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The Things that are very Far Off, Brought Near
Drugs, Devilries, Despair, Delight and the Bypass Route
The Australian of September 3-4
TROUBLE FOR THE ASKING
We have been considering together Isaiah 33:6 and pondered its beauty, considered its theme and the fear of the Lord, carefully avoiding both the extremes of terrorising awe and neutralising judgment.
Now it is time to see the configuration of this beauty, this fear, this stability, in the movement towards the end. While in this present sometimes tempestuous climate, as the world moves, as it has moved, towards its various storm centres to its ultimate loss, and the provisions of peace for the ransom of many, as it mounts in wantonry and woes to the conclusion, there are two simultaneous phases.
It is very different, depending on your relationship with the Management.
Thus the world as a defiant oddity, mocking its Maker, defining its own dynamic and being shrewd in its own created eyes, is mounting a scaffold rather than an eminence where the views of beauty abound, as they have abounded and will, for His people.
You see this perilous and polluted aspect in Isaiah 33:7-13. Judgment catches the unwary nation, and
"You shall conceive chaff and bring forth stubble,"
to signify the futility of rebellion and the defilement of godliness, in its essential nature.
It is for this phase of its dynamic, a matter of being off course and of course, when you leave the course prepared, it is like electricity jumping the wires, and causing fires. This world in its culture and self-contemplation apart from God, is of this kind; and as Israel gained its come-uppance, so does this world. Pinocchio is a play, a wooden created thing contending with its mortal maker, and he has disjointed pleasures in his affable idiocies. When however it is with life that we deal, there is no pleasure in its blind assaults on truth. Magic in the Movies is one thing; blind belligerence and autonomous aspirations are another for what neither knows how to make itself, nor by itself, could do so, nor makes itself, nor makes its grave, nor assigns its intelligence nor understands the genetic marbles which it now seeks to fire with kiddish enthusiasm, into this or that spot, as if owning a car and tinkering with the engine, gave you some sort of engineering degree, to form and formulate it.
The power of God, in some of its material aspects, can be sought in what He has wrought, can to a minimal degree be grabbed from the creation, extracted from the atom; but it is all in vain. It is merely stealing from Dad's wallet, so that it becomes a matter of spurious self-exaltation for land, world or nation; and it is the same with all the implements of man. If you misuse, abuse and confuse your place, or that of your race, whether local or the human race, then the results are desolatory and only divine mercy can prevent, or delay there being anything else. What is more, when judgment is added as mercy itself is abused, to the torrents of misuse, you have in one week, by report, a million displaced in South West China and a city of around half a million with 90% of its housing partly submerged in the USA.
The book of Revelation has long indicated the massive scale of things to come in a turbulent world of ceaseless, self-aggrandising sin, as in Chapters 6,8-9, for example; but the artful ploys of mankind deceive its children and miseducate its youth, until there comes the point when there will be no remedy.
Then even the remedy of Jesus Christ, being blindly avoided, negligently rushed aside, leaves a world more vulnerable to vice, and with vice to its accompaniments of degradation which in car or mortal, approach but the more swiftly the pit. Even in The Australian of September 3-4, we read of 'ice', the methamphetamine drug so popular in Australia, with hundreds of thousands affected. Its product is not mere enervation, confusion or heart attack and stroke, though these figure; it is psychosis and its part of the membrane of humanity that sits upon this globe, is being contaminated like abandoned waste sites of a former industrial giant. Sex meanwhile becomes a toy, marriage an option far less regarded, children are poured out from some like bullets for the wall, with their care here or there, or with the State; and many take to drugs as a way of life.
Is it for one moment imagined that such enormities in education, propagation, misinformation and madness will remain a genial aspect of a world on course ? As power corrupts, so it grows by misuse, in its ravages; and as means for it expand, so safety decreases, while the hands of madmen, suffused with the insane ambitions of their despicable dynamics and lustful desires, be they religions of force, or political vaunting, ideological crazes, as empty as 'teen-age fashion pretensions with torn or acid-washed jeans bought at considerable prices for the show of disregard, yet they have their fill in devastation. If New York knows it well, so does Berlin.
It is time to return to the verified, validated, uniquely provided truth of the word of the living God (SMR), who though He may suffer the insufferable by any human standard, and has a mercy more torrential in coverage than that of any drought-breaking rain, yet is not mocked. This is expressed with simple force in Galatians 6:7-8:
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
"For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,
but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life."
"Hear you who are afar off what I have done!" the Lord declares in Isaiah 33:14. As to the predicted judgment on Israel, that northern kingdom based in Samaria with its calves of gold and squalid autonomy, despite what appears a strange lapse in one of the Children's Bible comments in one version, WAS final. There was no mistake. Just as Amos said. so it came to be so and you see the delineation of the dynamic that destroyed in II Kings 17.
The northern Kingdom which kept the name Israel (the Southern being named "Judah), with its idolatrous Samaria, as shown in the closing chapters of the prophet, did meet its end! As a kingdom, it was annulled. It was taken over, its people depopulated to become those of other lands, others being brought in, and if any escaped to retain a terrestrial Jewish identity, then it was to Judah they would come. Its judgment, much later, as Jeremiah foretold (in Jer. 25), was for 70 years of exile, and it was to Babylon they went for that as predicted both there and in Isaiah 14. The long term dispossession of their land however was to come as in Hosea 3 and Leviticus 26 with Deuteronomy 32, as a result of continued, escalating, remorseless sin against the one they called Lord; just as the eventual restoration was no less predicted in that same Deuteronomy, as in Ezekiel 36ff. (SMR Appendix A).
Much was lost by many till their very name became a byword, as foretold by Jeremiah in 24:9:
"I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth,
for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword,
a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them."
Israel is but one case where the situation is continually described, clearly limned, like a sketch or outline, and at times as in Lamentations, like a portrait. It is time for the Gentiles to cease being "high-minded", and to humble themselves, not exalting their lives as if they were gods, but humbling themselves before the realities of divine grace being despised, they find that God is no respecter of persons, and that the lessons of Israel being lost, the lost world follows them in a parallel the more profound because the scope of the judgments are now to be universal!
Is not Romans 11:15-20 in its classic imagery sufficiently clear: Be not haughty but fear!
"For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world,
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
"For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
do not boast against the branches.
"But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, 'Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.'
"Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith.
"Do not be haughty, but fear."
The INDIVIDUAL result is always available for those who seek the Lord as in Isaiah 55, just as individuals from the northern kingdom could come to Judah; but the national result for the Northern Kingdom, with Sennacherib, WAS final. So too now, the world in its cluttered cultural, even daring to oppress the Jews further despite all they have suffered, as if something near half of any nation could be slaughtered and you then attack the rest, even audacious to the extreme in seeking to dispossess them further and further of the Palestine granted by international decree after World War II, and to use international force to help the overwhelming disproportion of Arabs and Muslims already hammering at their gates, but increases its judgment.
Merciless, it seeks for no mercy. This, it is merely one of its prodigies of pollution, its dramas, yes sagas of oppression spreading from the Sudan to China, from Tibet to Rwanda, from the Taliban to Zimbabwe.
The result for this world can likewise be ignorantly parlayed with inane parleying, to the extremities; but it does not cease to apply.
To be sure, people out of this world, similarly, one by one, may leave its culture and identity, and instead by faith through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christy, join the kingdom of heaven, participate in the kingdom of God and "escape" as Isaiah 66 and Hebrews 2 alike put it. For that matter, the same theme and warning is seen in Hebrews 6:18, though in conveying this, it uses the terms "fled for refuge".
By this it signifies coming to the Lord in repentance and faith, as He is, in practical reality; and not in sordid and squalid spiritual pretence. Indeed, this flight for refuge in repentance and faith to Him: it is not as to some residual poetry that the world would like to imagine Him to be, in many of its inane substitutes for thought, and spiritual concoctions (cf. Lead Us not into Educational Temptation, and That Magnificent Rock Ch. 8, with Earth Spasm ... Ch. 1 and The gods of naturalism have no go!). It is to the living God whose is the world, whose work has provided salvation, and whose word is fulfilled before our eyes as the decades whir on their way to the end of the track.
If you do not flee for refuge as puny mankind seeks, in vast masses at least, in cultural cliques and political putsches, to take over and squander the powers the Lord has placed in this universe, like equipment and electricity in a house, seized by wild children without knowledge, what can be expected ? Increasingly, and with increasing obviousness, it is precisely what you find. Mocking God is a pastime of limited wisdom, like children pushing buttons in an atomic power station, to see which ones might create an explosion.
It is, as it always was, for such occupations, a destiny only to ruin, tempered by mercy, but assured through increasing pride, truculence and self-affirmation, which comes.
Children of that kind ask for trouble; and adults should know better.
If they do, by the mercies of God, then they may find what IS better, which is awesome in splendour, glorious in holiness, magnificent in peace and holy in love. If, however, they do not, then they find the squalor of spiritual consumption, a tubercular substitute for truth, and waste away; and this, it is a fact not lessened by the exuberance of pride in the interim.
How the Lord has dealt with the nations like Assyria, Babylon, Tyre, Rome, together with the array of godless pushes like the French and Russian revolutions of the 18th and 20th centuries, the might of the Nazi, before whom much of Europe cowered, bowed or yielded in one way or another, the the brio of Spain in its Romanist romancing of the 18th century. Some of these things, and others of like kind, one sees in The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 4, and Beyond the Crypt ...Ch. 6 with Dancers, Prancers, Lancers and Answers Ch. 4, but the eyes are there, and they need to be opened.
The heroic arrogances become the pitiful pulses of forsaken power, after the glory has departed.
So does Isaiah 33 pulse with a power which never departs, an appeal which is the authentic substitute for these frenzied and fitful human passions, and a desolation which comes when people act as if spiritual electrocution were the greatest thing in the world!
TEST WITHOUT ASKING
Isaiah 33:10-14. tells us of an impact situation. Here the power of the Lord and His greatness is indeed felt, and the reality of holiness, godliness and virtue appear, as the necessity of making peace with God, and hence with His truth and purity, becomes apparent.
"You shall conceive chaff; you shall bring forth stubble."
"The sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness has seized the hypocrites.
Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire ..."
Then it proceeds to tell us of the simple practical facts. Thus, if your heart is right, how can your hand be wrong ? and it makes it clear that justice, truth and righteousness are not optional, but essential.
Thus, though their access in reality to sinners is, as in Isaiah 7,9, 42,49-55, only through the divine mercy in the Messiah, who pays the price of sin and brings the peace of life which belongs properly to it, as made: yet their spiritual restoration follows, and fruits correspond.
Good trees have good fruit; and that, it is not as this world thinks, since it is blind, but as God sees! It is for this reason, not least that Paul indicates that we judge NOTHING BEFORE THE TIME (I Cor. 4). The clouds of pollution are not merely outside! (II Cor. 4).
It is easy to set oneself up and know all things (Matthew 7); but it is God who actually does, and judges righteously. He IS righteous and loves righteousness, and while giving it as a gift for juridical purposes, and inscribing it on the converted heart for practical purposes, and covering much with a mercy so profound that the oceans seem but shallow, yet His power prevails to inculcate it also into living, and its principles into the willing heart. The divine dynamic is not merely one of form, but fact, not only one of discourse but dynamic also. Faith without works is dead because what is living, lives, acts, and what it is, it shows. You are indeed saved without works, but not without faith, and faith works, because it is in the living God of power.
Who will dwell with Him ? asks the text in 33:14ff. ? Not every one who says Lord, Lord, but he who does the will of God, we find from the lips of Christ in Matthew 7:15ff..
There is a narrow way. Thus water in a pipe can be conveyed, though it be much constrained to the narrowness of the thing, to wonderful blessing on distant pastures in need of its ministrations; but allowed to flood, it becomes a muddy mess.
TRUTH REMOVED AND FOLLY UNRUED
IS THE ULTIMATE CARDIAC ARREST
Such principles as these brought to light, Isaiah continues in 33:17ff., to look at the scene where man consorts with the living God, on HIS terms: not in self-righteousness, but in empathy, sympathy and spirituality, gaining from above the need for those of us below.
"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
they will see the land that is very far off.
Your heart will not meditate on terror. Where is the scribe ...!"
In other words, in view of Isaiah's constant exposure of falsity and false pomp in religious and other leaders from the very first chapter, where relief comes, there will be no reliance on the changeable grandeur of puny man, whether as priest or other pretender. Direct access to God brings courage, peace and purity, and with present power in one's personal life comes awareness of His kingdom and its eternal glory, set as the sight of the sea from some high cliff, to which one approaches with delight.
There is no other way, and when such is sought, the result accords with hypocrisy.
It is just this theme that Paul follows, citing Isaiah 29, which is in stark parallel to Jeremiah 23, and indeed to Jeremiah 5:30-31 (taking the actual text):
"An astonishing and terrible thing has been committed in the land.
The prophets prophesy falsely and the priests rule by their power,
and My people love to have it so.
But what will you do in the end ?"
What indeed! ONE of the things the Lord undertook to do, and does, is found in Isaiah 29:13-16:
"Therefore the Lord said:
'Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work
Among this people,
A marvelous work and a wonder;
For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.'
"Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord,
And their works are in the dark;
They say, 'Who sees us?' and, 'Who knows us?'
"Surely you have things turned around!
Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay;
For shall the thing made say of him who made it,
'He did not make me' ?
Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it,
'He has no understanding ?' ..."
In full accord with all these divine exposures, piercing expostulations and intentions, the world now, as Israel in its Northern and explicitly idolatrous kingdom, goes to its gallows, mounts its scaffold, full of fear and exultation simultaneously, daring to be dangerous, pleased to be perilous, terrified of its folly, filled with its pomp. It is as Luke 21 shows, as also Matthew 24, coming to the culminating times of its anxieties and fears, distresses and lawless tumults. SO did Christ predict, and so does it come.
Indeed, in Isaiah 66:23-24 you see in terrestrial symbol, the spiritual reality to come on the negative side: it is set on this earth, just as are the galleys in Isaiah 33:21, set in the sea. The message of the figures however, is clear and the more impactive because of the imagery.
What the emplacement of Isaiah 66 suggests has thus a special and realistic fervour, as the hell of an endless departure appears as if set on earth, but in a form separate from the people.
THE MAJESTY OF HIS BEAUTY FOR HIS OWN
Orchids are found in their Place... Streams in Theirs
and the People of God in Him,
Already are Familiar
with the Land that is Very Far Off
(but it is growing now, very near, as is His coming)
But whether for any Israelite then, or any inhabitant of this world now, there is a far better way.
When one finds the peace from the Messiah as in Isaiah 9:6-7, its depth as in Isaiah 28:16 and 26:3-4, and does so in terms of that very One sent to provide it (Isaiah 57:19, 59:20, 53:1-12): then one's eyes do indeed see the King in His beauty (Isaiah 33:17).
First, one sees them through the scriptural exhibition of His life, then of His death, then of His power, then of His purity who came, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God (II Peter 3:18). Then by His Spirit (Romans 8:9ff., Ephesians 1), we find access and illumination, so that the portrait in the scripture becomes the company of the living and resurrected Christ (cf. Colossians 1:27); and spiritually we know Him, as a sheep dog knows his master, a man his friend, but this friend is inordinate in power, glorious in majesty and all but inexpressibly humble in regality.
Also relevant here is Acts 2:18ff.,
as cited by Peter from Joel.
These are those days indeed (cf. Acts 2:16ff.) and in many ways that one Lord is known.
Seeing Him (cf. Hebrews 11:27), as He has long shown Himself to be, we yet see Him the more in His incarnate splendour and magnificent love and mercy (John 14:9ff.) as we travel with Him, His power splendid, His patience beyond all bounds, His efficacy delightful.
On His return, some mourn (Revelation 1:7), to be sure; but then, many rejoice (Matthew 25:31ff.), who have rejoiced (I Peter 1:3-9) and who have looked for His coming (Hebrews 9:28).
In I Peter, we find:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,
reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God
through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be,
you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith,
being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire,
may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
whom having not seen you love.
"Though now you do not see Him,
yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls."
The vision prefaces the visibility express, but there is an inner vision with vigour and an unattenuated wonder in His presence eve now (cf. Psalms 91:1-2, 145:3-18 and 23).
Finally, we see Him face to face (Revelation 22:4) expressly. Thus in many phases the foretold seeing His face has already been fulfilled, and Thomas was one who had to realise WHICH FACE, by having the experiment of tangibility before his own face! (John 20:26ff.).
In His humiliation, when His judgment was taken away, without His magnificence of form, Christ yet showed in deed and word, the definitive revelation of God, the eternal word in flesh. In His resurrection, He showed the power with it, as in the miracles of many kinds when He was proceeding to the Cross. In His return, He will show first in its very happening, then in its judgment, and then in its rule (Isaiah 11, Revelation 20), the beauty of His purity and the splendour of His kindness when righteousness is no more mocked.
They shall see His face in so many ways, in such wonders and in such works, in such personal intimacy and in such final spectacle of wonder, that joy flows like a stream as these unfoldings of the King in His beauty come, one by one, and reaching a crescendo of kindness in His Messianic coming to suffer, continue to the finale of judgment and the resolution of all things, yes as Acts 3:19ff. has it, the restoration of all things when in heaven itself, the Lamb and the Lord God are the temple and the Lamb is the light (Revelation 21:22-23). He, the Christ as incarnate, is always from the beginning and to the end, the expression of the living God; and from eternity to eternity it is He, the Creator of all things who in perfect harmony and holy infinite affinity with God, in the form of God and with equality not a thing to be snatched at, is there to be found. Finding Him therefore is like treasure incalculable (Ephesians 3:8, Matthew 13:44).
It is the Spirit of God who draws one near, the Lamb of God who pays the passage and to the triune God that one comes, indelible in truth, indissoluble in power, tender in seeking and merciful in provision.
From the time David said (Psalm 27:8),
"Thy face, O Lord, I will seek!" in response to the divine invitation,
"Seek My face!",
till now, the spectacular grandeur which surpasses all created things, of being able to draw near to God and the splendid marvel of actually having Him incarnate, and the glorious privilege of knowing Him through His Spirit, works, ways and resurrection: this has come and become cumulative, till the very culmination having come, we are drawn in Him to the consummation.
Moreover, says Isaiah 33:17, your eyes will "see the land that is very far off." That, it is heaven, the haven and ultimate place of peace and perfection. It is then that the whole work of restoration being finished, the millenium past and the heavens and the earth, reaching their terminus, are despatched, that nothing more remains for the people of God, but the glorious completion which eternity in His presence (as in Revelation 21-22).
In the meantime, we linger here, like pilgrims, and move with our Saviour, knowing that to depart and be with Christ is far better (Philippians 1:23), but that for the time it is needful to serve Him in His profound love here; for if He CAME here, we can happily SERVE here, for Him. If He DIED for sinners, we can seek to deliver them!
Yet our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20!): the kingdom of heaven moreover, for us who know Him, is within you (Luke 17:20), not a thing of 'observation', as with dominance and power to push. The day of His visible reign comes, just as the day of His invisible rule is already present, where patience and suffering are agents in the production of His will, and a profound peace in Him is the testimony of power, which works as He has stated it in all respects, till the day dawns.
Accordingly, there is not a hair of the head to be harmed, though one be murdered! Here is the sense of the ultimate oxymoron, for where suffering attests love, there is no harm in enduring it for His sake!
You see that in Luke 21:18 and Matthew 24:9. There is this twofold reality: your soul is safe, your mind is clear, your integrity is maintained, your life is in Him, death is a mere transition to Him, and the metaphorical hair is testimony to the scrupulous character of His keeping in spirit and truth, those who are His, though their duty be to suffer as with Paul not a little! (cf. Colossians 1:24). Hence the answer of the lips is maintained (as in Luke 21:14-15), He gives by gracious power what is needed under challenge, whatever may be the betrayal by many on the way to such confrontation, or even in it (Luke 21:16, II Timothy 4:10-16).
When the perspective is the kingdom of heaven, everlasting and zealous for each of its members, then the mode of Stephen's death or Paul's, this is not the point: it is the manner of their lives, since life eternal is sure (cf. II Timothy 4:16-18). Let us hear from Paul:
"At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me.
May it not be charged against them.
"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
"And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!"
Christ Himself was not in the least hurt in spirit, but finished till He could say, "It is finished!", having shown to the end a glorious and triumphant forgiveness and grace. This He did, while even soul-winning ON the Cross, before dying into the visitation of the spirits in prison, and being restored to this earth in His resurrection (cf. I Peter 3:19 - cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4 and compare The Apostle's Creed).
Agony ? yes. Anguish ? in bearing sin, what else! But to the uttermost part, in His integrity, beauty of holiness, power and discipline, and indeed in His resurrection, not a hair is hurt! It is perspective on the one hand, and the result on the other, the dutiful performance to perfection of His task and the dynamic reality of the resurrection, that puts all in its place.
Thus in Isaiah 33:18-24, you see the ultimate essence of being free from terror, unlike those who in disquietude and anxiety tear at their own hearts in unbelief yet, as the end comes (Luke 21:26), their hearts even failing for fear, in the midst at that time of the burning globe and searing heat, both metaphorical and increasingly, literal (cf. Revelation 16:9), as Armageddon grow near (16:16).
The stammerers and provokers (Isaiah 33:19), the fierce and the intimidatory are not to have any sway over their souls, and this speaks not only of the pretentious pomp of the mighty, but of those who, breaking the commandments of God, have multiple tongues sessions, joint and unexplained (I Corinthians 14), uninterpreted.
Instead, there will be no rule of unintelligibility in the saints, for all must be explained, all edifying in their public midst in worship (I Corinthians 14:12,19,26ff.), with no declaring in mystic authority, that the Lord says this or that; for HE HAS SPOKEN. While He leads us all who love Him, it is not with new dogmas and directives from the children of men, but in His word that He leads. Order is to be maintained, yes and obedience to His word, but it is to HIM and HIS word, not that of man (Mark 7:7ff., Luke 6:46, I Peter 5, I John 2:27, Matthew 23:8-10) that one looks with wisdom and obedience to His own authority.
Thus none of these phenomena, spiritual or political can disturb the sweet communion, comradeship of the Lord and maintenance of spirit in the saints.
The new Zion will be intact (Isaiah 33:20), just as the old one will be restored, but as to that Jerusalem which is free, which is above ? it, even His Church, will continue without any triumph over it by the very gates of hell (Matthew 16, Galatians 4:26). As to it, none of its stakes will be moved; and as to the terrestrial Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:5, Isaiah 11, Luke 21:24, Romans 11:26, Isaiah 59:20-21, Micah 4), it too will be a symbol of the Lord's zeal, not only in the restoration of the Jew to it, already fulfilled from 1948-1967, but in the Lord's own return to it (Zech. 14:5, Isaiah 59:20, Micah 4, Isaiah 11, Psalm 72).
The main theme here however is spiritual, and none of the binding together, the "cords" will be "broken" (Isaiah 33:20); for the body of Christ in all its sinews and unity will be maintained, despite every fraud and assault (Ephesians 4:16). Here is a place of "broad rivers and streams" indeed as the Spirit refreshes and flows from the midst of the Christian (John 7:37, 4:14), who having drunk of the water which HE gives, indeed never thirsts again, but is spiritually led by the pastures green, at rest in the midst of labours numerous, in the Lord.
The Lord is indeed in the midst of His people, and will save them from extinction, of which the nation of Israel is a prototype to consider, when the next tyrant seeks to do to the Christians what Hitler, with his predecessors and more recent successors, has had in mind or hand, for the Jew!
Into this sacred midst, marauders will find no place, for those who know the word of God and practise it, do not mingle with unbelievers in their church membership (unless Judases secretly secrete themselves), having standards biblical; nor do they harbour sects or dally with the very spirit of divergence from the word of God (Romans 16:17). Here the Lord is Judge ((Isaiah 33:22) and lawgiver, not suggestion box or co-partner. Here is the ideal which is to be practised, and may be, when the heart is ready!
The pirates fail to strengthen their masts, and are repelled (Isaiah 33:21-23). The beauty of holiness is here, and the Lord is here; and those who being weak, are made strong, being pardoned and penitent towards the prince of peace, find Him. They take the 'prey' of the unsearchable riches of Christ, who shares with the prodigality of a true prince, enriching with His own understanding and company, yes companionship (cf. John 16:14-15, I Corinthians 13:11-12).
Sickness cannot here prevent the accomplishment and fulfilment of the work of the Lord, who refreshes and enables, and even though a Job be there, it is not sickness which rules, but the Lord, who uses what He will, and heals as He will, and does so frequently as this present author can well attest, to enable the completion of His work in the grace of His own lovingkindness.
A GRAPHIC OF GODLINESS
Thus do we find in Isaiah 33, the envisagement spiritually and graphically, and in some ways metaphorically, of the power of God in the Christian, the Church, to repel, to impel, to expose the wonders of His own presence and to maintain His people.
Isaiah 33 also of course has a more direct reference to the millenium, where the metaphors yield increasingly to the matters of observable fact, though even here, the enemy lurks in subservience, and all is not what it seems till its end (Revelation 20). Nevertheless, at that time, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
Finally, when all over, as in Revelation 21, we look directly on His face, when the struts, symbols and structures are past, and we know as we are known (I Cor . 13: it is then that the very essence of Isaiah 33 comes to the foreground, and the preliminary ventures depart.
Thus in this section of Isaiah 33, there is a degree of mutuality, inter-penetration : what is true in principle in the Gospel Age is later seen in practice in the millenium, and what is true now in vision, then is seen in person, what now in power as needed, then in majesty as fulfilled in manifest glory.
From these things, then, we see the underlying understanding which in this field, as in any other, is absolutely essential for any proper perspective. Once you see how it is, it is all clear; but without this, nothing is so. How it is, and comes to be, remains a testimony as the times move! The power-people, the pollution-parade, the viziers of wickedness and the truants who dictate instead of obeying, and try to run this world, the culture-vultures who seek to feed on the souls of the unwary, sating their lustful desires and inane dominances: these all flourish for a season, and then die, their greatness in the dust, their ideas in the must of libraries and their contributions a thing of dying embers in a dying world.
The splash and flash comes and goes. Yet the church of the living God, the Christ who is its Head, the kingdom of heaven in the midst of His people, this despite the most impudent papal claims, sectish sways and intrusions and liberal mixture of ideas, in pollutions unspeakable: this continues unabashed, its people, one by one, strengthened in peace, held in power, led in spirit, inhabited by the Lord, in a New Covenant unquenchable (Hebrews 9:12, 10:10,14), with a Gospel itself unchangeable (Galatians 1), yes from the time of Paul!
That is the way it has been through Inquisition and Nazism, through Communism and liberalism, through secularism and humanism, and through every neo-nitwitism that grows like a weed, only to lapse in the heat; and every time it is felt that some new culture-adder will bite to the death, its poison is annulled, the people of God are encouraged, the falsity is exposed and the truth continues in its triumphant course.
This is both what one would expect, what one finds in a world which is a testing ground, an opportunity and a place and site for those first made in the image of God, yet with liberty to defile; yes, and with opportunity to enter a brilliant defile on its way to the land that is very far off.
We have seen such things on very numerous occasions, and reviewed them at length. This is the way it has gone, will go and is*1. Moreover, this is the light to be seen through Isaiah 33 and its environs.
See SMR Chs. 2 l3, 5, 10,
The gods of naturalism have no go!
Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer
Reason Leading to Revelation and the Redeemer
Reason Leading from False Revelation
and to Verification
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy
SCIENTIFIC METHOD, SATANIC METHOD and
CELESTIAL HARMONY FOR THE TERRESTRIAL HOST
Omitting the Evanescent Extremes
and Taking the Picture from the Book
Ministers Peace to His People, His Body, His Church
Amidst a Harmony in reality without confusion or compromise,
contradiction or chronic bog, and this alone does so.