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 Lucifer is described: “unrighteousness was found in you.” Unrighteousness is not a thing created by the fallen one, nor is evil an 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-percieved 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 Lucifer through 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 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 self over the plan of God and the seeing of His fellow creatures through the lens of personal agendas is always at their expense; and the more grand one’s opinion of one’s own insight, 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 he becomes to casually neglecting the good of another or violating their dignity without conscience. The more righteous he deems his own cause, though it 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 such. 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 of which he is truly most guilty.

And how did this unrighteous jealousy arise? We may have an insight by the name “Lucifer” itself. His name means light bringer, and describes a truly noble trait. He was made to radiate a measure of true light bestowed upon him by God. But 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 which provoked the light bringer 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 that 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 in 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 enamoured 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 falsity:

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 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 Lucifer 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 tendancy for righteousness, by which I have learned to walk.” But have you not seen, O fallen one, how that righteous tendancy 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 splendor 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 not 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 obesience 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 them; 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”

Psalm 73 – Purity Of Heart

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

~ FIRST, AN EXHORTATION ~

The holy nation of God is made up of those who are pure in heart. For the thing which God is after is a holy nation, and He will have it even at great cost. No, He has even already paid for it immeasurably. So when and how shall He see the full fruit of the travail of His soul? His being poured out unto death is the promise of glory; but in every merciful promise of God, the recipients are justly charged to actively inherit its spiritual substance in the likeness of He who opened the way unto that abundance of His Life.

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

His holy uncompromising love issues forth from pure hearts because the pure heart has no defilement of conscience, so that their participating in the faith can always be instant and authentic. These are a peculiar people, for they are no one’s possession except His. They are not even their own, for they see and are ever undone at the immeasurable worth of His buying price. 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 to wrath upon His near 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 at the threshold of that day, and we ought to be trembling; for He shall first visit His own house to purge the iniquity and burn the chaff. If evil will not be removed from our hearts by the Lord in His strivings with us, then the Lord is free to remove the evil of heart from the earth.

Beloved, we are God’s children now,
and what we will be has not yet appeared;
but we know that when He appears
we shall be like Him,
because we shall see Him as He is.
1 John 3:2

He identifies His own by their likeness to Him. Now, there are degrees and varied expressions of His manifestation through each one of us; but let each one earnestly participate in whatever measure which God has entrusted to them, lest any be ashamed at His coming as was the wicked and slothful servant. Those who will not see Him as He is will not be like Him. This truth transcends whatever we may think defines the boundaries of His house. Those who abide in Him unto the doing of His will according to faith in Jesus may have confidence at His appearing; but those who shrink back from faith in His sufficiency leave themselves to walk in a most precarious hope and superficial assurance. For in seeing little of His person, they cannot be continually lead of His Spirit, and the wonder of His Life remains but a faint abstraction easily traded for lesser things. Pray the Lord opens their eyes, lest they carelessly slip away and loose much reward!

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:
“The Lord knows those who are His,” and,
“Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver
but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,
he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy,
useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work.
2 Timothy 2:19-21

If the ungodly shall not be spared in the final judgement, much more should the unfaithful servants learn again to serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling before that final day; those whom He expectantly appointed to present His church to Him a chaste virgin, spotless and without wrinkle. “It is time for judgement to begin at the house of God.” The names of those who weep over the ravished daughter of Zion are being written in the books, as well as those who have ravished her; and not a wicked soul shall His slaying Spirit spare: beginning at His most holy sanctuary, which they have defiled by their abominable revelings in HIS bride.

Let every one whom God has called into the fellowship of His mystery heed the warnings of His word.

~ THEREFORE ~

I write this (especially what follows) to 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: His perfect will done in light of these things.

This Psalm [73] has for some time now been a sharp instrument in the skilled hands of my Physician, and it necessarily remains so. It contains the words of a man rightfully disenchanted with the spiritual injustice of his day, yet crippled by the impure response of his heart toward it. The proverb is true: “the more knowledge, the more sorrow;” and the sorrowful soul not being 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 are and hear the urgent call of God can easily run the risk of feeling as though they have come to something which excludes them from requiring further heart surgery. 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 ever-deepening repentance.

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 admission of a man who observed the order of things correctly, yet contemplated them unrighteously within his soul. A lack of personal peace due to the succeeding of the wicked indicates this envy in the hidden heart. Envy is not merely covetousness. Covetousness has to do with lusts and selfish desires; but envy describes a self-centered sense of justice. Envy is a root of restless evil which 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 we find inwardly robbing us of walking in the peace of God. In being envious of the arrogant, we become arrogant. Where God does not appear 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. The reasoning is correct, but the 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 religion. For what we envy is the apparent peace of the wicked in light of the apparent disappointment of “I the righteous.” 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 while the wicked prosper.

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 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 stood in His council are constrained to speak the truth in a true heart; for at their appointments with the King, mercy triumphs over judgement. By the brightness of His glory before their eyes and in the burning of His coals upon their lips, His perfect justice ever becomes their acquaintance.

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 fear fix our eyes upon the things which are of Christ, our only boast; for by these we find the renewing of our troubled minds, and receive the heavenly wisdom both seen and heard in the stark yet measured words of our Lord. Neither the fear of man nor the wrath of man works the righteousness of God; but there is an inner choosing of God’s peace which disarms the provocateurs of Satan, and there is a bold confidence in “His own arm” amidst dire circumstance which confounds the evil powers. Blessed are they 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.

But regarding the wicked, whose hearts we ourselves emulate through 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 murmuring spirit… has much of the spirit of Satan within it.”
– Jeremiah Burrows

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, who knew 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

In the nearness of God the end of evil men is at last discerned; for here is our own wickedness also discerned. He allows the wicked to prosper that they may heap up a most complete judgement for themselves: this itself is a judgement of God, and we dare not interfere with His proceedings as children rudely interrupting His court. 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 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 men’s hearts. Conversely, in 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. It is not that we give up on such; but we do let go, certainly grieved with the Spirit yet also freed from ourselves that 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 in the Most Holy Place before God Himself, speaking and moving according to whatever he saw the Father 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 the ready soul.

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 overcome of Christ overcome the world in His 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 gives way to 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 minister rest to our souls, else their weightiness 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 to 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 pride and let Him win, consolation is found by those whom His word breaks in pieces, and the anointing is poured out of broken vessels. The works of which the pure in heart shall tell are HIS.

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