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Monday, June 30, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 6

God's End Is Always Present In His Beginnings

The principles that we are considering this morning are the key to the Book of Ezekiel in a special way. We begin by indicating one of those principles in another way - God's end is always implicit in all His beginnings. Thus, we have Genesis in the Book of the Revelation and the Book of the Revelation in Genesis. Let me repeat this principle again: God's end is always present in His beginnings. Perhaps you would like an illustration of that. We have it in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Exodus. Chapter fifteen, verses thirteen and seventeen:

"In Thy lovingkindness Thou has led the people whom Thou hast redeemed; in Thy strength Thou hast guided them to Thy holy habitation ... Thou wilt bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, the place, O Lord, which Thou hast made for Thy dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established."

Now do you recognize what that has said? Israel is just out of Egypt, they are just over the Red Sea; this is the song of Moses and all Israel when they escaped from Egypt and Pharaoh. They had only just begun their journey. But here it says: "In Thy strength Thou hast guided them to Thy holy habitation ... the place, O Lord, which Thou hast made for Thy dwelling, the sanctuary,  O Lord, which Thy hands have established." That takes us right on to the end of their history. Hundreds of years would have to pass before the Temple was built, before Jerusalem - the holy mountain - was secured. They had to go a long way, for a longtime, before they came there. But here, right at the beginning, it is spoken of as though it were already accomplished. So we can see from this instance what I mean by God's end always begin right there at the beginning. Heavenly things always govern ALL the earthly things. Invisible things govern ALL the visible things. Spiritual things govern ALL the temporal things. Universal things govern ALL the local things. That is something you must always remember when you are reading the Bible. And that is something which must be kept in mind as we approach this book of Ezekiel.

Human history is not just human history, but it is God's history! This book of Ezekiel seems to have a lot of earthly history in it, but the truth is that it is all governed by the Divine End and Purpose. Now the big question which we meet right at the beginning of this book is "Does this book have a message for the Church in this dispensation? - Does it just elate to a period in the past history of the people of Israel? Does it relate to the future dispensation in the matter of prophecy? - Or is its main message for the Church in this dispensation?" We shall be compelled to face those questions as we move into this book, especially in those parts of the book which we are going to particularly consider. The answer is found NOT in the earthly, BUT in the Heavenly; NOT in the temporal, BUT in the Spiritual.

So we come to the setting and reason for this book: we must recognize when the book was written, and why. What is in this book happened at a time when a whole system had broken down and failed. The reason for that breakdown and that failure was because that system became something in itself. It lost its Spiritual and its Eternal meaning. We must recognize that this is something that constantly recurs in the history of the things of God. It happened in Israel. It has happened in Christianity generally. It has happened in many movements and in many pieces of the work of God. Such began with a great testimony, just as Israel began. It was a wonderful testimony to the Lord with which Israel's history began, but then that whole thing broke down. It completely failed because it lost its Spiritual meaning and became something in itself. The same is true of Christianity. It had a wonderful beginning, but, speaking generally, Christianity has broken down and failed because it has become an earthly system - something in itself, and has lost its Heavenly meaning.

Now we return to this book of Ezekiel, and we find God moving away from Jerusalem; and God is found outside and not inside, and the thing in which God once was has now become an empty shell. That which was once vital and effective, and was greatly used of the Lord, has become a merely formal and empty thing with God on the outside. That is the setting and the occasion of this book.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7 - "A Prophet Represents the Full Mind of God")

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