When I was a very young boy, I used to worry deeply about the Jews. I knew nothing of any promise concerning a future hope for them. I knew only that unless they were able to somehow forgive those who had done such things to them, they could not be saved, since Jesus had said that we cannot be forgiven unless we first forgive those who have trespassed against us. I felt this command made it impossible for the Jews to be saved. It was too high for them. But that is precisely the point. Only in the face of an impossible commandment is the power and glory of God revealed in jars of clay. Crisis finds us out. It reveals we are not what we thought. We dare not relax the requirement, or make it any less than necessary, else we will never know the power that fulfills it through grace. It was given to kill us, just so that we might live by the power of another life.
What then is that one event on which all else depends? It is the transforming sight of Him. When Israel will see their Joseph (Him whom they pierced), every family will mourn apart (Zech 12:10-12). Forgiveness and love towards German and Palestinian will no longer be an impossibility, because Jesus said, “to whom much is forgiven, the same loves much.” This is the seeing that transforms. It creates a new heart, which is nothing less than the revelation of Christ in the believer. Paul said, “when it pleased God to reveal His Son in me …” It is the revelation of Christ in us the hope of glory. This comes at great price, not only to God, but His servants also are required to travail for the formation of Christ in another (Gal 4:19; 2Cor 4:12). Though free of fleshly labor or merit, it does come easy or cheap. It is only through the travail of the Spirit. That is why prevailing prayer is so often travailing prayer.
All salvation is based on the principle of a life laid down for another. This is the true evidence of regeneration. It shows, as nothing else, the presence and reality of the life of God in the life. It is not merely a change of lifestyle. It is not only a new hatred of sin. It is to be made partaker of the divine nature, which translates most essentially into being in touch with God’s heart for others, even the enemy. In fact, according to Jesus, love of the the enemy is the truest test of the reality of our condition. This is miracle ground. When we forgive the greatest offense and love the greatest enemy, we weep. It is as though we walk on water, because we know it is not ‘in’ us; it is not ‘of’ us; but only through Him that we are able to do this impossible thing. This can only be in us as we are enabled to see Him as He is, more and more, as the light that shines brighter to the perfect day.
Certainly, “with man this is impossible”. That’s just the point. Flesh and blood cannot reveal it. The natural man cannot receive it. It is all grace and gift, far beyond the meritorious ability of man to induce or constrain God. As miraculous and impossible as it may and ‘should’ seem to us, this impossible ability comes as a free gift. But if the eschatology of Israel means anything in terms of personal application, this gift comes at the end of something. It comes at the end of man, and that end doesn’t come easy.
The gift of God is free indeed, but there is an obstacle more fierce and resilient than anything we can imagine. It is “what is in man” (Jn 2:25). This is our common problem and our curse. We are too strong. Jacob becomes Israel in one place only, at the end of his strength. That is where Christ is always revealed, at the end of strength. To that end the law was given. The scripture says, the “quarrel of My covenant” (Lev 26:25) comes to an end, “when He sees their power is gone” (Deut 32:36). “When He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people (the Jews), all these things shall be finished” (Dan 12:7). “And I will break the ‘pride of your power”. (Lev 26:19). Notice the relationship in these scriptures between pride and power.
The power of sin lies in presumption, which is a kind of false power, the delusive power of self-sufficiency. This is the power that must be crucified if we are to live unto God, so that what is sewn in weakness can be raised in power (1Cor 15:43). In this sense, the ‘power’ of the first creation is the principal hindrance to the power of the second creation (Heb 10:9). Power was Satan’s test. He was given great beauty and wisdom, but iniquity was found in him when he aspired to take the glory to himself. This is not the place, but scripture suggests that Satan envied the place that had been decreed for the Son to rule all nations from Zion’s hill and aspired to usurp that place and position for himself (Ps 2:6-8; 48:2 with Isa 14:13).
The greatest test of the heart is the use of power. This was David’s test when his dreaded enemy Saul was in his grasp. What we do with the power that is in our hands is the greatest evidence of what is really in our hearts. Whether we are able to choose the higher ground in any hard decision will be determined by whether or not we have received the power to lay our life down in confidence and hope of a better resurrection (“power to lay it down” Jn 10:18). This power comes only through seeing Him. To see Him is to be like Him (2Cor 3:18; 1Jn 3:2). Such a ‘change’ is sure and everlasting; it is resurrection. “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:40).
In every example, when the prophets or apostles saw him, their strength went out of them. There is a principle here. This is where God is taking the church, not only at the end when He is revealed in final glory, but scripture shows great evidence of a mighty transformational break through that comes when Michael casts down Satan to begin the last 3 1/2 years of great tribulation, Satan’s “short time” (compare Dan 12:1 with Rev 12:7-14). Other scriptures show that this is the time that great power is coming on the church for their final witness and suffering (Dan 11:32-35; 12:3; Rev 11:3; 12:10). We may be sure that this power comes only after a great weakening and removal of carnal power. We believe that before Israel’s travail begins, God will have made great use of the first half of Daniel’s last week to accomplish a great straightening of the church that will result in Michael’s heavenly victory over Satan, but that is another topic for another time.
I was just talking to my granddaughter about the Lord’s answer to the disciple’s question, “Master, where do you dwell?” I pointed out that some of the most overlooked, but glorious words in all the Bible was our Lord’s reply, when He said, “come and see.” I told her the entire purpose of our lives and the gift of the Bible was to answer that glorious invitation, “come and see.” “See the place of my dwelling.” When we see the place of His dwelling, we become His dwelling place.”
I showed her the scriptures in Isa 57:15 and 66:1-2, which show that God takes no satisfaction in the vastness of the creation. That’s a “piece of cake,” could do it all again with a word. No, none of that is the place of His rest. His desire, His rest, and eternal choice of dwelling is in the broken heart that has been tendered and changed by His mercy. He has desired to dwell with the humble, the contrite, the simple and trusting, who have ‘seen’ the depths of His mercy. To know that mercy and to sing amazing grace from a broken heart of grateful praise is without doubt the chief end of the church. Oh for the day that “all Israel” will sing the praises of the Lamb before the throne of His mercy!
Lord grant such a Spirit quickened seeing of you, that we may show your strength to Israel and the nations. Oh, God, do not let the magnitude of your love and sacrifice be wasted on our uncomprehending and insensible hearts! Destroy by your own mercy and power all the power of our self protection and unbelief, till we can say with Isaiah, “here I am; send me.”
Yours in the Beloved, Reggie