In our last
Editorial - in speaking of the earth-touch - we broke off with
'maybe more later'. Well there is more, and this is the 'later'.
Our premise is that this earth and all in it lies under a curse
and judgment, but that those "born from above" are
fundamentally separated by the Cross of Christ from this earth,
in a spiritual way. But most of the troubles in Christianity are
due to some spiritual contact with, and involvement in
that realm of death where the Divine ban operates. We are going
to illustrate this with very vivid instances in the Bible. Most
of our illustrations will be the cases of servants or people of
God, which will give just the point that we are trying to make.
It is when the Lord's people touch this earth (in a
spiritual way) that trouble ensues.
We begin with
Abraham. As to his fundamental separation there is no question.
That he was a committed man of God allows of no doubt. But at a
point when faith was sorely tried in view of seeming
impossibilities - actual impossibilities naturally - he
resorted to a natural way through, and tried to resolve the
situation by natural means. He came down from his heavenly
position of "with God all things are possible" and
touched earth when he resorted to Hagar as the solution.
We need not
enlarge upon the entail of shame, regret, and tragedy, not only
in his own life and that of Hagar, but right up to date in
Ishmael. That earth-touch has indeed stood as a mighty warning to
all such. It is the earth-touch of an alternative to faith
when the natural can offer us nothing.
From there we move
on to Jacob. Rebecca had been precisely told that of the two sons
about to be born "the elder shall serve the younger".
In her obvious favouritism for Jacob it is unlikely that she had
said nothing of this to him. But together they connived at
securing the birthright by cunning, deceptive, and lying ways. It
was undoubtedly an earth-touch. Coming down to a low and carnal
way of trying to effect the purpose of God. The result - twenty
years of dishonour; deceiving and being deceived; extending the
doubtful way of success (?); policy, not principle. Success has
no law - the end justifies the means, and all such specious
arguments. But Jabbok and Peniel are God's verdict and appraisal,
and even one chosen in the sovereignty of God will not get away
with an earth-touch.
Joseph stands very
high in the verdict of history and the noble of Bible
biographies. But, undoubtedly, one definite aspect of the long
years of the prison - being forgotten, and "the iron
entering his soul" - was the discipline of that earth-touch
of pride, conceit, and vanity which led him to tell his dreams to
his brethren. Dreams which came true, yes, but when personal
self-importance obtrudes itself even into the Divine intentions
the whole thing can go down into death and suspense.
We leap the years
and arrive at Moses. Here again we are in the presence of Divine
sovereign intention and purpose, both as to the object and the
instrument: the object - to fulfil the promise to Abraham, to
bring his seed as a great nation out of bondage to possess the
covenanted land; the instrument - a babe miraculously preserved
and a man richly trained. But in manhood - the earth-touch;
putting his own hands on the purpose and work of God, and by his
own zeal, strength, and prestige essaying to effect that which
was to be for ever one of the greatest testimonies in history to
the power and glory of God alone. The result - forty
desolating years at the back side of the desert; a scholar,
trained leader, prince of Egypt eating his heart out while
tending a few sheep. His feet had touched the earth in
more than a physical way, and there was more than a physical
meaning in the Lord's words at long last "Take off thy shoes
from off thy feet". There is no earth-touch with God.
It is another long
leap to Joshua and Ai. What a lot of Divine history and
sovereignty, to say nothing of patience and faithfulness, lie
behind the eventual arrival of the people in the Land. Surely all
the assurances and encouragements given to Joshua will not permit
of a single wrong threatening the whole issue with disaster! But
so it was! "Achan... took of the accursed thing", and
the surge forward was brought to an untimely stop with no small
consternation to Joshua and Israel. The earth-touch of personal
ambition, covetousness, and lust for personal gain.
We conclude the
survey by reminding ourselves of the disastrous results of
David's counting of Israel. It is possible to make even the great
blessings of God the ground and occasion of self-gratification;
to point to that which is just of His grace, His mercy, and His
faithfulness, and draw some satisfaction and congratulation to
our own souls. It cost David the loss of many thousands of his
people, shame and remorse to himself, and a stain upon his story.
Yes, God in sovereign grace never cast him off but still brought
the site of the Temple out of the chastisement of David's flesh.
What a story this
earth-touch is! We have by no means covered all the ground. We
could add many more instances from Old Testament and New
Testament, but this is enough to underline the essential heavenly
life, position, and government of the people - and servants - of
the Lord, and to make us reach out to see if there be any leaven
in our house. The Lord help us ever to keep disentangled from the
realm and things of death. How we need to
in the secret place of the Most High", and so "Abide
under the shadow of the Almighty".
Surely this gives
point and meaning to our Lord's words: "Abide in me".
So help us God.