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Continued from Ch. 8
LET THE LEADER LEAD
THE LORD'S LEADING
C) ITS HISTORICAL EXHIBIT -
testimonies of His working
Now comes the time when we can survey the data, consider the evidence, ponder the historical
WHAT HAPPENED in leading, in vital parts of history ?
How consistent is this with the promises of the Bible ?
with the power of the Lord ?
with His coverage of events!
We will commence with selected events in Egypt, to illustrate various principles, to provide data and variety of action, moving from there in sequence to the Exodus' follow through, to the Promised Land, looking both at action and characterisation. Then in the New Testament, we will look at the early Church, and see some of the acts of God, their basis and inward as well as outward dynamic, and their testimony when these are clearly combined in ways both fascinating and verificatory of His ways in fact, paralleling His ways in word.
PHASE 1 EXODUS
In this instance, it is important to realise the historical background.
A. INITIAL SURVEY, AND A TASTE NEAR THE END,
TO GIVE PERSPECTIVE
Joseph, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, was taken to Egypt by his 'masters', and after being wrongfully accused by a lustful woman, and imprisoned, tried and tested for a considerable time, he was ready to act in an important role. His capacity to interpret dreams was in view, and a former fellow prisoner brought his name to a distressed and dreaming Pharaoh, who soon found his worth, and with massive deliverance for the country, the Lord Himself guiding Joseph, there came to the former prisoner immense power, virtual PM of Egypt.
After some hundreds of predicted years in Egypt (cf. Genesis 15:13), Israel was deemed a menace to the new Egyptian establishment, and turned to slavery. This was harsh, callous and utilitarian, and God sent Moses, formerly brought up as a prince in Egypt, to confront the Pharaoh. This testy and vacillating man, afraid of nothing but God at work, and meeting more than his match, alternately agreed to liberate the Israelites so that they could leave the country (and so proceed to their Promised Land), and then refused when the plagues sent in mocking sequence by God, using the very gods they worshipped - various insects or beasts - were removed.
At last, the cost became apparent: let Israel (like a son to God) free, or lose your own eldest sons. This duly occurred, and our current interest comes when, true to form, Pharaoh being desolated by the price of rebellion against God in such a case, nevertheless decided on second thoughts to pursue the Israelites, now on march to leave the country.
God however, here showed His faithfulness, which is one of His outstanding features, and indeed characteristics. He was engaged in LEADING them, using Moses as a sub-leader. This was no sinecure, for Moses himself was subject to discipline as were the rest. In a way, it reminds one of the days of school prefects. Here the prefect was immune from punishment, except of course in something drastic from the Headmaster. He could be removed, but not readily; he could be shown his error, but not pettily. But what is petty ? Moses eventually, after years of patient toil, LEADING his people in ways which taxed his considerable humility and perseverance to the uttermost, one day spoke rashly. It was not perhaps precisely a losing of his temper, but it was a forgetfulness of his place.
How did this happen and what was the nature of this episode ?
Let us see it in perspective. There had been a divine provision, most important as they moved to the Promised Land, reaching it not too long after they left Egypt, of supplying water from underground to quench their thirst. This great upsurge of water was repeatedly successfully brought, as it was tapped by Moses, under divine direction for the myriads of people concerned. The people often complained and grumbled during their time in the desert, but this trial and test would soon be greatly extended, for on sighting the promised land, they feared to enter, and rebelled in futile weakness without faith. A discipline following their simple failure of faith and courage, to enter the land when they had a first class opportunity to do so, after many examples of divine aid so stupendous that history still lingers on it.
The result ? For 40 years they would know the desert, now, until the next generation matured: it would be these who would enter in!
During this time, Moses felt enormously the burden of concerned care over the people, and at last, being instructed to bring forth more water, he let it appear that it was an act which ‘WE’, he and his aid, had to do for the rebels. This did not put the glory, the power and the serviceability where it belonged, with God! It was not Moses but God who got the water! God was not interested in having a species of surrogate!
Let us be fair: Moses was indeed most humble and patient, but he allowed himself in this case to perform a brilliant error, acting as if HE were a sort of task-master and the people would be dealt with by HIMSELF! That is like Romanism, wholly unacceptable to God! It reminds one of the priest trying to turn bread into flesh, without attestable change in any way, wholly contrary to all divine miracles which show themselves in order to be acclaimed.
Hence Moses was given his own discipline, and not allowed actually to enter the promised land himself. It is GOD ALONE who did it, just as it is CHRIST ALONE who offered Himself, ONCE (Hebrews 9-10), a blood-saturated sacrifice. But what of Moses ?
We must not over-estimate the significance of this discipline for Moses. He erred in word, and apparently in spirit also, but did not actively preach false doctrine. Moses was and is (cf. Matthew 17 where he appeared with Elijah to the Lord, in the transfiguration - Luke 9:28-30) a man of God, and he was NOT replaced as the leader under God; but he was not allowed, being by then very old (he was around 80 years old when he started the Exodus) personally to enter the promised land with the invading new generation. The emphasis must be on THE LORD ALONE! That is the beginning of it, and there it always must end (cf. Isaiah 44:24, 45:12,18, 46:10, 43:10-11, Acts 4:11-12). What does this last reference state ? It is this.
NO OTHER NAME IS THERE UNDER HEAVEN BY WHICH MAN MUST BE SAVED.
That is what it says, and that is what it means. There is nothing conjoint, guru or pope, philosopher or political, there is nothing else, body or power, principality or union, gathering or ruler. Use any other name alone or with that of God and forget it: there is NONE, and you do but delude yourself.
If it be the name of some sort of Pentecostalism, or authoritarianism of man, this or that is attributed to the Lord, these or those words being exported in His name*2A, or if in the name of something else, some non-biblical dogma is held over people by fleshly masters, inventing what is not written, and using their own selves or system for display and authority, as if this is the way you have to take it, without the warrant of the text of the Bible itself, then foolish is the one who so confuses God and man, true Master as crucified Christ, and false master as mere man.
In one act, you sell the most precious, and buy mere rebellion, precisely contrary to the word, the way and the work of God. Nor is it as in a moment in such a case, as with Moses, but as a settled and established power!
As to Moses then, in this highly specific area - even though his was not a false teaching as with Romanism, and with many of the other sects that separate from or add to the word of God, some acknowledging it, some not, but merely a highly visible act and an attitude which erred in a bold and important area: he was disciplined. As a result, he was not used in the actual entry to the land to which he had led the people. He himself was not to enter the promised land, though his error was pardoned and his life sustained till the work was complete. Neither did Aaron who was with Moses when he made that error (Numbers 20:24ff.), but the new generation did.
How important it is, then, in the life in the Lord, not only to watch but to pray, not only to avoid fellowship with rebellion, but to be alert to correct what is wrong, even among your fellows, when the case requires it! Is it not so even in business ? Does a director stay silent when the Chairman grossly errs ? If so, he is indeed liable for his slackness! Yet this was discipline, not detachment, for Moses continued in the love of the Lord, the new generation proceeding to the place he had brought them so near.
New ? Yes, this was as indicated because the generation, the fathers and mothers, who REFUSED to enter this land when God was with them, having performed a vast multitude of miracles on the way (as in Exodus and Numbers), always covering this, that and the other contingency and need, never leaving them nor forsaking them, were then in turn by God REFUSED the privilege of entering it themselves. Thus, THEIR CHILDREN had the privilege of going in, accompanied by, indeed led by Joshua, one of the bright two who urged the others to enter, at the first, but who were not FOLLOWED in the initial opportunity. Waiting, now at last they won entrance, Joshua a staggering triumphant leader.
You read of Moses' discipline in Numbers 20:8ff., and of the people's failure to enter in Numbers 14; and the words of God in that discipline are interesting indeed. They shows the combination of patient perseverance and effective judgment combined. Let us hear these words:
"Then the Lord said:
'I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord:
because all these men who have seen My glory
and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness,
and have put Me to the test now these ten times,
and have not heeded My voice,
they certainly shall not see the land of which I
swore to their fathers,
nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.' "
We see the moderation and the decisiveness together: and realise that discipline is no small part of leadership. On the one hand, the people had moaned, complained, been ungrateful, not realised their privileges, not sensed the glory of the Lord's leading and its end, not recognised that this was a tour of deliverance but of duty also, and had been erratically and at times dangerously provocative over and over. When therefore this last time came, and it all rested on THIS TIME, this action and this entry NOW; and yet again, right in the very face of the land to which God had by such extraordinary deeds and openings led them, they failed, refused rebelled, talked of stoning and the like, it was enough. As God says, "My spirit shall not always strive ... " (Isaiah 57:15). There is so much appropriate for flesh, and in the end "the flesh should fail before Me."
There was not an immediate mass grave for the incumbents of mercy who failed and failed, though the faithless among the spies in fact soon died; nor was there any reneging on the entry into the promised land. What did happen, then, was far more patient in its outline. Having failed so often to act, to believe, to receive with gratitude and see with vision the wonder of it all with hearts exercised in spiritual things, while walking in the very power and provision of God, and having WEPT at the LOSS of the land by FEAR while it was still open to them, now they personally would not enter.
Yet, mercy entering in the scene for the people, their CHILDREN would enter the land, and as to the LEADER under God, Joshua, who at the first urged them to enter, fruitlessly, it was HE WOULD BRING THE CHILDREN INTO THE LAND, and he did. Older but empowered, patient and called, he had a tower of strength in the Lord, and in Him he meditated, and by Him was he led. So did the fruitless become fruitful, the weak grow into strength, the Lord act and perform, without in the least overlooking the inner needs of Israel, as He performed with exquisite wisdom the overall international action of judgment for which He had called.
Again, in the case of the discipline of the leader, Moses, let us look at Numbers 20, and see how this is to be understood, and what this shows of the dealings of the Leader, this time with a sub-leader.
"Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron,
" 'Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.'
This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the Lord, and He was hallowed among them."
This amply shows two things concerning both the leadership of the Lord, and the Lord Himself, THE LEADER. First, He will not tolerate at ALL, leaders who exalt themselves, who do things as if they themselves were potentates and rulers. There is, said Christ, who was Jehovah, the Lord in flesh, ONE MASTER, that is Christ (Matthew 23:8-10). . Anyone and anything which intolerably presumes to act as if the Lord, or as if His envoy, vizier, prince, vicar, is at once a defilement and a brutalisation of the Church.
This is impossible; and the Lord will not GIVE HIS GLORY TO ANOTHER. ALL of you are brothers, said Christ (Matthew 23:8ff.), and if ANYONE, be it pope, be it assembly or be it king, guru or anyone whatsoever, should dare to act as if the division and distinction were down, so that the very mouth of God should speak in something outside the scriptures (Proverbs 30:6, Matthew 23:19ff., Revelation 22:18ff.), or act as if it were a question of intestinal feelings or intimations, and not the very word of God, indeed as if that person were in himself or herself the criterion or the very agency of God, not a brother seeking good in the Lord, alongside his fellow: then what follows ? It is this. Then there is a lesion from the Lord so intense, that it cannot heal.
God will NOT tolerate such things, because you see, one must let the LORD BE LORD, and there is NO OTHER! (cf. Isaiah 43-46, where this affirmed several times).
So sensitive is this issue, so profoundly important, that EVEN MOSES was disciplined AT ONCE, for it; and though of course he did not cease to be a child of God, AS a child of God he was disciplined by that ONE FATHER OF ALL, into whose majesty not for one moment should he enter.
I Peter 5 tells us just the same. Even Peter declares here that elders are not to be lords over other people's faith, but to minister, to serve as examples to the flock. The flock does not need an example of lordliness, since it is an exclusive to the One who IS Lord, infinitely beyond all, the eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one Trinity! A foursome may be sport, but it is blasphemy, incorrigible in type and ruinous in scope, unless repentance proceeds. What higher outrage is even possible! Was it not Satan himself, serpentine in format for his part, who brought out the idea that the things of God could be interpreted and surveyed!
There is one God, and His word is clear (Proverbs 8:8), where understanding dwells. Small wonder John is so emphatic that you do not need that anyone teach you, for the Lord Himself does so (I John 2:27). Ministers minister, serve, they are not MASTERS! It is the integrity of the word of God, not the royalty of the word of man which matters! (Matthew 4:4, Revelation 22:18-19).
This, then, is the FIRST thing we learn about the Lord and about His leading from the case of the discipline of Moses. The SECOND is this. God may chasten His children, and this quite firmly indeed, but His tenderness does not cease, His grace is still sufficient, and if proud flesh, like a cancer is operated on, so that there is an incision into it, and one suffers, yet still, it is a Father's incision, not that of a murderer or an assailant! And the curing of such cancers is crucial to spiritual life!
In such ways as these, we see the intimate and assured relationship between what the Lord SAYS of Himself and His ways, and what He does. As to His words, let us consult Exodus 34:
" 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.'
"So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. Then he said,
'If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.'
"And He said: 'Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.' "
The Lord did indeed such things of an astonishing and world-famous nature which have been heralded and recalled for millenia, and so brought the people from Egypt to the Promised Land with that so great sovereign power which could discipline His people as needed, that their spirits might not fail in mere folly altogether, that His power was shown in a setting of mercy and grace. This was far from all: He could yet bring them into the land and perform when they eventually arrived there, in the process an act of prodigious character in subduing the unutterably corrupt inhabitants (Ras Shamra has record of their shame). His guidance overlooked none, performed all, and wrought what He had said.
Nor was this all. For all that, He could and did also warn them through Moses (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 32), that future generations, down the line of Israel's history to come, would proceed from rebellion to rebellion, and that He, the Lord would counter this breach of covenant with discipline after discipline till they would eventually even be driven OUT of their promised land, only to return at His sovereign decree, in His own time.
All of these things, the power and the discipline, have happened to the uttermost, and the most recent exhibition of the POWER to LEAD has come in the long and often predicted restoration of the Jews to their land AFTER the predicted EXILE, at the end of the Age, when God Himself would come to act massively for their deliverance. Zechariah 12 pursues this theme as does Ezekiel 36-39 with other parts of the word of God.
These we have several times investigated in some detail*1. The restoration of the Jew has been the saga of the Twentieth Century, made famous the more by the new Pharaoh, Adolf Hitler, who had his own ways of bringing the final solution to Israel, just as did the Pharaoh of old, both coming to a vast rebuke, while Israel went on to its true strength and place regardless.
The shortest two words, as one historical incident of a king asking for proof of God exhibited, in showing the way of God, are these: THE JEW. What an illustrated encyclopedia this is, and what a pre-attested scenario down to the last detail - a prediction which was itself predicted (Amos 3:7), including the incarnation, crucifixion, death date of Christ, resurrection and Gospel. All ws predicted, as was the present plight of the Gentile world, whose turn has now come, just as it came earlier to Israel!*2
Let us then ponder anew the events following the initial Exodus from Egypt, bearing in mind the scope and perspective of the thing, and learning without confusion of the ways that God used in dealing with a difficult people, and so finding attestation and verification of His word in His ways in history, in leadership, as in His book, the two in precise harmony.
These things being so, we are now prepared to go back to the earlier events in the Exodus, realising to the full that this is not some mere, simple exercise in infinitude against the finite, for although there is just such a disparity between the power of God and that of mankind, yet God uses kindness, and thoughtfulness and measure, and gradation, and patience and forgetting nothing, He acts with discrimination and infinite alertness in dealing with His people, His enemies and the situations resulting in their coming close ... !
For convenience, let us number these various episodes. The first is that of the fire and cloud guidance, by which the LORD, the LEADER, LED out of Egypt and into the realm of the Promised land!
B. PARTICULAR EXHIBITS
1. THE FIRE AND CLOUD GUIDANCE
God, we read, did not lead Israel (as it came to be called) out of Egypt by the most direct route through the land of the Philistines, but to the edge of the wilderness territory, and they camped at Etham.
This act of leadership was intended, we read in Exodus 13:17ff., to overcome a foreseen temptation that, when war came upon them, they might return to Egypt, had the way been easy to do so. It had a far greater objective also, we find in 14:4. God knew that Pharaoh, seeing Israel by the wilderness, would think that they were bewildered, lacking in leadership, and seek to take them back, having for the last time, permitted their exodus from the land, after the duress of the 10th plague!
Then Pharaoh, mighty in arrogance, perseveringly dishonest in constant affirmation, continually negated when he saw the chance, perverse in persecution, specious in supplication, then this monarch royal would find that the Lord knew how to deal with His enemies and to protect His people, though in patience He had borne with Pharaoh for long. Here you see the patience and depth of the Lord, not easily provoked, but when once His anger is stirred, acting as the case requires (Exodus 34:6-7, Psalm 76:1-7).
The Lord is "merciful and gracious, longsuffering," we read, "and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty ..."; but who can stand when once His wrath is stirred ?
"In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. There He broke the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah. You art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey.
"The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands. At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.
"You, even You, are to be feared: and who may stand in Your sight when once You art angry?"
In this way, the covenantal mercies of God are clear, and His longsuffering; yet in His own discretion a time comes when devious follies arise only to fall like volcanic eruptions. Thus, whether it be towards man or nation, He can act decisively, not to obliterate the freedom He has loved and created, but to prevent such abuse of it that the world turns into no more than a grave-yard of hope, an abyss of evil. So vast is His longsuffering that it can come near such an abyss, as in our own generation, and indeed IF HE DID NOT INTERVENE, as He has said (Matthew 24:12), this planet of destiny would become unlivable.
He DOES intervene, and in history has repeatedly performed that wonder of conserving freedom of spirit, despite the depredations of sin, in a measure to make man meaningful, yet bringing, now sooner, now later, the engulfing passions of man and nation to book. In the end, from His book He judges all; even now, He works are manifest.
What then ?
Nineveh, with Jerusalem in rebellion rather than indifference
(cf. The Pitter-Patter ... Ch. 4), though for this last there is a better end (cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 10),
|Egypt in its own
way (cf. Gracious Goodness... Ch. 9),
Japan with its radioactive reaping
(cf. Hosea 8:7),
|Turk and Russian,
yes German and French have sought the divine heights
and tasted the bitterness of dust even in living memory, or thereabouts .
|These with the
fall of Emperor, Sultan, Kaiser, Fuehrer, Sanhedrin, Secretary General
or Commissar (Divine Agenda Ch. 3):
they have a similar flavour, often leaving forgotten mounds of dirt or debt! discreditable memories mingling with tinsel dreams (cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 11), aspiring to be steel, but wholly unreal in the outcome, futile tinsel flashing in the wind, downgrading to dust.
Being misled by flesh is in the end uninteresting, flimsy and futile; but being led by the Lord is eternally fascinating, and how would it not be, when the intriguing realities behind one's very construction, become in friendship divine, no more beyond the veil, as we proceed to knowing as we are known, with glorious instalments already (cf. I Corinthians 13:9ff., Revelation 21:22, 22:3ff.).
Our present interest then return to the Cloud and the Fire by which the Lord LED His people. First note that there is an apposite union of MEANS and EFFECTIVENESS. Not only did the Lord bring Pharaoh to the trap which that king's fickle flightiness made possible, that in his very arrogance he would be taken. Thus the Lord used it to let the gods-engulfed passions of the Egyptians, that polytheistic marvel of muddle at that time in the religious field, meet the reality of the actual Creator once and for all in epochal confrontation. It was that of infamy with infinitude, reality with rebellion, glory with vainglory .
Why, why did the Lord cause this ? It would help them to KNOW that the Lord both was God and ruled, and that His action to deliver His people from slavery in that proud nation were those of a Protector, a Leader and indeed, the Lord of creation (Exodus 14:1ff.).
While such a name was neglected in the naturalism mythology and the philosophic fantasies of Egypt, it was needed for men, of whatever race and thus of this one also, to be won to the truth; and it led in its time, to more awareness in Egypt of the power of the Creator, who had His will, His way and His ways, and has them yet. Thus did the Lord's double saving grace minister to man.
So does the Lord lead those who in faith lean on Him, receive Him as Saviour and hence follow Him as Lord, and show to man the necessities of realms, for there being but one God, it is necessary to gain one understanding which does not waver or wear, which has stanchions in truth and buttresses over history. It is needful to believe in the God who makes His name known; and it is stringently required to find Him where He is to be found, not in the pockets of His creation or in the pulses of the human mind, imagining wares to weariness, and using culture to clutch men to these phantasms.
The Lord in these and yet more awesome ones, in the crisis of Christ and the nation, when THEY played the persecutor and He the victim, has spread His name and fame abroad, and the necessity of knowing and following Him, since the ONLY SAVIOUR is GOD, who cannot be compartmentalised!
As Jesus made so clear, therefore, it is not even POSSIBLE to be His disciple without total fealty, reserving nothing in coming to Him: letting GOD BE GOD. This is far removed from letting your church be God, or your pastor or your assembly, as we have seen. To man it is appointed to KEEP HIS WORD and HIS MAJESTY and not to confuse it with his own imaginary importance, or that of his religious nominee, as if you could MAKE a god to fit your desires and dreams, without being a futile fidget, replacing faith with ruinous romances of the imagination! (cf. SMR pp. 620ff.).
As CHRIST was sent by His Father, so HE sent His people and as He kept the word commanded (John 12:48-50), so do His people keep HIS (John 14:21-23, Matthew 7:15ff.,21ff.), that of their Leader, NO ONE presuming, no group, to act as if God! Pharaohs of church or state are but dreams before awaking; the time to revive is NOW!
It is because the infinite and pure God IS God that it is such folly to confuse the issue. Indeed, how even Moses suffered for an elementary error here, and in this one cannot help being reminded of the error of Peter, who also was rebuked most cordially when he made it mandatory to add to what Christ had said, words of his own! (Matthew 16:22-23). Let GOD be God, let the LORD be Lord, let the LEADER lead and let the conscience capitulate to the truth, not in nature or the nurture of mankind, but to the nature of God, who has not kept His name or will secret but has loudly proclaimed it these millenia (cf. Isaiah 45:18ff., and see SMR pp. 623ff.)!
It is alas that error of trying to act in some sort of parity with God, even using His name of man, that Romanism has followed, not the correction which Peter so meekly received! (cf. SMR pp. 915ff.). There appear to be brands of Pentecostalism also which speak as if God were directing their words, as if to add to His word, as if to deliver messages verbatim from the Almighty, as if the prohibition of Proverbs 30:6 were not there, or the termination of GOSPEL innovation (Galatians 1), or WORD production, as given by God with His authority for man (Revelation 22:19ff.), had never occurred (cf. SMR Appendix C and D, Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 11, Sparkling Life ... Chs. 1 and 2).
Here Mormonism follows that identical, forbidden way, even daring to add a book of its own, as if God had overlooked their entirely new Gospel, and not told Paul about it when he wrote Galatians 1! Then men follow such things apparently for the pleasure or profit of having yet more confrontation with God, this time daring to use His name for the exercise!
New christs are easily
produced when the scriptural autographs of the actual One are thus surrounded
with human verbiage, and this is permitted to pollute with its arrogating
presence, the duly recognised and acclaimed word of God, as it has been
for millenia, focussed on Christ, its presentation terminating in the time of
the apostles, who were given power from Christ to have it (cf. John 14:26,
16:13, Revelation 22:19-20). Thus the word of God illicitly is made a stepping
stone for the thoughts of man!
To those THINGS, said John, NOTHING could be added.
Thus is the lordship of the LORD, His leadership inseparably annexed to His word, His canon, His self-portraiture. He does not change (Malachi 3:6). Accordingly, ONE of the lessons which the Egyptians had to learn, as HE led the people with Moses out from their oppressive land, was simply this: that the LORD is God, that there is NO OTHER, and that true religion is not a species of human cultural production or an account of religious experience, but both a written deposit and a dynamic gift of the direct, decisive, purposeful self-presentation of God to man, as Creator (Genesis 1), as Leader and as Deliverer!
His actions mark the earth like comets, now stationary, always aloft. How the Exodus ever since has reeked of the reality of it: the swamping of the Egyptians in their massive might, in the Red Sea a testimony to append to that of the flood (cf. News 1, Joyful Jottings 12), as a case of God versus man, when ONCE HIS WRATH IS STIRRED (cf. Genesis 6:5,13).
Thus even now, the column of vapour of Joel 2 prophecy, quoted by Peter at Pentecost (Acts 2:19, Joel 2:30 cf. SMR pp. 790ff.), and the return of Israel to its land, add to these divine signatures on history, these sites for unseeing comets, that men might see.
In all these case, so far from temper, you find as in the life of Christ, there is an almost inconceivable depth of divine forbearance first, in the way of the Lord; and He keeps just that distance in intervention in this way, which yet permits man to SHOW by the way he chooses, just how empty it is without God!
This superlative restraint sometimes leads men to ignore Him; and His various actions at times makes them wonder at their own liberty; but liberty has been given to man to the point that the world all but swims in it, nowadays preferring in large part bikinis as it does so, and yet, sadly but surely, this liberty is being used for the lordship of man, church, religion or political power; and it makes man vain. ANYTHING which can think and speak, when it refuses what it has to rely on, and pretends not to know its Creator, MUST move into what is not there, and hence become empty, vain; and the thrust is to vainglory, for man MUST find and worship, and if he neglects what is there for worship, he worships it, if not in word, then in deed!
So does the toboggan shute rush downwards, men the while admiring the speed, noticing the records, and ignoring the depth to which they hurtle, immune to truth, ignorant of disaster, while seeing it all about them!
To be sure, there will be further divine intervention on a massive scale, for it has long been forecast, as have the provocations preceding, and the mode of that intervention (Micah 7:15ff., II Thessalonians 1, Isaiah 66, Deuteronomy 32).
The divine action as this Age ends ? It is all about you (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8), but let us note some highlights. It starts with the removal of God's people, just as in the Exodus, but to a Promised Land far more enduring that is this earth or any part of it (Matthew 24:33-44, I Thessalonians 4); and proceeds with His return with His saints (I Thessalonians 3:13), in a manner of majesty (Revelation 19, II Thessalonians 1); and ends eventually, in the removal of the heavens and the earth (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 51:6, Revelation 20:11). In the last, you see the majesty of the Creator, for the heavens and the earth have fled away, for there was no place found for them!
So like the fire of His word did the fire by night guide the people and like the cloud of His comfort did the daytime leading proceed from the LORD THE LEADER. It must be observed that Christians must realise more and more fully that sheer wonder of the Lord's leading, His wisdom (James 1), so freely available, and the staggering delight and privilege of following such a Shepherd as this (cf. Psalm 23)!
By contrast, false prophets, for their part in the obscurity of darkness to follow the sheen of artificial light, are fictitious in word, but their judgment is not fictitious! Long has it waited (Jude 12-19). They have featured in the word of God long enough, to be creatures of radical ill-fame (cf. Jeremiah 23:13-26, Ezekiel 14:6ff., Proverbs 30:6, II Peter 2).
Let us however return from what is merely misleading, to the leading of the LORD!
THE FIRE AND CLOUD GUIDANCE
in its PROTECTIVE CAPACITY
In Exodus 14:19-20, we find this new development. Pharaoh duly pursued, gripped by insatiable lust for slave labour, for monetary gain, for oppressive lordship, it seems, or some combination, yes, perhaps even by a desire to show that there was no power in earth or in heaven that could stop him plus his gods (in some ways, rather reminiscent of the more monotheistic but not less unauthorised violence coming from many in the Islamic lands nowadays, both al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad and various assemblages of Islamic nations, such as the Teheran Conference of 1991).
SUBMISSION is strong when false gods are concerned, and it must be to those who have the gods. With the true God, it is to HIMSELF, and if people do not believe, they are indeed as chaff blown about (Psalm 1), but no duress is produced to induce 'faith' which has other grounds than this.
To be sure, the Inquisition of false dogmas of a bread God, and false violence have shown what could be done when the name of Christ is arrested and taken into custody wholly against His own rules (John 18:36), but this is merely another case of the violence of man-made gods, or god, when the actual one with the actual record and the actual words, is bypassed. A word does not then sanctify such deeds, but merely, if the word be 'christ', makes the defamation the more culpable.
As the secular power of Romanism was overthrown successively from the Armada days of 1588 onwards, till a Protestant kingdom ruled much of the earth (though not now, for the last days do not have things so easy! - Luke 21:9,25-26), and as those old ways of the ferocious papacy have passed, their dungeons thus became far less frequently found.
Yet now of course, many Islamic persecutors replace the papal violence, both in their own nations and beyond, supplying meaningless bonds, blood and carnage, as they pursue territory, corrupted power making light of man in the interests of what neither stands nor comes close to standing, but is false prophecy deserving all that God has spoken on that topic (cf. More Marvels ... Ch. 4, SMR pp. 1080ff., Of the Earth ... Ch. 10, Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8, *1), Communism likewise has supplied a substitute for the old violence of Romanism, but it too aches with failure and emptiness. These imperial lutings, flutings and flows, they come to pass. In the end, they devastate and are devastated, live by the sword, and their power dies by it.
Yet how did the Lord help England's freedom, when its Protestant testimony was strong! How justly famed it became for hundreds of years, for liberty! Let us consider two occasions.
A tempest helped England in 1588, strewing vast Spanish galleons, bent on religious invasion, in distant coasts. In 1688, it is recorded that a change of wind enabled William of Orange to redirect his invasion fleet, to deliver England from the bloody persecutions of Romanist James II, at invitation of many leaders in that land, so that instead of sailing past his desired landing*3, he was able to return to it, free of the heavily defended area to which he had been thrust by the prevailing wind. So has the Lord delivered and so has He led.
In Moses' day, it was a CLOUD which moved (Exodus 14:19f.), yes the very cloud of guidance became a BARRIER between the Egyptians army in hot pursuit, and the people of Israel. It even was so comfortingly placed that its light shone on Israel, and the darkness of obscurity was the side seen by the Egyptians. Thus was protection instituted, while the Lord led Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea, and in accord with the divine promise of His presence with which Moses had undertaken all His work (Exodus 3:14), the way opened.
So does the way open as the Lord leads and directs the individual, the nation, on the path of service and sanctity, a highway of holiness being available for HIS purposes, followed with integrity, to the desired end. How beautifully this is put in Psalm 107, that series of epic tableaux, in v. 30, the last of those cited below (italicised here):
"They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven."
It brings to mind Proverbs 3:5-6, in its generic promise, so abundantly fulfilled; but as with all these things, there is the assumption of faith, the prescription of acknowledging the Lord in all your ways and of not leaning to your own understanding. It is to be used, not rested on. Then there is rest (cf. Matthew 11:28-30), not in laziness nor in human lore, but in due regard to the gifts given, while trust itself is ONLY in the Lord Himself! No one else has either the utter power or the absolute purity, and as to His love, it is covenantal as well as elemental (cf. Colossians 1:19ff., Romans 8:29ff.)!
Again, you see a similar description of what the Lord can do, does and frequently occasions in His leading of His servants on His work, Isaiah 63:12-15. This is graphically seen in the rendering of that great translator, Delitzsch, in the Old Testament Commentary of Keil and himself. After evoking the recollection of the Lord "who led them by the right hand of Moses" (NKJV), we find this concerning the Lord, the question and the answer:
"who split the waters before them,
to make Himself an everlasting name;
Here you see the Red Sea crossing made so stable and readily wrought that it is compared to horses moving on a plain; and again in the animal realm, the rest which the Lord gave for His people, where faith was operative, was like that of cattle going down to the valley, intent on the cool shades of rest at its foot, where perhaps the streams of living water flowed. How often does the Lord for His servants, bring rest out of tribulation, calm out of storm and deliverance out of impossibility, as far as man is concerned!
This is precisely what one finds; and since the purpose is not to render test ineffective, testimony blind or truth dumb, His people are indeed tried, and their faith does shine as a light in a city on a hill, and many are those who have lost their lives, not in blind obscurity, but in living testimony when the time has come to follow the Lord in His own testimony of truth, the servants being no greater than their Master (John 15:20-21):
"Remember the word that I said to you,
‘A servant is not greater than his
"If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake,
because they do not know Him who sent Me."
3. THE LORD IN ACTIVE SUPPORT
Nor were these deliverances, in the days of Moses, wrought in obscurity. The Lord was a light to the mind as well as a way to the foot. Thus before this marvellous use of the cloud of guidance as an instrument of protection, as can also come when the Lord warns one of the peril of some occupations or persons in a timely fashion, there was a word to Moses. We read of it in Exodus 14:14ff.. It came after Moses had exhorted the people as they sought to leave Egypt in the very face of the imperial tempestuousness, not to be afraid, since they would no more see the pursuing Egyptians because of the delivering imminently coming. Imminent ?
It was also eminent, involving oceanic movement, atmospheric marvels, precise allocation of cloud and light as in a carefully executed stage drama, the mockery of might in using its very cumbrousness, to stick it mud, prior to flooding.
When Moses was reassured however, it was with words; the works were still to come. So does the Christian need to await the work, trust in the word of God, and set the heart nowhere else for reliance.
This word of faith being given by their terrestrial leader, Moses, the Lord then instructed, as he moved from faith to faith: "The LORD shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace." He exhorted Moses Himself, as a father his child: "Why do you cry to Me ? Tell the children of Israel to go forward." This was a word for ACTION. The Lord does the deliverance, and we need to respond to the directions. What is the use of saying, I believe the Bible! and not setting about its leading, and waiting on the Lord with due expectation for His application of His word in life!
Here then is a testimony on testing! If you believe, ACT ON IT. Do not linger in endless mullings. If the way of holiness is clear, then follow it. It is necessary when the time comes, to ACT! As King Jehoshaphat put this aspect from the Lord as in II Chronicles 20:20, "Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper."
In Isaiah 7:9 you see the opposite word play, If you do not believe, surely you will not be established, in the day of the fickle and evasive King Ahab! Since what was to be believed was nothing less than the Messianic reality by incarnation as in Isaiah 4, 7, 9, 11, 22, 32, 42, 49-55, the failure in that earlier day was one to afflict the very race!
Here in the day of King Jehoshaphat, the case was the opposite, for faith was as with a cresting wave, and as with the Jewish remnant, so here, there is an establishment indeed, for they did not even need to fight in this latter battle, the King arriving on the scene to find that the enemies had destroyed one another, and he had merely to take the prize of the booty. So does the believer find that the Lord Jesus Christ has already paid, arisen, broken death, prescribed history, set in power and motion incalculably wonderful promises, sent His Holy Spirit, and that His unsearchable riches of wisdom and might are freely available, entirely at His cost! (cf. Isaiah 55).
Let us consider now the words of the 20:20 vision of II Chronicles. The words 'believe' and 'be established' are cognate: believing means resting on, relying on, having what is established, so that the sense is, Establish your hearts in the Lord and you will BE established. The prosperity in view is not a few millions in the bank, as some seem feebly and blindly to imagine, but the performance of the task the Lord has set to His glory!
This then is a look at the overall setting of the particular case of Moses in the faith, for it is always but ONE FAITH, ONE LORD, and the need is to let GOD BE GOD, and the LORD BE LEADER and none else. His light shines as the stars, rises like the sun, brings reflection like the moon, from age to age, His servants displaying it like reflectors in this way and that through the phases of history, featuring now this, now that, and for all of them we are glad; but His own light which is His only, it continues thus attested, invariant (James 1:17), an anointing the world tends to shy at, hide from, but which is shown in dynamics innumerable, in word and in deed.
Then the LORD showed Moses the need to take symbolic action with his rod, stretching it out over the sea, and, Moses was told, the children of Israel will go over on DRY GROUND! Hemmed in by the sea and the army, it was the sea which was chosen to yield, since it also could be used as a counter-attack on the pursuing Egyptians, distinguished by their heavy chariots, ideal for getting stuck in the sand and for lingering while the returning waters engulfed them! So it happened, and so did Israel praise God for their deliverance of that day, over the coming centuries, continuingly the delight as one who watches anew, again and again. This you see for example not only in the immediate praise of Exodus 15, but rehearsed in Psalm 78:12ff., 106:6ff., 105:23ff., and reference appears again in Psalm 81.
Of interest in passing, is the notable testimony of surrounding oceanic action, as told in The Exodus Escape, on this site. We cite from that now:
In addition, we have yet another impressive confirmation of these exact events. The Reader's Digest, December 1967, had an article of great interest. Ronald Shiller, on pp. 157-170 traces evidence for the ancient Atlantis, long notable for sinking into the sea, being the island, Stronghyli. Now it appears that we have the Santorini island group only, as far as residue is concerned! The earlier large island, some 70 miles north of Crete, apparently remains today as a cluster of little isles. Shiller lists evidence of ash and burials, including ash some 100 feet thick, and obtained a radiocarbon analysis for a date of around 1400 B.C. for charred wood from a char-blackened stone house.
In whatever way the Lord uses His power, and WHATEVER may be the surrounding effects, when He sees fit to act, there is testimony of His power and purpose. It is, at least at the cardinal level, not so often as to allay the reality of test which is for and upon all men, nor yet so seldom as to fail to make an impact for those who will see what is before them. Thus when it happens, vast can be the consequences!
It was so in the re-launching of Israel from that slave-pen, Egypt in the days of Moses, as it had at that time become for them; and it was so in 1948, when according to His word, God acted to suppress the overwhelming might of many nations, arrayed in military power to exterminate Israel again, enabling a victory where only a 'final solution' to the 'Jewish problem' seemed imminent! Again was it so in 1973 when Egypt at long last assailed them in mighty power and deadly intent, only to be overthrown, her Russian tanks bombed to oblivion, since the Israeli air force on that occasion, had thoughtfully removed much of the Egyptian air force before the war was well under way, on one early morning skimming raid over the Mediterranean, to avoid radar detection.
History huffs, as man acts with his commotion; but God blows and sets in place the final motion. Man proposes, God disposes!
So God acted once again, to fulfil His plan of having AT LAST returned Israel to its base, its land, much chastened and having endured that "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7 cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1), one alas, so horrendous that there would be none like it. It was doubtless Hitler who fulfilled this to the letter, in exterminating some 61/2 millions of Jews in manners so excruciatingly vile that the world seems to want to forget it IN PRACTICE, as it ploughs the Jews again and again, to this day.
How readily the Germans 'forgot' or did not see what was happening in their land, and however few may have known, the works of extermination were so vast that they cannot have been rare; and how kindly this old world would have shut its eyes had the Arabs and Moslems simply completed Hitler's calling card, and won! The UN still seems unable to recognise what is before its eyes, but it will see far more than this, and indeed in 1967 and 1973 has already done so.
How slowly does this world see the point of spiritual things, but then, this too is verification of scripture, for the Bible clearly indicates that to the unspiritual man, these things are foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14)! The point here is not the indomitability of the Jew, heaven forbid when you watch the pogroms and the Inquisition, keeping the mind clear with that not so popular realm, FACTS! It is the indomitability of GOD which is in point, and of His WORD, which being HIS, endures all kinds of distempered assault, but bows never, not at all, in anything, but remains like a citadel of righteousness in a world which has so lost its way, that it wails when it does not boast!
4. THE LORD IN TEST OF FAITH
Meanwhile, let us pursue the testimony and test in Israel, as it moved towards the great goal, the promised land. Now it was free of an Egypt, not only unable to retain them in the face of the Almighty's leading, but so dashed in power that it had little heart to pursue them further! (cf. Psalm 136:13ff.).
It glories and gives praise:
"To Him who divided the Red Sea in two,
For His mercy endures forever;
And made Israel pass through the midst of it,
For His mercy endures forever;
But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who led His people through the wilderness,
For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who struck down great kings,
For His mercy endures forever;
And slew famous kings,
For His mercy endures forever -
Sihon king of the Amorites,
For His mercy endures forever;
And Og king of Bashan,
For His mercy endures forever -
And gave their land as a heritage,
For His mercy endures forever;
A heritage to Israel His servant,
For His mercy endures forever.
"Who remembered us in our lowly state,
For His mercy endures forever;
And rescued us from our enemies,
For His mercy endures forever;
Who gives food to all flesh,
For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
For His mercy endures forever."
Alas, after so much deliverance in Egypt and immediately afterwards in the miraculous provision of food and water, the people, having come to their Promised Land, were by no means ready to enter it. While as the Psalm shows, they did eventually do so, and that with much éclat, yet as we have seen, it was to be another and indeed the next generation who would do so, for those who left Egypt seemed to lack stomach for faith, when they reached their land, with some exceptions!
In Numbers 14, you read the unevasive record, cordially and clearly depicting the wonder and the shame, the deliverance and the abasement, not in humility so much, at that time, as in disbelief! What, you may exclaim, do you mean to tell me that they had so much done for them in such divine manner, and STILL did not have faith enough to continue in such a triumphant passage, on and into the land!
Do YOU then, who may so question one, ever remember, if you are a Christian, a time of darkness in your spirit so complete, that the presence of light was a thing to banish ? Or do you remember even as a Christian, some time when you did not realise the obvious, do the mandatory, but rather, for the moment in obscurity because of pre-occupation or other error, failed to act as you should!
It is a grief to what flesh can fall, but mercifully as the word of God declares, a man can fall seven times, a man of God, and yet the Lord uphold him with His arm! (Proverbs 24:16). Indeed, how tenderly it is put, in this matter of the leadership of the Lord, in Psalm 37:24:
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand."
However, while this is part of the compassion and faithfulness of the heavenly Father of those who have been regenerated and adopted by the Lord, there is also a failure which endures, which comes from a hole where the faith ought to be, in those still unregenerate! As Hebrews put it, in Ch. 4:2-3, concerning the mass of those of Israel at that time, the word did not profit them, not being MIXED WITH FAITH!
The sad event is seen unfolding in Numbers 14, and we shall rehearse it for this purpose, following it in some more detail.
First they sent spies into the Promised Land, to scout the area. This could be good as a work of prudence in making plans, and submitting them FIRST to the LORD, since He knows whereas we can but surmise in many areas; and He directs us to TEST ALL THINGS! (I Thessalonians 5). However, what could have been an intelligent survey before insurgence into this land already judged after so long a time, by the Lord as in Genesis 15, became a trial of faith. Would they, and could they enter, it seems, became the question: not in what WAY would they enter. Israel doubted.
If instead of harrying the Jew in harrowing hatred, abominations, distempers, lordlinesses, people could learn where the prejudice and desire for vainglory from false gods, secular or other, stirs their fallen hearts, to see the LESSONS God is teaching us ALL, from this chosen race, the world would be incomparably better off.
The spies came back and with the exception of a glorious twosome who were not only sure they could enter but prevail, Caleb and Joshua, they were negative. No hope! the majority cried, the place is grand, the people large, the situation hopeless! Not only did they they shrink from the obvious, draw back when SUCH power had been shown to them for so long in such tenderness and kindness and such provision in all things, but they WAILED.
Now to cry when your heart is broken, that is one thing. Yet to wail and weep when you are facing an OPPORTUNITY, and indeed the opening of a life-time, the wonder of a saga, the end of a journey marvellously prospered in every way already: that is a lamentable performance, a sort of drama of unbelief!
The Lord was unimpressed, and told them that they would not, for their part, enter the promised land. It would be for others. In fact, Joshua and Caleb entered with the next generation, the children of that day being those who in forty years time! then fully grown, would enter.
SO a test a faith showed its omission in many! There is only one way to God, and that is the Lord's way, for the Lord is God, as Elijah made so clear (I Kings 17ff.), and when you wish to approach your Creator, it is best to do it on HIS terms, lest arrogance and presumption alike render your efforts gross, perverted, impure, a work of asininity rather than assurance!
God deals with people AS people, and how tenderly He allowed the TWO spies who did have FAITH to exhort the people, but not only would they not listen to them, they even set about the task of stoning those of such a testimony! Murder is not a good way to evoke blessing, and to murder those who are faithful, as was the case so often in the Inquisition, and other persecutions such as those of Islam as it spread at the first, as of Communism nearer to the last, this is no fit way to signify interest in truth!
If there is an answer, why not give it in truth and justice ? If there is not, why expect to escape judgment, through murder of fact or of those who show it: except there be repentance! The light is not exterminated because bodies fill body bags! Darkness never engulfs it, merely shrouds the hearts that love it (John 1).
Thus as this testimony of disfaith (q.v.) swept like a tempest into the Camp, the Lord again used the cloud to protect, in this case perhaps only by distracting them from their murderous task directed against the two faithful spies, and reminding them of His presence. It was then that the judgment came, concerning the NEXT GENERATION as those who would enter, since these had done what they had, reacted as they did! Not stoned at all, these spies did not die, in a little time, as the unfaithful ones did, but one of them became the leader for the new generation, when it entered Canaan. So does the Lord turn the wheel, and change the direction of events in His own way, achieving exactly what He says, exalting the lowly, abasing the proud, the wayward. He is patient, but sure.
What however of the people who were so lamenting, so doubting, and so rebelling against their own blessing ? They wailed instead of walking, in this way in their unbelief consummating a whole series of grumbling tumults of heart, woes in words. Now no longer confined, bound to slavery, and able to walk freely, they elected not to do so, but in carnal contempt of victory, to defeat their very selves. They would not then walk right in to the kingdom ? For 40 years, then, they would walk, in the desert until those prepared to walk, would do so under the despised leader, Joshua, whose counsel came true after so long a time, and who himself did what he had vainly recommended to the dissident people!
In a not so dissimilar way, those who do not LISTEN to those who exhort them to leave disbelieving churches when they initiate a new faith, a new Bible, or a new doctrine, contrary to it, and to not ACT are in the gravest of dangers! It is wise then to be LED by the LEADER according to His word, which gives instruction in righteousness, and to avoid merely commingling with revolt, rebellion and mutable religion, the work of men! Was not Lot nearly lost, and did not his wife find her aptitude and taste for the wrong things, a famous case and a sad one! In fact, to fail to heed just warning is NEVER WISE and it is clear enough in Romans 16:17:
"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses,
contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them."
There are those who declare that they are not like that; but if people INSIST on using the name of CHRIST and yet inventing new doctrine not in His word*4, moving from faith to fussy fidgets, the words of man
- as if Christ had not had a
time when His advent impacted, His word was announced, and His life brought free
redemption in being
poured out to death, and
- as if this same Jesus were not the criterion to the end,
then there is sure to be a REASON for this rebellion. There is always a reason. It is there that often to be found is the lair and lostness of heart disease that responds to no cardiac stimulus. Only God can change that!
It is small wonder that the 431 A.D. General Council of Ephesus forbade the making of any additions to the faith! While Councils do not constitute by any means the word of God, it was not surprising that such a bond should be given, just as the Canon of the New Testament was bound firmly, relating to the words of the apostles and their companions, as received from their day (cf. Sparkling Life ... Chs. 1 and 2, SMR Appendix C and D.).
In this context, it is well and admirable to remember that the next generation of Israel, after 40 years to mature, WERE LED BY THE LORD into their promised land with that panoply of protection and power that had appeared in the Exodus, shown in new ways, and marvellous events. To this, we shall not here come, since our topic is not to be exhaustive, but rather presented in order to aid perspective.
This then ends the phase on EXODUS, leading to the very gates of the promised land, and of course it is not difficult to see that it is an historical exhibit for thought, since there is an application. Is it not an EXODUS from the sin and slavery to the unsavoury, sexual, physical, philosophical, ecclesiastical very often as the time comes near the end of the Age, that the spirit of man must make! led by repentance like a cloud and truth as a fire! and is it not equally a time of ENTRY into the promised land of GOD'S OWN ACCEPTANCE, of being adopted as a child of God, with Him as your inheritance for ever (Ephesians 1:1-11).
Just as for Abraham, God was his shield and his exceedingly great reward! (Genesis 15)! it is necessary to enter, and not merely to leave where you were; it is necessary by faith to accept, and not merely mull! It is inadequate to be entranced; entry is the need, entry the deed.
Jesus said (John 10:9), I am the door, by Me if any man enter he will be saved, and go in and out and find pasture.
You do not enter a door unless you believe it is there. All the reason in the world - and the thing is quite fully demonstrable as in SMR - will not avail, if you draw back! You must actually ... enter. Israel in that day of Exodus, it did not do this, in the actuality which was nevertheless so spiritually significant! It is a lesson: do not play with fire, come in its context as is fitting, but remember, our God is a consuming fire. His leading in love is to the fireside, not into the furnace! (Hebrews 12-13). One must come as invited, and not try to write an invitation of one's own!
What then of the kingdom of heaven ? So is He now, forever unchanging, for ever the same (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, TMR 3). The way does not alter, though the light shine more brilliantly upon it. What He has wrought has brought salvation near; and indeed, it is He!
*1 Cf. SMR Appendix A, It Bubbles ... Ch. 10, The Biblical Workman Chs. 1 and 3.
See SMR pp.
755ff., Ch. 8, Answers to Questions
Ch. 5, Highway of Holiness
Ch. 4 (date)
Joyful Jottings 22-25.
See 'Eltham' for a brief
exposé of this phase, putting things in place before the Bible; and
A Question of Gifts for one much longer.
The Story of the Light that Never Went Out, Augusta Cook, and W.
Stanley Martin, 1903,
*4 Paul in II Corinthians 11 speaks not with mere disparagement, but with vast condemnation of those who like Satan, are dressed despite their darkness, in robes of deceptive light, false apostles. What is their fault ? It is this: they measure themselves by themselves (II Corinthians 10:12), avoiding the word of the self-declaring God, its testimony of truth in uniqueness and validity, its tested millenia, and putting themselves in HIS place, they declare what comes to them. It is another Jesus and another Gospel, indeed another Spirit, he declares, and this is the sort of deception which gullible people might well believe, he declares. What has earned no praise, merely attaches itself, leech-like, to what has.
Similarly in Galatians 1 he makes it clear that any other Gospel that the one already at that time preached, was false, and in providing this Gospel in that volume, he fastens it wholly on Christ, without the faith in church or tradition or new revelation from false apostles, false preachers, false teachers such as both he and Peter made clear, as in fact did Christ, would come like wolves to seek to swallow the church in their misled maw. You see that in Acts 20:25-31, II Peter 2:1ff., Matthew 24:11,24, II Timothy 3 and so on. John, in terminating "these things" (Revelation 22:18-19) which covered the entire Gospel and spiritual frame, assigned no small curse on the misuse of liberty to invent the Lord or His truth!