Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Treasures of the Hail

Hast thou seen THE TREASURES OF THE HAIL, which I have reserved against the day of trouble [for the days of battle and war]? (Job 38:22-23).

In reference to this verse of scripture, A. B. Simpson said, “Our trials are great opportunities. Too often we look on them as great obstacles. It would be a haven of rest and an inspiration of unspeakable power if each of us would henceforth recognize every difficult situation as one of God’s chosen ways of proving to us his love and look around for the signals of his glorious manifestations; then, indeed, would every cloud become a rainbow, and every mountain a path of ascension and a scene of transfiguration.”

I am in sympathy with Simpson’s interpretation—wherein out of evil God brings forth good—wherein out of the fallen first Adam God recreates an upright second Adam.  The process is undoubtedly messy, bloody—yes even hurtful and inglorious—but oh what a beautiful, glorious and wonderful end the way of the cross eventually leads us to.  Too many I read and hear today accentuate grace beyond even its superabundant nature.  They paint a massless and weightless picture of grace devoid of terribleness, awe and holiness to such a degree as to depict God’s grace as all moonshine and puppy dogs.  By contrast,  THE TREASURES OF THE HAIL are only revealed JUDGMENTALLY (thunderously and violently); the way of the cross is the REAL way of grace however much it is experienced in a hailstorm of biblical proportions.

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened ... and there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a GREAT HAILSTORM” (Revelation 11:19). 
Bonnie Gaunt, remarking on this “great hailstorm,” said, “Water in the symbology of the scriptures always represents refreshing truth.  But hailstones are not refreshing, they are destructive.  Thus the hailstorm that John saw in vision is showers of ‘hard’ truth that cuts down through the myths and false teachings of man, and reveals God’s truth.”  Oh yes!  Though God’s outstretched arms of mercy never tire, they do however occasionally move into other gestures, and here, into a gesture of rebuke.  In just a few verses prior, the kingdom of the world became the kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ ... but “the heathen raged” about it because they hate righteous rule.  Consequently, God, in divine economy of effort, opened the temple to reveal his Presence, blessing the righteous and cursing the wicked in the selfsame event.

The refreshing and thirst quenching truth of water made into hard stones of hail is God’s last resort to wicked and unbelieving hearts; if you will not drink the waters of everlasting life, then hailstones will rain down on your life in one last ditch effort to expose the lies you base your life on.  A scathing rebuke of biblical proportions is merciful if it at last brings a soul to the realization of its need for redemption.  Even amidst the pelting pain of the hard truth, mercy is obtainable.  Redemption is never dead.  Regrettably, however, we read the divine record that “they [repeatedly blasphemed God and] repented not” (Revelation 16:9, 11, 21).  

But just as some heard an angel speak to Jesus and others heard it thunder—when God spoke from heaven and said, “I have already glorified it [your name], and will glorify it again” (John 12:28)—so always the Lord differentiates between those who have ears to hear and those who don’t.  Doubtless, this great hailstorm with its accompanying noise, deeply frightened the raging heathen, but merely awed his adoring people.  By the time hailstones reached lethal size and weight (in Revelation 16:21)—just after the colossal tragedy at Armageddon—God was completely vindicated because plague after plague elicited no remorse from the inhabitants of the earth; “they [just] did not deplore their wicked deeds or repent [for what they had done]” (Revelation 16:11).

Though his grace is sufficient, those who reject it and reject it repeatedly, are eventually insufficient.  Before that, however, looking back at the Lord’s gracious work, we see that “Hail will sweep away the refuge of lies” (Isaiah 28:17).  In context with this verse about hail and its ability to remove lies down to their roots is God breaking a covenant of death—an agreement with death—by the scoffing rulers of Jerusalem.  These rulers made falsehood or lies their refuge or hiding place; they hid themselves behind a thick wall of deception (see Isaiah 28:15).  And truth be told, we’re just as guilty!  But Christ—and specifically the way of his cross—pops the delusional bubble man tries to hide himself in.  In light of—and in context with—this insipid age, God’s use of a hailstorm to “sweep away the refuge of lies” seems unduly harsh and extremely judgmental.  So soft, effeminate, benign and powerless has the church become that no use of anything sounding even remotely “judgmental” can be used.  YET GOD USES IT REGULARLY!  In fact—according to Scripture—“In whirlwind and storm IS HIS WAY” (Nahum 1:3).  But, the ultimate judgment is a judgment in man’s favor—and that judgment is Christ in all his SUFFERING and glory!

Look at this carefully: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.  He who believes in it will not be disturbed.  I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level; then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies and the waters will overflow the secret place.  Your covenant with death will be canceled, and your pact with Sheol will not stand” (Isaiah 28:16-18).  THIS IS GOOD NEWS HOWEVER HARSH ITS MESSAGE IS HERALDED!!  Sin is entrenched in the human soul more than most realize.  

Undeniably, whirlwind and storm is God’s way, but those who believe in Christ “WILL NOT BE DISTURBED” by this blustery way (in any ultimate sense).  True believers welcome God’s gracious hail of judgment—that penetrating and cleansing agent that removes the stain of falsehood all the way down into the deepest and darkest recesses of the soul.  Those who walk out the way of the cross are no longer surprised (or even disturbed) by the depth of their own delusion and depravity, and consequently, God’s seemingly harsh way of cleansing them is welcomed rather than rebuffed. 

God’s way—“In whirlwind and storm”—is from where God answered BLAMELESS Job.  “Out of the whirlwind,” God spoke to Job and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:1).  God did not rebuke Job for what he knew, but for what he did not know—YET PRESUMED.  “Who can discern his errors?  Acquit me of hidden faults.  Also keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression” (Psalm 19:12-13).  Presumption is the premise of transgression, just as faith is the premise of righteousness.

God’s love and regard for blameless Job was such as to bring Job to even deeper levels of blamelessness; the extent of Job’s trials exposed delusion and sin all the way down to the point which caused him to cry out, “I know that my redeemer lives!”  If he were truly blameless to the pulp, why did he need a redeemer?  If Job represents the extent to which we must be purged, a frightful day awaits any of us who avoids the cross.  Yes, Christ paid the price—and Job paid one too—but what of our portion in this matter?  At least on some level, we must share in the sufferings of Christ.

An excellent cap to what I am saying is said well by F. B Meyer: “A storm is only as the outskirts of His robe, the symptom of His advent, the environment of His presence.  Dare to trust Him; dare to follow Him! And discover that the very forces which barred your progress and threatened your life, at His bidding become the materials of which an avenue is made to liberty.”