The Shattering of the Power of the Holy People

“I was at ease and He shattered me, and He has grasped me by the neck and shaken me to pieces; He has also set me up as His target.” (Job 16:12)

“After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which ad been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and the were living securely (at ease), all of them.” (Ezekiel 38:8)

“The shattering of the power of the holy people” (Dan 12:7)

We might call it ‘pattern eschatology.’ It is both a soteriology and eschatology of the cross, not only for the uniquely begotten Son, but for all sons, and no less the elect national son, Israel, who must embody and demonstrate the wisdom of this pattern in the sight of all nations. You can well see in Job’s experience the pattern of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. It is a statement of abject poverty and religious blindness if we cannot see the same pattern in the church, since it is that pattern that makes the church the church, if it is the church.

I think we lose the point if we do not see the parallel in both the experience of the corporate servant on his way to the transformation that makes him righteous (with the true and abiding righteousness of the Spirit), but also in the experience of a born again, but still naturally self reliant Jacob, or even with one so righteous as Job, who must pass through imponderable suffering on his way towards an even greater perfection and deeper ‘conversion’ that comes by the seeing of God, face to face precisely where His face is only ever seen, at the end of power (Deut 32:36; Dan 12:7).

Who can welcome such deep dealings of God unless divine love and the bright hope of glory has overcome the power of fear? Only by the sure hope of that coming glory, and the love that casts out fear, could Paul so willingly invite the high cost of what it means to be ‘conformed to His death.’ His apprehension of glory was of such a kind as to make many afflictions to seem as momentary and light, not even worthy to be compared. It was ‘for the joy set before Him’ that our Lord endured His cross and this is what we must have if we are to appropriately endure ours in these last days as God has determined to bring His church into fullness.

From the interpretation you obviously take of Ezekiel chapter 38, you are pointing out that it is significantly at the height of Israel’s religious and political success that the great shattering of Jacob’s trouble comes suddenly (“when they shall say peace and safety …”). If so, it underscores God’s commitment to further educate the onlooking universe of the high cost of humanistic presumption. But it also underscores again the great principle of the Spirit that Christ is formed in Israel in the same way He has taken root in all His saints, by the shattering of their power.

The shattering of power is most ultimately the crucifixion of confidence in the flesh. It comes only through crisis. It may be the crisis that the Spirit quickens when the Word comes with power, casting down, even as it raises. Or it may come through the crisis of inward and outward circumstances, but in every instance, Christ is revealed at the end of strength, where the veil of the flesh has been shattered. That is why Christ is the end (goal) of the law, because the law intends the bringing down of every false hope in man. When the law is quickened, it kills carnal confidence as it shuts one up to true resurrection through a personal and existential revelation of Christ to the heart.

The same pattern obtains in His saints as well as in His elect nation whom He has determined to bring to salvation. As much as God is resolutely determined to educate principalities and powers through the church, He must purge His people of the pride of presumption, even in its most minimal measure, as in the case of Paul. By the same rule, Israel must be emptied of its power, just as the corporate body of Christ, as also a kind of corporate of Job, will not be exempt of the cost of its own high calling, since the greater the calling, the greater the jealousy, the greater the cost.

In conclusion, God is at war with presumption, and He is most particularly jealous of His saints. This is dealt with by His gracious determination to bring down every high thing, since to leave anything of human self sufficiency is to be deprived of the greater apprehension and appropriation of eternal glory, and nothing of this temporal world is worth that loss! So, Lord Jesus, do as you must do; that we not fail or come short of any part of your highest glory and purpose for our short time in this world.

“Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward” (2 Jn 8).

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