JANUARY 1, 2009
"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"
Isaiah (the prophet sent to Judah) asked these rhetorical questions years before the kingdom was divided and the ten Tribes were carried away to Assyria. He wrote over a hundred years before Babylon descended upon Judah and Benjamin and enslaved them. He wrote thousands of years before the great conflagration coming upon modern society, but his questions are still relevant, for these two questions always rise to prominence preceding the troublesome harvest of man's derelict choices.
In the focal passage, Isaiah was addressing the Assyrian aggression against Israel. The Prophet's words barraged Assyria with retributive promises from the Almighty. He promised them plundering and treacherousness to match and exceed their own.
This urbane Isaiah, however, wove his intricate prophetic patterns using "asides of intercession," expressing his own heart as if he were speaking from the national heart. He became the spiritual spokesperson for his generation. Isaiah cried out, "O Lord, be gracious to us; We have waited for You." He further prayed, "Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble." His was the national cry of a separated people, not the hue and cry of the multitudes. His two questions came from a separated heart, not an expression of popular concern.
He called for the Lord to "rise up" and was answered in verse 10 by the voice from Heaven.
In God's rising up, circumstances change significantly. The great contrast between the reward of the populace voice and His own voice was compared in verses 11-13. Their voice of national immorality caused them to speak fire upon their generation. Conglomerately their words caused the nation to become pregnant with meaningless diatribe (chaff) and gave birth to worthless productivity (stubble-wood, hay and stubble are to be burned). Their corporate expression was breathed from a corpus of judgment (fire). The flame of their beings devoured the soul of the bearer and marred the hearer, as if being burned by lime. To God, the whole nation looked like so much piled brush fit only to be burned."Now will I arise," says the LORD.
The morass which was rapidly covering the society was the result of their inequity, moral loss and overt choice to sin. God challenged them to consider what it meant for Him to rise up.
Two results were immediately evident: (1) the sinners were afraid and the (2) hypocrites were seized with fearfulness. A separation always takes place when God arises. The cut between sinner and saint must be shouted from the roof tops. Hypocrites and hearers emerged from their varied quarters, one to a fire of judgment and the other through a fire of revelation. Exposure to the flame made the difference, for one was consumed as chaff and the other was illuminated by Shekhinah. It will be so today! The feign of hypocrisy cannot sustain itself against a rising God. "Let God arise and His enemies (will) be scattered," is not just a scriptural appeal; it is a principle of power.'Hear, you who are afar off, what I have done;
Another principle was also at work. Whenever God issued a promise to a people, there always arose a fleshly effort to bring about the promise on man's terms. It was so with Abraham and his liaison with his concubine: result Ishmael. It was true of Jacob, who was the man of promise but sought to bring his promise about through trickery. It was the same with Joseph, at the feet of a blind benefactor, who sought to change the hands of destiny manually. It is so today, as a profligate church seeks to bring about a "glorious" status through manipulation, trickery, deceit and demagoguery. The scarlet thread of scepter and birthright cannot be woven by the rationale of world church dreamers nor can its promises be swaged through man's intrepid vestments. Prelates may ponder with purpose driven promotions as they watch their goal oriented orders munificently multiply and their schemes dramatically increase, but one day God arises with His Holiness Flame. Then the questions of Isaiah 33: 14 over take the media and draw churchmen to sobriety.
The integrity of the Most High rises with Him. Is it possible for Him to simply overlook rebellion and idolatry? Is it possible for Him to reward the proud and arrogant? Is He facile enough to accommodate that which He has not engendered and claim it as His own? Is it reasonable to assume that His actions in the past will be abandoned and deemed outmoded and inconsistent with His future deliberations? Must one assume that the Isaiah generation was special and the observations of prophecy concerning hypocrite and high-man in his day do not apply to modern technocrats?
In the multiple choice investigation made by Isaiah, God chose "B." Things would never be "all of the above" or "choice A" or "none of the above." God's choice always includes the following:
Instead of revealing His support for a national voice, God harkened to the separated ones. It is the supernatural force of separated individuals in concert with the Spirit that forms the kingdom voice and that voice supersedes the noisy polyglot of corporate affirmations. God looks favorably upon those who walk righteously and speak uprightly!He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
Walking righteously is a market place witness, just as speaking uprightly. The whole of society observes the separated person with intense scrutiny. No aspect of life is untouched by his hand and no decision is posted without righteousness making the decision. As self-evident as this is, what is not so evident is the companion of speaking uprightly. Simply stated, it means rehearsing the works and words of God and arranging one's speech so as to become a spokesperson for righteousness-- One who commands his or her speech to effectively raise a barrier to unrighteousness, while teaching through example.
Somebody from the camp of the separated must be the spokesperson for their group. He or she must be void of agenda and man's cultural estate. Yet, there must be added to that witness another element, "He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes."OT:1696 dabar (daw-bar'); a primitive root; perhaps properly, to arrange; but used figuratively (of words), to speak; rarely (in a destructive sense) to subdue: KJV - answer, appoint, bid, command, commune, declare, destroy, give, name, promise, pronounce, rehearse, say, speak, be spokesman, subdue, talk, teach, tell, think, use [entreaties], utter, X well, X work. (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
Could this mean no politician can qualify? Could this mean that those immersed in the corruption of the judicial system need not apply? Could it mean that financiers, bankers, those in international monitory activities must be shunned? Could it mean that businessmen and women must bow their heads in shameful recognition of "standard practice?" Could it mean that caretakers and providers in all arenas from medical to social services should confess their duplicity? They prefer Shachad rather than Shekhinah?
Certainly the hand that is extended for a bribe, reward or gift can not be found in the ranks of believers? Or can it? Where is the hand that raises against the offering or the gift? That very hand might just have the right to be linked to "the walk and the voice."OT:7810 shachad (shakh'-ad); from OT:7809; a donation (venal or redemptive): KJV - bribe (-ry), gift, present, reward. [ibid].
In the same league as the non-bribe group is a person displaying character of will. Known for his or her ability to discriminate and navigate through a distorted world of confrontational confusion, the person of truth takes protective action regarding what he or she hear and see.
Impossible, one might say, in light of mass media coverage of bloodshed and evil. However, allowing "stuff" to enter in and affect the inner man begins with undisciplined and unselective hearing and seeing. The separated man or woman has some definite life altering decisions to make, which includes volitional screening of what is received. Stopping one's ear includes not listening to schemes of harm as well as not entering into the actual shedding of blood. Such discipline of life was first characterized by Jesus, then it was re-created in His Disciples. Had He listened to the "evil" report, the child and the servant would not have lived.Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
Promises flow into the separated life that is not available to others. Deep in the underlayment of the saint are the precious promises reckoned through Simon (II Peter 1:4). In the case of these vigilant virgins, the range of blessings assures continuity of life, protection in life, provision in life and perpetuity of life. Four very distinct elements are in these verses.
Continuation of the high life:
1. "He will dwell on high;"Divine Protection:The secret place of the Most High is an open venue to this brother or sister. "Dwelling on high" constitutes a different lifestyle than the average Christian is accustomed. To investigate the whole spectrum of meaning regarding the "high" life would be to engage in a study all of its own. David's Psalms and Paul's epistles, Samuel's maneuverings and Elijah's boldness, Daniel's prayer life and Noah's witness are worthy of the title.
2. "His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;""His place" is a fixed position; it is like entering an abode and declaring, "Come look at my room." One lives in the place of safety, defended by the armies of heaven (Ask Elijah's servant about this.).Oh, the wonder of a "place of defense," that is found in Him. As one forges through the morass of economic turmoil and faces turbulence that shakes the craft-His hand is near, His arms around, for He is the rock higher, the fortress in time of trouble. (2 Samuel 22:2; Ps 18:2; 31:2,3; 71:3;91:2;144:2;Jer. 16:19).
Provision in Life:
3. "Bread will be given him, His water will be sure."Perpetuity of Life:In other words, provision is made for the saint's life. Jesus' words were, "The Father knows what you have need of before you ask." Food is on the table when others are foraging, and water is in the glass when others are thirsty. Life sustenance is assured in Him.
4. "Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;(Recently, the author was being introduced to a congregation by the pastor. He said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Brother Oliver lives and writes about a higher life than is known in most congregations. He speaks of a righteousness beyond the scope of most believers today. I count him as my brother and we love him" I took that as a compliment. Yes, the standard is higher than what is being projected by the masses. Sometime in the near future, I will write about a question that intrigues me, "Would the early church accept as signs and wonders those things being approved as such today?")They will see the land that is very far off."
Yes, the Land, "that is very far off," is the one that Abraham looked to, whose builder and maker is God. It is the heavenly vision of Jesus who went to make accommodation for its intended. It is that rare glimpse into the majestic holiness provided by Revelation.
The Lord is about to "rise up," and the community of the churches is not ready for the separation, but as surely as day follows night, on the threshold of 2009-the holiness ones stand confident and ready!
Until Next Month,
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.
From the Mail Bag:
1. Joey S., from Minnesota:
Dear Dr. Oliver,
After reading this month's article and it being "fire related," I thought I would share with you a vision I had two years ago.
I saw a large box like structure made of bricks. Inside this box was a fire…intense, red, orange in color. I knew it wasn't a bon fire and the scene looked like what would be in a black smith's building. I could see that the fire was a controlled fire. I knew it had an inner breath keeping the fire intense. I knew the Holy Spirit was doing this.
I heard the words "This is the fire that will forge a sword." Superimposed over the box was a sword whose blade was on fire exactly like the fire in the box.
End of vision.
Since then, I knew why my life was then and now going through many things. God is forging his people into swords. He is using controlled fire to do it. The thing that Father has been saying is to protect those Holy things that He has forged inside of us. Let no man touch those Holy things that have been obtained by the cross' work in our lives. However, my situation has proven that when you use that sword to separate the Holy from the profane, you will end up being the bad guy…the one who is accused of being unloving and uncompassionate. So be it.
Thank you for your article…it was a confirmation and comfort to me.
2. Alan R.,
Thank you my friend - your words have brought strong encouragement to us. Of the two aspects which we believe The Lord is setting before us, you addressed both - The Bride, and The Fire who IS God.
3. W.C., Georgia
Always on time; always on target; always needed to take our next step! Love U CRO, you're a precious gift to all of us who believe; cling-to; adhere to JESUS, the author and finisher of our Faith; we grope after the Father and the Kiss the Son, least He, the Father, be angry with us!
Come Holy Fire!
The following two pictures are also on our website (which we invite you to visit from time to time as it changes monthly). These are two separate churches that have been funded and built through our missionary arm and by the Jo Ann Chou Fund, set up to finance ministries that would not otherwise have resources on their own. You can see the happy faces and even though simple, the structure is greatly appreciated in both heat and rain. These give a viable witness of the presence of Christians in a land of pagans and Islamics.
Work continues on the mission for the Philippines as the Huyssen's and Carmen have finally met and the details for the project are now firm. Although the work exceeds the project budget, we believe the Lord will continue to bless financially in order that further delay will not be necessary. Carmen is flying to the U.S. to report on the progress and for much needed R & R.
Two projects set for Guatemala and Hondurus:
Working in tandem with Missionaries Larry and Marla Johnson and the Grace Christian Fellowship (the congregation that builds a church a week-exactly 53 in '08), we are happy to announce that Faith Metro Church , the Chou Fund and other resources will allow us to build two church in '09. Hallelujah (If you want your offerings to go to missions with absolutely no administrative fees taken…send them to our address on the website and make it payable to "Oliver Evangelistic Assoc., Inc." designate "Missions." We will insure that your gift is sent to the field white to harvest.)
Sounding in Cambodia:
Geoff Bowman is reaching some conclusions as to how we can build in Cambodia's hinterland. Correspondence in the last few weeks has been exciting as the prospects of helping those who cannot afford even the land, yet are already 40 in number in just a few short months. Pray the Lord will direct our field workers in this country.
Called to Be Saints:
Our latest book, Called to Be Saints is exceeding our projections as orders from many parts of the world keep our staff hopping. The use of a syllabus adjunct to the text is proving to be "worth the effort of production." Thanks to so many who ordered and gave these books for Christmas gifts.
Happy New Year!
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