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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 11/2/21 by PAULFROMNYS; 58 views.
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11/2/21

   

Ruth

And what is the book of Ruth? It is a very beautiful little story, but more than that, it is a scene of death. Here is the famine again, here is Naomi leaving the land, and going into the land of Moab. It is all death, it seems as though there is an end of everything. But the sequel? Well, to make the story short, the sequel is Boaz, Ruth and Jesse, the father of David, and what a new prospect that presents! What a wonderful new outlook there comes with the house of Jesse. David is on the horizon. In the darkest day, when it seems that sin and death have well-nigh blotted out any testimony at all, God works so quietly, so simply, so beautifully. Yes, away there in distant Moab He has His vessel. He will bring that vessel back into the land, and through that vessel His testimony will flame up again and become brighter than ever.

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Samuel

And yet that is not the end of the dark story, for then we move right into the first book of Samuel, and the situation again is that of the Judges. Everything that is of God seems to be at the lowest ebb, in the heaviest shadows. Eli, his sons, the meeting place at Shiloh... the whole situation is terrible. But there in the country is another woman praying. Hannah is travailing in soul and Samuel is born, and Samuel is God's hope for the whole situation, he is God's reaction and God's promise. Samuel comes in to carry on the testimony. It is again in a scene dark and terrible that the God of hope raises up His testimony in another vessel to carry it on. There are lots of dark things in the days of Samuel even, but Samuel holds things for the Lord, and, although Saul does come in and seem once more to threaten the prospect, to write failure over the testimony, to get in the way, definitely get in the way of God, God does not give up and He brings in that son of Jesse. He has had His eye upon him quietly outside the scene, the Lord was taking account of David in the field. Samuel said, "The Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14). The Lord had been looking round to find His man, and there he was out there, outside of this scene, quietly carrying on in faithfulness his day to day work, counting upon God, trusting in the Lord. For he said later - "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear..." (1 Sam. 17:37). He had evidently trusted the Lord in those incidents. He said, 'Now, Lord, You see me through this.' He was quietly walking with God and God was watching him, and he is the answer to this terrible situation brought in through Saul. He is God's link in the testimony.

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11/2/21

   

David

David himself goes through many experiences of death. I do not know what the Lord Jesus used from the Psalms, as it says in Luke 24. I think He may have taken something out of the second psalm about Himself, He may have taken something out of the eighth psalm about Himself. Out of the twenty-second - "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Out of the twenty-third psalm and others. I do not know, and I am not going to say that what I say, He said. But I do see this: that when He referred to the Psalms, He referred to the book which contains the history of a man who went down and then went up. That is the story of David; the man who descended, the man who went down. Ah yes, down, tragically down, sometimes terribly down, sometimes down by his own sin, down by his own fault and weakness, down, terribly down, but up, up. "When I fall, I shall arise" (Micah 7:7). A man of resurrection.

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I think it is a marvellous story, the story of sovereign grace in David's life, seeing that it is in David's life that we are allowed to see the most heinous sins, things that shock and scandalize everybody. And weaknesses. Was not his very driving out of his kingdom by his son Absalom the consequence of his weakness? Absalom was a murderer, and David brought him back without repentance, and forever after David's throne was weak. You cannot do that - bring in the murderer. You know where the murderer comes from. "Ye are of your father the devil... he was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). And David brought Absalom back on sentimental grounds, and you cannot be sentimental with death. Death is an awful enemy. Do not sentimentalize about death. David brought him back in weakness, and he was made weak. But with all, and the terrible mistake of numbering Israel against the advice of even quite a carnal man, numbering Israel, and involving himself and his nation in that devastation when again the nation was being mowed down. But deep as were the deaths, terrible as were the situations which seemed to speak of hopeless breakdown, he is the man that comes up in the sovereign grace of God. He stands in all Israel as the pivot of Israel's life. It is to David that God is always pointing, after all, as the man and is glad to speak of His own Son as the Son of David. Sovereign grace - and the testimony is carried on ever like that. Oh, what time we want to pursue this matter right on through the life of David.

And then the tragedy of Solomon's dividing of the kingdom, and things seem to be going from bad to worse now. It does look now as though things are going to come to a sorry and terrible end. The kingdom is divided.

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11/2/21

   

Elijah

Then we move into the next part of the Lord's dividing of the Scriptures - "Moses and... all the prophets". But when we come to think of the prophets, we know that they were set in this dispensation or this part of the dispensation which was most characterised by sin and death. The sin of idolatry, the sin of forbidden communication with the powers of evil through idolatry, and the darkness is deepening: the kingdom divided, Judah under Rehoboam, Israel under Jeroboam, and what a sorry story it was. With a few short breaks and flashes of light, in the case of Hezekiah and one or two others, it seems that now everything is engulfed, it is going down. But in the midst of it all, even with such a one as Ahab, of whom it says that there was never a king who provoked God as Ahab did, (what a dark situation - Ahab and his evil spouse Jezebel) we are in the prophets, and Elijah is on the scene. God is reacting, and if Elijah represents one thing, he does represent a mighty challenge to this thing, and his life here and there is just characterised by this overcoming of death. The testimony is being kept alive by the Lord. Elijah is kept alive as the vessel of the testimony in a miraculous way. He himself is maintained on this very principle of Life overcoming death. From the brook Cherith he goes to the widow of Zarephath. Her son dies, and is raised from the dead and given back to her.

This man (you know the story of how it was done) himself is the embodiment of this master thing: Life. We have the great incident of Carmel when Baal seems to have covered the land. Baal worship seems to have captured everybody. There seems to be nothing of the Lord. There were a hundred prophets hidden in caves by Obadiah, but there seems to be almost complete conquest of the evil forces... and then Carmel. I need not tell you about Carmel, Elijah challenging the whole range of this evil thing in the Name of the Lord and breaking it. Once again the testimony flames up.

And if we really want cumulative proof that this man stands for this very thing of Life triumphant over death, it is the end of the man and his translation to glory. Death does not overtake him or capture him. He eludes and he triumphs over death and is taken up in a chariot of fire to heaven, but not before he has left a very good representation of the testimony behind in Elisha, who, in many more ways than his master, declares this great truth of Life, mighty Life.

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