Thought & Scripture – God’s Sovereignty

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity. I am the Lord, who does all these things.
Isaiah 45:7 (ESV)

It is easy for us to say that God is sovereign over all things; but it is another matter entirely for us to say that He is also sovereign in all things. Few are they that love God for the latter, for He leaves them nothing to boast in, not even their own will.

…for it is God who is working in you both to will and to work for the sake of His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

The one saying, “I have known Him,” and not keeping His commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that one. But whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.
1 John 2:4-5

Soli Deo Gloria

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 wine, the man was the wine-skin; 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 so 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 Job did not continue in this right and humble frame of spirit. For thereafter he began to rather pity himself; 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 the very hords of hell to prove the mettle of His servants; and He delivers them from the gates of destruction, that they might see how their God delivers destruction back unto the enemy’s gates. The sufferings of the present time are the growing pains of the Life begotten of God within the creature. It is of mercy that He will not relent, and 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 – the faith 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 often 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

Calm in the Storm

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said…
Job 38:1

The mighty fortress of God wherein we find true shelter is the place where He reigns: and that place is the eye of the storm.

For it is His storm: it is the fervent whirling of every wind both foul and fair as He bends them all unto His will, that a man might at last be shaken and undone at the wonder that is HE. The closer we come to the calm of His shelter, the more fiercely the wind seeks to bewilder; but He brings it into subjection, and the strong tower of His strength shall envelop all who draw near on the wings of His Spirit.

He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
Psalm 18:11

Without the veil of His cloud is a tempest of rebuke; within His bosom is the surety of His good rule. Amidst the swirling fury of many voices and the battering rains of many matters, the still of knowing God disarms our every excuse, giving way to that peace which no man can make for himself.

Though furor of words and turmoil of mind may prevail in this day, let us give our hearing and vision to that two-edged sword which cuts asunder this shadowy veil of our present darkness unto the seeing of the Lord seated in His temple. Let the prayer of our lives become that of the contrite soul which trembles at His word: bold in the Spirit and meek in the earth. Let Him be our fear, let Him be our dread; then shall He become our sanctuary, and we His.

Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
“I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:1-6

Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.
Psalm 18:15-18

Mocking the Grace of God

And why not do evil that good may come? – as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
Romans 3:8

When men charge the grace of God with being such a low and powerless thing, they reveal the self-made religion of their wicked hearts and fail to truly behold His grace. For whether they desire to get away with overt sensual wickedness, or they intend to obtain God’s mercy through human works, in both cases they are laying the exact same charge against His grace: the charge of insufficency.

To both, I answer the same:
The strength of sin is not grace.
Behold now the cross, and tremble.

“Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Be found therefore in Him, that He be found in you. For the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overtake it.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6

“Vincēbar” – Inverting Invictus

A rebuttal of William Ernest Henley’s famous and Godless poem, “Invictus” (Latin: “unconquerable”).

“VINCĒBAR”
(Latin: “Being Conquered”)

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

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

For context, the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley can be viewed HERE.

Fear & Holiness

The fear of God is the crucible in which those who earnestly seek Him and His ways are perfected in holiness.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

Most teachers of men today boast of a “wisdom” which, in its true practice, exists utterly apart from a real and tangible fear of the living God; and they speak of an “understanding” which could never stand under the scrutiny of the light of His holiness. If only they could behold the sight of the living creatures before the throne, who, though they are perpetually in His immediate presence, have nothing to express except to cover their eyes and feet and cry, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!” But would this people take such things to heart, even if they saw them with their waking eyes? Would they see that to fear Him is no evil thing, but it is rather to have the fountain of life; and that by walking the fear of Him they are delivered from the snares of death (Prov 14:27)?

What dread we ought to have in this late hour for the lack of the knowledge of the holy! What fear and trembling ought to overtake the heart of any who would claim to know the Lord, He who now speaks of great and dreadful things coming upon the assembly of His people! What zeal for obedience and righteousness ought to consume them, for the spirit of repentance and of weeping over their desolate state! O, that they would behold the horror of their iniquity, and turn, and cry out for the purging and purifying fires of the Lord’s altar to fall upon them and consume all that offends HIM!

“For it is more profitable to you that one of your members should perish
rather than all your body be thrown into Hell.”

Yet who will ask of the Lord to reveal the hidden things of darkness and expose their sins before Him, knowing that in His light no man can hide the unfruitful works of darkness? For only in His light shall we see light for ourselves; for their cannot be a holy people consecrated unto God unless all the ways of filthiness, dishonesty, and strife are put away, and the hearts turned away from stubborn rebellion to faithful obedience, and the spirit of a flaunting prostitute changed for the spirit of a devoted bride.

O that there would be such a 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 5:29

There is an unholy “gospel” in the land, which hates the exposure of sin, which passes over the bonds of wickedness so that the unrighteous are justified to remain in them. A man is told that to sin willfully without recompense is to be free in the in the grace of God. Not a more vile and soul-damning lie has ever been published from the gates of hell!

For the scriptures declare, By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” (Prov 16:6) A gospel with no power to purge a man of iniquity is a gospel devoid of mercy and truth. A gospel which does not invoke the fear of the Lord is a gospel which does not challenge the presence of evil. The gospel of which Paul was not ashamed is a gospel not worthy to be ashamed of! For it is not the gospel of the lawless, to whom Jesus will say “Depart from Me.. I never knew you;” but rather it is the glorious gospel of God which reconciles men unto HIM by conforming them to the image of His Son!

And of the victory found in this gospel of the new covenant, the apostle Paul could say,
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death…” (Rom 8:2)
Now every law has a lawgiver, and every lawgiver is the arbiter of the judgements according to it. And if our Lawgiver has even provided the very means by which the righteous requirement of His law might be fulfilled in us, “how then will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

The true gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation: it is the impartation not only of forgiveness of sins past, but also of freedom from the very power of sin and of deliverance from evil, that we might serve the Father in heaven and walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called; so that to the powers both in heaven and on earth, the manifold wisdom of God might be shown through the redeemed, who are the pure and spotless bride of His Beloved Son (Eph 3:10). THIS is the victory in which Christ triumphed over sin, death, and all the power of the enemy.
Therefore “let everyone who is called by the name of the Lord depart from iniquity,” and let soberness of mind be cultivated in us all, waiting upon the voice of He who says to the meek, “Come.”

Ezekiel was given an ear to the council of God when the Lord commanded His angels that those who wept and sighed for the abominations done in their city were to be marked, so that they might be spared when those without His mark were slain by the angels. And to the ones carrying out the slaughter of the profane He commanded, “begin at my sanctuary.” (Read Ezekiel ch 8-9)

It is into such a day that I am convinced we are now quickly moving. While abominations are being tolerated in the midst of those who claim to be His people, and most of that which calls itself the house of the Lord is truly the greatest spiritual whore upon the earth, who now is found weeping and sighing before Him? Who is found bearing the heaviness of the burden of His heart, interceding on behalf of the people, repenting for their sins and calling them out of Babylon, that He might relent and show mercy to them? The scriptures say, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” (2 Chr 16:9) He sees all that is done in secret, whether good or evil. He discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. He knows whether this one is righteous or that one wicked, and He shall repay every one according to their deeds, that they may eat the fruit of their ways. “The Lord knows those who are His.” He is preparing to mark His own and to cleanse HIS house of that which does not belong.

It is not a working of man’s arm, but rather of God’s hand.

Therefore let yourself be judged only by the word of Christ, truly obeying His call, knowing that the love of this present world and the lusts thereof are the bondage of one not fearing God. For the world does not fear Him, nor do those who are ensnared in its lusts; but the one who fears Him and obeys the word of the Spirit of Christ is the one who truly loves Him. Those who fear the Lord need fear no other, for the Spirit He has given is “of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” For if, in the fear of God, you have died with Christ and thereby abide in His love, your soul shall live, and you have also overtaken “the second death” (which is the lake of fire – Rev 20:14).

And if anyone rejoices in the truth, let them be found living in the piercing light of His word, which expels the darkness both within and without; that in the fear of God we may have fellowship as we walk in His light, in which we remain cleansed (1 John 1:7).

This is the judgment: that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
(John 3:17-21)

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:2

He Is Worthy

The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Thou art worthy, o Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for THY pleasure they are and were created.”
Revelation 4:10-11

The life of a true worshiper takes no thought of its own pleasure in receiving back from God, nor considers what reward may come of service, but rather delights in only God Himself being glorified; for one who has beheld the Lord of Glory knows that their is no good apart from Him. The living creatures before the throne of God are always in His immediate presence, yet even they still cannot utter a word without the accompaniment of “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God Almighty…”

Those who have not been undone as Isaiah was upon the revelation of the holiness of God (Isa 6) cannot touch the depths of the heart of the Father for the purification of His children, nor know His grief for their deviations and so humble themselves and repent. Let us humble ourselves and be brought to the only pure motive of service to the pleasure of the Almighty: that He is worthy. Do you not find it wonderful that He is worthy even to receive the “amen” of both those who He blesses and those whom He curses? For every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. On the day of judgement, their will not be one among the wicked, as each stands before the Holy One, who will not respond to their verdict with, “amen.”

The judge of all the earth will do right. And how can He not be praised for such virtue? Surely He who will not compromise justice in pouring out wrath upon His enemies, and yet is longsuffering with us all and forgives the repentant, even we who have opposed Him; surely He alone is worthy of all that He demands, and is right to do so!

Yet the ascribing of such worthiness to God is not the posture of those who have not sincerely and humbly asked of the Lord, “Show me THY glory.” Such is the pure-hearted request of one who fears God, one who is of a single eye toward HIS purposes, who seeks the knowing of the Holy One, which is true understanding. But who will so forsake what they have in this world and consider it refuse for the sake of knowing Him? For the only true and eternal life is that which is hidden with Christ in God. There is no good apart from him!

“If we deny Him, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny HIMSELF.”

He is faithful to himself! He cannot be faithful to us unless we are in Him! He is faithful to his own word! So let us be found in submission to His word lest we be found outside of His pleasure! It is for HIS will and pleasure that all things were created; being created “by Him, through Him, and to Him.”

“Think this within you, which mind was also in Christ Jesus, 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.”
(Philippians 2:5-11)

O, that even one among the children of men would forsake the pride of this life in seeking the glory of God, according to Whose mercies we are not consumed in wrath! For there is no effective resistance of the devil and his devices apart from humility before God. There is nothing which God hates more, or can do as little about (beyond utter judgement), as unrelenting pride. Whoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. The body of Christ remains in atrophy so long as we its members are unwilling to have our hearts cut through by His word, our pride crushed under the heaviness of the conviction of His holiness, and our minds renewed through submitting to His loving discipline

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the LORD, and HE will exalt you.
James 4:4-10