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“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, November 27, 2015

The Fear of God

“But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.” (Mal. 3:2).
“For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:17).
 
Fear of God. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Many people believe it to be bad.
 
Danger, death. Calamity, natural disaster. Tragedy, loss. What do they all have in common to the survivors, the living? Threat. The threat to existence. When the possibility arises that we could suffer and die, we tremble.
 
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14,15).
 
Are we afraid to die? Yes, our natural mind fears death. “For the living know that they shall die.” (Ecc. 9:5).
 
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:16,17). Adam ate and he died. “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” (Gen. 5:5).
 
“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Gen. 4:8).
“And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died….
And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died….
And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died….
And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died….” (Gen. 5:8,11,14,17). And on and on it went. “Death reigned.” (Rom. 5:14).
 
We tremble before death unless we become new creature in Christ. Then the promise is fulfilled, that Jesus “destroy[s] him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver[s] them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14,15).
 
The grace of Christ surrounds them and fills them with a peace that prophets had. They have no fear of death. “And [Jonah] said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” (Jon. 1:12). True, Jonah’s grace was waning because he was walking away from the Source of grace. So when he was sinking deep under the tumult of the Mediterranean storm, then he lost the robe of righteousness the Lord had proffered him. He became afraid to die.
 
“And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and Thou heardest my voice.
For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me.
Then I said, I am cast out of Thy sight; yet I will look again toward Thy holy temple.
The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast Thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.
When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple.” (Jon. 2:2-7).
 
But, those prophets who remained in the Lord’s will kept their robe of righteousness. And He was their shield and exceeding great reward.
 
“For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” (Jer. 1:18,19).
 
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the LORD.” (Isa. 54:17).
 
“And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house…. Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.” (Eze. 2:6;3:8,9).
 
“Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” (Isa. 6:6-8). Forgiveness of sins, a new heart and new spirit, are such a blessing that they have certainty of salvation and assurance of God’s protection.
 
But, they all trembled before the Lord before He could take away their weak fallen nature and sinful heart of unbelief. “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isa. 6:1-5).
 
“Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:
His body also was like the beryl, and His face as the appearance of lightning, and His eyes as lamps of fire, and His arms and His feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of His words like the voice of a multitude.
And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
Yet heard I the voice of His words: and when I heard the voice of His words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.…
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.
And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.
For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.” (Dan. 10:5-9,15-17).
 
The comeliness of the finest creature, the most perfect human, is turned into corruption in the presence of the Creator. The fallen nature is disturbed. The kingdom of Satan trembles and so does the human tabernacle of his domain.
 
We tremble when we consciously recognize the King of infinite purity and selflessness. He poses a tremendous threat to our impurity and self-centeredness. Our fallen nature trembles like the elders of Bethlehem did when Samuel came to anoint David. “And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?” (1Sam. 16:4). The kingdom of Satan in us trembles like the contingent of soldiers did when the watcher and holy one touched down from heaven. “Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch….
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” (Matt. 27:64-66;28:2-4).
 
We tremble like this demoniac did in the presence of Jesus.
 “And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.” (Luke 4:33-35).
 
And this demoniac.
“Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him,
And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not.
For He said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
And He asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.” (Mark 5:3-10).
 “So the devils besought Him, saying, If Thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And He said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.” (Matt. 8:31,32).
 
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (Jas. 2:19).
 
Not only does the presence of God cause trembling, so does His Law. “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” (Isa. 66:2).
 
We need to tremble before God. And His Law does just that.
“For I was alive without the Law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.” (Rom. 7:9,10).
 
Without the robe of righteousness upon our heart and mind, the fallen human nature becomes greatly unsettled and unnerved in the presence of the Spirit of God. Our conscience was made to be His tabernacle. Adam and Eve had such a tabernacle. Perfect peace and joy with God. When the Prince and Saviour fulfills His promised new covenant, we sing the song of Moses.
“The LORD is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation.” (Ex. 15:2). We become His temple, our soul becomes His habitation. This is what Jesus wants. “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8).
 
We are His brand new house, which He fills with His Spirit and makes it beautiful, “swept, and garnished.” (Matt. 12:44).
 
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.” (Eze. 36:25-27).
 
Jesus enters and cleans up our heart and mind, furnishing it with a table where together we eat of His words, and a light to fill the soul with happiness, and unceasing prayer.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Ps. 23:5,6).
 
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:33,34).
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 8:12).
 
It’s these precious promises that Peter referred to that bring us to know the goodness of God. And from that we lose our fallen, sinful nature, and receive Jesus’ divine nature, His robe of righteousness. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2Pet. 1:4).
 
It’s the precious promises, like a seed that wilts into death in the ground and then germinates into a tree for food or shade for a thousand people, that lead us to the reproduction of the character of Christ. The seed dies like our old nature must be shaken into shivers; the old man must tremble and fall apart.
 
“Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them who are under the Law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rom. 3:19).
“My son, if thou wilt receive My words, and hide My commandments with thee;
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God….
When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” (Prov. 2:1-5,10,11).
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Ps. 119:165).
 
“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” (Rom. 5:1-3).
 
Peace with God. no more fear of death! So long as we keep with Him, we have certainty of God’s acceptance. He is our shield and exceeding great reward, and we continually prepare for Him a habitation. “In whom [we] also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:22). Our Prince and Saviour who owns a mighty clever, will square and hew our hearts as needed to fit into the temple of God’s building. There will be work for Him to do in our new heart. No, His preparing us to stand in His day of visitation doesn’t end when He give us a new heart. His work has just begun in earnest! As long as we keep close to Him, the cutting off of this idol and that image, will be ever new victories over sin for which to praise Him.
 
His peace gives us the fortitude to endure His hewing. Having peace with the God who remembered us in our strife with the devil, and having forgiveness of sins, we happily endure troubles. “We glory in tribulations” (Rom. 5:3). And if we cease to glory in tribulations, then that should be a loud signal  in us that we ceased our justification by faith. We’ve lost our “patience, experience; and…hope” (Rom. 5:4). And “the love of God” is no longer “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which [was] given unto us.” (Rom. 5:5). We are ashamed of Jesus and He is ashamed of us.
 
But, wait a minute! That doesn’t mean we must be hopeless! Our Prince is also a Saviour and has allowed the loss of His Spirit to wake us up to our backsliding. We need to fear not that He will forsake us. If we humble ourselves like we had been doing, “He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Mic. 7:19).
 
Jesus is a jealous God and knows the power of His competing suitor for our hearts and souls. He means what He says when He is appalled at our broken engagement to Him for the devil.
 
“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).
We must face our falling away from Him, and like the above prophet say, “I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against Him, until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness.” (Mic. 7:9). 
Then we can again say like we did the first time. “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy.” (Mic. 7:18).
 
Then, more and more, day by day, “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18). Our mercy that reflects His “mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (Jas. 2:13). We can stand at His appearing. 
 
Will we tremble before Him? Will we let His truth boil away our pride and self-sufficiency? Will we have the saving faith that takes us all the way to heaven to touch the hem of His garment and receive from Him our own robe?

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