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Hosted by PAULFROMNYS|Malachi 3:16-18/Bible talk

Based on Malachi 3:16-18 I believe the Lord will harken to us as we consider his word together.

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The Testimony of the Christ #19   T. Austin Sparks

Started Nov-3 by PAULFROMNYS; 21 views.
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From: PAULFROMNYS

Nov-3

   

Elisha

First there are the waters of Jericho and of the falling fruit before it ripens, the outworking of that very curse which Joshua pronounced upon Jericho. "Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: with the loss of his firstborn shall he lay the foundation thereof, and with the loss of his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it" (Josh. 6:26). There was a curse on Jericho, its waters are cursed, and there is no life to bring things there to completeness and perfection. And the men of Jericho came to Elisha and told him their labours were vain because of these evil waters, and through the new cruse and salt they are healed. Life triumphant over death. So he goes on from place to place.

Out to the Shunammite woman, her son, given by miracle, dies and is raised again. The sons of the prophets go out to gather food, come back with the deadly pottage, and Elisha heals with the meal, and life is saved. A hundred men are starving and with twenty loaves he feeds them. If you knew the size of the loaf out there you would see the miracle, just twenty little loaves, and one hundred starving men. That is the miracle. It is life, continuity of life. Naaman, the Syrian, marked by that deadly thing, leprosy, and healed. The work of the sons of the prophets in building their new home interrupted, the incident of the axe-head falling into the water, and Elisha making the iron to swim, and right on. And again himself at the end dying, in his sepulchre; bands of the enemy coming, a dead man cast into his sepulchre and when he touches Elisha's bones he revives and lives. The man from beginning to end is this: Life triumphant over death.

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Nov-3

   

Jonah

And it is just at that point that Jonah comes in. The Lord Jesus took that up. "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12:39-40). Resurrection - the third day raised again. You cannot fail to see this thing proceeding. It is something that is running all the way along.

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Nov-3

   

Israel in Captivity

But now we come in full view of the captivity. Iniquity has spread and has got deeper and deeper and stronger and stronger in its grip so that the prophets appeal in vain. They warn in vain, they plead in vain. We listen to Jeremiah, to all his heartbroken pleading. We listen to Isaiah with all his warning, and those others of the pre-exilic prophets and their ministry, but it has no effect, and away they go... Israel to the Assyrian captivity, Judah to the Babylonish captivity. And now we say, That is the end, sin has won now, death has triumphed now! But we are not through the Old Testament yet. There are other prophets who, while they are telling of the grave into which the nation will go, the grave of captivity, of exile, a terrible grave, they are almost with the same breath telling of resurrection. Ezekiel away there with them in the grave, but not in the death, prophesying his prophecy of the dry bones that are going to come together, to live, to stand up again. Isaiah looks beyond the captivity with some of the most glorious things in the whole Bible. God is not giving up, however the situation may appear. There are men there like Daniel and Ezekiel in the captivity, holding the testimony in Life with death all around.

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Nov-3

   

The Return of a Remnant

And then we read the lovely little books of Nehemiah and Ezra - 'a remnant shall return', and they do, and we move on at last to Malachi when "they that feared the Lord spake one with another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard" (Mal. 3:16). I think the Lord found, although in so few, something very satisfying to His heart because it answered all the rest. This is His answer in this company. Even so, Malachi's prophecies are shadowed with sad and terrible conditions, and the Old Testament closes.

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Nov-3

   

The Birth of Jesus

We know the history of the next four hundred years between the Testaments, those violent and heroic fights of the Maccabees to keep the testimony alive. We know of the rise of the great world empires. Babylon has already arisen, the Medo-Persian empire, the Greco-Macedonian empire, the great conquest of Alexander, and they are all focused upon Jerusalem and upon Israel. They are all circling round that. That is the bone of contention, the heart of the whole thing. It seems dark and terrible now.

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Nov-3

   

God's Reactions in the History of the Church

And you open your New Testament. The Roman empire is in existence, the others have all gone down. You open your New Testament. Need we say any more? Jesus is born, the battle springs up again. In His first days, these evil forces set to work to engulf Him, but God sets to work to preserve. God is doing things as well as the enemy. Then men conspire, men plan, men provoked by the very devil himself, are bent upon the destruction of this One; and at last it seems they have won. They have crucified Him, He is dead. They have done their work. Sin has conquered, death has triumphed. Has it? God raised Him from the dead!

It is a great story. I have only given you the bare outline of it, but it is a great story. The God of hope! How hopeless it seemed again and again. How the evil forces seemed to triumph so frequently. How sin seemed to be the master power. And it has been like that ever since. The church has been plunged into this and again and again it looked as though the testimony was gone, the flame is well-nigh quenched. Through the Dark Ages, as they are called, God has marvellously moved. It is a wonderful story, the story of these past centuries, of how God has preserved a testimony, and it is not dead yet, and we look on through our book of the Revelation and we know how it is going to end. Oh yes, great contentions, contentions on earth and contentions in heaven, but the issue - caught up to the Throne of God and Life triumphant.

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Nov-3

   

Some Practical Points of Application

Nowthat is the story. It is worth telling, it is worth tracing, but it can just remain there as a story to us. I must bring it very briefly and quickly to some practical points of application. Do note that it has not only been a matter of God reacting and overcoming and subduing or subjecting this dual foe. It has not just been that. It has been God taking hold of that very thing to turn it to fulfil His purposes. That is something more. God is not only conqueror. God is more than conqueror, and to be more than conqueror does not mean that you just kill your enemy and then destroy him and tear him to pieces after he is dead. That is only being conqueror. Being more than conqueror means that you take his strength and add it to yours. One is negative, the other is positive.

That is illustrated in a little incident in the Bible in the life of one of the prophets of whom we have been speaking. Elisha and the besieged city wherein he was because he has been giving the enemy's secrets away to the king of Israel. In the morning the prophet and his servant woke, and saw the city surrounded and the servant said, "Alas, my master! How shall we do? We are surrounded by an army!"  And the prophet, almost frivolous, said, 'Don't you worry about that, there are more for us than they that be with them'. And the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire. And the prophet went down to the army and said, 'Lord, smite them with blindness' and He smote them with blindness. And the prophet seemed to tell a white lie. 'This is not the place you are looking for: follow me, I will show you what you are looking for'. He led them into Samaria, into the city, and they were captives now. When the king of Israel saw he had them at his mercy, he said, "Shall I smite them?" Elisha said, 'Will you smite those who have become your prisoners? Give them a good hearty meal, provide bread and water, and let them go to their master', and he provided a meal and let them go. "And the bands of Syria came no more." He was more than conqueror. He might have wiped them out but had made them friends. It is an illustration of how the Lord has all the way through turned this very thing - sin and death - to positive gain in different ways.

Firstly, He has used death to remove that which can never be glorified, and that is something. That which can never be glorified is taken away in death. You see that principle again and again, and that is really the meaning of the death of the Lord Jesus, to get out of the way all that cannot be glorified. That is why the Lord is applying His Cross deeply in our lives, to get rid of all this that cannot be glorified: self, this nature, this natural life, and all that - to get it out of the way. It can never be glorified. He has used and is using death in that way. Every recurrence of death in the case of the people of God has been a purging thing.

Now follow that through. It delivered them from something. How the Lord finds in us things that are in His way, some kind of obstruction, this strong selfhood of Jacob, whatever it might be, He finds that in us. He must apply the Cross. It has got to be broken, and He takes us into an experience of death, a deep experience of death of the Cross, and we come out. That thing has been dealt with, we shall not have so much difficulty with that again. Maybe there are other things to go the same way, but that has been touched. So the Lord uses the death for deliverance, for purging.

And then what shall we say about the use of death to bring us to a deeper knowledge of Himself? What we owe of our knowledge of the Lord to our dark and bad times! We will not say an untrue thing if we say that there is little knowledge of the Lord apart from knowing Him in the power of His resurrection, necessitating the fellowship of His sufferings.

Then how He has used death to release from limitation. If the Lord Jesus is the great example of that, how through the Cross and through death He was released from all His limitations, then how He was enlarged through death in resurrection! The principle holds good. We are limited, we are tied up. We go into some deep, dark experience under the hand of the Lord, and it is a liberating thing, it is an enlarging thing. David cried, "In pressure thou hast enlarged me." A strange way of getting enlargement, but it is very true to principle.

Well, of course, all nature proves this, that through death enlargement comes. Death has been and now there is the enlargement, there is development and growth. Release through death and enlargement through death. God has written the law everywhere, but He has written it especially in the spiritual life of His people. The great truth is that He has not only conquered and crushed, but He has turned to account His enemies, He has made them serve His ends. We do not know the meaning of Life, real divine Life, except as we come to know something of the Cross.

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