When we speak of anything being
a criterion, we mean just what the dictionary gives as the
definition, i.e., 'the principle taken as the standard of
judging'; 'any established law or principle by which propositions
or opinions are compared, in order to discover their truth'. So a
criterion is that by which the truth and value of any matter is
determined. By such-and-such a principle or fact the whole thing
stands or falls; is true or false. That then is our objective in
relation to Divine Purpose. Can we put our finger definitely upon
that Divine Purpose and see that it is the climax, the
culmination of all God's ways? Well, what is that climax, that
one Divine end, by which everything is to be judged, now and for
In these chapters we have been
allowing the prophet Ezekiel to be our guide and interpreter,
seeing that the book which goes by his name is not only a book
about prophecies and history, but a book of spiritual principles
with a much greater context than earth and time. When we reach
the end of that book, we find ourselves in the presence of that
great ultimate, that universal climax, that realised purpose, and
it is all summed up in the brief, though vast, phrase:
Lord is There".
What a wide field is opened by
that climacteric phrase! The Bible is bounded by this supreme
concept. It opens and closes with the presence of God with man.
It is the governing issue throughout all its pages and
phases. There are almost countless aspects of this one thing,
but, be it so, the issue is just this alone: Is the Lord there or
is He not? Is the Lord in that or is He not? Is the Lord with
that, with him or her, in that place, in that decision or course,
or is He not? That is the criterion. His presence with unfallen
man and His departure from disobedient man is an eternal
principle. His presence in the beginning indicates purpose. His
presence by the Incarnation of His Son is unto the redemption of
the purpose. His presence by the Holy Spirit is to make that
purpose actual as an inward thing.
The major aspects force us back
to basic considerations. Let us not hurry on with greatness of
vision, but pause and quietly tell ourselves that what is more
vital and important than anything else in all our life is that
the Lord is with us. Futility, vanity, disappointment and remorse
will most certainly overtake us, sooner or later, and overtake
all our undertakings if, at length, it should be found that the
Lord is not with us. It is a perilous thing to go on without the
Lord. Moses, who did know something, cried: "If thy
presence go not with us, carry us not up hence". Mere
assumption in this matter may well prove to have been fatal
presumption. "Supposing him to be in the company" may
lead to the necessity to retrieve the value of the whole journey
The Bible shows that nothing
can be done which will be of eternal value unless God is in it.
When we have settled this basic
fact and let it become the ever- and all-dominating principle in
life and work, we are ready to appreciate certain other things
which stand out so clearly in this connection. The first of these
Spirit's Meticulous and Scrupulous Exactness.
If the Holy Spirit is jealous
for the main object, He is shown to be equally jealous for the
detailed features. This can be seen in various connections.
If the creation and man were
intended for the presence of God, they had to be a meticulous
expression of God's mind. God was Himself the Architect. God was
Himself working scrupulously to a Pattern. (The whole Bible shows
that Pattern to be His Son.) The Holy Spirit became the Custodian
and energy of that Pattern. Nothing was haphazard, left to
chance, or left to man or angels to conceive or design.
Another great and forceful
example of the principle was the Tabernacle of Testimony. Here,
again, nothing in design, even to a pin or a stitch, a
measurement, a material, a position, was left to man. It was all
to be according to "the pattern shewn". The Holy Spirit
took charge of the artisans, and only when 'all things were
according to the pattern' did God presence Himself. The slightest
deflection would have meant that it was only an empty shell
The same is to be noted in the
Temple of Solomon and the Temple of Ezekiel's vision.
When it comes to the consummate
presentation of that which (Him who) is typified in the Old
Testament - the Incarnate Son of God - "Emmanuel, God
with us" - again, the Spirit of God takes over and
governs all the details of His conception, birth, life, history,
works, death, resurrection, etc. See the place of the Holy Spirit
in the life of Jesus. God's Son will Himself declare that
"the Son can no nothing of [out from] himself, but... the
Father" (John 5:19).
After the Person comes
Corporate Body - The Church.
The Architect is God the
Father. The Builder is God the Son. The Custodian and energy is
God the Holy Spirit.
Here, again, nothing in
conception and planning is left to angels or men. If man
interferes, insinuates himself, and tries to organize or run the
Church, so much the worse for the man, as the New Testament both
shows in results and declares in words. Nothing but confusion,
frustration and shame can follow man's hand upon that which
exists wholly for the presence of God.
The last chapters of the Bible
must be read in the light of all the immediately preceding
chapters. There we see the progressive judgment in every realm -
beginning with the churches - of everything unsuitable to the
presence of the Lord. The end is all that removed and a state -
symbolically represented - which is suitable to Him, and "the
Lord is there".
What a challenge all this is:
to the Christian to "walk in the Spirit"; for the
Church and the churches to be governed and sanctified by the Holy
The hand of man is a defiled
thing. Only "he that hath clean hands, and a pure
heart" can "ascend into the hill of the Lord". We
may not put our hand on one another for judgment or control. We
may not put our hand on the House of God. We may not (like Uzza)
put our hand on the ark. Woe to Uzzah, to Ananias and Sapphira, to
Diotrophes, who touch the holy things of the Lord's presence with
fleshly hands of natural strength, ambition, and pride!
How safe it is to be where the
Lord is if, through the Cross, we are made suitable. How
dangerous it is even to draw near without taking off the shoes of
association with the cursed world!
These are shorter chapters in
the 'Horizon' series, but they are particularly concentrated and
must be taken more for intrinsic values than for volume of