The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Studies in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God ( the visions ( 'Heaven' ) Pt.1

Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation

As I mentioned in the first part of this study; this is one revelation: *the* final and complete revelation of Jesus the Christ, showing irrevocably that Jesus was the Son of God, and in fact, God himself, exactly who He claimed to be! Entering upon a discussion of the vision ( s ) that John saw; I want to quote first a related passage from the Old Covenant Scriptures, in II Kings 6:16 & 17:

So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

My reason for quoting this passage first of all, is to remind my readers that the heavenly realm is a present reality; it's all around us, we just can't see it until our 'eyes' are opened, our understanding enlightened.

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.

John's eyes were opened and he was allowed to see into the realm of Heaven, to understand the 'end of all things' ( I Peter 4:7 ); 'things which must take place after this'. We might recall yet another passage from the Old Covenant Scriptures, from Exodus 19:19 & 20, when God revealed His law through Moses:

And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

When Balaam was hired by the Moabite king Balak, in Numbers 24:14-24, after Balaam had seen that God had anointed him to bless, and not curse, Israel; he prophesied to Balak of what would happen in 'the latter days' of his kingdom ( Moab ), which in itself was typical and prophetic of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, saying 'Come, I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the latter days.' When Moses was ready to pass from this life; he warned the children of Israel, God's typical Old Covenant people, 'I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands.' ( Deuteronomy 31:29 ) In Genesis 49:1; Jacobs begins his final speech to his sons, the progenitors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, what would happen to them in their 'last days'; 'The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.' ( verses 10 & 11 ) My point here is that the phrases 'the last days' ( Hebrews 1:2 ( Genesis 3:15 ), 'the latter days' ( Daniel 10:14 ( Deuteronomy 4:30 ) even 'the end of all things', as in I Peter 4:7, refer, depending upon the context, not to what we traditionally have viewed as the last days of planet earth, as we know it, or even of the end of time, but to the final days of a given era, or 'age'.

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was [a] like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

Ezekiel 37
has most likely been compared before with John's vision of the Revelation; but I'd like to bring several facts to the attention of my readers: first, of course, is the fact that Ezekiel records that 'The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.' The second fact is ( although some might disagree with me here ) that Ezekiel 37 and the book of Revelation are very closely correlated, not only because the book of Revelation relies most heavily upon such Old Testament prophecies ( Isaiah 2 ( Isaiah 21 ), Daniel 9, Joel 2, Amos 5, Zephaniah 1, Zechariah 14, etc. ), but also because both passages, Revelation 20, 21, and 22 in particular deal with the spiritual reality of the resurrection, as Ezekiel 37 gives us a prior picture, or type.

The apostle Paul wrote, in Galatians 3:3, asking the church there in Galatia, 'Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?' Earlier, he had written, similar to what Jesus, through John later wrote to the church of Ephesus, 'Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?' Like Jesus, who told the church in Ephesus, 'you have left your first love', Paul warns the Galatians that they had seemingly forgotten by Whose power they had learned, indeed, were enabled to obey, to love the Law of Christ, by the power of His own Holy Spirit! Paul wrote earlier, in II Corinthians 12:2, 'I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.' ( Notice the similarities to John's statement above. ) However you interpret John's statement, then; it must be understood that John saw the Revelation of Jesus Christ as you might say, through an 'out of body experience', somewhat similar maybe, to Peter's vision in Acts 10:9-16. What John now sees sounds like more of what he had seen 'in the beginning' when he first 'saw' the Son of Man, the Son of God in all reality, Jesus the Christ. Something that we might note here though, is that the Majority Text, upon which our English bibles are largely based, gives the impression that rather than giving a description of the One who sat on the throne, John is describing the throne itself as 'like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance'. This is not without precedence in the Old Testament Scriptures: remember, in Exodus 24, when the elders of Israel went to commune with God Himself? Verse 10 records that 'there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone'. In the first chapter of Ezekiel, verse 26; we see another scene much like what John records here in the Revelation. 'And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it.' One might also recall God's words to the errant king of Tyre, in Ezekiel 28:14; 'You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.' Daniel 7:9 also uses words like to those in both the book of Revelation, and to Ezekiel's visions. 'I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire'. The rainbow, of course, makes one think immediately of God's promise to Noah, in Genesis 9:11-16, 'Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth', which promise was a harbinger, and a picture, in type, of the promise of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, and salvation in His Name.

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns [b] of gold on their heads.

When the disciples of Christ, in Matthew 19:27-28 ( Luke 22:30 ), questioned Jesus about their reward; He told them that 'in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' Here, admittedly, John records, not 12, but twenty-four thrones, which are indicative, not only of the twelve apostles of our Lord, as we'll see later on in the Revelation, plus the original twelve 'children of Israel', as Jesus promised His disciples, but also the double indicator which God often uses in Scripture, to show that these things are certain and sure ( Genesis 41:25-32 ) and 'soon to come to pass' ( Ezekiel 7:1-12, Daniel 9:24-27, Matthew 16:27 & 28, Acts 24:15 ( YLT ).

And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.c]">[c]

Again; these words should immediately bring to mind such passages as Exodus 19:9-16 and 20:18-20, in which God made His presence felt to His children. When God spoke these words from Heaven to His beloved Son, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again', in John 12:28 & 29, those that heard it 'said that it had thundered', remembering, no doubt, their history, as seen in the passages above. In Job 37:2,4 & 5, Elihu likens the voice of God to thunder, saying that 'He does great things which we cannot comprehend', and 'At this also my heart trembles, and leaps from its place.' David, in his Psalms, often compare the voice of God to the power of thunder, lightning, and even fiery hailstones ( think of Genesis , and Sodom and Gomorrah ), writing, in Psalm 18:13, 'The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice, hailstones and coals of fire.[a]' In Psalm 77:16-18, using very covenantal language David praised God for His deliverance: 'The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.' Isaiah wrote, prophesying of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, in Isaiah 29:6, using language very near to John's, in this Revelation, ' You will be punished by the LORD of hosts with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire.' ( also see Jesus' words in Matthew 22:7 ) We see, in Ezekiel 3:12 & 13, that the prophet uses language very like John's, from which it almost seems that John borrowed for his book; 'Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a great thunderous voice: “Blessed is the glory of the LORD from His place!' I'll try to comment further on this later, but when John reported hearing 'seven thunders' sounding, in Revelation 10:4, he was told 'Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.' I immediately think of Daniel 12:4a, 'But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end'. Daniel was told again, in verse 9, that his vision was of the 'time of the end', that 'end' being the end of the Jewish, or Old Covenant economy. Again, in Revelation 11:9, John uses language straight from the Old Testament prophets ( Genesis 19:24, I Samuel 7:10, Psalm 11:6, Ezekiel 13:13, ( 38:19 ), when he writes 'Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant[h] was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.' The throne, of course, and the Son of God showing His power through 'lightnings, thunderings, and voices', is indicative of judgment, through the chastisement and salvation of His beloved Bride, the Israel of God, the Church, and the destruction of the adversaries of His people, the enemies of His Church, Old Covenant Israel, a type of the true people of God!

Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the [d] seven Spirits of God.

As we have see throughout Scripture, and which I have noted numerous times in my studies; the numeral 'seven' is very often, even when applied in a very literal, physical sense, used in reference to a 'completeness', a 'perfection': I believe that this is the case here. If my readers will remember Jesus' words in the first chapter of His Revelation; He told John that 'the seven lampstands which you saw[j] are the seven churches'. This, in itself, should tell us that Christ's Body, His Church, is not only on earth, carrying out His will 'on earth as it is in heaven', but that His Church, represented by the 'seven churches of Asia', is also 'present' in Heaven, before the very throne of God!

Before the throne there was[e] a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

I could not find much on this 'sea' of glass; so I'll not comment a lot on it here, except to remind my readers again that in the Old Covenant, and particularly the prophetic, Scriptures, the word 'sea' often referred to the nations, or the Gentiles. My readers who have read the book of Revelation might recall that John wrote, in Revelation 21:1, that 'there was no more sea'. Paul wrote earlier, prophesying of this event, in Galatians 3:28, that 'There is neither Jew nor Greek', and in Colossians 3:11, that 'there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.' The prophet Isaiah wrote, concerning the blessings of the New Covenant in Christ, 'Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.' ( Isaiah 60:5 ) Giving yet another good example of 'biblical parallelism', God proclaimed through the prophet Ezekiel ( 26:3 ), 'Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up'. There are many other examples, some harder, some fairly easy to discern, which show us that 'sea', particularly in what are known as the Major and Minor Prophets, is often indicative, mostly of the nations ( Gentiles ), but also of the strength of any given nation, as in Jeremiah 51:36, 'Behold, I will plead your case and take vengeance for you. I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry', and in Hosea 4:3, 'Therefore the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; even the fish of the sea will be taken away'. The important thing that we should notice here, is that, given that 'sea' here indicates the ( Gentile ) nations that have received 'the knowledge of the glory of the Lord' ( Habakkuk 2:14 ) are perpetually in the presence of God, as a part of His Body, the Church!

As we search the Scriptures for other references to things 'full of eyes'; one might be drawn back immediately to Ezekiel's vision in the first chapter of his prophecy. 'As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them.' Granted, according to a strictly literal reading of Ezekiel's vision; these words are spoken in reference to the wheels that were 'beside each living creature', but I would venture to say that the creatures and the wheels were one being: as this was a vision, I would also say that this would be a fairly safe assumption to make. To further clarify, I believe; Ezekiel describes more fully these 'living creatures', or cherubim, in chapter 10, verse 12, 'And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around'. The living creatures being 'in the midst of the throne, and around the throne', tells us that not only were these 'cherubim', protectors of God's glory, doing their job, guarding the Holiness, the throne of God, but as His creation, in the 'midst' ( Greek μέσος ), of His very throne, ostensibly ruling with Him, as the Israel of God!

The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

This passage immediately takes us back to the prophecy of Ezekiel, and again to his visions in chapters one and ten, concerning the 'living creatures'. In chapter one, verse ten, we read 'As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle', and in chapter ten, verse 14, lending credence to the fact that the 'wheels' and the cherubim were one and the same, Ezekiel described these 'wheels' as having 'four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, the second face the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.' In Daniel 7, we have an account of Daniel's vision concerning the four beasts which were indicative of four separate kingdoms which would have successive up until the 'last days'. Verse 4 gives us a description of the first beast which almost sounds akin to John's 'living creatures': 'The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings'. Although the other three beasts that Daniel describes are quite different, 'on the face of it', so to speak; I found Daniel's description quite interesting: he seems to integrate the first and last 'living creatures', putting the 'wings' of the fourth 'living creature' on the first. As Daniel describes these 'beasts', particularly in the context of his vision, I think that we can safely surmise that Daniel wrote of the singular strength of these kings. David's words in II Samuel 1:23 seem to bear this out; 'Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions'. When God had brought out His people from the 'iron furnace' ( ) of Egypt by His great strength, He later reminded His children, 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself' ( Exodus 19:4 ) In Deuteronomy 28:49 & 50, after the giving of the Law; Moses told those same children that if they did not keep this typical Law, 'The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young', and in fulfillment of this woe, the prophet Hosea cried out 'Set the trumpet[a] to your mouth! He shall come like an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed My covenant, and rebelled against My law' ( 8:1 ) Toward the end of His 'Olivet Discourse'' in Matthew 24:28; Jesus warned His disciples of these 'last days', saying, 'For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together'. Jeremiah prophesied, in chapter 4, verse 13 of his book, concerning the typical forerunner of this event, 'Behold, he shall come up like clouds, and his chariots like a whirlwind. His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are plundered!' Last, but by far, not least; we have our Lord's famous promise in Isaiah 40:31, ' But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint'. ( Psalm 103:5 ) As we shall see in the next few verses, and in the chapters to come, these cherubim served another purpose here, not just as protectors of the glory of God, but as proclaimers of said glory!

The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “ Holy, holy, holy,[f]Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"

Traditionally, I believe, at least among some groups, the Revelation of Jesus Christ is known, not so much for revealing 'the time of the end', or even, among others, a prophecy of the destruction of the Old Covenant temple and the Jewish economy, and the final defeat, in reality, of the enemies of God's New Covenant people; but more importantly, a picture of a true worship service, that in 'Heaven', or, 'in spirit and in truth' ( John 4:23 & 24 )! According to Isaiah 6:2; the 'living creatures' that Isaiah saw in his vision of the glory of God were 'seraphim', not cherubim! Quoting from the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Aereopagite; 'The name seraphim clearly indicates their ceaseless and eternal revolution about Divine Principles, their heat and keenness, the exuberance of their intense, perpetual, tireless activity, and their elevative and energetic assimilation of those below, kindling them and firing them to their own heat, and wholly purifying them by a burning and all-consuming flame; and by the unhidden, unquenchable, changeless, radiant and enlightening power, dispelling and destroying the shadows of darkness'. As we can see; there is not much difference between this, and definitions that we have previously seen for 'cherubim', ( here is what a Jewish rabbi, better known as Maimonides, wrote about them, 'For all forces are angels! How blind, how perniciously blind are the naive?! If you told someone who purports to be a sage of Israel that the Deity sends an angel who enters a woman's womb and there forms an embryo, he would think this a miracle and accept it as a mark of the majesty and power of the Deity - despite the fact that he believes an angel to be a body of fire one third the size of the entire world. All this, he thinks, is possible for God. But if you tell him that God placed in the sperm the power of forming and demarcating these organs, and that this is the angel, or that all forms are produced by the Active Intellect - that here is the angel, the "vice-regent of the world" constantly mentioned by the sages - then he will recoil. For he {the naive person} does not understand that the true majesty and power are in the bringing into being of forces which are active in a thing although they cannot be perceived by the senses....Thus the Sages reveal to the aware that the imaginative faculty is also called an angel; and the mind is called a cherub. How beautiful this will appear to the sophisticated mind - and how disturbing to the primitive') and nothing to prove the these beings were anything but ordinary men of God, albeit described fantastically. I'm sure that my readers will have noted the similarities between what the seraphim were proclaiming in Isaiah's vision, and what the 'living creatures' did, in John's. Were these two different sorts of angelic beings, or were they simply those of the nations, the Israel of God, both Jews and Gentiles, proclaiming the praises of Him who had led them out of darkness and into His eternal, everlasting light ( Isaiah 42:7, I Peter 2:9 )?

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “ You are worthy, O Lord, [g]to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist [h] and were created.

The 'living creatures', whether they were angelic ( remember that, in the Greek, 'angel' simply means 'messenger' ) beings, or whether they were 'the spirits of just men made perfect' ( Hebrews 12:23 ), these beings were praising God with all their 'heart..mind........and strength' ( Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 6:4 & 5 ), lauding Him as 'the beginning of creation' ( Revelation 3:14 ), and ascribing worth to Him because He had done it all! David, in Psalm 103:4, blessed the Lord for his salvation; writing of Him, 'Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies'. They were not only throwing their accomplishments before the feet of Christ, counting them 'as rubbish' ( Philippians 3:8 ), but returning His 'lovingkindness and tender mercies' to Him, through showing these attributes toward His Body, the Church!

While this book was a kind of 'glimpse' into the near future, for those, I believe, of Jesus' own generation ( those living at the same time ); this chapter, and the next, are very worshipful, and indeed, throughout the book, we see examples of worship intertwined, interestingly enough, with the judgment that God has pronounced upon the 'adversaries of His people. In the Psalms we see many examples of this ( Psalm 5:7, 22:27, 76, 95, 96:9, 149 ), and even in the so-called Major and Minor Prophets. ( Isaiah 4, 5:16, 24, 27:13, 33:10, 41:1 (4 ), 49:7, 63:7-14, 66:1-12, Jeremiah 7, 9:24, 23, 33:14-16, Ezekiel 7, 33:12-20, 38:23, 39:21-29, Daniel 3, 7:9-13, Joel 2 & 3, Habakkuk 1:12 & 13, Zechariah 2:11, 14:16 ) As we can see, from these and other scriptures; God's holiness and righteousness is magnified when He righteously judges those who set themselves in opposition to Him and His people and Purpose! I had thought to cover each 'separate' vision, but, for the sake of time, space, and brevity, I will end here for now, and come back to this in the next study.

May God bless you through this study,
Charles Shank

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Anointed Cherub, the Protector of God's Glory-Ezekiel 28:14

Traditionally; the passage above, as well as Isaiah 14, is used to lend credence to the idea that 'Satan' is/was a fallen spiritual being, an archangel that rebelled and fell from Heaven, but I have always believed, and wish to try to show you now, that these passages are indicative, not of a fallen spiritual being named 'Satan', but of mere men who were adversaries of God's people, one of which, at least, was anointed by God to chasten His 'children'.

Quoting ( at length ) from Isaiah 14;

12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,[b] son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: ‘ I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ 15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. 16 “ Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, 17 who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?

Many theologians have read this passage, in particular, verses 12-15, as comparing the king of Babylon with this supposed fallen angel named 'Satan', or 'Lucifer', which basically means 'light-bearer', but I think that it is pretty clear that we have here another example of 'biblical parallelism', or, saying the same thing twice, in two different ways. In the context of God's words through Isaiah here; it is actually quite ridiculous to assume that, in the middle of pronouncing His woes against the king of Babylon, God would insert a short passage speaking of an altogether different 'person'. ( Maybe not quite so ridiculous really, considering that the king of Babylon was motivated by the same power that motivated the serpent in the Garden! ) As I have explained in my Bible studies many times; the king of Babylon, as so many other kings and rulers ( Exodus 9:16 ), thinking that they were merely following their own agenda, inadvertently fulfilled God's purposes. Solomon wrote, in Proverbs 21:1, 'The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.' Another definition for Lucifer is 'day-star'. In II Peter 1:19; Peter names the Christ 'the morning star', and Jesus Himself confirms this in Revelation 22:16. One might argue, as tradition is, I believe, that the Day-star, or this 'Lucifer' was once 'an angel of light' ( II Corinthians 11:14 ) before he got jealous of God's position and tried to exalt himself above God's throne, and was 'kicked out' of Heaven; but I believe that it can be proven from Scripture that this is not necessarily the case. From the other passage that I've noted, Ezekiel 28, that is traditionally used to 'prove' the existence of the fallen angel named 'Satan'; I wish to quote verses 14-16;

14You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. ( this could almost be speaking of Adam )

From Peake's Commentary on the Bible, as quoted in a Wikipedia article on the subject of cherubim;

A number of scholars have proposed that
cherubim were originally a version of the shedu, protective deities sometimes found as pairs of colossal statues either side of objects to be protected, such as doorways.[6][7].

From an article that I had written several years ago, entitled 'Chariots of Fire'; I quote,

'Ungers Bible Dictionary says that they ( cherubim ) were vindicators ( or protectors?- my addition ) of God's holiness that overshadowed the ark of the covenant.'

Lamenting for the king of Tyre, in the passage above ( Ezekiel 28 ); we see that he, as Adam, in a typical ( speaking of the second 'Adam', Jesus Christ-I Corinthians 15:47 ) sense, was the 'anointed cherub who covers' making one think of the Ark of the Covenant, in Exodus 25:17-22. The writer uses the Hebrew verb סכך, which has a meaning of 'to hedge, fence about, shut in' to describe this 'anointed cherub' , strengthening the idea that they were beings, whether human or otherwise, 'good' ( Judges 14 ) or 'evil' ( Exodus 9, II Kings 24 ( Jeremiah 27:6 ) , that stood as protectors of the glory and holiness of God. Although we have no record, as far as I know, of the king of Tyre taking captive ( from 'The Land' ) God's errant children, we do see in Scripture ( Isaiah 14 ) that the king of Babylon did, being 'sent ( Jeremiah 21:10, 25:9, 27:6, Ezekiel 21:1-21, Amos 5:25-27 ( Acts 7:43 ) of the Lord'! One might wonder why I say that someone like Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was a protector of God's glory: well, if my readers will remember that when God gave 'the apple' of His 'eye' into captivity under the hand of the king of Babylon, it was for His glory ( Psalm 106:8, Isaiah 42:8, 48, 60, 66:5, Jeremiah 2:11, 13:11, 14:7, 14:21, Ezekiel 20:9, 36:22, 39:21, Daniel 9:3-19, Hosea 4:7, Habakkuk 2:16, 3, Malachi 2:2 ), to protect His name, which His people were profaning among the nations! Our first parents, Adam & Eve, were turned out of the Garden for the very same reason; because they had profaned His name, His glory ( Genesis 3 ). As we see in Jeremiah 25:9, God called the wicked king of Babylon 'My servant'; in Isaiah 45:1, God said that the selfish king of Persia was 'His anointed', while back in Exodus 9:16, God told the Pharaoh of Egypt 'I have raised you up'. Whether we like it or no, whether we agree with is choices or not; it is clear that God has used, in the past, and still uses, 'evil' men to accomplish His purposes.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ ( 4:11 ); John recorded that the twenty-four elders around the throne of God praised His glory, saying that 'You are worthy, O Lord,[g]to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist;[h] and were created.' The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, in chapter 1, 'For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.' I think that most people ( Christians ) would agree with these statements above, at least to some degree, and acknowledge that all creation was made to serve God, and His purposes, and even that 'Satan', whether he is a fallen spiritual being, as is traditional, or whether Satan is just a name given to the adversaries of God's people and purpose ( Remember that Jesus told Peter to 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.' ( Matthew 16:23 ) is, as Nebuchadnezzar above, a servant of God, to fulfill His purpose, whether for 'good' or for 'evil' ( whether we like it or not )!

My purpose in this little study is, first of all, to bring glory to His holy name by reminding my readers that it is His purposes that will be accomplished, not ours, not 'Satans', and second, to edify and strengthen my readers by relieving them through the fact that , although Paul warned his readers, in Ephesians 6:12, 'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.', it is not the tradition 'demons' and 'devils', per se, which we strive against, but that we fight against the desires and purposes of wicked and selfish people, as we ourselves once were, and sometimes, still are! You've probably heard the phrase, 'the mind is a battlefield': James wrote, 'Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet[a] you do not have because you do not ask.' ( James 4:1&2 ) Our 'problems' come when we neglect to ask our Heavenly Father for what we need, or want, and from how we treat the gifts that He does send ( whether we think they're 'good' or 'evil' ), not from this traditional fallen spiritual being, or angel that we call 'Satan''!

May God bless you with this little study!

In His service,
and for His glory,
Charles Shank

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

'The New Life' from 'The Gospel in Ezekiel' a series of discourses on Ezekiel by Thomas Guthrie

Thomas Guthrie was almost a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon, being born some thirty years earlier, and ministering to The Free Church of Scotland, which was Presbyterian in government rather than Reformed Baptist, as was Spurgeon. I was reading through my copy of Guthrie's 'The Gospel in Ezekiel' the other day, and while I would have to disagree with some of his theology; I happened to read his discourse on Ezekiel 36:27, and really appreciated it, and decided to post it here. Here it is, in full:

The New Life by Thomas Guthrie
The Divine Being has established certain laws-some of a physical, others of a moral nature. And it is as impossible to violate with impunity a moral as a physical law; although the consequences in the former may be more remote, and the suffering may not follow so closely on the heels of the sin. Solomon asks, "Can a man take fire into his bosom and not be burned?" "Can he touch pitch, and not be defiled?" ( Proverbs 6:27 ) You at once answer no. He who walks into the fire shall certainly be burned; he who falls into the water shall certainly be drowned; and if any man be mad enough to pitch himself over a lofty bartizan, he lights not on the ground like a winged bird or angel ( Matthew 4:6 )-he shall certainly be crushed to pieces. Not only so, but a passive as well as active violation of nature's laws is followed by suffering. He who resists her demands for sleep-he who turns a deaf ear to the calls of hunger-he who denies his body the rest and refreshment that nature needs, must die. Now, no less shall he suffer who neglects or violates those moral laws which have been established by the decree of God. It may seem a strange, and even foolish thing to assert, but it is not less true, that it is safer to touch fire than sin ( Matthew 5:29 & 30 ) and safer in a sense to drink off a cup of poison, than quaff the cup of devils. ( I Corinthians 10:21 ) A man stands a better chance of escape who violates a physical than a moral law.This is difficult to be believed. And why? Just because, in the breach of moral laws, judgment does not, as in the breach of physical laws, follow speedily on the transgression, nor succeed it, as the peal thunders on the flash ( Matthew 16:3, 24:32 ). Yet it is not more strange than true; and true for this plain, satisfactory, and unanswerable reason, that He who made the laws which govern the physical world, may modify, may change, may even altogether repeal them. He has already done so. Iron is heavier than water; yet did not the iron axe swim like a cork at the prophet's bidding? ( II Kings 6:1-6 ) Did not the unstable element of sea stand up in walls of solid crystal, till the host passed over? ( Exodus 14:21 & 22, Joshua 3:13 ) Did naked foot, when bathed in morning dew, ever feel the green grass cooler than those three Hebrews, when, on the floor of the burning furnace, they trod at once beneath their feet the tyrant's power and the red hot coals of fire? ( Daniel 3:19-25 ) Fire may not burn and water may not drown. He who gave their laws to these elements may alter them as He sees meet; but that moral law, which is a transcript of His own mind and will, is, and must be as unchangeable as Himself. Be sure, therefore, that you cannot sin with impunity. Be sure that your sin will find you out. ( Numbers 32:23, Isaiah 59:12 ) Be sure that what you sow you shall reap. ( Galatians 6:7 ) Be sure that, although the cloud may be long of gathering, it shall one day explode. Be sure that sin and sorrow are linked together by an adamantine chain-a chain durable and eternal as that which binds the creature to the throne of God. When therefore, Satan, the flesh, or the world solicit, remember that, if your weakness yields, you are more certain of suffering, than you would be of burning the finger which you thrust into the fire. Sin is the fire which a man can not take into his bosom, and not be burned. Do you ask, by way of objection, do not God's people escape suffering-commit sin, yet escape the punishment? True. But their exemption from future punishment forms no exception to this rule. In their case, indeed, the debtor escapes, but then the creditor is paid. The sufferings from which they were exempted were endured by their substitute, and in a suffering Saviour their sins were punished. "He bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed". ( Isaiah 53 ) Entertaining these views, we ought not to be suspected of losing sight of the dignity and claims of the moral law in our faith in a crucified Saviour. That holy law was not buried in Jesus' sepulcher, nor left behind with the grave-clothes in the tomb. We no longer hope, indeed, to be saved by the law yet we hold with the Apostle-hold as strongly as any can do-that "the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good," ( Romans 7:12, Galatians 3:21-24 ) and that these moral laws which were enshrined in the ark of Moses, and most awfully illustrated on the cross of Christ, have lost none of their authority.They remain to this day as imperative as those which regulate the tides, direct the procession of seasons, or steer the planets through the realms of space. Obedience to the law has indeed ceased to be the condition for salvation, it is well it is so.( The law was never meant to save-Galatians2:16, Ephesians 1:13, I Thessalonians 5:9 ) Otherwise, who should have been saved? "If thou, Lord shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" ( Psalm 130:3 ) " Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." ( , Romans 3:28 ) The law is not now the gate of life, yet although it has ceased to be the gate, it has not ceased, and never shall cease, to be the rule of life. We preach, indeed, a free and full salvation, and we glory in the theme. We say that the greatest lawbreaker may be saved; the foulest sinner washed white as snow; the basest of the base, the vilest of the vile, exalted to a throne in Heaven; and that no obedience rendered to the law since the fall of Adam can open Heaven to fallen man, so since the death of Christ no disobedience can shut it's gates against him. We say, with Paul, "It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." ( I Timothy 1:15, I Corinthians 15:9 ) Blessed be God, the law, so stern-like in a sinners eyes, no longer carries the keys of Heaven. Purchased by His blood, they are in the hands of Him who is very pitiful and of great mercy, and who-never turning a deaf ear to the cry of human distress-cheers the expiring hours of guilt, and said even to a thief, "To-day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." ( Luke 23:43, Revelation 2:7( Genesis 2:8 & 9 ) "Do we then make void the law through faith?", as Paul asks ( Romans 3:31, Galatians 3:18 ). Some have done so. Wild and wicked fanatics have risen to trouble the church, and bring a gospel of grace into contempt. They have asserted that it has set them free from the obligation to these holy commandments, and granted to believers a plenary indulgence to commit all manner of iniquity. From such licentious and immoral doctrines, from doctrines not less calculated to dissolve society than to dishonor the church of Christ, child of God! shrink with holy abhorrence; this your language, "My soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united." ( Genesis 49:6, Psalm 1:1-5 ) I know that Paul says, "We were delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held;" ( Romans 7:6, Romans 8:1 & 2 ) but were we delivered that we may sin? ( Romans 6:1 ) Assuredly not. On the contrary, we are delivered that we may serve God; serve Him better, serve Him holier; serve Him, as Paul also says, "in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." ( Romans 7:6 ( John 4:21 ) Addressing us, not with the voice of Sinai's thunders,( Exodus 19:16, Hebrews 12: 18-21 ) but in the melting and mightier tones of a Redeemer's love, the Gospel lays this injunction upon all, "Be careful to maintain good works." ( Titus 3:8 ) These, although not always the believer's attainment, will always be his aim. Committing to his heart, and enshrining there those tables which Moses, in honor of their excellence, deposited in the tabernacle's holiest shrine, ( Deuteronomy 31:26, Hebrews 9:4 ) he will say, "O how I love Thy law, O Lord;" ( Psalm 119:97 ) and he will pray that God would fulfill to him this gracious promise of the text-"I will cause them to walk in My statutes, and they shall keep My judgments and do them". ( Ezekiel 36:27( Leviticus 18:4 ) In now addressing ourselves to the subject of that new life, which the believer lives in obedience to the law of God, I remark-

1. It is a willing obedience.

Many movements in the universe take place independent of any will but that of God. The sap ascends the tree, the planets revolve around the sun, the stars rise and set in the heavens, the tides ebb and flow upon our shores, and nature walks in God's statutes, keeping His judgments, and doing them, moved by no will but His. So soon, however, as leaving that inanimate matter below, we ascend into those regions where mind, or even instinct and matter are united, we discover a beautiful and benevolent law ( Psalm 104 ), by virtue of which God at once secures the happiness and provides for the welfare of His creatures. He so orders it that their will is in perfect harmony with their work; their inclinations with their interests; and their instincts with the functions which they are called on to perform. The bee constructs its cell, the bird weaves her nest, the eagle in the crags above teaches her brood to fly, and in cairn or cave below, the fox suckles her young; and these are all labors of love-labors to which they bring a willing heart. Thus their happiness lies in their work. And to ascend even into heaven, this is no doubt the secret of it's felicity; for as the law of gravity extends itself to the most distant stars, so that which rounds a tear-drop gives its shape to every sun, I have no doubt that this law of divine power and benignity reaches the highest and holiest existences.The will and work of angels are in perfect harmony; therefore an angel's duty is an angel's delight. Observe, also, how, when God changes the condition of His creature, He accommodates their will to the change. Take, for example, that insect to which I have elsewhere alluded. It comes from the egg a creeping worm; it is bred in corruption; it crawls on the ground; it's aliment is the coarsest fare. In time it undergoes its wonderful metamorphosis. The wriggling caterpillar becomes a winged and painted butterfly; and at this change, with its old skin it casts off its old habits and instincts. Now, it has a will as well as wings to fly. And with its bed the bosom of a flower, its food the honied nectar, its home the sunny air, and new instincts animating its frame, its will plays in harmony with its work. The change within corresponds to the change without. it spurns the ground; and as you may gather from its merry, mazy dance, the creature is happy, and delights in the new duties which it is called to perform. Even so it is in that change which grace works in sinners. The nature of the redeemed is so accommodated to the state of redemption, their wishes are so fitted to their wants, their hopes to their prospects, their aspirations to their honors, and their will to their work, that they would be less content to return to polluted pleasures than this beautiful creature to be stripped of its silken wings, and condemned to pass its days amid the old, foul garbage, its former food. With such a will and nature as they now possess, their old life would be misery-would be hell. Would not the reclaimed prodigal, rather than leave his father's table, bosom, and love, for the company of harlots and the husks of swine troughs ( Luke 15:11-32 ), embrace death and go to his grave? Even so God's people would rather not be at all, than be what once they were. Hence, on the one hand , their unhappiness in sin; and on the other, their enjoyment in God's service; hence David's longing for the place of ordinances; hence the beauty of a Sabbath scene, and the music of Sabbath bells, and the answer of their hearts to the welcome sound, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." ( Psalm 122:1, Isaiah 2:3 ) Are you unconverted? Let this teach you what most you need. To men who are strangers to the happiness to be found in piety, and have their will set contrary to the law of God ( Galatians 5:17 ), religion seems, and can not but seem, a very sad, demure, and miserable thing. Oh! it appears a weary thing to be singing psalms!-they would sing songs rather; a dull book the Bible-a most uninteresting task to be poring over these pages-they would prefer a novel or a newspaper. Rather than sit at the communion table, they would be guests where the board groans with luxuries, bowls flow with wine ( I Corinthians 11:20-22 ), peals of laughter follow the bright flashes of wit, and thoughtless laughter dances away the hours. Earth's short Sabbaths seem long and are weary; and it is a mystery which they can not fathom, how, when they go to Heaven ( and who is not hoping to get there? ), they are to pass an endless Sabbath of psalms, songs, and such listless services. ( Matthew 12:1-8 ) No wonder, if this is your state, that piety has no charms for you. Without the clean heart and the right Spirit, your attempts to obey the law must be as unpleasant as they are unprofitable. It is hard to row against the tide, hard to swim against the stream ( Acts 9:5 ), but harder still, under no impulse but the lash of a guilty conscience, and the terrors of a coming judgment ( Matthew 16:27 & 28 ), to attempt conformity to the will of God. And admitting your conformity to be much greater than it is, what possible value can it have in the eyes of God? ( Isaiah 64:6 ) If even we would rather do the work ourselves, or want the work altogether, than have it done by a sullen, sulky servant-what pleasure can God have in your slavish service? I would not be served by a slave; nor will Jesus Christ. His arguments are not whips-His reasons are not blows-His servants do not walk and work in fetters. He is the beloved sovereign of a people who are free, devoted to His interests, and ready to die for His crown. He measures the value of services not so much by the work done, as by the willingness to do it. They serve that wait. Then, as the apostle says, 'Let there first be a willing mind , and it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." ( II Corinthians 8:12 )
In short, the union between the Savior and the soul, like the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca, stands on a cordial assent. "Peradventure, " said Eleazar to his master, "peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me." "Then," said Abraham, "if the woman be not willing to follow thee, thou shalt be clear from this my oath."
( Genesis 24:1-8 ) On this condition, Eleazar sets off to woo and win a wife for Isaac. He arrives at Nachor; he is introduced to Laban, and the scene in that house at Nachor excites in us these two wishes.
First, Would to God that those who hold a higher commission, and are stewards of the mysteries of the Gospel
( I Corinthians 4:1 & 2, 9:17 ), were as intent on their office, as this steward on his. Laban presses his hospitality upon him; the savoury meat appeals to his hunger ( Genesis 25:29-34 ); he has had a long journey, and it is reasonable surely that he take rest, get the dust of the road washed from his feet, and refresh exhausted nature before he enters upon business! No-pattern of fidelity! He says-"I will not eat until I have told mine errand." And would to God also, that He who dealt with Rebecca's heart, would persuade sinners to accept a better offer-backed by tokens of better love-and give us, as ambassadors for Christ in His love suit, that maiden's ready answer. Isaac had sent a far way for her. ( Ephesians 2:17 ) She saw his messenger; he stood before her, covered with the dust and embrowned with the sun of the desert. She saw Isaac's love in these sparkling gems-the golden tokens of his affection. Her heart was won. Fair and lovely pattern of faith! Who she had not seen she loved ( I John 4:20 ); she walked by faith, not by sight ( II Corinthians 5:7 );and paying a last visit to a mother's grave, forgetting "her father's house and her own people," the companions of her youth, and the sweet home of her early days, she turned round to her brother, and to his question-"Wilt thou go with this man?" with maiden modesty, but masculine firmness, she replied, "I will go."

II. This is a progressive obedience.
To "walk" is expressive of progress in grace
( Habakkuk 3:19, I Corinthians 7:17, Galatians 5:25, Ephesians 5:8, 15, Colossians 2:6, I John 1:7 ) . Walking is an act, and one not acquired in a day; for the power to walk is not ours, in the same sense, as the power to breathe. We are born with the one power, but born without the other. Like every other habit, walking becomes so easy by use, that we are unconscious of any effort; yet step into the nursery, and you see that this art, acquired by labor, is the reward of continuous, conquering perseverance. In fact, our erect attitude and progressive motion over the ground-simple as they seem-are achieved by means of most delicate and dexterous balancing. The marble statue does not stand erect without foreign support; and you have no sooner raised a dead man, and set him up on his feet, than he falls at yours, a heap of loathsome mortality.
In beauty and splendor, the figure of my text may yield to other images, expressive of a believer's progress-such as that of a seed dropped into the soil, where, striking down a delicate fiber, and sending up a green and tender shoot, it first rises into a seedling, which the finger of an infant could crush, but which grows, after a hundred summers have come and gone, into a robust and lofty tree, that, with its roots moored in the rock, lifts a proud head on high, and defies the storm
( Jeremiah 17:8 ). Or, such as that furnished by the birth and growth of day, from the first faint streak of dawn-to the moment when the sun rises to bathe mountains, plain, and sea, in a golden flood of light. Insofar, however as the setting forth of one prominent and important feature of a believers progress is concerned, the figure of my text yields the palm to none-nay, is perhaps superior to any. Other images convey the idea of progress, but this, of progress accomplished by unwearied exertion-progress, the triumph of an intelligent mind, and the reward of a determined will ( I Corinthians 2:2, 7:37, III John 4 ). To explain this special point, let me borrow an illustration from our Lord, when He took a little child, and, presenting the blushing boy to the wondering assembly, said, Masters of Israel, doctors of the temple, priests of the altar, chiefs of the Sanhedrin ( Luke 2:41-50 ), behold this pattern; "whosoever would enter the kingdom of Heaven must be as this little child." ( Matthew 18:3, Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17, John 3:5 ) In this image God's people find comfort and encouragement.
Does the infant who is leaning to walk abandon the attempt, or yield to despair, because it's first attempts are so feeble, and so often fail of success? If not, why then should we despond, because, in attempting to walk in God's ways, we often stumble, and not seldom fall? We-many of us at least-are but babes in Christ; and He no more gives up hope of His people because they fall, then the fond mother her hope and confidence that this infant, who is now creeping across the floor, shall one day stand erect in the beauty of its form, balanced on firm feet, and with free and perfect command of all its limbs. And why then, should we despond? Every man was once a babe; Samson himself-the mighty Nazarite
( Judges 13 ) who burst asunder new-spun ropes like flax touched with fire ( Judges 15:14 )-who, with more than a giant's strength, wrenched the gates of Gaza from the city's port ( Judges 16:1-3 ), and, heaving them on his back, climbed the steep acclivity-was once a feeble, wailing infant, who could barely carry his own head erect, and hesitated to venture from a mother's knee. The believer takes a law of God, and tries to walk in it-he tries to resist a temptation to which he had often yielded-he fixes his eye on Jesus ( Matthew 14:29 & 30 ), and, fired with a holy ambition, attempts to imitate Him. He fails. Repeated attempts and repeated failures cast him into despondency. He lies where he fell. He gives himself up to dark and distressing doubts. Satan ( or his own sinful 'heart' ) takes advantage of his failure, and insinuates that he has never been converted-that his religious impressions are a delusion-that his fair confession has been a vile hypocrisy ( Although we see in Romans 8:1 that 'There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus'; we often, as Christians, condemn ourselves, and each other ). In such distressing circumstances, our children become our teachers. God ordains strength out of the mouth of babes ( Psalm 8:2 ), and the lesson of the nursery is invaluable. Learning in that school that walking is a progressive, and not a sudden attainment, I get heart to say with David, "Why art thou cast down, my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me?" ( Psalm 42:11 ) That to my soul, and this to the devil, who stands brandishing his sword over me, when I am lying with my back to the ground, but my eyes on Heaven, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; though I fall, I shall arise." ( Psalm 35:19, Micah 7:8 )
This image stimulates to exertion, as well as comforts under failure.
In attempting to walk, the child falls; there is blood upon its brow, and tears in its eye. Does it lie there just to weep? By no means. Looking through these tears, and stretching out its little arms-if not by speech, yet by signs that go to a mother's heart-for it can pray before it speaks-it implores her help. Nor in vain. She flies to raise it; and when she has stanched the bleeding wound, and kissed away the tears, and soothed it in her gentle bosom, and it has there sobbed out its grief, what then? Recovering from the alarm, and soon forgetting its wounds, it seeks the floor again. Perhaps it has been taught some caution-perhaps it has learned to cling more to a mothers hand-perhaps it ventures less rashly from her side; yet, moved by a indomitable will, see how it returns to the attempt, tries it again and again, until, after some blows, and many falls, it earns the reward of its perseverance. Now, with bright health on its cheek, with grace in its motion, with grace in all its attitudes, laughing in its joy, and luxuriating in the exercise of its new-born powers, it "runs without wearying, and walks without fainting."
( Isaiah 40:30 )
We teach our children; let us here be their scholars, and take a lesson from the nursery. Why, then, do we make so little progress in grace? Why at this time of day, when some of us are bowed, wrinkled, and grey, are we so unable to walk in God's statutes-to keep His judgments and do them? It is not because our education has been neglected. It is not because any child has a mother so fond, so kind, so quick to help, so able to raise the fallen and guide the tottering step, as He who suffered for us more than a mother's birth's pangs, and feels for us more than a mother's love. What child in earth's happiest home enjoys a believer's advantages? "Happy art thou, O Israel? who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord? The eternal God is thy refuge, and beneath the everlasting arms."
( Deuteronomy 33:29 ) Why, then, is the progress of the Church so slow, compared with the progress of the nursery? Why has child after child in our families learned to walk, while the best of us are creeping, tottering, stumbling, on our way to heaven?
There are mysteries in grace; but there is no mystery here. The reason is plain. Every hour of the day, the infant is on its knees or feet; it falls, but it is to rise; it fails, but it is to begin again; its very happiness and business lie in the acquisition of this power and the smile which lights up its beautiful face, and its proud-like air when it can stand alone, or cross the floor to throw itself laughing into a mother's arms, show that its heart and happiness are in this work. We say to God's people, "go, and," by God's grace, "do likewise."
( Luke 10:37 ) Take more pains and give more prayer to learn this holy art. Let the perseverance of the nursery be imitated by the church. Let our knees be as much employed in prayer, and our powers and our hours in attempting a holy life, as those of infancy in learning to walk. Oh, if we would give the same "diligence to make our calling and election sure" ( II Peter 1:10 )-the same diligence to"work out our salvation,' ( Philippians 2:12 ) I am certain that we should be holier-much holier than we are ( physically speaking-I Peter 2:9 ). Our life would present a happy illustration of these sublime and resplendent emblems-"ye are the light of the world:" ( Matthew 5:14 ) "The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day:" ( Proverbs 4:18 ) "They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." ( Isaiah 40:31 )

II. This willing and progressive obedience is the sign and seal of salvation.
Am I a child of God? How am I to know that I am?
( I John 3:14 ( John 14:21 ) These are anxious questions with the believer;and yet they are questions that admit of a very simple answer. We have not, nor can we expect to have, such a testimony to sonship as the Saviour received when He went up from Jordan, and the form as of a dove descended out of heaven on His head, still wet with the waters of baptism.( Luke 3:21 & 22 ) By the descent of the dove, and the voice of the thunders, His Father said-"This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." ( Matthew 3:17, 17:5 ) And yet God's people enjoy that very same testimony. The descent of the Spirit is still the evidence of sonship;( Acts 2:1-4 )-its sign, however, is not a dove perched upon their heads, but the dove nestled within their hearts.( Galatians 4:6 ) By His Spirit, God creates them "anew unto good works," ( Ephesians 2:10 ) and by these-by the fruits of a holy life ( Galatians 5:22 ), by the joys of a Holy Ghost ( I Thessalonians 1:6 ), by the advancing stages of a holy progress ( Colossians 2:19 )-His Spirit witnesses with their spirits that they are sons of God.( Romans 8:16 ) A witness this, as certain, and therefore as satisfactory, as the voice of the skies, or the verdict of final judgment.
The fruit is now, as it shall be hereafter, the test of the tree
( Mattthew 7:15-19 ). There is no such thing as faith without works ( James 2:14-26 ). Without these, your profession is a lie, your faith is dead, your hope is a delusion. It is a delusion and a snare, like the phosphoric light, the product of putrefaction which, to the terror of superstitious peasants, and the destruction of unwary travelers,gleams and burns at night, above the pool in whose dark depths life has been lost, and a body, evolving gases escaping, is going to decay. Now, as the fruit is the test of the tree, obedience is the test of love; hear our Lord-"He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth Me." ( John 14:21, I John 3:24 ) Do not mistake us. We do not mean to say that any man keeps these commandments perfectly. Alas! the history of the church, and each man's own personal history, prove to our own shame and sorrow, that God's people may, and do fall into sin; and but for the restraining and constraining grace of God, would fall into the deepest, grossest sin ( Matthew 6:13 ). Let the conviction teach us to walk softly, humbly, circumspectly ( Micah 6:8 )! Oh, never leave God's side, nor let go the hand of grace. Cling to Christ's arm, as if the storm of Galilee were beating about your head, and every footstep were planted upon a swelling wave.
I do not say that saints will not fall into sin, but I do say that, when they are so unhappy, there will be an unmistakable difference between them and the unngodly. Judas sinned, and went out and hanged himself
( Matthew 27:5 ); Peter sinned, and went out and wept ( Matthew 26:75 ). The sins of saints are the occasion of saintly sorrows ( II Corinthians 2:3-11 ). God shall see them at the fountain weeping and washing away their guilt in the blood of Jesus; and to Jesus Himself they will go, to make on their knees the confession of Peter-Lord, I know that I have sinned, I know that I am a great sinner; yet "thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." ( John 21:17 ) There is one test-nor any more sure in the laboratory of the chemist-by which to distinguish the godly from the ungodly, when both have fallen into the very same sin. It is worth knowing, and never fails. It is very simple, and yet a most sure criterion. A child may comprehend it, and any one may apply it. I pray you to apply it, not to your neighbors' cases but to your own-nor reject it because it is humble, and plain, and simple, and vulgar, if you will-It is the test by which you may know a sheep from a swine, when both have fallen into the same slough, and are, in fact, so besmired, that neither by coat nor color can one be distinguished from the other. How then distinguish them? Nothing more easy! The unclean animal, in circumstances agreeable to its nature, wallows in the mire; but the sheep-type of the godly-bleats, and strive, and struggles to get out.

I hope that this discourse/sermon will be a blessing to you as it was to me, and I pray that the Holy Spirit of God would work along-side of you as you strive to apply these principles to your life as I also strive to do in mine. May God continue to bless us all with His Presence as we strive to build with Him His Kingdom!

with Christ's love,
and in His service,
Charles Shank