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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Reflections on the Old World

How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? 
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth— A woman shall encompass a man.”
 (Jeremiah 31:22 NKJV)

What is this; 'a woman shall encompass a man'?! Doesn't the apostle Paul clearly say in several places, and in other words 'the husband is the head of the wife', 'wives, submit to your own husbands' ( Ephesians 5:25 )?

At face value, we read that 'the Lord has created a new thing in the earth'. This comes with the context of  'a new covenant', 'not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt'. This was something different, something that had been in the Mind of our Heavenly Father since before Time began, but hidden to the eyes of man, a mystery!

You may well ask, 'what does He mean that 'A woman shall encompass a man'?' This question has no doubt been on the mind, at least for a little bit, of everyone over the ages who has stumbled upon this enigmatic phrase! For something to be encompassed, or compassed about ( surrounded ) could carry several connotations! To be surrounded by something, as in Revelation 20:9,we see that the saints of the Lord were besieged by the Enemy that surrounded them! However, in the Book of Job, as well as in Psalm 139:5, we read that the Lord surrounds His people with a 'hedge' of protection!

In context, Jeremiah 31 is the most famous revelation of the New Covenant in the Hebrew Scriptures that we have. The first part of this chapter in Jeremiah's revelation shows our Heavenly Father's Promise to Redeem & Restore His People, and throughout, but especially toward the end, He gradually unveils His New Covenant as the means by which He will accomplish the Salvation of Israel!

We should think immediately, when reading that 'A woman shall encompass a man', of the Wife of our Heavenly Father protecting His glory, much as an earthly ( human ) wife, a good one anyway, will defend her Godly husbands honor ( and life, if need be )! The apostle Paul wrote, in Ephesians 5:23, 'the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church'. Just as in this grand adventure that we call life; the Body of Christ protects the Head. Physically speaking, the body, when falling, will do almost anything to protect the head, and thus it is with the Spiritual Body, it will protect its Head at all costs!

That 'Old World' better known as the Old Covenant ( age ), was ready to pass away, according to the writer of Hebrews! With it would perish the elementary principles of that first 'world' ( II Peter 3 ), one of which was the earthly tabernacle, or Temple made with hands, where our Heavenly Father dwelt among His People. At the Consummation of the Ages, He would finally marry His people, and dwell with them, as One, in a New Temple, One not made with hands, but One of His own building!

This New Temple, which the Son of God prepared for His Dwelling, as described so mysteriously, yet plainly, in John 14, was His People, the Wife for which He had worked those many years! As His Wife, Israel, as the Body of Christ, the Church, we now encompass our Head, and surround Him with a protective barrier from the stain of dishonor!

Yes, as the Children of our Heavenly Father, we often fail to protect Him as we should, but glory be; He is our greater Protector! Though we are no longer children, and here I'm speaking of the corporate Body of Christ, not individually, we have matured to the point that we are fit to house the Holy Spirit in toto, we individually have a long way to go! We are not the protectors that we should be, maybe, but we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, nonetheless!

Under that first covenant ( which might better be termed 'a betrothal contract' ) the children of God were mere reflectors of His Glory, they were, in essence, like the physical Moon, which orbits our planet, reflecting the smallest bit of the Sun's light on a sleeping world. In the New Covenant, as we are, we no longer reflect the Glory of our Heavenly Father onto and into a darkening, sleeping world; we, in essence are the Glory of our Heavenly Father, shining His ever-present and all-powerful Light into an awakening world, a world that is only dark because we have failed, corporately to shine His Light!

To the extent, however, that His people do shine, and have shone that Light, the effects have been that to transform that part of the world into 'Heaven on Earth'! Are there still dangers, yes! Do people still weep? Is there still biological death? Yes, to both of these and more, but as we continue to persevere in shining His Light into this Brave New World, we will gradually transform our 'world' into 'Heaven on Earth!

Biological death is a part of biological life! If we were meant to exist forever in these bodies that we now inhabit, our Heavenly Father would have constructed them quite differently! If there was no danger, there would be nothing to protect or be protected from! Some would say that if there was no Darkness, the Light would not shine; although this is true, the Light manifests itself best in the Dark, our Heavenly Father, who alone is immortal, will forever shine through His people, for we are His New Temple, where He has taken up Permanent Residence!

Glory Be!
.
Charles Haddon Shank

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