Vision: The Building Site
24th March 2018
A few years ago, I had this Vision-Flash.
I saw a vast piece of land enclosed by a thick wall. Behind these walls was a building site. None could see what was being constructed there.
Vision: The Building Site
24th March 2018
A few years ago, I had this Vision-Flash.
I saw a vast piece of land enclosed by a thick wall. Behind these walls was a building site. None could see what was being constructed there.
19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
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When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
49 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lordhath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.
5 And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.
6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
7 Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
8 Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.
13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
14 But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
17 Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.
18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.
19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.
20 The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.
21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
22 Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
25 But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
20 And the gate of the outward court that looked toward the north, he measured the length thereof, and the breadth thereof.
21 And the little chambers thereof were three on this side and three on that side; and the posts thereof and the arches thereof were after the measure of the first gate: the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.
22 And their windows, and their arches, and their palm trees, were after the measure of the gate that looketh toward the east; and they went up unto it by seven steps; and the arches thereof were before them.
23 And the gate of the inner court was over against the gate toward the north, and toward the east; and he measured from gate to gate an hundred cubits.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
4 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.
2 And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
17 And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men:
18 And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God.
19 Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar.
20 And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him.
27 But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.
11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.
12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward.
8 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
2 Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
4 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
5 Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
6 He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
7 And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord‘s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
15 Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
16 And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord‘s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
17 Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them
None shall make you afraid. Lev 26:6
But we are afraid, often very greatly so. How can we be secured from the dread of men and things which so easily besets us?
We must be absolutely right with God. – To walk in God’s statutes, and keep His commandments, was the first condition of Israel’s immunity from fear. When we know that there is no cause of controversy between us and God, we feel able to count confidently on His protection and deliverance.. ,’Perfect love casteth out fear.”
We must count on God’s faithfulness. – He has put us where we are, and we dare not think He will withdraw from us, as Joab did from Uriah. We are His partners, summoned to cooperate with Him: will He allow us to incur responsibilities in His name, and then leave the burden on our unassisted resources? Fear will yield before a clear sense of God’s might; but it is still more likely to yield before a deep sense of God’s perfect faithfulness.
We must rely on the environment of angel keepers. – When David, during his flight before Absalom, slept in the open, he believed that the Angel of the Lord encamped around him. More are they which are for us than those that be against us. The mountain is full of horses and chariots of fire. Lord, open our eyes that we may see!
We must believe that our enemies are less formidable than they seem. – They surround us with their bluster and threatenings, they come against us in embattled array; but if we dare to go forward and do the right thing in the sight of God, they will vanish like a puff of smoke. “For, lo, the kings assembled themselves.
They were arrayed, they were dismayed, they hasted away.”
For do I now persuade men, or God?
With the same vehemence Paul continues: ‘You Galatians ought to be able to tell from my preaching and from the many afflictions which I have endured, whether I serve men or God. Everybody can see that my preaching has stirred up persecution against me everywhere, and has earned for me the cruel hatred of my own people, in fact the hatred of all men. This should convince you that by my preaching I do not seek the favor and praise of men, but the glory of God.’
No man can say that we are seeking the favor and praise of men with our doctrine. We teach that all men are naturally depraved. We condemn man’s free will, his strength, wisdom, and righteousness. We say that we obtain grace by the free mercy of God alone for Christ’s sake. This is no preaching to please men. This sort of preaching procures for us the hatred and disfavor of the world, persecutions, excommunications, murders, and curses.
‘Can’t you see that I seek no man’s favor by my doctrine?’ asks Paul. ‘If I were anxious for the favor of men I would flatter them. But what do I do? I condemn their works. I teach things only that I have been commanded to teach from above. For that I bring down upon my head the wrath of Jews and Gentiles. My doctrine must be right. It must be divine. Any other doctrine cannot be better than mine. Any other doctrine must be false and wicked.’
With Paul we boldly pronounce a curse upon every doctrine that does not agree with ours. We do not preach for the praise of men, or the favor of princes. We preach for the favor of God alone whose grace and mercy we proclaim. Whosoever teaches a gospel contrary to ours, or different from ours, let us be bold to say that he is sent of the devil.
Christians who float will drift off course — this is a sobering warning from 2 Peter 1:5–11. I’ll read the text to begin today’s episode. Peter writes:
60 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
4 Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
5 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
6 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.
8 Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?
9 Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.
10 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
11 Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.
12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.
13 The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14 The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee; The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 Whereas thou has been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.
16 Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
17 For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.
18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.
19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.
20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
21 Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.
22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.
Inferior Misgivings About Jesus
‘Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with.’
“I am impressed with the wonder of what God says, but He cannot expect me really to live it out in the details of my life!” When it comes to facing Jesus Christ on His own merits, our attitude is one of pious superiority – Your ideals are high and they impress us, but in touch with actual things, it cannot be done. Each of us thinks about Jesus in this way in some particular. These misgivings about Jesus start from the amused questions put to us when we talk of our transactions with God – Where are you going to get your money from? How are you going to be looked after? Or they start from ourselves when we tell Jesus that our case is a bit too hard for Him. It is all very well to say “Trust in the Lord,” but a man must live, and Jesus has nothing to draw with – nothing whereby to give us these things. Beware of the pious fraud in you which says – I have no misgivings about Jesus, only about myself. None of us ever had misgivings about ourselves; we know exactly what we cannot do, but we do have misgivings about Jesus. We are rather hurt at the idea that He can do what we cannot.
My misgivings arise from the fact that I ransack my own person to find out how He will he able to do it. My questions spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, let me bring them to the light and confess them – “Lord, I have had misgivings about Thee, I have not believed in Thy wits apart from my own; I have not believed in Thine almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.”
A SACRED GIFT OF SEEING
By A.W. Tozer
As God created us, we all have to some degree the power to imagine. That imagination is of great value in the service of God may be denied by some persons who have erroneously confused the word “imagination” with the word “imaginary.” The gospel of Jesus Christ has no truck with things imaginary.
The most realistic book in the world is the Bible. God is real. Men are real and so is sin and so are death and hell! The presence of God is not imaginary; neither is prayer the indulgence of a delightful fancy. The value of the cleansed imagination in the sphere of religion lies in its power to perceive in natural things shadows of things spiritual. A purified and Spirit-controlled imagination is the sacred gift of seeing; the ability to peer beyond the veil and gaze with astonished wonder upon the beauties and mysteries of things holy and eternal. The stodgy pedestrian mind does no credit to Christianity!
The Living God (1961)
One of the supreme distinguishing titles by which God is known in the Bible is “The Living God”. This title not only distinguishes Him in a general way from the dead gods of the heathen, indeed it does, but it relates Him in a practical way to many aspects of human life. There are gods many in this world; philosophic, aesthetic, artistic, idealistic, deistic, etc., which, if they have any value at all, never – at best – reach beyond the psychological, that is, the auto-suggestive effect.
We have only to look at the varied context of the occurrence of the title – The Living God – to see the uniqueness, the difference, and the livingness of the God who is our God, and is the only wise and true God (John 17:3; Rom. 16:27).
1. HE IS THE GOD WHO SPEAKS (Deut. 5:26)
“For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire…?”
This is the most outstanding feature of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Everywhere, in almost every book – the exceptions are very few – the God of the Bible is a God who speaks. Indeed, it is largely a record of what God has actually said – “…by divers portions and in divers manners” (Heb. 1:1). Supremely, comprehensively, and finally God has spoken in His Son, and in His Son again and again by His Spirit to this very time, God is known to speak as personally and intimately as any one human person could speak to another, and with greater effect. This God speaks livingly and powerfully, and unnumbered men and women can testify to the fact that He has spoken – actually spoken – to them.
2. HE IS THE GOD WHO GIVES EVIDENCE OF HIS PRESENCE (Joshua 3:10-17).
“And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you…”
In this piece of history, the evidence of the presence of the Living God was His making a dry passage in and through a river inundating all its banks, and a great host of many thousands of people quietly marching through its deep bed at such a time with dry feet. Moreover, five strong and terrible nations were successively and irresistibly subdued and destroyed, not by the natural or trained superiority of this people, but by the presence and power of the Living God enabling them. This is history. But how many impossible situations have been negotiated by the power of God in the lives of His people and the experience of His Church in all ages because they trusted in the Living God!
3. HE IS THE GOD WHO CONTROLS THE FORCES OF THE UNIVERSE (Jeremiah 10:10).
“But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God… at His wrath the earth trembleth…”
Here, the context relates to cosmic and terrestrial upheavals and preservations attributed to the Living God, or to the voice of the Living God. God speaks in phenomena. God can be known in tempests and in the quelling of them, whether they be in nature, in nations, or in personal human affairs and experiences. What a record could be written by many, such as missionaries in wild and dangerous places, of the hand of God in both raising ‘stormy winds’ and quelling them in the interests of His Name and testimony!
4. HE IS THE GOD WHO DELIVERS HIS SERVANTS AT HIS WILL (Daniel 6:26).
“I make a decree, that in all my dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God, and stedfast for ever…”
This was said, as is seen, when God had closed the mouths of the lions and delivered Daniel from them right in their den.
This Living God is the God who delivers when He chooses, and miraculously so. The people of God have known not a few dens of lions, both in number and variety, and their history is strewn with miracles of deliverance. There are many books written of these deliverances, and the facts are unassailable. “He is the living God, and stedfast for ever”, and although that was said by a very fickle and inconsistent king, he at least spoke the truth then.
EVENING THOUGHTS, or
DAILY WALKING WITH GOD
Octavius Winslow, 1858
“Let my prayer be set forth before you as
incense; and the lifting up of my hands
as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2
“It is God that justifies.” Rom. 8:33
IT would appear that there are two links in this marvelous chain—the purpose of God, and its final consummation; both so remote and invisible, as to bring the mind to a calm, unquestioning belief in certain doctrines of God’s word, which may more properly belong to the “deep things of God.” But while the two extremes of this chain of truths must for the present be left invisibly locked in God’s hand; there are certain intermediate and visible links, upon which if the perplexed and inquiring reader lay hold, he shall be saved, though all the rest remains wrapped in the profoundest mystery—like its Divine Author, dwelling in lone and unapproachable grandeur.
It is not essential to our salvation that we lift the veil of that awful mystery, and penetrate the depths of a past predestination, and a future glory; but it is essential to our salvation that we are called of God, and that by God we are justified. We may arrive at heaven without fathoming the awful profound of the one extreme, and with but twilight views of the magnificence spreading over all the other; but we cannot get to heaven without the Spirit’s grace and Christ’s righteousness. Grasp in faith, and receive into your heart, these two central and essential truths, and they will by and by lift you into a sunnier region, where all the rest will stand forth, clear and transparent, bathed in the noontide splendor of heaven’s own glory.
“It is God that justifies.” We believe that by many this cardinal doctrine of God’s justification is but imperfectly understood, and but indistinctly seen in its results. The lofty position of security in which it places the believer, the liberty, peace, and hope, into which it brings him, are points dim and obscure in the spiritual vision of many. We also believe that much of the weak, sickly Christianity of numbers is traceable, in a great measure, to the crude and gloomy conceptions they form of God, produced by not clearly seeing the interest which he felt, and the initiatory part which he took, in the great matter of our justification. Let our faith but trace the act of our justification to God, and we have placed ourselves upon a vantage-ground of the boldest defiance to all our enemies. Survey the truth in this light for a moment. Against whom have you sinned? Adopting David’s confession, you exclaim, “Against You, You only, have I sinned.” Having sinned against God, from God, then, you looked for the condemnation. You had violated His law, and from the lips of the Lawgiver you waited the sentence. When, lo! He declares Himself on your side.
Descending as from His tribunal, He comes and stands in your place, and avows Himself your Justifier. “It is God that justifies.” Upon you, a culprit, trembling at His bar, He throws His own righteousness, “which is unto all, and upon all those who believe;” and from that moment you are justified. Shall we, then, be indifferent to the part the Father took in the great question of our acceptance? Shall we cherish the shy and suspicious thought of God, as if He looked coldly at us, and felt that in pleading for His mercy, we were infringing upon His righteousness? Oh, no! Away with such thoughts of God! He it is who pronounces the act of your acquittal, and from His lips sound the glorious words, “No condemnation!” “It is God that justifies.”
The Trees of the Lord’s Planting
Reading: Ezek. 47:6-12; Psa. 1:3; Luke 6:44; Rev. 22:1-3; Rom. 8:6-7.
Going back to Ezekiel 47 as our foundation passage, it hardly needs to be said that in the Scriptures trees are people; they are symbols of men. There are very many passages, of course, which make that perfectly clear and sure. Psalm 1:3 is conclusive. In the bringing of the wood for the boards of the tabernacle it is again self-evident that trees are men who form a habitation for God in a collective way. The Lord spoke about trees (as we have read) as men, known by their fruit.
Now in Ezekiel 47 it is fairly clear that this is a prophecy which had its fulfilment in the first instance at Pentecost; that is, what is in this chapter is what came in on the day of Pentecost and with Pentecost, and characterises this dispensation. It will have another and fuller fulfilment when the time marked by Rev. 22 is reached. The river again proceeds out from the Throne of God and of the Lamb, the river of water of Life. But for the moment it is this present application and fulfilment of the prophecy which engages us, this dispensation is characterised by this. A river began to flow on the day of Pentecost out from the sanctuary by the way of the altar, and on its course living witnesses were rooted to continue as a line of testimony right down the whole course of that river of Life – on either side of the river, on each bank, a tree and another corresponding, two and two, so to speak – it is this full testimony. “He sent them two and two” (Luke 10:1). “If two of you shall agree… ” (Matt. 18:19) and so on. It is the Lord’s means of testimony down the whole course of the Holy Spirit’s movement through the dispensation – living witnesses.
A Living Organism
First of all, we must remind ourselves and be very clear on one simple and well-known fact that is well-known as a truth: that a tree is a living organism. It is not a machine, it is not an institution, it is not an office or an official thing, it is not an organised movement, it is not a fixed system. It is a living organism whose life is in itself and which is itself livingly reproductive by reason of its very life-energy. It is a living organism. That is the Lord’s conception of His testimony through this dispensation – living people planted into His very Life and standing as His witnesses right down the dispensation – witnesses to Him as their Life, to Christ the Life. The life of this organism is His Life; the water is the water of Life; the fruit is the fruit of Life; the leaves of healing are the leaves of Life, and there is no other effective ministry in this dispensation. It is not taking up things as teachings and doctrines and giving them out. It is not taking up work as a form of activity. It is expressing a Life, manifesting a Life, giving effect to the Life, or the Life giving effect to itself; having a means for its expression. That is the Lord’s idea for the whole of this dispensation, and we can see how effective and how fruitful, how mighty and how sufficient that is by looking at the first days of the process of that Life from the sanctuary. It was only when Life was supplanted by men’s institutions that things changed, and wherever and whenever that has been the case, men have sooner or later become conscious of a lack, of a need which cannot be met in any other way than by this Life of the Spirit, the Spirit of God.
Now, we may know that very well, it may be nothing new to us, but we here are concerned with the matter of our life’s meaning and significance on the earth for God; what is to be the result of our being here in a positive way for God. We may be thinking about service, about ministry, about work, about our usefulness to the Lord. Do not let us fail to recognise this and to get it well rooted in us and to have it always in our consciousness, that all ministry, all testimony, all witness, all service according to God’s mind in this dispensation is this: that God has His trees planted by the river of water, that they are there rooted in His Life, and that their business is, as a living organism, to express the nature, the power, the value, the potentialities of His divine Life, so that the Christian life and Christian service resolves itself into one thing, all questions about serving the Lord are resolved into this one thing: the measure of His Life coming into us and going out through us. That means that the whole of this life here on this earth is a question of how much of death is overcome by the triumph of His Life, and that, of course, resolves itself into what we have so often called ‘the battle for Life’. It is not only the battle to live, to have the spiritual life preserved. It is the battle for the testimony of Life.
Personal Meditations On Powerful Texts
By Tim King
I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one’ (Ezek. 22:30, NASB).
What a remarkable passage we have here from the lips of the Lord! According to the text, the great sovereign King of the universe would have halted His judgment upon His people, except that He found one thing lacking–a man among the rebellious who would build up the walls and stand in the gap before Him. One such man would have stayed the destruction of the nation, but alas, there was none to be found.
The picture God used to depict the spiritual deterioration of His people was that of a city wall (the main means of defense and security for cities at that time) falling into such disrepair that great breaches had developed. In these places the people were then vulnerable to the encroachment of the enemy.
To make matters worse, at this time it was not the Chaldeans or the Amorites or the Edomites or the Philistines who had set their destructive forces against Israel, but it was God Himself. This had occurred because of the Israelites’ pride and rebellion against God. ‘They rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them’ (Isa. 63:10, NASB).
The same thing had happened earlier in Israel’s history during the time they wandered in the wilderness. In fact, God killed more of His people because of their grumbling than the inhabitants of the land ever did. However, all of them would have been slain were it not for the earnest intercession of Moses on their behalf (Num. 14:11-12).
Few of us would argue that the evangelical church in North America has been characterized by pride and rebellion. Like the people of Israel in Old Testament history, we too are facing the reality of God’s opposition because of our arrogance and disobedience (James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). Yet, in all of this, where is the man who will stand in the gap in our generation?
It is certainly sobering to consider that the judgment of God may fall, not for lack of patience on His part, but for lack of prayer on ours. Brethren, build the walls by faithful preaching of the Word of God! Defend the church by standing in the breaches with holy pleadings on your lips for mercy and revival!
Love Expressed in Obedience
By A.W. Tozer
No matter what I write here, thousands of pastors will continue to call their people to prayer in the forlorn hope that God will finally relent and send revival if only His people wear themselves out in intercession. To such people God must indeed appear to be a hard taskmaster, for the years pass and the young get old and the aged die and still no help comes.
The prayer meeting room becomes a wailing wall and the lights burn long, and still the rains tarry.
Has God forgotten to be gracious? Let any reader begin to obey and he will have the answer. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21).
Isn’t that what we want after all?
The Unrivalled Power Of Prayer
‘We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.’
We realize that we are energized by the Holy Spirit for prayer; we know what it is to pray in the Spirit; but we do not so often realize that the Holy Spirit Himself prays in us prayers which we cannot utter. When we are born again of God and are indwelt by the Spirit of God, He expresses for us the unutterable.
“He,” the Spirit in you, “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God,” and God searches your heart not to know what your conscious prayers are, but to find out what is the prayer of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of God needs the nature of the believer as a shrine in which to offer His intercession. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” When Jesus Christ cleansed the temple, He “would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.” The Spirit of God will not allow you to use your body for your own convenience. Jesus ruthlessly cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and said – “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Have we recognized that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? If so, we must be careful to keep it undefiled for Him. We have to remember that our conscious life, though it is only a tiny bit of our personality, is to be regarded by us as a shrine of the Holy Ghost. He will look atter the unconscious part that we know nothing of; but we must see that we guard the conscious part for which we are responsible.
A Heart for God’s Testimony
That little romance – the Book of Ruth – stands as a link between the terrible spiritual tragedy – “Judges” – and God’s reaction thereto in David. “Ruth” ends with “Boaz begat Obed; and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.” The beginning of 1 Samuel sees the terrible hang-over of “Judges” and reveals the unspeakably low state that things were in spiritually. This cannot go on, and although a long time may elapse before the glory returns, God takes the vital step that will lead to the glory. That step is taken in the heart of a woman: a woman who in every way embodies the principle of Divine Sovereignty. There is so much in likeness between Hannah’s song and the “Magnificat” of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Read them both, and you will feel that Mary has been occupied with Hannah’s “Magnificat”.
It is in the heart of this woman, Hannah, that God moves to His highest peak in the Old Testament. It is not easy in reading those early chapters of 1 Samuel to get away from the impression that Hannah had a passionate and heart-broken concern for the Lord’s testimony. They went up to the Temple from year to year and must have seen and been involved in the conditions and practices described in chapter two, verses 12-17, etc.
That Hannah should later trust her so young child to live amidst such conditions needs some explanation. We would think that such would be the very last place in which any mother who cared for her child would have him live. However, it proved to be right whatever her judgment may have been. The point is that frustration of motherhood only made that mother instinct unbearable, and led her out to God in such a way that if God undertook in such an impossible situation, God should have the fruit of her travail. The mother instinct was God’s way of moving in relation to the recovery of His testimony in glory.
In this case – and it has often been so – the masculine strength, the principle of authority and government, while being very necessary, was not enough; indeed, it would fail by itself. The need was of a mother heart of sorrow, pain, travail, and distress. It was not all personal and self-centred. It was toward the Lord, and sacrifice entered into it very deeply. It was indeed a costly way. To have that passion beaten up to breaking-point meant reproach. Hannah was laughed at, ridiculed, despised, and discredited. She was misunderstood and maligned even by the religious head of the people, Eli. Hers was a lonely path. Her husband gave her things, but he could not really help her. This was the vessel which, by such a history, God was preparing a long way ahead for His recovery of purpose.
Lest it should be thought that we are being sentimental and fanciful, let us at once say that we are not thinking in terms of male and female necessarily. The Apostle Paul combined the strength of masculine authority and government in his own person and ministry with the tenderness of motherhood. He said: “My little children, of whom I am again in travail” (Galatians 4:19). It is a disposition, a heart, a capacity for suffering and sorrow born of love.
Such is God’s need and way. There can be no loss of Divine values without suffering resulting. It is the law of travail instituted and established when man first forfeited the best that God provided. We shall look in vain for any instance of letting go of Divine values which did not result in a train of suffering. But there is that which we may call vicarious suffering; that is, an entering into God’s loss with a heart of distress, a ‘filling up of that which is lacking of the sufferings of Christ for His body’s sake, which is the church’. That is what, in figure, Hannah did.
Samuel was the birth of the prophetic spirit when there was “no open vision”. He inherited the travailing spirit of his mother. It was his unhappy lot to spend much of his life in suffering the knowledge that an alternative to God’s best had been chosen by the people, and his counsel and warning were rejected and flouted. His judgment and leadership were discounted and ignored until the inevitable troubles arose. But he did bring in the “man after God’s heart”, who in his turn shared the sorrow and suffering of God during the reign of Saul, man’s choice.
What we have desired to indicate is that to bridge the gap between spiritual declension and loss, on the one side, and God’s fullest possible purpose, on the other, God has always had to find that which Hannah so beautifully and effectively represents, that is, a vessel with a heart well-nigh broken for His testimony.
First published in “A Witness and A Testimony” magazine, Nov-Dec 1965, Vol 43-6
In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely received should be freely given, his writings are not copyrighted. Therefore, we ask if you choose to share them with others, please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of changes, free of charge and free of copyright.
Jesus Right Hand of God
The same Jesus teaching and healing the multitude, sitting weary by the well-side, dying as the good Shepherd for His sheep, and seated now at the right hand of God in everlasting power and glory. When He says, “Tell My brethren, I ascend!” this is not to be defeated, exiled, forgotten, but to live for men and rule over men for ever.
. . . . The Lord delays His coming; the battle is long, and the powers of evil make desperate and repeated rallies, beating back again and again the armies of the living God when victory appeared in sight. But we lift our eyes unto the hills. We “look away to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith,”–from the Christ that was to the Christ that is, and again with restored assurance to the Christ that was and that is and that cometh. As we gaze upward to the Living One, where He sits at the right hand of the throne of God, the light of His glory returns to our eyes; the dimness passes from our vision, the despondency lifts from our hearts. There He sits,–His brow serene, His purpose sure, His power unbroken, His arm unwearied: “It is Christ Jesus that died, yea, rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makest intercession for us.”
The throne of God has not fallen; and while it stands, the dominion of Jesus is secure. . . He is the King of the ages . . . He understands the twenty-first century as perfectly as He did the first, and is mater of the situation still. . . . “Jesus is the Lord.” . . . It is the will of the Eternal “that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Jesus Christ is our “way” to the Father. . . As He mounts upwards–the Son of God, the man Christ Jesus–every cloud parts, every door opens, every power yields homage; all the peers of the universe–thrones, lordships, principalities, dominions–bend before Him while He ascends from rank to rank, from realm to realm; and He virtually says, “Where I pass, My human brethren, My poor earthly friends, must pass too.” The flaming sword that barred the path to Eden is put back into its sheath; the angel sentinels and heavenly warders are become “ministering spirits” to the kindred of their Lord. None can hinder, nor would wish to hinder our admittance, since He is not ashamed before His Father and the holy angels to call mankind His kindsmen.
The name of the ascended Jesus will be our password at the gates of Paradise and to the heaven of heavens. For the Son of God has said in our hearing,–has said it to the Most High God: “Father, I will that they whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am” (“The Ascension of Jesus,” Great Sermons on the Resurrection of Christ, compiled by Wilbur Smith, pp. 189-192).
Our Model Intercessor
By A.W. Tozer
Two other considerations may help us here. One is that our Lord did on at least one occasion pray for sinners. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” was a request made to God on behalf of evil men. Is it not reasonable that if Christ prayed for sinners once, He may be expected to pray for them again? Also we must remember that Jesus was a Son of man and frequently referred to Himself by that title. As such, He had and has a relationship to the whole human race. Is it thinkable that He would not pray for the race to which He belonged?
I realize that we are on holy ground right here, and common modesty would urge us to withhold any dogmatic judgments. But I believe that the question, Does our Lord pray for the unsaved? may be answered truthfully as follows: (1) As High Priest of His own redeemed people, Christ prays an efficacious prayer of intercession which avails only for those who trust Him as their Redeemer and Lord. This prayer is found in essence in John 17. (2) As Son of man and Savior, He prays for the lost world as well. Unless His prayers for the world were ascending to heaven, the judgment of God would not be withheld for a moment from the earth.