“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.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ichabod, the taking of the glorious ark

“And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.” (1Sam. 4:22).

The context of this statement really begins around a sentiment of the children of Israel. “Men abhorred the offering of the Lord.” (1Sam. 2:17). Spirituality had taken a nose dive among the Israelites, and even the priests were leading out in it in Shiloh where the tabernacle of the congregation was located at the time. Eli, the high priest and father of the two priests, Hophni and Phinehas, had no moral conviction to punish his sons. Eli had turned a blind eye to God’s authority and chose to acknowledge only His grace, until he became like his mental icon of God and lost his own ability to discipline authoritatively.

So God became the object of Satan’s delightful mockery. Jehovah waited and waited for the dreadful condition of the temple worship to be corrected. “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” (1Cor. 11:31). Wise words. The Lord allowed time for Eli and his sons to heed the voice of the Holy Spirit. “Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not His testimonies: but turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.” (Ps. 78:56,57). When the Lord saw that they and the people would not police themselves, He brought His judgment to bear against them.
“When God heard this, He was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among men; and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy’s hand.” (Ps. 78:59-61). The most High gave up His own sanctuary of strength.

“And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
…And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.” (1Sam. 4:3,4,10,11).

Rather than remembering the Lord’s covenant with them and His redemptive provision to forgive them and cleanse their heart, Israel forgot God and trusted in the empty articles of the sanctuary service. Because they loved the golden furniture and not the God of love to whom a study of that furniture would have pointed, He gave up His sacred implements to their enemies. In order to regain the loving faith and salvation of His children, He handed His precious ark over to the possession of Satan.

Four hundred years later, king Hezekiah had to do the same. “He…brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it.” (2Ki. 18:4). Even in Gideon’s day they displayed the tendency to worship worship and the items of worship. “Gideon made [a golden] ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.” (Jdg 8:27).

Five hundred years after Eli a similar occurrence was replayed. Solomon’s temple had replaced the tent tabernacle which Moses had erected. But the people again forsook their heavenly Father. For centuries throughout the period of the kings He looked for them to take hold of His strength that they might make peace with Him. But their love of provocative idolatry created a lack of desire for His quiet grace, which left them sinking continuously lower into heathen paganism and depravity. Finally, He raised up Babylon to quench their rebellious pride.

Jeremiah’s message to them reveals the same condition of spiritual things in Israel as 500 years in the past. He stood in the door of the sanctuary edifice and called to them under divine inspiration, “Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord.…
Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord.… Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.
Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;
And come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 7:2,4,8-11).

Then he reminded them of what happened in Eli’s day and how the Lord gave away His holy things and would give up His temple because of their mingling of paganism and His pure worship. “But go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel.
And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not;
Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by My name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.
And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.” (Jer. 7:12-15).

They trusted in the temple and used it as a heathen lucky charm, as their fathers had done to the ark.

Even after two desolating conquests by Nebuchadnezzar, as long as the temple stood, unfaithful Judah still believed God was with them. They could not be persuaded by Ezekiel that they had done so terribly wickedly and that all their calamities were punishment from heaven, until Nebuchadnezzar finally razed their magnificent holy building to the ground.

To their surprise, the day of the Lord was not a day for their victory. “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light….
Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.” (Amos 5:18,20,21). They finally understood God “was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel.” (Ps. 78:59).

“Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, and burned the house of the Lord, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire.” (Jer. 52:12,13).

Daniel wasn’t present when the temple was torn down and burnt. But he was given a vision that seemed to replay that terrible event. His chapter 8 vision showed a horn that came in and desolated the faith of God’s people and then brought an end to the daily sacrifice and stomped on the heavenly sanctuary. See Dan. 8:9-12.

In Daniel’s more extensive Chapter 11 vision Gabriel told him, “He [the little horn power] shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries.” (Dan. 11:30-32).

To this the question was asked by another angel in Daniel’s hearing, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” (Dan. 12:6). And the answer came back from Christ with determined force, “It shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” (vs. 7).

This long prophetic period, mentioned once before in Dan. 7:25, is a Christian Dispensation event, for it is again repeated many times in Revelation. See Rev. 11:3;12:6,14;13:5. And it was spoken in the future tense. This is a long period because prophetic time is determined on a day-for-year principle of calculation. See Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. For 1,260 years the gospel and knowledge of Christ’s work for us in this Father’s sanctuary presence was taken away from our knowledge and given to Satan for his disposal. He cast it to the ground and trampled it under his evil feet. God handed over to the devil His vehicle for our redemption, as it was stated, “to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot.” (Dan. 8:13). This blasphemy was seen in the Roman Papacy of Dark Ages infamy, which reigned from 538 to 1798.

But the question we need to ask is, Why did He do this? Was His church somehow culpable for the demolition of His gospel work? Would He permit this to happen arbitrarily? Satan is not stronger than God. So, is there a human cause, a failure of His church that called for such a disastrous measure? In short, was the ungodly and brutal Roman Catholic hierarchy punishment due to the short-coming of the church on a very significant issue?

I believe the answer is spelled out in the message to the apostolic church shortly after the passing of all John’s fellow apostles. “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:4,5). The good works were alive and well, still running on the momentum and strong memories of Paul and Peter, et al. But it was empty momentum, because surrender and total heart to heart connection, and seeking and preaching Jesus the Son of God was quickly disappearing from the souls of the church.

They felt that their good works were sufficient to depend on. It was obvious to them that God was with them. Christ was almost ready to come again for His church! There was no need to return to the old paths, rehearsing the bitter failures of Israel, and looking for the grace of Jesus. They trusted in their growing numbers. The church was safe from Satan…

So, after Christianity’s 400-some years of gradual, but continuous, backsliding into Egyptian asceticism and Roman Mithraism, “the Lord...delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.” (Judg. 2:14).

Peter warned them, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2Pet. 2:1).
And Paul did as well, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:28,29).


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