The Lord Who Takes

…The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the Name of the Lord.

(Job 1:21)

“Many say that the Lord indeed gives; but they say that it is not right to say that the Lord takes away. This is a raging controversy among preachers, who are having trouble just accepting the Word… They say that the Lord does give; but only the Devil takes away. They say (in accordance with the scriptures) that the Devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy; but my bible doesn’t say that he WOULD do it – it says that he CAME to do it – and if you don’t have a Shepherd, then he will indeed do it. But when THE LORD is your Shepherd, then the Devil can come to do whatever he wants, but he’s got to get permission to touch you. He can’t just walk up to me and take my life: my life is not in the hand of Satan – don’t give him that power. If we gave him that power, all of us here would be dead by nightfall. He’s not going to let a host of believers like this live if he has death in his hand. But I read in my scripture that JESUS said ‘I hold the keys of death, Hell, and the grave’!
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away!

“…We get so used to hearing, ‘The Lord gave.’ We get so used to, ‘Morning by morning new mercies we see.’ We get so used to having all that our hearts desire, until all that we can get to is, ‘The Lord gave.’
Maybe there really are those who can say, ‘Everything I’ve asked for, God has given to me’ – and if that’s true in your experience, keep on living; because I am witness that there is some more to this verse. For it says ‘The LORD’ – same God – ‘taketh away’! We get so used to, ‘The Lord gives,’ that we take it for granted; and so when the Lord takes away, we pitch a temper-tantrum. And the sign of Christian maturity is that when the Lord gives, we say, ‘BLESSED! BLESSED! BLESSED!’ But when He takes away, when He breaks your heart, when He doesn’t give you what you asked for, you still say, ‘BLESSED! BLESSED! BLESSED!’

– E.V. Hill, preaching at his wife’s funeral

 

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
(Job 1:22)

Job was not rebuked for ‘blaming God’ (since that is not what he did by saying this) – but he was rather rebuked for afterward self-righteously defending himself against his foolish friends’ accusations. He started well in blessing the Lord, but slid quickly into pitying himself, to which God essentially replied, “Who do you think you are to complain? Am I not the Almighty?”

When God takes, He IS giving: He is giving us into His own hands to shape us into the image of the Son, who Himself prayed on our behalf, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but YOURS be done.” And let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus! As the scripture says, the desires of our hearts will be granted when we delight in HIM! Do we so delight in HIS will that we count it all JOY when we meet trials? The word of Elijah to king Ahab, “there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word,” came from a man so given over to the will of God that he could confidently speak even from his own heart; for his heart had become the GOD’S very own. We shall not truly appreciate the heights of God’s mountain until we have been tested in the valley. Let us therefore feast at the table which He has laid before us in the presence of our enemy, if that is where it is currently set for us. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and HE will exalt you” (James 4:10)

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:6-9)

The Righteous Man Perishes

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7)

It is because many still walk in darkness that fellowship languishes and the blood of Jesus has seemingly become practically of none effect in the body at large. For with true fellowship in the Father and the Son comes the mending of the body; and by the blood of Jesus in His stripes are its members healed, and death largely kept at bay in their mortal bodies. It is because our soul does not prosper that our mortal bodies are likewise subject to far more corruption than ought to be present in our midst. He who walks in darkness walks in sin, and the wages of sin is death. This is obviously first a spiritual reality; but that which is at work in the spirit becomes inevitably manifest in the natural. If I do not walk in the light, then I do not have true fellowship with my brother, and I keep at bay the effects of the blood of Jesus in His body at large. For to walk in darkness among the brethren is to bring that darkness into the very body of which we partake, spreading corruption and death; and for this reason are we so judged…

For he eating and drinking unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself,
not discerning the body of the Lord.

For this reason many among you are weak and feeble, and many sleep (have died).
For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged.
But being judged, we are corrected by the Lord,
that we not be condemned with the world.
(1 Corinthians 11:29-32)

Paul here is speaking beyond the mere physical representation of the last supper as most have come to know it. Yes, it is certainly in context of discussing the Corinthians’ gathering for a fellowship meal (among other things); but it is ultimately the very body of Christ, of which we are all members, that is being referred to, as well as the application of Christ’s blood (or lack thereof) based upon whether or not we walk in the light. In Corinth, their sin also included the factions and divisions which the people made between themselves, becoming autonomous under the names of men, supplanting Christ the only Head. So it is also today, the love of Christ among the brethren having all but grown cold. Therefore many among us in our own day are not being healed and are dying untimely because many others are walking in such darkness. For the judgement which a man eats and drinks upon himself” is not necessarily of his own mortal body perishing; but is often rather of now bearing the responsibility for another member departing who themselves might have walked in the light. For it is often those whose walks are more blameless that are taken from among us, making this judgement all the more severe and its warning all the clearer. As Isaiah wrote of himself, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me ARE signs and portents in Israel…” (Is 8:18) The more we do not take heed to such warning signs and repent, the worse it will become.

…And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.
(Isaiah 8:22)

Now it has often been said in response to such things that this cannot be so because we are not under law but under grace. But truly the Word contends with you if this is your assumption. For the scripture says,

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are IN Christ Jesus,
who walk NOT after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
(Romans 8:1)

The place where the condemnation of the Law does not apply is “IN Christ Jesus”. But while a man walks in darkness, he abides not in Christ. For we must always be abiding in Him, which is to walk in the light as He is in the light! But “The one hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness…” For lawlessness is to not fulfill God’s Law, which is His love. “Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” The humility of true faith working through love leaves no room for spiritual pride and is the healing balm of a body that has been cut in pieces through lawlessness. And this is only possible in walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For it is also written, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” (Gal 5:18)
This also means that when one is not walking after the Spirit, one is actually walking back under the condemnation of the Law and needs to repent and return to walking in the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And the curses of the Law are upon all those who are under it, for it cannot be kept in the flesh. As it says of them, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL the things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them.”

And among its many curses are these:
Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.
The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation
and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew.
They shall pursue you until you perish.
And the heavens over your head shall be bronze,
and the earth under you shall be iron.
The LORD will make the rain of your land powder.
From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies.
You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them.
And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away.
The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt,
and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed.
(Deuteronomy 28:19-27)

Let us test and examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord!
(Lamentations 3:40)

…For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged…

The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.
But you, draw near, sons of the sorceress, offspring of the adulterer and the loose woman. Whom are you mocking? Against whom do you open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue? Are you not children of transgression, the offspring of deceit, you who burn with lust among the oaks, under every green tree, who slaughter your children in the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks?
(Isaiah 57:1-5)

– Brendan

Joshua 7: It Repented The Lord

And the sons of Israel committed a sin in the cursed thing. And Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah took the cursed thing. And the anger of Jehovah glowed against the sons of Israel.
(Joshua 7:1)

The Lord does not show partiality in His judgement, as though He would blindly pass over ongoing rebellion among His own people. His wrath is kindled against all the sons of disobedience – especially those who trouble His own house from within. It is always assumed in our midst that God is on our side; and it is seldom questioned as to whether or not we are on HIS side. Such is the mindset that allows a people to begin falling away – if they haven’t already fallen greatly. This is the great blind assumption of all spiritual pride, declaring of its self-supposed heavenly estate, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Even Joshua himself had begun to assume the welfare of his fellow brothers when He sincerely questioned God as to why they were suffering defeat on the field of battle; but the Lord corrected him:

“Get up! Why do you fall on your face this way? Israel has sinned, and they also have transgressed My covenant which I commanded them, and have also taken of the cursed things, and have also stolen, and also deceived, and also put it among their stuff. And the sons of Israel have not been able to stand before their enemies; they have turned the back before their enemies because they have become cursed. I will not be with you again if you do not destroy the cursed things from among you.”
(Joshua 7:10-12)

We ourselves occupy a day in which sin is tolerated in the camp, God is not sought sincerely about it, and the wretched state of His house is excused as being due to uncontrollable and external circumstances. Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer shall the Spirit of Christ bear with us? Those who trust not in His power so as to obey Him and tear down the altars of their every idol cannot expect to be graced with His presence. And today He has already forsaken the gathering place only to be found by those who will dwell in the secret place, which often brings isolation; but the fellowship of God is there. The grievous “church” of man is the outer court of our day, and is now fully ruled and trampled underfoot by the Godless. And regarding such a state of affairs, in which the hope of Eden returning seems all but lost, the scripture says,

And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth,
and it grieved Him at His heart.
(Genesis 6:6 KJV)

This astonishing description of God’s heart can be applied not only to fallen mankind as a whole, but even more potently to a backslidden people who were at one time His very sons and in step with the Spirit. Upon these words hang for all of us the balances of judgement and mercy, of redemption and woe. The holy eyes of the Lord cannot look upon the fruit of man’s corrupting ways without His wrath being kindled and His heart pained with exceeding sorrow.

The love of God is pure, therefore He agonizes over our sins because He cannot abide their stench. It “repented” God that He had made man because He is holy and must take vengeance upon the wicked, for He hates all of their evil deeds; therefore it also “grieved Him at His heart” because He is merciful and takes no delight in the punishment of any. It pleased the Lord to crush the Suffering Servant (Isa 53) because that Servant became sin, in order to put sin itself to death with Himself and rise without it for those who would believe into Him, that they might partake of that same newness of Life. Only the One not accursed could take all of the curse upon Himself for all men; but remedies begotten of the sentiments of human pity are powerless to quench its eternal rot. Only the burning of God’s fire in our hearts will remove the dross to keep the gold pure: and dross can be whole persons or even peoples. For He beholds with holy eyes the horror of it all in great anguish and fervent scorn.

“And it repented the Lord…”

All of heaven itself stands aghast at the spectacle of our spiritual famine; yet men are content to continue praying for earthly good with no recognition of their dire condition in God’s eyes, taking no thought that in doing so they only further provoke His wrath. His Ark awaits to lift them above the flood of His fury, yet nearly all stand in mockery; and though claiming to honor Him, refuse to enter in. Most of those who are said to be born-again bear no fruit in keeping with repentance; and most of those who are supposedly Spirit-lead remain as worldly as they ever were. But those who truly see through the eyes of holiness take no delight in the futile matters of this passing earth, and they despair of hope in all but God Himself. These are the only ones possessing anything of worth, for they realize that the Lord Himself is all they truly have. Those who live from such a place of freedom and peace in the Lord Himself will no longer have need to confess, “I saw, I lusted, and I took…” (v 21) for they have allowed the Lord to take them as HIS own possession.

All of creation groans for the unveiling of God’s mystery in His offspring through Christ in them, and the heavens declare His glory even through the dull and miserable tones of the curse; but the exposing Light of Christ is so repulsive to those who continue engaging in the works of the devil, that to satisfy the insatiable appetite of hell is more desirable for them than to dwell in the piercing presence of the Holy One. It is no wonder that nothing short of the travail of the very soul of the Son of God Himself shall alone bear fruit unto God from among men, those of whom His Spirit declares “No one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does any good, not even one.” The agony of our Lord Jesus just before His crucifixion can never be weighed for the dread of drinking the bottomless cup of the eternal wrath of God, being plunged into the fiery baptism of the furnace of that righteous indignation, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.” Yet who in our midst is found agonizing in the Spirit with Him, seeing that there remains only a small remnant of the faithful? If we do not allow the fire to purge us today, what assurance do we have that hell will be satisfied with our absence from it on the day of judgement? TODAY is the day of salvation for every man, especially for those of His own house.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23)

Our trifling day lacks any real sense of the weightiness and urgency of the Lord’s mercy. A true revelation of His longsuffering in light of our stubbornness and rebellion should implant a lasting fear of Him in us which burns out all desire or draw to remain in any measure of idolatry. Those who have not been marked by the near despair of God’s own heart over their rebellious ways have not touched the cross; and those who refuse to continue carrying the burden of the Lord’s heart for today have strayed from it. These are the troublers of the true Israel of God, who grieve and lie to the Holy Spirit as did Ananias and Saphira; and these He will reveal and expel from the true camp of His people as the Day of redemption draws nearer and the faithful remain true to Him.

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and brought Israel near by its tribes. And the tribe of Judah was taken. And he brought the family of Judah near; and he took the family of the Zarhites. And he brought near the family of the Zarhites by men, and Zabdi was taken. And he brought near his household by men, and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
And Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to Jehovah, the God of Israel, and give thanks to Him, and please tell me what you have done. Do not hide it from me.”
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, “Truly I have sinned against Jehovah, the God of Israel, and this I have done: when I saw among the spoil a goodly robe of Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, one of fifty shekels in weight, then I lusted after them, and took them. And behold, they are hidden in the earth, in the middle of my tent, and the silver under it.”
(Joshua 7:16-21)

The futility of all things outside of God Himself must be realized should we make an offering of obedience truly pleasing to Him in this dark day, lest we perish by His own hand untimely for failing to redeem what little time is left. Waiting for a future hour of necessity to consecrate ourselves only reveals a failure to recognize that the hour of necessity is already passing. The hand of the Lord which prevents great evil from entering into His fold is quickly lifting because of their hidden idolatry and spiritual pride. Many have fallen away and many more will continue to drift. The wheat and the tares are also becoming manifest. Today, and today only, is the last day for being made ready to be broken and poured out unto death. The Lord will hear the cry of contrite in heart who tremble at His word, for them He is able to answer with mercy.

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven: “We have transgressed and rebelled, and You have not forgiven. You have wrapped Yourself with anger and pursued us, killing without pity; You have wrapped Yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.”
(Lamentations 3:40-44)

May we no longer tolerate in the temple of God that which troubles the holy progress of the body of Christ: may it no longer repent the Lord that we are called His children.

And Joshua said, “How you have troubled us! Jehovah shall trouble you today!”
And all Israel threw stones at him, and they burned them with fire,
and they stoned them with stones.
And they raised over him a great heap of stones to this day.
And Jehovah turned back from the heat of His anger. On this account, the name of that place is The Valley of Grief until this day.
(Joshua 7:25-26)

– Brendan

Joshua 6 -Part 2: The Zeal Of His House

And it happened at the seventh time the priests blew with the rams’ horns. And Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For Jehovah has given you the city. And the city shall be devoted to Jehovah, it and all that are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you shall certainly keep clear of the cursed things, that you not become accursed by taking from the cursed things, and shall make the camp of Israel become accursed, and trouble it. And all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, they are holy to Jehovah; they shall come into the treasury of Jehovah.”
(Joshua 6:16-19)

The only ground which God will continue entrusting to His people is that which they keep holy unto Him. What has been gained in the passing of former things must be kept by the obedience of faith in the newness of the Spirit. In all that God has freely given, He requires that we continue striving to lay hold of its fullness by submission to Him; for this allows Him to sanctify us fully that we may be kept blameless even as we keep ourselves blameless (Php 3:12, 1Thess 5:22-23).

Now Jericho was still standing before the people even after they had passed from death unto Life through the baptism of the Jordan: a fortress of the enemy’s defiance against what God had begun to work in His people. But God would have that work brought to completion. The stronghold of Jericho must be brought down should the people of God get any further into the land and drive out even more enemies. To lay hold of its treasures or compromise with its idols would be to fall away from the holy commandment delivered; but to be laying hold of what awaits us in God’s promise is to be forsaking what still calls us back to the world, for there is no crown until the cross is suffered. The troublers of Israel are not those who cry for God’s people to be holy as He is holy; but rather those whose cowardly disobedience and hypocrisy prevents that cry from being clearly heard and seen as righteous.

And the people shouted, and blew with the ram’s horns, and it happened, when the people heard the sound of the ram’s horn, the people shouted a great shout. And the wall fell under it; and the people went up into the city, each man in front of him; and they captured the city. And they destroyed all that was in the city, from man even to woman, from young even to aged, and to ox, and sheep, and ass, by the mouth of the sword.
(Joshua 6:20-21)

Where is such zeal of the Lord’s house today? Who will take upon themselves the armory of the Lord and draw the Sword against the foe of His inheritance? Let not a single ruler of the enemy, nor the heads of its houses; let not those who might bear more of its wicked children, nor the wicked children it has already borne; let not one of its wisemen, nor its beasts of burden – let not one unholy thing be left to roam free which perpetuates the works of the devil in the land of the living! If we are a temple of the Living God, then may the Lord Jesus Himself be allowed to turn the tables in His house! It will only cost us what should have already been counted as loss for Him. The authority of Christ is with those who obey Him, and His power is boundless toward those rejoicing in the fellowship of His sufferings. For the first order of our holy warfare is dying to the flesh so that His Life may abound in us;and where there is no longer a mixture of two natures there is complete victory. The Spirit wages war against the fleshly nature if the old man still lives; for in the flesh dwells no good thing, but only evil things dwell therein. The warfare of the heart must be won utterly by the Spirit of God should the Lion of Judah rise up in His people and remain forever. There can only ever be one master served, and this is the day of choosing.

And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the house of the woman, the harlot, and bring the woman out from there, and all whom she has, as you have sworn to her.” And the young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brothers, and all whom she had; yea, they brought all her family, and set them outside the camp of Israel.
(Joshua 6:22-23)

The great enemy of all holiness is mixture. All things that are to remain in God’s house must stop conforming to the world that they might be transformed and become a vessel for honor. Rahab and her household were brought outside the camp of Israel, which is the place of sanctification and of offerings for sin. For she who was plucked from the midst of the enemy’s lair also had need to bear the reproach of Christ outside the camp so that she might enter into His rest. And she was saved with Israel that day, for she did not consider herself to have a continuing city on earth, but instead sought the holy city that is coming (Heb 13:12-14, Rev 21). And so she was honored, being mentioned and recorded as a member of HIS house, even a citizen of Zion, the city of God (Ps 87, Matt 1:5).

And they burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only they gave the silver and the gold, and the vessels of bronze, and of iron, to the treasury of the house of Jehovah. And Joshua kept alive Rahab the harlot, and the house of her father, and all whom she had. And she lives in the midst of Israel to this day. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
(Joshua 6:24-25)

Only fire conducts an assured purge. Our God is He whose answer is by fire. The Spirit, the water, and the blood are the ingredients of rebirth, renewing, and cleansing; but purifying fire signals the very presence of God and is the blazing witness of heaven. Up to this point, the people had the witness of the Spirit, the water, and the blood – which are the witnesses on earth. But these three are together a witness to that which is in heaven: “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit” (1Jn 5). Now these three, which are the Father, Son, and Spirit, are supposed to be our three baptisms: one with water in the Son, one of our spirit in the Holy Spirit, and one of fire, for God our Father is a consuming fire. Now the fire of the Father before His throne is ready to descend upon a ready altar: an altar begotten of the Spirit of Truth, drenched in the waters of repentance, ready for the bloody sacrifice of ourselves, even as the Lamb who has already prepared this very way before us.

The fire consumes all that it is allowed to engulf. Therefore, let ALL the things which are an offense to God be offered for His burning that they may never again hinder His work in His people! And if the Lord Himself is indeed present and known, and if His power and authority is indeed clearly seen and walked in, then woe to those who have truly walked in all such things and yet turned utterly back to walk after the treasures of Egypt and its ways!

For it is impossible for those being once enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and becoming sharers of the Holy Spirit, and tasting the good Word of God, and the works of power of a coming age, then falling away – it is impossible for them again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame.
(Hebrews 6:4-6)

After the Jordan was crossed, it returned flowing into the Dead Sea, along with any who would dare attempting to cross it back the other way. If the foundation was truly laid, it cannot be laid again. If what God teuly built upon it has been destroyed by us, the same things cannot again be built. There are those who will be saved on the last day only as through fire (1Cor 3:11-15). It is far better to have His fire already burning and purging us today then to wait until the last day without assurance. There are indeed few today who have very much to fall away from; but let that not be an excuse for bearing no further responsibility. Those who purposely avoid having much to lose spiritually have already buried their talent and will still receive nothing. Let us instead obey the upward call, for therein is true grace to continue with strength and most assuredly obtain the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

And at that time Joshua adjured, saying, “Cursed be the man who rises up before the face of Jehovah and builds this city of Jericho. He shall lay its foundation in his first-born, and he shall set up its doors in his youngest son.” And Jehovah was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
(Joshua 6:26-27)

– Brendan