Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Awesome Gleam of Crystal

“Over the heads of the living beings there was something like an expanse, like THE AWESOME GLEAM OF CRYSTAL, spread out over their heads” (Ezekiel 1:22 NASB).  This same verse said another way: “Over the head of the [combined] living creature there was the likeness of a firmament, looking like the terrible and awesome [dazzling of shining] crystal or ice stretched across the expanse of sky over their heads” (Ezekiel 1:22 Amp.).

The Hebrew word translated into English as “crystal” (S7140) means “ice (as if bald, i. e. smooth); hence, hail; by resemblance, rock crystal:—crystal, frost, ice”; it is derived from (S7139) which means “to depilate:—make (self) bald.”  Wikipedia describes crystal as “a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions et cetera are arranged in an ordered pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions,” and—as derived from the ancient Greek—it is described as “icy cold frost.”

It is this divinely “ordered pattern” of crystallized judgment founded on the bald head of repentance that sets the jaw straight, freezes the visage in joyous expression unspeakable, and that creates an icy stare of cold resolution to endure to the end of God’s purpose in and through us.  The last work of God’s cleansing us for holy service is a railing rebuke and utter attrition of being; in Isaiah, it is as “hail” that cleans away our last “refuge of lies,” and in Amos, it is that deceitful part of us being whittled down (and away from us) until all that is left is the question, “How can Jacob stand, for he is small?”  These are expressions of baldness to exposure, shame to glory, and ultimately weakness to strength. 

Indeed, “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plummet; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the hiding place (the shelter).  And your covenant with death shall be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol (the place of the dead) shall not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, then you will be trodden down by it.  As often as it passes through, it [the enemy’s scourge] will take you; for morning by morning will it pass through, by day and by night. And it will be utter terror merely to hear and comprehend the report and the message of it [but only hard treatment and dispersion will make you understand God’s instruction]” (Isaiah 28:17-19 Amp.).

In relationship to this message, and specifically in response to Isaiah 28:17-19 (the above verses), Charles Finney said, “If one observes the ways of God very closely they will soon learn that God moves with an amazing economy of motion.  In other words God always achieves more than one of His objectives with each of His interventions.  The amazing mercy of God is always accompanied by awakening judgment.  The thorns of judgment always accompany the roses of grace.  In one motion God bares His arm of salvation to believers, and at the same time He strikes those who know Him not.  Throughout Scripture we see this.  When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt through the Red Sea, at the same time they were delivered, the Egyptians were drowned in the water which had provided walls to the Israelites.  When the stone flew from David’s sling, at the same time deliverance was wrought for Israel, a blaspheming foe was felled.  When the temple of Dagon collapsed in Gath, not only was Israel delivered from the Philistines, but a prophet of God was disci­plined and delivered out of his misery and more Philistines were slain than in any event in his prodigious life.  God always acts with an amazing economy of motion.  He accomplishes many objectives in one act.  This is the profound wisdom of God.  The same event can be a blessing or a curse, depending upon where one’s perspective is or interests lie.” 

In all of Scripture the word “crystal” is used only five times (denoting grace), and the first time (the seedbed understanding of what it means throughout all of Scripture) in Job 28:17.  In this first usage it means “transparency,” and it is closely associated with gold (representing that which is “Holy to God,” and that which, by nature—in relationship to our human nature—is applied to us as “hammered work”).  Additionally, this transparency is made by a moral cleansing to translucency—to be made innocent.  In context—and in relationship to wisdom and understanding in particular—Job declares that “Man does not know its value,” and that “Man puts an end to darkness, and to the farthest limit he searches out the rock in gloom and deep shadow” (Job 28:13 & 3 NASB).  The “end of darkness” is about coming to enlightenment, but how murky is our realization of what we have found in Christ Jesus!  How blind are those of us that search out the Rock (Jesus Christ) in gloom and deep shadow!

Our destiny is joy, not sorrow (however much God purifies us [with Holy Ghost and fire) and hammers us [with Truth] in order to bring about that joy).  Yes, we must endure the cross for the joy that awaits us beyond it, but we would do well to SEE that, to see where God is taking us (and WHY we must endure hardship to get there).  In the middle of writing this article I received an “IM” on Facebook from a precious friend doing missionary work in Ghana.  Among other things I wrote to her, I said this: “I am right now studying out the idea from Ezekiel surrounding the concept of crystal above our heads. It suggests making ourselves shiny through baldness (like smooth ice); the hail that removes the last refuge of lies is behind it. ‘The Awesome Gleam of Crystal’ is the title.  Above this gleam, above our heads, is the Lord on His throne (but as a man!). It is time to make others UNDERSTAND more CLEARLY.

And such is the sheen of baldness!  If it is disgraceful to be shorn than cover your head!—BUT with what?  The glory of woman is her hair, and the glory of man is woman; to be made bald is a NATURAL DISGRACE—but also a SUPERNATURAL GRACE in figurative language.  To be shorn of the hairs of our humanity—down to the weakest vessel of Adam’s expression—is to be shorn of our shame to the last degree, and cutting hair does not hurt anything but the pride of our own natural beauty.  This is all figurative, I know, but it is about the spiritual truth behind it that matters.

In this wonderful day of “going up” or ascension, we are as Elisha was who was mocked for his baldness.  “He (Elisha) went up from Jericho (from his converted and purified-to-transparency heart that used to be cloaked by the highest and thickest walls of resistance) to Bethel (the magnanimous city of God, the New Jerusalem reality of the heart cleansed clean and enlarged to service). On the way (through the cross of Jesus Christ, out past the gate of the narrow walk into that large place of understanding, and likened unto the Jew sitting under his own fig tree in domestic tranquility), young [maturing and accountable] boys came out of the city and mocked him and said to him, ‘Go up [in a whirlwind], you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!’” (2 Kings 2:23 Amplified, and with my insertions). 

The epithet “baldhead” was one of contempt in the Bible, applied even to a person with a full and healthy head of hair.  Lepers had to shave their heads to be clean, and leprosy is spiritually symbolic of those who profane truth, of those who are “unclean”; they are those who know the truth inwardly, but do not acknowledge it, nor believe it in a full-conversion sense of the matter—in an active way.  Baldness is not to be mocked, but embraced!  It is to lose physical strength and natural sight like Samson.  Samson’s greatest victory was wrought after new hair grew back, yes, but his physical eyes remained gouged out; likewise, we are mere lepers until the hair reemerges, but always still shunned from society, bearing His reproach outside the community of believers.  “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21 NASB).

The “terrible and awesome [dazzling of shining] crystal” that is displayed above our heads is the protecting glory of God, and it is likened to an everlasting firmament, a crystal sea permanently frozen in time immemorial.  Upon this pavement we ascend and descend from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven like angels on Jacob’s ladder.  Crystallizing Ice is to water as concrete or permanency is to sand.  The well of living water springing up to eternal life—that Jesus Christ activated in us—now freezes up in perpetual expression outside the constraint of time.

The last three times the word “crystal” is used in Scripture are all in the book of Revelation.  They are as follows: “Before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind” (Revelation 4:6 NASB).  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:10-11 NIV).  “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1 NASB).

Herein all three verses of expression we see the end of God’s purpose in man.  The sea of “glass, like crystal” speaks of the fragility of innocence becoming the solid character of purity, of losing the hair of leprosy in order to gain the hair of wisdom.  The four creatures are one man in his full-spectrum of light expression; he has eyes front and back when spiritual maturity is arrived at. The New Jerusalem reality is that of being a “Holy City” by pressure and attrition “like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal,” and that reality, like a jasper, came from that which a jasper stone symbolizes.  Jasper is the first foundational stone that makes up the ground upon which the New Jerusalem rests.  It is about a gem that comes forth from insipidness; it is something worthwhile coming out of something absurd (light from darkness, treasure from earthen vessels).  From that which is “dull and stupid (as if shut up) i. e. heedless” (see S3174), that is, from foolish human nature, the brightness of His coming—in the brilliant and no shadow-of-turning light of wisdom—arrives in and over us.  The “river of the water of life, clear as crystal,” is now the issues of our heart, and now her tenderness is forever protected by the heavenly environment of God enthroned inside her.

After being utterly sorrowful, to the point of writing an article titled “Overcoming Overmuch Sorrow,” I arrived at joy.  I wrote it years before I experienced it, but at the end, it spoke and did not lie (and I recorded a final paragraph).  And here is the sound of it for me (and I hope also for you)—that final paragraph: “God has brought me out to a large place, a Promised Land place flowing with milk and honey, a place of great joy.  I am walking on water!  I am walking on a crystal sea comprised of all the sobbed tears of my painfully extruded myrrh which hollowed out my heart and opened me up to the fullness of Christ within; a myrrh which began to bloom in the flames of sorrow, but which is now fully flowered as a molten sheen of purified glass, a solid and wave-less emotional-state-of-being-pavement upon which I now live out a joy more permanent than the carnal vagaries of sentimental happiness.  My golden years look bright, purified to a translucency so clear as to make my reflection clean, sharp, and Christ-like.  Now I understand, O’ my precious Lord, why I was afflicted!”  Indeed, we are afflicted in order to bring about an AWESOME GLEAM OF CRYSTAL understanding derived from our inheritance, the mind of Christ.