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August 31, 1998
Bin Laden, called a 'renegade' Saudi,
of various address including Pakistan, appears interested in offence, offensiveness against the U.S., the Saudi royal family
and Israel, according toTime.
allegations of munitions factories, commando training and networking of powers
in favour of Islam for war-and attrition-waging,
such efforts are largely futile. GOD has His own arrangements, and despite
the bombing of embassies of a major political power helping
Be bin Laden this
time guilty or not, it is God who will have His way with
False prophets will not stand;
munitions will not;
bombing will not, and war will not;
force will not work against the Almighty,
nor guile nor
wisdom of this world.
The world, incidentally, does not belong,
nor does any part of it, to aborigines, to military victors, to grabbers and gainers or mutilators,
neither to the swift nor to the slovenly,
nor does the
It all belongs
to God who made it , and gives it to whom He will.
the nations their chance to seek Him, He moves history on, the slightest
seeming to gain, the greatest to fall quite often, while the
moral forces so often slighted - but not, incidentally
by Shakespeare whose realism in this has lasting appeal, nor in the end, successfully
in history - lash and buffet,
and God directs the final scenario (cf. Amos 2:13-16, What is Life For ?
Buffet? Not only is this so in judgment, but even in the vexatious turbulence of the increasingly sordid human heart of today, where they still tear and rupture chambers of life in many, which they did not even know they so much as possessed. It is like a puncture: you may not know you have it, but you will know when the steering fails because of it.
But man is vulnerable to His trademark, and susceptible to His judgments, and the history shows with sometimes a sort of Punch and Judy show drama, the destruction of follies so often acclaimed at first as triumphant wonders: like the civilisation of Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, with its ruined Nineveh, Napoleon, Hitler, Moscow with its evil empire indeed and Japan with its rising sun mania. The wheel turns, but the axle is not broken. God speaks in the end, and in the meantime, His word speaks and is being done.
Watching this week
the mangled ruins of embassies and the true or false allegations of bin Laden's guilt, and having the news of his warnings
and threats against the
Today, let us look
at the prophecy on
Note at once:
1) The Jews will not be glorified. It is GOD who alone will be glorified on that day (Isaiah , Ezekiel 36:19-22).
2) The efforts to remove them will not succeed.
3) The trouble lies critically in this, that three religions, all mistaken, are in the Middle East in force (not to mention others), the mass idolatrous Romanism*1, the Allah-inventing Moslem, at war with the God who DOES HAVE one unique Son whom He sent from heaven, while these acknowledge NO SUCH GOD*2; and that of the Jews.
As far as the last is typed, it is from the Old Testament which gives the land of Israel to them, and in the end to a remnant to return to the Lord Jesus Christ, forming a contingent (and nothing more in spirit) of the Christian church.
This however is not
yet; for the Jewish nation is not yet returned to the Lord, and so He is
not yet returned to them, in His NEW Covenant, shared with all Christians.
This is what the Bible teaches, as we shall no proceed to show. Thus the turmoil. It is exceedingly
complex; and neither bin Laden nor the
Let us examine the position
a little, this time using mainly Jeremiah, so that with Ezekiel and Isaiah,
as often shown in the past, we may stress this additional component in the
matter in hand. As we shall
see, Jeremiah is far more than jeremiad.
is more than Jeremiad
The Love, the Power and the Discipline of God
EZEKIEL ARE IN CONCERT,
LIKE ROWERS IN AN EIGHT
The Prophetic Concert
JEREMIAH has his own signals from the Lord, his flagship, to disperse to mankind. However, as always in the Bible, there is a vast perspective in common among the prophets, regardless of the identifying particularities of any one inspired writer.
We have traced the teaching in Ezekiel regarding the return of the Jews in various places, especially Ch.9 (e.g. pp. 776-794), and Appendix A in SMR. There is scalding rebuke, opportunity for repentance (Jeremiah 29:6-11) with hope to come. This however depends on whole-hearted
1) acceptance of the Lord's discipline and
2) an equally deep and real, earnest and longing approach to God, when "you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" - Jeremiah 29:13. It is then they will "call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you." Then too "I will be found of you..." (Jeremiah 29:12,14).
Yet from the false prophet phenomenon, by which efforts are made to circumvent the judgments of the Lord, instead of trusting in His mercy (29:15ff.), there is only devastation for that abuse of mercy.
Now let us look concertedly for a moment at Jeremiah 30-33.
In Jeremiah 29, then, there has been a topical, contemporary message to the captives concerning their own futures, conditions and hope; their judgments and the utter character of these, when recalcitrance instead of acceptance is to be found.
In Ch.30, the topic
is return to the land. However, that being announced (30:3), there is an interpolation, both literary and historical,
of extreme trouble (30:5-7). It is indeed "the time of
Jacob's trouble". Nevertheless,
issuing from it will be a returning to the Lord and a
Acutely aware of
the contempt accorded
So precise and particular will this be that there be a sense of restoration from the in-the-Lord, away-from-the-Lord, acceptance-rejection situation, bringing marvellous joy (30:19ff.). That drastic and unique historical past will be replaced. In time to come, not ruled by another force or nation (30:21), they will in fact find the Governor so often spoken of (cf. Jeremiah 23:5-6), the Messianic son of David, whose nearness to the Lord is intense, immense (30:21), with an intimacy with the Lord expressed in language with its own individuality; and in those terms,
Many will be
added to them, as we shall see, but their own contingent has its crucially individual historical past and characterisation accordingly.
WHEN... WHEN... WHEN? is this to be. Have not the Jews suffered as Hosmer in his History of the Jews shows with a graphic horror to match any TV production regarding World War II, during the Middle Ages been afflicted acutely by allegedly Christian nations. It is one thing to protect the purity of one's religious faith, quite another to torture and despoil those who do not share it!
It is indeed, one thing when Joshua is commissioned in a judgment long restrained, to occupy a land specifically spared for hundreds of years (Genesis ,16 - "the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete", Exodus 6:6ff., ), before the divine action. When that action does come towards the inhabitants settled there for so long, and Joshua invades, it is as an overwhelming, long-prepared moral rebuke from the Almighty. That is one thing; but it is quite another when individuals are harassed to make them Christian (a ludicrous enormity), as if their faith were a subject of pain, not of the gracious enlargement of the heart from the Lord! (Cf. SMR within Appendix D, at pp. 1175-1186C., and esp. *3 on p. 1186A.)
The time when this access of faith is granted to the Jewish people in a characterisable number (as in Romans 11 cf. News 21 and Appendix News in Biblical Blessings) is "in the latter days" and it is then that "you will consider it" - says Jeremiah 30:24. There is to be a judgment of world-wide dimension, correlative with the occupancy of the wicked, and it is then that these things will be (Jeremiah 30:8,16-17).
31:1), it is at THIS TIME that God will show His sovereignty over the land
in a new access. His love is an 'everlasting
love', and the
true worship of the Lord, the Messiah, will be a national reality (30:9).
From the "ends of the
He will restore the physically dispossessed and spiritually wandering former
nation to show forth His praise, to His land (30:9).
The LORD, famous for Egyptian deliverance as often seen in the Psalms, is now to be internationally notable for the restoration of this people, for "He who scattered Israel will gather him" (31:10). So intense will be their spiritual joy, that they "will be like a well-watered garden", redeemed (31:11-12). There will be a satiety in the abundance of blessing (31:14).
However, as this "latter days" defined time is held like a tableau in mural extensiveness before our eyes, suddenly a jarring intervention is heard. 31:15 is the famous reference to the acute sorrow of many Jewish mothers,
So here we are faced with another ground for the comfort which is to be, the passing to a new and better clime than occurred for this people at that time, historically of course abundantly fulfilled in the 'slaughter of the innocents" under Herod, when his kingly fears of the predicted Messiah inclined his often murderous heart to add yet one more crime, this unthinkable assault on the babes, in an effort to remove a potential regal threat! It was more than a threat, and his knowledge of prophecy should have shown him that no threat could be met by such means as this. He went to his place, but so did many Jewish babes.
In the light of this, and in its face, God re-assures them forecasting with knowledge allowing them to see this as one phase of the painful journey to their eventual return to the sure knowledge of the Lord: "Refrain your voice from weeping" - 31:16. The people "shall come back".
Indeed: "There is hope in your future" - 31:17.
Thus we look to the time of the Messiah, moving through 31:18ff., where there is a dramatic and poignant, a vivid picture of a Jewish resurgence of repentance in the tenderness of the Lord's patience, one showing a depth of repentance and anguish of heart for sin on Israel's part, and a grace of beautiful kindness in the Lord,
Yet even in the light of this, comes a knowing remonstrance, "How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter?" and then this amazing forecast:
Here only is the transformation ground - this "new" thing that can transform the "backsliding daughter", the Jews who forsook the Lord, to the realm of blessing (30:23,26,31). Now Jeremiah has sleep which is "sweet" (31:25-26), for the Lord has satiated the weary soul (cf. Isaiah 4:6; 32:1-3; 55:1-3; 11; Psalm 72). A devastating future dispersion (31:27), however, is in view before the categorical return to " 'watch over them, to build and to plant' says the Lord" - 31:28).
The "new thing", and the "new covenant", with the new blessings
are highlighted. The "new thing" is indeed startling. It
is a universe first, of universal significance, for the blessing through
the seed of Abraham was not only for the Jews, but for "all nations" (Genesis 12:3, cf. Psalms
72, 97, 73).
THE MESSIANIC INCURSION TREATED LIKE AN INTRUSION
That this would be was clear from Isaiah, when the virgin was child-bearing (SMR pp. 770ff., 766), and where "the mighty God" was to be one of the names of the one who would have an eternal rule in peace, having prince of peace as the foregoing and dramatically announced name, before the assignation of the ground for it in the performance of eternal rule. Such was to be the Messiah, who, with such a title could have no sin, and whose therefore could be nothing less than an incarnation. Surely a woman would encompass a man in the sense than there would be no other biological component, and this startling reality would encircle the situation in a way so novel it would be called altogether "a new thing". Thus the Lord announces, just as through Isaiah in Chs. 7,9, the coming of the New Covenant (seen in Isaiah in 42,49,54 etc.).
This is shown in the notable Jeremiah 31:31ff. passage to come, where the law of God would be written on the inward hearts of the people and time-serving superficiality would be overturned. The Lord is so determined to make it clear that this will be for His people, who thus will be constituted a new people on a new covenant in a new way, that he says,
He proceeds to reinforce even this, referring in local detail to the rebuilding of the city (cf. Zechariah 12:6 where the same geographic intensity reaches a climax of its own).
Now it is clear that
this is post-Messianic, in the same sense as Zechariah 's reference to Jewish repentance
for crucifying the Messiah is necessarily and obviously post-Messianic: not
that the Messiah is outdistanced, no, not at all! but
rather this, that His rejection is past, and His sufferings are done with!
THIS is the time to rule! (cf. Luke 24:25).
Obviously, this "latter days" phenomenon (30:24) -
past the lament for the innocents which came right in the midst of the announcements of blessing (30:15),
just as the earlier return, from
, came before the later devastation Babylon
so fatally following the rejection of the Messiah (cf. Zechariah 11:4-12, Leviticus 26), itself so abundantly prophesied in Isaiah and the Psalms:
Thus at this vast distance in time from the day of the prophet Jeremiah (cf. I Peter (cf. I Peter 1:10-12, II Peter 1:21), this permitted peek, if you will, at the discerned view of things to come, things indeed "great and mighty" in kind (33:3), there is here AN END to the devastation of Jerusalem (33:10-16) quite different from the almost endless devastation accorded TO it, from A.D. 70 to 1948.
And this ? It is all through and in terms of a "new covenant" and "a new thing" parallel with it (Jeremiah 31:31, 31:22).
It is thus that the "backsliding daughter" becomes a blessed people and hence, Jeremiah's sleep is sweet (31:21-23). Now they will be brought back to being "My people", while the Lord is "their God", and they have "one heart and one way" (32:30). Indeed, now they will "fear Me forever". In other words, the time spoken of in Zechariah 12-14 is at hand, and the mighty victories of the Jews are in train, just as happened in 1948, 1967, 1973 and indirectly, 1991. THAT is fulfilled, and the repentance to the pierced Saviour is to come; but not quite yet.
Thus, after reviewing
in Ch.32 the more immediate foreground again, Jeremiah, and again STATEDLY
(33:3), deals with the consummation of vast scope, in future terms, fashioned
by the divine plans. Thus the "defence" of the
cf. Deuteronomy 30:20-21
with 30:36-43, the last quoted by Paul in Romans 15:12).
THE COMING MESSIANIC
WHICH WILL CREATE REJOICING FOR HIS PEOPLE
It is then that the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people are exhorted to "rejoice with His people", to accompany "His people" with their own rejoicings from beyond them, so that both peoples, the first and the others, should rejoice! The "nations" or Gentiles are to superadd their testimony of joy to that of the Lord's people, and again, statedly so!
As with Ezekiel 37, this is to have two fascinating criteria: it is a restoration which is not to result in further devastation of the city, and it is to be one in which the Lord is in the end to be acknowledged as He really is. At that time, in repentance the 'pierced' Messiah is to be acknowledged, accepted and indeed, there is much to repent of at the national (NOT the racial, for many Jews have long been Christians, and the apostles? THEY WERE JEWS! - and Christ was Jewish through His mother, when it comes to that).
From Ezekiel 37, as shown
in Appendix A, SMR, we gain the
detail here. The restoration physically and geographically is to precede
that spiritually, which is given in that place in scripture as a SEPARATE
and SUBSEQUENT command to the dry bones, reconstituted first, but only later
and separately made alive, a people who as in Ezekiel 36, first come and then
are sprinkled, however objectionable that might seem to those of the Baptistic persuasion, and for that matter, sprinkled
with water at the outset of the covenantal proceedings (cf. Ch.8, p. 139
infra). Future to the return, however, it obviously and necessarily is. They
haves to be there, to be sprinkled, and for the point, they are BROUGHT there
and THEN sprinkled, as we see in Ezekiel 36.
OF THE PROPHETS -
A CONTINUING MEDITATION
Accordingly, and with that beautiful complementarity of the prophets which so precisely resembles that of the New Testament writers and the apostles, we find that
JEREMIAH'S EXTREME EMPHASIS
God again stresses astronomically, His irreversible intentions (33:19ff.). In that way, we find that it is just as far from being a merely Jewish phenomenon, far less a specifically Jewish spiritual situation, as it is from not being a special dealing on the same basis with the Jewish people. It is neither abstracted from geography and covenantal promise to Abraham, nor abstracted from the universality of the New Covenant.
As so often, the two extremes, rather like those of the Sadducees and Pharisees, will often unprofitably battle, each if not despising the other, at least finding it rather difficult to tolerate it: the so-called amillenial and the dispensational. Neither takes account of all the actual teaching in the Bible, and the "war" continues for the simple reason that neither party, group or "camp" is following all that is written, and neither is free from the attacks of the other, for that very good, quite essential and in the end, health-giving reason.
]The wonder of the depths of the wisdom of God is not so limited (cf. Romans -35, Isaiah 65:0-13, 66:20, Romans ), and He HAS spoken. His word makes it superabundantly clear that there is indeed a Christian Church forecast, that there is indeed a totally universal New Covenant and that the Jews will also share this, humbled and not at all exalted, but rather in shame, just as the individual Gentile converts have their own shame as they come in repentance to the same Lord through the same Gospel, in the same New Covenant. Many passages in the Old Testament do indeed speak of the Christian Church, and sometimes of this alone in its naked essence, sometimes of the Jewish company as it comes,
into the time of the blessing of the Lord, for that cauldron, still superheated in rebellion, the Middle East of Jew, Roman Catholic and Arab.
Now all these things we have shown often enough in other places, including The Shadow of a Mighty Rock (SMR), with Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13 and Repent or Perish Ch.3; but it seemed good to add a detailed account of the Jeremiah contribution, not so much for mere Christian Apologetics, for that work is done; but for exposition and the exhibition of the wonder of the singular unity and strength of the always mutually supportive Scripture; and because the more one knows of it, the better it is, for this word in the Bible, which is the Bible, it is the very word of God.
How brilliant that He should use so many men to write it, of such different capacities, and how sensitively humbling, therapeutically humbling indeed, to show us that irrespective of WHICH temperament and scholarly or practical capacities the individual writer might have in his gift from God, the word of God is quite able to be formulated by God Himself, and conveyed through the hand of the man to the ear of the people (I Cor. 2:9-13, I Peter 1:10-12).
So vast was the power of God in so instructing the mind and the hand of the writer of His word, that at times, as we see from these references, they did not even understand just where or how the application might be made, but were made aware that these things were not for themselves, but
It is well that
we heed them. So many pressure groups, theological, political, ecclesiastical
and military, national and ideological are involved in the Middle East; and
this is eminently fitting, it would seem, for the place where this erring
world despatched, partly from Jew (priests and
many people) and partly from Gentile (Pilate with official Gentile sanctions
making the murder possible, and so undoubtedly an accomplice, however reluctant,
and a defective one morally to boot), the ONLY LORD JESUS CHRIST. There is
no other Saviour and THIS is the Lord whom the
Father has sent, to whom every knee will bow.
FOR THE MIDST
OF THE MIDDLE EAST: THAT BUBBLING YEAST,
For Jesus the Christ is in fact Coming Again
Phase I, Salvation-redemption is complete;
Phase 2, The Judgment is to come
In the Middle East there is scarcely even a curtsy, but there will be, after much more blood, while the dominant pride of man continues its arch-activities of dominion and power, of strategy and hope, of dream and murder, till the Lord whom there last time the world despatched, Himself returns (Zechariah 14, Acts 1:7-8,11, I Thessalonians 4, Philippians 3, I John 3:1-3, Revelation 1:7; 19*3) and makes peace amidst a judgment so monumental that Revelation 19 makes the scene, with all its joy, an almost macabre one.
Such is the way of non-repentance against which we have been warned so often and so eloquently, and yet not with the wisdom of words, but with the poignant realities of the Father's compassion - as in Proverbs 1:20-33, 8:32-36, Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:7, Isaiah 48:18-20 (which has the still relevant appeal to quit false associations in the life of the people of God, cf. Revelation 18:4,20, I Cor. 5:9-10, Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10). We see it yet also in Amos 4, Revelation 9, Luke 13:1-3, John -36.
It is always, for
the time before the night comes when no man can work, to repent, to seek
the Lord, the day of salvation is for now, always at hand, as Paul says,
and whether it be nation or strategy, or power or dominance, or theological
obstinacy or deviation, or the signals of sects, or of armies, it is NOW
that the time is, before it is too late, and counsel without the Lord, be
overturned. How appealing and tender is the word of the Lord, taken in the
instance of a Jewish royal family, who alas did not appear to heed! and we shall end with this (taken from Jeremiah -18):
"Say to the king and to the queen mother,
For your rule shall collapse,
the crown of your glory.' "
And look what precedes:
"Hear and give ear:
Do not be proud,
For the LORD has spoken.
Give glory to the LORD your God
Before He causes darkness,
And before your feet stumble
On the dark mountains.
And while you are looking for light,
He turns it into the shadow of death
And makes it dense darkness.
But if you will not hear it,
My soul will weep in secret for your pride;
My eyes will weep bitterly
And run down with tears,
Because the LORD's flock has been taken captive."
(Colour and italics added.)
further detailed reading on this
It is of great interest also, in terms of method in Christian Apologetics, to observe that the more the contrary powers (Nasser, Russia in its earlier refusal to let the Jews go home, Hitler, Stalin) loom and gloom, threatening to Israel doom, as if to re-write history and make the earth their own by force or cunning or both, allocating territories at THEIR will: the more it is impressive when they fail. The more also it is impactive AS God does, notwithstanding any or all of them, PRECISELY what He says, and in the order He says, giving reasons not a little, and characterising the results.
Is it not like Pharaoh, of whom GOD said this:
In passing let us also note this, in so doing God is not forsaking the merciful disposition He shows in His love offered towards all, but ...
HE IS PATIENT but not lax; and when the truth is not received, may indeed send an active DELUSION which ends with the destiny of folly, which all ignoring of reality eventually brings (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10-11). He mends the broken heart which comes to Him, would not have any to perish, but with the restraints which love has, and the wisdom which is His, takes history and blends it all and secures the results which attest the truth, as He redeems some, and leaves others in their principial folly, to find their level, mavericks FROM mercy.
The simple beauty of it is this: IF any one wants Him, His gospel is so clear and so simple. IF anyone does not, what then? Why complain, for you are free not to come!
*3 See A Spiritual Potpourri 18
Repent or Perish, Ch.1.