The Rules of the Union
Section #1: Becoming “God’s People”, The Controversy
Section #2: Israel as “God’s People”, The Implications
Becoming “God’s People”, The Controversy
“I will be their God, and they shall be My people” – 2 Corinthians 6:16
In the aforementioned chapter there were 10 numerical points which characterized a biblical definition of The Church as it was exemplified in the Exodus Generation. If Israel did not exist in the characterization of these 10 points (see below), the Lord wouldn’t have avouched Himself as “their God” nor they “His people”. This point may seem obvious at first glance, my reader, but let me assure you in all sobriety: this is but the tip of the iceberg! Indicative of great significance, the apostle Paul quoted this salvific reality in 2 Corinthians 6:16, saying, “I will be their God, and they shall be My people”. Why? Paul was reflecting upon the unrelenting controversy which existed between God-and-saint BECAUSE the Lord avouched Himself to be “their God” and they “His people”, all the way back yonder in the Covenant He made with Abraham (see Gen. 17:7-8). In bringing this God-to-man avouchment to mind, Paul was meaning to strike terror in the hearts of the Corinthians who needed to wake up to the implications of what it means to be “God’s people”.
Before going into the staggering implications of this God-to-man relationship, let us start from the beginning. As an introduction, the Lord did verbally avouch Himself in this very specific way 6 different times (provided below): 1 to Abraham, 3 to the Exodus Generation, and 2 to the children of the Exodus Generation.
“I will establish My Covenant…to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee…I will be their God” – Gen. 17:7-8
“I…will be your God, and ye shall be My people” – Lev. 26:12
“I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God” – Ex. 6:7
“I…will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God…I am the LORD their God.” – Ex. 29:45-46 (Familial Fellowship)
“Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God…And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people…that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.” – Deut. 26:17-19 (Obedience & FAME)
“Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God… That thou shouldest enter into Covenant with the LORD thy God, and into His oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: That He may establish thee to day for a people unto Himself, and that He may be unto thee a God, as He hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” - Deut. 29:10-13
Do you feel that you understand what it means for God to be, “their God”, and they to be “His people”, my reader? If you were to look at the above verses in their entirety the question is answered from a foundational level. Question: What does God think about when and if a race of humans becomes “His people”? Answer: God desires to dwell among them in familial identification. This point is most clearly represented by Exodus 29:45-46, when God said,
“And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.” – Exodus 29:45-46
When God looks upon The Church and says, “My people” (Lev. 26:12), this is the language of familial identification. In other words God is saying, “My family”, and we can be sure that God wants to be with His family!
With great desire and longing, the Lord said… “And let them make Me a Sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” – Exodus 25:8
With glorious praise the people sang of their coming encounter with God… “Thou [God] shalt bring them in, and plant them in the Mountain of Thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.” – Exodus 15:17-18
With spiritual endowment the Lord gifted The Church at this encounter so that thereby He would dwell among them… “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” – Psalm 68:17-18
This is an exceedingly blessed estate and an allotment of salvation. As it is written, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). Yes, blessed are the people whose God is the LORD! …but woe to them, also, if they transgress His holiness! We must understand the blessedness and the woefulness of this God-and-man unification, my reader, and then we shall understand the controversy which the apostle Paul referenced in 2 Corinthians 6:16, “I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” God Almighty dwelling in and among a people was the beginning of the Covenant with Israel, this we know by the aforementioned passages, but Church History reveals how this purpose was frustrated from the utopia of salvation in full volume as God had promised it. Shockingly, this salvific reality was the most significant achievement of redemptive experience sought after throughout the centuries of human existence, a salvific reality which has been and will be frustrated from its consummation until the end of time! This salvific reality which was, at the onset, frustrated from its initiation by “The Great Pause” as a fitting beginning to so troublous a journey which history would soon to unfold.
1 Samuel 2:12-7:17
Jeremiah 7:1-34, 9:1-3, 11:1-17
Ezekiel 11:22-25, Hos. 1:9
Hos.2:23, Jn. 14:17-23, Eph. 2:22
– “The Great Pause”
– a cry for the glory of God to be initiated, to begin in a full establishment according to the Covenant
– a roadmap of the troublous journey ahead
– an example of Divine possibilities, the glory of God departing
– a renunciation of the terms conditional to the glory of God departing
– the glory of God departing
– the glory of God returning in the Gentile Church Age
– the glory of God returning in the consummation of salvation like as it was depicted departing in Ezek. 11:22-25
Isaiah 12:1-6, Zech. 2:4-13, 8:8, 13:9, Jer. 24:7, 30:22, 31:1, 33, 32:38, Ezek. 11:20, 36:28, 37:12, 26-27, Joel 2:26-27, Rev. 21:1-7
– the glory of God returning in the consummation of salvation i.e. the Millennial Reign and the New Heaven and the New Earth
God Almighty dwelling in the midst of the people of Israel to be “their God” and they “His people” is a difficult happening this is for sure, but when and if it happens with permanence the consequences are either inexpressibly blessed or inconceivably woeful based upon the conduct of the people. This Covenant is, therefore, great and terrible, saving and damning, sanctifying and annihilating, securing and endangering, all depending on the conduct of the people with whom God has joined Himself. God in the midst is rhyme and reason which dictates all Laws and manners of life, all aspects of salvation and meritorious grace, and all threats of judgment by Divine fury. Meanwhile, also, this happening is the most notorious subject of vertical communication God-to-man and man-to-God. There is no other topic which is more notoriously relevant in the prophet’s conversation, supplication, intercession, and wrestling with God except, namely, the God-and-saint familial identification via the glory of near proximity as it was promised in Covenant agreement from the beginning.
The Controversy Begins: “The Great Pause” & a Generation Lost
At the initiation of the Covenant with Israel through the prophet Moses, “The Great Pause” transpired. From Exodus 24:18 to 31:18, Moses received all the precautionary measures by which God would dwell among the people of Israel as “their God” via the Tabernacle. Notably, after the means of God-and-Israel’s unification was fully communicated to Moses, Israel sinned. Not just any sin, their idolatry provoked God to change His mind. When the condition of His people changed from “ALL saved” to rampant idolatry, the Lord renounced the Covenant that He communicated with Moses the previous 40 days. Rather than dwelling among Israel in familial identification, the Lord said, “Let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation” (Ex. 32:10). The Lord was minded and moving to annihilate the whole seed of Israel right then and there, except Moses. Moses successfully interceded in so much that God repented from His intent, command, and forward pursuit to totally annihilate the Israelite people, nevertheless He did NOT repent in so much that the Covenant which was just communicated to Moses the past 40 days would be established. At this point, God was not intending to dwell among Israel via the Tabernacle anymore: this is, therefore, “The Great Pause” in which the Old Covenant was probated from its beginning. This pause begins here, at Exodus 32:10, and ends at Exodus 34:10; the timespan in between those two references is the time period wherein God was undecided on what He was going to do with Israel (“that I may know what to do with thee”-Ex.33:5).
Moses made many acts of intercession in hopes of reviving the glorious Covenant he had beheld on the Mountain for 40 days and nights. The first act of intercession was of judgment, necessarily so. Moses knew that if the rebels were not exterminated from among the Israelite people, The Church, then God would refuse to come among Israel. Just as Abraham was separated from Terah, Isaac from Ishmael, Jacob from Esau according to the call of God Almighty, Moses called forth a remnant of the faithful, the Levites. With sword-in-hand the Levites slew the rebels from among Israel gate to gate (Ex. 32:26-29), perfecting holiness in the fear of God for the reception of Divine promises and blessings (2 Cor. 7:1). With Church Purity immediately restored, Moses hoped to get audience with God again for the purpose of intercession by prayer on behalf of the rest of Israel. Moses went up the Mountain in pursuit of an atonement for Israel’s sins even by the sacrifice of himself (Ex. 32:29-33), but to no avail. At this point, the Lord was not minded to renew the Covenant which was revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, therefore the last words the Lord spoke to Moses were,
“Therefore now GO, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, Mine angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. And the LORD plagued the people because they made the calf, which Aaron made.” – Ex. 32:34-35
In the Covenant what was first delivered to Moses, God dwelt in the midst of Israel in real Person… but then God was refusing to dwell among the people. The LORD sent an Angel to be in the midst of the people instead of Himself, a downgrade of infinite proportion. The reasons for the downgrade were that God said, “I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way” (Ex. 33:3). As a precautionary measure to secure the safety of Israel, the Lord said, “I will send an angel before thee” (Ex. 33:2). Moses and the people mourned at the news, but none more than Moses; he knew the glory of what it was going to mean for God Almighty to dwell in the midst of Israel. The intentions of the LORD were communicating indecisiveness and uncertainty, Moses discerned. The Lord commanded the people to humble themselves in pursuit of repentance, yes, but for the very specific reason, God said, “that I may know what to do with thee” (Ex. 33:5). While two wills in God wrestled one against another, all things stilled to a pause. Having already decided against the Covenant that was originally revealed to Moses, the Lord was undecided to what extent His plan of redemption was going to be manifest among them thenceforth. In the meantime, the Lord commanded Israel, “put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee” (Ex. 33:5); the people mourned before the LORD with a deep sense that what they did mattered to God, that the Lord’s decision “may be” for good or for evil (“it may be”-Jer. 36:3, 7).
At the close of this communication Moses knew that this was an opportune time for intercession… but by what means? He dare not go back up the Mountain uninvited, especially because the last command the LORD gave Moses was, “therefore now GO” (Ex. 32:34) and “DEPART and GO up hence…unto the Land” (Ex. 33:1). Albeit Moses, filled with holy boldness, remembered the Tabernacle that God showed him on the Mountain, a Tabernacle where, God said, “I will meet you to speak there unto thee”, and, “there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the Tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory” (Ex. 29:42-43). There was no time to manufacture the Tabernacle exactly as God had showed Moses to make it, but Moses was in desperation! He resolved to make something like it, a thing which had never been attempted before in all of redemptive history; this is a dangerously bold move! Upon making the Tabernacle as best as Moses was able so to do, he “took the Tabernacle and pitched it without the camp afar off from the camp”; Moses knew that God would not come and commune with him in the midst of the camp as He had already forewarned, “I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment and consume thee” (Ex. 33:5). Having separated from the rejected and unclean people of Israel, shockingly, the Lord came to Moses in the makeshift Tabernacle! Moses was not alone but, allowably, a “called-out community” went with him outside of the camp of “the called-out ones” who were disqualified! “It came to pass that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the Tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp” (Ex. 33:7).
When Moses entered into the Tabernacle the glory of the LORD filled the tent forthwith, and Moses interceded. Moses’ plea was that God would revive and restore the former Covenant which was revealed to him on the Mountain; namely that the LORD would dwell in the midst of the people in Person, not an angel. Moses cried, “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth” (Ex. 33:15-16)! Yes, and the Lord said, “I will do this thing”, but Moses was still unsatisfied and uncertain that the Covenant was restored. Moses proceeded to plead, “shew me Thy glory” (Ex. 33:18), and the LORD told Moses to meet Him on top of Mount Sinai on the morrow, there to continue the converse of the holy matter. Upon Moses’ ascent up the Mountain the glory of the LORD appeared, and Moses said, “O Lord, let my Lord, I pray Thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance” (Ex. 34:9)! Staggeringly, my reader, consider this! In pursuit of this ONE REQUEST Moses interceded and wrestled against God’s anger for 40 days and 40 nights! Moses said,
“And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you…” – Deut. 9:18-19 (see Deut. 9:25)
Again, I say, after 40 days and 40 nights of pleading for the Covenant’s revival, the Lord conceded, “Behold, I make a Covenant…” (Ex. 34:10), according as it was revealed to Moses on the Mountain the first 40 day and night period. What a glory! At this point, at Exodus 34:10, the Covenant was restored, the anger of God was pacified, God was intent to dwell among the people as it was revealed upon the Mountain, but oh! How scarcely did this Covenant come into full initiation! Apparently, my reader, I say with all sobriety: It was no small accomplishment for so holy a GOD to dwell among a sinful people. Hereby the controversy of the centuries began, my reader! Yes “The Great Pause” was over, the probation of the Covenant had subsided, but hear this! The terrifying threat of GOD Almighty brought in near proximity thenceforth commenced! By threat, I mean, the threat the Lord spoke of and warned about, the reason for God’s longstanding deliberation theretofore! The danger, I mean, that the LORD would suddenly consume all the people as in a moment when and if they turned to wickedness! [For more information, see “The Great Pause”.]
This was a troublous beginning indicative of a troublous journey ahead, but for what reason? God Almighty, the Thrice Holy GOD of the Universe, decided to dwell among redeemed humanity in familial identification under conditions of holiness and purity, conditions which the people failed to keep steadfastly. The Exodus Generation was reprobated, my reader! They became castaways, in one moment! 600,000 men of war from every tribe except Levi were suddenly and irreversibly lost! In Psalm 90 Moses reflected on the course of this generation’s rise and fall, how they flourished in the beginning as on the Eagle’s wings of the LORD’s salvation but then, suddenly, as in a moment they were cut down at last like the green grass of a field is mowed down and withered (see Ps. 90:5-6). Mowed down by what, you wonder? Moses said, “We are consumed by Thine anger, and by Thy wrath are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the Light of Thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in Thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told” (Ps. 90:7-9). Moses made reference to the journey of the Exodus Generation, namely that their footsteps were “in the Light of [God’s] countenance” (Ps. 90:8)! This arena which was illuminated by Diving Light was The Church according to Moses, the place where God was their “dwelling place” (Ps. 90:1). This spiritual reality existed in and among the Exodus Generation even as Cain testified of The Church in his day. Explicitly implicit in Cain’s lamentation the spiritual environment of The Church is observable, namely that every individual of The Church was standing in the place and among the people that the Face of God did continuously shine, thus as Cain driven out from The Church, he said, “from Thy face shall I be hid” (Gen. 4:14)! Referencing this redemptive reality (a place and people “in the Light of Thy countenance”) which belonged exclusively to The Church, Moses was pointing toward the immediacy by which God judged His people (“judgment must begin at the House of God”-1Pet.4:17). What happened?
Israel provoked GOD by sin three times (Exodus 15, 16, 17) while on their way to the Mount of God for “The Sinai Experience” - The Church meeting whereby God-and-saint were ceremonially joined - but in each of these three events no one was punished! God was yet to establish the full realm of what a Church was among Israel, doctrinally speaking, thus the LORD was not holding them accountable to what He would soon perform among them without partiality. After “The Sinai Experience”, an experience whereby the people became acclimated to the sober reality of what a Church is in full volume, the Lord no longer pardoned their uprising of sin like before. Thenceforth also, like before the Sinai meeting, the people complained against God again and again… thus they were punished. It was written, “the LORD heard it [as One who dwelt in their midst in near proximity, He heard it!] and His anger was kindled and the fire of the LORD burnt among them and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp” (Num. 11:1-3)! This is as the Lord did formerly confess, saying, “I will not go up in the midst of thee…lest I consume thee in the way” (Ex. 33:3); He meant it! Moses prayed until finally, “the fire was quenched” (Num. 11:1-3), yes… but shortly thereafter, yet again, “the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague” (Num. 11:33-35)! Yet again at a third provocation thereafter, Aaron and Miriam murmured against Moses so that Miriam was struck with leprosy (Num. 12)! These three events were chronicled as forerunning provocations which led into the day of reprobation for this generation, a day in which God spoke to totally annihilate the Israelite people and start over with Moses for the second time (Ex. 32:10, Num. 14:11-12). The LORD was commanding and pursuing a total consummation like He forewarned in Exodus 33:3 & 33:5, like He said to Moses on the Mount, “Let Me alone that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a greater nation” (Ex. 32:10, Num. 14:11-12)! Nevertheless like as before, Moses interceded and God repented (Num. 14:13-20)! Mercifully, He only annihilated the 600,000 men of war which were specific offenders on that woeful day (Num. 14:22-35).
Over the next 40 years as the Exodus Generation died out in the wilderness, God rose up their children in the stead of their fathers. This 40 year period was a time of schooling for this newly chosen generation, a period in which two more events of Divine provocation transpired wherein God attempted a total annihilation of the seed of Israel yet again, but God repented at those times also (see Num. 16:21-22 & 16:45). Surely the LORD was trying to communicate to the people of Israel something important, a message the posterity of the Exodus Generation beheld with their own eyes. Do you know what it is, my reader?
The Immediate Posterity of the Exodus Generation Raised Up
While they were yet children they passed through the Red Sea on dry land, stood before the flame-engulfed Mountain of Sinai, and journeyed to the edge of The Promised Land only to be sent back into the desert for the next 40 years. This 40 year period became a tutoring field for God to demonstrate the verity of His Holiness and the immediacy of His judgment BECAUSE the Lord was dwelling in the midst of Israel – a redemptive reality which the Exodus Generation never learned to appreciate or benefit from with steadfastness. With a scarce survival through sword-slaying purifications, Divine plagues, consuming fires, repeated bloodshed, and hundreds of thousands of graves… the people were sobered. In this theater of God’s glory the message was becoming clear. After a near annihilation of God’s people Moses went up Mount Sinai to plead before God, and cried, MERCY! PARDON! SALVATION! But when Moses came down from Mount Sinai to stand before the sinning saints, he commanded, REPENT! JUDGE SIN! HUMBLE YOURSELF! FEAR GOD! OBEY! Moses wanted them to understand the scarcity by which their salvation was secured! Moses reported to them the burning vehemence of God’s anger which would not relent for 40 days and 40 nights (“Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He should destroy them.”-Ps.106:23), but they did not believe it with steadfastness! As a consequence God did increasingly display among the people in real time what Moses did secretly intercede against. God was no longer licking up the sacrifices with the fire of His anger, no! The people were made to cry out what they should have heard from Moses’s testimony. They experienced it themselves, my reader! God said, “they will perish!” Moses said, “you all nearly perished!” And then the people said, “WE ALL PERISH” (Num. 17:12)! Let this cry sink down into your ears, my reader,
“Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the Tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?” – Num. 17:12-13
Church Purity and perfect holiness became the prerogative of Moses during this hour of trouble in the breaking forth of wrath. Like in former occasions, Moses knew the righteous and the wicked must dwell in separation one from another. God commanded, “separate yourselves” (Num. 16:21-22), and after God repented of a total annihilation Moses cried to the remnant who stood among the mixed multitude of the faithful and the backsliders, “Depart, I pray you” (Num. 16:26-27)! God said, “SEPARATE!”, and Moses said, “DEPART!”, because Church Purity was the only means for the revival and restoration of salvation via the reality of God dwelling among redeemed humanity. Could the message be any more clear, my reader? God was intent upon having a separated and holy people, or He would not have any people at all! A Holy and sin-hating God cannot and will not mix with sinners! The people learned that GOD DWELT AMONG THEM, and the material abode of His immediate presence was the Tabernacle - a place they learned to reverence with holy terror and godly fear! Their God was A Consuming Fire, my reader (Heb. 12:29)! Therefore in less than 24 hours another attempted total annihilation transpired, God saying to Moses, “Get you up from among this congregation that I may consume them as in a moment” (Num. 16:45)! Shockingly Moses refused to heed the command of God (under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost)! Rather he and Aaron ran straight into the whelming storm of God’s FURY to stand between the living and the dead, thus the plague was stayed (Num. 16:47-49)! O-N-L-Y 14,700 perished that day, my reader. Anything short of total annihilation was an act of unfathomable mercy!
Beloved brethren, we need to reexamine what God is meaning by the statement, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Cor. 6:16), namely in how this reality relates to the command, “Come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:17), because here, staggeringly, the LORD was rejecting the Exodus Generation with annihilating powers! The Lord was practically (by deed) renouncing the Exodus Generation as “His people”, contrary to what He avouched to them at the first, saying, “I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God” (Ex. 6:7). Testifying to God’s power of renouncement, Moses said, “They have corrupted themselves, their spot is NOT the spot of His children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? Is not He thy Father that hath bought thee? Hath He not made thee, and established thee” (Deut. 32:5-6)? What a fearful reality, my reader! In these words the Father-to-children relationship of human redemption enjoyed by these saints was suddenly dissolved! …by corruption, my reader! They corrupted themselves! They were at one point pure and holy, and then corrupted, they were not always corrupt! “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). Righty did Moses speak, when he said, “Behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23)! Because of this God needed a new generation in which He would pursue the fulfillment of the Covenant agreement. Graciously, He took the children of the Exodus Generation in their stead (Num. 32:14-15). This latter generation knew that they were risen up in the stead of their fathers: they watched their fathers waste away in the wilderness and were thereby enabled to reckon with the Divine prerogative of God afresh - the implications of them being “God’s people” and the LORD being “their God” (see Deut. 26:17-19 & 29:10-13). They brushed past a near annihilation themselves (they and their fathers) in the aforementioned events accounted in Numbers 16 & 17, but God repented and spared them as He did their fathers two times prior (Ex. 32:10, Num. 14:11-12). In this manner the Divine Struggle between sinning saint and God continued…
Before long, in Numbers 21, Israel was smitten and slain by another plague. In Numbers 25, there was yet another judgment of Divine anger. In the latter, the Israelite people, The Church, transgressed The Doctrine of Separation in that they joined themselves with the daughters of Moab. The plague broke forth in unrelenting power to smite down by hundreds and thousands. The plague moved with God’s anger which rushed to consume all, no doubt, except the doctrine of holiness was perfected again. While one man remained in the camp of Israel the people were collectively rendered an unclean thing before God! Weeping and tearful intercession could not avail, no! If holiness was not perfected and separateness restored, God would accomplish the consummation that He forewarned in Ex. 33:5. “Behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman…”, but when Phinehas SAW IT, lo, “he rose up from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed…” (Num. 25:1-13), hallelujah! Do you think that God cares about one sinner mixing in the congregation of the saints? Do you think that God cares about the perfection of holiness, the separateness and cleanliness of every individual Israelite who dwells in His immediate presence and glory? He does, my reader, enough to slay heaps upon heaps of sinning saints until the doctrines of separation are obeyed without wavering!
Take Achan for an example, my reader, a situation which this generation of Israelites could not soon forget (Joshua 7)! Moses died and Joshua succeeded his office thence to take the people yonder into The Promised Land. The children of the Exodus Generation had a glorious and a triumphant entry into The Promised Land, victory upon victory, until they underwent the valley of humiliation once again on account of the same criminal act of defiance against “their God”. They, “God’s people”, learned the implications of the privileged position they were in! On account of one man’s sin all of Israel suffered under the wrath of God, the whole congregation. Israel suffered their first loss of the war with 36 men fallen to the sword of their enemies, all of this on account of ONE MAN! Do you think that God does not care about every individual Israelite in the congregation, my reader? Then why did He care about Achan, a mere man… If every individual Israelite was not formerly perfected in holiness via personal regeneration, why would He be so aggravated against the folly of one man? If many once-born and wicked rebels continually mixed with the mass multitude of Israelites, why would God be so infuriated by one man?
This understanding, very specifically, represented to them the doctrines of holiness and separateness in real time. It would have been nationwide suicide for Israel to ignore the fact that every individual must be justified, sanctified, and steadfast… or else! They learned to FEAR, my reader! Will we? This generation was not gripping the truth of salvation loosely, as one ready to slip. In a later time in Joshua 22, for example, when an altar was made as a witness (not for idolatry), ten tribes of Israel thought it was made for idolatry and thus acted spontaneously! Idolatry being committed within the Israelite congregation was a serious crime when and if any individual committed it, it was as situation of national security. Knowing the God of Israel, all remaining Israelites spontaneously roused themselves to engage the matter because they understood that either all idolaters die or they die! In this heart the ten remaining tribes of Israel rallied together to “go up to war against” these two tribes which were suspects of idolatry. The ten tribes were willing to kill off both tribes in their entirety, if need be. Girded in armor and prepared for war the whole congregation pled with these two tribes concerning their suspected rebellion, saying,
"Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD? Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD, But that ye must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow He will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel. Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, wherein the LORD’S tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God. Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity." (Joshua 22:16-20)
The ten tribes spoke of two instances where the wrath of God broke forth into the whole congregation on account of one man’s sins, at the matter of Peor and Achan. Though a plague broke forth upon Israel because of the matter of Peor, the people were not completely cleansed even by this time; the grave necessity of congregation-wide holiness did not resonate in all of their hearts with the force of holy terror as it needed to, thus the matter of Achan did eventually transpire. After the matter of Achan where, namely, “wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel… and that man perished not alone in his iniquity”, Israel learned to “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1)! The ten tribes of Joshua 22 were terrified for their own lives, my reader! This was the same generation which journeyed through these pastime woes of horror and agony in real time! This means that they could remember the day when Achan, his family, and all his belongings were stoned and then burned before the whole congregation of Israel. Therefore this generation of all people was thus moved to defend Israel from the harm of congregation-wide holiness defied depicted in Joshua 22. Sword-in-hand as in a moment, they acted. They hasted so that they would not be consumed by God, as in a moment. Hear them speak! “It will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow He will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel!” Even David, beloved of His God, was apprehended by the terror of this reality in his own lifetime. When David sinned in numbering the people of Israel in 1 Chronicles 21, well, my reader, what happened? Behold the matter and see, no commentary is necessary!
“And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and He repented Him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? Even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? Let Thine hand, I pray Thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on Thy people, that they should be plagued.” - 1 Chron. 21:15-17
Because of David – this one man’s sins – God was wroth with the whole congregation of Israel! My reader does this offend you? If so I solemnly testify to you that you are an offence to God! Do you think God Almighty is unjust? David too, not unlike yourself, no doubt, was shocked by the requisite of perfect holiness which consequenced great dilemmas among “God’s people”, saying, “as for these sheep, what have they done?” Albeit forthwith, the doctrines of holiness have become indisputably clear to them and to us, sealed in blood. Moses and Aaron were compelled to cry to God, “shall one man sin, and wilt Thou be wroth with all the congregation” (Num. 16:22)? All surviving Israelites of this historic situation, likewise, were compelled to cry, “Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish” (Num. 17:13)! The remnant of this generation remembered the holy reality in real time, saying, “He will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel” (Josh. 22:16-20), because they remembered “the man”, the one man, on whose account the wrath of God annihilated Israel because of holiness defied (Num. 25:1-13); they remembered the Achan, the one man, when after he was stoned God returned to their congregation in saving power once again (Josh. 7)! David said, “Is it not I” (1 Chron. 21:15-17), when his defiance of the doctrine of holiness resulted in a congregation-wide outbreak of wrath… one man! David said, “Is it not I”, so what about YOU my reader? What about US? What are we doing to the congregation of saints among whom we gather to appear before God? All of God’s people (“all this people”-Num.32:14-15) are organically connected to the spiritual livelihood of every individual Church member, my reader, just as God has indicated in His word via a New Testament reality, saying,
“And what agreement hath the Temple of God with idols? for ye are the Temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the FEAR OF GOD.” – 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1
All of these matters of horrendous destruction and death happened on account of The Church acting in a horrendously defiant conduct in trespass of the doctrines of holiness, though the way of holiness was so clearly verbalized to the “called-out Community” of brethren, the Israelites. All of these matters of horrendous destruction and death happened because God was IN THEIR MIDST, as He said He would be!