Friday, August 15, 2014

Miracles in the Land of Ham

When signs and wonders break out and when God arises from out the depths of the human spirit, the human soul is often offended, and the flesh is always unhappy about it.  Nonetheless, miracles are evidential proof to the flesh (inclusive of the soul—in so far as it is in agreement with the flesh) that her time for death has come.

When “Israel entered Egypt, Jacob immigrated to the Land of Ham.  God gave his people lots of babies; soon their numbers alarmed their foes.  He turned the Egyptians against his people; they abused and cheated God’s servants.  Then he sent his servant Moses, and Aaron, whom he also chose.  They worked marvels in that spiritual wasteland, MIRACLES IN THE LAND OF HAM.  He spoke, ‘Darkness!’ and it turned dark—they couldn’t see what they were doing” (Psalm 105:23-42 MSG).

Said another way (and with my explanatory insertions), “He (God) turned their heart (of the Egyptians, those descended from the lineage of Ham by way of Mizraim [“two-fold distresses” or “two-fold Egypt”]) to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants.  He (God) sent Moses [“saved out of the water”] His servant, and Aaron [“very high”] whom He had chosen.  They performed His wondrous acts among them, AND MIRACLES IN THE LAND OF HAM [a land “noisy with the sound of man” or “inflamed to blackness” or “energized by the blackness of the human heart”].  He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they did not rebel against His words” (Psalm 105:25-28 NASB).

The circumcision made without hands (which is performed by the Holy Spirit wielding the word of God inside us by the effectual work that comes only through the baptism of the Holy Spirit), and that which is the cutting of covenant between God and man, and which is expressed as the word of God that “is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit,” is the only power on earth which can differentiate down to “both the joints and marrow,” the very depths of who we are, and thereby “judge the thoughts and intentions of [our human] heart” aright (Hebrew 4:12).  Miracles in the land of Ham is about quelling the noisy crowd of man, of silencing his elevated soul and his base flesh, of quenching the flames of his misguided zeal.  It is as God taught the prophet Elijah: God is in the quiet and still small voice (in the human spirit), not in the loud and theatrically loud displays of power (in the human soul and flesh).  Miracles both affirm the legitimacy of God’s power and the illegitimacy of the power of man.
Egypt is a word which basically means “place of the projection of the soul,” or “place where the projection of a creator god principle manifests.”  It is a bastard form of power, a power originating from the soul of man, from within the mind, will, and emotional seat of man.  Thus Egypt represents the ascendency of soul, a principle in the world which seems right in the eyes of man, but that which is clearly wrong in the eyes of God.  As the prophet Habakkuk put it, and the idea upon which the entire New Testament (based on better promises) is made, is that the “soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4 KJV).

Soul power is often mistaken as spiritual power, just as the soul and the spirit not cleaved away from each other (the uncircumcised man), is the bastard man, the man devoid of the spirit, and the man unfit to come into His presence without being struck down dead in that holy place.  Jude described him thusly: “certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door]. Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)” (Jude 1:4 Amp.).

Jude went on to say that God “delivered a people out of the land of Egypt,” out of the deception of projecting themselves as God, but that He also “subsequently destroyed those [of them] who did not believe [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him]” (Jude 1:5).  They simply do not allow the cross of Jesus Christ, the basis for the work of circumcision, to utterly divorce their hearts or spirits away from their darling souls; they disobey the Lord’s injunction to lose their lives (their souls) in order to gain them back again (only after He has purged it of sin and denuded it of its own life force).  Ultimately, they are those who reject the high calling of God in Christ Jesus that the apostle Paul spoke of; indeed, “It is these who are [agitators] setting up distinctions and causing divisions—merely sensual [creatures, carnal, worldly-minded people], DEVOID OF THE [HOLY] SPIRIT AND DESTITUTE OF ANY HIGHER SPIRITUAL LIFE” (Jude 1:19).

The culminating miracle performed in Egypt, a miracle that was a judgment against all that Egypt represents, was the loss of “the first-born in their land, the first fruits of all their vigor” (Psalm 105:36).  In other words, God judged the uplifted soul, those that project or express themselves as the first cause of being and action.  Our God is a God of mercy, however, and therefore He brought down upon them a darkness they could FEEL first before He utterly destroyed their vigor.  God does not destroy the hopes and dreams of man lightly or without cause or because He is cruel, but any expression of man devoid of Him behind it, is an expression of shame rather than glory.  Christ in us, the hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27), is about our spirits beings married in a holy covenantal relationship with His Spirit, and thereby making us whole, or making us what we’re meant to be; people who don’t “know” God don’t know themselves and are therefore less than what they were designed to be in their adulterous state of being.  The idea that He will not share His glory with another is resolved by another idea, the idea that “woman is the glory of man” (1 Corinthians 11:7).

Miracles in the land of Ham is about the removal of the curse.  It is about God making streams in the desert, about making the gushings of our heart pure, clean, and transparent again; at that desolate place at the center of our hearts, that place where we are barren and unloved, God causes life to spring up out of death.  What a precious knowledge it is to understand God’s ways!  If we are grafted into Him, and He is “a root out of parched ground” (see Isaiah 53:2 NASB), then we can only bloom upwards and outwards (in beautiful fragrance) from that same premise, from that same parched ground.  God’s removal of our natural vigor is for the purpose of invigorating our supernatural destiny.  But before miracles come, darkness must come; also, before “the filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” gross darkness must cover the people; furthermore, before the knowledge of the glory of the Lord is known, the vanity of vanities spoken of by Solomon in Ecclesiastes must be known: “Behold, is it not by appointment of the Lord of hosts that the nations toil only to satisfy the fire [that will consume their work], and the peoples weary themselves only for emptiness, falsity, and futility?” (Habakkuk 2:14 & 13 Amp.).

T. Austin-Sparks, in his booklet “The Sign of The Prophet Jonah,” said “The absence of miraculous workings in the realm of the senses where the matter of knowing the Lord is in question is two sided: it is condemnation to those who have had the light and not followed it; and it is spiritual advancement in the case of those who are in the way of knowing the Lord more deeply.  The great apostasy of the last days will have as its ground an absence of genuine love for the truth for its own sake; a craving for the demonstrations, sensations, manifestations; and then the satanic production of an imitation apostolicalism “with power, and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9); “a strong delusion” (2 Thess. 2:11), so that “if it were possible even the Elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24).”  He also said, “The further we go on with the Lord, the more inward things become, and the more He Himself becomes the transcendent reality and centre of all things.”

Ostentatious miracles in the land of Ham must become the seemingly benign “day of small things” in the land of Israel (the new creation spirit wherein the “inward” reality of His Person is magnified).  Today’s small thing is the new large reality!  We are a chip off the old Rock; we are drops of water comprising buckets of waters (corresponding to the composition of nations) upon which, and from on high, His voice reigns.  The external signs and wonders which broke new ground with us at the start of this way is now a subterranean and personifying phenomenon.  Like Isaiah’s children, we are the signs and wonders!  Subtleties are now shouts of warning, and the still small voice is now a loud trumpet blast.  “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Peter 4:7 NASB).  “Cease striving [BE STILL] and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

There is None like the God of Jeshurun

“There is none like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the heavens to your help, and through the skies in His majesty.  The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said ‘Destroy!’” (Deuteronomy 33:26-27).

BUT...“Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—you are grown fat, thick, and sleek—then he forsook God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:15 NASB).  Kicking in the womb from infant feet is adorable and a sign of abundant life, but kicking in the tomb from adult feet is deplorable and a sign of redundant strife.  Why do we fatten ourselves for the slaughter?  Why do we overindulge and satiate our flesh when discipline and moderation pleases us more deeply anyways?  Jeshurun conveniently forgot the admonition, the warning against forgetting God after he received all the things he was promised.  He should have remembered: “He [God] humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Again the admonition, and with a complete explanation: “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint.  In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, THAT HE MIGHT HUMBLE YOU AND THAT HE MIGHT TEST YOU, TO DO GOOD FOR YOU IN THE END.  Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’  But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.  It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish.  Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:11-20).

It is God’s desire and plan to bring many sons to glory, not to shame, BUT we must realize our weak frames and evil tendencies and allow God to fully purge us of them.  There is a reason why we do not inherit the Promised Land straightway.  He MUST first humble and test us so that we learn our true nature; then, as we partake of His divine nature consistently, daily/fully, we eventually supplant our evil nature with His good nature.  The fall of man debased us, and by so doing, removed the evidence of that baseness from our eyes (baseness blinds us from seeing ourselves as we really are).  God must lead us through “great and terrible” wilderness experiences to draw up those debased natures of ours before our minds.  It is as G. K. Chesterton once said:  “Humility was largely meant as a restraint upon the arrogance and infinity of the appetite of man.  He was always outstripping his mercies with his newly invented needs.  His very power of enjoyment destroyed half his joys.  By asking for pleasure, he lost the chief pleasure; for the chief pleasure is surprise.”

Deuteronomy means “the second law,” and primarily, it is a recapitulation of the first law as it was written down previously in the book of Leviticus.  But actually, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible—and that portion of the Bible to which both Leviticus and Deuteronomy obtain) was originally made as a whole document, and so the distinction made between the books is artificial.  And just like our excuses are when we feign to either not hear, or we claim to hear, but don’t understand.  You know how your parents used to say, “Don’t let me tell you twice!”?—and how they always had to repeat themselves nonetheless (and we empowered them to do so)?  Although they didn’t want to repeat themselves, God will, does, and did (and for many of us, for many more times than twice).  Of course, in all fairness to our parents, they didn’t stick with their convictions either; they told us twice, then thrice, then…well, you get it.  And is often the case, as we did with our parents, we do with God; “Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it” (Job 33:14).

The name “Jeshurun” is an affectionate name for Israel, sort of like how a spouse might call their mate “honey” or “sweetie.”  It literally means “To be straight or even,” “upright.”  “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright [morally straight], but they have sought out many devices [to distract them from their proper place beside God in marital relationship to Him]” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).  But the way it’s supposed to be: “The upright will dwell in Thy presence” (Psalm 140:13).  Indeed, as was stated earlier, “THE ETERNAL GOD IS A DWELLING PLACE.”  God is our home!  He is our sanctuary, our peace, a stronghold, a secure place that we may run into and be safe.  There is, indeed, none like the God of Jeshurun!
Even the God of Jacob, and even more so, the God of Israel, does not tell the whole story.  There is, in particular, NONE like the God of Jeshurun.  “But now listen, O Jacob, My servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen...and you Jeshurun whom I have [also and more specifically] chosen” (Isaiah 44:1-2 NASB, insertion mine).

Alexander Maclaren in his brilliant article “JACOB—ISRAEL—JESHURUN,” noted some excellent points regarding Jeshurun.  He said, “You observe that there are here three different names applied to the Jewish nation. Two of them, namely Jacob and Israel, were borne by their great ancestor, and by him transmitted to his descendants. The third was never borne by him, and is applied to the people only here and in the Book of Deuteronomy.  The occurrence of all three here is very remarkable, and the order in which they stand is not accidental. The prophet begins with the name that belonged to the patriarch by birth; the name of nature, which contained some indications of character. He passes on to the name which commemorated the mysterious conflict where, as a prince, Jacob had power with God and prevailed. He ends with the name Jeshurun, of which the meaning is 'the righteous one,' and which was bestowed upon the people as a reminder of what they ought to be.”  Thus Maclaren’s point is that the sequence of names suggests a sequence of maturing relationship, a transformation of character from Jacob the conniver, to Jeshurun the righteous soul (really), through his Israel experience.

Maclaren says it too well not to quote him directly:  “Have you ever been beaten out of all your confidence, and ground down into the dust of self-disgust and self-abandonment? Have you ever felt, 'there is nothing in me or about me that I can cling to or rely upon'? Have you ever in the thickest of that darkness had, gleaming in upon your solitude, the vision of His face, whose face we see in Jesus Christ? Have you ever grasped Him who is infinitely willing to be held by the weakest hand, and who never 'makes as though He would go further,' except in order to induce us to say, with deeper earnestness of desire, 'Abide with us, for it is dark'? And have you ever, in fellowship with Him thus, found pouring into your enlightened mind a deeper reading of the meaning of His character and a fuller conception of the mystery of His love? And have you ever—certainly you have if these things have preceded it, certainly you have not if they have not —have you ever thereby been borne up on to a higher level of feeling and life, and been aware of new impulses, hopes, joys, new directions and new capacities budding and blossoming in your spirit?

“Brethren! there is only one way by which, out of the mire and clay of earth, there can be formed a fair image of holiness, and that is, that Jacob's experience, in deeper, more inward, more wonderful form, should be repeated in each one of us; and that thus, penitent and yet hopeful, we should behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and draw from Him our righteousness. That is the path of transformation. The road passes through Peniel, and Jacob must become Israel before he is Jeshurun. He must hold communion with God in Christ before he is clothed with righteousness.

“How different that path is from the road which men are apt to take in working out their own self-improvement! How many forms of religion, and how many toiling souls put the cart before the horse, and in effect just reverse the process, and say practically—'first make yourselves righteous, and then you will have communion with God'! That is an endless and a hopeless task. I have no doubt that some of you have spent—and I would not say wasted, but it has been almost so—years of life, not without many an honest effort, in the task of self- improvement, and are very much where you were long ago. Why have you failed? Because you have never been to Peniel. You have never seen the face of God in Christ, You have not received from Him the blessing, even righteousness, from the God of your salvation.

“Dear friends, give up treading that endless, weary path of vain effort; and learn—oh! learn—that the righteousness which makes a soul pure and beautiful must come as a gift from God, and is given only in Jesus Christ.”

As wise Solomon put it: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8).  And remember, only those who endure to the end [of the process of redemption] shall be saved [in the ultimate sense of having their souls fully orbed and restored to their Edenic—and beyond Edenic—condition].  It is so true, THERE IS NONE LIKE THE GOD OF JESHURUN!