The Goings of God
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - The Ways of God

"They have seen Thy goings, O God, Even the goings of my God, my King, into the sanctuary" Psalm 68:24.

We come now to speak of the ways of God's going. God is going, but we are able to trace something of those goings of the ways of God. We shall see them in a fourfold connection. Here the methods are varying. The methods of His goings vary very largely because of what comes in which might not have come in had things kept wholly in His way. But because things have deviated from the one clear, direct way of God and God has anticipated those deviations and already provided against them, His ways have to be in some respects different from what He would have had them; different from His original intention.

Creation

But, of course, in the first of these ways that does not apply. When we come to speak of the creation, that is, so far as the ages of this world are concerned, that is the first chosen and direct step in the goings of God. Let us keep the object, the ultimate goal, clearly in view all the way along in connection with everything that has been said so that nothing becomes something in itself. Keep Christ in ultimate universal fulness clearly before your eyes all the time, all things summed up in Him, all things declaring His pre-eminence. Keep that in view, and then move by the ways of God on to that great goal, and His first way is the creation.

We are familiar with such passages as John 1:3: "All things were made through Him (the Lord Jesus); and without Him was not anything made that hath been made." "The world was made through Him" (John 1:10). "In Him were all things created... all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist" (Col. 1:16,17). "Through whom He made the ages" (Heb. 1:2). "Thou, Lord, (this is a reference to Christ) in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands" (Heb. 1:10). "For Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things" (Heb. 2:10).

We can see by those passages alone that the creation was right in direct line with God's ultimate intention concerning His Son. You see, the whole created universe was to be God's gift to His Son as an inheritance. That word 'inheritance' and 'heritage' is very important, significant, and interesting if you will take it up. But that gift of a created universe as an inheritance for His Son was intended to be a comprehensive embodiment of the Divine thoughts, a means of expressing something spiritual which is according to the very heart and nature of God. The creation in the intention of God exists for the interests of God's Son, and according to that comprehensive mind of God, everything in the created universe was intended to be a testimony of God to His Son, and it will be like that in the end - God's testimony to the excellencies of His Son borne by the whole universe and borne by every fragment of the universe.

Now that opens up a tremendous field which has simply enraptured my heart as I have contemplated it - a field, of course, which we shall never cover, but as an indication, the whole created universe is a comprehensive embodiment of signs. That is, everything signifies something more than itself, carries with it a meaning which does not lie just on the surface, and that meaning is a Divine spiritual thought of tremendous potency.

You begin to move about the universe, then, and you find that the Bible will be an excellent guidebook and handbook. You take what one writer calls 'the ordinances of the heavens'. "In Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth" (Col. 1:16). Now, if all things in heaven and earth were created in the interests of God's Son, their existence is only justified in so far as they serve those interests. When God's Son is slain, the sun hides its face and "darkness came over the whole land... the sun's light failing" (Luke 23:44-45). The sun was created as a sign, a symbol, of a Divine thought concerning the glory of the Son of God. Let that Son be rejected by this world and hung upon a tree and cast out of the very world that He created, and the sun loses the very meaning of its being, and there is darkness.

We find a lot of things like that when we come to the Word. In Matthew 24 - you know it is the chapter concerning those things which would ultimately come upon this earth, upon the creation, the judgments in relation to the rejection of God's Son and then in relation to His coming into His inheritance, and you read things like this - "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light" (Matt. 24:29); "the moon shall be turned into blood" (Acts 2:20) - strange symbols, strange language. This means that there is no place for the sun, no need for the moon, no vocation for the moon if the Son of God is rejected. Their existence and their function is at once undercut when that for which they were created is set aside. Matthew 24 has two sides: the Son of God set aside by the world and then the Son of God asserting His rights in the world, and by those two sides you are led to see that those very ordinances of the heavens have their meaning. They do not function; death reigns. The moon is turned into blood: there is death, carnage, destruction, chaos and bloodshed. It is like that when He is finally set aside by the world: "The sun shall be darkened"; "the moon shall be turned into blood."

When you come to Revelation 12, that so well-known chapter, you have a woman clothed with the sun. What is this? Oh, the sun is there. The sun is the symbol of the absolute supremacy of Him who is on the throne. And now the great red dragon challenges that throne as represented by the woman, the church, and the man-child. The woman clothed with the sun triumphs over all those forces because that sun is symbolic of the absolute supremacy of the Lord Jesus. Then come those great words: "They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony." It is the final triumph of the church, and right in the light of the sun, the testimony of the Lord Jesus and His right to reign, the man-child is caught up to the throne. It is all highly symbolical, but you can see that there is the indication that these bodies of the heavens, as well as all these things on the earth, have a significance beyond themselves pointing towards God's Son.

Come to the end of the Revelation, chapters 21 and 22. Twice over it says that they have no need of the sun; the sun has done its work. I do not know how literally this is to be taken, but the spiritual significance is clear. They have no need of candle, neither light of the sun. The testimony of the natural is finished and that to which it testified has come, for "the Lamb is the light thereof". The sun has pointed to the Lamb, and the Lamb is now absolutely and finally triumphant, and so the sun simply walks out. It says, as it were, 'I have done my work; I have pointed to Him all the time. Now He has come and there is no need for me any more.' You have to interpret that spiritually, but there is the principle. Everything created by God is pointing towards His Son, His Son's interests, and when those interests are recognised, then how often He has testified to His good pleasure by the very elements. And how often (and perhaps you can see it more clearly on the opposite side when the interests of His Son have been set aside and rejected) has God shown His displeasure by the elements? I think this may possibly be the key to a good deal. There never was a time when the rights of God's Son were more universally denied Him than our time, and there never was a time when the elements were more confused, conflicting, uncertain and treacherous. Is it wrong to interpret it in that way? We are wondering what has gone wrong with the weather, what has gone wrong with things. They are all topsy-turvy; we cannot reckon on anything. Are we getting near the end? Is that it?

I do not want to falsely interpret things, but may not this be a ground of prayer even about weather? If He is sovereign Lord and has created all things in the interests of His Son, is there not a basis of prayer that, when the interests of God's Son require it, God can order the very elements? We are not to say when good weather or bad would serve the interests of God's Son most. God is sovereign and knows best and will choose His own way, but may it not be a ground of prayer? I just suggest it as a question; it comes within this compass. Here are the ordinances of the heavens, as the Scriptures call them. As to the sun and moon, the Scriptures say they are the faithful witnesses in the heavens (Psa. 89:36-37). The word witness simply means testifier. They have a testimony and they are faithful witnesses of a testimony, and that testimony is concerning God's Son.

If God is governing those ordinances and those witnesses in the interests of His Son, we may expect two things, that in the end time when His Son is most thoroughly rejected, it will be a day of phenomena, a day when extraordinary things will happen. "The stars shall fall from heaven" (Matt. 24:29), meaning, of course, that these things which were there testifying to the Son of God have no longer any need to be there, so today, because the Son is set aside, they fall out of their function. It is going to be like that. The whole of the natural creation is going to be in an upheaval in the end because the interests of God's Son will be set aside. That is one side. But in the next age, the millennial age, we will not complain of having no sun then, we will not have any reason to complain of bad weather. Everything will be ordered by God from the very heavens in relation to His Son, who will then be Lord and King, and this earth is promised to be a very glorious place then, a place worth living in. You will not be contemplating emigration then! Everything is bound up with this one central object. One does not want to be fanciful: God knows this ministry is far too costly to be whittled away in fancifulness. But here are these statements of Scripture; they bear down upon everything. I have only given you mere fragments of the suggestions that are in the Word of God about this whole universe being linked with God's Son as His inheritance and to be the embodiment of those Divine thoughts for His Son. You can get on with that business; it will carry you through all the rest of your days. If you can only get your eyes opened, everywhere you will see something signifying God's thought in the creation. It may be marred in its form, but behind it there is an intention.

And there are so many ways in which this comes right up to really helpful and valuable application. We have spoken of the woman clothed with the sun; that is the glorious end of her triumph. But you know where that woman began. The woman began when the sun went down. When the sun went down, God caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam and out of him He formed a woman. It was in that hour of darkness on the cross when the sun went down that the church was born out of that One, and the church therefore represents the mighty resurrection life and power of Christ, because the Son has come back in full splendour out of the darkness, out of the clouds of the cross. The woman is clothed with the sun. It was out of His dark night of eclipse that the church had her birth, as did Eve in the hour when the sun went down. The church comes right into the good of that resurrection glory of the Son of God, and at last takes her place in heaven where the dragon and his whole hosts are cast out and no place is found for him any more. The woman takes her place there in the glorious triumph of His resurrection life, the sun is back shining in His splendour.

These are Divine thoughts behind things, God has simply caused everything that has come from His hand to be impregnated with something more that is of His own spiritual nature, so that the spiritual is the ultimate, the real. Paul says, "We look not at the things which are seen... but... the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18). That is all we can say at the moment about the creation. It is an indication. It is a full-orbed symbolism, something signified concerning His Son and the goings of God. Do you not think it will be a grand thing when we have a full understanding? I have often said as the result of my own soliloquism that I am scared of that day of full illumination. Here am I fumbling about this Bible, going to and fro in it, and thinking I have a bit of light sometimes and that bit of light makes me wonder. And the day is coming when that book is just going to lie right open into fulness, and I am going to say that all the light I had was darkness in comparison with what there is there. The Bible defeats you all the time. A suggestion comes to you from it that makes you wonder and worship and thrill, and you say, 'This is an unfathomable ocean!' But wait till that time when, with full understanding you see it all, and take it right out in the universe as your guidebook, and go round God's created universe - every fragment, every flower, tree, every part of your body - and read God's thoughts into the meaning of the Scriptures. That is going to be the basis of worship throughout all the ages. We see a little bit now of the hidden meanings of God and we worship. The creation was for that purpose, that it might bring us to worship God and the Lamb as it divulges its spiritual secrets and meanings, all pointing to Him.

Incarnation

We go on for a little while concerning the incarnation. This is another of God's goings, God's ways in His goings, and whereas the creation is quite original, quite certain, as to being one of God's ways, I do not know about the incarnation. There is a mystery here, the mystery as to what would have happened had Adam not sinned. We know what was intended, that God's Son should have come in and inherited all things. How that would have been reached we do not know, but we have the fact that God's Son became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we know something of why. Man was the headstone of creation, that creation which was to be an inheritance for His Son. Man was the headstone, the crown of that creation. In Him the inheritance was to find its climax and its most glorious and living expression. Yes, the material creation as glorified will be presented to Him, but it is man glorified that will be the greatest factor in the inheritance of God's Son. And seeing that man was the headstone of that creation to be Christ's inheritance, man must, to begin with, become a partaker of the Divine nature. God is going to give to His Son nothing which does not contain His own nature. If it lacked that, it would be a corruptible thing which could suffer death and corruption and again be disintegrated. When God presents His inheritance to the Son ultimately, it will have been placed far beyond the reach or touch of that interfering thing which brings death and corruption, leading to disintegration. It will be a glorious inheritance. In order to be that, it must partake of the Divine nature. So Peter lights upon that eternal thought and says: "He hath granted unto us His precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the Divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). Do not worry about the theology at the moment. We are not talking Deity at all. There is a partaking of Divine nature which does not land into the place of Godhead. Here is the statement, "partakers of the Divine nature", and the whole creation has got to be a partaker, and particularly man.

Moreover, this crown of creation for His inheritance has to be perfected into the Divine likeness. The Divine nature is only the basis upon which a process is pursued. There is that placed within the new-born child, that of the Divine nature, upon which the Spirit of God will work and by means of which He will go on to conform us to that image so that man eventually will come to a perfected likeness to the Divine thoughts which are suitable to the Divine Son. We cannot conceive of anything else. It must be like that, and man must therefore, as the issue of becoming a partaker of the Divine nature and being perfectly formed into the Divine likeness, be crowned with the Divine glory. Those are the three things which belong to man's spiritual history, which begin in new birth: a partaker of the Divine nature; a process commenced of conformity to the Divine image; and a consummation in view - a crowning with glory.

The Divine Son in incarnation came along that path of His relationship to the man that was to be His inheritance, the collective man, and so for the moment He dispensed with His Deity glory, came down on to man's level without glory, and adopted the pathway of man's glory. The Divine nature was in Him, but we are told strange things about this very One, things which will bewilder us unless we remember, unless we keep in view that He is now, in the incarnation, taking our place. "Though He was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb. 5:8); He was made "perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10). This One, Who in His Deity and Divine relationship was perfect, is said here to be being made perfect through suffering. The Divine nature is being drawn out against all those things which came upon Him to turn Him from the Divine path. That commenced in the wilderness under that terrific assault of hell, the devil himself, to turn Him from the path which the Divine nature demanded He should walk. If you want the key to it, it is simply a matter of being corrupted, corrupted from the truth. If you do anything at the suggestion of the devil, however right and necessary it may seem, even to save your life when you are starving, if it comes from the devil you may take it there is something in it that is sinister. Even necessity, as pointed out by the devil, must not govern any movements of ours. Oh, the devil can easily say, 'But it is absolutely necessary that you do this; if you don't, your very life will be lost.' It may be the most logical thing because it is necessary. But the Lord Jesus did not accept that argument at all. It has come from the devil; there is something about this that, if it is listened to, will mean deviation from the path of the Divine nature which is incorruptible. The Divine nature demands this way.


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