“Such A Heart In Them”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poem – “Invictus Refuted”

A parody in disdain of William Ernest Henley’s famous and Godless poem, “Invictus”:

Into the night that covered me,
Black as the pit which held me whole,
He became sin that He might be
The conqueror of my soul.

From blinding clutch of Satan’s bands,
I heard His voice and cried aloud,
Then saw His blood on my own hands;
His face was marred, His head thorn-crowned.

Beyond the veil, He draws me near;
Through horror He my ransom paid,
That now in me He finds revere
And by His grace makes unafraid.

He leads me through the straightest gate,
He purged of punishments the scroll.
He is the Master of my fate,
He is the Captain of my soul.

“Come and Die”

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

Men look for their own sense of purpose; but God wants to take His own beyond this into walking in the lively substance of He who is the very purpose. Your hopes of success or earthly blessing will not get you through the onslaught of the Devil when he with heaven’s approval tears all your hopes and dreams into pieces. And then, poor soul, what will you do? How long will you shake your fist at God? Not even the prospect of the grave shall give you solace thereafter, though you wished it would; for you have dug it far too shallow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Holy Spirit’s Longing

The immensity and depth of the anointing into which the Holy Spirit longs to baptize God’s children is such that words too holy to be spoken, songs too holy to be sung, and deeds to holy to be done might yet be able to become spoken and sung and done through we as His broken vessels – if we only will allow ourselves to be so shattered by His revelation to us. He would put a new song in our mouths, if only we stopped using them to make excuses.

True Religion

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:26-27

The religion toward which every man’s heart is naturally drawn is characterized by a boasting in his own spirituality through the outward show of lofty words, and even lovely deeds, while inwardly there dwells secret depravity unchecked. But true religion in the sight of God is characterized by the golden harmony of authentic selflessness and personal holiness.

There is a sureity of tongue that is born not of holy confidence, but of arrogance; and yet there is also a self-deprication that is born not of humility, but of sinful pride.
The spiritual worship that is to be the very walk of every child of God is a daily offering of life to receive Life; it is the fragrance of holy conduct born of the fear of the Lord’s mercy. For he in whom the demerrited mercy of God does not invoke a reverence unto obedience has not known God.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

To “worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24) is seen in a selfless and holy life; to be authentically selfless only flows from the shattering recognition of the mercy of God; and to be truly holy is in a sense to be wholly true – which is to be without mixture in one’s dealings before the eyes of He who is all-knowing.

How, therefore, does the selfish man walk humbly, and the sinner live holy? By the application of the cross to every facet of his life and being, spirit soul and body. He to whom the cross of Christ truly applies will bear his own cross also. And it is this bearing of the cross which promises the abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom. In the urgency of such a life in God, there is found the foretaste of eternal rest; and in the overcoming obedience of such a faith, there runs a trust which takes hold of a purely God-ward contentment.

“The truly religious man does everything as if everything depends on himself, and then leaves everything as if everything depended on God.”
– Joseph Parker

Poem – “From Babylon To Zion”

From Babylon to Zion bright,
Let children tread above the mire.
For gods in which man takes delight
Shall drag him to eternal fire.

The rulers fought for kingdom-come
Without a thought of Christ within.
How much indeed will be the sum
Of judgement if we likewise sin.

There is no rest, no throne on earth,
That grasping, we shall have repose.
But God in Christ has made a birth
In which His kingdom is disclosed.

The Sixth Day – The Image of God

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:24-25

How appropriate it is, that just before the creation of man, the very beasts which will later help him in earthly duties are prepared beforehand. And not only these, but other creatures which themselves contribute to the care and furnishing of the earth are still being made. Yet the livestock in particular may be of note. The scriptures refer to the oxen as the image of the Servant of God. For it is through making Himself nothing and taking the form of a servant that our Lord Christ, the very image of the invisible God and firstborn of all creation, became so highly exalted. The cross precedes the crown, the burden precedes the glory, humility precedes exaltation. Therefore man ought to be mindful of his humble beginning, considering it indicative of his place before the Lord; for he is but dust, and having fallen shall return thence. And only the Lord shall raise him up on the last day, if indeed the faith of Christ was in Him. For in the kingdom of God, the lowest servant is the greatest; while they that exalt themselves shall be lightly esteemed, as they “esteemed Him not.”

Behold, my Servant shall act wisely; He shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you – His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the children of mankind – so shall He sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of Him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
Isaiah 52:13-15

It is He to whom all dominion is given, who laid Himself aside for it all; it is He who tasted death for every man, who from the dust was again raised up that His own might share in that Life incorruptible: so that being last they might share in the firstfruits, being despised they might become embraced, and being condemned they might become accepted. They that are being made in His image and after His likeness are taking up the cross and following after Him. For it is the loss of all else which gains Christ, it is the suffering with Him which finds His fellowship, it is the conformity to such a death as His – “His appearance so marred, beyond human semblance” – which discovers the fullness of His resurrection life. “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…”

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:26-28

If He is not found ruling in us, we shall never reign with Him. It is in being conformed to the image of the Son of God that we discover the incomprehensibility of His great work, and the necessity of that work to be brought unto completion in us. And the giving of Life by the Father unto His chosen gives them the power to be raised up unto “the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ” – for nothing less is the goal. It is from His various workings within each one that the manifold wisdom of God is displayed in the building up of His body before every creature, before all that exalts itself against the knowing of Most High. It begins in the dust, not in temples made with human hands; and it becomes the very temple of He who created it, the very house of His reign…

And I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God with men! And He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death shall be no longer, nor mourning, nor outcry, nor pain will be any longer; for the first things passed away.” And the One sitting on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He says to me, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
Revelation 21:3-5

And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was VERY good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1:31

This is the mandate of God in the making of man into His image: that His rule be complete in His own, and by this shall the kingdom come. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, ‘Lo here!’ or, ‘Lo there!’ For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Just as the first Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, let the Last Adam be formed in us in like manner. Let us present ourselves as the nothing that we are before Him: for it is out of nothing that He is truly glorified to create. And when at last Christ Jesus is fully formed in us, then shall He “see the fruit of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” Unto this very end the Spirit groans and travails within His own for that final adoption; and the Son awaits His bride.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work that He had done.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.
Genesis 2:1-3

The rest of God is for things being completed – let us not restrain Him from completing His work. Let us give over our own yokes and burdens, man’s philosophies and self-made religious compulsions for HIS yoke and burden, and His rest will carry us. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Then let us fear lest in any way a promise having been left to enter into His rest, that any of you may seem to come short.
For, indeed, we have had the gospel preached to us, even as they also; but the word did not profit those hearing it, not having been mixed with faith in the ones who heard.
For we, the ones believing, enter into the rest, even as He said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest,” though the works had come into being from the foundation of the world.
Hebrews 4:1-3

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending. To the one thirsting, I will freely give of the fountain of the water of life. The one overcoming will inherit all things, and I will be God to him, and he will be the son to Me.”
Revelation 21:6-7