The Hiding Of His Power
Not along ago, we came across a letter in an old "Witness And Testimony" magazine (no longer published. Austin-Sparks joined the Lord in the spring of 1971.) that was written in January 1945;and, even though we know that in England they had been suffering through the intense years of World War II, it seemed that the ink was still wet and it had been written to the Body of Christ just yesterday.
Beloved of God,
What a time of faith's testing the saints are in just now! And what a time of satanic fierceness! What does it all mean? There seems to be only two answers. Either the Lord is preparing for some fresh, and perhaps final, movement to the consummation of His purpose on the earth; which movement requires a state that will guarantee depth, strength, and lastingness, so that real fullness shall mark the ingathering to glory at His appearing; or else this is the end of a phase and the Lord is coming for the ripe fruits. If Revelation 12 represents an end-time situation, then there is very much just now that conforms to it. The words there are undoubtedly prophetical, for the "Revelation" was not written as history but as prophecy - in the main, that is, not what was past, but what was, and was to be. The great issue of that chapter is "Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down..."
In "Salvation" there is "deliverance from every calamity, victory over enemies, recovery from disease, and release from captivity." The kingdom and authority referred to are withstood by the great accuser, and a great warfare in heaven is waged to circumvent the establishment thereof by the emancipation of the elect from the realm of satan's power. Does not this throw light upon the test of faith and the intense conflict through which the saints are passing? Here is the explanation to long unfulfilled manifestations of answer to prayer; the deferred deliverances, the passing of the power of God from the temporal to the spiritual realm in our experience - "The Hiding of His Power."
The combination of tested faith in relation to things seen, and the intense conflict in the spiritual life, is very true to this issue. As we have cried for "salvation" in one or other of its forms, and have only been conscious of conflict and delay, the accuser has come and raised the ultimate questions of our relationship to God, and of His to us. It is the old issue - "If Thou be the Son." So, to cast us down, he accuses and seeks to make us accept a setting aside, a casting off, a having-finished-with-us by God. Triumph over this by the witness against him by the blood of the Lamb, the declaration of our testimony, and the elimination of self-interest and concern - loving not our life unto death, is to result in his casting down, and this is the nature and object of the trial and the battle. What an immense issue is bound up with a little word - "if." If... then why? That was Gideon's question. That was presented to Christ.
But, blessed be God, the end is revealed, and the accuser is cast down; the kingdom, power, authority of God and His Christ is seen as come. While we do not want to suggest that a satan-complex should be developed, we would urge that a looking behind things to his part and place in them will be a great deliverance from the paralysis of the things themselves. Whether we are alive to it or not, "our wrestling is with ... spiritual hosts of wickedness," and not until we tackle the spiritual forces behind the things, in the infinite virtue of the blood of the Lamb, shall we stand possessed of the key to the situation. But let us remember the value of the "they." There is need for corporate actions; and we should take much more seriously the united prayer against the spiritual forces. So, whatever may be the immediate meaning of the present experience, the need is the same, a people in spiritual strength to bring about satan's casting down, either in specific positions and situations, or in the final consummate disinheriting of the heavenlies.
The Lord strengthen us with might unto this warfare through as much of this new year as He wills for us to see.
Yours in His Life and Hope,
Brethren, as we read this letter the phrase "The hiding of His power" stood out to us; and we found that it is only mentioned one time in the Scriptures, Habakkuk 3:4. When a phrase or word is mentioned only one time in the Word of God it is usually speaking of something that is important to God and His people. Habakkuk is a small prophetic book that was probably written at the same time Jeremiah prophesied and the nation of Israel as a whole was in a state of idolatry and apostasy "as it was in the days of Lot." Little is known of Habakkuk himself except from his writings, which immediately let us know that he is a prayer warrior who is deeply burdened for God's purpose. He was a man who must have had a shadowless communion with his Lord, for the three chapters of which this book consist are written in the form of a colloquy: which means a mutual discourse between those who are intimate and familiar with one another.
So, Habakkuk and the Lord were carrying on a reciprocal, Spirit to Spirit, Soul to soul, Depth to depth communion;and, as their mutual discourse begins, we find Habakkuk is discouraged for he could not see in the temporal realm that God was working out things according to plan: - the wicked ruled and seemed to escape judgment; and the righteous were suffering greatly.
Habakkuk prays (1:1-4):
"Oh Lord, how long shall I cry, and Thou wilt not hear!... Why dost Thou shew me iniquity (trouble, having special reference to the nature and consequences of evil-doing), and cause me to behold grievance (the oppression, or injustice that comes to the just and righteous)?" How Long Oh Lord! How Long! Habakkuk asked this question just as many of us do in times of trouble. However, one thing we need to know is that Habakkuk's cry is not for his personal desires , but he is praying in the name of all who suffered from the evil times.
God answers Habakkuk (1:5-11):
"Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you..." Then the Lord goes on to speak of the judgment that is coming forth. The Lord is telling Habakkuk that, no matter how bad things may look in the natural, He is working all things after the counsel of His own will.
Habakkuk continues his discourse with his Lord, still somewhat discouraged but, also, encouraged for he says (1:12-17; 2:1):
"I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when A am reproved."
And God answers Habakkuk and tells Habakkuk that His purpose and counsel will certainly come about in His timing (2:2-20):
"...For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry." - And God says, that during the time of waiting, the faith of the faithful will be tried! - "but the just shall live by his faith."
This is the only command that the Lord gave to Habakkuk: "But the just shall live by his faith." In this Scripture, the word "but" is very important; it is an adversative conjunction; and it generally marks a distinctive contrast, a contradistinction to all that surrounds. In other words, the Lord is saying, "When things look the worse, and it seems the enemy is having his way: the just shall live by his faith." The Lord is telling Habakkuk that his life is to be a distinct contrast, it is to be diametrically opposed to all that satan instigates in the world, or among the people of God. Habakkuk is to live and move and have his being in the realm of faith.
Then the Lord continues to speak judgment, as well as many prophetic words which were (and are) very hard for the faithful to understand. However, right in the midst of all this judgment, He wondrously declares:
"For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. But the Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him."
Then, as God shares this with Habakkuk, Habakkuk breaks out into a glorious prayer which is a Psalm of praise as well as a warring prayer of the Spirit. For, even though it may look as if all things are not being worked out according to God's purpose, Habakkuk has come to realize that just the opposite is true: - God is truly "hiding His power," and in the unseen realm the enemy is being defeated, and the elect of God are being freed unto the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
"...and there was the hiding of His power ... and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: His ways are everlasting" (Hab. 3:4, 6).
Beloved, let us become prayer warriors such as Habakkuk by jointing "the just" of all ages who, in the midst of their trials, have lived by the faith of the Son of God; and, let us embrace in the Spirit the burden of our Lord for His people - Habakkuk's name implies "embracer of the burden" - and let us sing as Habakkuk:
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall not fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cast off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places" (Hab. 3:17-19). Amen, Amen, Amen