God Is His Strength

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.
Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.
Job 32:1-5 (ESV)

Now here is a man that lived up to his name.

Elihu means “God is his strength.”

The God who truly requires no introduction is ever so gracious that He prepares the way before Himself: tilling the hardened earth of our hearts as best as it will allow so that His word might not go forth in vain. He needs no witness from the mouth of a man, yet in mercy he sends one. He sends the voice crying out in the wilderness, uprooting the excuse of men and exposing their great need of the One coming. These voices are held in contempt by those that are wise in their own eyes; but they are considered of God a blessing unto His people. (Elihu was a Buzite, which literally means “contempt;” and his father’s name Barachel means “God has blessed”.)

Such a blessed voice was this Elihu. For after the seeds of discord and confusion were sown by those three fools called friends of Job, this little-remembered young man delivers his word immediately before the Almighty boasts of His majesty, and is never mentioned again. The Lord never rebukes this one: indeed, He begins right where Elihu leaves off and even expounds upon much that he said. This man was a sword long sharpened for a particular day of war, to cut asunder the lies of one man’s heart; he was a choice arrow crafted for a single flight, to pierce one target reached by no other; he was a treasure-trove of precious gems, fashioned for the day of lack: he was the witness of God among the profane, that their babbling mouths might be shamed through the foolishness of preaching.

The words of Elihu are words of great offence to the religious heart. It is no wonder that he is left so forgotten. He is a sort of prophet – not one trained of men, nor versed in “higher thought;” but of the simplicity of true wisdom found only in the stillness of God’s voice…

And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.
I said, Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom. But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right. Therefore I say, Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion. Behold, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say. I gave you my attention, and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job or who answered his words.
Beware lest you say, “We have found wisdom;” God may vanquish him, not a man. He (Job) has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches.
They (Job’s friends) are dismayed; they answer no more; they have not a word to say. And shall I wait, because they do not speak, because they stand there, and answer no more? I also will answer with my share; I also will declare my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me.
Job 32:6-18

Those who know their God are ever ruined for Him: they cannot stand to bear the prattling on of carnal men, who love to pit fool against fool and declare the craftier wise. The end of all human thought without God is emptiness and confoundment.

Elihu observed all of this with eyes quite unhindered by the scales of man’s reasoning: he beheld the folly of Job’s defence as well as the folly of his accusers, for he beheld the manifold wisdom of the sovereign Lord. From within his belly there groaned a burden of righteous angst not of his own making; and from within his very bones there kindled a holy fire destined to enflame the words of his mouth – if by obedience he would allow it.

Like the pressure of a great river held back by a dam, he longed after the very desire of God for those waters to be liberated as is their nature – for the word of God is not bound. Those who truly have the word of God within them have also its desire at work in them. These have given up the futility of their own hearts for the in-filling of God’s heart. Those who so know their Maker speak of what they have seen and heard in the secret of His counsel, seeking not the approval of man, but of their Lord.

Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away…
…My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 32:19, 33:3-4

These are not the words of arrogance, but of humility’s confidence. Elihu did not come wielding the word of the Lord; the word of the Lord came weilding Elihu. The word was the substance, the man was the vessel; and this man recognized that such was the righful order. His rebuke was not to destroy Job, but to show him the right. It was to remind his self-justifying friend of God’s kindness and forebearance that he might repent back unto the eternal blessedness of the Name he had once rested in.

Behold, I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay. Behold, no fear of me need terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy upon you.
Job 33:6-7

Job had begun well in his suffering, and was commended for the saying “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” For the scripture thereafter says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:22) But he did not continue in this right and humble frame of spirit. For thereafter he began to rather pity himself selfishly; and in response to the false accusations of evil suspicion from his friends, he attributed their folly unto God and counted his sufferings unjust.

Elihu continues,

Surely you have spoken in my ears, and I have heard the sound of your words. You say, “I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold, He finds occasions against me, He counts me as His enemy, He puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.”
Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend against Him, saying, “He will answer none of man’s words?”
For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then He opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that He may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; He keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
Job 33:8-18

There is no injustice with God: He works great evil unto the good for those that are with Him. He turns loose even the hounds of hell to prove the mettle of His servants; and He delivers them from the gates of destruction that they might know how deliver destruction back unto the enemy’s gates. The sufferings of the present time are the growing pains of the thing begotten of God within the creature. It is of mercy that He will not relent, it is of wisdom that we should submit ourselves to the knife of our skilled physician. The Lord will ever draw out His own unto the brink of despair, that they may learn the trust of Him which is called heavenly vision. He will expose the self-preserving heart by any means until it at last cries aloud, “It is well! You have declared my soul Your own, here it is for safe-keeping, as I cannot preserve myself, nor endure unto the end. But with You it shall be possible.”

Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out.
His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a Mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and He is merciful to him, and says, “Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor;” then man prays to God, and He accepts him; He sees his face with a shout of joy, and He restores to man his righteousness.
He (the man) sings before men and says: “I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.”
Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the Light of Life.
Job 33:19-30

Much more was also declared by the mouth of Elihu before the Lord spoke to Job from the whirlwind; but this I hope has introduced the essence of it. It is wisdom greatly despised by the world, and long-forgotten by God’s people. He aquired his knowledge from heaven afar, he ascribed righteousness to his Maker; his words were not false, but perfect in knowledge. He declared purity in the heart by the loving of God’s justice, and trust in the Lord by the disciplines of His mercy.

Though perhaps little more than a youth, he yet spoke from what he had both seen and heard in the Lord.

God was his strength.

The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.
To crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth, to deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High, to subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve.
Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?
Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!
Lamentations 3:24-40

Idle Words from Idol Shepherds

But Peter and John answered and said unto them, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Acts 4:19-20

There is no speaking for Christ where He is not known in person; and His true abassadors are sent by no man but Himself.

There is much speaking amidst God’s house through the ages in accordance with the philosophies of men, of which God has not spoken. Much is carelessly extrapolated from God’s word, and much is purposefully avoided where that word is emphatic – these are signs of men sending themselves, or corrupting their calling. The surgical nature of the Word of Christ is derived of His anointing: and that which He does not ordain, He does not anoint.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:9-12

A sent man can render himself un-sent. A sent man can also step outside of his calling unto the shipwrecking of many. Greatly instrumental men of God have shaken whole nations and peoples with the gospel, only to also spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men and the rudiments of this world, and not after Christ.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
James 3:5-6

We will be judged for every idle word. The teacher of the scriptures is the Author of them. The lense through which we behold the form of the Living God cannot be through a darkened glass, but must be the illumination of the Holy Ghost. HE is the anointing of the meek to make them mighty; the strength of those who righteously tremble, invigorating them to withstand on the evil day. Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam afar! Brilliant men, philosophers and lawyers, intellectuals, musers, and scholars: these all must bow to the one who has so graced them. Such were not the credentials by which the beloved apostle wrote,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life… That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…
1 John 1:1, 3

The perfection of the word going forth from a man is determined by the conformity of the man unto that word. The one who speaks most truly from God speaks from the present ongoing crucible of experience with Him. Not only has he known God by the hearing of the ear; but his eyes have seen the Lord and he has abhored his own means for the sake of knowing that One. All the words of man’s reasoning are regarded as empty by the wise who fear God. Even if the wise does not yet know the reply of the Lord against another’s teaching, he does not meanwhile give himself unto them, nor does he consult the sayings of the many; but he patiently waits in discretion. This man will the Lord bless liberally with all wisdom and insight, who so asks in humility, despairing to know God’s very Person.

Not so are the shepherds of men, who, by waiting upon the whims of others, disqualify themselves as ministers before the Lord…

Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
Zerchariah 11:17

Men are only shepherds to the extent that they privately serve before God’s throne. Those who leave their prostration before His throne to be seated upon their own have left the flock in God’s eyes, even though they might “lead” more men than before. The turning of the heart toward man’s admiration is the rejection of true spiritual authority; producing blindness and deafness to the things of God. The lifting up of men’s personas is the worship of idols in the house of God. These speak from the world, therefore the world hears them. These cloud the understanding of many, for they become a wedge and mediator between men and God. Their words, which unto the flesh sound holy, are truly the sewing together of the veil which was torn; and their deeds, which unto the flesh appear righteous, are a denial of the precious blood that was shed to give us entrance. The hand of God is against these who so undermine the power of His gospel through worldly cunning. They inherit the quenching of His Spirit by boasting in their own arm and by walking according to the darkness of the pride of their eye.

Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?”
And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Gk. “lawless ones”).”
Matthew 7:22-23

Sin is lawlessness: In other words, those to whom Christ is not the end of the law for righteousness remain under its curse. Likewise, those to whom Christ is not the end of earthly wisdom for the riches of His very Person remain blind, though they think to see. For the wisdom not according to Christ is of the same lawlessness of all sin; since only in HIM are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

All unrighteousness is sin: In other words, where righteousness is not imputed, all remains sin; because nothing there is of faith. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The new man born of the Spirit cannot sin, but the old man wallows in sin and his own devices – therefore we must reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, putting off the old and putting on the new. For all else being at work within us is begotten of the world’s corruption, and touches idolatry.

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. THIS is the true God, and eternal life.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Amen.
1 John 5:18-21

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 righteous, but the execution is not; and this is not a matter of outward method, but of the inward heart.

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

Wisdom & Folly – Spirit & Flesh – Sowing & Reaping

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction; to discern the words of understanding;
to receive instruction in prudence, justice, and judgement, and uprightness;
to give sense to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young man.
The wise hears and increases learning, and the understanding one gets wise counsel, t
o understand a proverb and an enigma;
the words of the wise, and their acute sayings.

The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Proverbs 1:1-7)

The proverbs of scripture are not merely earthly truth which in practice bring man’s approval; rather they are words of the Holy Spirit which in practice lead to greater fruitfulness in God. However, if they are not practiced patiently in the fear of HIM, then their true reward in HIM remains unattainable and they cannot be understood beyond carnal wisdom. For the wisdom of God is justified by her children, not by her mere admirers. Christ Jesus is truly heard, seen, beheld, and touched not by mere argumentation and human reasoning, but rather by His life at work in a man.

The proverbs are not a mixture of heavenly and earthly wisdom as some regard them; but rather in parables they reveal the fruits of the manifold wisdom of God, which now in Christ can be seen in His people: who after Him are called to walk in manner which generates hunger and thirst for righteousness in others. For it is the fruit of His Spirit borne out in those fearing God and walking humbly in submission to Christ, who IS the Wisdom and Power of God, which reveals the table set for those hungry for that heavenly Bread.

Yet in our day we often refuse to so walk by the power of God and would rather seek to honor Him by our own devices and methods – things which are passing away and are not holy before the Lord. For this we have been given over to a season of spiritual famine and an unready harvest – yet still we cling to our own wisdom. We are living in a rocky field of thorns; yet without repenting, we foolishly desire to sow among them in our own barrenness when we ourselves have nothing to sow! We expect God to bless our labors, when in all our doings we still have not worked out our own salvation by the One who would work IN US to the showing forth of HIS wisdom on the earth through HIS church. Little to nothing of value in God’s eyes is able spring up and grow where the earth has not first been tilled. For until we set our hands to our own plow, the ground of our own heart remains a fallow and unbroken land, riddled with the idols of worldly understanding rather than the wisdom of God revealed only by His Spirit. We look across the land, surprised at the hardness of the soil around us, not seeing that the ground of our own hearts is truly the most impenetrable according to what we have been given. Why then should we be astonished that we are judged, and that the Lord of the harvest tarries?

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed,
and its end is to be burned.

(Hebrews 6:7-8)

“If you return, O Israel,” declares the LORD, “to Me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from My presence, and do not waver, and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives, in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,’ then nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him shall they glory.”
For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest My wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”
(Jeremiah 4:1-4)

It is the blindness of pride and arrogancy which desires or expects those in the world to spiritually comprehend the things of God apart from His new birth. It is also cowardice not to address them as requiring God’s illumination if we already discern that they have none. And if we do not discern (as I fear we largely do not), let us ask of God who would lead us into all truth in all things. Otherwise we are Fighting flesh with flesh and corruption with corruption. Only the new heart created by God Himself is the rightful vessel for HIS word; but the tendency of the old man’s deceitful heart is to sow among thorns in his own understanding, leading to death. And this we are largely guilty of.

When we so readily and proudly cast pearls before swine, we reveal the uncircumcision of our own heart. All argumentation is vanity where no spark of God’s life yet exists; and the subsequent lowering of divine Truth into the realm of earthy wisdom only renders it all the more devoid of power. Truthful things and Truth itself are not the same. The former is humanly understandable knowledge which can be argued for all day by unregenerate flesh; but the latter is spiritually discerned reality, only made manifest by the humble obedience of faith in discretion before God’s eyes. (For true obedience to Him only takes root in the secret place of the Most High – it is the fruits thereof that are seen outside, by which the Son of Man is lifted up upon His cross for all men to see.) The tree of life is planted in heaven – it is the branches thereof which reach down to earth. In all our zeal to philosophically argue spiritual realities to deaf ears and blind eyes, we have tried to re-plant the tree of life on earth, forgetting how to labor in prayer over men’s souls for GOD’s work in them, failing to let HIS light shine forth in us by walking in the labors of the Spirit rather than by our own wisdom. That which is not first from heaven cannot ever enter therein, nor can the unseen be revealed in those who do not walk according the heavenly thing once revealed to them.

Let it no longer be we of whom the scriptures say,
They are of the world; because of this they speak of the world,
and the world hears them.

(1 John 4:5)

 

That receiving birth from the flesh is flesh, and that receiving birth from the Spirit is spirit. Do not wonder because I told you, “You must receive birth from above.”
(John 3:6-7, LITV)

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man may sow, that he also will reap. For the one sowing to his flesh will reap corruption of the flesh. But the one sowing to the Spirit will reap everlasting life from the Spirit.
(Galatians 6:7-8)

For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God in order to pull down strongholds: pulling down imaginations and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ, and having readiness to avenge all disobedience, whenever YOUR obedience is fulfilled.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

Whoever Exalts Himself…

In a day when the message of man’s church is to “rise up,” we truly need more than ever to humble ourselves before the Lord.
The working out of our salvation with fear and trembling is sustained by humbly yielding ourselves to God who desires to work IN us according to HIS good will and pleasure.

The second beast of Revelation 13 is one which looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. It is the very same voice of self-ascension “rising up out of the earth” (Rev 13:11) which beguiled Eve long ago.
If YOU are rising up of YOUR own volition, it is only the dragon who empowers you in any success. But those who humble themselves under the mighty hand of God will be exalted IN DUE TIME (1Pet 5:6).

The earth that the meek will inherit is the new one after HIS return – and He does not return for a self-asserting bride that has conquered the earth; but rather for a humble people who have at last allowed Him to fully conquer them!

We conquer the enemy by Christ’s victory in us, not by our own victory outside of us.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they loved not their lives even unto death.
(Revelation 12:11 ESV)

This is the only true victory, and the only way that God’s people shall endure in the day of their greatest trial.

A Short Word on Idols

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. Amen.
(1 John 5:21)

An idol is not always the object of your veneration; it is also the object of all your blame for whatever evil is well within your reach and your authority in Christ to address. Your idol can be that which you lay all responsibility at the feet of in order to excuse yourself of your specific responsibility in what God has revealed to you.

Those whom God’s true call passes by in such complacency are forsaking His flock as members of the One True Shepherd; and after their idolatrous and insolent hearts, there are always raised up for them worthless and self-serving IDOL shepherds, which lead them further astray as a judgement; whose arms work corruption, being blind to the Father’s will.

For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.
Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
(Zechariah 11:17, KJV)

Joshua 8 – Part 1: Our Authority & the Enemy’s Blindness

And Jehovah said to Joshua,
“Do not fear, nor be afraid. Take all the people of war with you,
and rise up, go up to Ai. Behold, I have given the king of Ai, and his people,
and his city, and his land into your hand.
And you shall do to Ai and to its king as you have done to Jericho and its king. Only, its spoil and its cattle you shall take for yourselves. Set yourself an ambush for the city behind it.”
(Joshua 8:1-2)

“Behold, I have given… into YOUR hand…”
“Set YOURSELF an ambush…”
 
The walls of Jericho were conquered not by the hand of any man; but by the overcoming faith of the people in their Captain.

But having been delivered from the great stronghold, they were now expected to walk in THEIR authority from heaven to continue their conquest. Jericho was handed to them without any requirement but the first steps and proclamation of newborn faith; but the taking of Ai required a walk of both holiness and meekness. This was initially failed by the man who stole the things devoted to destruction (Joshua 7), which brought grief and delay upon the whole camp of Israel; and that man was purged from their midst. The putting off of idolatry is the putting on of authority in the Spirit.

And this authority is that of the pierced hands; for pride brings the loss of authority in God’s kingdom, just as the Devil was opposed and cast out. Pride is the root and substance of all idolatry. But the method of Christ’s victory was through death and humiliation at the hands of all the fury of the adversary; for the enemy is blinded by his own vanity, so as not to discern the mystery of Godliness. The greatest warriors in the army of the Lord are the meek, for the enemy cannot comprehend the mind of Christ, “who subsisting in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even the death of a cross.Because of this also God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and ones under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

And Joshua sent them away, and they went to the ambush,
and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west of Ai.
And Joshua remained that night in the midst of the people.
And Joshua rose early in the morning and called up the people,
and they went up, he and the elders of Israel in the sight of the people of Ai.
And all the people of war with him went up and drew near,
and came before the city. And they camped on the north of Ai,
and the valley was between him and Ai.
And he took about five thousand men and set them as an ambush
between Bethel and Ai, on the west of the city.
And they set the people, all the camp on the north of the city;
and its rear on the west of the city.
And Joshua went into the middle of the valley on that night.

And it happened, when the king of Ai saw,
the men of the city rose early and hurried to go out to meet Israel in battle,
he and all his people at the appointed time before the plain.
He did not know that an ambush was against him behind the city.
And Joshua and all Israel were stricken before them,
and they fled the way of the wilderness.
And all the people in the city were called to chase them.
And they pursued Joshua, and were drawn away out of the city.
And there was not a man left in Ai and Bethel who had not gone out after Israel. And they left the city open, and chased Israel.

(Joshua 8:9-17)

The Lord set Joshua and the people in a place which to their enemy made them appear vulnerable and open for attack; but his brashness was the very mechanism of his downfall. Joshua took the way of apparent defeat in order to lay hold of victory for his people. This is a wonderful picture of the cross, upon which Christ Jesus took the fall for His people’s deliverance, enduring the scorn and temptation of the Devil; but being the spotless Lamb of God, He was raised from the dead. And having emptied the gates of hell upon Himself to their own exposure, He now holds every key to their final demise. For it is HIS authority by which the gates of hell (the council and strategy of the enemy) cannot overcome those who remain in HIM. For what He has bound and loosed in heaven is bound and loosed on earth by those who give themselves over to walking obediently by faith in what they see the Father doing.

And Jehovah said to Joshua,
“Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai. For I will give it into your hand.”
And Joshua stretched out the javelin in his hand toward the city.
And the ambush rose up quickly out of their place,
and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand,
and entered the city, and took it.
And they hastened and burned the city with fire.
And the men of Ai looked behind them, and saw; and, behold!
The smoke of the city had gone up into the sky.
And there was no power in them to flee here or there.
And the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers.

And Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city,
and that the smoke of the city had gone up.
And they turned back and struck the men of Ai.
And the others came out from the city to meet them.
And they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that.
And they struck them until not was left to them a survivor, not one that escaped.
And they caught the king of Ai and brought him alive to Joshua.

…And Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Only, Israel seized for themselves the livestock, and the plunder of the city, according to the word of Jehovah which He commanded Joshua.

(Joshua 8:18-23, 26-27)

The boldness to walk in overcoming faith is a boldness unfamiliar with pride which is held in meekness. Walking in the authority of Christ is knowing of the Father’s will without the restraints of our own will and drawing the power of that heavenly kingdom to earth by stepping out upon what can only be presently seen by eyes of singleness toward HIS purposes and hearts longing for HIS appearing. This requires the present knowing of His actual will: not as a distant and general unknown, but rather as a clear vision of His desire for today into which we step and speak that it might be so, for He has decreed it. It is OUR faith which overcomes this Devil’s world (1Jn 5:4), that upon the gallows meant for his intended victim, he himself might hang, even as Haman did (Esther 7:10).

And Joshua burned Ai, and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.
And he hanged the king of Ai on the tree until evening time.
And at sundown Joshua commanded, and they took his dead body down from the tree, and threw it into the opening of the gate of the city;
and raised over it a great heap of stones until this day.

(Joshua 8:28-29)

The hidden wisdom of God in Christ Jesus is unto the demise of His enemies by the manifestation of HIS authority and power through those in whom He dwells.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, having been hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
which none of the rulers of this age has known.
For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory…
(1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

…the mystery having been hidden from the ages and from the generations,
but now was revealed to His saints; to whom God willed to make known
what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations,
who is Christ in you, the hope of glory…
(Colossians 1:26-27)

…and to bring to light all, what is the fellowship of the mystery having been hidden from eternity in God, the One creating all things through Jesus Christ;
so that now, to the rulers and to the authorities in the heavenlies,
the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church,
according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through HIS faith.
(Ephesians 3:9-12)

And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom.
And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in heaven.
And whatever you loose on earth shall be, having been loosed in heaven.
(Matthew 16:19 LITV)

– Brendan