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Half-Healed Spiritual Refusniks
and the Candour of the Converted Soul
Word from Jeremiah, and the Final Diagnosis
The Call to Christ is not for Nonchalance,
but for Non-Divestment
Yes, you are right if you think of divestment as opposite to investment. Man divested by judgment is a sorry sight, a pitiful spectacle, having preferred darkness to light, and inhabiting non-life with life residual. We might as well face it, despite all the misuse of 'sovereignty' which some make, that YOU CANNOT get there UNLESS you prefer darkness. Hell is the end-product that is in the face of the love of God, the desire to pardon and the provision for it (Ezekiel 33:11, Colossians 1:19ff.).
It is not ascribed to you, or differentially left with you because of some 'mystery.' The mystery is that God loves us, and the mastery is that He finds us, but never by force.
Investiture, on the other hand, is the placement upon the human spirit and life, of the cover which God CAN and LOVES to provide, as you see reflected TWICE in one Chapter in Hosea 7!*1 and of course continually in both Testaments, amidst appeals, exhortations, invitations to pardon and peace, consultations and commands.
That cover, like lead for radioactivity, is like lead in this, that it meant death for the One providing it, Jesus Christ, who took the contamination, but has provided this ONLY for those who receiving Him, invest in the provision and take it. He knows His own and has always known them, before the foundation of this world with its time-slot (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.). HIS book of life has been written from the first and remains the same to the last, whatever may happen to those who are inscribed as ostensible Christians in the books of human institutions, often themselves astray.
To be sure you cannot CHOOSE GOD (John 1:12), but His choice of you is no mere act of tyranny or caprice, sovereign mystery or the like, except in this, that He would so love as to redeem at such cost; but rather is it the outcome of One who STATES that He would that all would be saved, that He has provided in Christ, since He would like to reconcile ALL*1. He is not frustrated however, when some are found in His all-knowing mind, to be hostile to the uttermost, the ultimate, and past all disablement of mind or will, through sin. He may - and in fact, did - weep for them (Matthew 23:37ff.), in their stubborn approach to spiritual suicide, which alas is not the end; but love does not cease to be love in order to fulfil itself. Force and love are as far apart as the East from the West, and such action would be as irrelevant as anomalous. It is not to be found in the word or the ways of the wise and eternal God!
You thus CANNOT - it is impossible - reach hell unless your preference is there, not from mere disease of the soul, which He has come to cleanse and in millions does cleanse - but from the differential desire to avoid the cleansing, in autonomy replete, saving your own life that you might lose it (John 3:16, 17, 19 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4; Matthew 16:24ff.). Judgment is assuredly a result (John 9:39-41); but to condemn was not the purpose, but to save, as the Saviour Himself categorically stated. People who would like to replace Him or His words, would do better to invent some character of their own, rather than vainly to seek to infest history with their imaginations. It is only honest.
Such a desire unfortunately was the case with most of Israel in the days of Jeremiah, and since our world is so strongly on parallel course to those days, in its contemporary development, it is well that we look at the situation then, to gain more perspective on our own! It is the day of the refusniks, glorying in their infirmities. How do they glory ? It is not like Paul, who in human weakness provided scope through faith for divine strength, and became an example portraying it amazingly. Alas in their cases, they are simply weak, dehumanised, denatured, distorted, because of the futility of their autonomous aspirations. The world whirs the more woefully, because of it, as it whirls.
Let us look then at that in Israel in times past, before contemplating the case in our own time, in the Gentile world, whose deeds are ready to be shouted from the house-tops, whatever atrocities are committed, with country ruining devastation as in Zimbabwe, in the Sudan with bombastic self-advancement that is going down, while it talks up and violates almost anything vulnerable; in China, where many are assaulted, imprisoned or assailed in reputation, because they believe in things spiritual, or want to worship God without the control of some other people who are adverse to Him, and want to govern the matter.
Israel of old, then, in the day of Jeremiah, that great parallel to our present time: let us ponder it. It is a forerunner, in its folly, to our Gentile world!
Their Day and Ours
Jeremiah was in a nation not unlike our own, and some other sophisticated European-style harbourers of good, now turning slowly, restlessly but seemingly relentlessly and remorselessly to EVIL. Morals do not matter. Canada has just passed into law, this week, its perverted marriage laws, giving equal rights to wrongs. England was some few years ago instructed by the EU to come into line in the same sort of way, in the ARMY, which was to allow same-sex cohabitation, and seemingly is to provide quarters for the process. Corruption, even in the Police, and among school teachers, or in medicine, is now becoming part of the cultural landscape.
Vulgarity is no more a breach, but can have force, and may be useful to some in high places. Religion is in this State, already in the DECS, the child educational arm, is a matter of gross and libellous degradation, imposed on schools as if it were some neo-Nazi force-model, while daring to allow religious contact, in the very presence of a spiritually depraved and scientifically defective basis*2A.
Depraved ? you ask. Yes, when you try to make the God of creation a component of cultural manipulation and permission, already mannishness has gone to the head, and it is lost in the greatness of the God who made it, except that it omits Him. This is human depravity at base level, for it is one thing to misuse body or desire, but far worse is it to misuse the One who made ALL! What then of any such misdirection of children by public authority, through curricular incineration, comic in its lack of scholarly support, impudent in its impiety and gross in its outrage! What is intended is irrelevant; if you kill someone, whether murder or manslaughter, oversight or intention, it is death that is before you.
Jeremiah had a nation falling, failing, with some verbal forms left, and some religion; but it was becoming naturalistic, degraded from its former heights of inspiration and understanding, mixing it up, stirring the dust of surrounding idolatries even in the temple! (cf. Jeremiah 7:1-9). It will be instructive therefore to examine some of his revelation from the God whose response is thus to be known, and known now! HE does not change.
Consider the diagnosis from the Lord … The people have some distinguished characteristics at this day of Jeremiah, just before the judgment set in, in parallel to our own world, approaching its own judgment. They have “slidden back” in a “perpetual backsliding”; they do not “speak aright,” “they hold fast deceit” and “refuse to return”, none repenting “of his wickedness.”
“Everyone is turned to his own course, as the horse rushes to the battle.”
Their ears are for their own voice!
They “do not know the judgment of the Lord”,
and as to their ‘wise men’,
“they have rejected the word of the LORD: so what wisdom do they have ?”
As a reference or testimonial, perhaps some current bodies would regard it with favour – and this is perfectly serious, for it beckons for the aggressive self-regard in it! Thus, one major world organisation is reputed to have preferred divorcees as showing more initiative!
Covetousness is rife, the Lord declares, even in the prophet and the priest, and false dealings
are normal (cf. Jer. 5:30-31).
Shame they do not know (8:12). They have lost the art of blushing. This is the divine indictment. The result ? They will be CAST DOWN of necessity, to the lowness they now love to have and inhabit.
If water seeks its own level, then immorality, unspirituality, and ungodliness, such distortions, evasions and derelictions, with or without forms and religious words running off the surface and not coming from the heart: this too finds it own level (Hosea 7:14-16).
At the ripe time, it is led to its fitting end by the Lord who has been derogated as they decline, like a friend, conspired against by his companion, but now exposed.
To be hard of hearing, this can be an affliction; but to shut the ear to His word and way as He has given it, this is an affectation, and it is effective for ruin. He does not speak in order to instruct the air.
Consider the futility of spiritual dysfunction,
calling but not in faith,
approaching perhaps even to the Lord,
but only to abuse the name of the Lord,
the heart cluttered with cultural corruption,
the mind a slave to spiritual servitude,
undetached from its idols, its inventions, its imaginations,
even if His name be a token,
as Hosea 7:13-16 exposed it (NAB):
"Woe to them, they have strayed from me!
Ruin to them, they have sinned against me!
Though I wished to redeem them,
they spoke lies against me.
"They have not cried to me from their hearts
when they wailed upon their beds;
For wheat and wine they lacerated themselves,
while they rebelled against me.
"Though I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devised evil against me.
They have again become useless,
like a treacherous bow."
They are half-hearted, and as we shall see next, they are refusniks, making our title: Half-hearted refusniks.
RECKLESS FECKLESSNESS –
Now we come to the response of the true prophet, Jeremiah, who seeing that the Lord has given much mercy to Israel for a long time (Jeremiah 2), but that the follies of generations are now coming to their unnatural but deserved result, declares (Jeremiah 9:1):
“Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain
that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
He sees as a physician might, the end of the pathology, but in this case, it is spiritual.
Israel ? Alas it had become in its official dealings “an assembly of treacherous men” (9:2). Their tongues are like bows bent, ready to send on their ways, arrows that are but lies; and “they proceed from evil to evil.” Deception is their mode, and “they weary themselves to commit iniquity.”
Not only do they writhe and torment themselves, like those in great numbers in our day seeking ever greater sexual 'satisfaction' as if it were some toy or sport, or monetary compilation, or psychic serendipity, as if they were consumer of spirit, filling up, alas, at some ghastly tank at some dump of humanity which caters for it. They rather act outside the very domain of humanity, created for a purpose. On they go, not realising what is sacred and what is purposeful and what is wrong and what hideous, abortive, proceeding in the depths of mere incomprehension, like wild animals on stampede: they do more.
They have in many parts of our race, forgotten how to blush! Shame is a word, not a name.
They race to psychiatrists, seek from the gurus, and wonder about their navels; their psychic configurations, would perhaps gladly levitate: but they do not aptly cogitate, or consider the One who made them, or even think about WHY He did it, and for what they live. They seek 'healing' but they know nothing of holiness. They seek serenity, but know nothing of its place. It is as in Israel (Jeremiah 8:11-12, emphasis added).
"For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed,
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
In the time of their punishment..."
Slight is their healing, great is their reeling. Shame is shuffled off, and name, the name of the human race, rings with solemnity in the minds of many, as if it were some accomplishment to have been constructed, or some attainment, achievement or wonder to have existed, as if a book would flap its covers and fly, seeking accolade, or seek to make its name, although it is already written.
Refusal is their name, rebelliousness is their spiritual nature, endless devices to avoid truth, this is their way, they march into increasing disorder as they become first negotiators, indifferent to truth (cf. SMR Chs. 3, 5, 10), seeking scope for opposites, then negators, then refusers, then refusniks, like horses bucking at every step, buckling under the saddle, trying to hit the rider's leg on every post, fractious, undisciplined, haughty and self-assured, looking only to themselves and their latest idol, or idol-mix, or to their race and its latest cultural intoxication, or to their surrogates. How they esteem their idols from whatever source, so long as these are not God, do not have the ultimate authority, and may be carried about.
They speak peace to one another, but the heart is not with the tongue! Ethically a heap, they will thus become deconstructed, disassembled in ignominy, a ruin (Jeremiah 9:11).
III CALLED TO ACCOUNT … WORMWOOD AND WISDOM
Jeremiah 9:12-16, 15:19ff. with Psalm 69:19-21, Hosea 13:14
Is anyone listening ? is there ANY wise man amongst them ? WHY is the Lord forsaking them ? It is
“because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own heart,”
and after idols that abound. WORMWOOD will thus become their meal, gall their drink, and “I will scatter them also among the nations” (Jer. 9:16).
But what is there to be done ? God had made that clear, as He does today make it clear, long before this contretemps, indeed this calamity which built like a tornado of epic proportions, in Israel.
First, as in Psalm 69, you see the depiction of the Messiah whose everlasting covenant (Jer. 31:31) is the acme of His mercy: and it is HE in providing for salvation, who has the gall to drink; and where repentance and realisation of His mercy is come, it is done in substitution for the believer.
"Reproach has broken my heart,
And I am full of heaviness;
I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none;
And for comforters, but I found none.
They also gave me gall for my food,
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."
This His atoning and redemptive death is apt, and was adequate for all, though received by few; and iat is effective because as God declares in Hosea 13:14, HE will Himself destroy death by redemption, crying,
“O death, I will be your plagues, O grave, I will be your destruction.”
The Cross was the method, the only begotten Son, as God in flesh, did it (I Timothy 3:16).
It is HE who did it; for there is no Saviour but He (Isaiah 43:10-11), and Christ IS the Saviour. So does God always fulfil His divine word, and so did He Himself do the action as He foretold.
This provision, this atoning offering, it does not however touch any who turn their backs on this medicine of immortality and this ultimate expression of the Creator's love in the brilliant work of absolute redemption for body, mind and spirit (cf. Ephesians 1, Romans 8:23, II Corinthians 5:1ff., I Corinthians 15:38ff.). For those who receive it, on the other hand, it is totally and eternally effective.
Thus, with such a cover in heaven, man need not be afraid to re-learn how to blush, or fear to return to the Lord. But it MUST BE DONE! As for the people of that day, this was the divine charge:
Jeremiah 15:19ff., shows how the prophet himself, almost overwhelmed by rejection and duress – he was once put in an oozing well, and would soon have died, had he not been rescued, and was greatly despised - had yet to take renewed faith, and fearlessly render the warning, stalwart and unbent, to the people. “If you return,” the Lord declared to the prophet, “I will bring you back: You shall stand before Me.”
Let us see this with Jeremiah more fully (in 15:19ff.).
"Therefore thus says the Lord:
'If you return,
Then I will bring you back;
You shall stand before Me;
'If you take out the precious from the vile,
You shall be as My mouth.
Let them return to you,
But you must not return to them.
'And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall;
And they will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you;
'For I am with you to save you
And deliver you,' says the Lord."
From all of this, there comes a clear message for the Christian.
THREE RESULTS TO REALISE:
your ransom and give thanks (Matthew 20:28).
2. Relinquish your preferences as criteria of life, and take heart in that glad holiness which God gives (Luke 14:27ff.).
will with relish!
(Matthew 20:26-7, 16:24-27, Psalm 100, I Thess. 5:16-18),
to do it, in love, through grace, by faith,
knowing that your Redeemer liveth, as Job saw in his afflictions (Job 19),
and though the waters may swirl, He does and will deliver you from every evil work
to His heavenly kingdom in its consummation
(II Timothy 4:18, 1:9, Philippians 3:20-21, II Cor. 1:8-10, 4:17-5:4).
At these aspects of the Christian walk, we shall look shortly, as we close this chapter. In the meantime, let us pursue our topic in Israel's ancient case.
Three of the Results for Israel,
A Preliminary Warning
To the Gentile Peoples of Today
We must realise clearly that Israel of old came to embrace TWO portions, the idolatrous north, which had separated, and the more sacramental South, with the Temple. When this is in mind, the former may be called 'Israel' and the latter, Judah, which, with the tribe of Benjamin, it was.
For Israel itself, earlier, challenged by former prophets, a few results had at last accrued rather quickly, one after another. They lost their land; it was depopulated; but it was repopulated with peoples from abroad, as if to keep the shell and put another sea-creature within it.
It was assault, insult and entire desolation. That was merely the first.
Secondly, good King Hezekiah of Judah exercised his zeal, pity and mercy in sending runners into doomed Israel, if by any means any might respond in the midst of their tribulations, and come to his vast sacrificial feast, the Passover. They were outcasts, who had been the chief, and the nation whom they had so often abhorred, even combining with Syria to threaten (cf. Isaiah 7): this little Judah, it was now their benefactor in desolation. So does God humble the mighty, and expose the minatory.
Thirdly, they would not regain their land, but have to come sparsely back, some few, to Judah from their dispersion.
Thus God foretold that in their eventual return at the end of the age, it would not be as Judah or Israel, but a one people, something fulfilled, like all the rest, and this in a most spectacular way (Ezekiel 37:17-22, cf. SMR Appendix A, It Bubbles ... Ch. 10).
In Jeremiah's day, Judah itself was challenged, confronted in the name of the Lord. This time, the judgment, would be less severe than in the case of Israel over a century earlier; for in Judah, there was still some form of truth in the Temple, despite their misuses of it. Yet the blighting of Judah was still horrible enough as we have seen; and although they were given a 'mere' 70 year exile for their sins, there was a devastation in Jerusalem so horrendous, a mistreatment by the fierce invaders so vicious, that you see it painted as if in an eternal mirror, in Lamentations.
After their return from exile, following this destruction, however, they went on to murder their own Christ, and lose their land for 1900 years or so, as both sin and judgment escalated. But the Gospel era continues, and their day is coming (Romans 11:25). It is near; but only partly here as yet, as Ezekiel 37 predicted, the physical and the spiritual restoration coming in two separate stages, in a sequence of which the first is now fulfilled - since 1948 and 1967, at which latter Jerusalem became again Jewish, as so often foretold and appropriately exhibited on this site (e.g. SMR Ch. 9, Divine Agenda Ch. 8, It Bubbles ... Ch. 10, Victory Ch. 4).
While NOW, Israel, the newly restored nation-State is back, with some part of the land, yet there is no Israel as distinct from Judah, that has returned. THEY WENT. For them, it was final; for after all, their whole being was a fraud, since they had opted for golden calves, as gods, and the provocation was constant, considerable and multiple; moreover it was of centuries' duration. The end came for them after prophet upon prophet had challenged them, as Micah, Moses indeed earlier in more general terms, and Hosea.
As to Judah, if they wanted it clearly scripted, Micah could scarcely be more rigorous about the judgment to come; or for that matter, the final deliverance AFTER the Messiah (Micah 5), when the last times came, as they have now done (Micah 6-7). Heap upon heap of woe has been to the Jew; but it is a prelude to a mass of moral exposure coming to the Gentile world, the like of which has NEVER BEEN SEEN (Matthew 24:21). If the Jewish people were harassed in godless ways among the nations to which they went in their prolonged and final exile, yet the nations themselves will find their own repulse, for neither is God mocked nor is He any respecter of persons, who in flesh seek to be flash before Him. Pride is not an entry pass to heaven, though it has other destinies.
It is strange how people will watch their share prices, their real estate investments, their physical health, their personal relationships with other humans, and yet ignore their God, His word, His witness, His inveterate truth, His relentless and progressive prophetic fulfilments, His every action, His entire grace and then, having criticised or ignored freely, been irrational in blindness, incredible in gullibility, proceed to their judgment like gaily laughing Marie Antoinettes. Even for her, the time actually came.
This eccentric behaviour, this blindness in menis however also scripturally accounted for, since blindness and delusion can become pathological consequences in a vicious circle, for those who do not receive the love of the truth (II Thessalonians 2:10-11). They are no law to themselves, but under the judgment of God. Indeed they are finding it already.
For those who are the Lord's then, walk in the Spirit, alert, informed, compassionate, pitiful, ready to help the lost to find the way, poised and prepared, active in service, watching your way, that it be the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35). For those who are not, remember that though the abyss is deep and the time is near, it is not too near to call on the name of the Lord, read Isaiah 55; it is not too late to repent and to receive the Christ who came so that you would have a place to go to (John 14:1ff.), fitting for man, for woman, for child, prepared at infinite cost by God.
The thing is sure, the word of God is always accurate, never ineffective, His words and deeds co-operate over the millenia. Some may make their words last for a year or two, in some ways: but He makes them all stand in all ways and over all time. Fact does not vary; but faith must utilise it.
What God said concerning Israel, from Deuteronomy to Ezekiel, from Hosea to Micah, from Zechariah to Jeremiah, He has done, and is doing it yet, with divine precision. It is expected that one should have eyes, and even this, that one should use them! (cf. Isaiah 41:21ff., 48:3-9 cf. SMR Chs. 8-9, and see index, Israel).
He most precisely doing it with the Gentiles no less, just what He said; and that now. It is time to consider that the creator of the human capacity for wisdom HAS IT, and that the maker of the human capacity for thought, WORKS IT, and that He has both spoken in word and through deed, both given propositions and the Prince, both fulfilled to the letter His works in Christ when sent, at the time specified centuries before (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), and fulfils in His name precisely what He said. He is not a byproduct of sontes or sevile matter, who gave it is laws; nor is man who is given spirit to invent, to err, and to will (cf. Jeremiah 2:21-27, and see The gods of naturalism have not go! - the trilogy).
Naturalistic myth is as rife now in the Gentile world, as it was in Israel, as ludicrous, as empty as unscientific, as distasteful as deceitful; and the causes in parallel, see results in parallel as the nations of this world are being prepared for the divine rebuke which folly by blindness comes to induce. Airy nonsense from space, from race, from place, from matter, from myth, from hope, from aspiration replaces solid reality which is evidenced and perceptible, as noxious gas replaces air in the unventilated factories of woe (cf. SMR pp. 140ff., Earth Spasm ... Chs. 1, 7, DD 7, Delusive Drift Ch. 7, Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Ch. 7 Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy Ch. 3. News 59
Therefore to one and to all the message is clear, inevitable, irrepressible, to be ignored as one ignores an abyss two inches from one's front tyres. COME to know the Lord, SEEK His peace, ACCEPT His pardon, STUDY His word, WORK ON His promises, UNDERSTAND His premisses which He provides, WORSHIP His Messiah, Jesus Christ, WALK in the SPIRIT and WATCH your way.
When you so move, it is wonderful to realise that you are actually on a PREPARED way, the HIGHWAY OF HOLINESS (Isaiah 35), where, even fools do not go astray, as the scripture says; for He, He MAKES wisdom available and is a Father to all of His. You are excluded by your exclusion, but included by His grace if you come; for all of us, without Christ, are spiritually so far gone that it is a rescue operation. If then in His grace you see, then call; and if you call, then believe, and if you believe, then act; and if you act, then walk in the Spirit, whom comes to EVERYONE who is His at the outset and onset (Romans 8:9-11).
You do not have to create the water, it comes when you drink; you do not have to create the well, it was dug millenia ago for all who come to it. You do, however, have to drink! (John 4).
Indeed, first of all, you have to receive His blood, the death in your place, by faith, and to take that broken body, by faith, as your surrogate, your substitute in death. It is not a mere sacrament, but the sacrifice itself which you must receive, not idolatrising bread*2, as if forgetting that He requires you to do it in REMEMBRANCE of Him, but worshipping Him whose body it was, and whose blood it was (Colossians 1:22), as He presented Himself a worthy and adequate sacrifice for sin, a sacrifice of blood with suffering, for all who receive Him. Only this counts (cf. Hebrews 9:22-28).
It is then that you can drink freely (as in Isaiah 55).
When you do, how great is that liberty (I Corinthians 3:17), and what relish is there to be found in Him (I Peter 1:3ff.), who can create not only the universe, but a cleansed heart and a friendship. This, only God can forge. Its absence is the basis of huge swathes of psychiatric care for tension, disintegrating personality, identity crisis, fixation, obsession and anxious neurosis as immoral desire, misnamed idiosyncrasy, seeks outlet, and "they weary themselves to commit iniquity".
That, it is what you would expect when reality is dismissed, and illusion is the life water in which a man swims.
But now the contrast is needed, and we began to consider it earlier, and now may pursue the scriptures cited above. You recall, the point:
will with relish!
(Matthew 20:26-7, 16:24-27, Psalm 100, I Thess. 5:16-18),
to do it, in love, through grace, by faith,
knowing that your Redeemer liveth, as Job saw in his afflictions (Job 19),
and though the waters may swirl, He does and will deliver you
from every evil work
to His heavenly kingdom in its consummation
(II Timothy 4:18, 1:9, Philippians 3:20-21, II Cor. 1:8-10, 4:17-5:4).
Open in Candour,
Opening to Splendour
Let us now ponder these scriptures for their positive flavour and practical provision.
We find II Timothy 4:18, in our reference list above. This is best taken with the practical background Paul had while making this utterance. That is indicated in the preceding verse, as he continued a prisoner, evidently set free once, but now taken again in the Roman riots of anti-Christian persecution. You see there the fire and assurance of his long life in the service of Christ, one with the most amazing profile and prodigious works, perhaps, of any missionary: epochal in scope, apostolic in kind, nurturing and visionary, inter-continental in parameter.
Always willing to die for Christ, and knowing full well how to AVOID the danger of death by not going on to Jerusalem as we read so dramatically in Acts 20-21, he yet knew this was the way the Lord would best use him, was so constrained as he walked in the Spirit. He went on despite warning after warning, knowing his duty. In fact, when some pleaded with him NOT TO GO, he replied (21:13-14):
" 'What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.'
"So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying,
'The will of the Lord be done.' "
Having then deliberately met the perils of the way, in order to perform the penetration for the kingdom of heaven, Paul was imprisoned, and it appears released, travelled to Spain, while in the time of Nero, was taken to the end of his earthly journey.
In this general LIFE context, he declared, then, as in II Timothy 4:18:
"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me,
so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear.
"And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!"
That is a practical faith, one borne out in the experience of the apostle
in nation after nation,
journey after journey,
as seen in the book of Acts,
as the life story of the arrested apostle.
Brought back from earlier, vehement persecution of Christians, on his own part, won by the Lord, his life became that of the spiritually arresting apostle, now sent by the Lord instead of set against Him, until at last, as happened also to Peter, he was arrested by man, having completed with staggering power and inspiration, the work committed to him.
He was called first OUT of a persecuting life, then INTO the kingdom of heaven and given a commission ONTO the work, with power of miraculous kind, and the direct operation of the supernatural God. It was not mere dynamics, since love, grace and compassion are beyond power alone; but it was not without it, and indeed were it not for this, the mere pabulum of philosophy would have reached nothing like this arresting faith in the arresting God, who gives goodness and mercy, and has exhibited it all in historical format over millenia.
This faith, manifest in the present at the physical, moral and spiritual level, at the historical and directive phase, also has its Maker and Moulder apparent in the consummation: as we see in Philippians 3:18-21:
"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and
now tell you even weeping,
that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction,
whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -
who set their mind on earthly things.
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also
eagerly wait for the Savior,
the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body
that it may be conformed to His glorious body,
according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."
You see there the contrast, for this is not poetry but performance which is in view. The 'belly' is metonymy for the desires of the life apart from God, in its own imaginary 'right', and "their glory is in their shame". They exult in their choice or seek from its idolatrous presence, some merely factitious and meretricious glory, a star which is but dust. By contrast, there is a citIzenship which Paul has already experienced, using the power and the privileges, enduring the pains and the pangs which the love requires; for it is not immune to need, but meets it. This is his, and its guarantees are sure, its provision certain and his own arrival by the grace of God to that consummation, no less so!
It is the God who, having met sin in Jesus Christ, is by Him able and willing
to transform His people, and in the end conform their new relationship,
ex-earth, via a new heavens and new earth and in heaven itself, by subduing
all things to Himself, even to the extent of providing a new body, as one
might put a new case on a computer, indeed have a computer adequate for the
case as well. This we see, at the ultimate, in the "spirits of just men made
complete" as in Hebrews 12.
What then do we find ?
CREATION meant power to PUT INTO EXISTENCE;
SALVATION meant power to REDEEM that existence;
CONSUMMATION means power to bring what is saved,
It is done with an individuality so intense, that even as now the Lord lives within the Christian (Col. 1:27), so then a personal body is provided, one fitted for eternity. NOTHING is too hard for the Lord, neither the prodigious display of technical pyrotechnics in the automation in living things, or the ectypical invention of the life types*3, nor the invention of liberty of thought, volition and will, and the blessed ironies which make slaves of those who aspire too high, as if to be like God, rather than loved by Him, and brought to adoption through His grace, while yet in that magnificence of wisdom, the human body as it now is.
This, it is most fitting for test, which this life includes. That, it is most fitting for the end of the test, and the triumph of grace, love, mercy and peace with the Lord, where love from man is authentic, and the presence of the divine is uninterrupted by the machinations of evil and the machinery of test.
The end, like the beginning, has power, and the dynamic of the creation and of salvation is there; and for all the power, yet this eternity, this end, this destiny for converted man, in Christ: it is personal, individual and fascinatingly elevated in conception as in consummation of what has gone before. So do Revelation 5, 20-22, Philippians 3, John 14, I Thess. 4 so clearly show; and where God shows, fact follows, since nothing can abort or contort, qualify or alter His word, eternal in the heavens as Psalm 119 so beautifully says.
Such is the power of the kingdom of heaven.
It is in this realm that Paul has moved while yet on the earth, and it is in this Christ that he has lived, so that this end is merely the completion of the course, and the rest provided for the agents of mercy, the lovers of God, the propounders of the Gospel of grace, who are also its recipients (cf. Matthew 28:19ff.).
The Vicissitudes of the Way: So Watch!
Now all this is preceded by the journey, when the Christian is en route to this consummation in Christ. This travelling time, it is no mere simplicity. There are challenges, as is meet for what is to be developed. Thus in II Corinthians 1, Paul shows how despite the magnificence of the provisions of the Lord, and the many exploits done in His name, he on one occasion became tense, concerned and troubled, feeling almost that he had already finished his course in this world, as if death were near; but it was not so. Thus he was met, comforted and delivered by the Lord in that, as in all else! (cf. Isaiah 64:5). To the Corinthians, he says this:
"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren,
of our trouble which came to us in Asia:
that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
"Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves,
that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
"who delivered us from so great a death,
and does deliver us;
in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,
you also helping together in prayer for us,
that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf
for the gift granted to us through many."
Despite such dramatic moments, the enduring patience and power of the Lord in peace within continues like a stream that on occasion, leaps over the rocks into some little waterfall, before continuing its appointed path through the meadows (Philippians 4:4-9).
This you see in the end of II Cor. 4 and in II Cor. 5:
"Therefore we do not lose heart.
Even though our outward man is perishing,
yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
"For our light affliction,
which is but for a moment, is working for us
a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen.
"For the things which are seen are temporary,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.
"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens.
"For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with
which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed,
we shall not be found naked.
"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened,
not because we want to be unclothed,
but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God,
who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
"So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home
in the body
we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body
and to be present with the Lord.
"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent,
to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear
before the judgment seat of Christ,
that each one may receive the things done in the body,
according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
"Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;
but we are well known to God,
and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”
So is it all external, objective, like the flowers of beauty, the roses of fragrance, visible in its performance and irresistible in its wonder; but like the thorns and the manure, there are things to be done, to be endured, there is tribulation to be met, persecution to be overcome, as the garden of the Lord is made ready, and the work of His testimony completed. This, no less than the power and the wonders of His guidance and deliverance, is the continual exhibition of His greatness; for in everything, whatever the challenge, it is met; whatever the pain, it is overcome; whatever the inhibition, the cross is its target, and whatever the need, it is given.
The power of His resurrection is the measure of power available for His purposes (Ephesians 1:19) for His people; and these, they are not to covet the kingdoms of this world, but to overcome and to replace them, at last, the very heavens collapsing as the saga over, the curtain falls on this stage, and rises on that, His own.
In the interim, valour, virtue and vigour alike are needed, watchfulness in prayer, the seizing by faith of the will of God and the comparison of all one's works and ways with the criteria God has given in the Bible, for refinement and growth, as in dynamic surge, or in patient continuation, possessing the promises, one proceeds till the work is done, the purpose of God is fulfilled and the divine light has led us to the contribution's end, for which we have been assigned and in which enabled.
Thus, Paul, having done much, suffered much, endured all things, continued to the apparent end of his course, setting continents aflame with the fire of truth and the wonder of salvation, declared this in the 4th Chapter of II Timothy. It was on the occasion of some vigorous trial at which enemies had sought to bring death to the apostle, just as Judas did bring death by betrayal, to Christ (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25,esp. 25).
With Paul, it was an item on the way, just as with Christ it was a vastly foretold procedure, showing both to and at the end the inveterate disjunction from God, which is one of the foremost pillars of all evil.
"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me,
so that the message might be preached fully through me,
and that all the Gentiles might hear.
And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
"And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work
and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!"
This kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, there is nothing like it, for there is nothing and no one like God, whose it is, and like Christ, His eternal expression, the "I am" (John 8:58, 17:1-3, 5:19-23), on earth, who was there before Abraham so much as took foot to the earth!
DO you so walk with the Lord NOW ?
If not, why not! If you do, then the next step is but one… the resurrection after death, or when He returns if you are still living, one flowing like a mountain stream into the meadows. It follows. Christ is not a word, but a life!
If now you depart before He comes, it is as Paul says, far better (Philippians 1:23); but when He comes, one and all of His are taken with Him, for Him and through Him. This world is but a passage, a journey.
Not there, but in the faith in Christ, and the Christ who is its object, is there to be found
¨ the candour of the converted soul,
¨ that conquest over this world, over the fleshly appetite both to run things and to be in the field of the devil,
willingness to do the will of God,
enlightened with vision,
enabled with gracious power (Ephesians 1:17-19),
which is the inheritance of the saints and to the glory of the God,
not of this world, but the One who alone is God, and who made it (Isaiah 44-46).
EXCURSION ON MERCY AND JUDGMENT,
SOFT CLAY and BRITTLE POTS
In Hosea 7, in fact, 7:1 and 7:13, you have in both cases a present tense optative. A word of clarification is needed here. In Hebrew, the basic concepts in the two major tenses are perfect and imperfect, or completed or uncompleted. The latter can involve many aspects in terms of their concepts: for example, present, future and various conditional aspects, or as here the optative. The essence is the mode of conception.
One prefers above to say 'present' tense, lest the 'imperfect'
name which Hebrew uses for this tense, might suggest the English or Latin
imperfect tense, which indicates continuity in the past. This is not so in the
Hebrew division between these two tenses.
It is DONE or NOT YET DONE, finished or unfinished in THOUGHT. Those are the basic options. If you call one tense in Hebrew 'imperfect' as is customary, then you need to realise that it is simply negating the ‘perfect’ concept, diverse from that.
As to the latter, the perfect tense in Hebrew, it is in a special sense, such as in Greek you have, where the concept of completion can be related to perfection, in that it is the end of the road to whatever it is. Im- perfect then, the ‘imperfect tense’ in Hebrew is one which means im-complete, that is not yet done, if done it will be at all. So is it here in 7:13.
What then is the context in this 'imperfect' verbal case, this indication of non-completion so that the redemption did not occur ? The context in this case is not at all simply what God is doing NOW, since it is not being done! On the contrary, this blessed opening to mercy is being withdrawn; it is INCOMPLETE, so that the action in view did not reach its fulfilment. It is NOT what He has done.
Nor is it what He will do, for the reflection is on the failure of this thing at the present time, and the results of this. It is rather indicative of the willingness of God which has been shown, just as Jeremiah 18 makes it so exceedingly clear, even when judgment is on the threshold: a divine preparedness to engage in the healing of this people. It does not however transpire. Instead, as Jeremiah 19 makes clear so soon after the action of Jeremiah 18: the inveterate and chronic failure of the people to receive His mercy, this now transforms the situation. What had been not merely on offer, but was in fact a CONTINUING and UNCOMPLETED movement towards mercy, is now to be halted.
God will not ALWAYS STRIVE with man (Isaiah 57:15-16). Man’s spirit would fail before Him. He is limited. There is an end (cf. Proverbs 1!).
What then now ? As we see, now judgment sets in, as if a man with cancer should be shown a way out by immediate cessation of smoking, but still refuse to stop, in which the case the disease migrates.
It is thus here as in Hosea 7:1, an indication to the willingness that God had, as in Jeremiah 18:7-8: at that INSTANT that there is the change from the evil, to remedy and remove the judgment; but alas, it is not so here. Israel is NOT healed, so that the rest of the chapter, as in 7:13 reflects this lugubrious and mournful fact in the face of the often protested divine exhortation to return to Him, and invitation to mercy.
Thus in Hosea 7:13, - "Though I would redeem them" as the ASV and Keil and Delitzsch, respectively, have, and correctly point out - it is not perfect or completed tense at all! It is the 'imperfect'. The AV rendering "redeemed them" is not what is there. A difficulty is not met by changing the base, but by exploring what it in fact provides: and here what is left and meets all the demands of the context fully, is the optative, which does no violence to the text and gives sustained meaning to the point as in 7:1.
In 7:1, the AV joins the rest, correctly, "I would have healed Israel!" This is the theme of the chapter, and in 7:14 we see the explication of the negative result in the face of the divinely positive entreaty and willingness. "They did not cry out to Me with their heart." THAT is where they went wrong so that the divine willingness does not reach its completion in their pardon.
Hosea 7:15 further details the past, where though the Lord disciplined them (exactly as in Amos 4), yet evil was still actively being plotted in their hearts. The thought is extreme. It is almost as if in the very preparation of the medical team for surgery, the patient bites the forefinger of a major surgeon, requiring stitches. It breaks its own mercy.
Hosea 7:16 then proceeds to generalise the case: they return (indeed, as might be protested by them), but it is not to the Most High. They are inveterately devious like a crooked bow. Thus 8:1 announces, in a transition precisely as in that between Jeremiah 18 and 19, the blowing of the trumpet and the onset of judgment.
As to this mode of divine willingness, aborted by rejection: You even see it said of Babylon, that eventual paragon of parasitic infestation with spiritual pollutions: Thus Jeremiah 51:9 also provides this word: "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her and let us go, everyone to his own country; for her judgment reaches to heaven."
Jeremiah appointed as spokesman in the Lord's name concerning the nations (Jeremiah 1:5,9), is not unaware of the divine mercy! Nineveh itself, in its ferocity and cruelty, was for a time delivered through the preaching of Jonah, though that prophet was much upset by the delay in divine judgment; and here even Babylon, acme of evil frenzies in false religion, was to be envisaged for a mercy she would not receive. The Lord remonstrated with that prophet concerning the enormous suffering which would have been involved and the wonder of the situation where now it is not only avoidable, but to be AVOIDED!
This is the desirable thing altogether! Yet the truth will not bend, and if the mercy IS rejected in the end, then the judgment like that on a student who WILL not respond to the teacher's offer of extra time before the examination, is as inveterate as the refusal.
Sometimes the Lord makes unqualified declaration of His final determination of an event, which may or may not occur immediately (in Hezekiah's case, it was delayed for the nation); and then it is done. Sometimes there is presented the result of their ways, and in that case, at that instant there is change, the case is remedied. When the situation, known before time to God (Isaiah 46), reaches its consummation before Him, then the judgment is inalienable, as in highly dramatic form is exhibited in Ezekiel 18:12-20.
"The word of the Lord came again to me, saying:
'Son of man, when a land sins against Me by
I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,' says the Lord God.
'If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts, even though these three men were in it, as I live,' says the Lord God, 'they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate.
'Or if I bring a sword on that land, and say, "Sword, go through the land," and I cut off man and beast from it, even though these three men were in it, as I live,' says the Lord God, 'they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but only they themselves would be delivered.
'Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,' says the Lord God, 'they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.' "
The case is as in Jeremiah 19, in the negative case; just as Jeremiah 18 has the positive one, when the result being wrought, the putative destruction is dismissed, and blessing ensues instead.
In Jeremiah 18, there is the illustration of the softer clay still being formed on the potter's wheel. Marred, it is malleable, and the potter reforms and reformulates until it is put right. So the Lord can indeed change the marred, the prophet shows, making the point to the people from the mouth of the Lord.
In Jeremiah 19, however, there is simply a finished piece of pottery. The now brittle pot is simply broken into pieces: inveterate and shaped, it stands for no change, and is dashed to the ground, a symbol of the certainty which now faces Israel, of judgment which the prophet proceeds to delineate.
Facts are never fudged, but mercy may be shown; and where it is breached with high-minded hostility, rejected with low desire, fought against and there is no relenting, where the hand of God is hated or His will and word despised, as in Proverbs 1, then reality, undismissible, continues, and the sheer magnificence of mercy is lost.
Such is the position, as is repeatedly, after the manner of a father, to be found in the Bible:
that divine desire, that zest,
that quest, that seeking for the lost,
that desire to deliver,
whether the lost in Israel, or anywhere else,
with this prophet or that, as instrument for speech,
in this situation or that,
for the world (John 3:16) in extent,
or for a city, as in the case of Jonah with Nineveh.
What then do we find ? The divine rebuke to Jonah, in which the suffering which judgment would have levied is set before the disquieted prophet, as the Lord delightedly averts the disasters otherwise impending on Nineveh, sums it up with that proper relish which constantly and consistently rejoices the heart as one reads the word of God. Truncation of this cone is like seeking to abolish the last10,000 feet of Everest; but it is rather as if to abolish the heights of the divine mercy.
Prominent over all judgment, not to remove it but to distance it and to deliver from it, is this tempering tenderness, this divine and zealous love, this readiness to pay costs and redeem; and if in judgment mode, when the time comes, the truth is painful, yet mercy shut out does not distort the truth, but is the way to its non-sacrificial implementation. Neither truth nor mercy changes; but in all truth, there is a time when mercy is complete and only judgment remains (cf. Proverbs 1).
That is the position: God SO loves, has NO pleasure in the death of the wicked, would have ALL come to repentance and a knowledge of the truth (John 3:16, Ezekiel 33:11 and I Timothy 2), so that these verses in Hosea 7 are of the utmost interest.
You see the PRINCIPLE involved in the very story of Hosea, the prophet almost incredibly called to marry a harlot, who at that becomes unfaithful, till he has to redeem her to free her from her marital follies. The message is clear: GOD took a sinful people to make them His own, they strayed, and His redemption alone can avail for the deliverance of ANY of them.
Nor is this world different, the unchanging God being no respecter of persons, and whether it be the Old Covenant or the New (as Hebrews so pointedly shows), it is ONE eternal redemption made available for ANY, and it is not enough that the Messiah brings the chosen of Israel back to the Lord, but rather is His field in extending form, with the same gospel, passion and provision, that of being a light also to the Gentiles.
Indeed, in Isaiah 65:13ff., we see that this movement of the same mercy from the same God with the same Gospel in the New Covenant is such that until Israel repents, it becomes more like a curse than a blessing, and the inheritance of divine joy in the Lord moves to those who receive it, namely in this case, Gentilic peoples. It is this fact that Paul so greatly emphasises when he speaks of Isaiah's 'boldness', in declaring that to those who did not seek Him, yet in prodigious mercy the Lord has come with His mercy, even to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 10:19-21). When at last much of Israel DOES come to this same Messiah, it is as if blindness had been removed, and then as in Zechariah 12:10ff., there is a massive concentration on repentance which occupies several verses in the writings of that prophet.
GOD does not change; the OLIVE TREE (in Romans 11), wherein lay Israel, which was cut off like a branch, into which the Gentile believers then came, it is one and the same, rooted and grounded in the same God with the same name, nature and principles, concentrated in Ezekiel 33:11 in general terms, and expanded most explicitly in John 3:16, I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff., to show just the same attitude. It is one whether to those formally rather than functionally within His covenant, as Israel strayed, or to those called to it, but slipping, as the world strays.
He would bring all, but finds His own, where neither merit nor grace, superiority nor personability, neither charm nor goodness is relevant, for at this level, all fail utterly and entirely before the God of truth and brilliance of purity. Even the human will is irrelevant (John 1:12, Romans 9:16), as far as man's basic exercise of it is concerned, being polluted past function. It is not however irrelevant to God, though it is past its own control; and He who knows all things, and would have all, CITES this same PREFERENCE for darkness as the controverting phenomenon (John 3:19).
Here is the divinely listed negating action as before the mind of the eternal God who has known before all time who are His: it is this which brings man, even in the face of such love, justice and mercy in godly company, to his own requital. It is God who says so continually, whether in the Old Testament prophets, in Paul or in the words of the Messiah.
also The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, SMR
Appendix B, Great Execrations, Greater Grace
Chs. 7, 9.
See for example,
Earth Spasm ... Chs. 1, 7, DD 7,
Delusive Drift Ch.
Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Ch. 7
Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy Ch. 3.
News 59; with TMR Chs. 1 and 8.
For something similar in Victoria, yet not implemented in the same way, see the work, Lead Us not into Temptation.
The concept of naturalistic force has been an inspiration for the brutalities of a century notable amongst its confreres, for an evil inspiration in brutality and pride (cf. SMR p. 127).
*2 See SMR pp. 1032ff., 1086ff..
*3 See *3, of Life, What is it ?