The Persistent Purpose of God

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 13 - "The Lord is There"

Now this morning we have to bring these studies in Ezekiel to a close, and I think we cannot do better than come right to the end of the book itself. The last clause of this book reads like this: "And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is There."

We might just put alongside of that some words from Ephesians chapter 2, verses 19 to 22: "So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner stone, in Whom each several building, fitly framed together groweth into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit."

Chapter 3, verse 17: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever."

"And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is There."

The end to which all God's works move is this End. Everything that we have in these prophecies of Ezekiel points to the one end, but that is also true of the whole Bible. The whole Bible moves toward one end, it is the end for which all things were created, and that is: the presence of God in fullness and in finality. The purpose of God is that He shall fill all things. So then the end is: "The Lord is There."

Now, there is one particular thing which is [needed for] this end; it is the one thing which is necessary if that end is to be reached:

God Must be able to Commit Himself to Man without Fear.

That is what God wanted to do at the beginning. It is perfectly clear in the beginning of the book of Genesis that God wanted to commit Himself to man. He wanted to be with man. He wanted to trust man. He wanted to put all His interests into the hands of man. In a word: God wanted to trust Himself to man. That is the absolute essential for God's end. That is what the Lord Jesus wanted to do, but He found that He could not do it.

You are familiar with the words in John chapter 2, at verse 23: "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover during the feast, many believed on His name, beholding His signs which He did, but Jesus did not trust Himself unto them, for that He knew all men, because He needed not that anyone should bear witness concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man." Jesus found that He could not commit Himself to man. Here is God present in His Son, but unable to commit Himself to man, therefore He cannot remain with man. He cannot be with man in fullness and in finality. He will have to create the conditions which are suitable to Himself. God will have to create the conditions which will not involve Him in man's disordered state. This may explain a great deal. This may explain God's reserve and God's delays. There is very much desire and prayer that God will commit Himself. For instance, there is prayer all over the world for revival; that has been going on for years! Why does God delay? It may be that He is not able to commit Himself to men. He is not able to involve Himself with men and men's work.

Whether that be true or not in this particular connection, it is true as an established principle with God. He will not commit Himself to what is of man. He demands the conditions which are suitable to Himself. It would be dangerous to God Himself to commit Himself to man. From the beginning satan has always tried to put man in God's way. Man was made for this very purpose: that God should be with him, but satan captured man and he has made man the greatest hindrance to God. Man, as he is, now defeats God's purpose, therefore God cannot commit Himself to that kind of man. Jesus saw that it was man that made it dangerous for Him to commit Himself. He knew what was in man. He needed not that anyone should tell Him what was in man, therefore He could not and would not commit Himself. That is why just at that very point the whole question of new birth arose. There ought not to be a division between chapters 2 and 3 of the gospel by John, it ought to run straight on. Jesus would not commit Himself to man, therefore you must be born anew! I advise you to just blot out that number 3 at the chapter and take no notice of it, it ought to follow right through. There is the man to whom Jesus will not commit Himself, therefore he must be born from above.

So the great question that is now before us is this:

To What will God Commit Himself?

The whole book of Ezekiel is the answer to that question. In the first place, the answer is given in a negative way. God will not commit Himself to that in which satan has a place. Satan had gained a place in the nation of Israel and in the nations outside, therefore the glory is removed and it goes right outside. God will not commit Himself to that in which satan has a place. Satan and his works must be destroyed before God will commit Himself. The Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, but that was not an end in itself. He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil in order to make way for God, in order that God should have His place and reach His End. God will not commit Himself to that which has not been judged in righteousness.

Now you'll recall all that we have said about brass in these prophecies: the brass in the cherubim, the brass in the Man of brass, the brass of the great altar. God will not commit Himself to anything that has not been judged in righteousness. Until the nation has been judged in righteousness, God will not commit Himself. The same applies to the nations, so the largest section of these prophecies has to do with the judgment of the nation and of the nations. Until that has been done, you cannot reach this point where: "The Lord is There". That is the negative side; there is the positive side or answer to our question.

To what will God commit Himself? The positive answer has several aspects. It is firstly: where Christ is, on the other side of judgment. The Man in the Throne represents Christ as on the other side of judgment. There is a rainbow around that Throne. That rainbow is the symbol of redemption. In the book of the Revelation, it is represented by the Lamb in the Throne. The Lamb is the Man and the Man is the Lamb. He is there as on the other side of judgment, and that is the first thing related to God committing Himself. I repeat, that God will commit Himself where Christ is on the other side of judgment - that is, where all judgment has been fulfilled. You must study that with your New Testament in your hands.

When Jesus went to His baptism, He said to John the Baptist: "Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." His baptism was, as we know, a type of His Cross. Therefore, baptism and the Cross represent the fulfillment of all righteousness - that is, through judgment: the death of one man and the putting of a New Man beyond the reach of judgment. That is where we are supposed to be by faith in Jesus Christ. That is where the Church is in the beginning of the letter to the Ephesians, it is seated together with Him in the heavenlies. That Church is seen as on the other side of judgment; it has been raised together with Him. For that Church, all judgment is fulfilled. That is the first thing that makes way for glory in the Church - all judgment fulfilled; that makes the Way for God to commit Himself. There are other aspects of that, it is where Christ is Glorified.

God will commit Himself where Christ is glorified. You notice in John 7 it is Jesus glorified and the Spirit given. The giving of the Spirit is God committing Himself, and He commits Himself on the ground of Jesus being glorified. Where Jesus is glorified, God commits Himself; where man is glorified, God holds back. No flesh shall glory in His presence. It is only where Jesus is glorified that God will commit Himself. Here is a law of God. If God is to give Himself by His Spirit, then Jesus must be glorified. When the glorifying of the Lord Jesus is our only object, then the Father will come in by the Spirit.

Then there is this third thing: God will commit Himself where Jesus is enthroned in government. Where this Man is on the Throne and is really governing everything, then God will commit Himself. Where all the authority committed to His Son is recognised and accepted, there God will commit Himself. Firstly where the authority of satan has been destroyed, where it is true: "Now is the prince of this world cast out", and then where the authority of man is removed - where every other kind of authority but the authority of God's Son is put away. If we come in with authority, then God stands back. Our authority must get out of God's way and God waits for that before He commits Himself.

And then there is a fourth thing: God commits Himself where all is formed "according to Christ" where everything takes its measure from Christ.

You see, these things are all in this book of Ezekiel. We have been just looking at the House. We have not studied it in any detail, but what we do know about it is that everything was measured by the Man of brass. The least little thing had its measurement given to it. Everything took its measure from the Man. That is the place to which God will commit Himself, where everything takes its measure from Christ.

And then just one more thing: God will commit Himself where the Cross governs everything. We saw how the altar governed everything within and without. So, where the Cross governs everything, God will commit Himself. The Lord Jesus is the great example of all this. God committed Himself to His Son. It was there at His baptism that God committed Himself to Jesus, "The heavens were opened and the Spirit descended upon Him". We have said that the giving of the Spirit is God committing Himself, so there, God committed Himself to Jesus. It says that God does not give His Spirit by measure to Jesus; that is, He gives His Spirit fully, without any reserve, to Jesus. He wholly commits Himself to Him. That was done at His baptism. In type it was by His Cross. When the meaning of the Cross has been laid down and established, then God commits Himself. That is God's ground.

Then, God committed Himself to Jesus by His close walk with the Father. You notice how Jesus measured everything according to heaven. We have so often pointed this out, Jesus would never be governed by the mind of man - He would never do anything, say anything, or go anywhere at the advice of man. He was all the time pushing away from Him the suggestions of men and women. He did that with regard to satan, He did it with regard to everything. He pushed back everything that would come from man. He would only take His way and His words and His works from the Father. He measured everything according to Heaven. His was the closest walk with heaven. For every detail in His life, He took the government of heaven. Therefore, the Father committed Himself to the Son.

And then by His perfecting. He said: "I must work today and tomorrow, and the third day I must be perfected". We are told that He was made perfect through suffering. Of course, we understand that this was not moral perfecting, it was not the making perfect of His nature, it was bringing Him to fullness, the fullness of the will of God. He was walking every day in the will of God, He said: "Lo, I come to do Thy Will" but the Will of God was making ever greater demands upon Him until, at last, the will of God requires that He should drink the cup, that He should go through Gethsemane to the Cross. He was being made perfect or complete as to the will of God and when He was made perfect as to the will of God, God fully committed Himself to Him. God gave Him that fullness for the Church. "God gave unto Him the Name that is above every name." God committed Himself to Him. I think that is all quite clear. Jesus is the Great Example!

Now we bring this study to a close. We do so by noting three necessities. For this end of God to be fully and finally reached, three things are necessary. The Church must have these three things.

First of all, a clear apprehension of God's purpose. It is absolutely necessary that the Church sees what God's purpose is. That is why Paul prayed that great prayer for "a spirit of wisdom and revelation," that the Church might have "the eyes of (its) heart enlightened." It is absolutely necessary that we have a clear apprehension of God's purpose, that purpose being that God shall come to fullness in present residence in the Church, that the Church should be the fullness of Him "that filleth all in all", that God should have a full place in the Church. That is the first necessity, that we should see that, and that we should be governed by that vision, so that it is a matter of spiritual vision or spiritual understanding; a revelation of God's purpose concerning the Church. This is why we read those scriptures at the beginning that the Church should be a habitation of God through the Spirit, that God should be resident there and that it should be said, "The Lord is There," - a habitation of God. Unto that, we must see what God's purpose is.

The second thing is a clear apprehension of God's Way to His End. [break in audio] Therefore, it is essential that the Church has a clear apprehension of the Cross. These three things are essential to the end that God shall be there!

Now, there are two aspects of those three things: there is the present progressive and the future perfect. Just at this present, this is not all fully true, and yet, what is in the letter to the Ephesians has a present application. At present, this is only progressively true. That means that the Lord is more, or less present, as these things are true. Where there is a clear apprehension of His purpose, where there is a clear apprehension of His House, where there is a clear apprehension of the Cross, there you will find most of the Lord! At present, these things determine the measure in which the Lord is present, but the time is coming when these things will be complete, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints. Then He will be in His Church in fullness. Well, you notice that at the end of Ezekiel, it is the city that is mentioned: "The Lord is There". The city represents the vessel in and through which God is present in government. It is that in which God is present in government.

Well, we have given a broad outline. We have tried to make these lines as clear as possible, but comprehended in this outline there is a tremendous amount, and as I pass it over to you, I do say to you, go away and pray over it. Do not just take it as some Bible study; I have told you that I am not interested in that. Everything must have spiritual and practical value. So I say: pray over it, think over it, and ask the Lord to make it all true where you are.

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