Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sound Wisdom Has Two Sides

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet...Lord I have heard the report about Thee and I fear. O Lord, revive Thy work In the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NASB).

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on the book of Habakkuk said: “When God seems to connive at the wickedness of the wicked, nay, and to countenance it, by suffering them to prosper in their wickedness, it shocks the faith of good men, and proves a sore temptation to them to say, WE HAVE CLEANSED OUR HEARTS IN VAIN (Ps. lxxiii. 13), and hardens those in their impiety who say, GOD HAS FORSAKEN THE EARTH. We must not think it strange if wickedness be suffered to prevail far and prosper long. God has reasons, and we are sure they are good reasons, both for the reprieves of bad men and the rebukes of good men; and therefore, though we plead with him, and humbly expostulate concerning his judgments, yet we must say, ‘He is wise, and righteous, and good, in all,’ and must believe the day will come, though it may be long deferred, when the cry of sin will be heard against those that do wrong and the cry of prayer for those that suffer it.” 

Not in eternity, but in the midst of our time constraint, in our numbered days, in our own years upon this earth, make us to know wisdom. Do not keep us in the dark; open our eyes dear God! Ah but groundless complaints! Indeed, “Why do you complain against Him, that He does not give an account of all His doings? Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it. In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that He may turn man aside from his conduct, and keep man from pride” (Job 33:13-17). God is so good He HIDES MAN’S PRIDE FROM HIM, because pride is a prerequisite condition to falling down into base and animal condition. It is God alone which keeps us in life; we are not INHERENTLY RIGHTEOUS. But He is, and loves us enough to PRESERVE us away in Christ from the exhausting lick of hell-fire flames. 

Oftentimes God brings back men’s souls from the pit of hell that they might be enlightened with the light of life. “KEEP SILENT, AND I WILL TEACH YOU WISDOM,” said a young Elihu to the old veteran of the faith and famous sufferer Job. Are you suffering prideful Christian? Let me teach you wisdom. “Let all the earth (your flesh) be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20). Your righteousness, as far as it goes, may be completely correct, but does it go far enough? Enlargement is only accomplished by suffering, and there is much territory to possess, more than you have imagined or thought about (the Spirit of God in you must possess you outwards from your center all the way out into your mortal body....ALL THE WAY OUT!). Ironically it is more prideful to be small than large IN THE END of God’s dealings with you. The first position of humility is indeed prostration, but its final position is walking upright in the full flower of your person fully-orbed in Christ. 

But how do we get there? Just as patience (long—suffering) is the foundation of love, so God’s threshing floor (the base of our humanity) is the foundation for the holy temple of our bodies filled with God. The prostrate position of humility is the foundation upon which a true walk with God is built. It is a superstructure skyscraper that demands a firm and deep foundation to stand on. I have no doubt, and I declare it as the word of the Lord to all who read this, that God in this hour of history, in the midst of our years, is coming in accordance with the way Habakkuk saw it.

This is what he saw, and described: “God comes from Teman (the south, the southern quarter of the sky, where, according to Job, are housed the constellations Orion and Pleiades) and the Holy One from Mount Paran (the mountain “abounding in foliage). Selah (be quiet and calmly look at that!)” (Habakkuk 3:3a).

God arises from Mount Paran when we go down to the wilderness of Paran. The streams of the south water the north when God comes from Teman. The bear and her satellites lead the way by being fixed and followed not by progression across the heavens but by being understood in permanent location (the Northern Star is a part of the bear’s constellation and is a guide to all pilgrims). The south is the underworld, the bowels of hell in symbolic tone. The wilderness of Paran is waters in a dry ground, fruitfulness where none can be; it is revival from the dead. God takes what is low and debased and raises it from the grave and immortalizes it atop the highest peak. It is utter deliverance! “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126). 

Habakkuk saw and described much more, but let us focus for a moment on the constellations and where they are located and try to understand what it is God is saying to us. Let us enlarge! Job was righteous and blameless according to God’s own testimony concerning him, YET, I would suggest, God graciously hid pride from him (we are not responsible for what we do not understand in the same way that we are responsible for what we do understand; but we all repent in dust and ashes when we REALLY see Him). And wise men followed a Northern Star to where the King of Kings lay in swaddling clothes in infant attire, NOT PERCEPTIBLE to earthly roadmaps. Likewise God pointed out to Job that He “Alone stretches out the heavens and tramples down the waves of the sea; Who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; Who does great things, unfathomable, and wondrous works without number” (Job 9:8-10). Also, God makes water as hard as stone and the surface of the deep imprisoned; in other words, He alone liquefies the heart, and mollifies humanity into compliance. “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites?” (Job 38:31-32).

The heavens are telling of the glory of God! Indeed, “His splendor covers the heavens” (Habakkuk 3:3b). Can you unify seven sisters or dissolve their bond? Can you make them dance in holy harmony from great distances and disparate personalities? Pleiades/the Seven Sisters is the seven-headed dragon or the seven-flamed menorah. Is there any hope for the fool (or a wise man)? Can you release the fool on his own recognizance? Orion is the obvious fool; unleashing him is God’s work and is about the commission of firebrands and madness. Can you tame the wild beast? Can you satisfy the bear’s ravenous appetite? Bear is the gluttonous eater of meat, and the digester of much revelation honey; she is accompanied always by her many cubs. She is in the Northern and permanent sky; she never leaves her post, but only rotates from a fixed location. Indeed, “He who made the Pleiades and Orion and CHANGES DEEP DARKNESS INTO MORNING, Who also DARKENS DAY INTO NIGHT...the Lord is His name. It is He who FLASHES FORTH WITH DESTRUCTION UPON THE STRONG” (Amos 5:8-9). 

“His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand (we His people engraved in His palms are diadems of His expression), and there is the hiding of His power (we only speak what we hear and explain what we see when He says so in both extent of expression and timing of prescription). Matthew Henry said: “And there was the hiding of his power; there was his hidden power, in the rays that came out of his hand. The operations of his power, compared with what he could have done, were rather the hiding of it than the discovery of it; the secrets of his power, as well as of his wisdom, are double to that which is” Indeed, “Would that God might speak, and open His lips against you, and show you the secrets of wisdom! For SOUND WISDOM HAS TWO SIDES. Know then that God forgets a part of your iniquity” (Job 11:6). Before Him goes pestilence, and plague comes after Him (Christ in us, the light shining out of darkness, blessed expressed out of curse, Spirit in flesh...THE TWO SIDES). He stood and surveyed the earth (with a plumb-line He measured His people); He looked and startled the nations (upsetting the money-tables in His temple). Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered (seemingly permanent human obstacles broken up), the ancient hills collapsed (removed forever). His ways are everlasting (He always operates this way)” (Habakkuk 3:4-6).

“I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us” (Habakkuk 3:16). But remember: wisdom has two sides. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). When God arises, when God invades, enemies are scattered, and behold, I have seen the enemy, and it is us!

Matthew Henry: “Messages immediately from heaven commonly struck even the best and boldest men into a consternation; Moses, Isaiah, and Daniel, did exceedingly fear and quake. But, besides that, the matter of this message made the prophet afraid, when he heard how low the people of God should be brought, under the oppressing power of the Chaldeans, and how long they should continue under it; he was afraid lest their spirits should quite fail, and lest the church should be utterly rooted out and run down, and, being kept low so long, should be lost at length. He earnestly prays that for the elect's sake these days of trouble might be shortened, or the trouble of these days mitigated and moderated, or the people of God supported and comforted under it.”

Matthew Henry still: “Do something for thy own cause: Revive thy work, thy church (that is the work of God's own hand, formed by him, formed for him); revive that, even when it walks in the midst of trouble...Grant thy people a little reviving in their bondage...Preserve alive thy work. Though thy church be chastened, let it not be killed; though it have not its liberty, yet continue its life, save a remnant alive, to be a seed of another generation. Revive the work of thy grace in us, by sanctifying the trouble to us and supporting us under it, though the time be not yet come, even the set time, for our deliverance out of it. Whatever becomes of us, though we be as dead and dry bones, Lord, let thy work be revived, let not that sink, and go back, and come to nothing. Do something for thy own honour: In the midst of the years make known, make thyself known, for now verily thou art a God that hidest thyself (Isa. xlv. 15), make known thy power, thy pity, thy promise, thy providence, in the government of the world, for the safety and welfare of thy church. Though we be buried in obscurity, yet, Lord, make thyself known; whatever becomes of Israel, let not the God of Israel be forgotten in the world, but discover himself even in the midst of the dark years, before thou art expected to appear."

God is going to have bride unspotted and wrinkled free; He is going to spiritualize His people even if it kills them! And some will die in the process to the degree that they will be removed before their time. God holds us accountable for all the things we repressed and forgot; he is also a Savior who understands that we do not recall our injustices. Thus the idea of Him hiding himself is a tender mercy to us, for surely he is not a mysterious God. Everything is open and bare to the purified heart; they see God. And because they do, they do not cower in fear or run and hide when in the cool of the day, God comes to them. Loss of all THINGS moves them not; they say:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).