“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Why revivals fail, pt. 2

Christ’s love undid the natural order of things in a fallen world. His order and methods and doctrine were a new thing, even to John the Baptist. His lessons of truth were coated in grace. Like carob covered brussel sprouts, He covered the Law with grace and made it appealing even to the publicans and prostitutes. Unbounded love streamed out in His every look and word. Every healing of body was His message to heal any and all alienation toward the Holiest One. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” (2Cor. 5:19).

Yet, all Christ’s goodness the nation spurned. “The waves of mercy, still returning in a stronger tide of love, had been beaten back by hearts as hard as rock.” Desire of Ages, p. 829. They rejected His appeals to their heart, but every rejection called forth another wave of compassion for them. They turned away from holy love—the Holy Spirit. But as many as received His love He led to lay down their prejudices against His Father’s Law. His truth laid His listeners down into the waters of self-denial.

As Joseph loved his hard-hearted brethren while they plotted his death, Jesus loved all of Jacob’s children. Joseph was young and inexperienced, and had not perceived the hatred in his brothers’ hearts. But Jesus knew all men and still loved them to the end. He could only stop forgiving when His heart would stop beating.

Yet He was bound to reform the nation. Their condition was beyond reclamation without a complete overhaul. As early as Isaiah the word had gone out that the ten northern tribes had been weighed in the balances and had been found wanting. The prophet records the Assyrian conquest of the northern tribes, but then begins the same prophecies of judgment and promise against the southern kingdom. “When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood…. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” (Is. 1:15, 18).

Jeremiah furthered the work of Isaiah laying the ax to the root of the tree. Prophet after prophet did the same down to the last. Gabriel had forecasted to Daniel their end, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Dan. 9:24).

The Lord forewarned through Malachi, “I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Mal. 3:5).

But nothing had changed in their subtle resistance to the Spirit in 450 years, since Nehemiah. They were not brought to their great need of the soul, as were Abraham and David and others listed in their scriptures. The nation thought they were on good terms with God, but they had not responded to His Law or the sacrificial system He had established to break their hearts. Thus, it was impossible for them to awaken to their spiritual dearth and character depravity. And the Maccabbean victories did nothing toward a spiritual revival, which had been their only means to Yahweh’s protection and blessing.

So when their Messiah came, He fulfilled Malachi’s prophecies against them. “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.
But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt. 15:7-9,14).

This condemnation was against the religious leadership; but it was also against the multitudes who let the leadership turn them away from the truth. What more could their Savior do to reach them? He gave the people the best; He gave them His love. To turn away from the love of Him who had the Spirit without measure was to blaspheme the Holy Ghost. So He must declare judgment against the followers as He had to the leaders, “Let them alone.” It was hard to make His statement against them, but He knew that soon the fickle crowd would be crying, “Let Him be crucified.” “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” (Matt. 27:22; Lk. 23:21).

He was quoting the prophet Hosea, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” (Hos. 4:17). They had not heeded His counsel to “strive to enter in at the strait gate.” They sought to look holy in the public eye, but they had refused the conviction of His Father’s Spirit; whether consciously or subconsciously, they had refused the work of the heart—contrition, repentance, conversion. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded;
But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof.” (Prov. 1:24,25). Their rebellion was incurable. “For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.” (Jer. 30:12). “And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts.” (Is. 22:14).

Whether they led out in the murmuring or were influenced to murmur against the plain evidence of His love, it was all a manifestation that they had not and would not strive and wrestle and struggle to have a heart toward their Lord, the promised One since the beginning of time. As Yahweh had covenanted with them, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” (Is. 27:5).

“Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46).


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