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LICENCE TO LOOK
YOU HAVE TO LOOK!
Looking and finding are part of Christian life. How do you expect to find if you do not look ? When you yourself have found the Lord, you have looked. LOOK UNTO ME and be saved, All you ends of the earth!
"Look to Me and be saved,The COMMAND is to LOOK. The object of regard is the LORD. The REASON is that He alone is God. There is nothing else there. The ASSURANCE is this, that He has sworn by Himself, attesting with unlimited fidelity and authority, that in fact no person on earth in the end will be able to resist the reality that HIS is rightful acknowledgment. The overwhelming reality, logically apparent now, spiritually indefeasible, will then be manifestly inescapable, and the hidden ones will be ashamed, in the ghettos of guilt, having pretended it was otherwise by exquisite rationalisations, as empty as a car salesman's talk, when in the legion of the dishonest, he seeks wrongfully to entice a buyer.
All you ends of the earth!
"For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself:
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow
Every tongue shall make invocation.
"One shall say,
'Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength.'
To Him men shall come
And all shall be ashamed
Who are incensed against Him.
In the LORD all the descendants of Israel
Shall be justified and shall glory" - Isaiah 45:22-25.
to those who come, these will REALISE this, that it is GOD'S OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS
alone which will satisfy Him, and that it is from this source alone that
JUSTIFICATION can come, indeed, it will be found to be so magnificent,
to have so impermeable a salvation as this, that they will GLORY! That
is those who believe. So it is. Is this not the same as in Isaiah 24, that
consignment to ultimacy, that vignette on the dissolution of things pending
judgment, as it approaches near, when we hear this:
The treachery is as in Isaiah 49:7 and Zechariah 11:12-14, when the people, having betrayed Christ, find for themselves not the majesty of royal sympathy from their incarnate Creator (it is GOD who is talking in Zech. 11:12ff., as in 12:10, where the crucifixion is effectually foretold). The ruination is physical, as when His form was marred, His face, His whole physical being, more than the quality of being human portends. It was a sort of brutal, individual massacre, a hill of the slain, concentrated into one man! That is the feeling of Isaiah 52:12ff.. Of course as a result, Israel was ruined too; for what they did to their Saviour, in one sense (only) they were doing to themselves. In slaying the physician they were ensuring their (national) death, for a time until the Lord should resurrect that fallen nation (as in Isaiah 49, 66).
He, however, the One predicted by Moses, attested by miraculous powers, inscribed with compassion, available in all for all good things, was betrayed, by a nation, by an individual, by the authorities, secular and religious.
There is a peculiar flavour about treachery. In various declining churches as their hour comes, and other places, one has experienced this to the full. On one occasion a School invited the author inter-State to be its Principal, on the express understanding that there was NO requirement to conform to a particular curriculum method, of some note at that time, one wholly unacceptable, illiberal and contrary to the personal needs of the students. It was even noted that this fact alone, that one was assured that no such thing was required, this school in fact having dissociated itself from any such need, statedly made it even possible to come. On arrival, after a time, it was found that someone has been assuring parents that this was not so, that the school would in fact keep to this very curriculum; and after a further time, the author was advised, CONFORM OR GO!
That, it is treachery, and they dealt indeed most treacherously. What it concerned not least, as a matter of education (as distinct from morals in terms of reliability), was this: that children are not to be treated as manipulable, to have pleasure and pain their criteria, their lords, but to have understanding in heart, concern in spirit, discretion in their governance, and spiritual gentility in their mode of growing, so that nothing either debased, such as the hedonistic philosophy that is so unspiritual as to be like an intrusive weed in the garden of the Lord, or carnally directive, would come in.
In a School, there is an inspiration to be exposed, and discipline is to be a matter of understanding, not mechanics; and it is the upward call, not the fear of fall or sundry pleasurable things, which is to be dominant. It was not at all a question of the current INDISCIPLINE, but of a loving and understanding discipline which looked to the Lord, not methods of manipulation, as if Christianity were to be forgotten when one became practical, for its power and results.
There have been illustrations with falling or fallen churches likewise; but it is enough. The principle is there. Treachery has a special loathsomeness, for it makes of a person who practices it, something less than personal. It becomes odious to the point of debasement, almost beyond human form. That it is common makes it no better; that it is increasingly disregarded as a horror, this in no way reduces its abhorrence.
Christ was dealt with treacherously; is it any wonder that the servant is not greater than the Master!
YET all this treachery to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, epitomised in the betrayal of Judas, but with a whole establishment back of it, brought to ruin the people of Israel.
contrast, it is to the LORD ALONE that ALL, Jew or otherwise, will eventually
HAVE TO MAKE ACKNOWLEDGMENT, whether in shame and shambles or in glory
and wonder at His wisdom who created the Gospel long ago, and has kept
to it without a slightest adjustment ever since (cf. Barbs, Arrows
and Balms 17, That Magnificent
This is the teaching of Isaiah 45. IN THE MEANTIME, IT IS BY LOOKING THAT HE IS TO BE FOUND.
We must note also in Isaiah 45:24, that it is not only RIGHTEOUSNESS that is to be found in its culminating perfection (in fact that which has eternally resided in God, who is without iniquity as in Deuteronomy 32;4), but STRENGTH. It is, as so dramatically shown in Isaiah 40, in Him that strength like that of an eagle soaring, is to be found. THIS is part of the heritage of the Christian, these millenia. It was already attested in the Old Covenant, for God does not change because the bud becomes bloom, or because His students graduate from Primary school, in ceremonial attestations, to High School, in substantial exposure, in the person of Christ, and total payment, in the eternal redemption wrought for all who receive it, on the Cross (Hebrews 9:12-10:14). By ONE offering, He has done all! Not many! Not many sufferings! Not many events. Not masses. Not helps from clever little students, in pilgrimages, penances and the like, but in ONE offering, ONCE for ever, yielding ETERNAL redemption.
THIS is what is found when you look, and by His grace, find. HE is there; you are to look to, have confidence in, and being released from futility, find Him, and receive the divine utility for vision, understanding, for finding; and it is fearfully wonderful when you find, for it is like a harbour in a storm: it is THERE, and AVAILABLE, and indeed beckoning with its security and soundness, so placed for just such a thing, not least. It is open, it is appropriate, apt and wonderful.
have indeed already a LICENCE to come, to look and find. You are INVITED,
as in John 6:37, 10:9. So you come, having looked.
YOU NEED TO KNOW FISHING
TO GO FISHING
But if you need to look, to find Him, you also having found Him, need to look for others. Let us consider the many scriptural indications, or rather a few of them.
First, in Jeremiah 16:16, you find that the Lord will SEND "for many fishermen", and
This intensely evocative passage follows a grave warning of coming judgment, so lightly regarded by so many of Jeremiah's contemporaries, so that it was hard to find a man who would be upright (as in Jeremiah 5, as if the prophet should SEARCH through Jerusalem with candles, LOOKING, looking for any who would be true to the Lord).
- "they shall fish them, and afterwward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them, from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For My eyes are on all their ways: they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes. And first I will repay double for their iniquity and their sin..."
It is in the face of this devastating future for their careless contempt for the truth, that this startling expression of divine knowledge, interest, care, concern and intention for good, arises. In due time, God will HUNT to FIND His straying people.
HE is going to SEND people whose job will be to FIND OUT, and DISCOVER where are the people who will come, who will return to the land of their establishment, where was the temple of their symbolism, expressive of salvation, in the context of the word of God, which in turn had sent them there*1 . It is at that time no mere territorial matter; it was the land appointed where the criteria of the faith were presented, the place selected for this, till the Messiah should come, and indeed come THERE (Micah 5:1-3). Thus to bring people back to the truth, back to the place of their appointment, for which they had licence and authority from God, these fishers and even 'hunters'! would come. They would seek and look for the lost, the straying, the hidden, to bring them to the light of their destiny, away from escapes, avoidances and misplaced confidences, back to life.
In passing, we should notice that the land is NOT now the criterion of the faith. CHRIST is this, for He has now come, been rejected, and so (Leviticus 26, Zechariah 11) the people of the land lost it for 2 or a little less millenia, a significant 'detention' this time! Indeed, although they are restored to it, according to the divine promises, unconditional and inveterate to Abraham (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4, SMR p. 779, The Biblical Workman Ch. 1 End-note 3), this is not the expression of THE faith, but of one of its episodes. God has determined to be gracious to those who were not EVEN reliable; and to bring them back as He promised, saying "Not for your sakes am I doing this!" (Ezekiel 36 cf. SMR Appendix A). No, He has now done this, restoring Israel to its place, and it is because of His pity, His concern for His name: which incidentally was only USED in such a promise because of His being, the One who He is, His mercy and faithfulness, all but incredible loyalty and tenacity of purpose (cf. Ezekiel 36:22!).
Thus although the land is far from being now anything to do with a criterion of the faith, it is a critical feature, a crucial one in the faithfulness of God. Further, it is the site of a global confrontation between man and God (Revelation 16:16), and of a mighty invasive force to humiliate the people NEWLY returned to it (as in Ezekiel 38-39), and whose return is to righteousness and truth in its time, as well (Zechariah 12:10). It is moreover the land to which Christ will come, when having removed His family for a reunion in heaven, He comes with them on earth (Zechariah 14:5, I Thessalonians 3:13), to vindicate His righteousness, so that the "earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea", a fitting, a beautiful and a zealous thing (Habakkuk 2:14).
Beyond all that, it is the land to which God has determined to restore His rebellious people, and in which many of them are to be found (Zechariah 12:10ff., Romans 11 cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 3). Thus the confrontations with the Islam desire for it is most meaningful. It is the attestation of their lack of divine power, in a most complex situation.
If Israel is nationally still failing to return to the Lord, still even going ever so near to absolute prohibition of the Gospel, in various movements this way and that, various almost actions, various trends and degrees of hostility, then
Thus Romanism came from the apostasising bishop of Rome, miscarried in a delusive greatness and grandeur, and Islam from a mixture of Jewish stories and rejection of their own kind of the deity of Christ, just like the Jews, equipping themselves with a special false prophet to book - cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 30, and Israel with its portentous and unpromising rejection of their own Christ: they have all come, each in his own way.
- while Islam lacks God,
- and the Romanists who take an interest in their own wares in the land, likewise, and in their own official and formal way, as a religion,
- are as rebellious against the provisions of the word of God as the nation of Israel was and is (and the parallel is a thing to marvel at, especially in terms of Mark 7:7 ff. cf. SMR pp. 1032-11088H,
- then you have a series of varied beginnings.
Here then are locally congregated in this oppressed Middle East, THREE fallacies, to parallel the triune majesty of God! They all mingle in the Middle East! They are all physically near to the eventual and predicted site for what now bears the very name, 'Armageddon', and that for the massive invasion shortly to come! They writhe together. In the case of the first named, they have killed in the orgies of Europe over the Middle Ages. They kill now, in the case of the latter two; they maim. They attack, the Palestinians backed by rich and widely placed Islam nations, demanding - SUBMIT!
We will kill, or endorse killing rather, says Syria, until we have this comprehensive settlement (The Australian, April 17 - Hezbollah has the 'right' to so attack ..., we read from this reported source). So what is to be comprehensively settled, except this, that Israel is to be unsettled, and in some of the refreshingly frank utterances of their various days, pushed into the sea, exterminated and so on. Hitler had the same idea, and he had money too; but it did not help, though he came a long way towards his own 'final solution'. People are always having 'final' solutions for the Jews, and Europe was regaled with them for centuries of pogroms and mockeries.
One does not need to be 'soft' in heart or head, in sympathising with the situation of Israel. It has asked for it in crucifying Christ, assuredly, but that is God's business. Man's business is to love and to lead, not to seek vengeance! Back after suffering as if they were seeking to match for themselves the suffering they imposed, most foolishly, on God in the format of man, an atrocity to start all the rest for them, poor misled nation, they are now surrounded by other unbelievers (one is speaking NATIONALLY), who writhe and jostle, kill and maim, push to the limit the patience of the Jews, as if determined the sooner to reach that predicted DRAMATIC MOMENT, when the Lord seeing "that their power is gone", intervenes in massive style as attested in Micah 7:15, Deuteronomy 32:36-42).
He always does what He declares and predicts. He loves to show mercy, but when it is definitive, it is done. Babylon is to go too, in its final format of Rome (as indicated in SMR pp. 743ff., 729ff., 921ff., 946ff., Biblical Blessings Ch. 2). The status quo is up for change!
ISRAEL NEEDS TO KNOW that the Lord is merciful and is to be found precisely where He said, in the Messiah, who came precisely when He said, to die around A.D. 30 (as in SMR pp. 886ff.), as predicted in Daniel, and that there is NO WAY to go but back. It is a WRONG WAY, GO BACK! signal which they have ignored to their devastating detriment too long! In pity for their own lives, in authenticity towards God they now need to go back to the same Lord, who brought 'that prophet' (Deut. 18) precisely as, where and when He said. You cannot go ON when the only route is BACK.
THAT is precisely (and this word is used repetitively on and for a purpose, since God is exact and it is exacting indeed to refuse His exactitude!) WHY there neither is nor can be any SOLUTION*2 in the Middle East till Israel does this. Even then, this is effectual for those who come, and the nations will show their teeth even against God until HE COMES (as in Rev. 19:19), expressly warring on Him! There is simply no limit to the end of the follies of man, who having made many inventions, moves from the only righteousness to be found, that of God Himself (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:29).
Individual Jews need to know. Individual Gentiles need to know. There is no room for compromise*3 in ONE THING ONLY: God. He is what He is and change is immeasurably impossible, absurdly and precociously outrageous as a concept and a gullible glide of thought. It leads to hell, the inimitably final, excruciatingly precise exposure of inveterate folly.
Thus just as hunters and fishermen were to be sent to bring back Jews to their country following the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century B.C., there is a far broader field for SEARCHING, and for LOOKING.
Indeed, Ezekiel supplies us in Ch. 47 with a far broader canvas. Here we see the river of (spiritual) life coming from the altar of the Temple, and it flows to the lands about, bringing healing to the waters with its freshness, except for the chronically uninterested marshes, awash with their own prized muck. Here in the vision we see Jewish people, but also others: "The strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born ... they shall have an inheritance". Indeed, in Ezekiel 16:60ff. we find that same everlasting covenant which Jeremiah expands in Jeremiah 31, and as the latter declares, in 16:19,
- "O LORD, my strength and my fortress,
My refuge in the day of affliction,
The Gentiles shall come to You
From the ends of the earth and say,
'Surely our fathers have inherited lies,
Worthlessness and unprofitable things.'
"Will a man make gods for himself,
Which are not gods ?
"Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know,
I will cause them to know
My hand and My might,
And they shall know that My name is the LORD."
IF they do NOT know that, their ignorance makes of all 'knowledge' a mere mirage, disutility, an injury of the mind, which glory as it may in its 'possessions', is without base, basis or understanding, a mirror exercise, devoid of reality, like mosquitoes walking on the surface of a pond, agile and able, but with no depth, supporting by a skin only, for a time.
It is for Gentiles no less then, than Jews, that the LOOKING is to occur. It is, as Christ Himself made memorably and incisively clear, a matter of training "fishers of men", fishermen for men, who will thus LOOK and SEEK and DISCOVER and of course, TELL the Gospel, which is the word of truth at its point of commencement for pilgrimage, the nursery area, where people become children of God.
- "Follow Me," he declared, "and I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17).
THIS is what the Christian HAS to do, as he likewise seeks in his place in the team, to fulfil what is called the GREAT COMMISSION:
There is thus to be a process of
- "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in then name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
- teaching them to observe all things, that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
What then ? under the hedges, in the highways and in the byways, says the parable of Jesus the Christ, we who follow Him are to go in order to find the most unlikely, to seek out the most unprepossessing, for this surgeon can make changes beyond all understanding; and it is not the proud and the mighty, the self-important and the obviously most imposing, who are the only target, and indeed these are but few of the reaping, to change from fishing to agriculture in our imagery (I Cor. 1:27ff., Matthew 22:8ff.). In the latter verses, the matter is compared to that of a king inviting guests to a marriage feast (cf. Revelation 19:7), where the imposing guests who properly would be EXPECTED (from their status) to come, did not, and where these being the objects of dire exposure for their absurd pretensions, are replaced by those to be found wherever one can find them!
- proclaiming (the gospel),
- attaining (access),
- naming (the Lord whose authority it is, distinctive, Himself, crucified and physically risen), of
- teaching (what He has in fact said and desired, His word, all He presents),
- preaching (the publication of peace through His name as in Isaiah 52:7ff.),
- reaching (the lost with this news).
This is the LICENCE TO LOOK! Look hard then.
YOU NEED TO GO
Obviously then, the sincere Christian will seek ways of going to do this. But equally many are the unbelievers who will seek ways to prevent it, when 'anointed' with the spirit of rebellion, and they become strategically aware!
The methods can be national, personal, social, all directed to stopping this realisation of the truth; and the hypocrisy in the efforts to do so, rationalising into confusion, or excusing into oblivion, are famed in Russia, China and so forth, but they are coming even to Australia as we have seen in Pall of Smoke, Diamond of Joy Ch. 1, and elsewhere (such as That Magnificent Rock
HOW TO STOP FISHERMEN, HOW TO DAUNT HUNTERS!
There could be a government notice somewhere. Let us read from history its less imaginary features.
1) Defamation. This is easy. Invent anything bad, attach it to the fisherman, and see what happens to the fish. They are likely to be rather flighty anyway.That is the end of our Imaginary Government Notice. It would be adapted in accord with the laws and culture and nature of the country concerned, and of its current government.
Caution: it is found by experience, that it is best to try to caricature, extend, revamp, aerate or aerify something real, innocent or less so, so that the feature can be made horrible, which was simply less than perfect, or notably evil, which was a mere idiosyncrasy. People, loving the warmth of fire, can easily interpret it in the smoke.
2) Incarceration is expensive, unless you treat them Communist style, and that can be interesting, giving scope for Ph.D. theses on the nature and workings of suffering. However it may be necessary, and do not hesitate to use it.
3) Allegation. This is easy. Do not say that something IS so, merely intimate that you have heard it, regretfully perhaps, to make yourself look more reliable, and so achieve more acceptance for your slander. It has the added benefit of making you look knowledgeable, and so to improve what you yourself are pushing.
4) Legislation. Never underestimate the power to legislate. If you call something wrong, it is bad; but to call it as may be arriving for South Australia, 'criminal', say to speak freely on the internet, perhaps on the crucifixion of Christ as length and in depth (see Pall of Smoke and Diamond of Joy, op.cit.): this has real prospects!
For example, if someone does the thing you legislate against, and you can achieve a guilty verdict (do not worry how ridiculous the 'charge' may be, the world is a funny place anyway), then making the person a criminal can be part of the law. If a person IS a criminal, why his or her words tend to be dismissed, credibility suffers quite marvellously, and even if you let the 'criminal' free, you can present a hefty fine to help pay for the legislation and its application, so minimising cost.
Actually, such approaches as these are often used, but you have to watch that you can give a reason for it.
The Communists normally rake up some talk about sedition, or counter-revolutionary activity, or danger to State security, and so on, as if the monster would soon bring invaders to the land, or compromise its integrity, which, being lost anyway, would not matter; but since in the case of Christianity, that of Christ that is, there is no danger of this, it is rather beautiful to make it appear a threat to the people, as well as to silence it.
5) Excitation. This is tricky, this one. If you do too much, you can even invoke pity. That is fatal. Always make them appear meddlers, interferers with the culture, the historic character of the place, and that sort of thing, as if its very growth and being were under threat. It will be anyway, for it enough people became Christians, and some got into government, there are a lot of perks that would go; and government, for all the glory, can be very wearisome, and without perks, it could become ... unstable.
So let the people get thoroughly worked up about their culture, past, future, being themselves, their old ways, their own ways, or current ways, or future hopes, or something or really anything at all; and then let pride and human self-defence enter in. It really is rather interesting to watch as a social phenomenon, and MOST rewarding. You get forces which can engineer things for you, and think that they are doing something they themselves really want. Talk about a puppet show, and for this one, you do not even have to pay!
There are of course other ways, such as:
6) Provocation, in which you try to break their patience so that they speak inadvisedly, or act rashly; or
7) Distortion, in which you push a few items of their faith around, you know, the same as the priests did, when they made it appear Christ was in some sort of military drama when He expressly stated that His kingdom was not of this world, and that if it were, then His servants would fight. In that case, they simply let it appear that the REAL aim was world domination, or something of this general genre. It is thoroughly amazing and delightful to find how readily you can do this. There is something about what the Christians called fallen human nature which very often loves excitement and reproof, to damn and damage. This gives it outlet, so allowing for the additional advantage of calming them down, when they have 'dealt' with the Christians.
8) Abortion. This method has had considerable favour under Communism. You simply deny them a licence to build, or remove the licence for a building, occupy differentially their sites for other purposes, indicate that they got the sites through wealth or privilege of some kind (you have to be a bit careful here, but it is often expensive to refute, but it is worth trying sometimes).
If this does not work, because the government does not perhaps have quite enough power, you can always incite the people to tear down the buildings. (They take the bait that what the Christians do, is subversive, unnatural, false, misleading, exploiting people, using false attractions and so on! WE know how to do it, so we can think of it all rather readily). If that does not work, then some functionary can authorise the tearing down, and even if someone else wants to stop it, you simply point out to that authority that of course mistakes can be made, but that these people are PARTICULARLY unsavoury, and perhaps it was a good thing!
There are few who hunt so hard as those who try to stop hunting; and they do it without a licence. Just look at the sects, which are more directly religious endeavours contrary to the word of God. They make a business of their own kind, just as do so many in politics and academic circles.
The Christian however hunts without appeal to sordid motives, since God is pure; without the attractions of manipulative methods, since the truth is unmanipulable, and in full view of reality, since the LORD IS the truth. Only factuality is needed; for the rest, the spiritual power of God is His business.
There is then a LICENCE TO LOOK, to SEARCH, TO FISH given to the Christian. While not many governments would be as frank as the above imaginary one, there are many of these; and similar ways employed to dampen down Christian testimony, in the tears of prison, the tears of slaughter (the mobs in some Islamic places can tear the victims or shoot them or bring them to mock trials) or the provision of fines of the residual funds of those whom they afflict.
The Christian testimony does not, as in that horrendous case some little time back in Jerusalem, make AGREEMENTS that compromise ANY aspect of the truth (great statesman can do that, let Christians avoid it like the rats cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13). It simply says and pays; it goes and gives; it presents the testimony and leaves the results to the good Lord (Revelation 12:11), who knows His people, as in Acts 13:48:
- "Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life, believed".
Of course, patience is needed, as in all fishing, and many are the missionary cases where it took years to commence, what later flourished. Hunting also means zeal in uncovering the quarry; with the difference only that in this case, the quarry is already in captivity, and its need is the freedom of the Lord, at which we looked earlier in this volume. It has some slight resemblance to those naturalists who ‘capture’ some threatened species in order to release it in a better ‘world’, or site.
Finally it is rather dramatic, but such things occur at times, that there is a perspective in truth of all these things. It is this. Those who use the governmental approaches such as those noted above, are in fact acting as agents of antichrist, faithful followers of the devil in what they do, opponents of God, belligerents against the Almighty, and sad is their reward. They may repent, like Saul, who then became Paul, with his new name for new mission from God, and this with "repentance which does not need to be repented of"; yet otherwise, it is simply part of the warfare (Ephesians 6) which is filling this small world. It is a region in the spiritual part, although its results are often in distorted flesh, and cramped flesh, and starved flesh, as the people of the Lord "fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ" (Colossians 1:24), not to redeem, but to exposit, to illuminate, to go, to show, to preach, to teach, to declare the peace where it may be found, before the judgment comes where it will be.
*1 An excerpt from SMR pp. 823-824 is appropriate here.
Is it fully understood the enormity which this constitutes ? If the Jewish nation, brought back as we see by the grace of God - "not for your sakes do I this" (Ezekiel 36:22,32): if this nation is to be a pivot of force in showing that God means what He says, as He defends them; so too the Jewish nation has been prevented from the authorised sacrifice in the authorised place for so many centuries of time, equally confirming, yes no less, that their rejected Christ was indeed authentic, so that they do indeed no longer need the Temple in Jerusalem, or Jerusalem itself for the Temple.
Year by aching year, void by poignant void, pogrom by vicious pogrom... the lesson has been taught. Nor let there be any confusion: As to the pogroms - they are not guiltless who harry the Jews. It is God who disciplines, and requires the impact of the truth to be maintained, so that Christ may receive His glory and the Jews be recalled to repentance, as indeed must all the world for its sins... But here with a specific people God has a specific point to be made, and He makes it over and over in the prophetic scriptures,
which we now are seeing fulfilled in startling precision and accuracy, over and over again ... in history.
What has been the witness of God through history, to the Jews during the near to 1900 years without this one Temple, denied to them?
You are wrong, you are wrong, it goes. See the Almighty call you to sacrifice by the covenant with Moses, until the Christ comes (Deuteronomy 18, Isaiah 53, 66). When He comes, then soon you cannot, cannot year by year make those old animal sacrifices in the appointed one place only prescribed (Isaiah 66:3, 53:10); and you will stay unable to do so until a whole new time like that of the period from Abraham till Christ is past. Will this teach you how special you are (cf. the excoriating irony of Amos 9:7, therapeutic irony), when and if you break the covenant and fail to recognise... God!
How firmly God told them of that one place for their covenanted sacrifice. Review it, if you will in... Deuteronomy 12:5-11, 14:23, 26:2, Joshua 9:27. I Kings 8:29, Psalm 78:68, 132:13-14, and II Chronicles 7:16, 33:4. Not only does the God of Israel choose a place - and that Jerusalem is that place in these scriptures; but He goes considerably further. Having shown Solomon that this is that place of which He has spoken, He gives a disciplinary forecast which is also a teaching announcement for all the world. lt would be near to criminal to neglect, from the only God there is, an announcement of such clarity and high impact!
He says, in II Chronicles 7:16,19-21 that "I have chosen and sanctified this house"; and in terms of the covenant then in force, the choice is announced as perpetual; and then... "If you turn away and forsake My statues and My commandments... and go and serve other gods..." (and Christ said: 'If God were your Father you would love me'... John 8:42, and "You are of your father, the devil" - 8:44, to those rejecting Him among the Jews)... then ? then ? what does the divine King tell His people He will do, if they so forsake Him ?
"Then I will uproot them from My land..." (done), "and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight..." (done), and "will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations..." (done). All this is painful; so was the crucifixion. The physical pain of it may have been the least!
We must realise that it is not a matter of comparative religions, kindly consented to by all men. God's honour and truth and gospel and commands and demands and gifts for the world are at stake. When the commanding officer is being lynched, especially when it is by people in uniform, then it is necessary for each soldier to consider for whom he is fighting, and to determine loyalty to whomever is around, on the one hand, or to authority, on the other. And this authority is God, who makes all things happen as He says, and makes a specialty of just that.
The apologetic fact and facet here is this: the Middle East will not for long settle down because it cannot. This results from the THIS WORLDLY directives to help wealth and power and ferocity, from Islam, and to abort Israel as a nation. These cannot succeed, whilst Israel must await its enlightenment, in which many of its citizens return to the fact: CHRIST IS the MESSIAH. Further, in significant part the reducing menu has been on the UN books since 1947, when it wanted to make Israel the beneficiary of an even more reduced slither of land, than it now has, and to internationalise Jerusalem.
Whilst I Thessalonians 5 makes it clear there will be some slight delusive interval of peace in the world, in which people think they 'have it made', this is but a prelude; and the history will not lounge, so much as lunge, as we have seen, in the forecasts of the foretastes.
This intractability of the eye of Islam is a generic feature; and its error being another as often demonstrated, there can be no solution; nor is there any. "They both want the same thing!" was not a bad comment from US Secretary of State Allbright in her day. This is different from secular history in this, that whilst many intractabilities of pride and power have preceded, this one is on a site famous for:
The Lord has indicated the attacks on Jerusalem to be numerous, ineffectual and to be destined for an equally unsuccessful climax, of a wholly catastrophic character. All things are in line with prediction, from Christ to this day.
- 1) the kingdom of David, recipient of prediction that from his side (through Mary in fact) would come the Messiah.
- 2) the fact that this happened, in time and place as indicated for hundreds of years.
- 3) the inability to 'explain' what happened, except that it did (cf. (cf. SMR Ch. 6, with pp. 931ff., Repent or Perish Ch. 2, Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 5, Biblical Blessings Appendix IV).
- 4) the prediction of the return, without glory, of Israel to its land, by gratuitous grace of the Lord, though they so wronged Him.
- 5) the prediction of the amazingly disproportionate wars, in terms of numbers on each side, and the still more amazingly victorious Israeli armies, precisely as predicted.
- 6) the shame for Allah from that, in view of the assertions made (cf. Moslem, in Indexes).
- 7) the current lack of repentance in Israel as a nation.
The status quo in the Middle East, complex as it is, is precisely that forecast. The devices of the assailants of Christianity are exactly as ruthless as predicted; and their ruthlessnes is readily explicable, as noted in the text of this chapter. It also is ineffectual, though sustained and gross.
Thus Peter and John told the ecclesiastical body with political punch what they could do about their ‘disobedience’:
- 1) Acts 5:19: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge."
- 2) Acts 5:20: "For we cannot but speak the thins which we have seen and heard."
- 3) Acts 5:29: "We ought to obey God rather than man."
- 4) The basic facts were rehearsed both in Acts 3 and 5, the latter like this:
"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."
This last statement involves:
a) historic fact.
b) observation of results.
c) purpose of attestation.
d) place of authority.
e) enablement in testimony from the Holy Spirit.
f) statement that He is given to those who obey God,
g) with the implication not so to those who attack His manifestation, duly predicted and now performed, from the days of the prophets.
Truth so far from being compromised, is stated with effulgence, simplicity, directness, fearlessness, challenge and …precision.