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THE PRETZEL, THE LAVA AND THE SOAP
News Radio, Other News, 3rd Week of January, 2002
It certainly has its amusing side, a fact which the President seemed to imply.
Good it is that one can have a sense of humour about small things, and relate that one's mother had warned that a pretzel should be chewed before swallowing. That President Bush should have failed in some way, in this connection, so that the pretzel made connection undesirable and disconcerting with the throat of one called sometimes the most powerful man on earth, so that he allegedly fainted, is in itself a lesson beyond any particular person.
"CEASE," says Isaiah 2:22 (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9, No. 23 ) "from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for of what account is he ? You see a similar emphasis on perspective, in terms of man's native estate, in Isaiah 40: 15:
First we learn of the abasement of self-glorifying Assyria, before it, as the Lord provides the message to Egypt, as historical background with exemplary force:
" 'Whom are you like in your greatness?One feels the need to lament at the loss of such beauty, the pathos of the beauty which intoxicated and the vainglory which dimming any sense of proportion, dashed all reverence for the true sense of glory. Thus with gods multiplied as happened in that ancient land, she came to the place of being minimised; and just such a fall is in danger of happening in many lands, such as the US, where as we have noted in some detail, the grossly provocative measure of spiritual alliance in prayer with the Islam religion which recasts Christ without His glory, redemption or stature, is perhaps the most dangerous thing that Republic has ever done! (Cf. Lord of Life... Chs. 3, 4, 5).
Indeed Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon,
With fine branches that shaded the forest,
And of high stature;
And its top was among the thick boughs.
The waters made it grow;
Underground waters gave it height,
With their rivers running around the place where it was planted,
And sent out rivulets to all the trees of the field.
" 'Therefore its height was exalted above all the trees of the field;
Its boughs were multiplied,
And its branches became long because of the abundance of water,
As it sent them out.
All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs;
Under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young;
And in its shadow all great nations made their home.
" 'Thus it was beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches,
Because its roots reached to abundant waters.
The cedars in the garden of God could not hide it;
The fir trees were not like its boughs,
And the chestnut trees were not like its branches;
No tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty.
I made it beautiful with a multitude of branches,
So that all the trees of Eden envied it,
That were in the garden of God.’
“Therefore thus says the Lord God:‘Because you have increased in height, and it set its top among the thick boughs, and its heart was lifted up in its height, therefore I will deliver it into the hand of the mighty one of the nations, and he shall surely deal with it; I have driven it out for its wickedness. aliens, the most terrible of the nations, have cut it down and left it; its branches have fallen on the mountains and in all the valleys; its boughs lie broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the peoples of the earth have gone from under its shadow and left it.
‘On its ruin will remain all the birds of the heavens,
And all the beasts of the field will come to its branches—
‘So that no trees by the waters may ever again exalt themselves for their height, nor set their tops among the thick boughs, that no tree which drinks water may ever be high enough to reach up to them.' "
However, the present point is simply the readiness of abasement since after all, any empire or great nation, leader or ruler is breathing all the time, and merely needs to cease; while the empire can be cut off and fall as did Russia, though now with the reported removal of its last independent TV station, there has to be a watchful alertness to its current intentions, supported with largesse of foreign donation, though that land may in no small measure now be!
Whatever the cunning, the clout or the concept, man without God is vain, and vanity is no more substantial than a bubble that bursts. Man who uses the name of God and becomes vain, and empires alike, are still merely exacerbating the situation. There is one God, and when one is with and for Him, there is NO OTHER GLORY that can stand in this world, but rather the beauty of holiness, which reflects that of the Lord. With that, there would be peace; without it, let alone in forbidden collusions, there is no such thing.
But let us pass now to our LAVA.
Already, in our preceding chapter, we have pondered something of the horror of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The pollution of its Lake has been likened to the pollution of the Gospel by the insertion of new and alien christs; the outpouring of lava has been seen as reminiscent of the fury of malign powers, thrust onto Christ, and meekly received by Him, in sacrificial atonement for many. There is however now a further aspect to be considered. Failure, in a figure, to find Christ, who was exposed to the calamities of judgment on sin vicariously, that those guilty might be forgiven, leaves not a city but the whole world exposed to judgment, of which this in Goma is a type. As Christ has shown (Luke 13:1ff.), it is not a question of some place where tragedy occurs, being to be singled out, but rather the point is universal. ALL who do not repent are exposed to divine wrath. "Except you repent you repent, you will all likewise perish" - Luke 13:5.
Not only however does the lava and ash remind of the wonder of the Gospel gift (cf. Isaiah 53:4-6), but the intense and understandable, yet perilous desire of the citizens or townspeople of Goma to return to the desolated area has a symbolic meaning for us. Thus does this world love to return to its own ways, in the very midst of such desolations as those of World War I and II, yes and the Cold War, ever inventing new modes of destruction, and with cunning, contempt or arrogance, implementing them, now this way, now that. It is for defence; but it is prepared for many things; it is for protection, but it rumbles in many ways. North Korea, India, Pakistan, perhaps Iran, China, join in the atomic throng with poverty no bar, and memory no limit, it would appear. Selfish 'national interests' and soon an even more racially selfish 'international interests' appear (cf. SMR pp. 1008 -1111).
MAN MUST RULE, it appears, when unruly because of the denial of the rule of Christ. He is like a baying hound, intent on destruction, or having his own will at any cost.
Any cost is the answer. There is no limit, for this world, which in its time is to go (Isaiah 51:6, II Peter 3), or for its unrepentant inhabitants. Lava symbolises the asking price for independence from God; return to devastation signifies the intense pre-occupation with meddlesome mixtures of carnal desires, national, personal and international. So does Goma preach to the world, amidst its own sufferings.
There is more yet. Much of
the lava on which many were bent to return, as a way to their homes, was
still hot. The world similarly is coming closer to being consumed, with
its crazy cloning programs (not all are crazy, but the embryonic manipulation
is a sheer marvel of impertinence, against the Maker, and the lesbian program
of fertilisation becomes a very apparition of rebellion against the structural
appointments from God, found in the human race), while endless musings
on impossible beginnings and ends for itself (cf. TMR Chs.
1 and 8, A Spiritual
Potpourri Chs. 1-9), make this present
world increasingly the clown of history.
A spiritual satellite could readily recognise them. However, this world then returns to its normal wastage and contempt for the most sacred parts of man, and in practice, for the Lord, mouthing in much, rebelling openly at worst, at times with some lull while the nations give some moral inclination of return, only for its plight again to be found deepening in the abyss, while they throw caution like a butterfly, to the wind, and continue in their passionate, pragmatic and impure pursuits.
The lava then flows. There is, to be quite simple about it, a prediction of something of the order of an asteroid to strike the earth (Revelation 8:7-11). That forecast was made in the name of the Lord, some millenia ago. Quite recently, such an astral body was reported not greatly further from earth than the moon. If famines and earthquakes as liberally predicted by Christ for the post of markers for the end of the Age, together (Luke 21:24) with the return of Israel to its land and its rule (happened for the first time in 1900 years in 1948-1967), and these do not impress, then there is more to come. If one could not fail to speak to a child manifestly ruining its life; or how would one be able to be still when the world is like an Egypt before Ezekiel, long since judged by Christ (John 14:30-31, 17:9).
Let then the lava speak, for its has a Biblical setting. If the nations will not repent, then let those who will do so, and find in the abode of Christ, the celestial kingdom for which this earth is a mere preliminary stage, testing ground, exposure of beauty and scene for aborted wonders, in abused liberties, till the truth finds its mark, and mercy is withdrawn at the last. Meanwhile, the Gospel, in its predicted form (Isaiah 52-53) is preached to the Gentiles as forecast (Isaiah 49:6, Psalm 117), and a sieving occurs. In the interim, let the Christians rejoice as the progress, felt in the looming impacts of still greater tribulations for this earth, moves to the ever nearer return of the ONLY KING who can stand, whom no pretzel can expose, no lava overthrow and no judgment touch. Innocent of all sin, He is the beacon of sinners, their rock, strength and joy. Forbidden to none, He is open to all.
In this sense, then: Lord or lava ? Truth in mercy or judgment according to truth ? The question remains, and the answer is given whether through clenched teeth, wild disregard, stultified indifference or casual unconcern.
But let us deal with a contrast,
At first sight, therefore, the very notion of soap might seem fitting. Here however it is not in such strong contrast to lava as might at first sight appear. The soap in view is that with which some menacing person saw fit to send a threatening message to one of the fleet of Virgin Airlines aircraft, so that it was felt fitting to land in Iceland, and thoroughly search the entire craft.
Used on a toilet mirror to mouth menace, this soap has its own symbolic message for us also.
Soap cleans, rightly used. That is its function. If however it be used to speak what is unclean, to write what does not cleanse but pollutes, then in what is it now soap, in its function ? Its office is now mockery and its meaning reversed. It makes unclean, mirroring the mind of its abuser.
So does the Gospel of Christ, seized with unclean hands, become a message of mere menace to the many, deceived by its miscreant plagiarisers, seizing with violent hands its peace and turning it into war, war on God by using His name for their own programs. Some would take words and assign them new meanings, as in neo-orthodoxy (q.v.), as if the form of words would in some way be enough to mislead those who do not bother with the content. In so doing, they do of course magnificently fulfil II Timothy 3:5, together with 3:7. A FORM of religion becomes a farcical substitute for the FUNCTION of truth.
many will now mouth the words of the book of the Lord, or some canons they
make, but for various psychological, sociological, historical and cultural
'reasons', fail to implement them. They will unite with Moslems in worship
so seeming to seek the divine repudiations felt by Israel when they tried
the same type of delusions (Zephaniah 1:5, Jeremiah 2:13-36). Since the
latter case is deeply moving, showing the failure of function is misguided
spiritual alliances, of a people still mouthing approach to the Lord, it
seems good to consider it directly here. Emphasis will be added as apt
for our current concern.
‘Thus says the Lord:
“I remember you,
The kindness of your youth,
The love of your betrothal,
When you went after Me in the wilderness,
In a land not sown.
Israel was holiness to the Lord,
The firstfruits of His increase.
All that devour him will offend;
Disaster will come upon them,” says the Lord.’ ”
Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:
“What injustice have your fathers found in Me,
That they have gone far from Me,
Have followed idols,
And have become idolaters?
Neither did they say, ‘Where is the Lord,
Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the wilderness,
Through a land of deserts and pits,
Through a land of drought and the shadow of death,
Through a land that no one crossed
And where no one dwelt?’
" 'I brought you into a bountiful country,
To eat its fruit and its goodness.
But when you entered, you defiled My land
And made My heritage an abomination.
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
And those who handle the law did not know Me;
The rulers also transgressed against Me;
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
And walked after things that do not profit.
“ 'Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the Lord,
'And against your children’s children I will bring charges.
For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see,
Send to Kedar and consider diligently,
And see if there has been such a thing.
Has a nation changed its gods,
Which are not gods?
But My people have changed their Glory
For what does not profit.
" 'Be astonished, O heavens, at this,
And be horribly afraid;
Be very desolate,” says the Lord.
'For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.
“ 'Is Israel a servant?
Is he a homeborn slave?
Why is he plundered?
The young lions roared at him, and growled;
They made his land waste;
His cities are burned, without inhabitant.
Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes
Have broken the crown of your head.
" 'Have you not brought this on yourself,
In that you have forsaken the Lord your God
When He led you in the way?
And now why take the road to Egypt,
To drink the waters of Sihor?
Or why take the road to Assyria,
To drink the waters of the River?
" 'Your own wickedness will correct you,
And your backslidings will rebuke you.
Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing
That you have forsaken the Lord your God,
And the fear of Me is not in you,'
Says the Lord God of hosts.
'For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds;
And you said, ‘I will not transgress,’
When on every high hill and under every green tree
You lay down, playing the harlot.
Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality.
How then have you turned before Me
Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?
" 'For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap,
Yet your iniquity is marked before Me,” says the Lord God.
“ 'How can you say, ‘I am not polluted,
I have not gone after the Baals’?
See your way in the valley;
Know what you have done:
You are a swift dromedary breaking loose in her ways,
A wild donkey used to the wilderness,
That sniffs at the wind in her desire;
In her time of mating, who can turn her away?
All those who seek her will not weary themselves;
In her month they will find her.
" 'Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst.
But you said, ‘There is no hope.
No! For I have loved aliens, and after them I will go.’
" 'As the thief is ashamed when he is found out,
So is the house of Israel ashamed;
They and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets,
Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’
For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face.
But in the time of their trouble
They will say, ‘Arise and save us.’
" 'But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves?
Let them arise,
If they can save you in the time of your trouble;
For according to the number of your cities
Are your gods, O Judah.
Why will you plead with Me?
You all have transgressed against Me,' says the Lord.
In vain I have chastened your children;
They received no correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion.
“ 'O generation, see the word of the Lord!
Have I been a wilderness to Israel,
Or a land of darkness?
Why do My people say, ‘We are lords;
We will come no more to You’?
Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
Or a bride her attire?
Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.
" 'Why do you beautify your way to seek love?
Therefore you have also taught
The wicked women your ways.
Also on your skirts is found
The blood of the lives of the poor innocents.
I have not found it by secret search,
But plainly on all these things.
" 'Yet you say, ‘Because I am innocent,
Surely His anger shall turn from me.’
Behold, I will plead My case against you,
Because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
Why do you gad about so much to change your way?
Also you shall be ashamed of Egypt as you were ashamed of Assyria.
Indeed you will go forth from him
With your hands on your head;
For the Lord has rejected your trusted allies,
And you will not prosper by them.' "
So does much of Europe move, and not only the USA, now deluged in sects and schisms, departures, dogmatic and practical, from the Lord of the Bible and the Bible of the Lord; and though there may yet be some millions who look to the Lord, it is so only amid the spiritual devastations of the last century, the political casualties, the glaring defects of leadership relative to the word of the Lord, yes and the statements of principle at times wholly incompatible with any type of reverence to the Lord, His love and His truth. In official USA government labours, for example, Mars and life, and the like, encourage the spending of billions, while the puny contempt for the word of the Lord, and the work of observation alike, leaves dreadful similarity in essence to the Lord's own charge to Israel of old,
Indeed, there is little among the nations of the world which is not indictable in ways not distant from these, though not all have ever reached the heights some nations have first shown in spiritual things.
Does such misuse of soap, as it were, on toilet mirrors to bring messages of evil, using what cleanses in order to pollute, does this help ? Is this going to mirror righteousness because some of its words may be employed, like the soap, as if in mockery of the true function of the gospel, of the grace, governance and word of the Lord ?
But no! Formalism does not meet function, and speech does not constitute faith, even when it is correct; and alas, now how far it is from its base in the Bible. It is not many years since Walter A. Meier brought an immense popularity to the presentation of the Gospel, or much of it, to the radio and then TV. Many were moved and great things were envisaged. Now however, the just desire for a due unity, in which the divisions were FIRST from the Bible itself to be settled, as Meier explicitly taught in a famous debate earlier mentioned, has become an unjust desire for a conglomeration with evisceration, or otherwise put, a harlotry relative to the word of the Lord, as the prophets of old specified it (cf. Ezekiel 16 and 23, as Hosea in its entirety).
Thus MAN'S DESIRE becomes substitute for divine fire and purity, the declaration of truth.
The mirror glares with its false message, modelled in a soap which pollutes.
Thus do the pretzel, the lava and the soap speak to us, if we will but hear.
A physician, does he preach doom when he tells you to change your ways, your diet or your life 'style' ? But no. He is being most helpful. The Lord directs attention to follies innumerable in His word, and gives solution, resolution and comfort. The doom is not in the spoon, but in its being cast away. Medicine is not doom; doom lies in the lie which refuses it.
what does Hosea say ? "Come, and let us return
to the LORD;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up" - 6:1.
But look at that tower of beauty, Hosea 14:
" ...return to the Lord your God,
For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;
Take words with you,
And return to the Lord.
Say to Him,
'Take away all iniquity;
Receive us graciously,
For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.' "
and again,Neither the ways, the wisdom nor the word of the Lord change. He is there to those who seek Him. His counsel and planning are clear from Age to Age; and His precepts are pure. Change is unnecessary when truth is known. One may teach and educate stage by stage; but when truth remains, then it is likewise in much attested. When millenia do not beat it down, but merely implement its least sayings, predictions and predications, there is nothing comparable to the word of God.
“I will heal their backsliding,
I will love them freely,
For My anger has turned away from him.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
He shall grow like the lily,
And lengthen his roots like Lebanon.
"His branches shall spread;
His beauty shall be like an olive tree,
And his fragrance like Lebanon.
Those who dwell under his shadow shall return;
They shall be revived like grain,
And grow like a vine.
Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
“Ephraim shall say,
‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’
I have heard and observed him.
I am like a green cypress tree;
Your fruit is found in Me.
"Who is wise?
Let him understand these things.
Who is prudent?
Let him know them.
For the ways of the Lord are right;
The righteous walk in them,
But transgressors stumble in them."
That is simply a fact. Withholding of faith is mere dashing aside of the medicine glass. The LAST person to blame is the doctor; and the One who took the blame for those who in faith and repentance return to Him and His word, it is He, the great Physician, for one and for many alike.
His word, the Bible,
sparkles in its irresistible sovereign statements; in its incomparable
cleansing facilities ( in ONE DAY is iniquity cleansed -Zechariah 3:9,
by the cover of the death of Christ, so that people may be pardoned, for
"according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration
and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Saviour" - Titus 3:5-6). It glimmers, glistens
and glitters with the governance of truth, light illuminating its prescriptions,
just as it led to the inscriptions on Christ of the sins of those who have
so come to Him, that their sin is nailed to the cross, their Saviour now
resurrected and in light undimmed, invariable and immutable, directing
their paths (Proverbs 3:5-6, John 10:27-28).