is a vast divine rebuff clearly foretold to an association of Northern powers to come (Ezekiel 38-39 cf. Highway of Holiness ... Ch. 6), and it remains to be seen whether Russia is to be part of it.
They will be tested ?
Yes, and so was Hezekiah. HOW would he respond to this vast challenge to his peace and prosperity, righteousness and godliness ? Was it to be a nice, convenient work of sleepy content, or a true facing in faith towards the God of power and mercy, truth and goodness, Him whom he served ? and DID he REALLY serve Him ?
This indeed is the sort of question which appeals to me, as Inspection-Connection ...
IC we say.
Yes, then, as IC. That then is one of the great functions of history. You are not just looking at a result, as if a Class exam had its marks posted on some Board. You are seeing the ins and outs, the devout and the canny, if so be, the thoughtless and the long-sighted, the prudent and the selfish; and prudent for what ? for one's own longevity or the beauty of God's truth!
Correct. Incidentally, you have perhaps seen the coverage on King Hezekiah recently put on the web ?
I have - Chapter 4 in your present volume, I believe.
We can then without more ado look at the gen.
What WAS then Hezekiah's response ? I ask this, speaking to the point of history as revelation, though one made in the midst of multiplied variable, where the human psyche has to ponder and not merely pose, to consider and not merely react, have priorities and not merely 'decide', when it is forced to have recourse to its real source of power, of value and of perspective, and USE it, or put itself in its control very intimately.
The King's response ? It was clear, incisive, direct.
I rather thought so.
He went to God, step one. He took the evidence, the arrogant letter from Assyria, the invader, with him. Step two. He spread it out before God, thus making contact in terms of sure, demonstrable fact, and not merely subjective estimates of it. Step three.
He did this in the Temple, that structure in symbolism and actual sacrifice, pointing to Christ (Isaiah 4:6, 32:1ff., Hebrews 7-10), and not in some vague and unsure, merely subjective manner. It is the counterpart of the promises of God, and indeed as you see in Solomon's speech at the temple's inauguration as a functional work, the promises of God were related in this case, expressly, as I Kings 8 shows.
Could we just possibly cut the 'step' talk and compose a narrative.
Yes, but it is not to the point, since this is not a recounting of history, but an estimate of its value, selected for the point at issue.
Next, he addressed God in terms of what He is. We took this aspect in Ch. 4 of my current volume, like this.
It cannot be too strongly pressed that minds are given us from the Lord for a purpose, and like Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah gave grounds for his prayer, and those from the word of the Lord. Just as Sennacherib of Assyria had boasted of overcoming nations, and their gods, and had put Israel in prospect for the same treatment, SO he had given King Hezekiah fatal ammunition against his rampaging and attacks (Isaiah 37:10ff.). Thus he could and did present these things to the Lord:
"You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.
You have made the heaven and earth ...
Hear, open Your eyes, O LORD,
and see, and hear all the words of Sennacherib
which he has sent to reproach the living God."
Indeed, said the King, the gods of the nations consumed by this assailant were no gods at all:
"Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand,
that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone" (bold added).
In other words, he SAW an epic value in history, the demonstration of truth in practice, allowing liberty its full content, and irony its teaching pith.
Yes, and I think I know what you mean by the irony, but it lies in this: it is to be seen in the substance and the style of the ANSWER that the Lord gave to his prayer for help! It was a prayer based on THEOLOGICAL FACT, that is, the purity and power, the majesty and grace of God Himself, and in this way led to the request that the answer should include the demonstration that ONLY HE is God.
You mean that in Isaiah 37 no doubt ?
"The virgin, the daughter of Zion,
Has despised you, laughed you to scorn;
The daughter of Jerusalem
Has shaken her head behind your back!"
It is indeed ironic, this blatant pretended and pretentious power of man, being treated to such a degrading mockery, but one precisely in order!
It put things in order, in view of Assyria's incontinent boasting, in which it had explicitly made it appear that he with human power had been able to subdue many nations AND their gods, so that there was no ground for Hezekiah to think that he would fare any better (Isaiah 37). In speaking in this way, or authorising such speech , the King of Assyria he had given Hezekiah a mortal weapon. That threatened King could AND DID bring it to the Lord, in His wisdom, that here was a magnificent opportunity for HIM to show that HE ONLY was God, in the earth, the God of heaven and earth, the Creator. It is in the Lord's mercy to show this again and again to man, without thereby making it so intrusive that liberty has no reality. Only in the truth is there or can there be any liberty; illusion merely blinds.
Thus, only in the truth can man be free, for reality gives constant check-mate if he does not. History is littered with these check-mates, whether for Assyria, Babylon, Nineveh (as shown in Ch. 4 of The Pitter-Patter ... for instance), and with the case of Hitler and the USSR, that misanthropic, in its autocratic leadership, that reductionist miasma of power-maddened, soul-shrivelled minds.
Man is maddened by such lusts, and saddened by their results, but does not learn. He still seeks in his impotent UN to have a humanitarian solution, or more accurately, a humanistic one, which is about as real as the solution of the ghettos and the concentration camps. It sometimes, but extreme unreliability, helps the removal of what from time to time is undesired, acting with moral pomp, while such things come again in some other form, as in this new role for Russia in tossing up the mouse of Georgia, before perhaps engaging in some form of eating it.
God, in the case of Assyria, in pity used power to teach then ?
Precisely. The Assyrian army was all but obliterated. That too is covered in this same Ch. 4 of my latest volume. It places the preliminaries in boasting on the part of Assyria, and in prayer from the King of Judah, as he sought such spiritually oriented results, together with the deliverance of his own nation.
Notice his private devotions, his self-discipline before all of this in multiple services to his nation, his care not to merely wrangle with the crusading Assyrian King, his care with the facts of the case, his humble petition to God on the basis of truth and fact, and in terms of what would be shown by the divine intervention which he sought; and got!
The case resembled that of Jehoshaphat in this, that a strange devastation hit the Assyrian camp and the army was largely destroyed, the proud monarch having to retreat, only to be killed, according to report, by his sons, some 18 years later: ironically, it seems in one of the temples of the false gods in his own land. This defeat is noted in the National Geographic, February 2008 in an article on the black African kings who for a notable time took over Egypt. It may be that one of these Nubian kings pressed Sennacherib hard enough, and indeed Ethiopia menaced him; but that Assyrian was soon demolished in his pride and power, in an amazing defeat, foretold by the Lord, and acknowledged as pivotal in the Geographic coverage, so giving Judah time over many more years, to strengthen herself.
The words of the Lord are magnificent, as given by Isaiah to Hezekiah before the fight:
"Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard,
with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.
"Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumour and return to his own land, and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land."
This fits superbly with possible Nubian menace, but the devastation of his camp was a vast work of the Lord, the angel of the Lord killing of his host, 185,000, leaving but corpses (Isaiah 37:36). Notice the tenor of Isaiah's retort to the proud King, a glimpse of Hitler before his time, as he sought to smash Judah:
"The virgin, the daughter of Zion,
Has despised you, laughed you to scorn,
The daughter or Jerusalem has shaken her head behind your back!"
So there we come back to the taunting of the taunter himself, Sennacherib, by the Lord. The thrust of the divine reply runs something like this in what follows in Isaiah 37:
YOU who can swallow nations and their gods, you are a derisible, contemptible piece of arrogant plotting without power, merely a brand of a mouth in a tinder of what has been prepared for you.
Where do you find that divine reference to the preparation of this man by God Almighty for a limited task of discipline and reproof, amongst other things, to Israel itself ?
Let's have it then.
Very well. Here it is. God continues to upbraid the Assyrian King.
"Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice,
And lifted up your eyes on high?
Against the Holy
One of Israel.
"By your servants you have reproached the Lord, and said,
‘By the multitude of my chariots
I have come up to the height of the mountains,
To the limits of Lebanon;
I will cut down its tall cedars
And its choice cypress trees;
I will enter its farthest height,
To its fruitful forest.
I have dug and drunk water,
And with the soles of my feet I have dried up
All the brooks of defense.’
"Did you not hear long ago
How I made it,
From ancient times that I formed it?
Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should be
For crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins.
Therefore their inhabitants had little power;
They were dismayed and confounded;
They were as the grass of the field
And the green herb,
As the grass on the housetops
And grain blighted before it is grown.
"But I know your dwelling place,
Your going out and your coming in,
And your rage against Me.
Because your rage against Me and your tumult
Have come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back
By the way which you came." ’
Let me comment on this a little. Thus the Lord reminds Assyria that though it had been appointed to do a job of discipline on Israel, a nation long ago brought into a special place in history by the Lord, yet this appointment was contrived for teaching purposes, as well as for judgment. It secured in Assyria's day of power, some rectification of a vast evil which had brought Israel low (as with the utter and idolatrous and widespread corruption brought into the land through King Ahaz, before Hezekiah, his very father: that is a matter exposed in Ch. 2 in this same volume).
Thus Assyria was USED by God to bring a measure of judgment to erring Israel. This however does not mean that Sennacherib is almighty, has power over God, even if it DOES include his power to rampage where the Creator is merely mimed with idols, in pagan nations. There, he had acted as a fitting rebuke to them also. Now, his heady assumption that nothing could stop him in Israel, that he had no limits, that indeed the power was all his own, this would meet its mayday, its own cure!
The Lord demeans the arrogant pretensions of this imperial power and exposes its empty propaganda for mere show and bluster. To be sure, it SEEMED to have point, but this was only because of confusion of purpose, with power, of utility with majesty. Divine purpose used his arrogance, but then confronted it. Thus 180,000 troops of Assyria lay smitten and the king returned in disgrace, later killed apparently by his sons in one of the idolatrous temples of his non-power!
BEFORE acting however, the Lord SPEAKS. As you see in the Isaiah just given, he makes this so arrogant king look like some vaunting, rampant bull, bellowing at His nation, and tells him that He will lead him OUT and away from his intended prey, like a bull with a ring in its nostrils, so demeaning his power to that of a brute, and his glory to that of nostrils that flare, but can bear but little!
So what does this show concerning history's ... well, not necessity, but indispensability and incidentally, indispensability for what ?
Thank you for this double-barreled interrogative offering.
Not at all, let me assure you, it is a pleasure. It is part of my job, you know.
Could we have the answer.
To your question or to mine ?
To my own, if you will.
So be it, then. You preserve a measure of anonymity. But to the point at issue... These events and responses on the part of Hezekiah show that the FACT that the Creator has all power needs to be borne in mind. Man's insane-seeming pretensions in philosophy and war alike (cf. SMR Chs. 3, 8-9), are met not by insane-seeming clashes, but by calling on the name of the Lord. This does not mean that pain is avoided, for reality-check involves pain, as part of the test. It does mean, however, that the point of the exercise is kept in mind, as in all good military manoeuvres; and as Paul points out in Ephesians 6, we ARE involved in a war, a spiritual war, and should thus use spiritual weapons. They are what counts in reality, for GOD Himself is a spirit.
Hezekiah did this, good.
Then that same King used the MEANS for the exercise of divine power, namely the promises of God. These are the premises of his operations. You see this, earlier, in King Jehoshaphat's speech recorded in II Chronicles 20, in his parallel confrontation, earlier by Syria and Israel to the North of his Southern redoubt, Judah.
That King there is seen reviewing the relevant history leading to the military confrontation; and he does so in SPIRITUAL terms of what the Lord had already done. It is then that he involves the promises of God as premises, before taking by faith the matter to its conclusion. This God provided in practice, using the prophet Jehaziel as seen in II Chronicles 20:14ff., whose utterances were decisive and of course turned by God into fact. Such is the service of history, for it allows the comparison of word and fact, faith and action, promise as premise and promise as act.
This is all covered in Ch. 2 of my present volume. Those promises in that case related to the Temple and its opening prayer by Solomon, just as our present New Covenant promises relate to the premises of the Cross where the final sacrifice of blood was made by the Lord in person, as noted there also (cf. Hebrews 7 -10).
God acted for the theocratic nation in terms of His promises, just as He acts for His people now, a special people, as Peter calls them, a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9), so made by God who "called you out of darkness into His marvellous light, who once were not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy".
Yes, Jew and Gentile alike are put in this, in the same light, for if one had come sooner, only to wander into blight, the other lived in the blight, and now both are brought to the light, the same light, amazingly one THROUGH Israel, though it failed even there, and thus both become as one.
Exactly, as in Galatians 3. Peter having said this, then cites Hosea, as does Paul in Romans 9:25-26, showing the full extent of the application of divine mercy to the Gentiles, as likewise in Romans 15.
So God tests the hearts whether in a theocratic environment, with clear results, or an ecclesiastical one, with suffering also, but victory for truth; in both cases using His people, those in the covenant concerned, to show His power, pity, mercy, kindness, patience and willingness to meet confrontation directly!
Correct. In the process, there are subtle, or bold, deep and inward, or vocal and outward, insidious and invidious or expansive and glorious results. These, the very stuff of history, are continually showing the power and the glory, the discipline and the deliverance, the wonder of God and the love by and for Him, and the extent to which His people will go in order to live for Him at any cost, to value His truth at any peril, or to sell out like Judas, to the best worldly bid available.
So you are saying that in history, the precise parallelograms of forces, the interactive ingredients of nobility and sacrifice, or slackness and repentance -
as in Thomas Bilney, or for that matter Archbishop Cranmer, who likewise recanted only to make a flaming and indeed magnificent recovery and testimony before Romanism killed him, both being burnt by its quaint conceptions of courtesy to the owner of mankind -
yes, and of pity or remorse, of strengthening or slithering in the race with all its ventures and adventures, phases and interactions:
there is value.
Much more than this. In these things lie the exhibits of comparative values, comparative powers, comparative presentations, and the exhibition of the inward character, the disposition of psychic forces, spiritual power in the heart of man, and its relationship to the heart of God in His words and works alike.
Simply, then, to have announced the result - you to heaven, you to hell - would have done none of this ?
Not merely that, it would have enablement an admittedly false, but certainly plausible confusion of mere authority with destiny, rather than the demonstration of the love and mercy and peace of God on the one side, and the malevolence, insidiously invidious subtleties of sin, the follies and the pride of heart of man, in their correlative actions, with a burning and a yearning alike in focus. It is in this that the fact that God would have ALL to come to repentance is continually seen - as in the case of that amazingly evil King Manasseh, son of Hezekiah actually, who despite bringing RUIN to Judah, when in prison in a foreign land cried to God in repentance and was HEARD!!
Through history, then, the texture then, of truth, is seen as well as its outcomes ?
The beauty of holiness, the bounds of reality and the thrust of mercy, all are seen in dynamic operation. God NEVER rejects repentance, though plausible substitutes have no chance of deceiving Him! He WANTS man back home, and constantly illustrates this fact, not in mere power, though power is available in the context of the fact that GOD IS LOVE (I John 4:7ff.), so that NOTHING is ever contrary to this fundamental disposition in Him, and He is truth as well, the only objective basis for it beyond mere superficially inclined mutual reactions. He does not change in order to make hell all that is left for a disordered all; but He does go to any extent within the truth, to deliver man. He hears the slightest call, and dismisses the cleverest foil (as in Psalm 145, Isaiah 45:22ff.).
Thus this is not merely educative - as in Ezekiel 37, where not only is Israel, in the last phases of conflict, shown that GOD is the One in whom alone to trust, but also the lusting, Gentile ones, are shown that Israel was left because it left the Lord and is found because the Lord once more has found what He founded, that substantial remnant on which He so set His heart.
Where precisely is this ?
It is to be seen, in substance, in Ezekiel 37:26, 39:22,27-28. What had seemed to some who were being superficial, to be a religious box of indefinite unsubstantialities, through these historical developments becomes an entire simplicity of sight.
In what way ?
In this: Israel was a people for the Lord, removed by astounding miracles from the imperial grasp of what was apparently then the greatest power on earth, as an imperial might. It left slavery in Egypt, in style! It was then placed in the land chosen for them hundreds of years before, by divine decision. It then fell through sin and kicking against the Lord, as predicted by Moses in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 32, precisely as shown. Moreover, having done so, and continuing at it, it then suffered the results as foretold, as if it had been the prognosis of some medical disease: If you do this, that will happen, and then this.
It was shown in steps, what would happen as it sinned now in this and now in that way: and all came. There arrived on the scene, that horror of spirit, that desolation of soul, that loss of their land, that contempt shown to them by many nations, themselves contemptible, because they had treated their God as contemptible: so that in HISTORY they should learn what is true beyond it!
Blinded by the blight of their erratic sins, they continued in a flurry of worry and tension, but at last awakened, they come to see the facts as one sees an outline of river and bridge, hill and town, from a mountain ?
Exactly, that is what happens when the historical mix is concluded at this level, for what sin made to seem puzzling, now is extraordinarily plain. That is what is to come. It is THEN at last, that they will know what it is all about, sense it, substantiate it, realise it, and with this, repent of the follies of trying to be autonomous, or pleasure-seeking, or idolatrous, or like all the rest of the godless nations, and try their 'luck' as they might with magnificent blindness. Imagine!
In a little while, you will not have to - you have read Answers to Questions Ch. 5 ?
I must do so. But tell me: Is there any scriptural reference, sorry I know you like 'biblical' better in general, clearer - is there any biblical reference to such an attitude on the part of Israel, one in due course really rebuked, since they were with their own consent chosen for this purpose of being a godly nation to show to the world the glory of God1
Yes, indeed. As to this last point, you see it in Isaiah 43:21; and as to the voluntary nature of the covenant, see Exodus and Joshua in his last chapte; and as to God's resistance to their folly in treading on the covenant and wanting to be like other nations ? THAT is to be found in Ezekiel 20:32. How galling is the proposition! It is like an athlete saying, I will eat fatty fast food, and be like other youngsters! to his coach.
In fact, Israel had forgotten its rest day, its sabbath, and perhaps in this was getting close to modern society with its mad-seeming machinations of being beyond design, but in fact, beyond redemption in the end, except they repent. So was it with Israel, and to this, God the Designer, whose works of vital brilliance need upkeep with care, replied ...
" 'I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples,
and there I will plead My case with you face to face.
"Just as I pleaded MY case with your fathers, in the wilderness of the land of Egypt,
so I will plead my case with you,' says the Lord God.
'I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you...' "
Alas poor Israel, so lovable, so foolish, so remarkable and yet in much, so dismal! Its desire to be pagan-centred, idolatrously indifferent, zealously diffident, like other nations ? What does God say of this ?
"What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say,
'We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries,
serving wood and stone ...' "
Naturalism does not deliver Israel*7. Its uncertain religion, not at all founded in the Lord who founded them, is no way for it to be. It is CALLED as a people for the Lord, and though the Gospel has now reached indifferently in its grace to all nations, peoples and individuals, yet Israel has an appointed place in history. Thus its national rejection of its OWN Messiah, foretold as required, and His rejection by Israel predicted (Deuteronomy 18, Isaiah 49:7) in its own Covenant, the Old Testament, cannot continue as if this were a thing indifferent! Reality is NEVER indifferent. It counts and acts, unlike misplaced faith. THAT is one of the differences. The sheer beauty of the truth is another. WHO ELSE hears at Dunkirk, when Spain comes with its Armada, in Israel when Sennacherib with his troops!
It is as Jeremiah says, in 10:11, "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens" ... Again He scornfully puts the point like this, in the name of the Lord, in Jeremiah 2:27-28.
"Saying to a stock, You art my father; and to a stone, You hast brought me forth:
for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.
"But where are your gods that you hast made you ?
let them arise, if they can save you in the time of thy trouble:
for according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah."
In all these ways, then,
wilderness, in Egypt,
in dispersion among the nations,
in the Gentile acceptance
in large numbers, as foretold in Isaiah,
in the Gospel as also foretold there*8,
in the various exposures of the
in the force of reality and its
impact on the human psyche,
in the impossibility of deceiving
God and the futile inanity of it,
in His demonstrated faithfulness and
in the internal stress on spiritual strength and sincerity
in all these ways, history is in a way, like biological slides, where you see the workings of the cells in detail. THAT is how it happens.
Happening is history ?
It is a primary ingredient. What happens and why it happens, at whose instance it happens, in what perspective it may be seen and understood as it happens, with what ultimate point it is permitted to happen, and in what limits its ingredients have force and favour, this too is history.
It lends ground for thought.
More than that, it gives exercise for the legs! And of course, the Bible declares WHY it happens. Test is to expose folly, deception, insincerity, purity, the beauty of holiness, the love of God, the love for God, the meaning of strength, its final repose, the reality that faith is not the power but the access to Him who is, the necessity of dealing not with a name, 'God', but the living and eternal One who bears it, the singularity of Israel as called to a task, providing much of the first part of the Bible and the presentation of the criteria for recognising the Messiah, and the site for the Saviour, a crux in the second.
Here lies something of the uniqueness and invariability of the Gospel, its being ONE just as God is, formulated in the Old Testament, forged in the New! Indeed, since it is HIS WAY and word, the results of playing with fire and trying to change it (as in II Timothy 3-4, I Timothy 4, II Cor. 11), the clangour of misused national powers, the follies of trying to do a deal with Satan without even mentioning him, the final outcomes and the reasons for them: all these things are as fatal as spiritually fatuous. All these things, moreover, are to be found in the BIBLE; and here lies the key to history, its rationale, its splendour and in man ? Why for his follies, its drabness, for his love of God when it comes, its ground as a place for grace; for God acts as He is! For man's sheer effrontery, it shows the abasement of our race, as one before the Gospel, through which it is re-enabled to rise, but not on its own wings, oh no, not on them!
The word says one thing ...
And the results are to be found in HISTORY!
You said it. They match, then, like twins.
But there is this: that while God teaches these things, ONE of the other things that He teaches is this. It is that those who remorselessly refuse His maintenance-care, His diagnosis of sin, His prognosis of its course in individual, family, nation and world alike, these constitute something comparable to chaff which the wind drives this way and that. THAT is why many find life meaningless, for there is little apparent purpose as a speck of chaff is tossed now this way, and now that; and those who insist on not having a heart freely re-moulded and made by God are in that case. It is this VERY seeming meaninglessness which is ONE of the lessons; for when man vomits his purpose in life, then such a result comes as being ungrounded, unfounded ... merely found. Thus is he blighted and bothered, if rich, futile, if poor, distressed perhaps. It is the lesson of emptiness: empty your heart and your heart is empty. Simple to say, distressing to find!
I must say, as Inspection Connection, this is what I see. I see it in the connection with the Bible, like people on a bicycle built for two, that is, in tandem. He speaks; history shows. It shows it as He speaks, and as it shows, His word interprets, exposes, gives perspective and confirms it.
HISTORY then brings these things to EXPERIENCE, to THOUGHT, to HEART, to events, to challenges. It brings them to meddlesome meaning-fiddling, to the evanescent wings of mini-history, as folly mounts only to fall, first skimming then clashing with the realities of the ground. It brings them also to MIND, and it teaches to mankind as to the powers in heaven and in hell, the full scope of principles and heart, of the will of the Lord, who alone is in Himself GOOD, and of the reality of liberty as a tender for the love of God. If sin blights mankind to a kind of confusion on the topic, God is well able to see, and knowing His own from of old, brings them home.
Does history show even that last thing ?
It accords with it. It is really quite simple. God STATES many of the things that are to happen in such a way that it is rationally incontestable that the God of truth and creation has done this (cf. SMR p. 973A, *24). When they happen and since He is truth (John 14:6, 17:17, Isaiah 44-45, SMR Chs. 1, 3, Barbs ... 6 -7), therefore we not only know that likewise His heart is as He has shown in His word, but as He has illustrated by its conformity to history. It is IN this history that the active ingredient works so profoundly for man. He WOULD have all men repent and come to the knowledge of the truth, seeks in love and pity and mercy for them, but will by no means acquit the wicked; and where mercy is despised, so is destiny despicable. These too, they match. He takes nothing by mere force; but with the force of truth, information precedes judgment, principle precedes practice. He is found to be warning in word, in heart, by His Spirit and by history, by stories, by symbols, by pictures (cf. Hosea 12:10), by depiction, by conscience, by grief of heart and by wrestling with the devious, until the time comes ...
When judgment comes!
And history has been a servant to show, to let men know, experience, engage the mind and develop it, seek for light and gasp for it, or detest its presence and persecute to remove it. Mere power is not enough. This is simply one facet of the glory of God. As to power, it is there; but under control. It is shown, but to the eyes that are open, and exhibited in its own character, and not as merely a means for the hand to forage for vainglory, food or the subservience of others.
It is ALL worth it; for God has used MANY means to achieve one result, the rescue of many, with the loving embrace offered in sincerity to all, from that abuse of liberty which blights, while bringing them back to that non-inordinate power, to that place as derivative and creation of Himself, which man has - to reality. Even at that, He adopts as His children those who are redeemed (Ephesians 1:5). What more could possibly be done and asked ?
Indeed, though the power of man remains limited, for he is still a derivative, albeit as redeemed by faith, an adopted child of God, yet God remains unlimited and there is neither barrier nor blight, derogation nor intimidation but the glory of God in His sheer wonder, available to His own people, each one, as light that breaks up gloom, in serenity that sends off doom, brilliance that brings splendour to the irradiated heart and such utter purity as makes the heart to applaud and the mind to sing in sheer luxuriance at the wonder of it all (Revelation 7, 21-22).
Certainly, it is as far as the East from the West from simple authoritarianism.
Quite. But it lacks nothing in authority.
Could you let me inspect that a little more ?
Why not! Let us see what the Lord is providing. It is authority with love; it is non-autonomy yet with significance and liberty. It is the freedom that love requires and the eternity to which man, as made in the image of God, aspires; but it is not an eternity of hell, as if man were allowed to continue as he is not, some little god. Instead, it is the eternity of rest in that glorious combination of true liberty, a liberty which has shown itself and its ways in the all-competent controls and yet freedoms which God has provided. These are not arbitrary, but adequate; not impersonal for the persons who are HIS (Psalm 1:6-7), but select in intimacy, sure and steadfast in security; and though this does not ever make of man God or a god, it does make of the one redeemed, a being of peace imperturbable, where love and personality are wholesome, integrity and truth rule unmolested in grace, and murder is no more.
Eternity comes in its own time, to those whom the good Lord has found, who knew from the beginning those who are His (Ephesians 1:4), before this little excursion into our time, and finding them, secures them to Himself.
Thank you ... your name again ...
IC, you know.
Your introduction was fun really.
I meant it so. Life really is full of vitality and when humour is lost, I think it a state fit for the lost.
Your point is not lost on me.
Goodbye, and thanks for letting me call.
FLAWS FOCUSSED in HISTORY, FOUND in order to be BOUND
I received an email from IC asking me to give some examples of trials finding weaknesses, reminiscent of minute fractures in airplane tails, through metal fatigue. While the imagery was merely suggestive, the point was this: how did history find a use in showing to all, both participants and observers, the danger of weaknesses, of indulging little flecks of opinionatedness, obstinacy, self-regard and the like, with possible explicatory outcomes. That is, in this work of trials, he wanted to see actual cases of things perhaps subtle and spiritual, receiving the equivalent of high power microscopic enlargement, so that history can act like a laboratory aid.
I gave him the following.
1)There was David with the insistence he had on getting statistics: HOW MANY MEN DOES OUR ARMY NOW HAVE! That is seen in I Chronicles 21.
There was this point: it was perfectly evident over the years, in the way the Lord delivered David repeatedly, in the grace and charm of their discourse (David, we read, was a man after God's own heart), that not only was it GOD' S own power that preserved and enabled David in his sacred kingly, and counselling life, but that it was done in a PERSONAL manner, as between friends.
Thus, when in THIS case (all cases are themselves, and not another thing, historically), David was SO keen on finding the massive quantity of men in his victorious armies, that it had a flavour. Joel, the commander, not renowned for spiritual restraint himself, objected. David insisted. He WANTED that number, that of his army. This led to a plague of great proportions. In this, David pled with God, saying that it was his fault, and asking the Lord not to afflict the people.
This showed heart, as the problem showed a head problem, if you will. David in this, quite atypically, represented a danger in the nation, that of dwelling on the work of God as if the results were instead a measure of its power, or again, as if its power were in some way proportionate to its numbers. Whether in Egypt or in more recent times, as in 1948, 1967, 1973, God has shown that this is not so. GOD makes all the difference. He does this EVEN for a people, like present Israel, which nationally does not - still does not recognise its own Messiah (cf. SMR Ch. 9).
Thus the power is absolute, and while zest and zeal, in this, mankind in the image of God in his original construction, these are good, they are not a replacement for God. They function in His presence, not as if in His absence. HIS is the power and the honour and the glory, in word ? yes, but in fact.
2) Here we come to the case of Gehazi, servant to Elisha. When a Syrian commander came seeking Elisha, because it was (as it is - the same identity) the God of Israel who had power for curing things like leprosy, for healing, the point of the cure provided through Elisha, was made to reach the Syrian's heart. Healing is a work of power and wisdom; but finding misled hearts is a spiritual work of grace and mercy. The former was made subordinate to the latter. Thus Elisha asked this Naaman, the commander, to bathe in the River Jordan. A small thing, claimed the commander, for we have fine rivers at home! The point at last reached him that it was not a question of rivers in themselves, but as being indicated for the task at hand.
If, a servant pointed out, you had been asked to do some wonderful thing in order to qualify for healing, would you not have done it ? Then do this. His flesh, on being dipped as required, became fine and good as that of a little child. The commander realised the power of God, found through HIS specifications as the One who IS, and the allegiance he owed.
In this, the test was designed to show the eminence of spiritual things, the singularity and power of the only God there is and the nature of His mercy, and that so far from being ONLY the God of Israel, His is a heart which even desires healing for those who seek Him, and will worship before Him, of whatever nation. But they must come to Him, and on His own terms. He does not become futile in order to be pleasing, but as He is, so He teaches.
Thus history amplified truth and its hand ministered mercy, at the work of God within it.
3) Simon Magnus, as seen in Acts 8, showed some sign of faith in Christ, but so impressed was he as a magician, of some spiritual power, with the work of God at the hands of Peter and John, that he asked if he could buy this power. Buying God, for His power is His own, is a precious work for something He has made! Peter said something which J. B. Phillips, too loosely but interestingly translates as "to hell with you and your money", or something like that. He is asked to repent fast before his wickedness leads him to hell, and indeed, in case mercy might not arrive in his way, to prevent this.
This showed the folly of imagining that God takes wilful sides, that He can be influenced by bargaining, or haranguing of any kind, that man may manipulate His power for purity in terms of that most infinitely expensive Gospel which He has purchased, yes He by Himself, IN Himself, as displayed IN HISTORY. In terms of that self-same Gospel proclaimed in Samaria at that time by Philip with Peter and John coming later, this purchase was made at the Cross of Calvary. ONLY there, in repentance as he receives the work of God made available in pardon, the curse taken, the faith not mistaken, can man find the power of God. Moreover, it is not usable for mamnoeuvre or manipulation of anything or by anyone. It is God's own power and provided for the purposes of HIS love, purity and truth with peace, and can no more be bestowed extraneously, as if divorced from its basis and purpose, than can a flower be constructed of paper and yet grow.
The very drama of these things for all time TAUGHT the integrity, purity, incalculable holiness of God, and the folly of ANY who claim the power to get money from you, in order to operate in God's name, or to use His power in their own appointed ways, as is common in the sects, some of which become inordinately rich, in preaching Him who had no place to lay His head, in a way disturbingly blatant, but once for all exposed in this case of history.
4) Again, there is the case of Moses and administration. How meek, how merciful was Moses! Why he even preferred to have himself cursed, to having this deadly fate accorded to that Israel which he had led out of Egypt, in the case where they escaped from the sheer drudgery and degradation of slavery into the glorious liberty of God, so that they might see His power, know His works and find the pathway to His mercy, meaning and direction for the life which HE created (Exodus 32:32ff.).
Perhaps more precisely, Moses asked that if God would not forgive Israel for its riotous reversion to idolatry, while he was in Mt Sinai and Aaron the priest was officiating, then he would that he himself might be blotted out of the book of life. Curse them and then ... then blot ME out! This was his solicitous cry. Thus, he was so bound up with their deliverance that if this were to be denied, he could not himself continue uncursed, but must share.
This of course was quite futile in administration, but NOT so in heart. It showed where the heart lay; and the refusal of God, with peremptory certitude, to indulge any such request made it clear that Moses and his kin, the sinners, mankind, the human race, had not (as Psalm 49 tells us so forcibly) any power to REDEEM. We can be gracious and faithful and merciful and seek the lost, but ONLY GOD can redeem! (Matthew 20:28). Our service may be based on His attitude, but it cannot achieve His result: redemption!
Thus this point came out in a historical instance of fidelity to truth under great pressure, fidelity of love under great distress and seeking for mercy with great heart.
5) Moses again, nearer the end of his life, having been greatly harassed by the seemingly all but endless chivvyings and complaints, distress calls and sins of the nation which he led towards its promised land, sinned inadvertently. This shows us the need of self-discipline; for any accident may occur in several seconds, but the cause like the consequence, may be years in developing!
History matters. Purity matters. Actions matter. The heart back of them matters. God is merciful but neither blind to actions, nor lacking in intent that we should SEE and understand, our conversion to Christ being not in form but in fact! Fact is the sort of thing that happens! Life in Christ is the same. It HAPPENS.
Moses had once complained, or mused sadly before God, that he was like a father to a vast people. It weighed on him.
"Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families,
everyone at the door of his tent; and the anger of the Lord was greatly aroused;
Moses also was displeased.
"So Moses said to the Lord,
'Why have You afflicted Your servant?
And why have I not found favor in Your sight,
that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?
'Did I conceive all these people?
'Did I beget them, that You should say to me, "Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’ to the land which You swore to their fathers?"
'Where am I to get meat to give to all these people?
For they weep all over me, saying, "Give us meat, that we may eat."
'I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me.
If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now - if I have found favor in Your sight -and do not let me see my wretchedness!' "
The Lord acted to deliver Moses, but the point was this, that he was very desolate, perhaps a little impatient, and so deeply stirred that his cries were verging on a spectacular.
God is very gracious and heard him. The point in our present context however is this:
Was this a signal of weakness ?
Was Moses beginning to measure himself by himself, and not by the power and grace of God: was he starting to see it as a task OF MOSES, BY MOSES, rather than that of an administrator using the power of God for the people of God for the purposes, pure, merciful and holy of God! Again, it is not just the FORMULATION one gives, for one may be still quite sound in that, but the INFORMATION one gives in exposing by word and attitude, perhaps in a crisis, an underlying current in the heart.
It may well be that this fragment of a crack, so small, so understandable, yet later developed into a more perilous opening...
Let us then move to a case which was to come into history. This came later in his life, then, as seen in Numbers 20. The people now were querulous, as not seldom. They wanted water NOW. Moses was weary of their infidelities, delicacies, wanting the more rather than the less, failure to enter into the spirit of adventure in the power of the delivering God, their quirkishness. Thus moved, and perhaps feeling as before his own burden in a way too subjectively self-centred, he acted rashly, out of temper and character alike, it seems.
What then ? they wanted water. Ah! HE WOULD GIVE IT!
Thus instead of honouring God as he struck the rock in order to gain the divinely empowered provision of large quantities of water in the desert for such a vast army of people, he instead asked: MUST WE ... must we get the water for you rebels!
Now HE COULD NOT do this. It was God. He merely acted as an administrator. In this way, though his heart was not guilty no doubt of any intended insolence, for he knew and loved God, yet his mouth spoke ill-advisedly. He spoke what sounded as if HE WOULD DO THIS, he the mighty Moses, for the people, the bad people who needed this saint of God to deliver them.
Alas and alas! This happened. It occurred. These words came. Perhaps worse, instead of striking the rock with the rod once, as a symbol, he smacked it TWICE, as if his temper or intemperance or both by their sheer power could do anything. It reminds one of baptism by immersion (cf. News 51, Questions and Answers 11, The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 5, What is the Chaff to the Wheat Ch. 1 ) instead of sprinkling or affusion. It is not indicated.
Indeed, Jesus told Peter in much the same way (John 13), that He did not NEED to wash his face, but the feet were sufficient for the symbolic cleansing. Peter HAD to submit, even though in aspiration he sought something perhaps more obviously devotional. It is incomparably worse in the Mass, where despite Christ's caution that His words were spirit and were life in John 6:63, in that same Chapter Rome must bring Him back from heaven (Acts 3:19ff., where He MUST stay till the finale), in order physically to BE the body which is broken, though there is only ONE sacrifice on ONE occasion wrought by ONE, Himself, which is biblically allowed (Hebrews 9:12-28, cf. SMR pp.1088Bff.).
It is NOT the manipulation of symbols which matters, as if they carried intrinsic weight; it is the trust in the sovereign, almighty and merciful God ACCORDING TO HIS WORD, which matters.
What a sad failing so near the end of his mission, for Moses to make, and how one feels for him!
For this blight, Moses did not have the glorious opportunity of entering the promised land with his people, for whom and with whom he had suffered so much. It is crucial in any work WITH God, that it be fundamentally, realistically, continually realised that HIS is power, that symbols have no power but what God sees fit to provide from HIMSELF, that there is nothing intrinsic but HIMSELF (Galatians 6:14), and His own deeds, wrought by Himself, in the whole of salvation. Our very coming is from Him, and His going out for us to Calvary is from Him and in Him, and wrought expressly by Him. He paid. We did not, either sacramentally from time to time, or in our hearts or priests or any other (cf. Questions and Answers 2).
Moses made a treble error here. First, he did not show by the word of God that God was doing this, but aggravating it, he added his OWN words, just as Romanism does.
Thirdly, he changed the mode of the symbol, as if it had intrinsic power, just as Romanism does.
For this, he lost the promised land as part of his life in this earth's history. Now Moses was corrected, and the history that showed the enormity of the error also showed the continuing friendship of God to Him; for though there was discipline, there was continuing fellowship. One CAN being pardoned, continue with deep friendship with the Lord. Romanism has not repented. What does not repent, and those who depend on it, go where God is not, and do not come where He is. Moses was an illustration, only in part, since he did repent; but in the vehemence of the result, the point of the passion is shown, even that of Jesus Christ, His coming foretold in Deuteronomy 18, and indeed indicated in Genesis 3:15 (cf. Barbs ... 17).
These are examples.
Please add this to your files, at the headquarters, if any, of Inspection Connection.
Thanks for the email. Praise God, His truth covers all things and the sufficiency of His word, from which truth is drawn, and of Himself, who is the truth, His very words inspired expressions of truth itself, is total for man. It is internally harmonious and in history, directive and verified, both!
Communism specialises in this folly, making chance the father of law. Even that does not work cf. SMR pp. 925ff., 971-2 (*13). See also *6 below, with News 37, 97,98 with Aviary of Idolatry.
See Ch. 4 above, also Ch. 2.
*3 See Ch. 2 above.
*4 See Assyria in the text of this Chapter.
See *1 above.
Putin's reputed statement, oft-repeated by journalists, to the effect that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was the death of the USSR, together with his use of various flags including the Communist abomination, in his line-up, suggests a certain broadening of the massive mutilation-concept of Communism. Perhaps that gross prresumption, to deleter any possiblity offinding truth and then to proclaim it is now in Russia yielding to somewhat broadened, but not much mutated base. This ? it seems to draw near to this: that of force without purity, dynamic with deity, or at any rate, without any deity that made individuals and having claim to them, expects them to be treated not as by force, but as with reverence to Himself. This may well be, if the signals are correctly interpreted, precisely what the Bible refers to as the 'god of forces'.
This concept, this phrase, found in Daniel towards the end of his presentation on world history to come (Daniel 11:36-45 cf. SMR pp. 707ff., and Highway of Holiness Ch. 10), provides a delicious exposition of Communism in its movement from material inertia (matter without cause), through motion (without cause) performing works (without cause) which are to bring in some kind of heaven (without cause, amid the rollicking fantasies of mischief-making man, on unhallowed holiday from the God of life), according to laws which do not operate (as in *1 above).
Indeed, WHATEVER religion, philosophy, motif, understanding or perspective that parades itself instead of God, featuring forces in itself instead of worshipping the God of mercies, is not only a form of self-motivated fiasco of impotent man gasping for breath before his breath goes, while machinating with amoral morals of his own making and hence mere material for delusion (cf. News 19), but well on the way in this part of our Age, to the ultimate climax of confrontation (cf. Revelation 19:19). It grows near to qualifying at least in principle, for the finale of false pomp and pretension as exhibited in II Thessalonians 2, when the self-viewed 'god', seeing himself as such, perhaps via some mystical concept of being representative of this poor, and increasingly depraved human race, even 'showing himself that he is god.'
The idea is not new, Roman Emperors having moved with Stalin and Mao in this direction often enough; but the potency to seek and to imagine it can be implemented becomes increasingly attractive to what uses the name of God or some surrogate, but does not realise who He is, or subject itself to the self-revealing God of faith and truth, in the Bible (cf. SMR Ch. 1, The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy). Forces being increasingly unearthed in this universe, in terms of seeking to thrust into what God has made and grab some of its dynamic, both in life and in matter, to deploy it for other ends, there is that fatal appeal found in Satan, attractive to Eve, to Sennacherib, to Roman Emperors and popes, to seize the glory and place themselves in it, or even as its exponents!
It is this spirit which will lead to the devastation not merely of the deluded individual noted in II Thessalonians 2, but of the summit of spiritual delusion which works with him.
There is an end (II Thessalonians 1 indicates its nature) ....
Mercifully, for those who love the God of life, of all comfort, of pity, of compassion, whose grounds for worship are as numerous as are His testimonies to truth (cf. Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ), when that end comes, it is like the birth of a babe at the end of a long pregnancy, in embryonic form, the beginning of the restoration of Jesus Christ as Lord on this earth (cf. Revelation 19, I Thessalonians 3:13, Zechariah 14:5, Micah 4, Isaiah 11). In the resurrection, indeed, there is such a plenitude of grace as brings to the full light of day, what is the mould for man, in the dispositions of kindness in the Almighty (cf. Revelation 7:15ff., 22). The defilements and defacements will at last be no more (cf. Revelation 21:8), as will the results which accompany them (cf. Hebrews 12:22ff., 13:9).
The enigmas which many find in man are merely the superimposition of personality traits, drives, perspectives which are nothing like the original from which man came. They are like the fat foot of the sisters of Cinderella which could never fit into the shoe of choice. Proud flesh spilled over and only the princess to be, herself, could provide hat foot which was the exact fit for the shoe.
Man in his mental aberrations, clouds of rollicking unrealism in the mists of unclean thought, can never find any idea to which his race conforms, since man is both greater and less than such would promote him to be. His place is greater than manipulable, since God is his Maker and access to Him has been provided in Jesus Christ, the summit of thousands of years of revelation centred in Him; but it is less than divine.
Mortality is his inheritance through sin, and immortality is the prize to be gained, through the test which in history, Christ passed and mankind failed (I Corinthians 15:20-27,50ff., Romans 5:12ff.). What is short of that, it leaves a bewildered race, tending to strut, to smut, to dust, to dreams, to incandescence of militancy, to frustration and depression, to elevation and a bipolar history.
There is neither stability, as history most eloquently shows, nor strength, nor wit nor wisdom in such imaginations. They come from sin, lead to it, inherit distortion and promote it, and are as irrelevant to the actual human race as are its miseries from such deception, which being stirred, become relevant on a vast scale in many lands. Such are the Sudan, Russia, Georgia, Zimbabwe, China, Tibet, South Africa, Pakistan, where unruly rules are readily promoted, and unruly humans often are found to devour those whom their delusions pretend to be unruly, until man seems to want almost to serve himself up as a sacrificial offering to dreams. This is as foretold in Jeremiah 23:16-29, its climax predicted for the end of the Age, as now, and as now seen!.
Dreams against reality are but poor fair. Neither in scientific method nor in historical reality do they work. What is established in truth and works and has nothing left over in its coverage of ALL things is God, the self-revealing God of the Bible (cf. Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer). History is His exposition tablet, the Bible His presentation book, life is His creation; and when the desecrations of proud man, teeming with wanton devastation and abandoned hatred of goodness, restraint and the rulings of God, when these are over, then truth continues eternal, the Lord Himself the temple (Revelation 21).
It is He, and his Christ, to which alas, so many of this race have paid but smirking, snarling, grumbling or mocking tribute. The answer is sure, and has been 'out' for 3 millenia as seen in Psalm 2, its prelude in the assault on the Messiah already clear there, and the result of it to come, complete with the warning to the 'judges of the earth' as clear (Psalm 2: 9-12), as was D-Day for Europe. The wonder is that even here, the Lord is appealing to man not to suffer himself to be deported to the concentration camps of futile contest with the Lord, as if a clock would declare time up to the clock-maker! Man is more than clock, but in the end, less when he has no time for the Lord.
At length, the Christ who came to suffer for salvation for man, having won many, comes a second time to rule this earth before its finale, when deeds done, this world is burnt up with its works (II Peter 3, Isaiah 11, 59, Micah 7).
Then there is that second beginning, of a new heavens and new earth (Revelation 20, Isaiah 65); but the greatest feature, it is the Creator of man, and the loss in the crater of misconception, a hateful hollow in depths appalling. At least, however, the INVITATION is there, the call to Christ, to truth, to testimony and evidence, validity and verification, to the results of myriad tests and the work of irrevocable testimony! At least, the entry to this free, and requires no preliminary works, nor are works ever the criterion of its acceptance (Romans 3:22ff., Ephesians 2:5ff., Titus 3:5ff.), but only the evidence of its reality where confusion no more reigns, and contempt is no more merely disguised with a form of religion, without its power. Forms without power become mere opportunities for the god of forces, keen on power without information, and princely position without pity or understanding, self-control or unction in any function.
See also *6 below.
See Jeremiah 50:29. "She has been proud against the Lord."
This sort of folly can be wrought in various ways, either by ignoring the Lord's overall control, asserting one's own imaginary irresistible control, proposing some idea or rule which is not His, which is to prevail and so on.
The way the Lord took Babylon is notorious, with Belshazzar USING in feasting, the very booty which Nebuchadnezzar took from Israel, spiritually symbolic golden vessels, was in itself a pride that includes the pomposity of flesh, asserting itself even before the Lord. The words of the Lord concerning Babylon have much sting, and vast significance. This is the more so when one realises from Ezekiel 38-39, what is coming from the Northern area and arena in this earth, and is yet to be realised, something indeed, in its day, to involve Israel.
Since this is so, it is well to see something of the word of the Lord concerning Babylon, given eternal judgment, through Jeremiah in Ch. 51. As stated, so it was, and its hanging gardens hung no more, its name perished in the dust and its power, though real and eminently realised on this earth, yet so fell, so suddenly and utterly, that it sounded like a fable speaking hoarsely from the sand. Such was the calamity which duly befell it. It is salutary for those who worship the 'god of forces' (Daniel 11:36-45 cf. SMR pp. 707ff.), in whatever formulation, the concept of power by the arm of man, or his historicisms (see The gods of naturalism have no go! 32), which are mere extensions of the same given a name, as functional as fable, to realise the end of such things, before they become part of it.
An excerpt from Jeremiah 51 follows.
"Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense.
"Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
"Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain,
if so be she may be healed.
"We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed:
forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country:
for her judgment reaches to heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.
"The LORD has brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.
"Make bright the arrows; gather the shields:
the LORD has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes:
for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.
"Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong,
set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes:
for the LORD hath both devised and done what He spoke
against the inhabitants of Babylon.
"O You who dwell on many waters, abundant in treasures, your end is come,
and the measure of your covetousness.
"The LORD of hosts has sworn by himself, saying,
'Surely I will fill you with men, as with caterpillars;
and they shall lift up a shout against you.'
"He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by his wisdom,
and has stretched out the heaven by His understanding. When He utters his voice,
there is a multitude of waters in the heavens;
and He causes the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth:
He makes lightnings with rain, and brings forth the wind out of His treasures.
"Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.
They are vanity, the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
The portion of Jacob is not like them; for He is the former of all things:
and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the LORD of hosts is his name.
"You art My battle axe and weapons of war: for with you will I break in pieces the nations, and with you will I destroy kingdoms; and with you will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with you will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider.
With you also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid; 23I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock;
and with you will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen;
and with you will I break in pieces captains and rulers.
"And I will render to Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea
all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, says the LORD.
"Behold, I am against you,
O destroying mountain, says the LORD, which destroys all the earth:
and I will stretch out My hand upon you, and roll you down from the rocks,
and will make you a burnt mountain;
and they shall not take of you a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations;
but you will be desolate for ever, says the LORD.
"Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars.
"Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, its captains,
and all its rulers, and all the land of his dominion. And the land shall tremble and sorrow:
for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon,
to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant."
See Israel Ch. 1, Outrageous Outrages ... Ch. 11, Red Alert Ch. 10, It Bubbles .. Ch. 10, SMR Appendix A.
See for example, SMR Ch. 9.