Anatomy Of A Fall – Ezekiel 28

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18



In a day of much going to-and-fro, in a day of the increase of knowledge and of what many falsely call “wisdom,” it behoves us to never lose sight of the cause of every fall, and the root of all wickedness.

The scriptures have set forth as an example before us the fall of the Covering Cherub, Son of the Dawn as he was properly called at one time; from which we ourselves are given a warning through the manner of his fall, and insight as to the source of his corruption.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.
Ezekiel 28:15 (NASB)

The words of Ezekiel reveal to us that this heavenly being was blameless in all his ways from the day he was created. God makes nothing unrighteous. No wickedness, no corruption, nor any moral evil, results from His design. That which arises contrary within them are derived from a turning of their will away from His good purpose, which, in turn, curses their generations also.

[We only see that the Lord “creates evil” and “forms darkness,” as the prophet Isaiah expressed, in the sense of letting loose upon the wicked the very calamity inherent within their crooked ways – this action on His part is not a moral evil, but only an “evil” in the sense of what we might call “evil tidings”: an omen of great trouble and righteous judgement upon the workers of iniquity. (See Isaiah 45:7 KJV)]

For He entrusted His creatures from the beginning to learn righteousness, after having created them blameless; perhaps similar to the way in which Jesus Himself would come to learn righteousness from infancy as an inherently blameless man – though His case differs in that His being very God assured no possibility of a fall on His part; so that through faith we might share in the blameless nature of His righteous blood.

Therefore, see how the corruption of this once-glorious creature is described: “unrighteousness was found in you.” Unrighteousness is not a thing created by the fallen one, nor is evil a pre-existing force which he came to embrace; yet iniquity came to be “found” in him. For God’s whole creation was blameless, and everything about it; but not having yet been perfected, there remained a capacity for the creature to deny the Creator’s art of perfecting, and and in so denying, to become what appeared to be a foul mark upon the canvas of His universe, and what sounded to be a dissident chord in the symphony of His magnum opus – what horror! For faith was always that through which the grace of God would perfect His creation; but the innovations of the self-reliant heart, puffed up in its self-perceived achievement and insight, have ever since been the undoing of faith within the creature, causing it to wander from the grace which sustained it, bringing forth sin unto death. “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” And so we ought always to be mindful that pride is the root of all evil.

Thus, in describing the fall of this anointed cherub through the peophet Ezekiel, the Lord reveals the innovations of pride in its self-reliance:

By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God.
Ezekiel 28:16a (NASB)

“By the abundance of your trade” – Some good translations render “trade” as “merchandising”. The proud heart takes what God has graciously bestowed only to make a name for itself and to turn the gift into a means of profiting over others. There is no greater a mockery of God’s grace than to put any price upon it less than that of the Life of His Son. And so this is precisely what the false prophets do in following after their father the Devil. They remove from men the only way to the kingdom of heaven through the incentivizing of self-deception, not even entering in themselves; having traded the Life of the Son for the false wisdom of the fallen Cherub: the enlightenment of self-exalting wisdom over the Life of God found in humility through faith.

“…you were (became) internally filled with violence, and you sinned…” – The exaltation of selfish ambition over the plan of God, and the seeing of His fellow creatures through the lens of personal agendas is always at great expense to the wellbeing of other; and the more vainly inflated one’s opinion of one’s own insight and purpose, the more inflated will be the sense of entitlement to climb and grasp over the heads of others for that which has not been granted of God. The further a soul travels down this path, the more senseless it becomes to the casual neglect of the good of another, violating the dignity of another without conscience. The more righteous such a soul deems his own cause, though the cause be not God’s, the more he will tend to think himself the righteous hand of God’s vengeance upon those who inconvenience his vision for the world around him. He will use his gifts and everything within his power to do violence, whether directly or indirectly, to those whom he has made his enemies; though none asked to be at enmity with him. Every spiritual matter becomes to him a competition of unrighteous jealousy, though he will not admit it; and so, in his mind he accuses everyone else of the very hypocrisy in which he is truly participating.

And how did this unrighteous jealousy arise? For he was made to radiate a measure of true light bestowed upon him by God. And what did God say in the beginning when He laid the foundations of the earth? “Let there be light!” The scripture tells us that at this time, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” For this unapproachable light, which was at that moment revealed through the spoken word of of God before His heavenly creatures, had no equal; and it was not to be fully comprehended by any except He from whom it proceeded. It may have been this first revelation of the Light of the World, the Son of Man, which provoked the cherub of lesser light to jealousy, not accepting his rightful place.

In any case, through the Word of God such light has gone forth that no darkness can overcome it, and the fate of all the unrighteousness which sprang forth thence was forever sealed from its very inception. All that the Father has willed and designed is of such perfect wisdom and prudence that even when His creatures should rebel, the ultimate undoing of their evil schemes is seeded within the schemes themselves. What first appeared as a foul mark upon the Master’s canvas has been enshrined in the beauty of His victory over it to show forth His untold wisdom through the reconciliation of the redeemed; and what first sounded as a dissident chord in the Great Composer’s symphony has been transposed within the richness of its manifold harmonies to pay tribute to His glory. His light shines forth into all the kosmos, and its purpose shall not ever be impeded. There is no darkness at all in God; and by its very nature, no darkness can abide in His presence.

“…therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God.” – In scripture, the “mountain of God” is the place of the meeting of His assembly, or His “divine council” (Psalm 82, 1Kings 22:19-22). So to cast the fallen one from this place denotes the worthlessness of his new-found “wisdom”. God needs no counsellor; therefore the wisdom of those sons of God which sit at His council are considered not for their wisdom over God, but for their unique expression of the wisdom that is from God. And that wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” But such was not the attitude of he who became enamored with himself over that which was the gift of God.

Therefore the Lord says of the one who squandered this highest of heavenly privilege, becoming a creature of darkness and falsehood:

And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Ezekiel 28:16 (NASB)

“I have destroyed you from…” – today we find this a curious turn of phrase. We know that the one undergoing this punishment was not unmade; therefore we might say that this “destroying from denotes such an utter separation of the condemned from his designated place, such a cleansing of the temple from its unworthy inhabitant, that the temple itself reflects no trace of him ever having occupied its space, nor even so much as having breathed its air. He has been so completely removed from his original place, that were the temple of God a sentient being, its pillars would have no memory of his walking between them, nor its blessed walls remember so much as an echo of the former songs of his devising.

But new are the feet of them that now walk between its pillars, and new shall ever be the songs which resound through the courts of heaven; for the True Conductor arranged His masterpiece, and has only begun to strike its first notes through the mouths of the redeemed. Let us therefore be quick in faith and constant in humility, as mere instruments laying hold of the sweet melody of His grace.

For consider again the Devil, and see from what a great height he fell:

“…from the midst of the stones of fire.” – How heavy are these words, and how frightening should they be to us all! Who has seen the stones of fire, much less walked in their midst? Wouldn’t such status be reserved for one great in the knowledge of the holy? And wouldn’t such a place also sanctify the one occupying it ever the more swiftly, so as to become immune to all vanity? Yet one who dwelt in such a radiance of holiness has indeed become vain. Therefore let no man suppose himself to be without the possibility danger, presuming upon the grace of God: within which presumption lie the very seeds of pride.

And so the Lord says,

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.
Ezekiel 28:17a (NASB)

Here at last we come to the heart of the matter. The anointed cherub possessed true divine beauty and had lain hold of true Godly wisdom, so much so that they are described as “your beauty… your knowledge” – which he had attained by the grace of God, and surely knew it once. Hence, it was not for any lack of these that he fell, nor even for a lack of knowing from whence they had proceeded.

But the test of every soul, from which even this mighty one was not exempt, is the test of a grateful devotion; which makes no idol of the increase of heavenly splendor within itself, but only glorifies He whose grace bestows its continued sustenance. The failure inherent within the sin of pride is the failure to continue by the grace of God. It was the failure of the cherub to say in his heart “Thy grace is sufficient for me: Thy strength is made perfect in my weakness.” For even the heavenly creature which has always lived without blame is fully and forever indebted to the Lord of Hosts for every gift bestowed upon it, being weak apart from God, and grows in its consecration according to its humble offerings of thanksgiving.

Ah, but what did this one begin to do in light of the unsearchable riches of God’s abundant gifts?

“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty…” – This marks the beginning of sinful pride. The effect produced has become gloried in above the One through whom it was ever possible. The heart has turned from He who gave it every good thing unto congratulating its own capacity for those good things to abide within it. “Surely,” he reasons within himself, “I have come to sustain this splendor, which the Lord graciously bestowed upon me, according to my own tendency for righteousness, by which I have learned to walk.” But have you not seen, O fallen one, how that righteous tendency in itself is a yet greater gift, for which you ought to fall down in humble adoration before the Giver of such grace upon grace? But you have seized upon it to make much of your splendour rather than of He through whom your splendor was given: therefore it has been stripped away; and you are left to crawl in its absence, and to deceive by the false light which you have since contrived.

“You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.” – In saying that his wisdom became corrupted, it is revealed that his wisdom was once uncorrupt. It was not his wisdom that corrupted him, but rather the attitude in which he began to hold it. We see here his wisdom described as the cause for his splendor, or the good soil from which righteousness had bloomed to splendidly array him in the clean garments of heavenly beauty. Yet “by reason of” this resultant splendor, the wisdom from which it had flowed became corrupted.

Yet isn’t the splendor a good thing? We have no reason to believe that it it wasn’t. What then is meant by the phrase, “by reason of your splendor”? Simply put, the lifting up of the cherub’s heart was seemingly justified to his proud mind because of his elevated wisdom. He considered the possession of wisdom, which was manifest in his splendor, to be a justification to feel entitled to walk in a path of his own making, to sing a melody in praise of his own sanctity, and to have a kingdom unto himself. For as we have already established, he had begun to see his beauty as a grace not of God, but of his own worthiness – though at first he may not have said it even to himself this way, as self-deception works with great subtlety.

So it is not the abundance of wisdom in itself that brought him to this self-justifying posture of heart; for we know that had he truly consulted the heavenly wisdom – which he indeed possessed – he would have found it rebuking all such thoughts. But he who has committed to a path of self-reliance must by necessity heed no warning against it, though wisdom has called out to him at every turn.

Therefore, those which rebel against the Living God must lie and must continue to lie – primarily to themselves, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” And those who so lie, and do not relent in their self-deception, build an entire world about themselves; which they themselves come to believe with such a sincerity that their false light appears as divine as the holy angels unto those who are likewise quick to trust their own hearts, not being grounded in the Truth. Thus, the Devil is called by Christ the father of lies; for he was first to lie, and he precedes all others in spinning a web of lies to defend himself against the inevitability of the truth. Hence, his lies are of the most primary and essential untruth and unreality; since he contended at first with all of heaven against He in whom and according to whom is all truth.

And so, because he came to contradict the One whose very Name is The Truth, the very manner of his fall has become the lie, and has been falsely conveyed by his nameless whispers to the ears of all men, that they may sympathize with him as the misunderstood victim of an unjust God.

Therefore, lest such a deception be left with any excuse in the world, the punishment of God is perfect:

I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.
Ezekiel 28:17b (NASB)

The ultimate fruit of sinful pride is shame and exposure. The casting down of the fallen cherub is a warning, especially to rulers – but indeed to every man – that the Lord will share no glory with another, and cannot be fooled by the hypocrite. God has revealed this to every heart, so that the more any man puffs himself up, the more conviction of the truth he must suppress in unrighteousness, and the more he must lie to himself in order to evade the hound of repentance which seeks to bear down upon him. And that gift of repentance is not granted to the fallen angels, some of whom Christ visited in prison to declare His victory; but only among men has He become incarnate: so that the hordes of the Devil are vicious toward men, seeking always to subvert their course to salvation. But the Lord has set His Day of vengeance, and He will not delay.

So let the kings renounce any allegiance to the accuser of the brethren, whereby they seek the destruction of God’s people; for he will always betray their trust, and they will find him only to be a purveyor of death to them. O kings! O judges! O legislators! Do you see him who was cast to the ground, who was made to partake in dust? His fall is set before you, and you know it within your own hearts! The same shall be your lot if you do not pay obeisance to the Son of God.

For He is full of mercy, and abounding in steadfast love; but He will not leave the guilty unpunished. By him kings both rule and fall. It is He that overturns the kings from their thrones and rips their kingdoms from before their faces; because they do not exalt or praise Him, or humbly acknowledge whence the kingdom was given to them. In the Day of His rule, shame fills the faces of the wicked; but those who recognize the Son of Man are blessed.

Learn the wisdom of King Nebuchadnezzar, who thought himself a god among men, and was cursed to become as a beast of the field; and who, after coming back to his senses, glorified the God of Daniel as King of kings and Lord of lords, “whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase” – and so his kingdom was returned to him, and all its glory. Humble yourself before the time; for you do not know the Day of your visitation, or what example the God of heaven will make of you should you walk in that delusion of the serpent.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 2:10-12 (ESV)

The horrors into which the powers of darkness have drawn the rulers of earth will be their downfall, and the lot of the righteous will always prevail over them. For although they cannot see it, the kingdom of God permeates the whole earth, and the Lord is seated above its heaven, undefeated.

Poem – “He Has Made The Tyrants Shake”

One Shepherd, One Anointing

The visible church of today, and especially its recognized leaders, are quick to warn of what they see as the dangers of so-called “lone-wolf christianity.”

Aside from this being a manipulative and disengenuous rhetorical jab; it is usually an utter misrepresentation of those whom they so accuse. They themselves are in fact the ones placing themselves between men and God. It is their false and merely organizational authority which has led astray the sheep of the Good Shepherd from HIS Spiritual authority.

They often warn that if each member of Christ’s body only followed the anointing of His Spirit, in accordance with the gifts and callings apportioned by God to them, that there would be no order in the Body. Little do they recognize in their pride what chaos their rending of the True Head from the Body has actually sown, what it has already reaped, and what it will continue to reap.

They may even, to some extent, be feeding some of the sheep; nevertheless, God is long finished with their ways, and they must repent of their arrogance, insolence, and slander.

Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

Ezekiel 34:10-12 (ESV)


Elect In His Calling

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)

The election of the saints is according to something, in something, and for something; all of which are to bear themselves out in this present time upon the earth.

These are not theoretical matters, but living and consequential matters: each one of the three proceeding from God Himself with the intent and power to find their fulfillment by the obedience of faith within His elect.


Elect “According To”


“…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”

The first of these three is the only sure fountain of the other two. If we do not appreciate the humbling enormity of what this election, or this choosing, is “according to,” then we rob the subsequent matters of their true source of power.

For if God’s electing grace was according to our own choosing, then He should still be waiting for our dead souls to impossibly come alive and choose. But praise be to God! That while we were yet dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive: so that we might see, with the eyes of a faith once unattainable, the grace of God bestowed upon us in a predestinating love that conforms us to the image of His Son!

That God foreknew is not a theological term for divine time travel. God did not peer helplessly along the parade of souls through time, hoping to see if there were many who decided to believe in Him. The prophets indeed tell us what God sees when He looks upon fallen man: “And there was no man to intercede.” Men have altogether failed to intercede, even on behalf of their own souls. And how could they? For they are not able to please Him, being without the gift of faith, the seed of His Life, in them.

That God forknew the elect means that He KNEW THEM personally before their time. It is a term of the longing and loving relationship of the Shepherd who seeks out the one lost sheep of the hundred, laying down His very Life for it. The Life-giving call goes out, and His lost sheep awaken to hear His voice, responding with cries for help.

Later on (v.3), Peter will say that according to this abundant mercy, we have been caused to be born again “to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” A living hope! A tangible hope! This means that the subsequent sanctification of the Spirit also comes from God, and not from ourselves. It is God’s power by which we are being gaurded through faith for the revealing of this ever-unfolding salvation until the Last Day (v.4-7).


Elect “In”


“…in the sanctification of the Spirit…”

The relational foreknowing of God, once having planted its seed, is meant to produce the fruit of the same Spirit by whose power we have been generated from above. It is at this point of contact with our lives that the electing and calling will of God tests the soil of the heart of a man. It is here that the seed will germinate and become fruitful, or wither.

It is here that the birds of the air will consume the seed if the soil of the heart is hard and unreceptive to its manner of dying. It is here that the heat will scorch it for lack of depth and root, though it spring up quickly at first. It is here that thorns and thistles will choke it out unless resilient growth displaces them.

And in that parable of the soils is also seen the progression of growth based upon how those three bad soils failed to receive the seed: hardness of heart in the first case, lack of depth in the second, and worldly cares in the third. Whereas, the pattern of growth is as follows: first, the heart softening to recieve the Seed which died and now lives, that it may spring up anew; second, the newly softened ground giving way to greater depth of root; and third, that depth of root producing a resilient and fruitful planting – a tree which the birds of the air rest in the shade of, the sun cannot scorch, and the thorns and thistles have no effect upon.

Such is the work of the Spirit of God within the heart that keeps its First Love, surrendering to His mighty work. It is not for lack of His powerful working that we have no power; it is rather for our lack of abiding faith in He who works powerfully in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The three bad soils are so easily emulated in us – and the saint must vigilantly make war upon these conditions if the heart if Christ is to be fully formed in it.

The saints (Gk. holy ones) are elect in the santification of the Spirit.

“In” – it is a matter of abiding. Holy ones are those who do not allow their garments to remain defiled if they become stained. Therefore, we are later exhorted by Peter to be found confirming our calling and election; because continual repentance keeps the elect in the sanctification of the Spirit, by which their true obedience is made possible.


Elect “For”


“…for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood…”

This third matter of the elect’s calling is inseperably twofold.

There can be no true obedience – the obedience undefiled by selfish motives – unless the heart from whence it proceeds is already being purified by a worthy sacrifice. If the prescribed sacrifices of the old covenant were in themselves unable to perfect those drawing near to God, nor could they cleanse the conscience, nor actually take away sins; how much more inadequate then are the sacrifices of which our own vain minds conceive in our pitiful attempts to enter the courts of God.

Therefore the writer to the Hebrews said,

For by one offering He has perfected the carrying through of the ones being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14 (LITV)

Those who are being sanctified are being “carried through” into the holy of holies: not by God deceiving Himself and merely hiding our sins from before His face; but rather by we no longer deceiving ourselves, and He actually taking away our sins as we behold His face.

The matter therefore once again comes down to the substance of our faith: what our hands and feet proclaim to be our hope, and what our path testifies to be our vision. The blood of Jesus is that by which our faith is fully assured, and that which sprinkles our hearts from an evil conscience, and that which washes even our body as in pure water to walk in the obedience of a living faith.

To enter the holiest place is to enter as a living sacrifice upon an altar. To remain in the holiest place is to remain and increasingly embody an intercessory posture.

Earlier, I noted how the unregenerate man has no intercessory ability (or desire, truly). But those who are elect by God’s will in the santification of the Spirit are brought into an obedience that is a life of intercession on behalf of the spiritual body into which they are now integrated. The obedience to Jesus and the sprinkling with His blood is what they are now purposed “for,” as priests in His living temple, ministering unto God.

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)


“So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.”
– Author Unknown, to “Diognetus”
[circa 130AD~200s AD]


“Such A Heart In Them”

“Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou (Moses) near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.”
Deuteronomy 5:25-27

Thus was the stubborn posture of the hearts of the children of Israel toward the Word of God when it came to them in power and great glory.

The hearts of men are often blind to the mercy that has already been shown to them unmerited; therefore grace remains a stranger to them, and they to it. Despite all the clear proof that God has not already struck them down in wrath, the ungrateful question of the accuser ever stirs within their souls, “Has God indeed said?” And by their love of that lawless question, however secret it may be, all of their ways are made crooked, and they always miss God. For notice that outwardly they still claim that they will perform the commandment of God; but only, they say, if another should “Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee.”

Now, although it pleased God in His sovereign plan that, for our learning, Moses should stand as a kind of mediator on behalf of the children of Israel, prefiguring for us the humbling of His Word in a Man on our behalf; still, His jealousy remained provoked in that ancient day toward those who so rejected His Word as it had appeared to them. For God will not be mocked; and His way will stand, though men inventively seek any other door than what He graciously provides. He is dissatisfied with such a generation, and laments their hardness of heart.

And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye (Israel) spake unto me (Moses); and the Lord said unto me, “I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”
Deuteronomy 5:28-29

“…they have well said all that they have spoken.”
The Lord who searches the thoughts and intentions is not taken aback by the self-deceit which pervades the hardened heart of merely religious men. Their most pious response is still dependant upon another man knowing God for them; and this He sees as no different, if not even more despicable, than those who shake their fists at Him unabashedly.

“O that there were such an heart in them…”
The hearts which tend by God’s grace towards true obedience are marked by a desire to know God’s voice for themselves. But those which tend away from desiring a personal knowing of God’s voice; who tend to desire the voice of other men; and perhaps even mock that God would so speak to them, except through a man – these reveal that they are full of much disobedience already.

“…that they would fear Me…”
The wisdom of God is obtained through the fear of Him: those who fear Him seek His counsel diligently for themselves, and leave it not in the hands of another.

“…and keep all My commandments always…”
The scriptures loudly attest to us that true obedience is that which is born of a heart that has been made humble and contrite before the living God. When God appears to such persons, they bow in faith saying, “Thy will be done, and first in me!” – and they go forth, though they may not see how it is possible. For they trust that He who gives the commandment will grant within them its Breath unto Life. But the passing of one’s own responsibility onto another is the way of the dead.

“…that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”
We bring ruin upon not only ourselves, but in many ways our children also, when we willingly give place to any other Mediator than Christ Jesus. Let us not render ourselves as another lesson of failure for a generation yet future; and if we do, may our own children quickly overcome our lawless and faithless spirit, however it might sting our wicked pride.

As Moses said to Israel earlier in the same discourse, recounting God’s marvelous deeds among them:

“Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.” Also the Lord was angry with me (Moses) for your sakes, saying, “Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.”
Deuteronomy 1:35-38

Thoughts on Hypocrisy & Repentance

It is the inconsistencies which we most tolerate within ourselves that make us the most hypocritical. These may even seem to be our smallest faults; yet no matter what they are, if we tolerate them the most, they render us more grievous hypocrites than the greatest failings of which we tend to immediately repent.

Wickedness and idolatry will take whatever shape or form that it requires to survive; and subtlety is its greatest weapon.

Repentance is the destroyer of all hypocrisy, and righteousness fills the void left by its absence. Heavy lies the flesh of he who does not repent of every known fault; but free is the man whose slave-master is Christ.

“Come and Die”

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Luke 9:57-58 (ESV)

Men look to build for themselves their own sense of purpose; but God wants to take His own beyond this vain paradigm to walk in the lively substance of He who is the very purpose. A man’s hopes of success or earthly blessing will not get him through the onslaught of the Devil when he with heaven’s approval tears every hope and dream into pieces. And then, what will that poor soul do? How long will he shake his fist at God? Not even the prospect of the grave shall give that man solace thereafter, though he wished it would; for he has digged it far too shallow.

“But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.” (Lam 3:32) To be raised up most fully into the heavens, one must pass most fully through the blackness of death itself. The cross’s work is not finished for a man until it has begun finishing the man. One must be being crucified to find the resurrection Life of Christ, leaving behind the trivialities of man’s self-defined purposes. One must walk through hell’s onslaught, through the terrors of death itself; holding fast the Spirit’s flame before the cold black stare of Satan’s nothingness. A man’s sense of purpose is only as good as his ability to keep it; but if he would go up to deeper and higher places with God, God’s depths and heights will demand of the man its demise: for the kingdom of God is where men and their own aspirations go to die.

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)

God in Christ brings us into His purpose by bringing us beyond ourselves – if only we will allow His death to be ours in this life daily; so that His very Life might reign in us, and consequently, we in His Life. God Himself must become our only means to His only ends; our only vision and our only Hope beyond hope. If you have another plan, may God shatter it beyond repair! O, let nothing be of any use to us but the keeping of the presence of God with us! It costs absolutely everything else; but there is no other way. Only then are we no longer entrapped in this world by the selfishness of seeking our own things; only then are we sufficiently broken vessels to pour forth the sweet aroma of Christ’s work for the glory of God alone.

Obedience to God as the means of finding our own sense of purpose is idolatry. His ministration will not be mocked even by what men call “ministries.” But obedience to God because He is worthy is its own reward to the humble; for it is the power of God moving within a man beyond that man’s capabilities, and it is the Spirit of God unhindered even by a man’s most seemingly pious desires. It is the legacy of those who have counted all as loss; it is the result of men reaching the end of their own rope, and finally letting go.

There is nothing more embittering than the anguish of defeat and loss without purpose. But there is nothing sweeter to the soul than the continual repentance whose heavenly joy is birthed by God’s own hand through said anguish; which finds strength beyond strength in the admittance of defeat; whose purpose is wrapped up in the mystery of Godliness at the willing loss of all else.

Let this mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus.

The Lord Is A Man Of War

The Lord is a man of war:
The Lord is His Name.
Exodus 15:3

Throughout the earthly life of our Lord was manifested this very truth in all that He did and said. Never was the warfare a distant or partial truth to the Son of God – it was was the present reality within which His deeds were done, and His words spoken…

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,
that He might destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8

Whether in preaching the good news, in healing the sick, or in casting out demons, His eyes were alight with the vision of the battle before Him. His passion, His compassion, and His righteous anger all symphonized into the heavenly music of His ministration: vigorous, gentle, and awesome.

In the synagogue He healed the man with the withered hand; and in so doing condemned those who with vehement disapproval looked on. In this He warred against and exposed the false spirit of the pharisees’ religiosity. In large crowds He walked about, teaching men the way of Life; thereby releasing them from the bondage of contrived burdens unto the freedom of His Lordship. In this He warred against and exposed the captivity of the adversary. With great frequency He also cast out demons; directly throwing off the power of the wicked one from those who drew near to His holy light. In this He warred against and exposed the secret devices of the enemy. And in all these things, our Lord was ever in prayer, communing with the Father; and gained final victory over the corruption that is in the flesh by His perfect intercession.

What then of ourselves? Are we men of war after His likeness? For such will become those who are indeed His workmanship!

The Lord is a man of war:
The LORD (YHWH) is His Name.

Is the Spirit of The Lord upon you? Should you not then be a man of war after His likeness? One will say, “Ah, but the scriptures say, “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Ex 14:14), and, “The battle belongs to the Lord.” – And truly indeed does the battle belong to Him, truly indeed is it His own to glory in. Yet it is on the children’s behalf that He fights while they hold their peace, since war is not the province of children. But He is a man of war: for war is the province of men, not of children; and He would not have us always remain helpless children (Eph 4:13-14).

For, through men of war, God glories all the more in battle, since then He displays two victories: the one over us, and then the one through us. Under Joshua, the men who warred for the advance of Israel were at times called “mighty men of valour” – and would that we might be called the same!

But carnal men love the convenience of slavery to Pharaoh; and after a time, slaves grow to love the providence of their worldly captors over the deliverance of God. How many a warring man of God is met even by brethren with the accusation, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Ex 2:14) Cowards fear deliverance, and spit upon its purveyors.

How easily does the slumbering soul dismiss the Lord’s zeal for His house as undue severity! How quick is the conceited mind to mistake the Lord’s dispassion in battle for a lack of heart! For if many of us today had witnessed Jesus drive the moneychangers out of the temple, we might have thought to take Him aside and suggest that He utilize a more “civil” or “toned down” measure against their grievous evil. And if we had observed Him seated outside the temple beforehand, weaving the whip in silence, we might have gasped in self-righteous shock, hand-over-heart at this “uncaring” and “ruthless” display of quiet premeditation.

We burn with the unreliable fire of human offence, yet smother the white-hot furnace of Godly passion. We embrace the nihilism and empty hatred of human apathy, yet recoil at the unearthly calm of Godly dispassion. This is because we scarcely walk with God: and in particular, because we have not spent a day on the battlefield with Him – except either in captivity of the enemy, or in cowering behind the Lord, who is trying to teach our hands to war and our fingers to fight.

But the warring character of Christ – with both holy zeal and divine peace – shone forth brightly in Peter when he confronted Ananias and Saphira in their lie…

And Peter answered unto her, “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?” And she said, “Yea, for so much.” Then Peter said unto her, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.” Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Acts 5:8-11

Peter derived no earthly pleasure in the demise of these two; yet he also did not shrink from his duty in keeping the house of God clean from the blemish of deceitful scheming. When the Spirit of the Lord is upon a man to do battle against the devil’s handiwork, the man is on fire; and as he fights, he finds peace in the Lord while doing the Lord’s will – though in his wake other men lie possibly condemned, and all around him the demons are stirred up.

In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence:
and His children shall have a place of refuge.

Proverbs 14:26

But to fear man is to not fear the Lord; and Egypt is always more than happy to take back its slaves.

Let not the house of God remain a den of thieves: trading the souls of its men for mammon, and their divinely-given birthright for a single meal.

Men of war kneel only for their King.

Psalm 73 – Injustice & Purity Of Heart

Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
Psalm 73:1 (ESV)

The holy nation of God is made up of those who are pure in heart. For the thing which God is after is a spiritual holy nation. His holy uncompromising love issues forth from pure hearts because the pure heart is that which walks in a clean conscience, so that its participation in the faith may always be instant and authentic.

The aim of our charge is love
that issues from a pure heart
and a good conscience
and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5

These are a peculiar people, for they are no one’s possession except Christ’s. They are not even their own: they see and are ever undone at the immeasurable worth of His buying price for their souls. Today is the day for purity of heart to be sought and acquired in the members of God’s house, lest the jealous yearning of His indwelling Spirit be provoked, and we miss His every visitation.

The prophet wondered aloud regarding the day in which the Lord suddenly comes to His temple: “But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiners fire…” We the temple stand in the midst of that day, a day in which He first visits His own house to purge the iniquity and burn away the chaff.

“It is time for judgement to begin at the house of God.” The names of those who weep over the desolate state of His people are being written in heaven’s books, as well as those who have desolated that temple. Let every one whom God has called into the participation of His Life heed the warnings of His word.

Yet the earnest of heart, who desire no other shepherd than the Good One, who cry for nothing less than the Lord Himself to be fully glorified in them, who long for His perfect will to be done in light of these things – these souls are often heavily burdened with the knowledge of a world in which the darkness often seems to overcome God’s light, and the where Truth has fallen in the streets. I, the one writing this, have at many times been overcome with such grief, and pushed aside God’s peace in my wallowing.

The seventy-third Psalm has, for some time now, been a sharp instrument in the skilled hands of my Physician. It contains the words of a man rightfully disenchanted with the spiritual injustice of his day, yet crippled by the impure response of his own heart toward it. The proverb is true: “the more knowledge, the more sorrow;” and the sorrowful soul that is not allowing itself to be continually restored by the Lord can become just as deceitful and desperately wicked as any unregenerate heart. Those who see the horror of things as they truly are, who hear the urgent call of God to His people, can easily run the risk of feeling as though they have come to something which excludes them from requiring further sanctification. Herein lies the path of becoming both unmerciful and unjust in response to what God is revealing. The great danger of conviction is that we become content with its mere presence, neglecting its call to an ever-deepening repentance within ourselves.

The Psalmist continues…

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Psalm 73:2-5

“I was envious of the arrogant…” Here is the confession of a man who observed the order of things correctly, yet had contemplated them unrighteously within his soul. A lack of personal peace due to the success of the wicked indicates this envy within the heart. Envy is not merely covetousness. Covetousness has to do with lusts and selfish desires; but envy more broadly describes a self-centered sense of justice. Envy is, however, a root of restless evil which also supplies the many tendrils of covetousness. But even if we do not directly covet the unrighteousness of men or their gain by it, it is still the sin of envy which robs us of walking in the peace of God. In being envious of the arrogant, we become arrogant. Where God does not appear in our own sight to be the fulcrum of justice, we overstep Him to seek out our own. This is the envy here described. We act in the passion of envy and speak in the heat of our own displeasure. Our reasoning may be absolutely correct, but our heart is not right.

This envy reveals the absence of Godly contentment; it is the frame of those seeking their own justice for all that rightly disturbs their souls. The Devil has learned well to drain the Godly contentment out of those who are righteously dissatisfied with the status quo of man’s systems. For what we envy is the apparent peace of the wicked in light of the apparent disappointment of “I, the righteous,” (though we may not admit to such thoughts). But this is not reality as God sees it; since there is no true peace for the wicked, and disappointment is not the mind of those who trust in the Lord. We think too highly of our selfishly impassioned understandings. A lack of entrusting God’s capable hands to be in control of matters too lofty for us brings about the crippling frustration of envy in our souls, so that in the secret of our hearts, we rail against the Most High over our perceived predicament, as the wicked seem to always prosper.

“The murmuring spirit… has much of the spirit of Satan within it.”
– Jeremiah Burrows

Self-pity is the unrighteous bog in which we soak our hearts when we allow the evil of men to overshadow the goodness of God in our present sight. But we are exhorted by Him to see from eternity, that we may bring back the piercing decree of eternity to lighten this present darkness. The decree from what our own eyes see and our own ears hear among men will not do; since from these, God’s perfect justice and equity can never proceed. But those who have saught and received His heavenly counsel are able to hold fast in the truth in a true heart; since on their behalf, His mercy has triumphed over judgement. By the brightness of His glory before the eyes of their hearts, and in the burning of His coals upon their lips, His rod of discipline and staff of guidance become their acquaintances, and they learn that their own obedience is not yet complete, lest they should hastily decree a final word against the wicked.

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged:
and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.
Proverbs 16:6

Let us, therefore, with thankfulness and reverence, fix our eyes upon the things which are of Christ, our only boast. Blessed are those who invite the searching light of God into the unvisited places of the heart, that when His purifying fire comes, it may be gladly received to do its work! In such a place, His triumph over the enemy will be seen.

But regarding the wicked, whom we ourselves emulate by the unrighteous fellowship of envy, the Psalmist continues…

Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore His people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them. And they say,
“How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease,
they increase in riches.
Psalm 73:6-12

The soul most embittered by perceived injustice most quickly rises within the ranks of the unjust. The unjust were all at one time crying out for justice themselves. For no sooner does a man give himself to earnestly seek God’s justice in light of great evil, than the Devil and the flesh remind him of every wrong that he has suffered at the hands of men – especially the betrayal of his very brothers. When we seek the undoing of unrighteousness to find the peace of God rather than standing in the peace of God to find the undoing of unrighteousness, we inevitably find ourselves likewise setting our mouths against the heavens. Yet what was our Lord’s response to this world, He knowing men’s wicked hearts beforehand? See what it accomplished! For in Him the Spirit blew where it wished. At one time He was quick to rebuke; at another, to extend mercy; at another, to leave men to themselves. All these interactions were enthroned upon righteousness and justice; for He knew what was in man, because He knew where He came from and where He was going. He perfectly discerned others because He perfectly discerned Himself, so that the Holy Spirit was at liberty in Him. The degree to which we discern ourselves determines the degree to which we discern outside of ourselves and are enabled to be more precisely led by His Spirit.

He shall not judge by what His eyes see, or decide disputes by what His ears hear, but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall kill the wicked.
Isaiah 11:3-4

Such is the way of one whose life proceeds from heaven. The desired reward of true righteousness is the singular glory of God, who today still sends His rain upon the just and the unjust alike. The pure in heart know that they are not the protectors of God’s glory – this is why they can stand undeterred in spirit despite the wicked schemes round about them. For the wise do not dare touch the Ark of God to steady it, though it appears for a moment to waver. The tempter prompts good yet undiscerning men to seize the day right when God is about to make it His own. Any ministration which bypasses the direct working of His Spirit is a ministration after the spirit of antichrist. If we are grieved by what we see and spurred to action with the Holy Spirit, then let the justice of God first overtake and trample our own motivations, lest our own decree go forth and not His. The purest justice flows from a vessel which has itself been most refined in judgement; but the heart envious toward evil men reveals its own impurity as it wearies of walking uprightly amidst such a perverse generation…

All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
Psalm 73:13-17

The response of an impure heart toward evil both within and without God’s house causes our brethren to stumble, for in our envious condition we ourselves are slipping. Let such infancy in grace give way to maturity through both receiving and trusting His good counsel, which He reserves for the ones who diligently seek Him. Holy ground is walked upon by those who earnestly desire to look upon HIS beauty and inquire in HIS temple. Only here is made known in the depths of our being the unfathomableness of His perfection in His dealings with men: of His foreknowledge and His longsuffering, of His mercy and His wrath stored up for their respective days, of the desperate longings of His heart unsearchable, of the boundless symmetry of His way inscrutable. Those who humble themselves to seek the counsel of the Lord regarding their grievances will find not merely words to fill an intellectual gap, but living eye-salve of the Holy Spirit. For He reveals His heart regarding the wicked only so much as we allow our own darkness to likewise be lightened.

Truly You set them in slippery places;
You make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when You rouse yourself,
You despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward You.
Nevertheless, I am continually with You;
You hold my right hand.
Psalm 73:18-23

The pure in heart do not overstep God’s decree regarding the wicked: they are satisfied with it; for they have seen His decree’s relevance even to themselves, and their own deserved fate, but for His ever-new mercies. They find peace even in the hearing of His heavier counsels, for they know the good of conceding to His way. In this they are not denying His intercession through them, but they uphold its rightful place. Intercession is the extending of God’s heart within us for what He has decreed, not of our own counsels toward Him; and there are times when He emphatically says, “Pray NOT for this people, for their good…” (Jer 14:11) There is a sin leading to death, and we would do well to walk in the discernment of He who sees the hidden thoughts and intentions of every heart. Conversely, within those for whom God still suffers long, there can be a particularly unruly waywardness which requires us to trustingly remove our hands from them, so that He who drew us to Himself apart from man’s devices might be able do the same in them, and we may rejoice in His hope.

We often despise God’s times and seasons, because He uses them to challenge what we suppose should be happening and when. The sooner we trust Him, the sooner we shall see His hour. But we need to trust Him first – then He will do whatever pleases Him, however it pleases Him. The prophet Elijah, who hid himself in virtual exile for years at a time upon the command of God, became so entwined in God’s perfect will that he could confidently say, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to MY word.” (1 Kings 17:1) Elijah lived standing before God Himself, speaking and moving according to whatever he saw his God doing. He was a true intercessor: a man who stood in the gap, just as Noah who “by faith… condemned the world” in his building of God’s refuge for the righteous few. The battle within us is not merely between action and inaction; it is a matter of whose action. There is a Devilish restlessness which saps the Godly strength of a ready soul, and a haughtiness which blinds the eyes to the present desire of God.

The most well-intentioned self-will is the greatest neutralizer of true intercession. The tether which binds fleshly action to a holy burden is sensual and demonic; but those who are being overcome by the heart of Christ will overcome the world by faith. They are secure in daring to say “Thy will be done” because they have chosen to live before the judgement seat of Christ today. For it is here that we discover our need to be led by the hand into the maturity of a living understanding, where our perspective of justice gives way to His own. If we could taste but a drop of His holy anguish over the injustices of wicked men, we would be utterly ashamed of our own imperfect angst. In the covert of His wings vexation is removed from the soul; and the spirit of loneliness and rejection which fostered all manner of sins within us gives way to a renewed strength by returning to the arms of He who never truly forsook us. The burden of the whole world is the Lord’s; and we shall only rightly partake of His burdens if we allow Him to administer HIS rest to our souls, else their weight will cause our hearts to fail, and our flesh give way to defeat. We cannot minister to the Lord if we are not first ministered unto by Him. We may speak much of readiness, yet His love remains bound within us, unable to be fully and freely expressed. But deliverance finds those who at last give up on pride and let Him win; consolation is found by those whom His word breaks in pieces; and His anointing is poured out of broken vessels. The wonderful works of which the pure in heart shall tell are HIS works.

You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth
that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from You shall perish;
You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:24-28