The Rules of the Union
Section #1: Becoming “God’s People”, The Controversy
Section #2: Israel as “God’s People”, The Implications
Israel as “God’s People”, The Implications
The Implications of the Person of God “in the Midst”
Church History tells the tale of how the people of God reckoned with the implications of being brought so near a holy and sin-separated God, this is true, but God was gracious enough to teach His people the Laws by which the people, place, and environment would become an acceptable abode for the LORD to indwell. Such Laws can be found in Leviticus 26:1-45, Numbers 5:1-4, and Deuteronomy 23:9-14, on a foundational level. The central factor which mandated these Laws was, in scriptural language,
“I will walk among you” – Lev. 26:12
“in the midst whereof I dwell” – Num. 5:1-4
“For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst” – Duet. 23:14
Almighty God authored a Covenant whereby the people of God, The Church, would conscientiously recognize that the LORD dwells within them and among them in real time. When the Lord said, “that I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8), He meant it! When Moses interceded with the request, “O Lord…go among us” (Ex. 34:9), the Lord answered (Ps. 68:17-18)! But do we understand the implications of this glorious and awful relationship between man-and-God? The Israelites didn’t… but they learned! They learned to value the Laws whereby their friendship with the presence of God in their midst would not be frustrated. Shouldn’t we do the same?
How will we ever understand what is meant by the statement of Christ, who said, “there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20), except we look at the doctrines of God which were instructive of this reality? There is an important distinction that needs to be made here, my reader. The remnant of the 21st century understands Christian redemption in terms of personal regeneration via the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, this is certain, but 21st century Christianity is ignorant of salvation in full volume via Jesus Christ being within and among a collected congregation of His people! Please, my reader, be very careful to understand what I mean here. For Jesus to be inside an individual via personal regeneration is one thing, but for Jesus to be “in the midst” of a congregated people is another thing! “Inside” and “among” are two different redemptive realities, albeit God will not be “among” His people unless He is savingly “inside” of every individual who has congregated together, according to the letter. The letter of God’s word details to us the rules whereby a congregational gathering of saints is conditionally receivable to God (“I will receive you”-2Cor.6:17). Salvation in full volume is contextual to and experiential when the people of God, The Church, are gathered together in cleanliness and holiness before God Almighty in the Old Testament or the New Testament (2 Cor. 6:16-7:1). To be clean and holy is to be, as the Lord Jesus said, “in My Name”, thus when a gathering of true Christians meets the conditions whereby they have become Divinely receivable, the Lord promised, “there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
Many people will be quick to admit that “the glory has departed” from 21st century Christianity (1 Sam. 4:21-22, Ezek. 11:22-25), but why? What does this affirmation mean? What are the implications? What is this “glory” and why did it depart? To answer this question one must also ask, what is “the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ” (Eph. 4:13)? Evidently, according to Paul, individual Christians and congregated Churches must be filled up to the fullness of God in Christ… but the two redemptive operations are distinct experiences (individuals: Eph. 1:23, 3:19, 5:18 congregations: Eph. 4:10-13). To answer the question, what is “the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ”, congregationally speaking, one must also ask, what is “the unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:13). The two are the same thing! Notably, it is when all true Christians are “made perfect in one”, or, “come in the unity of the faith…unto a perfect man”, and the results are staggering: Jesus said that the fulfillment of this condition is so that “all the world may believe that [God] hast sent [Jesus]”, “and that the world may know that [God] hast sent [Jesus], and hast loved [The Church], as [God] hast loved [Jesus]” (John 17:21-23, Eph. 4:12-13). Why would the world believe that God the Father sent Jesus Christ, except that the world sees the fullness of Jesus’ stature in and among the saints of The Church, my reader? Why would the world believe that God the Father loves The Church in the very same way that God the Father loved Jesus Christ, except that The Church is walking in “the glory” that God gave Jesus Christ in the fullness of the stature that was manifest in the 1st century (John 17:22, Eph. 4:13)? If “the glory” departed from The Church in Samuel’s day and Ezekiel’s day (1 Sam. 4:21-22, Ezek. 11:22-25), and the glory departed from the 21st century Church ages ago, we can be sure that the aforementioned texts were written to express the return of God’s glory to The Church in world-shaking power! Oh for the glory of Christ to return to The Church so that it might be said of us, yet again, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6)! The faith of the 1st century Church was “spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8), my reader. Whereby? How? Because they fulfilled the conditions whereby they were collectively enveloped in “the fullness of the stature of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), my reader!
If God the Father is going to love the 21st century Church, collectively speaking, like as He loved Jesus Christ (“that the world may know that Thou…hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me”), the result would be “GLORY” (John 17:22-23); but if this “glory” has departed then we can be sure that God the Father’s love for The Church has been frustrated from its full volume! This being the case, there must be scriptures in the New Testament which express the conditions whereby the Father-to-son relationship of God the Father and The Church can be frustrated. Such verses can be found in 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 & Matthew 18:18-20, my reader. God warns of conditions whereby His Fatherly love toward His children, The Church, can be frustrated, interrupted, and hindered from its fullness of glory (“a glorious Church”-Eph.5:27) because of the uncleanness and unholiness of God’s people congregationally speaking. The mandate is clear and the interpretation certain, when and if the ancient doctrines of cleanliness, holiness, and full-volume-salvation corporately speaking are understood! Please, my reader, take a careful look at the following verses side-by-side.
“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 Cor. 6:16-7:1
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:18-20
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead: Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell. And the children of Israel did so, and put them out without the camp: as the LORD spake unto Moses, so did the children of Israel.” – Numbers 5:1-4
“When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing. If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp: But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again. Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” – Deut. 23:9-14
The reason that The Church must come out from among uncleanness is because they are “God’s people” and the LORD is “their God”, which means that in and among them the saying is fulfilled, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them” (Paul quoting from the Old Testament in application of a New Testament reality in 2 Cor. 6:16-7:1). Observably, this mandate for holiness and cleanliness existed because God said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them” (2 Cor. 6:16) – a salvific glory which originated from the Old Testament in Numbers 5:1-4 & Deuteronomy 23:9-14, for example, only in slightly different phraseology. God demanded cleanliness in the camp of Israel in Numbers 5:1-4 because the camp was, God said, “in the midst whereof I dwell”. God demanded cleanliness in the camp of Israel in Deuteronomy 23:9-14 because, Moses said to Israel, “the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp”. In both passages of the Old Testament the Lord was careful to detail the conditions of perfect holiness whereby Israel might be acceptable to God’s presence who was in their midst. If Israel was not assembled and congregationally fit for God’s presence according to the conditions of holiness, then God would abandon the people and reject their assembly as Moses foretold, saying, “therefore shall thy camp be holy: that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee” (Deut. 23:14). The language of corporate damnation here in Deuteronomy 23:14 was when, Moses said, “He sees” and “He turns away from Israel”! This is because corporate salvation in full volume was manifest in that, “He sees” and “He abides in the midst of Israel in sovereign control”, in other words! My reader, isn’t this what Matthew 18:18-20 is holding in view in a New Testament reality?
How else can we come to understand what is meant by Matthew 18:20, when Christ said, “there am I in the midst of them”, unless we take heed to what God meant in Numbers 5:1-4 & Deuteronomy 23:9-14, when He said, “in the midst whereof I dwell” and “the LORD thy God walketh in the midst”. What was God doing in their midst, exactly? What are the implications of the Person of God in the midst? God was in their midst for the express reason, Moses said, “to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee” (Deut. 23:9-14). This meant that if God was NOT in their midst in this very particular way (in sovereign and immediate control of the congregated multitude of His people presently and progressively) the people would have been slain before their enemies on the battlefield! God was in their midst to fight and win the war, to give up their enemies before them and to deliver them (Deut. 23:9-14), but not only this. In totality, God was in the midst of Israel to perform every operation of redemption in and among them (Deut. 28:1-14).
A key chapter which provides further insight into the implications of God being “in the midst” is Leviticus 26. Every operation of salvation or damnation detailed in this Chapter exists as an extension from God Almighty who is, according to Leviticus 26:12, walking among the people to be their God and they His people. In the language of the Chapter, the Lord said, “And I will set My Tabernacle among you: and My soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be My people” (Lev. 26:11-12). The Chapter opens up expressing the operations of salvation which God walked in the midst to perform, namely: God was there to water the Land of Israel to enable agricultural prosperity and wealth (Lev. 26:4-5, 10), to enable a victory on the battlefield of every war (Lev. 26:6-8), and to bless the fruitfulness of the Israelite people by multiplying their numbers exceedingly (Lev. 26:9). The performance of these three operations of salvation and all others (like the operations explicitly mentioned in Deut. 28:1-14) are a fulfillment of the Covenant agreement in full volume when and if, God said, “I will have respect unto you…and establish My Covenant with you” (Lev. 26:9). Could this word, “I will have respect unto you” (Lev. 26:9), mean the same thing as the word, “I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17), my reader? What about the words, “there I will accept them” (Ezek. 20:40), “I will accept you” (Ezek. 20:41), and “I will accept you” (Ezek. 43:27), do these statements mean the same thing as “I will receive you” in 2 Corinthians 6:17? We shall soon find out. If they are phraseological synonyms then each statement will be embedded in the same contextual situation as Leviticus 26:9 and 2 Corinthians 6:17.
The language of God’s salvific love and damnable hate is communicated in terms of the Divine reality, “I will walk among you” (Lev. 26:12). It is vital to understand that in this way, very specifically (that God walks among Israel in their midst), Israel had become “the people of God”. This redemptive reality is all the more emphatic when and if, Moses warned, “He…turn[s] away from [Israel]” (Deut. 23:14), which means in other words, “I will not walk with you and among you, but I will turn away from you and abandon your midst.” This really happened in Israel, my reader! King David spoke of it and wrote about it, for example. David prayerfully lamented to God, saying,
“Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom? Wilt not Thou, O God, which hadst cast us off? and Thou, O God, which didst not go out with our armies? Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.” – Psalm 60:9-11
The woe that David spoke of here in Psalm 60:9-11 was the opposite of, “I will have respect unto you”. On the contrary, the LORD rejected them or “cast them off”; and in contextual agreement with the implications of God’s “respect” in Leviticus 26:9, this meant, God did not go out with their armies! For Israelites who were rearing up for war the language of salvation or damnation would be uttered, thus,
Salvation: “For the LORD your God is He that goeth with you, TO FIGHT for you against your enemies, TO SAVE you.” – Deuteronomy 20:4
Damnation: “And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.” – Deuteronomy 1:42
Leviticus Chapter 26 verses 1-45 expound for us the salvific language implicit of God walking among the people of Israel to be their God, not of warfare only but the totality of Israelite blessedness or woefulness generally speaking. I repeat, the single most distinctive characteristic which made the Israelite people different than any other people in all the world was that, namely, “[God] will dwell in them and walk in them” (2 Cor. 6:16), so He was their God and they were His people; and if this redemptive characteristic was ever absent then the Israelite people would no longer be “the people of God”! This is sobering to my soul, my reader. Because of this, Moses’ intercession during “The Great Pause” was uttered in the very same language of salvation, saying, “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. 33:16). Not everyone on earth walked with God, my reader. Not every place on earth was “the place of the soles of [God’s] feet” (Ezek. 43:7). Most men who walked on earth walked with other men, not God, but the LORD commanded Abraham, “walk before Me” (Gen. 17:1-2). The Lord commanded Abraham in this peculiar way because God was right there with him! God was with Abraham in the way which he went just as Jacob confessed, “God…was with me in the way which I went” (Gen. 35:3). God was with Jacob in the way which he went just as God Covenanted with Israel in answer to Moses’ intercession that, namely, He would come “in the midst” of Israel to be with them “in the way” which they went (see Ex. 33:3, 5, 16)! Salvation in full volume is available as long as this reality is active, otherwise, shockingly, the glory departed from Israel!
Emphatic of this, Leviticus Chapter 26 portrays the course of backsliding and chastening in Israel with specific reference to the location of GOD – His movements, gestures, countenance, and emotions as they related to Israel in the case-specific situation of chastisement and woe. There were five phases of increasing chastisement which were reactionary to the sins of the people of Israel, and at the end there was an appeal of fidelity which provided means for hope, restoration, and revival (Phase #1: Lev. 26:16-17, Phase #2: Lev. 26:18-20, Phase #3: Lev. 26:21-22, Phase #4: Lev. 26:23-26, Phase #5: Lev. 26:27-39, Restoration: Lev. 26:40-45). In Phase #1, the Lord said, “I also will do this unto you; I will…I will set My face against you” (Lev. 26:16-17). In Phase #2, the Lord said, “I will…I will…I will…” (Lev. 26:18-20). In Phase #3, the Lord said, “I will…I will…” (Lev. 26:21-22). In Phase #4, the Lord elaborated, “And if ye will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will walk contrary unto Me; Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you…” (Lev. 26:23-24). Salvation existed in Israel by means of God walking in the midst of the people, thus here, notably, the Lord said He would walk contrary to the people! He called this contradiction the avengement of “the quarrel of My Covenant” (Lev. 26:25)! Theretofore, in Phases #1 through #4, the chastisements were of a non-damnable magnitude, nationalistically speaking, meaning that the nation of Israel was permitted to continue before God Almighty as a special people in His presence, as Moses requested in Exodus 33:16. Albeit in Phase #5, shockingly, the sin of the people had reached the lip of the cup, the maximum level at which God would no longer restrain the woes of damnation.
In Phase #5 the activity of God in the midst of Israel was not to save, but to destroy; not to love, but to hate! The Lord Covenanted with the people from the very beginning, saying, “My soul shall not abhor you” (Lev. 26:11), but in the latter end the, the Lord said, “My soul shall abhor you” (Lev. 26:30); the chasm between the two has been heretofore laid forth wherein, observably, God’s love turned to hate at the threshold of Phase #5. The strokes of chastisement delivered upon Israel in this final Phase were of the damnable sort, my reader, and what is the language God undertook to express it? The Lord said, “And if ye will not for all this hearken unto Me, but walk contrary unto Me; Then I will walk contrary unto you also in FURY; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins” (Lev. 26:27-28). Besides the fact that Israel was going to be driven into madness by a famine so sore that they would eat their own children (Lev. 26:29), besides the fact that God was going to destroy all their idolatry and its amenities (Lev. 26:30), besides the fact that God was going to destroy their cities (Lev. 26:32) and their Land (Lev. 26:32), give them over to their enemies (Lev. 26:32), scatter Israel among the heathen (Lev. 26:33), and cause them to emotionally melt away because of their great losses (Lev. 26:36-39), these calamities were not the heart of the matter! Though the aforementioned troubles were horrendous to experience, the worst was left unsaid. The heart must fail before the body fails, my reader. What was the heart of the matter? The heart which generated salvation in all of its redemptive attributes in Israel was, namely, God set His Tabernacle among them and walked among them, and in this very specific way He loved Israel as His own people: a people which were desirable to the LORD insomuch that He would abide in the midst, according to Leviticus 26:11-12. This glorious enterprise failed to exist any longer in Phase #5, as the Lord said, “And I will…bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours” (Lev. 26:31), therefore I said, if and when the heart of Israel were to fail the extremities which extended therefrom must fail! Hereby two things are explicitly signified: Firstly, the sanctuary of God was brought to desolation and, secondarily, the Divine-to-human friendship was severed in that God refused to be soothed, satisfied, or pacified by the smell of all manner of atoning odors – thus the glory of God had departed from Israel!
Not only did God’s love turn to hate, which means, the operation of salvation turned to damnation, but the language in which this is made understandable to Israel was, namely, God walked among them in Divine-to-human friendship and then, fearfully, God walked contrary to them in Divine-to-human enmity (“But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit: therefore He was TURNED to be their enemy, and He FOUGHT against them”-Isa.63:10). Oh, my reader, think of it! The language of salvation, chastisement, and damnation were necessarily communicated in reference to the Person of God in the midst of Israel because, shockingly, HE WAS their salvation, chastisement, or damnation! Open your eyes, my reader, there is more to be said!
Salvation & Damnation in Reference to “The Face of God”
In reference to the Person of God, furthermore, damnation was communicated by the very real fact that, shockingly, the Face of God was hidden. Very literally this meant that the Face of God was turned away from Israel. This possibility existed nowhere else in the world, but in Israel. God did at one time delightfully look upon them so that Israel basked in the light which shined therefrom, but when the Face of God was turned away the rays of Divine virtue were removed; consequentially, the pathways of salvation were blackened and Israelite spiritual coherency dimmed into blindness. Speaking of this, God said to Moses,
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the Land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake Me, and break my Covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?” – Deut. 31:16-17
Do you see the operations of damnation in reference to the posture of the Person of God, my reader? One manifestation which was expressive of when God departed from abiding among Israel was, specifically, when the LORD’s Face was hidden from them. In this language God forsook His people Israel; it was a reversal of the Covenant agreement! Speaking of the same event in history, in Deuteronomy 32:18-20, the decision-making of God was pictorially manifest in that: “The LORD saw it”, “He abhorred”, “and He said, I will hide My Face from them”. The language which communicated that sin came before the reckoning of Divine Judgment was, “the LORD saw it”. This is because the Lord was in the midst of them, my reader. This is why judgment MUST begin at the House of God (1 Pet. 4:17-18). God is THERE, and what happens there is BEFORE HIS FACE, therefore it is reckoned and judged immediately. When God has fully judged His people, The Church, judgment shall begin in every other place! Church backsliders are unaware of the timeliness of God’s judgment upon The Church because of the location of His Person in the midst of Israel, this is certain, therefore the prophet lamentably spoke the Divine utterance, saying, “And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before My Face” (Hos.7:2)! Moses was wide-eyed at the same reality, saying, “Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance” (Ps. 90:8)! What was it all for? In this language they were taught the abhorrence of sin, my reader; it is BEFORE THE FACE OF GOD! The grievousness and terribleness of sin in Israel is that in this place, shockingly, if a man sins it is “against the LORD to provoke the eyes of His glory” (Isa. 3:8)! This is The Church.
Think of it, not all places and Lands on the earth are as Israel was, for, namely, God spoke to Israel that it was “a Land which the LORD Thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD Thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (Deut. 11:12). When persons were expelled from this place it meant that, like Cain, they were expelled from The Church (“Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from Thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.” – Gen. 4:14). Therefore the language which communicated Divine hatred and the operation of damnation was in the act when, God said, “I will hide My Face from them” (Deut. 32:18-20). The Lord said more fully, “I will hide My Face from them, I will see what their end shall be” (Deut. 32:20), which means that they were to be abandoned by God, my reader! Feelingly, Job said, “Wherefore hidest Thou Thy Face, and holdest me for Thine enemy” (Job 13:24), for Job understood the implications of the hidden face of God right well, and so did others. Others such as the psalmists who acted as representatives of Israel, when they prayed,
“Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble?” – Ps. 10:1
“Though the LORD be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knoweth afar off.” – Ps. 138:6
“Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?” – Ps. 44:24
“LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest Thou Thy face from me?” – Ps. 88:14
“How long, LORD? wilt Thou hide Thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?” – Ps. 89:46
“Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” – Ps. 104:29
When God hid His face this meant to the psalmist that He stood afar off (Ps. 10:1), because “the LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:18). At this time, when the Lord was far away, the Lord was not in the midst of His people in saving power (“there am I in the midst of them”-Matt.18:20). On the contrary, like David rehearsed, this is like when God did not go out with the armies of Israel (Ps. 60:10). To be “cast off” was to be abandoned in this very way (Ps. 60:10, 88:14), corporately speaking, thus was the death of all such men imminent (Ps. 104:29). This experience was immediately perceivable by the saints who suffered it, my reader, therefore was David exemplary to respond to it by zealous repentance and earnest intercession, saying,
“How long wilt Thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” – Ps. 13:1
“Hide not Thy face far from me; put not Thy servant away in anger: Thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.” – Ps. 27:9
“For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. LORD, by Thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.” – Ps. 30:5-8
“Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not Thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee.” – Ps. 143:7-8
David did not consider this experience to be for no cause, obviously; he can be observed as one who was looking for the slightest diminishing of the light of God’s countenance so as to respond thereto right away in necessary repentance. David was desperate! David’s desperation was proportionate to his perception of the Face of God illuminating or diminishing as it was countenancing his way upon the earth. As Job lamented of his pastime, my reader, David endeavored always so to be (Ps. 18:28)! Job said,
“Oh that I were in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when His candle shined upon my head, and when by His light I walked through darkness; as I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon My Tabernacle; when the Almighty was yet with me…” - Job 29:2-5
What a glory, that David affirmed, “And as for me, Thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before Thy face for ever” (Ps. 41:12)! What an amazing reality that for Israel, corporately speaking, their congregation marched with GOD Almighty enthroned at the front! Is it any surprise that David cried, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, SHINE FORTH” (Ps. 80:1)! So also, Moses shouted, “Rise up, LORD, and let Thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee” (Num. 10:35), when the ark was set forth in the front of the camp for to march! “Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel” (Num. 10:36), Moses shouted, when the ark of God returned to the midst of the camp of Israel when the traveling was finished for the day! This was salvation in Israelite language and experience, my reader, and nothing else was! What was the blessedness of the blessed men, The Church, whose God was the Lord? It was the experiential fulfilment of the blessing heralded by the priests, which was,
“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: the LORD make His Face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” – Num. 6:24-27
This blessing is to be sought after because it can be proportionately hindered from being shed abroad upon the Israelite people, The Church, according to their sins. For this reason, David prayed, “LORD, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us” (Ps. 4:6). Yes, my reader! “For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; His countenance doth behold the upright” (Ps. 11:7)! In the end David was satisfied to say, “Thou [God] has made him [David] most blessed for ever: Thou hast made him exceeding glad with Thy countenance” (Ps. 21:6) – this was a reality with God which was steadfastly experienced via a lifetime of running for the crown! At the times of David’s faltering (which were seemingly frequent) his running was notoriously disciplined, his thirsty appeals to God were violent for this most glorious experience! At one of these times, for example, David sang: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Ps. 42:5)! Truly, truly, the psalmist said, “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of Thy countenance” (Ps. 89:15). Oh, dear reader, are you beginning realize the glory of The Church, the people who dwelt under the light of God’s countenance? This doctrine has been heretofore laid forth that we might comprehend the glory of The Church in every generation, the Face of God and its implications…
The Face of God revealed to The Church had implications, such as,
Judgment must begin at the House of God because what is done there is done before the Face of God – Ps. 90:8, Hos. 7:2, Deut. 32:19, Jer. 7:9-10
The Face of the Lord shines or is hidden proportionately to righteousness and sin – Ezek. 22:22-29, 2 Chron. 16:9, Ps. 34:11-14
The Face of God hidden from The Church had implications, such as,
Thereby the way of salvation became presently and progressively unknowable – Psalm 143:7-8
Thereby God did not hear their prayer – Isaiah 1:15, Micah 3:4
Thereby intercession was understood because things that were hidden must be looked for – Isaiah 8:17
When the Face of God was hidden, God was hidden – Isaiah 45:15
According to the grand scheme of salvation and damnation which Israel experienced, the Face of God appertained in ways, such as,
Israel got the possession of the Promised Land by the Face of God… “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with Thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the Land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.” – Ps. 44:1-3
Israel lost the possession of the Promised Land by the hidden Face of God… “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against Me, therefore hid I My Face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid My Face from them. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for My holy Name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against Me, when they dwelt safely in their Land, and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own Land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide My Face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” – Ezek. 39:22-29
Israel will regain the possession of the Promised Land by the returning of the Face of God… “Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set Mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart.” – Jer. 24:5-7
In respect to the day by day case-specific scheme of things, God appealed to individual Israelites and corporate Israel in the same language, saying,
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye.” – Ps. 32:8
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy;” – Ps. 33:18
“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you THE FEAR of the LORD. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” – Ps. 34:11-16
“The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.” – Ps. 145:18
“I will set My face against them” – Ezek. 15:7
“I will set Mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good” – Amos 9:4
“For I have set My Face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.” – Jer. 21:10
“For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart.” – Jer. 24:6-7
“And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them to build and to plant, saith the LORD.” – Jer. 31:28
“Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.” – Jer. 44:27
“Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.” – Dan. 9:14
Truly, truly, these are fearful and astonishing realities of salvation and damnation, my reader! This should make us tremble in silence before GOD when and if we come unto the place at which, the Lord testified, “there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20), for it is there that the eyes of the LORD watch-on for immediate judgments of salvation, chastisement, and damnation in this life! “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear” (1 Pet. 4:17-18)? My dear reader, is this how you view the environment of The Church – the special arena which is countenanced by the shining Face of God? Or have you been ignorant of these foundational truths and their implications all your twice-born lifetime? If so, no wonder the glory of God has departed from us!